Cut-Off—Corked—Snaked = Bad Ju-Ju (Stream Fishing Etiquette Revisited)

Trinity River
Ma-Ma said they’d be days like this….

“There I was Herb, hiding behind streamside vegetation zooming in with my binoculars and dialing in on the surface rises. A crimson colored fall steelhead was ever so gently sipping blue wing olive duns— yeah steelhead actively feeding on dries. On a guided trip the day before Kit had gotten me into two adults, amazingly both on dries; one pressing 7lbs… I will never be the same and now realize there are no boundaries when fishing for steelhead. That is why I was head hunting today and for the past hour and a half quite content watching the rhythmic feeding activity. The hatch phased and so did the feeding session. Time and reference points locked and loaded and I know where I will be tomorrow.

Dedicated fly fishing
Solitude is rare in today’s busy line-ups—
But when you find it!

It was a long night and I dreamed of free rising steelhead. The day arrived and there I was well prepared with my 3 wt., 5X, #18 quill dun, jazzed and in position well ahead of schedule. The hatch began and it didn’t take long the drifting duns inspired my hungry companion. Like a kid in a candy store it was my time to light it up. Just as I was stepping in, bash, boom, clang. Wow a drift boat sounded its way down the shallow riffle around the corner and was soon upon me. The logo signified a commercial boat and I respectfully asked the guide to hold up for just a few so I could deliver a couple casts to the feeding steelhead. As if my request went right over his head or fell upon deaf ears, he mentioned they had a long float and needed to get down river. So I asked if he would walk his boat close to shore as I excitedly pointed out the feeding steelhead. He blurted out that is a jumping salmon and to my disbelief proceeded to drift through the heart of the activity, running over my target and instructed his clients to start fishing directly below me. My feeding companion disappeared, my hopes sank and I was violated by a know-it-all, inconsiderate ass. I felt fortunate I was not in that boat.”

Negative stories and feedback like this get under my skin and prompted this current post. We hear BS like this much too often during periods of heavy angler/boating use. Whether it is blatant disrespect for others, severe case of dumb ass or simply a new kid on the block uncontrollably bouncing down the river in new boat, there is no excuse for disrespect and cutting off fellow anglers. Fortunately this is not the norm on our local waters.

November Steelhead
Sweet rewards & worth every amount
of effort.

No doubt angling pressure intensifies on the Trinity River throughout peak fall-winter steelhead runs each and every year. Recognizable time periods and conditions such as holidays-weekends, after November 15 (closing general trout season) prime times, as salmon runs expire, extended low flow conditions, low flow closures on coastal rivers and hyped up glowing reports smeared over the net/publications periodically align. Unfortunately when they do the river becomes saturated with an overflow of anglers. Finding productive waters can challenge even the most seasoned veterans.

Sure crowded conditions equate to limited prospects and can suppress expectations. Is it reason for disrespect, flared attitudes or being a hole hog? Sure guides have a responsibility to their clients. But at what sacrifice? Shouldn’t they be leaders of example and preaching the gospel? Sure bank and shore anglers have just as much right on the water as boating anglers. Shouldn’t they also respect boaters and other users? Anglers have a simple choice, when to go fishing or not go fishing; besides if crowded conditions persist there are other west coast steelhead options. So why blow your cool? Want more government regulations and river restrictions? Fall-Winter is the grand finale. The seasons and fishery many have dreamed and eagerly waited for all year. Its steelhead season man!

Common sense and respect goes a long way and can help to make unfavorable conditions more tolerable and enjoyable. Heading into peak steelhead seasons keep in mind, the majority of steelheaders share a common bond for the passion of the sport and love of a coastal legend. Regardless of chosen method steelheaders are probably more alike than not alike. Treat fellow anglers the way you would like to be treated. Who knows you just may find another fishing companion to share costs and stoke. To those who don’t get it I strongly suggest you read and re-read the following until you do. In the event you can’t play by the rules feel free not to attend. In the meantime the 2011-2012 steelhead seasons are well upon us. Feel fortunate there are fish in the system, possibly a few with your name on them. Recent rains have reopened new passages and zip codes for fresh run fish and coastal opportunities. Good chance it will also thin out the bulk and provide some rested waters and breathing room for anglers and fish as well. Solid Grabs!!!