How long did it take you catch your first steelhead on a fly

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Steve Buckner, Jan 13, 2003.

  1. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    I saw a similiar question posed on another site and thought it would be good to ask the same question here. How long did it take to catch your first steelhead on a fly? Many people new to steelheading assume that after a trip or two you'll hook up. While this can happen, most of the time many more trips are needed before that first hook up.

    For me, I fished religiously (at least 3 days a week) for nearly 8 months before I was able to hook one. I considered myself a successful trout fly fisherman of about 15 years from the Rocky Mountains and figured I would be able to hook up without too much trouble. Man was I in for a lesson. It was a lesson in humility.

    Finally, on one fate fateful day, I hooked 3 but didn't get one to the beach. It was another month or two after that that I finally landed one. I have to admit that I was way over my 1000 casts!!! Had it gone any longer I would have put money down that I would have hooked a sasquatch or saw a unicorn before catching one.

    That was a number of years ago, and now looking back, there were a number of mistakes that I made. First and foremost was fishing the wrong water. Second was, not knowing when to be at certain locations. So, the point is, don't get discouraged, and realize that each one that you get is truly worth remembering. A single fish in a week, or weeks is something to really appreciate.

    Skinny
     
  2. pwoens

    pwoens Active Member

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    How long did it take you catch your first steelhead...

    Im in the same boat as you but I have yet to hook or land my first...im now on my second season of chasing the elusive and non existent steelies. I hate steelhead, yet I can not figure out why I keep trying to catch them :beathead ???? just playin around...I love the fish but i really do not think they exist, even the ones I see swimming past me are merely a glance into my imagination as I am wading in the waters full of these imaginary beasts.
    Enlighten me oh masterful one. What do I need to do. I have felt the bump a few times but never able to hook.????????
    ~Patrick ><>
     
  3. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    Are we talking winter or summer here. As I have caught three in the summer time in the head waters of the Sky on flies.But none so far in the winter. The ones I caught in the summer,I was really fishing for what ever and got them instead. Plus a couple of good head shakes. You know the kind where he says you didn't want to catch me any how.

    Jim

    Edit: P/S The ones that I did catch and the head shakes. All came on dries. Black humpies,Stimulators,and size 16 red flying ant.
     
  4. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    Any or either. I started fishing for them one year in the spring and my first hook up was on winter fish. That was about 6 years ago now.
     
  5. Brad Niemeyer

    Brad Niemeyer Old School Member

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    How long did it take you catch your first steelhead...

    Skinny:

    Thank you for this post...It's good to hear this kind of information. It helps encourage me to get out there every weekend regardless of hook ups. I am convinced that I will get one sooner or later.

    Any hints on what kind of water does not usually hold steelhead?

    -Brad
    Calmness is power....:thumb
     
  6. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    How long did it take you catch your first steelhead...

    I'm actually in the middle of writting an article that describes the water that I've learned to hold steelhead. I'm taking some pictures as well. Once its finished I'll see if Chris will let me post it.

    In short, you always hear about the water needing to be about 3-6 feet deep and that flows about as fast as you can walk. This is absolutely true, but I like to be shown pictures of such things.

    I spent the better part of 5 years going to a local river and just hiking and looking. It took me some time, but now I can now find steelhead almost every trip. By that, I mean actually spot them. I often spot 15-20 a day, good days I may spot over 50. From that, and from being in a boat over 100 days a year, I can now pretty much rule out about 80% of the water. I only fish a very small percentage of water and this has helped my hookups tremendously. You only have so much time in a given day and you must choose the time spent on the water wisely.

    More info to follow...

    Skinny
     
  7. speyneznbhm

    speyneznbhm been around

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    How long did it take you catch your first steelhead...

    look to the east in the fall much easier than north sound winter or fall fish fish a sinktip swing and marabou it'll come and with that you'll come back all jacked up for the next winter run. thats waht I did I fished 2 winters in the north sound before the first winter fish came,did just about everything wrong. the first year was the worst every day I came home skunked I had to listen to my old man tell me that what I needed was cured eggs and pencil lead, light wight river rods and leaders and 3 days off to fish the south coastal streams and runs of his youth. Finally I caved, mid feb still no fish so away we went here's the rub. All that wading and casting and searching had made me a better reader of rivers I clobbered him on water that I had never seen before 5 to 0 in 2 days on 3 different rivers.came home and praticed handling river fish in the river on humpy's that summer then headed east in the late fall for a week Pow? the phycosis set in you think your obsessed about the first one wait till you've had one to hand. that was about 20 yrs ago. there's alot more guys now and fewer fish but standin in the river in leaky waders throwing flies that cost to much to tie is still the best way to spend a day off.
     
  8. andrew

    andrew Active Member

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    Before I possesed a flyrod I caught a steelhead on the Green, across from the golf course. Noodle rod, and a weighted fly drifted down and across...talk about exciting! Now, if I get anything on a flyrod I am estatic!

    To date (three years flyfishing) I have only caught 2 very small fish (people have told me that they were steelhead) 14" & 18", one of which was actually 2500 miles away on the St. Joseph river in Michigan. Funny thing about that trout is that I caught it on the first cast of the day and on a "West Coast Steelhead Pattern".

    Other than that I have no idea where, when, how, or why...I tend to tell the wife I am going fishing, and don't expect to hear any tales when I come home.

    Is it a good time to float the Skagit from Marblemount to Rockport...say this weekend? Also, is it "walking" pace water that makes good holding spots? I have read to fish current seams...as well as "low and slow". Has anyone floated this section recently? Is it higher than the month of December?:dunno
     
  9. Tom Merrill

    Tom Merrill Member

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    I fished steelhead in BC with eggs and yarn for years growing up, so I wasn't a steelhead novice, but this year was the first year I tried for steelhead on the fly. I agree with the previous post about looking east of the mountains in the fall. I found success on my first trip (hooked 3, landed 2). I did use a strike indicator, but I personally don't have a problem with them. (Yes, they were all hooked in the mouth) The smaller water was quite helpful.

    I know this is the exception, rather than the rule as many work for years to get their first. I consider myself very fortunate. Who knows how long it will be until I get my next years catch?!? To those still searching, they are to be had. Hopefully the runs materialize on the west slopes soon. It is getting worrisome from reading your guys posts.
     
  10. Matt Burke

    Matt Burke Active Member

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    The first time I fly fished for Steelhead I caught one. I know it's not that easy though. It was on a guided trip to the Deschutes in Oregon, last August. I have fly fished for Steelhead almost twice a week for 4 hours since then on the Skagit, Sauk, NF Stilly, Sky, Sultan, and hope to get to the Snoqualmie soon. That is somewhere between 125 to 150 hours of fishing. And I haven't caught spit. Well cutthroat and dollies, but that's not my target. I know that is not enough time to complain about not catching. In the mean time, I've learned a lot about those rivers, access points and good holding water. I've fished with a lot of guys from this site and have made friends and had good times. I also have added Spey fishing to my skills. I know my turn is coming, if not, I'm having good time anyway. Either way, it is a win win situation.

    Matt

    "Everyday that you wake up and decide not to go fishing...is one less day you'll go fishing." Forrest Maxwell
     
  11. TerryD

    TerryD New Member

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    Started in Pendleton, OR on the Umatilla River and it took me two full season to catch my first steelhead. After that they have been more frequent. After moving up here (Puget Sound) it took me a full season to get used to the different holding water, but the fish are finally coming about WHEN THEY ARE IN THE RIVERS! I agree that a trip East to the Grand Ronde or Deschutes tends to re-affirm that the fish do exist. My five fish day in Sept 2001 let me know the Steelhead Gods do care.

    Now if I can only get rid of that nasty trout fishing habit of coming straight up on the fly. Looks like I need more practice, practice and more practice.

    Don't give up!

    Terry D
     
  12. dlw

    dlw New Member

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    I started targeting summer runs in 2001 and probably made about a dozen unsuccessful trips that summer. Finished the season with a total of 3 takes that were obious steelhead (waking flies), but I never felt much more than a pluck as they either quickly threw the hook or just splashed at the fly.

    This last summer I finally brought one to hand on about my 6th trip of the season. I usually fish about 3-4 hours each time out, so I would say that I put about 60 hours on the water before my first steelhead. What was also rewarding was that I got it on a dry line, which I was told would be difficult.

    As for winter runs I'm about 0 for 12 so far. What really sucks though is in the winter after a day of fishing my feet and fingers are completely numb and all I have to show for it are a few lost flies on the bottom of the river. Mabey I'll just stick to summer fishing for now.
     
  13. Peter Pancho

    Peter Pancho Active Member

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    I caught my first Steelie last summer, 3 in one day as a matter of fact. The adrenalin was too much, I seriously couldn't handle it, I had to sit down for an hour and regroup. Obviously going with someone who knows what they are doing will increase your odds and lessen your 1000 cast mark in half. IE;I took my friend from Colorado out Steelheading for the first time and I helped him hook/land a 7lb Steelie with some basic casts and techniques in a matter of 4hrs.
    If you can throw 30-60ft of sinktip line,weighted fly and mend, your halfway there. Upon the swing, look for a slight bend at the end of your line in the water, assume its a fish and SET THE HOOK! IMO, 9 out of 10 Steelies take th fly soft and gentle, 1 out of 10 SLAM a fly.
    Upon approaching new water with knowone around, swing the 12-16" edge of the water, Steelies love resting on the edge, especially early or late when its dark. I got one in pitch darkness at 6am with just moonlight, it revealed my backing for the first time!
    Rent videos or take a 150.00 DD Steelie class. All the hard work WILL payoff in time.

    Peter ><>


    "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men"
    Matthew 4:19
     
  14. Ron Olsen

    Ron Olsen Active Member

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    Guess I got really lucky back in the late 70's. On the NF Stilly managed to hook up in the second hour of first trip. Funny how vivid the memory still is. Hooked one on each of two successive trips that summer and then went into a long dry spell.

    Like Old Man, I have incidental success on the Tye hooking one about every fourth trip in September. Since this is on #12 dry fly (I'm really looking for those super hot 15" to 18" residents), it is usually only a momentary adrenalin rush, but did get one to hand two years ago after a "River Runs Through It" chase down some rapids. Really only look for summer runs, duck hunting and skiing get in the way in Fall and Winter.

    Would love to hook up with some others to try to better read water and share those golden moments.


    Ron
     
  15. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    You start talking about the Tye river and I start getting the shakes. I love to fish that river in the summer time. I used to fish it from the hiway 2 side but last year I found the road on the other side that puts you into one nice pool after another. Besides that road also takes you to the upper Foss and the West Fork of the Foss. Two more of my summer time rivers.

    Jim