Mystique of steelhead - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Mystique of steelhead

Steelhead fishing... Just the mere mention of it excites the soul. It is like gearing up for a knock down drag out gang fight along the riverbank. Donning brass knuckles and chains... preparing to get it on.

Who is this steelhead you speak of? Well... he's this tough OG who will kick your ass in a heartbeat 10 ways from Sunday. Let's just say he's the wisest and most respected gang leader in the piscatorial world. He is cultured, yet street smart. He has traveled far and wide with an unmatched defensive skill set to elude and outwit adversaries throughout his travels. He is lightning quick and surgically precise in his movements. He can change his appearance when he needs to lay low and has many battle scars from the University of Hard Knocks.

Just a little Sunday afternoon thoughts and letting my mind wander to what I wish I was really doing today.

I love steelhead fishing!
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 06:43 PM
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I think of hooking into a wild steelhead not so much as a fight but more of a negotiation.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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True words right there. Lot's of give and take. Incredible fish!
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 07:00 PM
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The hardest days are not when you lose an awesome fish but after three, four, or more fishless days all you get is a little bump for your effort. Its like a ghost passing through the room.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-01-2019, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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The hardest days are not when you lose an awesome fish but after three, four, or more fishless days all you get is a little bump for your effort. Its like a ghost passing through the room.
Last winter was tough and your words sum up my season. A few taps and a couple of decent grabs, but no hookups. Makes it all the more sweet when everything comes together. Can't wait for winter steelhead season.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 02:18 AM
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I've never had a steelhead hit when I expected it. It's always been a surprise...and I've never released one when my heart wasn't pounding.
No other fish does that to me.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 04:16 AM
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Gang fight? Brass knuckles? I don't know about all that......….

I just like to fish and these are some really nice trout. There aren't a whole lot of them here so you have to really put in the time to learn where you might find one. It's that part, putting in the time figuring it out that I like. I've been doing this a long time and have never had a bad day at it.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 07:46 AM
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I've never had a steelhead hit when I expected it. It's always been a surprise...and I've never released one when my heart wasn't pounding.
No other fish does that to me.
AMEN !!
I hear you loud and clear brother !!

However one day, you may be introduced to Salmo Salar and you will have another species of fish that will turn your life around


Mike

Have you Swung a Spey Fly today ??
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 01:47 PM
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AMEN !!
I hear you loud and clear brother !!

However one day, you may be introduced to Salmo Salar and you will have another species of fish that will turn your life around


Mike
You are so right Mike. I've never fished for therefore never caught a Steelhead. Chasing Atlantic Salmon for over 40 years has been my addiction and passion. I can't compare the two, but I do know that AS make the heart pound, the take is always an unexpected surprise, the pure pleasure of the careful release cannot really be put into words for me and of course the places where they are found are incomparable for beauty and mind/soul fulfilling peace.

Petri Heil,
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The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits - Albert Einstein
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 02:54 PM
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Hmmm, I think I might want to fish where Ghostrider408 fishes. I've been fishing for steelhead since 1969. Oh, I read the magazine story many times. It goes something like: Suddenly the water exploded in front of me as the rocket fast silver flash, wearing his ambassador's red sash, slashed through the water's surface grabbing my swinging fly as he arced skyward before commencing his downstream run, spinning Hardy's gear wheel to a high pitched scream, emptying the spool of line, then backing . . .

Yeah, maybe on the compute game "Virtual Steelheading," but in real life? Not so much. I long ago concluded that steelhead are the most over-rated gamefish I know about. And I've caught steelhead through much of their native range in WA, OR, ID, BC, and AK, both coastal and interior inland varieties.

On the whole I've observed that about 20%, only 1 in 5 steelhead are "hot." A hot steelhead is one that is magazine or internet worthy. The actual take may be vicious or quite subtle. Meaning that it makes strong and long runs and jumps clear of the water multiple times. The other 80% I can play and land, or lose, on the length of line I was fishing when the fish was first hooked. Meaning that 80% of steelhead make short runs if they make any runs at all, rendering the 150 yards of backing on my reel spool nothing more than a spacer so that my fly line isn't wound in such small coils.

Interior steelhead, as pleasingly trouty as they are, are especially prone to this disappointing behavior. They rise, take the fly, and I immediately reel in several turns of line, and their short runs fail to take out more line than what I had originally cast to make the hookup. Then proceeds some back-and-forth tug o' war bulldogging that may or may not include some jumping. A lot of those fish can be landed in 2 minutes and sometimes less, although a respectable number of them are stronger and pull hard, and can take close to the one minute per pound of fish rule of thumb to land. That can be tense, and exciting because of the size of the fish.

And it's not just interior steelhead that are so doggish. Coastal summer runs after they've been in the river a couple months or so are like that also. And a lot of winter runs, maybe because the water is cold, maybe because they are hatchery slugs, maybe because they are small and I pull harder than they do, and maybe it's because steelhead are so over-rated as gamefish relative to my expectations. After all, I was young and impressionable when I took up this game.

And then there are those 20%ers, that 1 steelhead in 5 that makes an arm wrenching strike, then jumps clear of the water surface, maybe more than once, then immediately makes a run that shows me my generally unused backing line, and actually makes me work to regain the line, once, then again a second time. The fight, as they call it (I don't fight steelhead; I play them since fighting suggests some degree of mutual peril than is non-existant when I'm fishing) isn't any longer than it takes to play and land a typical doggish steelhead, but is it ever so much more interesting. Bordering on excitement, some might say. The experience doesn't raise my heart rate much, if at all, being of the calm nature that I am. But it sure keeps me coming back, searching for that not-so-typical, hyper-active steelhead.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 06:05 PM
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I’ve only been at this steelhead thing since September of this year and I’m inclined to agree with Salmo g. Not that Steelhead are overrated, rather the fight isn’t always there. I’ve hooked and landed several fish this year on the Deschutes, Grande Ronde, and the John Day since I started swinging flies and I’ve lost even more. I have yet to get into what I would consider a “hot” fish. Most tug pretty good and some have pulled 10-20 yards of backing, but nothing that surprised me. I don’t doubt that will change and am looking forward to a true “hot” fish. Still, that initial tug is fantastic and just the idea of hooking steelhead will keep me coming back.

Jake
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 06:39 PM
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Iíve only been at this steelhead thing since September of this year and Iím inclined to agree with Salmo g. Not that Steelhead are overrated, rather the fight isnít always there. Iíve hooked and landed several fish this year on the Deschutes, Grande Ronde, and the John Day since I started swinging flies and Iíve lost even more. I have yet to get into what I would consider a ďhotĒ fish. Most tug pretty good and some have pulled 10-20 yards of backing, but nothing that surprised me. I donít doubt that will change and am looking forward to a true ďhotĒ fish. Still, that initial tug is fantastic and just the idea of hooking steelhead will keep me coming back.

Jake
Someday you'll be lucky enough to hook one a day's swim from the salt and get a chance to rewind a lot more backing onto your reel than you're comfortable with.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 06:56 PM
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The reason I love steelhead is that they are easy to catch. They response to fly just like a trout. They also run in different direction unlike salmon almost only shoot upstream.

But they are really pretty fish. With their presence, our rivers are charming.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-02-2019, 09:59 PM
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[QUOTE=Steve Peng;2483052]The reason I love steelhead is that they are easy to catch.

Man, I would love to trade places for a few days. Weíve had a sharp and steady decline in our Central Valley rivers over the last decade. Itís the numbers in the river that make each one special - not that I enjoy Klamath or Rogue fish any less, but the surprise just isnít as great.

"Only the mediocre are always at their best" - Andy Capp
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2019, 12:53 AM
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To me, the mystique of steelhead is connecting for a few brief moments with a creature that has survived years of river life, navigated thousands of ocean miles that I can't even imagine, and then ran the final gauntlet of nets, anglers, and predators only to connect with me for a few minutes. Those few minutes can be incredibly impressionable, however.

On the flip side, I think the actual act of steelhead fishing itself can sometimes lend itself to a lot of over hype and dramatization. There are other quarry that are just as big or bigger, pull harder, are less pressured, and also live in beautiful locales. Also, I think sometimes folks like to embellish the difficulty of hooking steelhead. If you can find reasonable numbers in fly friendly water....they are not hard to hook on a swung fly and act like big trout.

But what is not over done for me is the fish themselves; their resiliency, determination, beauty, adaptability, and mysterious wandering ways resonate with me and makes them my favorite fish on the planet. I never get tired of seeing them or especially holding one for a few minutes and thinking about their journey and wildness....its certainly a special feeling, one that I hope never goes away.
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