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-   -   Emma's 1st Steelhead(s): Both on dryflies. (https://www.speypages.com/speyclave/94-fishing-doublehanded-rod/392464-emmas-1st-steelhead-s-both-dryflies.html)

fshnazn 07-29-2019 09:03 AM

Emma's 1st Steelhead(s): Both on dryflies.
There is an enduring grin on my face...I cannot help it.

My oldest is 15 years old, now. Some of you have seen Emma grow up on these pages from previous trout fishing trips and some occasional flytying.


She is a busy young lady these days: active in beach & indoor volleyball, church youth group, learning to drive, volunteer work, friends, etc. So when she mentioned that she wanted to camp with me at a special river, I was curious about her intentions. Her mom and sis' usually come along at this destination but would not be attending this year: I can't baby sit Emma at camp! I was frank with her and said, "Emma, without your mom and sister present: this will be a Steelhead Camp. And this river is legendary for being a tough safe to crack. Its steelhead secrets do not come easily. I have heard of some anglers going for years before they get their 1st steelhead on this river. The trails are tough to navigate. The rocks are slick to stand on....etc.etc.etc.".

"I still wanna go, dad" she says, "I wanna experience steelheading". I mention to her that all my usual steelhead buddies might be there...is she okay visiting with them and hanging out by the steelhead campfire listening to stories and geeking out over weird stuff...she was good with that.

Well, here goes...

Gotta set up camp first

It's around 8pm in the evening after setting up camp and making her feel at ease, and she says "Aren't we gonna fish this evening?" Man, I was thinking maybe the morning after she gets a good night's rest. "Umm, yeah! Are you ready? Got your headlamp?"...we are on the river lickety split.

I spent the first 30 minutes explaining the speycast, the swing, the dry fly technique, and what to do if a steelhead eats...FYI: I never got to refresh her 2handed casting prior to this trip, so I did not know what to expect, but she did well enough

I told Emma we couldn't fish in the dark, so maybe reel in by 2115hrs (anyway, it's tough to see your dryfly in the darkness, even if its Todd's pattern, the Little Wang - which we tied on). It was a nice way to get her boots wet for a first session until...

"Dad! I got a fish!!!" "What?!", I respond...reel goes off, "Whoa! Swing your rod to the bank"

Sometimes I just can't believe what happens on the river. It was surreal. But there I am hearing my little girl laughing, the reel screaming, I see the rod bucking...it's not a dream. Emma goes 10 rounds with this beast in the dark. More than 3 long runs. Her arms are getting sore. She says "When is this thing gonna stop?!". We see backing again, I tell her we gotta stop this fish...just start cranking and don't let him take line. Now or never and if he gets away, it's okay.

Emma is exasperated. Her arms are jello. She is grimacing.

We see leader. I see the steelhead and yelp out something strange...it's a very nice steelhead buck for this river. I attempt to tail it and her fish goes bananas and I can't hold on. Emma belts out "No! Dad!". Flashing back, I vividly recall losing her nice trout when she was 8 yo as it swam between my legs and broke off the fly. Her then little voice yelling "Dang it!". I can't imagine what would happen if I lost this steelhead. I remain calm on the outside and tell her we got this, he's beat. Just reel and we'll land him good.


I rarely yell on the river but I might have scared the bats away that evening. Oh sweet glorious moments! Emma and I were walking on air. I don't know how she did it. I still can't. But it ain't over.


twists 07-29-2019 09:26 AM

You are a lucky man! And congratulations on raising your daughter this way.

fshnazn 07-29-2019 09:41 AM

I was shaking all the way back to camp. I could't sleep. Emma slept like a baby. The next morning she wants more steelhead. Did she not listen to me when I said it is tough to catch a steelhead on this river? Even for the most passionate experienced steelheaders?

Ok. I guess we"ll try to fish.

I tell her that it is just a blessing to be on this river with its gorgeous surroundings, even without catching steelhead - attempting to temper her expectations. "It is pretty, dad". But she keeps talking about her last evening steelhead

We have tied on this fly called the BivisiWang that 808steelheader gave her in camp. Emma is getting more comfortable with her casts, I am getting more comfortable talking about nonsense whilst standing next to her. She starts making hand motions of a steelhead eating a surface fly while she is gently twitching the fly across the pool. She asks if I have ever caught steelhead out of this riffle, I says "No, but I know good anglers who have". I am also still chewing on last night's events....and then it happens:
1/3 of the way into the run a fish slashes at her fly as it approaches the softer edge, the reel screams

This kid, man. I am speechless.


Emma earned her badge.

She scaled the sketchy trails
She pushed me to test her ability
She earned her place at the steelhead camp

She even learned a cackhanded Single Spey:
Click on image for video

She'll always be my little girl but for pete's sake...what is up with people's 1st steelhead being on a dryfly? Gimme a break...


HelloMcfly 07-29-2019 11:40 AM

Great post. Made my Monday morning. Congrats to you and your daughter.


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Bob Rodgers 07-29-2019 12:08 PM


Thank you for sharing this with us. What a great story!!

Best wishes,


Beatsmespey 07-29-2019 12:22 PM

Fantastic. What a trip for the books. Introducing kids to exploring the outdoors, not to mention fly fishing, not to mention steelhead fishing, and to 'top' it off surface dry flies... That has to be the cream of the crop. Well done. May there be many more trips to come.

Green Butt 07-29-2019 12:27 PM

Thanks for sharing this!

Bentley 07-29-2019 12:51 PM

What a great story and set of pictures. You set up this experience that will stay with her (and you) for a lifetime.

Rifflehitch 07-29-2019 12:57 PM

Spoiled rotten she is, well done young lady! Great job Adrian you are a great dad, memories that will last the rest of her life.

gunnarmcc 07-29-2019 01:02 PM

So awesome Adrian!
I have two little girls 4 & 5 and I was lucky enough to get the older one a couple of small rainbows on the swing this past weekend with the trout spey. I can't wait till they want to go steelheading with me.
thanks for sharing the story

eriefisher 07-29-2019 01:04 PM

Outstanding. I can't think of a better way to get out fished! That is a memory of a life time.


Aldo 07-29-2019 01:54 PM

Well, if that didn't just make my day! Congratulations to you both! Exercising my superior talent for pointing out the obvious, I'd say watch out, Dad - looks like you have a born Natural on your hands, there.

debarb 07-29-2019 02:19 PM

Fantastic! Reading this is the next best thing to being there.

doctor 07-29-2019 02:41 PM

possibly she will be dragging you to the river often.
beware her reading the rod and line catalogs, could start being expensive.
I know this as my son needs duplicates of my kit ,but the latest versions.

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JoshL 07-29-2019 02:54 PM

Awesome job Dad!

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