I just can’t seem to help myself. October rolls around and the thought of standing in cold water not catching anything gets very appealing. The previous year was very good to me. Catching 3 Steelhead on my first Alaskan outing made me feel like a pro. This year, the rivers was blown out.I was still able to manage to land one which required being out at the river before everyone else. It was cold and as the water level dropped, my expectations rose. The fishing was probably great the day after we left.The drive home was beautiful. We stopped at Tern Lake to watch the swans. A couple of weeks later, I thought that the water level had dropped enough to make the fishing a little better. I knew that it would be cold, so I rented a hotel room instead of camping. I feel like I am getting older smarter.
The day started with a few feet of ice on the bank. It was tough to release fish without taking them out of the water. This Dolly Varden looks small compared to the giant bird prints in the ice. I realized that the old get up early trick might be in order. A few weeks ago there would be 6 people in the popular spots when the sun rose. This time I was the only one there. I did see one other person fishing, but he was walking over to the restaurant to get breakfast as I was heading to the river. It paid off.One fish per day turned out to be the most I could get. It was more than I could ask for. I will be back next October to do it again.
This was my first attempt at steelhead fishing since moving to Alaska. I have been talking about it and hearing stories for a while. I was told that we should have pumpkin pie for breakfast to keep the fish gods happy.
Finally, it was time to make the four hour drive to the place I have been hearing all about, Anchor Point. Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and the Anchor River are all on the road system and have great access. This means nothing if you don’t know anything about the area. The first stop was the world famous Fly Box.Once we had the hand drawn map (it costs extra) and the magic flies, we were on our way. The first stop was the Anchor River. Mark and I took a lot of selfies.We both caught some fish right off the bat and felt pretty good about the trip we had made. They were not however, the Steelhead that we had come looking for.Now we were in an area that they apparently don’t like people getting too close.I know why they don’t want you around. Because they really do have big fish in Anchor Point! My very first Steelhead and I could not be happier.Of course we kept fishing and kept getting luckier and luckier.
I was feeling pretty chuffed by the time #3 grabbed a hold of this magic fly.
The next day, we got up feeling like we might know what we were doing. The lack of pumpkin pie for breakfast proved us wrong. The next day, all of the fish were gone. So we left. Ready to return next year. I am starting to feel like the fish themselves. I will be returning to the same rivers around the same time each year.
When Derek calls to tell you that he will be at your house at 4 AM it is hard not to be angry. Then you think that you might, you just might, finally catch a steelhead. The weather is terrible for fishing, hot and sunny. But you set your alarm and do it anyway.
Leland taught me the importance of naps, but I was glad to wake up and take a picture of Derek as the sun was rising over our first spot. Even when the fishing is slow, it is nice to see the absolute beauty of the outdoors.As the sun climbed higher, the naps were initially more enjoyable, but at a certain point in the day it becomes uncomfortable to nap in waders. The water was low and as the clocked ticked onward, I began losing hope in my chance for my first steelhead. Derek pulled in a few non steelhead fish. He was not as impressed as I was. I have thought that the Skykomish is as barren as it gets. On the way back to the car, I got the biggest surprise of the day. I brought in a king salmon. What?! Out of nowhere we landed this little guy. Thanks for a great day Derek!We are now ready to get that steelhead!
It might be surprising that I actually enjoy fishing for steelhead. I mean, I have never caught one. I have never seen anyone catch one. It is a very time consuming endeavor. I even started a website called No Fucking Beads that chronicles my trials. I know that fishing is on the back burner during school so this seriously decreases my odds of catching a steelhead.
The numbers of wild steelhead have been declining and the authorities are planting many hatchery raised steelhead to keep anglers happy. I am not sure if we should be encouraging this behavior. I consider my lack of catching a steelhead my honorary induction to the conservation society. Total number of members in this prestigious club: 1.
i will look like this holding a big fish one day.
Lando enjoys fishing. He is not concerned with catching.
We drove to Twisp for Thanksgiving/Steelheading. Mostly for the fishing. The first stop is George’s Bakery in North Bend.
Along the way, the weather was wet, but not too bad. In fact this helicopter had no problem moving logs around the interstate.
The first night, we stayed at the Twisp River Inn. It is right on the Twisp River which is currently closed to fishing.
They make breakfast with potatoes from the root cellar, eggs from the chickens in the backyard, and cheese from the goat farm next door.
Thanksgiving day, we drove to Carlton and fished a few very fishy looking runs.
That night, we stayed at a friends house. Everyone seems to have horses and dogs. There were as many dogs as people at Thanksgiving. The cats probably felt a bit like the natives during the original Thanksgiving.
The next day we fished a few more fishy looking runs. Walking speed water, deep enough to hold fish, but not too deep so the fly can’t get down there.
We didn’t catch anything, but neither did anyone else I talked to. The hunt continues. Maybe I am being optimistic, but when I have to bonk a hatchery fish, I am going to make a Gyotaku print of it.
We scored some tickets to see “Cinderella” at an outdoor theater that is a five minute walk from a river loaded with fish. There are lots of eager Steelhead smolt. They don’t know how doomed they are because we were fishing near the base of a waterfall. A big waterfall that the fish can’t get past.So we fished for a few minutes before walking down the nice trail to the stage. It is set up beautifully, and we both really enjoyed the show.
It is “Spring Break”. I feel a little funny calling it that now that I am in my 30’s (31 next week). It is between quarters at my community college so I am taking a break from my 2 jobs, not bringing any school books, and going on a fishing trip. The first stop is Nehalem. Well, maybe Portland if the forecast is correct.
Nothing can ruin fishing in Oregon like a bunch of rain. Not because I will melt, but the rivers increase to levels too high to fish. Trust me, we are used to the rain up here. For some reason I am still stuck on this idea that I can catch a Steelhead swinging a fly. I have heard that this is a lot more feasible in Oregon. Perhaps the cost of a license guarantees success.
From there, I am headed to the capital of Deschutes fishing, Maupin, Oregon. The Deschutes River is featured in every fishing magazine, book, video, and show. I am excited just to spend some time out there. The forecast looks a little warmer in Maupin.
Leaving Maupin, I will head north to the more familiar waters of Yakima. The forecast looks better and the familiar water makes me slightly feel like I know what I am doing.
This trip will be fantastic. Now I am going to look up campgrounds and hope that the dog isn’t too wet to sleep in the tent.
I know it is a good trip when I can see the points of interest on a map of the U.S. I suppose the real dilemma will be what flies should I use?