Steelhead and You (Preserve the Magic)

Steelhead landing

Arguably, there is nothing more satisfying than wading and dissecting a run in search of the “sweet spot”–Life is a lot more sweeter for coastal steelheader, Mike Morrison

There is nothing quite like a steelhead…gleaming flawless beauty… mystical and fascinating life-cycles that spawn, rear and ascend hauntingly beautiful rivers and environments… the infectious passion, confidence and driving commitment that matures each time you second guess their unpredictable ghostly behaviors and strike chrome… feeling the sensation of their power and strength transmit throughout the backbone of a rod… witnessing wild unpredictable aerial displays while listening to the high pitch echoing sound of your reel, burning line and backing, as heart throbbing streaking runs test equipment quality, angling talents and abilities… subdued, each and every one admired, praised and, native fish, respectfully released unharmed back into the wilds.

Oddly, this year, we have witnessed a number of anglers playing steelhead much too long or handling fish out of the water for death threatening lengthy times, putting undue stress upon them and making a release all but impossible. Granted, once hooked up, we are at the mercy of our counterparts; their action and moves. However fighting steelhead should not become a marathon tug of war.

Steelhead release

Water shots are always appealing and most importantly easy on your quarry—Don Frogner last Good-byes.

Anglers should always be considerate of their quarry and attempt to keep the fight quick, clean and to a minimum without harm. With all due respect I am not advocating wrenching them. Simply use good judgement and strategy to minimize the battle and potential injury. You can help to achieve this by using barbless hooks (the law), heavy leaders and tippits whenever possible and by utilizing the strength of your equipment (rod butt power/backbone—reel drag systems). Once a steelhead is beached or netted, make all attempts to minimize time out of the water – no nursing back the dead. Photo opportunities and respects should be quick and to the point. Steelhead that have been played for an extended amount of time should be revived with care and thought. Keep fish facing upstream; in slow to moderate flow velocities, allowing them to regain their breath and strength— The release should be at their will.

Native Steelhead

Mandatory (the law) release of ALL (native) steelhead—Tim Leary proudly obliges

As of this December post we are already in the heat of the 2015-2016 TR steelhead runs; hard to believe this year has zoomed by. Despite low flows
sparse fish concentrations and movements, over all, TR steelhead fishing has been surprisingly rewarding and good fun for most; like old days got to be willing to dig’em out. Ba-Hum-bug always a few. There has also been some negative feedback floating around so let me just say, 2015 steelhead fishing has also been a tough love learning curve for those that have been weaned on surplus TR hatchery runs of the past and failed to adjust their expectation levels accordingly. Count your blessings!!!

Kit releases native chrome---the release should be at THEIR will

Kit releases native chrome—the release should be at THEIR will

On a bright note, a recent round of wet weather, and more forecasted for the next week, bringing much needed rain and snow to most all northern California is just what the doc ordered to help refuel the TR and its secondary’s. This is the most significant rainfall to date and the long awaited surge of water should activate fish movements and also inspire fresh winter runs in the lower system. Depending upon rainfall amounts should also be enough to re-open coastal rivers; check (DFW River Closure Hotline: 707-822-3164). Exciting refreshed options, upper reach (Lewiston-Douglas City-Junction City) Mid-river (Helena-Del Loma) Lower River (Hawkins-Willow Creek) TR, Smith-Mad-Duzen-Eel— steelhead fishing is wide open in northern Ca. folks. Keep in tune with current weather patterns, river flows (Trinity Fly Shop 530-623-6757) and be well prepared to get on your horse and ride. Enjoy the Opportunity and Preserve the Magic!

Trinity Fly Shop