Steelhead Fishing 101
Sept. 1, 2012
A couple years ago I went Steelhead fishing with Bill in Orofino. He has a jet boat and we fished the Clearwater River. The Clearwater is a big river and a boat is almost a necessity. I had only been steelhead fishing once before that I know of. We fished all day long on the boat and we caught a lot of fish. We used Bill’s boat, Bill’s fishing gear and Bill’s experience to make the trip successful.
This spring we decided to go Steelhead fishing along the Little Salmon River. The river is pretty small so it’s all bank fishing. We went to an area known as Stinky Springs. The weather was great but the fishing was slow. Bill had all the gear and set me all up with a pole and lures and technique. When I broke my line, Bill would fix it up with leader, lures and bait as needed, and then hand me the pole. Bill hooked 2 fish that day while I hooked several stumps and rocks and watched several expensive floats disappear down stream. The first fish Bill hooked was early in the day. He handed me his pole to reel it in. I felt like one of his kids as I fought with that fish. Unfortunately, I lost it and I felt like I was less than one of his kids. Bill caught one nice fish later in the day and I took it home and ate it for him. Glad I could help in some way.
We planned to go back to the same spot the following week and invite a friend of mine from work. To prepare, I went out and bought some lures and gear so I wouldn’t have to use Bill’s stuff up, plus he was running low. Our second trip out started a little later in the day, due to a breakfast stop at the Pancake House. I didn’t mind this delay at all and began to like fishing more and more. When we got to our fishing spot, I was able to rig up the pole myself and fix everything when I broke off. I wasn’t catching fish early on but I also wasn’t reliant on Bill for everything. I was feeling like I could do this myself. Later in the day, I saw some fish far across the river in a calm pool. I cast my line across the river and actually hooked a nice Steelhead and got it to shore. Bill grabbed it and got it up on the bank: the first catch of the day. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Bill wandered upstream after that and I stayed and managed to hook 3 other fish and I landed one big one. The other two got off, which is not unusual for Steelhead fishing. Bill found a nice hole and caught several fish and ended up releasing some as our limit was 3 fish per person. We went home with 7 or 8 fish between the 3 of us. I felt like I was getting the hang of it, was doing well and was mostly independent. Bill had given me some advice and had gotten one fish out of the water for me but that was the extent of it. Not only did I get breakfast at the Pancake House but I could catch fish also.
A few days later I was talking to my daughter Katie and telling her about my fishing experience. I told her proudly how I was no longer Bill’s little boy like the first time out. Now, on this second trip, I was able to rig up and fish independent of Bill. I could move up and down the river and fish where I wanted to. When I broke off a line, it was my stuff floating down the river, not Bill’s. Not only that, I hooked several fish and landed two of them all by myself.
Katie looked at me and said, “I didn’t know you had a Steelhead rod and reel.”
I looked at her quietly for a moment, swallowed my pride and said to her, “I don’t, I was using Bill’s extra rod and reel.”
To which Katie said, “Well, you are a big boy aren’t you.”