MOM, I DID IT!!!

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by golfman44, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. golfman44

    golfman44 Active Member

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    Disclaimer: huge wall of text, no pics (phone broke first night). tldr at bottom.

    Well, I took a 4 day float/camp with some friends down in Oregon and had the time of my life. Going into this trip I had gone out steelheading on the sky and stilly a few dozen times, all with just one take to show for it (which I lost about 10 seconds later).

    Within 10 minutes of setting up camp, my buddy landed a nice 20lb king right in front of us. We instantly got some good fishing vibes. Later that night when the sun was off the water, we strung up our fly rods and headed out. I had my first hook up about 20 minutes later. Nice chromer took my fly right on the surface and shot off downstream. I was absolutely stunned at the power of this fish. I've caught hundreds of trout, even on light tackle (2 wts, etc) but holy shit these fish are in another class. Holding my rod to the bank and just hearing my reel scream was a surreal feeling.

    On its second jump the fish shook free, but I didn't really care. I was hooked and knew this was going to be my weekend. As I worked my way thru the run, I didn't get any more takes, however I did fall in wading three different times. As I was bobbing downstream, all to the delight of my buds, I realized that 1) my rubber soled, no spike wading boots suck and 2) we are spoiled with how easy wading the sky and stilly are. Even tho I was soaking wet, that fish made it worth it. I saw each of my buds land a fish or two a piece and tried to pick up tips on how to fight/land them.

    The next morning we were out bright and early. Within 10 feet of where I had the hookup the night before, I got another. This one took the fly HARD, with a sweet splash on the surface. This one wasn't going to get away from me. I muscled him pretty hard with a tighter drag and landed this one with ease. While not nearly as fun (i.e. they are limited in their ability to take off on screaming runs), the feeling of being in more control of the fish helped me out tremendously...plus I was more comfortable wading back to shore with a little more control of that rocket attached to my line. I landed a nice hatchery fish which I later learned was a hen. I had finally got my first steelhead to hand and I made sure everyone knew it that day. After this I generally used a lighter drag to fight these fish as it is considerably more fun and I slowly got better at fighting them so as to not hurt the fish...but I really wanted to get one landed.

    When the sun hit the water we would go eat and throw some lures here and there. I'm not sure if it was a result of reading others posts on this forum or what, but "gear fisherman" have carried a somewhat negative stigma which I have since shaken. Some spinning rod guys seriously know what they are doing and can out fish anyone on that river. That isn't necessarily because of their choice of tackle, but simply due to the fact that they are great fisherman. While sitting in camp watching this guy across the river for an hour, he landed 8 fish. It was incredible. The tactics are quite similar, its just a different way of enticing a fish to take your offering. Not to mention there were a lot of chinook in the river so throwing lures was great. A few more kings were landed throughout the trip, but really I was there for some steelhead on my fly rod.

    This report is getting longer than I wanted and I could go on and on but there is one fish that will stick with me from this trip (besides my first). It was quite windy the 2nd afternoon and two of my buds went to take a nap in their tents. I was talking to the other one with us, who was by far the best fisherman of the bunch, and he mentioned how he would actually go fish now if he wasn't tired. The sun was off the water and even with the wind there are fish to be had. He told me to holler if I got a fish on and he would grab a camera. I threw on my waders and the second I hit the water it started to absolutely dump rain. Already soaking wet, I figured I would stay out there and work the run as the rain had given me the whole river to myself.

    30 minutes later, I still had no takes and I was getting cold. The rain wasn't letting up (if anything it was coming down harder), but the wind was starting to create some breaks so casting was easier and kept me going. I kept slowly working thru the run (could only cast every minute or so when there was a lull in the wind) and finally I saw a huge fin swirl right by the end of my line. When I pulled back and heard my reel sing, I let out one of the biggest woohoo's of my life that must have woken everyone up, but I didn't care (I later found out it did in fact wake up my friends). Two guys who were camping out downstream came to the bank and saw me out there with my fish on and started yelling back.

    This fish was unreal. He took off into my backing and camped in the center rip well downstream of me. Everytime I pulled back and reeled, he would take more line out. I couldn't move this fish. Afterwards I checked the drag that I had cranked down to and I could barely move it with 2 fingers...but this fish had no problem chilling in the current and bulldogging me. After 8 or so minutes of this, I finally started to make progress. Every 30 or so feet closer I would get him would just result in another run down stream but I knew he had to get tired soon. After four solid runs I finally got my leader out of the water and was able to walk him into shore. When I pulled him next to bank, I was stunned.

    A gorgeous, wild male was staring at me. These wild fish have seriously won the genetic lottery. So damn strong, so aggressive, and so perfect. I think I need to replace my girlfriends cosmo mags with wild steelhead pics. These fish are so damn sexy. I spent a few minutes reviving him and off he went as strong as ever. I let those two guys downstream have the run as I was more than content and just wanted to sit down with a beer and relax. 15 minutes later after getting back to camp, I heard a yell from downstream. I figured one of them got a nice take too.

    Overall this was the trip of a lifetime. My phone got ruined in the tent due to a small leak, I fell in a total of 7 times, I lost 9 fish without landing them, and all my clothes were soaked. Doesn't matter. I landed multiple fish every day of the trip (besides the first night) and had a blast.

    On top of all this, I learned so much. Gear doesn't really matter (altho this Hardy reel this guy had was awesome, the whole river could hear when he had a fish on!), fly doesn't really matter, how far you can cast doesn't really matter. Sure being better/having better of those things helps, but at the end of the day what matters is you getting that fly in the right spot at the right time with the right presentation. The best fisherman of the bunch, who would openly joke about how he was going to sleep in a few hours and wake up at 7, put in behind us, and still get a fish (which he did every. damn. time) was throwing a 30 year old rod with a $20 line.

    I was trying to swing my flies way to fast before and when this was pointed out to me I started hooking up at a rate I never thought possible. Line control is so important. It is so much more than just casting and then mindlessly flipping line upstream to mend. You gotta keep your eye on the line, know where your fly is, how fast it is moving, and try to control that as much as you can. I was amazed at where some of these fish took my fly and how slow it was moving. Also, to those that say steelhead don't rise to dries/surface flies...well that just isn't true. We were using full floating lines with normal 10lb leaders and the fish would come up for the flies. You could almost always see the take if you were paying attention.

    Also, I need to learn how to nymph well. This guy across the river landed 4 fish in 20 minutes while nymphing. I never knew so much went into it. His line control was unreal. The amount of crazy mending he was doing and how active he was made me realize how much work goes into it and how effective it can be. I swear I thought I was watching dustin chromers out there with his hevi beads because if this guy kept fishing, the river would have been depleted of steelhead quite fast.

    As a final note, I now understand why some people are so obsessed with wild steelhead. They have seriously won the genetic lottery. They are the perfect specimen. So gorgeous to look at, they fight harder than hatchery fish, and there is no denying how incredible it must be for that one fish to survive long enough to come back to the river to take a fly.

    Anyways, this report is way too long and doesn't have nearly enough pictures (phone broke). I will never forget my first fish nor the wild buck I took in the rain. Those fish will stick with me forever, as will this whole steelheading game. I feel like before this trip it was almost blind determination/desperation to land a fish that was driving me to head out as often as I could, but now I know its because I'm hooked and I won't ever be able to shake it. I can't wait to get back out there and fish again.

    Also, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you here. I spend way too much time on this forum as is just reading old posts but I have been able to pick up valuable tidbits here and there that have helped me immensely. I know I still have soooo much to learn and I'm sure this forum will continue to deliver new information for me. Hopefully at some point I can start helping others too.

    tldr; landed my first steelhead ever + a bunch more fish after that.
     
  2. nice work puddin looks like im taggin along on the next trip.

    you are forever ruined
     
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  3. Steve Knapp

    Steve Knapp Beach Bum

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    Hell yea, I know right where you're at.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
     
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  4. Danielocean

    Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

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    Proud of you man. Looks like I lost the bet and owe you the case of beer.
     
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  5. Double or nothin for a Washington caught steelhead

    Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk 2
     
  6. golfman44

    golfman44 Active Member

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    Dan is getting a case regardless when he gets his.

    Honestly I need to find new water to fish up here. I tried to learn the lower NF Stilly but it got shut down earlier this summer, and on the sky all I really know are a few spots that I've never seen a fish pulled frmo
     
  7. Stilly sucks don't fish there

    Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk 2
     
  8. pbunbury

    pbunbury Tights Lines

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    Awesome story! Congrats!
     
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  9. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

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    Way to go man! Another one ruined for life.
     
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  10. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

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    You poor devil. Life will never be the same again. But, and there is always a but, on dark cold evenings when you are stuck next to the fire you can dredge up the memory of that fish and the fight.
    About that time you will begin to seach around for the rod, and line and flies and start planning to abuse your self yet once again.

    I know that is the way I live it.
     
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  11. tinman207

    tinman207 Active Member

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    Very cool....I am a life long trout nympher and am just taking up the steelhead quest and all things two handed. Congrats!
     
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  12. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Congrats Golfman44! Obviously another lost soul. If you never amount to anything, you won't care. You've caught a steelhead.

    Sg
     
  13. Thomas Williams

    Thomas Williams Habitual Line Stepper

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    I'm game as well. I've got less than 60 days to target fish on the Spey so I'm trying to get in there before I move to Germany.
     
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  14. Patrick Allen

    Patrick Allen Active Member

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    Sweet Velvet. Nice story, I could picture it in my mind.
     
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  15. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

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    Probably the only wall of text that Ive read through in a while, and thats not just cause I'm bored at work. Good story online Im sure words cannot describe how awesome it truly was.
     
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  16. Mike Garritson

    Mike Garritson Member

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    Nice! Great post...wish you had some pics. Sounds like an awesome trip.
     
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