For Noob steelheaders

Cody Bitterman

Active Member
I do agree that one of the most important things is to focus on YOUR water, not the water you see everyone else on. By all means I don't enjoy hanging out around the hatchery, but I live so close to the cascade that I can't justify not going there frequently if the skagits up like it will be all winter.

I have picked three rivers, and maybe a dozen runs that I am going to beat to death for the season, solely based on the fact that there SHOULD be at least a few fish at some point.

My biggest glimmer of hope is that by the time I hook another wild steelhead, I may also be able to hook a big king...
 

IgotWood

New Member
Nice read! I am newer than newb. I live on the east coast, and recently made my first steel trip this fall to a couple of small Lake Ontario tributaries...and I'm HOOKED! I am hooked so bad that I am considering moving out west. I'm in the navy, so we are considering Bremerton. However, some of this read is a bit discouraging, in reference to the lack of fish. Is it really that bad? We are experiencing a terrible decline in striped bass out here, but I am still catching plenty of fish. Just have to know where to go and when to be there.
 

Pescaphile

Active Member
I agree wholeheartedly with Rob. Steelhead fishing, especially summer runs, really isn't that difficult (cast, mend, swing, step down, repeat) if you have any idea on reading water, it's the hookups that have become really really tough. And this is because there simply aren't many fish anymore and also, to lesser but significant degree, far fewer wild fish which are more aggressive.

Someone said 30-40 years ago there were plenty. This is false. It's true that relative to today it was a steelhead bonanza, but those of us fishing back then will remember that the decline was already well underway in the 80s. I think we tend to remember the good days and forget the tough ones. Steelheaders are optimists, and, these days, a bit masochistic (by necessity?) as well.

I've had the good fortune of having home waters for most of the last 2-1/2 decades with native steelhead in good numbers without having many people (read others fishing) around. I've seen rank amateurs and casual fisherman catch plenty of steelhead with all sorts of gear (fly gear included) lots of times over the years.

The above isn't intended to refute anything that Sg wrote. I think it's all true, but the real reason for most of the difficulty these days lies with the fish, not the so much the fisherman. That said, if you want to be successful you'd be well advised to control what you can control and follow what Sg said above, and to also put in a LOT of time doing so.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
This thread is the condensed version of a lot of steelheading wisdom. Yes, it’s low-percentage stuff, but even a rank amateur like me has managed to convert these lessons into a fine winter specimen in my first season of dedicated fishing for steelhead.

If it’s something you simply must do, either get ready for bad weather and fishless days and bear it all with a grin or stay home.

Loving the thread necromancy, by the way
 

JesseC

Active Member
Here's my advice to someone just getting into steelhead or salmon fishing.

Don't.

I'm completely screwed. I was perfectly happy fishing C&R for trout. Then, I started steelheading. I caught a bunch of them and got completely obsessed.

Now they're practically gone. In fact, I feel more sadness than joy when I catch a native fish these days. I think i'm down to averaging about 2 days a season now. I can't go back to fishing for trout, because unfortunately that's just lame in comparison and uninteresting to me.

Time to quit putting off the gear sale and just move on - hope the resource somehow recovers down the line. It's damn sad. I'll probably end up just mounting the rods on the wall as a memento of good times, good memories, and hope for the future.

I came to the realization that it was all over when I taught my daughter how to spey cast at age 6. I remember her launching her first couple good casts..... and then a feeling of sadness welling up in my gut..... knowing it would take an ever shrinking miracle for her to experience catching one.

Was I being a good Dad even putting my kids through that, knowing that it's all inevitably going to shut down anyhow?

Nah..... couldn't do it. Screen Shot 2021-09-07 at 12.41.45 PM.png
 
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Merle

Active Member
Here's my advice to someone just getting into steelhead or salmon fishing.

Don't.

I'm completely screwed. I was perfectly happy fishing C&R for trout. Then, I started steelheading. I caught a bunch of them and got completely obsessed.

Now they're practically gone. In fact, I feel more sadness than joy when I catch a native fish these days. I think i'm down to averaging about 2 days a season now. I can't go back to fishing for trout, because unfortunately that's just lame in comparison and uninteresting to me.

Time to quit putting off the gear sale and just move on - hope the resource somehow recovers down the line. It's damn sad. I'll probably end up just mounting the rods on the wall as a memento of good times, good memories, and hope for the future.

I came to the realization that it was all over when I taught my daughter how to spey cast at age 6. I remember her launching her first couple good casts..... and then a feeling of sadness welling up in my gut..... knowing it would take an ever shrinking miracle for her to experience catching one.

Was I being a good Dad even putting my kids through that, knowing that it's all inevitably going to shut down anyhow?

Nah..... couldn't do it. View attachment 294541
I feel the same way...
 

speedbird49

Active Member
Here's my advice to someone just getting into steelhead or salmon fishing.

Don't.

I'm completely screwed. I was perfectly happy fishing C&R for trout. Then, I started steelheading. I caught a bunch of them and got completely obsessed.

Now they're practically gone. In fact, I feel more sadness than joy when I catch a native fish these days. I think i'm down to averaging about 2 days a season now. I can't go back to fishing for trout, because unfortunately that's just lame in comparison and uninteresting to me.

Time to quit putting off the gear sale and just move on - hope the resource somehow recovers down the line. It's damn sad. I'll probably end up just mounting the rods on the wall as a memento of good times, good memories, and hope for the future.

I came to the realization that it was all over when I taught my daughter how to spey cast at age 6. I remember her launching her first couple good casts..... and then a feeling of sadness welling up in my gut..... knowing it would take an ever shrinking miracle for her to experience catching one.

Was I being a good Dad even putting my kids through that, knowing that it's all inevitably going to shut down anyhow?

Nah..... couldn't do it. View attachment 294541
I understand discouraging folks from taking up Steelhead, but why salmon? Yes, we don't see as many salmon as we used to, but catching salmon in the river and on the beach happens all the time. We still get them in very fishable numbers, even if they have been in decline. Unlike Steelhead, there is a very large commercial demand for salmon, and with the inevitable harm to the resource comes the fact that this means shuttering of hatchery production of salmon as happened to Steelhead is impossible. While they aren't the best table fare or the worlds hardest fighting fish (I have to say that while we are all in love with Sea Runs, fresh humpy bucks fight harder than any sea run I have caught even on medium power spinning tackle and I absolutely cannot wait to get one on a six-weight) we just had three million humpy's in the Puget Sound. You could not visit a beach or take a boat out basically anywhere and not see Humpy's. Seeing massive schools of salmon jumping a few feet from the beach is one breathtaking experience, but seeing schools after schools of fish surfacing right next to my boat smack dab in the middle of Puget Sound is going to be an unforgettable lifelong memory.

Good on you for teaching your daughter what I consider an art form, and while I have no idea if she will ever land a Steelhead in Washington, I am sure she will one day land herself a salmon.
 

JACKspASS

Active Member
Yup, @JesseC nailed it. I really enjoy fishing for variety and all that bullshit, however, there is a hole in my soul left by the steelhead. It's not about just steelhead fishing, it's about the places they return, the long gone fisherman who walked the same gravel bars, the history, the mountains, old tackle stores, the feel of excitement after a freshet, first snow on the mountains, the sights and sounds a river can make in steelhead season, the relentless rain, and of course the electric feel when a fish finally grabs and the reel starts going...

My advice for a newby is take up bass or musky fishing, it's all over
 

doublespey

Steelhead-a-holic
Yup, @JesseC nailed it. I really enjoy fishing for variety and all that bullshit, however, there is a hole in my soul left by the steelhead. It's not about just steelhead fishing, it's about the places they return, the long gone fisherman who walked the same gravel bars, the history, the mountains, old tackle stores, the feel of excitement after a freshet, first snow on the mountains, the sights and sounds a river can make in steelhead season, the relentless rain, and of course the electric feel when a fish finally grabs and the reel starts going...

My advice for a newby is take up bass or musky fishing, it's all over
My feelings exactly. A part of me feels lost. My yearly schedule no longer makes sense, so long structured around steelhead run timing on my favorite rivers. People and restaurants in those locations i looked forward to visiting each year that i miss. Rituals my fishing companions and i had developed over many years that are no more. Sucks beyond what words can describe.
 

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