Working in the fly shop we never get tired hearing fishing stories, each and every day. For fun, here are some observations, of a variety of anglers targeting steelhead, based upon a few yrs. feedback and hype. Possibly you can relate?
A – According to some unsuccessful anglers, steelhead do not exist, a myth; claiming too difficult, time consuming, better off snipe hunting or pumping up deflated egos tallying numbers while targeting easy quarry. Number Junkies!
B – On the other hand, there are a few anglers that annually show up, cool, positive, up-beat, well-educated, excellent skills, sport quality gear, appreciate the whole steelheading experience and fish their ass off. Yet, for reasons nobody understands, the steelhead Gods have yet to get their memo and have failed to crack the code. Regardless, they return each year with a smile, eager willingness to accept the challenge and rev it up. Born again Steelhead Junkies!
C – Others that have hooked or landed steelhead, oddly, remain baffled or in question, and are not quite convinced the labor, guesswork and time invested is worth the payoff. Yet, walk the walk, and express enough interest in the steelheading experience for the occasional shot. On the Fence Junkies!
D – To many fly fishers, steelhead are the ultimate accomplishment. The strange fascination about steelhead and the beauty of their surrounds attracts a rare breed, an odd lot, since their very first encounter, developed a religious devotion; ultimately evolving into lifelong, hard core, eat, drink, breathe and chase steelhead anywhere, anytime passionate addiction. Full blown Steelhead Junkies!
While I may not be as strung out as others, I can attest, my family and I have devoted over half of our lives fishing, guiding, building/owning/ operating Trinity Fly Shop while exercising our everyday strides largely blaming steelhead and one of the most beautiful and productive steelhead rivers in the lower 48, the Trinity River, for our addictions and lifestyles; with no regrets, other than wished we were hooked earlier in life. So, if you’re a dabbler get with it or stop reading this. How to be a Junkie? Its steelhead season—fish are in and no better time to wade in and Get Hooked!!!
Full Commitment – Go All the Way-Scoring chrome takes a positive attitude, confidence, thick- skin and ability to lick your wounds and overcome fishless days. It helps to cultivate a deep appreciation and thorough understanding of a steelhead’s complex life cycle and diverse surrounds; knowledge gained increases odds for success tenfold. The mystic and their unpredictable ghostly behavior dictate bringing your best and to dig deep, closely monitor and be in tune with weather and water conditions, coordinate rod/ lines/flies with appropriate water compositions and columns, thoroughly cover waters and adapt to varying conditions; listen and follow gut instincts. No boundaries or room for negative vibes, it’s all about being confident and “feeling it;” if you’re not, chances are it won’t happen.
Quality gear is essential! Remember, you have traveled how far and invested how much to hook up. Whoever skimps purchasing cheap reels, lines or flies/irons is not only braindead but also walks away from the river, holding both cheeks barking four letter words? You actually feel twice as bad about losing that fish of a lifetime! With steelhead there is little room to falter. Keep the odds in your favor by investing in quality gear that preforms for you, not against you. At minimum, for TR (mid-canyons to Lewiston) Fall- early Winter (single hand) outfits we recommend something comparable to; Echo’s Ion 9 or 10 ft. length 6-7 wt. rodsmatched with an Ion 6/7 disc drag reel, Rio Salmon-Steelhead Weight-forward floating line or RIO multi-tip series lines (ability to fish varied water columns). (Two-hand) outfits we recommend something comparable to: Echo’s Switch SR 10-10 6wt. matched with a 7/9 Ion reel, RIO In-touch intergrade switch line; (Handles versa tips for varied water columns). For more detailed information and recommendations you can always call or e-mail favorite local fly shops.
Plan-Prepare-Set in Motion
Do your homework; know where you are going and when to go. Read as much as you can about steelhead, (seasons- rivers-migrations-gear- techniques-preferred flies etc.) and targeted waters you plan on fishing. Helpful reading material: Steelhead and the floating line by Bob Arnold—Classic Steelhead Flies by John Shewey—Wild Steelhead by Sean Gallagher—Cal Fly fisher Magazine—Richard Anderson Publication (all available at TFS). The learning curve can be daunting, keep it simple and enjoyable. From BC down to Nor Cal there are numerous quality steelhead rivers sure to pacify your desires. Personal experiences and success have proved, from the get-go, it is best to invest your efforts targeting and leaning one river, as opposed to spreading yourself thin trying to fish them all. Plan a couple trips at different times, fall and winter, to help increase the odds for intercepting runs and scoring success. Remember local Fly Shops are your solid connection for accurate up to date information; fish runs, conditions, gear recommendations, fly selections, guide services and current fishing reports. Or, simply scrub the internet and U-Tube for general info..
Enjoy the Ride
I can’t emphasize enough, keep it fun and don’t try too hard. Steelheading can be demanding physically and mentally. Don’t beat yourself up. If your session becomes work; timeout, look around, enjoy the scenery, opportunity, refuel your system, re-tie tippits/flies and mentally regroup; more times than not makes all the difference in the world. Enjoy, let it happen!
2017 T.R. Fall-Winter Steelhead-Straight from the Lineups
Recent rains have rotated new arrivals. As of this post fall runs are challenging hoop strength and in full gear throughout the system, head to tail (Lewiston –Willow Creek). Secondary rivers and tributaries are also adding fresh juice to the main stem and encouraging native stocks and movements. A few lead winter fish are beginning to show down low. Primarily fall fish are scattered throughout the mid-canyons up through Junction City and Douglas City. Traditional swing, nymphing and some dry fly, Fall Caddis (Dicosmoecus), Mayfly (Baetis) opportunities have been effective for colorful adults, averaging 4-6 lbs., and half-pounders, 11-18”, filtering through and taking up the slack. Canyon creek and a few other tributaries in and around the Helena burn, (JC) areas impacted by the fire, have occasionally been flowing turbid from recent heavy rains; keep an eye on rainfall totals/flows. To date, HWY 299 is open with only occasional delays below Brig French Creek below (Big Bar). That time of year weather and river conditions are constantly changing, plan accordingly. Head Up & Hook Up!!!