One person's view of our sport - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 05-13-2004, 04:04 PM
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sinktip sinktip is offline
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One person's view of our sport

Is the fish of a thousand casts in trouble? As those who truly love the sport try to come to grips with disappearing resources, runs in trouble and an apparent federal policy that will largely say that wild fish are no better than factory clones, it also now appears that the sport is becoming trendy. I heard today that a local community college is offering a steelheading class. Every week there is this article promoting this miracle fly or this super effective presentation. Recently I heard that a popular magazine will start a special edition focused on specific fishing areas. This issue is promised to have detailed maps to show you where the fish are.

All this got me thinking about the future of the sport in the age of instant gratification. Can the sport survive? Sometime ago I put together some thoughts on my view of the experience of steelheading. I say the experience because to me, it is much more than the sum of the catching. I figured it might be interesting to dust it off and see if the members agree with me or feel I am simply a “traditionalist” that has lost touch with what true steelheading has become.

I have steelhead fished to one stage of addiction or another for over 20 years. I have managed to catch more fish than I probably deserved but usually less than I wanted. I have seen the highs of good days and the lows of bad years. From lucky streaks to fishless months, I have enjoyed them all. I’m not an expert nor do I believe I know it all. The only guiding I have ever done is “hosting” a couple of charity trips a year. The only article I have ever written about the sport, I now regret because it only served to increase pressure on a river I care deeply about. I have been lucky enough to devote much time and effort to steelhead conservation and will always hold that cause near and dear. The friendships I have made through the pursuit of the wily steelhead I count as some of my greatest possessions.

Through it all I have learned there are no magic bullets in steelheading. The facts as I see them are as follows. Technique matters some and in a general sense, fly selection doesn’t. There is no substitute for time on the water and fish in the rivers. All things being equal, certain people catch more fish than others.

There will be good days and there will be bad. I believe the fishless day is not a failure if you covered your water well and enjoyed your time on the water. The occasional fish is just the bonus. Regardless of some claims you read or hear, you will be skunked more times than not. A fish a day average is still the measure of good fishing. If you can’t come to appreciate the failures, maybe steelheading is not for you. And finally, if it seems to good to be true, well, you know the rest.

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Old 05-13-2004, 05:01 PM
KerryS KerryS is offline
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You pretty much summed it up for me. I don't know what I could add. You are dead on about the best part of steelheading is the people you meet while on the river.

I was lucky when I started fly fishing for steelhead I had a couple of very good steelhead fly fishers show me the ropes. These people have become some of my closes friends and even though hundreds of miles and more then a few years time seperate some of us we still stay in touch.
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Old 05-13-2004, 05:19 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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Right on! There is no wasted time in pursuit of steelhead with the fly. There are so many wonderful things to experience when pursuing them from the friends and gentlemen with which you share a run or day with to the environs steelhead are found in that any day in pursuit of steelhead is a day well spent.

The myths of how a good steelhead flyfisher hooks a fish nearly everytime out that are being bandied about in such profusion lately do a great disservice to newcomers to steelhead. Every experience steelhead fisherman I know has had far more fishless days than days with fish hooked and landed. Maybe that is why so few people fly fish for steelhead pretty much exclusively and why there is such a large number of those who pursue trout while making only a few steelhead forays in a year.
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Old 05-13-2004, 07:13 PM
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Big K1 Big K1 is offline
Make it a double!
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Location: Snoqualmie, Skykomish.
Posts: 275

I agree totally. A how to magazine with detailed maps is
complete BS. Part of steelhead fishing is learning your
home waters by putting in the time by finding new runs and
fishing them thoroughly. I enjoy meeting other two handers
on the river. A class in steelheading what a joke. The best class
is time on the water. Magic fly hahha that is funny. The magic fly is
the one I tie on everytime I go out. At least I think it is.

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Old 05-13-2004, 10:32 PM
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inland inland is offline
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Monsieur Tip,


Like many the 'essence' of steelhead and the sport of pursuing them is permanently interwoven into the fabric of my life. As the seasons change, and when the time is right, my migrational urges are uncontrollable. Family, job, money, etc. are all twisted to allow full immersion into the spirit of the 'experience' and all it's magic.

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Old 05-13-2004, 10:34 PM
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North Island North Island is offline
just say no to bait
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Very Poetic,

In these days of rapidly declining steelhead runs I am having an increasingly difficult time rationalizing the time I spend attempting to pull a rare species around by it's jaw.

Does this amount to harrassment? . . .or worse.

I love to go steelheading but maybe it's time to face facts.

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Old 05-14-2004, 12:43 AM
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NrthFrk16 NrthFrk16 is offline
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Very good points indeed and I do believe that the sport may not be as strong as it once was (but what do I know...I really havent been around all that long) due to dwindling runs BUT...

it seems that objects of your other concerns, eventhough they are valid, have been faced before.

If I remember right, I took a couple steelhead classes way back in the day (10+ years ago), one of which was offered by the local school district.

Maps of rivers??....Hell, Fishing Holes has been doing it for some time and Pero did it for many years (in a classier form yes, but rivers maps ARE river maps).

Magic fly?...Remember the Teeny Nymph??

However, given our 'instant gratification' culture and the need for information overload, the objects of your concern are just magnified.

And there is atleast one young punk that will forever cherish and uphold the tradition of the sport (even if he fishes glorified dink floats occasionaly) and value the exerpience of the sport in much the same way that you and many of the others here do.

Do not worry too much my freind...and June 1 is just a couple weeks away!
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special

Last edited by NrthFrk16; 05-14-2004 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 05-14-2004, 12:44 AM
Hammer Hammer is offline
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except,,don't tell anyone about the 1 fish a day deal,,certainly a mile down river,,you would have been throwing `magic',,no ,you're right,,absoluteley,,i've noticed the average age,on the forum here is approximateley,,,30-60,yaeah,,that's a wide spread,but,it's enough years that most folks appreciate just being here,there,,,out there,
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Old 05-14-2004, 12:56 AM
Mean Mr Mustard
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If you took my view and packed it in ice for six hours it might resemble North Island's.

It disturbs me that one would want to pound their chest as they relentlessly pursue the last of a dying race. Time better spent being an advocate, in the true sense, for steelhead. Wish I could be more candid but my hate mail in-box is already overflowing.

Anyone remember the movie, "Silent Running"?

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Old 05-14-2004, 02:40 AM
thebuddler thebuddler is offline
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Change is inevitable. There are several "Pioneers to steelhead fly fishing" still poking around the rivers today. They have seen some mayjor changes in the quality of the sport.Attitude is everything. I say ,Be thankfull for what wonderfull experiences we have had on the rivers,in our lives. Do what we can to protect the runs we have left. Try to pass on the Attitude of good stewardship, toward your favorite rivers,to someone new in the sport. I have seen alot of changes in the 25years of steelhead fly fishing I have partaken in, and I work hard at trying to stay positive. The sport is getting even more challenging!
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:30 AM
Sharp Steelie Sharp Steelie is offline
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Being able to selflessly help others is very

What good is treasure if you can't share it.
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:36 AM
Mean Mr Mustard
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The more you post the more I believe you are, in reality, Madonna! Your treasure is getting old, girl...

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Old 05-14-2004, 09:49 AM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
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Re. Instant gratification....

I recently took a trip to an Island that has a collection of small rivers that contain very limited numbers of steelheads. For some time there has been a limited amount of commercial sport guiding on these rivers and for the most part the individuals involved acted responsibly and ethically in there pursuit of success for there "Dudes". However recently several new entrants to this business have been advertising to get more and more customers to pay and play, they all but guarantee results and have found a few very unethical ways of making good on the virtual guarantee of fish.
There has been a local unwritten rule regarding the use of "Indicator fishing" and some places it was considered OK and in some "well maybe in that one hole" and in others "No way in hell".
There are also no closed waters but no one ever even considered going into the tiny creeks that the fish spawn in to harass them for a few photos!!!!!!
When you add these two acts together its about as far removed from what the "Fish of a 1,000 cast" is as one can get in the angling world.
Yeah Tip I really do think that this thing of ours is changing but I still make my personal choice to obfuscate and hide the best of what little I know from those wanting a free ride. After all the ride is free unless you adhere to the adage "time is money"!
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Old 05-14-2004, 10:11 AM
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North Island North Island is offline
just say no to bait
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I would like to refine my view.

All steelhead streams should be "fly fishing only"

I can say that here, can't I?

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Old 05-14-2004, 10:31 AM
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FrenchCreek FrenchCreek is offline
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Sink Tip, well spoken words & reflections on the sport. My steelhead experience(s) now are best summed up this way.
"Fishing is a condition of the mind, wherein one cannot possibly ahve a bad time" Zane Grey, 1924 (?)
Pete AKA Frenchcreek from Calgary
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