TomB - don't be such a killjoy and try to debate everything.
How about a "Nice Fish Mike!" and be done with it rather than being such an antagonist.
The Fly is clearly in the mouth! nuff said! pictures prove Mike's point.
if a steelie takes a nymph or a dry, which they do. rather than hitting a streamer out of agression, the dry and nymph show a fish is eating similar to its rainbow bretheren. if it gets to the point of digestion, the only way to find out is to suction the fish, pump its stomach or open it up to see...... like Chadk suggests
either way, Mike's catch is a true prize and shows his skill matches his name!
it is hard enough to catch steelies and even harder to do it this way. job well done Mike!!
I would love to see a study about what you find in steelhead stomachs in regards to food/bugs etc as well as learn more about the physiology of steelhead. I am sure there are a lot of varying factors including location, time in freshwater and physiological demands in their travel that would need to be taken into consideration.
There are always going to be critics in regards to different ideas in forums like this. It is part of the process of learning more in this community. In regards to Tom, you can see he has a lot of love for the game regardless of his constant criticism and lectures. Much of what he basis his thoughts on is what he has read and studies and to a certain percentage, what he has seen. Some of us including myself take experience a little more into consideration than what I have read because I have seen it first hand. So we will have varying philosophies. I have been fortunate to have gutted a few fish over the years that have had insects and eggs in their bellies. Now whether the fish have been able to break them down enough to get nourishment I do not know.
From what I have seen however is that summer steelhead will eat/target varying food sources when available. I do not think they will aggressively feed however in most cases because they are saving their energy for something more important. That is why I did not do a lot of studying in college, I was saving my energy for more important things .
I have found plenty in steelhead's tummies I never really checked to see how digested it was. I once caught a steelie that was just plump with someone's cured eggs, this one moved six feet on a poorly placed cast to inhale, even before it was a foot deep a hard to believe egg pattern. Full of neon eggs? I think that they probably feed much more than people think. Hard for me to believe that a fish can only live on fat reserves and muscles for eight months or more.
i don't think it's always a matter of "either/or" approach, where ideas and philosophies become polarized. IMHO, i think there is always a grain of truth in both sides of discussion on any topic, thus it helps to approach things sometimes with a "both/and" approach! especially since fish and fishermen are both changing our methods of behavior due to the ever challenging and changing way the world and mother nature are constantly changing.... unfortunately mostly for the worse in the case of fish biology, habitat and food sources.
The amazing White Paper from the Wild Steelhead Coalition is a good example of this..... so in my uneducated theory, text book ideas are losing place to the sad fact that fish are forced to adapt to progessively worse opportunities to feed, reproduce and survive
Gee I saw 14 responses to this pic and thought damn a lot of people like this photo but no its just another flame war. BTW Andy and Mike are no longer allowed to fish together (to leathal). If anyone on this board sees them together with their rods in hand they have every right to bonk them and see what contents are in their stomachs.