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Aint no nookie like chinookie
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994 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I remember the first time I discovered a wonderful anadromous fish named the steelhead. When I was a young boy of 8 years or so, my uncle told stories to me of great rainbow trout that migrated to the ocean, and then returned to spawn at their birth place, returning with enormous size and grandeur. He thought me to tie flies for these great trout, mostly patterns that represented food items relating to eggs or spawn if you will. I figured out that though the fish went to the ocean, they were still trout, and would act like trout at times to a degree. I still remember one of, if not the first steel head I caught. It was a smolt as I know now, of about 12 or so inches and took a small mudler from my old Eagle claw pack rod my Dad had given me. That was one of the best fish I ever took, to this day I remember it well.
I fished both the gear rod and the fly rod for years, though the fly rod was special. We knew nothing about “indicators “. No such invention had hit the rivers in those times. We fished roe flies and egg patterns most of the time as we knew no other equally effective patterns in the fall. I knew of the great silver Hilton, and brindle bug, but didn’t have the confidence to fish them back then. After all, I wanted to catch something that was the point...
The scent of those rivers and the sting of frozen fingers on rainy winter days are things I remember and cherish to this day. Fishing these fish was different… I didn’t know why, but something was special about them. To me, the challenge, and they effort the fish went through to get back “Home” to allow me the privilege to enjoy them was special. VERY special… As time went on, I took some fish, though I was a fellow who fished for steelhead, not a steelheader
For a while, life drew me in a different direction from the “prince of fishes” , though I never forgot them … Loved my trout fishing on the bighorn river in Montana for years, and various still waters of Wyoming but something was always missing in the back of my mind…



Fast forward about 25 years…
In the last three years, I’ve fished for steelhead . Not nearly as much as I’d like, but enough to know what it means to me- The term, “if I have to explain, you won’t understand”, is in most ways accurate when applied to steelhead fishing. If you are truly consumed by the process of chasing chrome, you get it, regardless of your methods.
In my “second coming” as a steelhead bum, I’ve found some things that have really changed since my infancy as a steel header 25 years ago. Habitat loss is the most alarming issue I’ve noticed. The epic proportion of this problem is mind numbing. I must say, I have little clue as to the many solutions that need to be applied to the many problems facing the steelhead. My intentions are to get as involved as possible in the future to hopefully make a minute difference in such a huge problem. We have to try.

Some new age fisherman have the goal of becoming a steel header, some the goal of fishing for steel head, the two being similar, but quite different. These are goals of one’s personal choice, and really should be left as such, neither looked upon as better than the other, just different, but similar. The tackle you choose may or may not have a bearing on some of the goals you have as fisherman
Some fish the fly, some the gear rod. We just employ different methods on the same path to angling nirvana … Each of us have the same gleam in our eye , but for some reason, many are often not willing to see it in each other . Our methods are different, so we don’t relate to each other, and here lies the problem.
Divisiveness in tackle choice … IE, methodology. Back when I was a young man, we were all steel headers. If you limited your take, and practiced ethical fishing, and fished hard for chrome you were one of the fraternity . Now days, it seems as though many look at others that are fishing different tackle as inferior or wrong in doing so. The steelhead is the medium that links us, but in the last few years it’s also become the greatest division between some of us.


Many of the following generalizations apply to many but not all…
Not all but many of the spey guys don’t care for the single handed guys , and vice versa….If you fish a swung fly on the single hander then you are ok , but throw an indicator on there and you are a looser ! Gear guys don’t like fly guys ‘cause fly guys don’t like gear guys… And many spey guys are repulsed by spey guys with “bobbers” on their line, since it’s not really spey fishing at all… If you fish a Skagit line yer cool, but not to the long belly guys, and if you swing a long belly, you are a snob as far as the Skagit guys are concerned , and both are snobs to the gear guys … Put an indicator on any of the three fly rod disciplines , and yes, you are a looser… !! Pacific north west guys poo poo inland guys because their fish are not chrome, while the inland crowd and the PNW boys both diss the great lakes guys since there steel head don’t migrate to the ocean, but to the great lakes, even though they are anatomically and genetically identical to PNW fish, as that is where they originated from … by train in the early 1900’s … The great lakes guys are tired of the PNW guys ‘cause they just won’t let it go! If you fish egg flies, you are a jerk as far as the SPEY guys are concerned but if you fish traditional flies you are cool , as long as they have no weight to them, of at which point if they do , you are a numbers guy and once again, a jerk. If you are a true Skagit guy, only big flies will catch large ornery steel head, and unlock some deep physic aggression in the fish that otherwise goes undiscovered… If you want to catch numbers of steel head you are a jerk, especially if you are not a fly guy, or a fly guy with an indicator and or weighted fly …Unless you are just very good fishing a swung fly , and then you are Jedi, as long as the fly isn’t weighted specifically with lead eyes. The "numbers " are not defined...2,6,10 no body knows...
Hmmmm…..
WOW, you could’t make up this shit. What a soap opera … “ Speys of our lives” any one??
Gear guys love hatchery fish, fly guys hate hatchery fish but love wild fish, though fly guys hate hatchery fish. Some kill hatchery fish with the conviction of a serial killer because they compete with wild fish for habitat … Some see all of them, clipped or no, as true gifts from God, regardless of whether or not they possess a small fleshy lobe on their backs and were reared as fingerlings in a concrete tank … The next time you who despise hatchery fish decide take the life of one, I pose to you this point …
Not to mention getting to the ocean in the first place, but that fish may have swam upwards of 600 miles crossing 6-7 dams. It has survived in the most dangerous frontier on planet earth, the ocean, for up to 3-4 years. It went to and through hell and came back to let you stand at the breadth of one of the wilds greatest creatures. Did your knees shake any less before you saw the missing adipose? Were you any less euphoric at the moment of the grab, or after any of the flights? Treat it with respect, whether you kill it of not, take the pictures as such- After all, what have you accomplished lately? Walked 600 miles recently? Ever avoid a shark while swimming in the surf? Its impact on wild fish has nothing to do with the way you should treat them. A lack of respect for all steelhead is a slap in the face to the gift that they are. You want to kill them and it’s legal, no problem, but do it with respect- Your pictures will tell the tale …
Get my drift?

So the next time you see another fellow on the water, pretend you know not what tackle he is packing, and ask him how he’s doing. Ask him if he’s having a good day on the river. Give him a fly, even if he’s packing a spinning rod. Point out a good run that produces fish with gear. Plant a seed. Give a fly to his son, the future of steelhead. Before you bust some guy for low holeing you, you might first see if the term even exists to him. In his world you walk to where you want to fish and fish. Sounds logical. He doesn’t start two hundred yards away from where he wants to fish when he can just start where the good spot is… I don’t like it either when it happens but I get it … let it roll … Go to the next run, maybe that 20 lb buck you are after is there instead of where you were . If you are a gear guy, give a fly guy a chance. Ask him about fly fishing. If he turns his nose up at you, his loss, find another fly guy, some of us would love to share our passion with you. The grab of a steel head from a swung fly is electric, like nothing words can quite describe. Not better or worse, not right nor wrong, just very special. Those who choose to fish this way are not better, or worse, right nor wrong, just very privileged. Tell an indicator guy about it, a gear guy too. If you are fortunate enough to fish a swung fly for steelhead with success, I ask you, remember how you got there , remember your roots…

If you are swinging a double hander at the pinnacle of proficiency, and come across the mill worker with a spinning rod I encourage you to remember your roots, give him a fly and say hey. If you are not too busy to listen, he may teach you something … We’re all in this together- If you take a second to look close, you may see the same gleam in his eye that you have, regardless of the tackle he’s carrying.

To those who say they are over rated, not special, I say this. Steelheading for some is a way of life, a religion of sorts. It’s all consuming. It gets a fellow through long arduous days at work. Puts things into perspective, so to speak. Some travel far to experience it, some move to far away states to live it. Steelhead makes many people a living. The fish bonds friendships, and brings mutual happiness and kinship to folks who may otherwise have never met. In a day when true friendships are rare, steelhead create them for people. The steelhead is above all the rest , they are different , Don’t tell me these fish aren’t special. If I have to explain, you won’t understand. Go fish for one, it will make sense . Catch one, and you will become a believer.

It’s not about us, folks, It’s about them. It’s not about what type of rod you fish, it’s about them. It’s not about long bellies, Skagit lines, indicators or sink tips, nor wet flies dry flies, plugs or eggs … I’ve not caught a single steelhead that trembled like a little kid and lost its speech… I can’t say the same for myself. It takes something magical for me to be speechless! They are not over rated. They are one of the ultimate game fish on the planet, treat them as such, and consider yourself blessed when you are fortunate enough to touch one-
If we don’t put our differences aside once and for all who loses?
You guessed it…
The answers to their survival is in our hands, we must band together to help them , and put our differences aside. The mistakes we have all made in the past is done, what we do going forward now for these fish is what matters.
Might you join a conservation group to help the survival of wild anadromous fishes? You can help for less than the price of a tank of fuel for your vehicle.
The price is minute, the reward is paramount…
It’s truly our choice, our responsibility -

Long live the “Prince of fishes “.
 

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Aint no nookie like chinookie
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994 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm glad you guys enjoyed it, more to come as time goes on...
There are a lot of good folks out there if we would all just take a second to see them...
 

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Registered
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181 Posts
Wow,

Took me a while to get through it Leroy, but I couldn't agree with you more.
As long as you're treating the fish with respect, what does it matter what you catch them on? All that other stuff is all just p---ing into the wind.
 

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H20 - the elixir of life
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58 Posts
:thumb:

Wow Leroy... what a beautiful piece. We need more positive role models in this world. I have made a living in public education, and without a doubt, through my experiences I can absolutely say we definitely need more positive role models in this world.

Thank you for your post. If some of you have skipped reading it because of it's length, but are skimming the replies, do yourself a favor and take the time to read it.

My roots... gear guy taught by my father. He chucked that spinning rod with the best of them. So did I. He was a humble and modest man, and you're right, back then we were all a fraternity. No fads, just fishing. When new gear came out we all shared and gawked at it, but also had the feeling that our same old gear is working just fine, and we took pride in that. We are a priviledged lot to be thinking, talking, and doing fly fishing as much as we do. And I agree, we should all do what we can to help our habitat, because there's more of us than ever before (outdoorsman in general), and less and less habitat and the beautiful species that belong there.

I loved the camraderie with my Dad and his friends while hunting and fishing. I remember catching a lot, and growing up on lots of venison, pheasants, stripers (battered and fried!), doves and quail in the pot all day with the spahghetti sauce!, living the good life man. But I also remember my dad always saying... "If we get anything it's a bonus, just being out here is what it's all about." Whether he was just saying that on those cold days we got skunked, to raise my spirits or not, I can't really recall. The point is though, he said it often to his kid and to others... and I believed it then and believe it now.

When a kid hears something from an adult they admire and respect, it becomes gospel. For kids, perception is reality. Let's all help kids' current perception turn into a legacy that will do us all proud.

Thanks again Leroy.
 

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854 Posts
Wow, Leroy, that's the best damn treatise, by far, of the state of divisiveness among us fishermen - and combined with the truly sad state of affairs for our incredible "Steelies!" bawling:

Truly, Well Done!!! :thumb:

Thanks You, sir!!

Jc
 

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Patrick
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1,805 Posts
Dang it you just ruined the book for me since I fianlly pulled it out to read from my stack yesterday. Figured I would read if before chasing steel on the Hoh next weekend to help amp me up. For some reason I read all his other books when I bought them all as a set a while back but had not read it yet.
Just kidding of course on ruining it for me since I quite reading the quote less then 1/3 through so that I would read it fresh either tonight or Tuesday night in bed.
Kind of funny you posted since I finally getting around to reading it now after owning for over a year.
 

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Aint no nookie like chinookie
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994 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"Steelhead Country" was written by Steve Raymond.... Just sayin...
Never heard of him or his book . My title I came up with at 12: 30 am after a binge of putting my thoughts together three night or so ago . Check out the "Roots, a short essay from" part. Makes it totally different none the less . I'd guess this isn't the first time a 7 word literary title had 2 words that matched another title. Just say'n :thumb:

Dang it you just ruined the book for me since I fianlly pulled it out to read from my stack yesterday. Figured I would read if before chasing steel on the Hoh next weekend to help amp me up. For some reason I read all his other books when I bought them all as a set a while back but had not read it yet.
Just kidding of course on ruining it for me since I quite reading the quote less then 1/3 through so that I would read it fresh either tonight or Tuesday night in bed.
Kind of funny you posted since I finally getting around to reading it now after owning for over a year.
Sorry dude, you completely lost me-:confused:
 
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