Skagit/Sauk: Last Hurrah

Very well said Golfman! To each is own......its up to you to decide what you enjoy the most and how you want to spend your time....I know for me personally, I don't have appropriate winter run rods and gear, so I don't target them much. I fish the salt all winter, and come March 1st, I'm a stillwater nut. Now, I can't stop chasing Smallmouth, in a month, I'll be chasing cutts all over the sound, then silvers, then in the fall I start fowling again. It's what brings you joy, don't do something just so you can call yourself "hard core" That's the wrong reason to do something, and if you fish to boost your ego, then stop fishing.
I feel you Golfman! You speak the truth. That is why I caught a bunch of largemouth on rubber worms on a spinning rod the other day and had a blast.

I am no swinging or fly fishing purist, but I definitely consider the S Rivers my church, and swinging a fly my bible, and it is hard for me to move on.

I guess I just have too much of Trey Combs books deep in my soul.

Maybe I just need to read some Bill Dance books! ;).......*just fuckin' kidding*......
i was once told that "steelhead are stupid, and you just need to find them" , i believe him.... i think that timing has the most to do with catch numbers, i;e - flows, weather, etc.. second would be presentation and skill, lastly the stroke of luck cant hurt.
my problem is ive only caught wild fish, i wanna learn how to catch hatchery fish if some will teach me:)
It's been said by a number of guys that sometimes the steelhead find you. I think there might be some truth to that.


Alternatively, I heard that steelhead are amongst the easiest fish to catch. They are aggressive fish. Find them and put a fly in front of them, you got a good chance of hooking up.

Oversimplification? Yes. But this discussion changes when you are talking about skilled steelheaders. I assume they know what water to fish, they know how to swing a fly, and they know how to use tips and present the fly well. Does this really speak to the element of luck? Leland's original post sets the stage for a great case study to get to the heart of the matter.

I confess to be a weekend warrior. There was a time long ago, B.C. (before child), I put even more time on water. Hard core, yes. 14 hours is a blink of a day (don't get me wrong, enjoying every minute of it and re-energizing to deal with modern life), and when you are into it, the day blazes by.

I am a wannabe steelhead jedi and enjoy the challenge. Just wanted to explore this interesting case.

Leland's reply of one jedi using only a skunk pattern is great. A skunk pattern is the last pattern I'd have confidence in during winter. Another point of simplification. Most say the fly doesn't matter. I think this speaks to that. So again, what was the key differences for success.

you just got to believe they are there, period! or your wasting time fishing and just casting away. confidence is the key word, without it you havent even began to "zone In" on the fish. how many of us have that conversation in our head as we swing a fly thru a run, i talk to my flies, tell them what to do, curse at them, beg them to be sexy and actually see the take before it happens. these things all play out in my head while i swing, kinda like a daydream 1 minute before its time.
you choose- confidence or eggs:) j/k egg guys


Just a little footnote. Ed Ward is fishing for panfish in Texas and hasn't even been on the Skagit the last week or two of the season??? Lots of other experienced Skagit rods (that are fishing) are drawing blanks.

WTF??? It's because it's been a crappy return!

Only small pods of fish that move in and then disappear. If you cover a lot of water and spend a lot of time on the river (or just get shithouse lucky) you'll get a fish ----eventually.

-----assuming a knowledge of the Skagit and Sauk, competent water reading and line handling, and a fly with a hook.

Then there will be those Golden Days when you're in exactly the right place(s) at the right time. Even on a 'down' year, if you're there when a pod of fresh fish moves in life will be good.

I have no doubt these guys landed all the fish claimed. They both good rods and were at the right spots when the fish were there. If you'd floated by those same spots a bit earlier, before the fish arrived and/or there were other anglers in the water, you might have missed the festivities. ;)

This goes for all the guys who are beating themselves up. Doesn't mean you did anything wrong, your # just wasn't up. There aren't many winning tickets on the Skagit this year.

My humble .02,



Ignored Member
Winter steelheading has never been a numbers game and should never be a numbers game. I didn't do well this year as far as catching goes. Matter of fact this was likely the worst year I have had on the Skagit since I started fishing it with a fly rod. The fish are the reason I go but the catching isn't really the reason I keep going.

See you all next year.....................


AKA Joe Willauer
iagree i would have given my left arm to have had a good winter fishery within a two hour drive.

Kerry, that's the second insanely beautiful pic you have thrown up, you got any more hiding???
Of course this isn't a number game guys! This is a spey forum so I don't think that really needs to be discussed in great length.

But get real, you don't fish in a places with zero steelhead right?

Would you go swing the LA River for steelhead if it had some nice swinging water and epic scenery and zero real fish?

I personally like to get a fish every 15 or so trips. Call me crazy......... that true that Ed Ward was in Texas the last 2 weeks of April? If so my jaw just hit the fucking floor.....


Ignored Member
#29 that true that Ed Ward was in Texas the last 2 weeks of April? If so my jaw just hit the fucking floor.....
Ed has family in Texas. It is not unusual for him to head down at any time. Pick your jaw up. There are things in this world more important than steelhead.

Latest posts