I need a shower...


Active Member
cause this skunk smell is really getting to me! Boy did I pick a great year to try to get into steelheading and spey fishing. Hit the OP on Friday looking for my first (still!). Conditions were pretty decent, and the weather was gorgeous. Got my ass handed to me, yet again. The day had a lot of bad juju around it, but still had an awesome time being out there.

The gory details...
My whole day got off to a bad start and I just never got in the zone. Never quite had the right feel for water, casting, flies, etc. It was all off.

My buddy called me the night before and said to hit a certain river, and that he'd heard good reports for swung fish. I said okay, I don't like a last minute change of strategy (I was headed for the Hoh to hit some swinging runs I had scoped out last time), but he's got first hand intel. I checked out some maps, and called him about roads. He told me to take one road, I asked if I should really be taking the other, and he assured me, no. Sure enough, I get there, and the road is closed a few miles in, and I can't get all the way back in to where I need to be. I needed to take the other road. There's already 3 cars at the end of this road, which means guys are already hiking up and probably picking off the good water. I try a few spots, but the wading is pretty sketchy. Big slab rocks, and zero visibility by the bank. The water in the center looks beautiful, like something out of Oregon, but I can't make decent casts to it, and I don't want to start the day by getting soaked. The water in this part looks too big and nasty, and I just don't feel like I'm in the right area.

Over 2 hours wasted looking for water in the wrong section, and I finally say screw this I'm going to the Hoh. Head up there, and drive up and down a few times. It wasn't tooo crowded, but just crowded enough that most easily accessed runs were taken. I finally just said screw it and pulled off at one of the spots. Talked to an old timer who confirmed my road issues on the other river. He hadn't hooked anything, and told me there were 2 sets of 2 guys that fished the holes above and below him, and no action. I figured that was good, I still had a chance if they were in there. He gave me some much appreciated input on foot access, and I put it to use.

I fish a few of the nice runs, find my way up along the river and get to some better areas with no one around. This is why I came all the way out here! I come to a nice bend, and I want to fish the top of it where a side channel cuts in and drops off, then work my way down slowly and thoroughly. Sure enough a drift boat clanks right above me, maneuvers around me kindly, says "hi," and proceeds to anchor 50 feet below where I'm standing and fishes the hole. He was looking back at me nervously ever few seconds. He knew he was being a jerk. Low holing me on a walk-in spot from a drift boat. Unreal. I also lost one of my meticulously tied intruders to the ledge right there, and that about did it.

That irked my mood even worse. I said screw this BS, and hiked up more. Finally came to a text book run. Beautiful water, right depth, perfect speed, deep slot in the center, with some deep spots by the bank in softer water and clay bank a bit upstream. Just perfect. Swung through slowly and thoroughly. Finally got into a groove and everything felt aligned. But alas, no love.

Had lunch and a much needed Fremont 77 IPA. Did I mention it was a gorgeous day? T-shirt weather. Felt great to wade in the river after each section of hiking. No fish yet, but found some great water to walk to. On to the next one.

Went up into the park and my eye caught some nice water. Parked and started walking up. Water didn't look perfect, but it sure was pretty. I tied on a dry and skated it for a bit, mostly just to practice my skating and also to spend some time better understanding the swing. And who knows - it could happen.

I was finally completely alone and free of any floaters above me. Nice sunny day with a good breeze. It felt real good to be out there. No love here either. I walked back, had some more IPA, and ventured up a bit further to scope one more spot. Wished so badly I had brought the better half with me for a camping trip. Did I mention it was just awesome out?! Hit one more set of runs that didn't look too great but showed some potential for the future. Tested out a few new ties, liked some, noted needed changes on others.

Called it a day dead tired from walking around so much, but it was that good kind of tired. And it felt so good to be able to walk up and down a river, away from any private property and nasty blackberry bushes, and with the sun shining bright. Chalked this one up to the fish, yet again, and headed home content just to have been out there.

Knocked down, but not out, with another few hundred casts to my name, quickly approaching the 1,000 mark.
It'll happen, don't give up. It is all about the chase. Sounds like you had all of the fun and some of the frustration that defines "the chase", all in one day. I have 6 days on the OP in the last month and only two fish to show for my efforts, but I can vivdly recall every detail of both of those fish. All the hard work is brought into clear perspective when these fish tail splash you as they swim out of your hand.


MA-9 Beach Stalker

Thank you! Your tale reminds me why I don't fish for winter steelhead anymore (so liberating). I love spending time in the OP, but I rarely enjoyed those brutal winter steelhead expeditions unless I took time to focus on the beautiful surroundings. Your experience is very typical for a novice or an expert swinging flies. Conditions out there are tough and the other anglers plentiful and not always nice. It is rewarding though when you take the time to learn the roads, trails, and good holding water. Keep working hard and you will hook some steelhead. Learn how to swing several good runs and visit them repeatedly over the season, then you will score.


Sounds like a typical winter steelhead flyfishing day to me. Casting practice.... with people showing up who piss you off. Nothing unusual for winter steelhead.

Been there, done that... burned the t-shirt.

After a couple of decades I gave it up.
Keep at it it will come, I was pleasantly surprised on the Metho.w last fall
With the bull that is my is my avatar it was as much fun as any steel
I have caught..
Kelly Michelsen


Active Member
Awesome recant of a day on the water. Thanks for sharing!

"skunk" is by far the most popular steelhead scent used on the river. More wear it than not. But you have to go to get the scent. My opinion... it's better than no scent at all!

DimeBrite, is that a winter steelhead in your avitar? You look happy (pre-liberation, I presume?)!


Active Member
Don't get me wrong, it was still an awesome day. Better than any hike or bike ride I could have gone on. Chasing unicorns is nothing new to me, but this one is proving particularly elusive. The only thing worse is waking up the morning after deciding not to go and regretting it.

PT, it just didn't feel right and the wading was a bit too sketchy. Really could not see the bottom at all along the shore. Maybe it was flowing a bit too high? Maybe I'm an idiot and should have just swung it? Maybe I should have parked and walked up? Maybe you could help me with a little bit of advice? I'll shoot you a PM.


MA-9 Beach Stalker
DimeBrite, is that a winter steelhead in your avitar? You look happy (pre-liveration, I presume?)!
Like porterHause mentioned that's a beach salmon in my avitar. I used to fish rivers all the time, but have gravitated to saltwater over the past 6 years. Nobody on the beach wears puffy coats or flat-brimmed hats!