Why Steelhead?

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
#31
I haven't hooked one on any of my go-outs this year. All three of 'em. Problem is, At least twice I had to spend all day on a river being held captive in the front of a driftboat on a river I don't particularly like (Wynoochee). The last trip, the river already had been fished hard by the hordes for the prior 9 days, the water was getting too low, any fish in the river had already seen everything thrown at them. Nobody else was getting anything that day either. The only reason I went, is because my buddy called me up and asked. so I went, but it was the wrong day for fishing. Halfway thru the float, at high noon, I just wanted to quit and go home. I hate fishing an empty river when there are no biting fish around. I started thinking about how I could be getting some work done at home, instead of wasting my time searching for a freakin "unicorn.".
But I couldn't go home, because I was stuck in a boat midway thru a float.
I freakin hate steelhead fishing!
I think we're going again this week!
The dots are small on my tide guide all week...you know...when the dots are small, the fishing sucks! There's no chance of a fish, and it will just be fishing without catching. Winter came back, too!
Probably subjecting myself to another miserable skunking tomorrow!
Woohoo!

I think I'm going to quit.
 

fredaevans

Active Member
#32
Obviously alpinetrout and chromeseeker have never met any steelheaders from Skidrow Woolley or Clear Lake. Nobility? Snobbery? Now, that is a hoot.
Great post! You can always tell a 'newbie:' $400 set of waders, $1,500 worth of rod and reel, hi-tech vest and clothing, etc., and etc. As Kerry notes, we 'old foggies' look like we'd be right at home on Skidrow.
 

Old Man

Just an Old Man
#33
Do you notice that when winter Steelhead fishing comes to a close. You get all of these silly questions.

On another note. This spell checker needs an update. It underlines the words Steelhead and Spey. It also underlines the River Beaverhead. That is spelled correctly also. It hurts when I know more than it does.
 

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
#35
I still prefer fly fishing for searun cutts, because I actually catch some! I'm one of those anglers that NEEDS to catch fish. For me, that makes fishing fun and exciting. I hate getting skunked. Getting skunked just depresses me. In my life, I don't need to relax and unwind. I am already fairly laid back, and I don't work for corporate. I don't need a day on the river to relax. I already am relaxed. What I need is to get pumped up by some action!
"Going through the motions" cast after cast while not catching anything does nothing for me, unless I'm confident that there are biting fish in the river, and I just haven't met one yet. I don't need romantic fantasies. They don't do anything for me at all.

edit:

I just cancelled out of the trip I was going on tomorrow. I am quitting steelhead.

From now on, I am going to concentrate on flyfishing for trout in lakes, for searun cutts in the salt now, and later in the tidal creeks. I'll be surf casting for Redtail Surfperch, kayak fishing for Lings, Rockfish, Greenlings, and Cabezon out along the jetty and other places along the coast up north. I'll fish rivers for resident trout and searun cutts and bulls, but I won't be targeting steel any more.
In other words, I'll be avoiding the over-crowded rivers where there are too many anglers chasing after too few steelhead. I no longer want to be part of that scene. I haven't been too fired up about steelhead lately, anyway. I'm done.
I'll be fishing less crowded waters for fish that are on the feed and biting!!
 
#36
I don't think that we can overlook the name of the fish. Subconciously, "Steelhead" certainly invokes better thoughts than "Coho", "Chinook" or especially "Chum".

Also, Steelhead are a natural progression for most Fly-Fishers - they are supersized Rainbow's, and rainbows are what most of us first targeted with our 9' 5 weights.

I think the flies (at least for me) have a lot to do with it. The sky is the limit in terms of creativity. There is not a whole lot of creativity going on with Elk Hair Caddis. But I can go to the shop and buy the gaudiest, loudest, most ridiculous colored materials and make whatever the hell I want to, and the chances are, if it is constructed properly and swims, it will catch a fish. Tying steelhead flies is as enjoyable as the actual swinging for me. I would say the cold weather associated with Winter fish makes it even better. No pain, no gain.
 
#37
Do you notice that when winter Steelhead fishing comes to a close. You get all of these silly questions.

On another note. This spell checker needs an update. It underlines the words Steelhead and Spey. It also underlines the River Beaverhead. That is spelled correctly also. It hurts when I know more than it does.
Wisdom comes with age.
 

BDD

Active Member
#40
Other than the fact that I'm hopelessly addicted to seeing, holding, and touching steelhead with my hands (see the addiction thread) steelhead are special to me because of their beauty, aggressiveness, tradition, and sporting qualities. But perhaps even more than that...what separates them from the salmon is their life history traits. Because there are summer and winter fish, because they don't necessarily die after spawning but have the ability to repeat, and the fact that there is always the chance of catching a 20 or 30 pound trout that has swam the mighty Pacific to attain that size. There is just something special about them that I can't put into words that demands their respect.

And contrary to popular beliefs, steelhead, under the right conditions, can be extremely easy to catch, even with a fly and a floating line. (Sorry to disagree with you Leland, something I rarely do).
 

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
#41
I don't think that we can overlook the name of the fish. Subconciously, "Steelhead" certainly invokes better thoughts than "Coho", "Chinook" or especially "Chum".

.
Bullshit! For you, maybe, but not for me. The name, "Chinook" evokes images of raw , unstoppable power for me. I have hooked a quite a few over 30 lbs, but never a steelhead over about 17 lbs. I have hooked Chinook I have never seen and so powerful that I could not stop their run into a log jam, but I suppose a 30 lb Steelhead would be as powerful a fish, equal to a Chinook of the same size. The name, "Steelhead" invokes images of acrobatics, and also of fanaticism and addiction and crowded rivers.

I have caught chrome Chum on a fly in a coastal creek that fought every bit as hard and spectacular as a Steelhead. The one Chinook I hooked on a fly was too powerful for words...an 8wt fly rod was a pitiful tool against that charging beast.

I'll take Chinook over steel any day. Any day.

But BDD really said it.

This year, I've been invited out and dragged down the river on what seems like the worst days to be steelhead fishing, lately. I'm even driven to swearing! Aye...SWEARING!!! that a boat ride down the 'Nooch for steelhead fishin' with Capt Fearless is enuff to kill your fight and start ye drinkin' the hard stuff! He positions the boat so the good water is just a few feet further than ye can cast to, and then moves on after only 3 casts! Or he anchors up in water that looks too fast. Hell...it IS too fast! And when ye think yer gonna fly fish for Nates, he announces that he is gonna experiment with spawn sacks and roe. WTF? The season is over for hatchery fish!

Like I said, I'm done...maybe just done floating ...I did much better when I was hiking the coastal streams alone. I can never find anyone to go hike and wade fish with me, but I think I'm going back to that. Steelheading is a lonely experience anyway, since so much of it is anticipation, contemplation, and hope.
And different anglers have different approaches to the game. It almost seems unrealistic to hope to find a fishing buddy who thinks along the same lines that one does himself. As soon as my Achilles' tendon heals up better, I'll just hike in somewhere and fish. Alone. I have a really hard time riding in someone else's boat when I always feel out of position all the time and keep getting skunked trip after trip.

But when you've been invited along for a float, it just ain't right to criticize the rower for his positioning or choice of days, even though you'd go on another day, and/or position the boat differently if you were rowing yourself. You just have to grin and bear it.:beathead:

If I fish for steel again, I think I am going alone. i don't want anyone else calling any of the shots.
 

Panhandle

Active Member
#42
Jim, so you have good success with a springer taking a fly on the swing?

Just for some objectiveness: I appreciate it when someone asks me to change the profile of the boat, in fact I think you need that as a rower. I learn that way. It only takes a second of spacing out to get the position out of wack for one or both fisherman, but I understand what you're saying. Steelheading is best done from the bank anyway. when ever I nymph out of a boat, I feel like I'm missing the point.
 
O

oldskool

Guest
#43
If any other fish acted like a steelhead, I'd fish for it and have the same obsession for that species. Steelhead are not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do, and therefore nothing can be held in comparison. Either you get it or you don't, and getting it can't be taught.
Man, I might be treading on sacred ground here but I got to ask. Pan, have you ever stuck a healthy carp on the fly? I don't mean like those 5-8 lbrs, I mean like the ones in the mid teens. WOW! If you have, then you have to call it a toss up don't you?
 

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
#44
It was a Fall fish, in late Oct or early Nov on the Satsop a few years ago. At least 25 lbs. I was sort of "high stick" dead-drifting a large black and purple ESL along a seam about ten feet from the anchored boat, next to an underwater snaggy log, when it bit and then started shaking its head. It exploded upstream and snapped me off. Just like that.

I prefer bank fishing for steelhead, too. Certain walk-in spots are sometimes better to fish at dusk right up until dark, but I don't like to still be floating downstream after dark. When I'm fishing alone, and stalking fish on foot, I sometimes feel like I'm being stalked myself on the way out, especially when walking with a dying battery in my headlamp!
 
#45
Man, I might be treading on sacred ground here but I got to ask. Pan, have you ever stuck a healthy carp on the fly? I don't mean like those 5-8 lbrs, I mean like the ones in the mid teens. WOW! If you have, then you have to call it a toss up don't you?
I just caught a 15 pounder a couple days ago and have caught a few nice carp over the years on a fly rod, including a 20+ pounder, and i love fishin for them during the warmer months when the steelies are gone, but they don't even come close to the excitement of steellhead. They have a lot of bulldog power and can hold their ground, but really don't compare to the leaping, hard runs of a steelhead.
 

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