What's your story?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by englunkm, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. I am in the process of going after my first steelhead and thought I would see what kind of stories everyone else has for their first. Call me crazy, but I decided to dive into the steel-game with a spey rod and I have probably spent somewhere around 50 hours on the water with no fish thus far. Brutal, yes, but I have been doing what I can to stay focused on process and not results as I am aware of what I have gotten myself into. I'll be going to the peninsula in a week to see if I can land my first.

    My question to you is: How did you start out steelheading and what kind of challenges (or lack there of) did you face in catching your first? And of course, I would love to hear about the triumphant moment as well :)
  2. Englunkm,
    I caught 7 fish to the net the first year, I have no idea how many hours a lot and only 1 fish of those 7 was a hatchery keeper, numerous LDR,
    Confidence is a big deal! I can only say stick it out it is an
    Addiction, seek out others that have been successful in your area,
    Most Fly anglers are a pretty about at least pointing you in the right
    Direction I mean what to look for like walking speed water, structure
    Rocks or boulders, water depth, water temp, bright flys on a overcast day,
    More natural colors on a bright day.
    Hope that helps,
    Kelly Michelsen
  3. Not sure exactly when I caught my first steelhead. I can tell you it was caught out of the Rogue River some 50 years ago. Since then I have spent countless years, months, weeks, days and hours chasing after steelhead in rivers from northern California to Idaho to Alaska and everywhere in between. Good luck and with time your first will come. Afterwards you will be like the rest of us chasing those damn fish where ever they swim.
  4. My first was on the Grand Ronde, Nov 4th at 11:45 am, first day ever for steelies, after only 4 hrs of fishing. My buddy lost two (would have been his 1st and 2nd) - 15 minutes later, he moved upstream, I went to his spot... fish on.

  5. My first steelhead was last spring (late March I think) on the OP. I finally convinced a friend to take me out to show how to catch a steelhead. We arrived on a river at about 1:30PM. He suggested I start at the head of a run with my single handed 8wt, while he started 50 yards downstream with his spey. I was just putting line out and getting into the rythm of swinging. Then, on my 4th cast, I got SLAMMED! I yelled downriver to my pal that I thought I had something. He took one look at my rod bent WAAAAY over and said I was snagged on a log or rock....that is until the rock/log broke the surface. At that point he let out the loudest 'HOLY SH!T" I have ever heard. It echoed through the canyon. He came upstream to watch and provided guidance on how to land it. We got it in the shallow just before it shook the hook loose and took off. We had a good long look at it, a beautiful ~13 lb wild hen. The most gorgeous thing I have ever caught fishing. I haven't caught one since.
    Bradley Miller likes this.
  6. I fished for winter steelhead for a whole season without a bite my first year (94?) My fault for trying to use type 3 tips, size 4 flies on the S rivers. The next summer I landed plenty of summer fish on the sky and NF Stilly, and that was it for me. Hopelessly hooked ever since. First fish on a fly was in the Reiter reach and it took a moroon emu bugger with beadchain eyes in extremely low water. Landed 3 hatchery bonkers that day, and I remember there being so many fish there that the tiny creek up into the holding ponds was STACKED with steel. Could have reached down with a dipnet and scooped up a limit in one swipe. best part about that day is the gear chuckers were getting skunked while my size 8 fly was cleaning the fuck up. Same week I had a multi fish day on the NF Stilly. Better days on the S rivers, thats for sure.

    Back in those days, I used to bug Les Johnson incessantly for advice while he worked at the Swallows Nest in Seattle, and Mike Kinney while he was working at Creekside in Issiquah

    First winter fish was at cracker bar on the sky that winter, right at the tailout behind some spawned out chum zombies. Took a purple egg sucking leech (size 2) on the dangle down. I was still too young to drive, and my mom who had driven me there was pretty impressed. I cooked my first steelhead that day, because my vegetarian mom refused to cook it for me
    Jamie Wilson, TD and englunkm like this.
  7. I'll never forget my first steelhead. It was a winter fish and in those days, most everyone said you couldn't catch a winter steelhead with a fly. The members of the local fly club would put up their fly gear and switch to spin gear for winter steelhead. The subject for most conversations of the members was the best roe to use with their spin gear. It was only me and the owner of the local fly shop who decided it wasn't impossible to catch a winter steelhead in Oregon with fly gear.

    He had successfully caught winter steelhead with a fly so that gave me hope. In those days, Deep Water Express had just started showing up on the shelves so he and I experimented with different length heads and running lines. We knew if we'd ever have a chance to catch a winter run steelhead, we had to get the fly down to where the fish were holding.

    After word of his success, I asked him what the devil he was doing that I wasn't doing because I wasn't catching anything. He told me to look for small water and don't fish the deep water where the spin guys were fishing. He had better luck presenting his patterns to steelhead in fairly shallow water.

    With that in mind, I started looking for small coastal rivers that held steelhead. I think it was in a December so long ago I don't remember the year. I do remember all the major rivers were blown out and no one was trying to fish the flood waters. I was hell bent on catching a steelhead with fly gear so I decided to drive the coast line and look for a river that was fishable. I talked Virginia into going with me.

    Even the small streams were blown out... except for one. I have no idea why the river wasn't effected by the rain but it was low and clear. Gin and I drove upstream and found some very good looking water. The river had split so each side was fairly small in width.

    Virginia and I trudged along and I started out casting and not catching... the usual. I decided to call it quits and we started wading back to the truck. Then I saw it. A steelhead was holding right next to the far bank of one section of the river. I was using a short head of DWE and a glo-bug. My heart was racing. I told Virginia not to move because I didn't want to spook the fish.

    I made one crummy cast and the glo-bug drifted three feet away from the steelie. I made another cast hoping I could present the pattern at the nose of the fish. Damn, I was still a good foot away from where the steelhead was holding. Suddenly, the fish swam out and grabbed the glo-bug. I couldn't believe it. I witnessed the take. I freaked. What to do? What to do?

    I know, maybe I should set the hook. So I did. That upset the steelhead. She made a run upstream and I was doing the best I could to stop the fish. I'd caught salmon with fly gear but this sucker was a lot more active. So the battle began. The steelhead turned around and swam downstream, I franticly reeled in line. The fish jumped. My heart stopped. But the hook was still set. After a bit of a back and forth fight, I backed up and was able to drag the steelhead onto the bank and quickly ran up and grabbed it.

    As steelhead go, it wasn't really that large and probably only eight pounds. That made no difference to me. It was my first steelhead. It was caught with a fly. And it was a winter run.

    I don't eat steelhead but didn't have a camera. I knew no one would believe that I caught a winter steelhead with fly gear so I whacked the fish and took it home for a photo.

    After that, I started catching more winter steelhead. Evidently, after you figure out how to catch the first one, the onus is off and you start catching more.

    These days, flyfishing for winter steelhead is no big deal but long ago, it was considered a fool's game. How could I not remember that first steelhead? (sorry for the long post but I love telling the story)
    Olive bugger, Steve Call, TD and 4 others like this.
  8. Great story GAT. Makes my heart race just reading it!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  9. Awesome stories! Reading all of these posts makes me wanna catch one that much more.
  10. Trust me. Once you catch one of the critters, you're doomed! Then you'll want to catch more. And sometimes, it can be many moons and hundreds of casts before you catch another one. When the runs are good and conditions are good, you may catch many. When the runs are poor or conditions are poor, you'll get skunked more often than not.

    I dedicated an entire year to flyfish for nothing other than steelhead. I live in a part of Oregon where catching a steelhead every month of the year is possible. I did catch quite a few steelhead but at the end of the year I came to the conclusion that no matter what, catching steelhead with flies is damned difficult with many trips ending up as nothing more than casting practice.

    Nowadays, I fish for anything that will take a fly. But when you finally do catch your first steelhead with fly gear, you'll be addicted. You've been warned.
  11. A long time ago i did not have hard time landing a steellhead. i was a good gear guy and yes I'm bragging. My point is i have and still do 2 good friends teaching me to try it on the fly.Ok let do it.About 6 month later on the sky I'm thinking to my self THIS IS BULLSHIT and then the line went down hard and there it was about 33inch fish. SO 18years later about $ 1,0000 in fly equipment I'm still hooked and love it.
  12. Well I fished nearly every day of my childhood except when the Washougal was blown out. I had caught many salmon and steelhead except on the fly. It wasn't until 1984 that i actually sat down to seriously pursue them with a fly, I was 14 at the time. The good water to fish was 4 miles away so I put lots of miles on my felt soles, when I had felt soles. I would normally fish a muddler or a steelhead caddis I rose lots of steelhead that year lots of them I rose several times most of them while sight fishing but i could never actually hook them.
    Then another steelhead fly fisher told me about how on the Wenatchee he had had to drop his rod tip to hook them but by then the summer was over. In the Fall of 1985 I put that little bit if knowledge to work and on September 25th I landed my first steelhead on a fly a buck of about 10 lbs on a green steelhead caddis. 9'6" fisher fiberglass rod and a phfluger reel with several of the little screws missing and a DT line so worn out.. well it was worn out...
    Hooked a steelhead on a fly every year since however 2012 is the first year since then that I have not landed one on a fly.
  13. I don't think that these fish actually exist.
    englunkm likes this.
  14. I caught my first one on the Deschutes on my 13th birthday on a dry line and a spawning purple. It took me 5 years to land my first wild fish.
  15. englunkm likes this.
  16. After a winter of flailing an SA type 4 sink-tip line, my first steelhead came to the beach in late March, 1989....a beautiful wild hen, at Tiffany's Bar on the Sauk (no longer there, so no sense looking for it on Google Earth)...caught with a purple and pink marabou spey (remember those?), on the first steelhead fly rod that I put together (a 9'6" G Loomis IM6 8-wt) , with John Farrar as my guide. I can still see her laying on her side in the shallows, the fly in the corner of her jaw....nothing like it!
  17. I started fishing as a small child - bait and gear mainly. Was pretty deadly with spinners and spoons by the time I was in HS. But never tried for steelhead, as my dad always told me they were too hard to catch. At that time, i was given a cheapo fly rod combo from a friend of a friend who never used it. And that kicked off my fly fishing enthusiasm - though that took many years before I really started getting traction - before the internet and with nobody to teach me.

    Fast forward several years. I had been doing some salmon fishing on the Green river one morning. I was a 'Big Brother' and had my little brother hooked up with a small spinning rod and spinner fishing for cutties. We were both getting skunked and I was tired of casting my fly rod, so I took his little trout rod and chucked the spinner to the other side of the river, inches from some tall grass under some branches - where nobody else was focusing since a huge popular pool was just downstream. The spinner hit the water and instantly I thought I must have snagged grass or a branch under the surface since I was pushing it getting that spinner so close to cover, as was my habit when hunting trout... I instinctively gave a quick hook set, and stopped with rod high to feel if I got an answer back, before commencing spinner retrieval from snag techniques... Nothing. Rod bent heavily, but nothing. Gave a couple quick yanks to see if I could free it. Suddenly is started pulling. The all heck breaks loose at a huge fish screams upstream. Then suddenly comes screaming back my way as fast as I could reel. It dives deep, then like a trained orca whale, comes exploding out of the water in front of us. Eyes bulging and jaws dropped, we could not believe the sight as this 15+lb chrome bright steelhead did an aerial display just yards from where we stood. It dove deep and cruised downstream further into the big pool and near the far end - gear guys were pulling in their lines and getting out of my way as I barreled through. Soon I had 15 guys standing on the shore watching this crazy battle between me, my tiny trout rod, and this amazing steelhead. This went on for a good half hour. I had that rod taco'd to the max and the 4lb line about ready to snap - and that fish would not budge from the bottom. Finally, the lure just came undone and it was over. I lost the battle, but the war had only just began. I had drawn blood on the mythical steelhead and was determined to actually land one.

    Was only a year later when I finally did do just that. A buddy and I would hit a favorite run on the Snoqualmie before work a few times a week using float and jig. Caught a beauty of a 10lb native hen that year. Wasn't too much longer after that when I finally landed my first on my fly rod. Then on my fly rod using my own fly creation. They all start blurring together, but you remember your first...
    Bradley Miller likes this.
  18. My first was on the Deschutes 8 years ago in September. This fish hammered my fly and before I could to anything it was down river. I finally got the sense to try and slow this fish down which was bad timing timing in hind sight. It was at the next riffle when this fish went air born. At that point I lost the battle. It all happened so fast that I didn't really know how to react. Plus this was my first steelhead and I was by my self. At that point I had never seen a steelhead caught, just heard about them. I look back and laugh now. I must have reeled in 200 ft of line when it was all over.
  19. Thanks to everyone for posting. I could read peoples stories of their first steelhead all day. I will be sure to give a report when I get back from the OP, hopefully with news of a first of my own!!
  20. I caught mine on the Deschutes way back. I was fishing fro trout, using my 4 wt. LL. In those days, I used to go every June after school was out and spend four days relaxing. It was the last day, noon, and time to wrap it up. I made one last cast and up popped the prettiest hen steelhead. It was small, maybe 26" long and only 3 - 4 pounds but it was one of the coolest fish I've ever caught and I released it unharmed. That was the first and I have returned many times since. I l;ove that river.

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