Why Steelhead?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by NomDeTrout, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. Chris DeLeone Active Member

    Posts: 526
    Monroe, WA
    Ratings: +90 / 0
    Sorry boyz - I changed it, your right some nymph and some swing. The guys I hang with do it our way and enjoy that type of method.
  2. Big Tuna Member

    Posts: 1,968
    Wenatchee, Washington
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    They're beautiful and live in beautiful places. They are relatively hard to come by so success is particularly sweet. I primarily swing, but will nymph when necessary...takes on the swing are electric and kinesthetic. I love the rhythm of cast, 2 steps, cast 2 steps. I love casting a two-handed rod. I love the anticipation of pre-dawn preparation and the first trip through an untouched drift. The nasty weather makes you feel alive in a way that sitting behind a desk doesn't. I could go on, but might talk some non-steelheader into taking up the sport:)
  3. doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

    Posts: 600
    Bothell, WA
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Because it's more than just fishing.

    It might just be me, but I can throw perfect casts for trout all day. But iif I don't get some response from the rainbows it's a bummer. I'm not out there to just watch my Elk Hair Caddis swim around in the foam line. ;)

    But with Steelheading, and I don't know why this is either, I can enjoy fishing a piece of water well whether or not I get a grab. I enjoy the casting, the perfect feel of the line as it swings thru a seam with just the right flow for a steelhead to hold there. I enjoy watching my waking fly plow a furrow across the surface as it swims across the river.

    The "Getting It" SG and Kerry are referring to isn't (IMO) some mystical attunement or higher calling. If you enjoy this kinda stuff, then you keep coming back. If you don't, you fish for other species.

    If you need to catch fish to be happy then swinging flies for steelhead is definitely not the game for you.

    Just my .02 opinion.

    Brian
  4. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,593
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,547 / 9
    Two, maybe now three years ago I put down the gear rods and started fishing only with a fly rod. I had been fly fishign for a while from the beach for Sea Run Cuththroat and Salmon, but had kept gear fishing the rivers. I caught a lot of salmon and a pretty decent number of steelhead. One day I asked an older gent on the river casting a fly rod with poetic motion why he was fly fishing despite knowing that there were other potentially more productive methods to catch them. He responded "because this is how I have chosen to fish for steelhead and to make that choice is a comittment that will test your resolve". Timing did not permit much fishing for steelhead the first year of my fly only adventures. Last year I got a few more trips in and even happened into a small hatchery hen. To this day, and hopefully for many more, I remember who I fished with the day before (Rob Ast), how I found myself there the following day (family needed me OUT of the house) and what fly I was swinging when I made that fortunate connection (Kaeten LaBrel - tyingbugs). I've had a bunch of young punks and old dudes tell me that I'm a fool and I'll never catch steelhead on a fly. Maybe I fly fish for steelhead to say fuck you (apologies) to each of them. I prefer to think that I fly fish for steelhead because I am now comitted to that choice and I enjoy, no, I thrive at having my resolve tested. There is arguably no greater scenery than that which can be seen from the side of a flowing river, and no greater way to spend time there than trying to find that poetic motion with fly fishing.
  5. DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

    Posts: 924
    Marine Area 9
    Ratings: +406 / 0
    I suspect it also has something to do with historical attitudes of catching trout (sea-run or otherwise) versus the lowly pacific salmon species. In the "good old days" when coastal NW rivers were choked with seasonal runs of salmon, these were harvested by the ton in nets and traps and promptly canned. Few thought it was worth their time to fly fish for pacific salmon, and few believed they could be enticed to eat flies on a regular basis. On the other hand, the steelhead was a big strong trout that would readily strike a fly and provided great sport on the fly gear of the day (along with coastal cutthroat). Even in those days steelhead numbers were far lower than the various salmon species, so it was actually "sporting" to target them. Over the years, curious fly anglers have gotten much better at catching salmon on the fly in both fresh and saltwater so the balance has tipped. I personally think that those who limit themselves to pursuing the sacred steelhead are missing out on some great fishing. The mythological heroism of chasing steelhead is a bit overdone, especially in the modern era where there's a spey rod every 50 yards on those rivers that haven't been closed yet. That being said, catching a wild steelhead swinging a fly is always a very satisfying feeling.
  6. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    If any other fish acted like a steelhead, I'd fish for it and have the same obsession for that species. Steelhead are not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do, and therefore nothing can be held in comparison. Either you get it or you don't, and getting it can't be taught.
  7. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,827
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,734 / 0
    I'd rather fish for trout.
  8. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,533
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +356 / 1
    I think we fish for steelhead because they are a noble fish. They have been through more difficulties than most, they are difficult if not nearly impossible to catch, and their beauty is such that they can sometimes take your breath away. Fishing with a fly merely adds the essance of fooling a wiley critter with something manmade but looking like a natural. Their habitat is most often beautiful and serene with the quiet that many of us search for. I've caught many other species but I will never forget my first steelhead on a fly and 4 wt. rod. The thrill has been nearly unsurpassed and yet I was alone with no one to share it with. That's the quiet I spoke about and yet I can still see that fish in my mi9nd and feel the grab. I'll probably take that to the grave and be happy about it.
  9. "Q" Member

    Posts: 29
    woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    From a practical standpoint, the popularity of steelhead fishing in the PNW is due to the fact that you can find a steelhead in some river just about every month of the year. You can't say that about salmon, which might be available and in their prime for only two weeks every fall. Plus, steelhead are beautiful to look at, can grow very large, and go ape shit when you hook 'em - what's NOT to like about that?
  10. stewart dee Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I do it for the punishment.
  11. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    I haven't hooked one on any of my go-outs this year. All three of 'em. Problem is, At least twice I had to spend all day on a river being held captive in the front of a driftboat on a river I don't particularly like (Wynoochee). The last trip, the river already had been fished hard by the hordes for the prior 9 days, the water was getting too low, any fish in the river had already seen everything thrown at them. Nobody else was getting anything that day either. The only reason I went, is because my buddy called me up and asked. so I went, but it was the wrong day for fishing. Halfway thru the float, at high noon, I just wanted to quit and go home. I hate fishing an empty river when there are no biting fish around. I started thinking about how I could be getting some work done at home, instead of wasting my time searching for a freakin "unicorn.".
    But I couldn't go home, because I was stuck in a boat midway thru a float.
    I freakin hate steelhead fishing!
    I think we're going again this week!
    The dots are small on my tide guide all week...you know...when the dots are small, the fishing sucks! There's no chance of a fish, and it will just be fishing without catching. Winter came back, too!
    Probably subjecting myself to another miserable skunking tomorrow!
    Woohoo!

    I think I'm going to quit.
  12. fredaevans Active Member

    Posts: 3,138
    White City, Oregon, USA.
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    Great post! You can always tell a 'newbie:' $400 set of waders, $1,500 worth of rod and reel, hi-tech vest and clothing, etc., and etc. As Kerry notes, we 'old foggies' look like we'd be right at home on Skidrow.
  13. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,827
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,734 / 0
    Do you notice that when winter Steelhead fishing comes to a close. You get all of these silly questions.

    On another note. This spell checker needs an update. It underlines the words Steelhead and Spey. It also underlines the River Beaverhead. That is spelled correctly also. It hurts when I know more than it does.
  14. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,610
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,726 / 0
    As answers to the original question go, I think Pan really captured the essense.

    Sg
  15. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    I still prefer fly fishing for searun cutts, because I actually catch some! I'm one of those anglers that NEEDS to catch fish. For me, that makes fishing fun and exciting. I hate getting skunked. Getting skunked just depresses me. In my life, I don't need to relax and unwind. I am already fairly laid back, and I don't work for corporate. I don't need a day on the river to relax. I already am relaxed. What I need is to get pumped up by some action!
    "Going through the motions" cast after cast while not catching anything does nothing for me, unless I'm confident that there are biting fish in the river, and I just haven't met one yet. I don't need romantic fantasies. They don't do anything for me at all.

    edit:

    I just cancelled out of the trip I was going on tomorrow. I am quitting steelhead.

    From now on, I am going to concentrate on flyfishing for trout in lakes, for searun cutts in the salt now, and later in the tidal creeks. I'll be surf casting for Redtail Surfperch, kayak fishing for Lings, Rockfish, Greenlings, and Cabezon out along the jetty and other places along the coast up north. I'll fish rivers for resident trout and searun cutts and bulls, but I won't be targeting steel any more.
    In other words, I'll be avoiding the over-crowded rivers where there are too many anglers chasing after too few steelhead. I no longer want to be part of that scene. I haven't been too fired up about steelhead lately, anyway. I'm done.
    I'll be fishing less crowded waters for fish that are on the feed and biting!!
  16. rosstucker32 New Member

    Posts: 18
    PDX
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I don't think that we can overlook the name of the fish. Subconciously, "Steelhead" certainly invokes better thoughts than "Coho", "Chinook" or especially "Chum".

    Also, Steelhead are a natural progression for most Fly-Fishers - they are supersized Rainbow's, and rainbows are what most of us first targeted with our 9' 5 weights.

    I think the flies (at least for me) have a lot to do with it. The sky is the limit in terms of creativity. There is not a whole lot of creativity going on with Elk Hair Caddis. But I can go to the shop and buy the gaudiest, loudest, most ridiculous colored materials and make whatever the hell I want to, and the chances are, if it is constructed properly and swims, it will catch a fish. Tying steelhead flies is as enjoyable as the actual swinging for me. I would say the cold weather associated with Winter fish makes it even better. No pain, no gain.
  17. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,533
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +356 / 1
    Wisdom comes with age.
  18. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    Because salmon are food and money
  19. Ryan Nathe Member

    Posts: 836
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    Isn't it thinking like this that got us to historical low returns of every salmonid?
  20. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,239
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +223 / 2
    Other than the fact that I'm hopelessly addicted to seeing, holding, and touching steelhead with my hands (see the addiction thread) steelhead are special to me because of their beauty, aggressiveness, tradition, and sporting qualities. But perhaps even more than that...what separates them from the salmon is their life history traits. Because there are summer and winter fish, because they don't necessarily die after spawning but have the ability to repeat, and the fact that there is always the chance of catching a 20 or 30 pound trout that has swam the mighty Pacific to attain that size. There is just something special about them that I can't put into words that demands their respect.

    And contrary to popular beliefs, steelhead, under the right conditions, can be extremely easy to catch, even with a fly and a floating line. (Sorry to disagree with you Leland, something I rarely do).