20 lb Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by thewaker, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    I hooked one clearwater stray this year that was in the 38-40inch size range.

    My biggest to date was 37 by 19. My average steelhead is about 5lbs although I brought home a 13lb hatchery buck today. I've seen a few 20lb fish and they were mostly taken from brawling rivers.

    On another note I did help my friend Gary clean a steelhead he had caught on the fly from the White Salmon in August that measured 45 by 22, that was the biggest steelhead I have ever seen, on the scale it weighed 31lbs.

    In Gary's 60 years as a steelhead fisherman, growing up on the Smith in California, this was by far the biggest he had ever seen, a hatchery fish to! I was greatful to see such a fish, there has to be very few of that size that come back to the columbia tribs every year

    Peace,
    Andy
     
  2. fish-on

    fish-on Waters haunt me....

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    My biggest steelhead to date was caught in march of 2001 in one of the OP rivers. It measured 43 1/2 in by 23 3/4 in. It was a last cast fish which I thought was a big snag. I was trying to break off my line already to call it a day and break down my rod when the rock started to run upstream. The fish stayed deep for a long while and then rolled on the surface. I personally thought it was too big to jump. After that all hell broke loose. Right on about the girth by the tail, there is no way you can get your hands anywhere close to clamp down completely. I had to use a net to get the beast. I was shaking uncontrollably when I released that fish and now have a replica mounted dead center in my living room. Based on the measurement and my best estimation, the fish was in the upper upper twenties if not over thirty.

    A Fish like this is etched forever in your mind. I was only in my 7th year of steelheading then (although I was putting in about 120 days a year). Knowing a few folks have been doing this for decades, I still don't know if I had put in enough time to deserve it.

    John
     
  3. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    While 20 pounders certainly are amazing fish, it seems like a human made cut off for what qualifies as a truly amazing steelhead. The fact of the matter is, fish that big dont usually fight as well as say a 2-salt 12 pounder. With that being said, any truly large steelhead be it 15 pounds or 30 is an awesome creature. I've seen one photo of a 30+ pounder and I almost pooped myself.
     
  4. greyghost

    greyghost Member

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    There are a lot of exaggerated fish out there, but I think more 20 lb steelhead are caught than most realize. The Umpqua, Smith, Chetco, Sol Duc, Skagit, etc put out many each year. Gear guys catch alot of them. My favorite fish of all are the mid-teen hens that almost always go absolutely bonkers. That being said, I have not landed many hens over 10-12 lbs. I seem to catch 3:1 bucks to hens when swinging flies.
    Fishing rivers with big genes helps, and I've heard that big fish years come in cycles, but more so it usually happens from being in the right place at the right time, which means spending a lot of time on the water. I got this fish at the end of a an hour long hailstorm in a system where my next best fish is about half as big in weight.


    Pete

    PS. No laws were violated in removing this fish from the water.
     
  5. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    greyghost....its a pity you had to post such a small brat:rofl: .....Great fish!!
     
  6. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    This thread could have gone on for ever without a need to mention sharp.

    In 40 plus years of fishing for steelhead I have managed to land one legitimate 20 + pounder and 1 other that might have made 20. Both fish were caught in the Skagit. I have seen an additional 2 or 3 fish that may have been 20 pounds or better in the same 40 odd years. I think a lot of fish in the middle to upper teens get reported as 20 +.
     
  7. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    Pete I would venture to guess that fish is easily over 20, very impressive buck man!
     
  8. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    I have never come close to a 20#. My biggest taped to 13# but I am not really into the size game so much as just being out there and not at work. Anyway, this thread reminds me of a couple weekends ago:

    I am fishing my favorite local stream and have caught one hatchery fish for the day at maybe 6# probably a little less. Anyway, a boat of side drifters comes by and I inquire about any fish caught and the guys says, "Just got an 18 pounder". I say prove it and he holds it up proudly, it is maybe 10 probably 8 from my distance. I say good job and he floats on.....Next boat comes by and I ask again and the guy replies, "19 pounder", with a big shit eating grin. I say show me and he hesitates. I yell, "I don't believe you". And so he hoists it up.................It is maybe 7. So I say I got a 20# fish and hold up my 5-6# for him which is obviously a little smaller than his and he just gets this funny look on his face like he realizes I am mocking him. Maybe you had to be there. :)
     
  9. Kevin J. Burnham

    Kevin J. Burnham Active Member

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    I have to amend my first post. I did see a dead 23 lb.fish in a freezer at a mini mart in The Dalles Ore. The guy who caught it was a gear guide and it was out of the John Day.
     
  10. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Waker,

    "and I need to feel it!," you said.

    Why?

    What's so magical about 20 pounds? It's larger than the average size steelhead in virtually every steelhead river on the planet. But the amount it varies from the average size depends on which river you're talking about. If it's from the Kispiox, Babine, or Sustut it's a nice fish, but not really in bragging territory when the average fish is about 14 pounds. A 20 pound steelhead would be a bonifide rarity from California's Klamath, Trinity, Eel, or Russian River systems because the average is so much smaller, and the likelihood of catching such a large fish is extremely low.

    I began fishing for steelhead in 1968 and seriously flyfishing for them since 1973. I've had the good fortune to catch three that were 20 pounds or over. The largest was just shy of 27, and it was one of the least active steelhead I've ever hooked. I like to fish for steelhead, and I enjoy hooking and catching interesting and exciting fish. Those fish usually aren't the largest ones.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  11. thewaker

    thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

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    Hey Salmo G,
    When you had those 20+ plus pounders on and they didn't fight why didn't you just break them off? If they were so inactive and unthrilling why bother? See, even you wanted to land those fish because they don't come around every day.If you can get a big fish like that in fast, all the better for a quick release. Kerry S said it well,he's been fishing along time and in big fish water and they are scarce.I want to feel it because it is a goal of mine. We need goals in life. I want to catch a 20 pounder because I have been fishing for a long time and just want to see one. Is that so wrong? It's like why do people climb Everest. To push the limits of your equipment,yourself and your sport.

    I also agree with the previous post by Greyghost that the hottest fish I have ever caught were 12-14 lb hens that just went ballistic. Those are indeed fun and I could catch a thousand of those it wouldn't be enough. This thread was not about the hottest fish swimming just the biggest. I will keep searching for a hog even if maybe it doesn't rip like a mid teens hen. but then again maybe it will!


    Still looking

    Mark
     
  12. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    ok, this is going to seem a bit of a tangent, but Tallfly referred to someone named Clay Sharp with a bit of sarcastic disdain (if my web sarcasm senses are accurate). I saw he wrote a book with a bit of a goofy name like 'magical fishing for majestic steelhead' or seomthing like that, but other than that I know nothing. I also recall there may or maynot have been a member on this board called "sharp steelie" but when I looked at the member list I couldnt find him. Whats the deal?
    Will
     
  13. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Unlike Salmo my top 10 (or so) hottest fish all measured out between 36" and 39"+. Even though plenty of the low teens hens have been awesome they have paled in comparison to these larger fish. Of all the big fish only a handful in that size class have been dogs- every large fish from the Skeena has been a dog and only a few from the lower 48.

    William
     
  14. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    My experience with the largest of the steelhead is that their "fight" has been much like that of most steelhead I have caught. Some are hot and some are dogs and most are somewhere in-between with the determinng factor often being the conditions under which the fish was caught.

    The most consistently "hot" fish that I have ever caught were those early summer (May and June) hatchery fish that were caught in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet the very same fish caught in later in the summer and fall often left much to be desired. The Deer Creek summers are another great fish though in the last 15 years those from the later part of the run don't perform nearly as well; due to elevated water temperatures?

    One of the very best fighting Skagit wild fish that I have caught was Feb. black and white hen of more than 20#s that came complete with sea-lice and was taken just a few miles above the top of tide water. She was everything one has ever read about "hot" fish and part of incredible day on the river. However later that same year a larger dark male never even made it into the backing which would have required only run of less than 30 feet at the time of hook-up and was easily controlled without any jumps.

    As so often is the case in fishing and especially so with steelhead there is no "iron-clad" rules about the fish and their actions.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  15. thewaker

    thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

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    Well said William and Curt!