wild steelhead

Winter Steelhead in Full Swing

I think it’s safe to say we’re in the heart of winter steelhead! It was a pretty rough start this year for most of Washington with the exception of a few rivers. It’s still pretty slow for the most part but the fish that are around, are quality fish. I’ve been busy, busy, busy with exams, the Washington State Sportsman Show, taxes (I actually like those), and still trying to heal my body while building some strength. Lots of goals and accomplishments, but sometimes the journey is exhausting.

I knew I was only going to be able to fish one day this weekend and it ended up being everything I needed. Our buddy Andrew is almost always able to cheer me up and make me laugh non stop and it was just Jeff, Andrew, and I. We got on a couple of native fish in the morning and the rain came pouring down! I really need some new wading gear and I ended up soaking through 2 wading jackets. Something I’ll never deny is that I HATE being wet. I learned quickly how much more I can enjoy fishing when I’m not soaking wet and I must have forgotten for a while how nasty it can be when it pours all day.

I whined quite a bit and I certainly didn’t deserve anymore fish, but the man upstairs must have knew that I needed a little more to cheer me up! This guy hit and fought harder than all of my other fish this year. I’m quite alright with catch and release on wild steelhead all day long, but Jeff really likes to see fish in the boat so he was also pleasantly surprised to see a hatchery fish.

A great day on the water despite being soaked but this was exactly what I needed to head back into the work week!

whew!!!!! That was cold!

It’s good to laugh at yourself!

For safety reasons, I don’t wear my waders when we are on the sled and sometimes even the drift boat. If I fall in, I would rather have on pants that open at the top and bottom then waders, even with a belt. So, occasionally I take on water over my boots when launching or taking out the boats, but it’s usually just a small amount and almost always when I’m taking out so it doesn’t matter.

I have never run into the situation where I needed to take a picture with a wild fish when I’m in just my boots and rain pants, but there’s a first time for everything!

It was really quite cold outside and we only hooked one fish Saturday afternoon, so I wasn’t expecting anything Sunday morning. Of course our buddy Lloyd predicted that I would catch the first fish (and he’s always right). Sure enough, first pass in the first hole, “There’s a fish!”. I almost thought this fish was a snag because she immediately ran upstream and just peeled line off my reel. She ran both away from and straight towards me and like most fish, found it safest right underneath the boat. Why do they do that?! So we cut the motors as I try to bring her out and she goes running straight out into a few cartwheels. “Man I hate when they do that! Please stop jumping!”

After about 2 minutes (which by the way, felt like 10), I brought her to the boat near the bank. As I head out to snap a quick picture, I give my camera to our other buddy who says my internal memory is full and I only one shot. Great! I forgot to put the memory card back in. “That’s fine, just take a picture so I can release the fish”.

Right as I kneel down, I feel a huge surge of water fill my boot! “AHHHHHH! Did you get it? Okay, I don’t care, my foot’s wet”. I immediately released the fish knowing that I saw one flash and I was sure the pic was just fine. What are the odds he snapped the shot as soon as that “AHHHHHHH” came out of my mouth? Apparently very likely because this is what I ended up with :)  

I spent the next hour with my socks off, sitting next to the heater while the rest of the boat fished. I played caddy and tied leaders and baited hooks, but had no idea how I would manage to get my boot dry. I decided that wasn’t going to happen and you can’t catch a fish if your line’s not in the water! I put a plastic bag over my foot and took the extra sock on my other foot and slipped right back into my boot!

A day and fish that I won’t forget and a picture to remind me in case I ever do :)

Too cold for fish?

We FINALLY were able to take an old buddy of mine fishing in hopes to teach him that fish bite more than corkie and yarn and to get him his first steelhead. He beared the FREEZING weather with us on Saturday only to watch Jeff get the only fish all day. When I say freezing, I’m sure you all know how cold it was. The motors were to cold to start up, the anchors were to frozen to bring, and the locks on the dry storage were too frozen to open so I imagine the fish were super thrilled either.

The water wasn’t in the greatest condition but we decided we can give it a try for round two on Sunday, but we’d be more prepared. The water was on the drop and clearing up, we brought the heater, hot water, and a lot more gloves! First pass through, Jeff misses a bobber down from a rookie mistake. Setting the hook with the bail open. :)

About 2 minutes later in the same stretch of water, my float SLAMS down and I hook into a great wild hen then clearly didn’t care that the water was less than 40 degrees. She fought and jumped 2 feet in the air and ran and shook her pretty head. I finally got her to the boat and sent her on her merry way. We didn’t hook another one for a few hours but the water and weather warmed up quite a bit and Jeff found himself a nice little summer run on her way back out to the salt.

Jeff hooked into a few more and when Jerry (my friend) needed a new bait, I handed him my rod that was already fishing. Once I got the new set up on his rod, I told him to fish my rod and I’ll re-cast but he insisted I take my rod back and he cast his own. “okay fine!” Sure enough, 3….2…..1-there’s a fish! I hook into another and tell Jerry he should have kept my rod!

Jerry didn’t end up getting his first steelhead but hopefully he learned all his brain could handle, had a good time, and will be out with us again. Maybe we can’t get him on a steelhead but springers are just around the corner!


I’ll search far and wide….

Another busy weekend FULL of fishing; my favorite kinds of weekends! We took the sled out again with Jeff’s uncle and dad hoping for a repeat of the previous weekend and boy, were we in the wrong place. Along with about half of the other steelhead anglers here in Washington. The river was PACKED and there weren’t nearly enough fish to go around. Jeff calls it a day of ‘onsies and twosies’. Every boat simply had one or two fish and with all of the pressure, it certainly wasn’t worth it to be there.
Continue reading