The first time I went fly fishing was for steelhead.

My fishing partner hooked and landed two beautiful wild winter Steelhead that day, and I was hooked.

Adrienne Comeaux - Beautiful Steelhead

That was over ten years ago, and while I love fishing for whatever I can, wherever I can, steelhead definitely hold a special place in my heart. Each one I’ve hooked, each one I’ve had bend the rod, thrash on the surface, leap blinding silver into the air is a memory and snapshot of time I will never forget. But some days resonate above the rest, and last week I had one of those days.

My local steelhead stream has been productive this year, and while normally a tough river to catch fish on the fly, I’ve been having a pretty good hook up per days fished ratio. This river gets fished, hard. Its extremely accessible, and open for retention of one hatchery fish per day, so there is a lot of pressure.

I showed up just after noon, armed with my favorite winter steelie set up – G.Loomis Dredger GLX 13’9″ 8/9, Hatch 9+ Reel and Airflo Compact Skagit Line. The run I parked at had 4 guys throughout, so I headed down and waded the tail out, fishing the next run, which is a super juicy piece of water that I had yet to hook a fish in. Halfway through the swing, my line snapped tight on a vicious take and a beautiful wild doe leapt into the air. After a couple of runs and a few more leaps I brought her to the beach and released her quickly. She was chrome and amazing, and I was feeling pretty content for the day. I fished for the next couple of hours with a friend, and took a little time to just hang out and enjoy the day.

At about 6pm I decided to fish one more run before heading home, and headed to a big long run that usually produces well at this time of year. To my surprise, there were no other anglers around, a rare occurance, and within ten minutes I felt my line tighten once again. Big head shakes and a steady run told me this was no small fish, and ten minutes later a big wild buck slid into the shallows. With shaking hands and an internal giggle I said my thanks and released him. “Two fish landed, what a great day!” I thought to myself. I walked back up to the head of the run, and started through again. When I reached the same area I hooked the buck my fly was crushed and line peeled off my reel, then slack. I recast, and nothing, and continued on down the run. A few casts later at the very end of the swing I felt a long slow pull, and pushed the rod out to give it more time to hook up. The fish took my fly in not much more than a foot and a half of water, and immediately started thrashing on the surface. She fought hard, jumped, rolled, peeled line, but eventually I landed her, another beautiful, wild, blinding silver doe. I can’t describe the feeling I had as I released her back into the river with the sun setting behind the trees, knowing that I just had “one of those days.”

That’s one of the incredible aspects of fishing for steelhead on the fly. We work so hard, cast after cast, in the cold, the snow, the rain . . . having those fishless days, the crappy casts, the lost flies . . . the frustration of a busy river, knowing that we could be hooking fish way more consistently if we went to other methods . . . But then we have those days where it all comes together. Where we would go through all of the tough days again and again, because the reward is more than worth it.

Beautiful Results

~ Adrienne