What's your story?

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

  1. Joepa

    Joepa Joe from PA

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    directly above the center of the Earth
    I was lucky. I caught my first "steelhead" on a nymph in the first run on my first trip on the Salmon River in NY 20 years ago. After I moved to WA 15 years ago, I got my first true steelhead in the first run on my first trip to an OP river. The challenges for me came more on the gear side. I stopped nymphing when I moved to WA, so I had to learn the art of the swing and throwing larger flies and heavier sink tips. I fished a ton the first few years I lived here and quickly started to wear out my shoulder overhand casting with a single hander, so I picked up a spey rod and never looked back. Learning all the spey casts was a lot of fun and has made the experience much more enjoyable for me. Learning to tie classic spey / dee flies was also a lot of fun and became a hobby for me.

    Unfortunately, I find the newest, and greatest challenge is simply getting over the menal inertia that often prevents me from getting out. With the recent early closures of our PS rivers, and the resulting shift of fishing pressure we've seen on the OP, I've really had to lower my expectations when it comes to accessing unmolested water and fish, and that has not been easy for me as guy that moved here, in part, to get away from crowds.
     
  2. TD

    TD Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    North End
    First Steelhead? It was an accident. I was installing a piece of equipment at a sawmill near Forks over the 4th of July weekend. I brought my fishing rod with hopes of sneaking in a little fishing. I had Kings on the Sol Duc in mind. On the afternoon of the 4th, the mill manager told everyone to go home early. One of the millwrights, wish I could remember his name, saw me rigging up my fly rod and stopped to ask what I was up to. When I told him of my plans he took me to one of his spots. It was a great gear hole that offered no back cast what so ever. I put on big heavily weighted fly, that is typically trolled behind a boat in the saltwater, and rolled cast it above the hole and fed line out while the fly bounced down the hole. When the line stopped at the bottom of the hole in the shallow riffle he laughed and said, I knew you were gonna snag bottom if you fished it down that far. I jerked the rod up and down in an attempt to free the fly. That shallow water exploded as a fish bolted out of there and headed into the deep hole. This fish was jumping and pulling me all around that pool. I said to my new friend, "I've never caught a King that fought like this before." The dude looked at me sideways and said, "that's a steelhead, man. You ever catch a steelhead before?" I said, "Nope, really? A steelhead?" Back then I only thought of the OP rivers as salmon rivers. We finally led that fish to the bank and I was surprised it was only about 6-7lbs. That was the most fun I'd ever had with a fly rod in 20 years of fishing. I asked him if there were a lot of steelhead around there. He looked at me like I was some kind of idiot.
     
  3. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Messages:
    2,591
    Likes Received:
    457
    Location:
    Woodinville, WA
    I am ashamed to say how many years I have fished for these critters with sad results. I have landed and taken only one, but have had the pleasure of meeting several others. Once hooked you are doomed.

    I believe the one that spanked me the hardest was on the Babine river on the last day at the camp. Bright fish, tailwalked like a ballerina and kissed me goodby when the leader parted. Broke right in the middle so it was not a knot giveaway. The beauty of it was that she did it all right in front of all the other ten guys in the hole.
     
  4. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Messages:
    4,416
    Media:
    24
    Likes Received:
    851
    Location:
    Edgewood, WA
    American River, 1971, under the Watt Ave Bridge, caught on night-crawler and spin combo...my unsophisticated, early days :D. First on a fly, 1997, Cowlitz River, not 20 feet downstream of the Blue Creek boat launch, using a single hand 9 wt, an intermediate line and a Muddler Minnow. Some things one never forgets.

    Welcome to the world of cold, lonely, wet days, searching for ghosts!

    Good luck!
     
    englunkm likes this.
  5. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    984
    Media:
    45
    Likes Received:
    435
    Location:
    Marine Area 9
    I caught my first steelhead in early October fly fishing on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish. I was working the Hazel Hole next to the highway with my secret cutthroat fly when I saw something good sized roll softly on the surface. Next cast just upstream from that spot produced a soft strike. I set the hook and felt dead weight. The fish was moving around a bit, but no jumps and no reel sizzling runs. As it came in for a quick landing I kneeled down in the river, then my fishing buddy spotted it and yelled "it's a steelhead"! After he yelled "steelhead" the fish suddenly came to life and and surged straight into me, ramming my groin area (hard). I managed to compose myself and wrangle in my first steelhead, my friend snapped a photo to document the moment. It was a 9 pound summer run Skamania hatchery buck that was far from chrome and was probably the weakest steelhead I've ever hooked for its size. But you don't pick your first steelhead, it picks you.

    The next weekend I returned to the NF Stilly and hooked my second steelhead at the Fortson Hole. This steelhead hit the fly hard, ran hard, jumped and fought me tooth and nail for nearly 15 minutes. Finally, just a foot from the beach it unhooked itself on a submerged branch and quietly swam off into the deep. That fish got me interested in steelhead.
     
    englunkm likes this.
  6. porterHause

    porterHause Just call me Jon

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    352
    Media:
    3
    Likes Received:
    185
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    englunkm and Richard Torres like this.
  7. Richard Torres

    Richard Torres Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2003
    Messages:
    1,377
    Media:
    11
    Likes Received:
    84
    Jon I read your earlier post, nicely done, what a beautiful fish.

    Like TD posted earlier, my first was an accident. In my early 20's my brother and I took an arduous late summer hike up camp robber creek to the base of a waterfall he encountered with his girlfriend (hint: his thought was not on fishing at that time he told me) weeks prior to us going up. This time he was armed with his gear.
    At the time I wasn't a fly addict yet. Instead I was tossing a small dick nite into pocket water at the base of these falls when all of a sudden from out of the depths a huge shadow darted towards the spoon and slammed it. Before making it to the falls the focus was into catching small 6" to 10" cutties and planted rainbows so it freaked me out to see this huge shadow come out of nowhere. The fight lasted briefly, as I recollect, maybe a couple of minutes as the fish really didn't have much room to run around and I wasn't going to let it leave the pool.
    After finally landing it I knew why it didn't put up much of a fight being as it was in full post spawn colors and thin, nothing less it was still a beautiful specimen somewhere between 5 to 7 lbs. Even to this day when the conversation comes up my brother and I still can't believe that I caught that fish in such small water.
     
    englunkm likes this.
  8. Ian Broadie

    Ian Broadie Flyfishing is so "Metal"

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    Messages:
    670
    Media:
    4
    Likes Received:
    51
    Location:
    Kirkland, Washington
    Home Page:
    I have two tales one of the first steelhead I ever hooked and one for the first steelhead I ever caught.

    The first steelhead I ever hooked was in Juanita Beach in Kirkland sometime around 1980/81 while I was fishing for trout in March during conferences at school (way back when a 9 year old kid could just walk to the beach). I was fishing with a lady who was retired and spending her days fishing on the dock when she set her hook on a bite, broke the fish off instantly, and said "That was big!". About 10 seconds after that statement my rod starts doing the little tip bounce that says I'm getting a bite and when I set the hook what seemed like a whale (actually about a 6-8 lb steelhead) came shooting straight out of the water and proceeded to move at what felt like Mach 2 across Juanita Bay. At this point I panicked and tried to reel to slow the fish down which pretty well immediately broke the fish off but it is a memory that will stay with me as long as I can remember anything.

    The first steelhead I ever caught was ironically on the fly about two years after I hooked my first steelhead. My family was invited to go on a steelheading trip on Skagit (by one of "guru's" of steelheading) where one day we would float from Marblemount to Concrete and the next we would just bank fish. The first day was fruitless but fun because floating a river was a totally new experience and it was the first time I ever got to see large amounts of Bald Eagles. On the second day my dad decided he wanted to sleep and the guy running the trip was nice enough to take me along to fish The Mixer (which at that time you could just drive to) since it was only about 10 minutes from where we were camping.

    While I was there I actually sort of learned how to cast a sink tip on a fly rod (single hand of course two-handed rods were more of a myth at that time) and was able to make a cast to a spot that might hold a fish. Low and behold I got a bite on this nifty "new" type of fly called a marabou streamer which my dads friend had been working on and off to the races I went. After about a 5 minute battle which involved some pretty fearsome runs and some pretty stellar jumps I brought a 6-8 lb hen to hand and just feeling a sense of disbelief and wonder that an animal could be that strong.

    I went 20 years in between steelhead for various reasons but now I can't imagine not fishing for them every chance I get and being more than a little sad about what was and what has become of it. Oh and I forgot to mention the rod I was using was a 1st generation graphite 8wt Fenwick with a Pfluger Medalist.
     
    TD and Steffan Brown like this.
  9. Dorylf

    Dorylf Oregon Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Salem, OR
    Oh, brother, can I relate to that. My U.S. made 1495½ had to be missing three screws when I landed my first flyrod steelhead back in the '80's. But, he wasn't the first steelhead I ever caught. That fish was on a spinner on a section of a river that now is 15 years into a "temporary" closure to let fish populations recover.

    I remember, almost like I was still standing there on the left bank of the river, the fog lying heavy on the tops of the trees on the far side of the canyon. It was late December and the temps were in the low 30's so there was ice shimmering in the cobwebs that knitted together the dried stalks of grass along the shore. Everything--tree branches, grass, and rocks--was crusted in white frost crystals, and it was so cold I could see my breath as clearly as if I'd been puffing a Pall Mall.

    The cast wasn't really any different than the 42,000 I'd taken over the previous four years but, for some reason, this time a fish grabbed and hung on (unlike the two before that had merely taunted by shaking once, jumping, and then tossing the hook before they departed).

    The water was probably 38 degrees, so after the fish hit, he didn't fight much. He was average, about 8 pounds and sporting that crimson cheek-to-tail trademark that earned his cousins the title: rainbow. To me, he was a thing of beauty.

    I was able to slide him up on the bank and, with a little effort, work loose the hook from his jaw. However, without my being aware at the time, that steelhead had set a barb deep in me as well. And, as it turns out, I was hooked to the very soul, a place where it's nigh impossible to dislodge a well-set fly from its purchase. So, I fish on to this day.

    Darn fish.

    Phil
     
  10. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Messages:
    3,223
    Media:
    39
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Eagle River, Alaska
    I always heard/read about them as a kid, but the steelhead run was 5 hours away, and during the school year so I got approximately 1 hour fishing for them growing up, if you discount the 2 hours I spend on the duwamish when I was 14. Then when I was 15 some dude my parents knew took me down to go king fishing. Opening day the river was clear (strange) and the kings were in. I hooked two steelhead the opening night, fall fish in may, but hey I was 15 and had no clue. The next day I landed my first ever steelhead probably a 27 inch fish, then a 32 inch fish that looked and fought like it had spent the fall in the estuary or something (coulda been a random spring fish too I suppose). Finally caught a king too, a nice 25-20 pound fish a mile and a half above tide water.

    The next steelhead I would catch was in 2005 while fishing for silvers, one of 20 half pounders that overwinter in the lake on my campus it was 16 inches and pulled me around in a float tube.

    Then I went to Yakutat, which in 2007 was unreal 1000 fish per mile...
    since then I have spent every spring chasing steelhead, its cost me a (maybe several) relationship(s), tens of thousands of dollars, that one fish after five seasons looking at this one stream and hiking its length twenty or thirty times was soo worth it.

    Pumped for may.
     
  11. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    6,553
    Likes Received:
    579
    Location:
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Whoa nellie!!! I thought my friggin rod was gonna break, it made some weird noises.
     
  12. Jon Brengan

    Jon Brengan flyfishing addict

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2002
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
    I was mainly a trout bum that liked to fish rivers. I think I had heard of Steelhead, but had rarely seen one, I was fishing with a Berkley Cherrywood flyrod and a cheap fly reel that barely had room for the fly line let alone backing. I lived at Crystal Mt. Resort and fished the Green River. I had gone down to the Hatchery Hole a few times at Palmer and seen people plucking steelhead out of the tail end of the hole on the hatchery side, but that main hole was always super crowded so I never fished it. That particular day, when I arrived no one was there, there were a few fish around but after fishing the main hole, I worked my way down to the tail out. There was a big steelhead just laying in the drift down below me. I switched out my dry line to my spool with sinking taper on it, I had barely ever used that line. I tied on a non-descript green nymph, a pattern I've had great success with many times since then. The steelhead just watched that fly swing down in the current and barely finning out of its path as I figured out how to make the fly just hang in front of the fish and slowly rise in the current in front of it. Over and over I made the cast, nothing happened until the shaddow overtook my side of the river. Then I made the cast once again and as the fly made that rising movement in the current all hell broke loose. I saw the waters part and that fish was on my line. It tail walked its way out into the river, then held just below a mid-river rock. The tug of war was on, I'd work it in only to have the fish rip off a bunch of line back out into the river. This went on for a total of 4 runs, then I was able to make it come my way, I glimpsed the fish, it was way bigger than I had originally thought. After some intense moments I slid that fish up onto the gravel, bonked it. My leg was doing that freaking twitching addrenalin thing, as I worked my way up the river and back to my car. As I was walking up the trail to the parking lot four or five guys were coming down, "nice fish", "thanks" I responed as I thought "now that run is going to get crowded" but I got my first fish!! That got me going on steelheading, the fish dressed out at 12lbs. one of the better fish I've caught on the Green.
    JB
     
  13. Rogue Fanatic

    Rogue Fanatic New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bainbridge Is., WA
    1983, Trail Creek, Michigan City, Indiana, Skamania hatchery steelhead! By god it was awesome. My brother was doing salmon research on Lake Michigan which at that time had phenomenal numbers of steelhead. And since they were all hatchery fish, you could fish at night and the limit was five. I was using glorified bass gear (no one really had specialized salmon-steelhead tackle then), Mitchell 300, 7' rod, 10# Maxima, and a big gob of eggs. Had no idea what I was doing and everytime I hooked a fish I just started whooping as they corkscrewed in the air and came off! Finally landed a beautiful 10# fish and I was hooked for life. Fast forward to 1991 when I moved to the NW and got to learn the Nehalem, Nestucca, S. Santiam, Alsea, Siletz, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Middle Fork Willamette, Elk, Sixes, Pistol, Chetco, Hunter Creek, Pistol, and my own beloved Rogue. Moved farther north and now I fish the Dungeness, Lyre, and the OP rivers. I try flies more often than not but I still enjoy gear fishing.
     
  14. englunkm

    englunkm New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm loving how the badass stories keep coming! Basically fueling me to keep persuing my first... I decided to cancel my trip at the end of November to the Peninsula because of all the rain, but hopefully I will be getting back over there soon... Keep 'em coming!
     
  15. soundflycaster

    soundflycaster Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Mossyrock, WA
    Ever since I was a kid I fly fished for trout. When I moved to Washington in the mid 80's I fished the Snoqualmie River and its forks along with the Green for trout but put my fly rods away for the winter and brought out the lead and corkies for the various salmon but never did steelies. A friend suggested we fish the Sno around Fall City for steelies with a fly rod soI decided to give it a go. Spent about 7 hours on the river before hooking up a fish on a Green Butt Skunk. Small female but that hooked me. I cursed that fish the rest of the winter because I went away blanked the rest of the season! That first one must have been lucky. As I look back I realize how bad my equipment and my techniques were. The following year I picked up a spey rod and started to fish with some guys that knew what they were doing. My hook ups began to improve slowly but enough to keep me coming back for more. I most certainly have the infection or why else would I get up from in front of my wood stove tromp around in freezing water with sleet making my hands and face blue all winter.
     
  16. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    54
    Location:
    everett, wa.
    first was on the sky. it was a very low water summer on the upper river. i was fishing a spot you cant normally fish in an average water year. lost three in a row and finally landed the fourth. all on a polar shrimp. with a sink tip and cheap cortland reel with no drag just a clicker. fun as heck. all were hatchery fish. but very hard hitters. it was back in the day when they planted skammania strain summer runs.
     
  17. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,881
    Likes Received:
    352
    Location:
    Bellingham Wa.
    My first was in 1967, Skagit river just down river from Rockport, on a glob of eggs and an okie drifter. I had reeled in fish my dad had hooked, but this was the first that I had cast and hooked on my own. It was a 5lb male that was as red as a fire engine, my dad wanted me to throw it back, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. My first on a fly was in the North fork Stilly, I had just read " Dry Line Steelhead" and was jazzed. I was fishing a run when I guy with a fly rod stepped out of the bushes below me. He stood there looking up and down the river and then at me, finally he said" are you working your way down the run?", I responded " yes" and he move in behind me. When I got toward the tailout he yelled at me " your standing where you should be fishing", I responded " really". A few casts later I greased lined a 6lb male from under the trees across the river, It was satisfying to say the least.
     

Share This Page