Milestone steelies

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Sean Beauchamp, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. Winter (or spring, in AK) fish on the surface.

    39° water is sort of a handicap, but oh, the satisfaction...
  2. My bag list is almost full. I am just about being there and doing it now.

    1. I want to put Elizabeth on a 20lb fish with her fly rod. Dont even care if she lands it, but would like to see her light up with the experience.
    2. I want to see each of our kids catch at least one wild steelhead.
    TD, Randall Clark and stilly stalker like this.
  3. I would like to catch a wild winter fish on the upper Quinault, and I would like the chance to fish the dean.
    stilly stalker likes this.
  4. SSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH! everyone forgets the sack is up there
  5. Jeremy...
    Well said....that's the milestone we should all strive for!
    Jim B.
  6. To me everyone is a milestone fish. They just don't come that easy these days. I spent 9 days on the Trinity last month, 3 fish to hand, all 19-21" and bright as a new dime. This morning I was lucky enough to take a wild 8# (+/-) buck that was one of the best fights I've had in a while, 3' out of the water 2x, several runs to the backing. I'd given a lot to have my grandson brought the wild chrome 12+ lb fish to hand that he hooked last April. I want to have him and his brother have a chance for them when they grow up a little more.Well said, Jeremy Floyd!
  7. Great reads gentlemen I like it. When I have more free time ill add something to the discussion.

    Kerry take me on your sled. Smalma and Salmo great stuff!
  8. And nutsack core score multiplier for sure, possibly 4x if behind Kerr, ball, braz and mike z additional points for every inch in length the intrudachugger measures. High score possible.
  9. I think that for me it really boils down to one thing...seeing the look on my sons face (he's 2 1/2 now) when he hooks into his first wild winter steelhead. I really can't wait for that moment. This is all assuming of course that he'll take to fly fishing...and assuming there are any wild fish left. My little guy can already cast his little Star Wars spinning rod pretty well...just a matter of time, me thinks.

    If it has to do with my own hooking and/or catching I just love them all, especially the hot little fish you catch 20 miles from the salt that are chrome bright with half a dozen sea lice still attached.
  10. Was introduced to the world of spey fishing last year by a board member who really has unleashed a new passion inside of me. Last year i went all season without landing a fish on the Spey, just could not get the monkey off my back. This Fall i was able to get the monkey off my back with a fish to hand on the spey. That really was/is my steelhead milestone... with many more to come!

    The next one i would like to see would be my little brothers first steelhead on the fly. He is a special forces military man and normally does not get home during steelhead season. This year he is home for Turkey day and we are spending two days on the Ronde with my only goal being to have Jeff hook and land a beautiful Grande Ronde Steelhead. On the swing would be perfect but with the single hand i would not care, i just want to see his reaction when that fish takes off downriver! Lets pray that the flows stay ok and that we can get two good days on the water!
  11. Personally I am just looking for new experiences and new places to swing fish. Whether it be a new run or river, whatever, it no longer matters. Each year is different and with less time and different river conditions, I like to challenge myself. Though I would love to tail a Skagit fish one of these days again, even if it is my buddies and not mine. Winter fish are my favorite and the NU has to be one of the places I need to fish this winter.

    This Fall my daughter caught her first steelhead, not on a fly, but still the biggest reward I could possibly achieve this year fishing. I am looking forward to her swinging one on her own or at least hooking one by herself. Seeing those lights turn on when she is fishing is awesome!
    constructeur and JS like this.
  12. A lot of good stuff has been written but ill add a couple words....

    Big fish are awesome and always a special occasion and while I lust over the thought of a 40" buck it isn't the only thing on my mind. I'm still a toddler in this journey and I'm interested in Learning more than anything. I cherish the encounters with fish that show me something new. The ones that come out of new water or validate a sneaky suspicion or theory. Or on a pretty fly I spent an hour tying the night before.

    My favorite fish of the summer was by catch while I streamer fished for trout. I was ripping a standard issue Backyard double bunny through a shade line over the tops of a rockpile and this 24" wild hen blew off the bottom and rolled on the fly like nothing I've ever seen. No big brown trout eat I've ever experienced could compare to the rage in that fish. The hook set itself and instantly 30' of slack line shot off the bow of the raft and it weaved through boulders and back flipped down river. So epic! Thank The almighty fishing gods I rigged my 6wt with a leader tapered down to 10# maxima.

    Sometimes they seem so reluctant to eat so when I get a chance to experience their wild side I always feel grateful. Whether its a dry fly eat or the ol hammer jack, hardy singing grab on the sunk fly those are always memorable and exciting regardless of location or size of fish.

    Watching my buddies come tight is just as exciting and sometimes more so because standing back and observing from the sidelines you see things unfold differently than when your the guy with the fly rod. The look of pure sickness in your partners face when he is leaning into a fish with his hands on the reel is priceless.
  13. Fishing well is it's own reward.
  14. I have many of the same milestones as those listed above; most having to do with fishing new rivers in new places; AK, and the Skeena System, to name two. That said, every day out on a beautiful river is my constant "milestone." I love the beauty of the places Steelheading takes us. What follows is not a rant. My point will be made clear by the end of the post.

    Yesterday I managed to do a suicide run out to the Hoh, leaving my house at 2:30 am and getting to my first spot on the upper Hoh as the sun came up. As I'm rigging up, two guys in a pickup drive out onto the the river, park next to me at the head of the run, grab their spinning rods, and begin casting not ten yards below me. Ok... I count to ten... twice... and ask them if they're really gonna low-hole me like that. One guy tells me that they fished here yesterday and the day before - as if such is relevant - and gesturing upriver informs me that there's plenty of river for me to fish. Silently thanking God that I chose to leave my Glock 21 home that morning, I count to ten again... three times.. wish them a nice day, and leave; deciding that it's far too early, and the day too beautiful, to end up in the emergency room or jail, and then having to explain to my better-half that Steelheading now involves me leaving Town shortly after midnight AND getting stitches, or having her drive out to Forks to post my bail.

    I went on to fish all day without even a touch, but surrounded by staggering beauty while anticipating a steelhead taking a swung fly tied by my own hand. That experience; even without steelhead contact beyond my belief that the next cast or the next run would produce that JOLT, is the "milestone" I'll continue to chase.
  15. So would your milestone steelie in that case be to shove a hatchery brat up a rednecks ass?
    Id like to be there for that
    Dan Cuomo likes this.
  16. My milestone would be to have the time, the patience or the inner wherewithall to fish by the means that give me the greatest pleasure without feeling like, since I've driven this far and only have this short of time ,I need to catch as many as I can..
  17. Dean River fish with a skated dry, ah, screw that, any wild fish with a skated dry
    Ian Broadie likes this.
  18. I reached one of my milestones a couple weeks ago. I was teaching my nephew how to fish for steelhead. We were using a two-handed rod, a dry line, and a coachman. Half way through the run, a fish rolls not 20 feet from us and straight out. My nephew was visibly shaken and wanted to cast right at the fish. I calmed him down and we walked up stream. As we are walking I tell him this is our fish. We step back into the run and start our way back to the fish. I tell Derek (Nephew) to be ready cuz it can happen at any moment. 6 casts in, his line goes straight and the fight was on.........

    That was probably the coolest thing I have ever experienced fishing. Derek's first steelhead, was on a dry line with a swung fly. And it was a fish we targeted.
  19. Realistically: 20lb plus steelie (missed it twice by 1 and a 1/2, and 2lbs)

    Not so realistic: Siberian Taimen
  20. My milestone was reached earlier this year, with my first steelhead on the fly. I'd landed them swinging spoons, and drifting bait (don't judge! lol), and I'd even had one take a dead-drifted tom thumb on a small trout stream one time that broke my 4x tippet like a raging bull tied up with dental floss, but never before had I tied into one on the swung fly.

    And then it happened. The (rather long) story is copy/pasted below from my home forum.

    There are many more milestones for me to hit, but quite honestly I'm still enjoying the rush from reaching this milestone, and it's almost 9 months later. :)


    * * *

    QUOTE (Tex @ Feb 15 2012, 03:15 PM) [​IMG]
    Wes! Beauty job, man, what a sweet looking fish!!!

    I've been flailing with my speyrod on the Vedder 7 times now (maybe 8) and I'm still without a fish. I've had a couple plucks, I think, but nothing definitive.

    Way to go!
    Tex - jealous and happy at the same time. lol

    I awoke to the sound of rain with the words I'd typed a few days ago (quoted above) still echoing in my head. Reading Wes' report about his first fly-caught steelhead had certainly made me happy, but also a little jealous. After having spent at least 7 or 8 long, cold days over the past 2 years chasing steelhead on the fly, I hadn't even touched a fish. Sure, there had been a couple of moments that made my breath catch in my throat, but they either turned out to be snaggy branches or sticky rocks, more often than not. Not once had I felt the tell-tale yank of a fresh steelhead, though with every swing of the fly I could imagine it. I could almost sense the fish was there. Watching my fly undulate past it. But they would not take.

    I was ok with it. I knew that getting a winterrun fish on the fly was something of a rite of passage. If it was too easy, it almost cheapened the experience. At least that's what I told myself... the reality was, it was tough standing in an icy river with a strong upstream wind whistling through the valley, without so much as a sniff.

    But still, I persevered. I knew it was a numbers game. Keep making the casts, keep stepping down the run, keep reading the water, and eventually it would happen. Despite having only caught two steelhead previously on gear, I was confident that I knew what it took - it just hadn't happened for me yet. But it would... some day.

    So I dragged myself out of bed this morning - late - and checked the hydrometric graph on the gov't website. The Vedder had jumped somewhat overnight due to the rain, but a quick call to Fred's Tackle assured me that the river was still in good shape. So I called my buddies Darryl and Rich and told them it was on. I grabbed my 13'6" Lamiglas LS 8/9wt, threw my bag over my shoulder, and trudged down to the Forester. The drive out was uneventful, except to share some tips with my buddies. Neither of them had fished steelhead before, and they were both new to flyfishing, but they didn't have any interest in trying gear so we agreed to try our best and see how it went.

    Upon arriving at our chosen pullout, I was thrilled to see there were no cars parked there. We geared up and walked in through the thoroughly drenched forest, large drops falling from the cedar boughs onto our heads as we joked about trips past. Upon emerging from the trees, my hope was proven justified - the run was empty. As we finished stringing up our rods, I explained what made this a good steelhead run for flyfishing, and how we should approach it. The guys agreed to split the run into three parts, and sent me to the bottom third while they took the upper and mid portions.

    After releasing the blue and black string leech from my reel, I shook off a few yards of line and made my first cast. The rain had stopped, and the swing was perfect. Nothing. Stripped off another few yards, and cast again. I watched the yellow skagit head swing slowly in the current, exactly how I wanted it to, and I imagined the blue and black marabou and other feathers writhing and beckoning seductively to any fish that might be in the near section of the river. Nothing. Eventually I was throwing about as much line as I felt was necessary to properly cover the run I was in, and I began stepping down over the rounded softball- to basketball-sized rocks, two steps to every cast. Each swing felt just right, but then so had hundreds before it.

    I could tell I was reaching a particularly sweet portion of the run, and I began watching my swing a little closer. By this point I was about 12-15 casts into the morning. The next cast sailed out into the run, line snapping against my reel as the fly reached it's terminal distance before flopping gently into the water. I made a good mend, and held a 3' loop in my right hand as I followed the swing with the tip of my spey rod. Just like I had hundreds of times before. But then something happened. The 3' loop of line dangling from my right fingers slipped quickly through the guides with a quick "SWISH!" before hitting the reel.

    And I set the hook.

    The next 5-10 seconds were little more than a blur of blue running-line flying off the old Sage reel, frothing water 30 or so yards downstream from me, and someone yelling upriver at my buddies to bring the camera. Looking back, I suppose it was me yelling at them to bring the camera, but I really can't remember for sure.

    After they realized what was happening, they reeled in their lines as fast as they could, and came stumbling downriver trying not to drop their cameras. Meanwhile, I had my hands full with a hot fish tearing the run apart. Short bursts of line would rip off my reel, and then the fish would leap, shockingly, from the water, before running back upstream and forcing me to regain all the line as fast as I could. But the bend of the long rod and a steady pressure eventually wore the fish down, and I turned it upstream of me as it rolled onto its side. The current pushed the steelhead into my waiting hands, and my shaking hand grasped the wrist of its tail.

    I'd done it. Finally. After countless casts and unfailing confidence that it would happen one day, it finally had. With a primal whoop of joy, I began laughing uncontrollably. As I held the fish in 18" of water, my buddies snapped a couple of photos.


    I knew they were congratulating me and making comments about the fish, but it was all sort of a hum as the pounding blood rushed through my ears and I gazed down at the wild doe steelhead in my hands. I gently slipped the #4 hook from its the lower corner of its jaw, and lovingly held its nose into the current. A quick kick of its tail, and she was gone. We all shook hands, me with a ridiculous grin on my face, and then they went back up to their spots to begin casting again.

    Still shaking, I sat on a nice big boulder at the side of the run, and slipped a small flask I'd been carrying with me since I began flyfishing for steelhead. Inside was a little dram of single malt that I'd vowed not to let cross my tongue until I'd finally landed a steelhead on the fly. It was probably the best nip of scotch I have ever tasted in my life.

    The rest of the day was uneventful (though the Canucks whipping the Leafs was a nice touch!). We fished the run a few more times without anything else to show, but really I didn't care anymore. I was feeling so good it didn't matter. After reading about it, and studying it, and trying for so long, I'd finally landed a winter run steelhead on the fly. And it was glorious.

    The funny thing is, Darryl and I have known each other for years, and he's been fishing with me quite a few times for trout. That morning, on the way to the river (and despite my protestations about how difficult winter steelhead fishing can be), he remarked how he'd never been fishing with me before when I hadn't caught a fish, and then mentioned he was probably good luck. I guess he was right.



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