Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Dan Cuomo, Mar 14, 2012.
Great! I'm addicted to steelheading AND I have to have my adipose neck tat removed.
After living in trout heaven (also known as Montana) for 12 years before I moved to the PNW in 1991, I've been disappointed each time I've fished for trout in Washington State. Any of you who have been able to spend a week or two fishing the storied waters of Montana have found out how great the trout fishing there is. Now imagine being able to fish these rivers and streams from mid-February until late November or some time in December when it gets to cold to fish and have an idea of what it is like to live and go trout fishing a lot there.
Unfortunately, our stream and river trout fishing in Washington State is awful in comparison so each time I fished for trout in our state, I've been disappointed. A good fly fisher in Montana can catch 10-14 trout an hour for several hours a day in the evening or morning on many of the rivers and streams there. Ours just doesn't compare.
However, we have steelhead, which Montana doesn't have (well the Kootenai drainage which includes the Yaak did have summer steelhead, sockey, coho, and chinook before Grand Coulee was completed and prevented the fish from getting into the upper most Columbia and its tributaries). I haven't fished for trout in at least 9 years because I'd rather fish for steelhead instead of driving 2-3 hrs from home to get sort of OK riverine trout fishing where 10 fish in a day's fishing is considered good fishing. I can be fishing for steelhead within 15 miles of home and a 30 miles drive puts me on some of the storied steelhead water in Northwest WA.
Granted, there are many days when those of us who pursue steelhead with a fly take a skunk, but I'd still rather fish for steelhead than any of the other fish I've fished for throughout my life. Before anyone criticizes my lack of species on fly rod, I've fished for and caught largemout bass (a lot of them, they are a sucker for a well placed popping bug or stipped streamer), smallmouth bass, trout, pickerel (I grew up in Pennsylvania and oftern fished for these), nothern pike (yes, it is great fun to hook and land a northern of 30#'s, but their fight is nowwhere near a steelhead's run), muskies (a nothern pike on sterioids), whitefish, carp (big ones a fun to catch in mid-day when the trout aren't really feeding), bull trout, crappie (delishes, but not much fight), blue gills, sunfish, perch, rock bass, trout from brownies to brookies, chinook, coho, chum (great fun on a fly rod), and pink salmon. However, none of them exites me like steelhead.
West side streams/rivers are not as productive as their eastside counterparts (including Montana's) because they receive less solar input. Anadromy allows fish to exploit the most productive environment available. With access to the ocean's resources rainbow trout have a choice...some choose to be steelhead and some don't. Those that decide to be steelhead migrate to abundant resources, those that stay are limited. Montana's trout get lots of sun and grow faster than westside trout, but eastside trout are more like Montana trout in terms of growth rates and stream carrying capacity. Look east of the Cascades for good trout fishing in Washington.
FT makes some illuminating statements which go a long way toward explaining my current position on steelhead here in WA. I'm closer to 60 than I am to 50, and I've lived a number of places and fished for many different species; smallmouth in the James River of Virginia, warm water fish in FL, brookies in Maine, and I cut my teeth on the trout of NY's Catskill's storied Charmed Circle. My avatar is a picture of one of the most beautiful fish I've ever caught - an eight inch native caught in a small mountain stream here in Western WA. I've fished Idaho, Montana, Wyoming. I'm not impuning trout. Steelhead are, for me and apparently at least a few others, just something altogether different.
Below is the latest fix.
I love my steelhead time. But there is something to be said about watching a trout snap a hopper or top water fly. Especially if you hear the take as it happens.
I just love to fish and live in a place that allows me to do it year round. We spend summers with our trailer parked at our favorite spots in N. ID. and MT fishing mainly for cutthroat, in August will start hitting the Clearwater for steelhead followed by the Snake and Ronde, and when that is over make the drive over to Rocky Ford. When the algae and weeds take over there hit a few lakes, then it is time to hit N.ID. again. Each place is my favorite when I am fishing there.
I'd rather pursue rainbows in lakes the size of steelhead then fish with the thousands and thousands of bone heads on our western rivers fishing for steel. the hundreds and hundreds of guides now and the horrible fish runs making the number of fisherman to fish terrible. from the bait chuckers to the snaggers it's truly A $%&#ing mess on the rivers of the west now days.
Even fishing for steel for over three decades trout have always been my first love in fly fishing. matching the hatch means a hell of a lot more to me then dredging long runs with heavy lines and over sized "none hatch" flies for steel.
I was prepared for an experience much like that described above, and indeed found it on the Kalama, which I quickly abandoned. I've also encountered such fishing for trout on more rivers - in WA, WY, MT, ID... the list goes on - than I care to recall. My willingness to drive long distances out to the OP, to begin learning the various rivers, and to hike and bushwhack once there has been very different, as I've experienced none of what's described by Mark; above and what so many others have written. Leaving home at 3:00 am has been... interesting, and often spending less time fishing than driving has had its challenges. My guess is that the distance of the OP from the rest of civilization plays a major role in our differing experiences. I've found fish more days than not, and while avoiding the weekends whenever possible, largely fished w/o anyone else in sight. I've throughly enjoyed learning to spey cast and tie flies appropriate to steelhead. The elk, eagles, grouse, ducks, and even the occasional bear, have all added to the allure and excitment of chasing steelhead. Then again, I used to enjoy triathlons and thought that college lacrosse was fun too, so I'll stipulate to being a bit of an oddball. Again... not dissing trout; just interested by my reaction to steelheading and wondering if others have been so moved. It seems some have, and just as many or more have not or once were and have chucked it for various reasons. I'm just glad we're all still fly fishing.
trout=methadone. It helps, but its not the same.
There are trout and then there are TROUT
Trout fishing on the west side of the Cascades is where you find it. When I lived there in the Greater Everett area I always found places to fish for trout. I would rather fish for trout than Steelhead or Salmon. Lots of fun on a light weight set-up.
The bug population on the West side Skinny water is very small compared to Eastern Wash. or Montana and the fish don't grow very fast. The Wet side streams are almost sterile in bugs.
But one can find half way good fishing if one wants to search for it. I always did.
Exactly! IT has become a major problem since all of the internet craze I think.
I use to really like steelhead fishing, but would rather wait and chase steel in the slower part of the seasons now. They are alot of fun to fight on a flyrod, but it's not fun fighting against all of the idiots on the rivers anymore. It is amazing just how irresponsible steelhead fishers can be and the younger generation watches this circus and follows suit. Meanwhile, all of the older steelheaders are complaining after the younger generation followed in their irresponsible footsteps....go figure.
Then you have the occasional guide (not all guides) that will post up on ya and drop a client or two when he can see you are working a run. This type of guide thinks they own the fricken water and can step on whoever they choose. This only hurts the other very good guides that do care.
And don't even get me started on the pimped up movies galore(not all movies)that highlight spots.......Grrrr.
I'm not a guide......just a guy that loves to flyfish.
Back to stillwater for now....let the summer run madness begin.
Funny I was fishing this amazing river this past Sat. saw the birds start swooping down on a hatch and switched over to a skated bug...got one huge rise...and a couple small ones...
Couldn't have told you if it was trout or steel...but that's the fun part of the game...
I'll bet it wasn't a west side river............but I agree. Let the whiners stay home. Less folks on the river. I fish one of the most popular rivers in the Salish Sea region yet I don't see all this bullshit they are whining about.
Yep.......I use to say the same thing.
Just give it time. The internet sites will catch up to how good the fishing is there and hot spot a few things. Then comes the flyfishing films and flyfishing companies to pimp up the region's popularity and pimping new products, .....Great place to fish for sure and I'm kinda jealous.
If you have ever fished the rivers down here, I'm sure you'd never return. I only wish I could fish the region you live in, but that's not gonna happen.
It is truly sad what has happened since the internet became such a tool in everyone's arsenal.
Swing some up for me.
Note: This was not to put down any fish info sites in particular, just all the internet sites that have to do with any fishing info in whole and the people that don't know how to post responsibly.
Westside river, just a bit farther up...
Skated bugs, swung a few patterns..was pretty cool as got a bull, my first cuttie out of there and small trout...
Bruce your right...but it's not worth saying..as we are in the minority..
yup, nothing like hatchery fish to replace wild ones that actually eat ..
kerry for you...just a peak..