I had a trip planned for a long time and finally made it. Even took a long a couple newbies and got them into their first steelhead. This time of year you either fish up river for older spawning salmon or downriver for fresh steelhead that act like they are a cross between a false albacore x smallmouth x tarpon. Or at least that's how I like to think of them. Nothing prettier than a fresh, silver rainbow from the lake and nothing more explosive on the end of your line either. These fish fight better in mid to late October than they do any other time of the year.
By fishing downriver we also avoided all the people that give this place horror stories around that time of year. We also managed to find some seculsion up river amongst all the spawning salmon and even a few trout eating some salmon eggs but for the most part we'd accidentially snag half dead salmon which isn't my cup of tea. Maybe when I was 12 but not anymore... so, we concentrated our efforts down river with fewer fish but fewer people.
Anway... I'll let the pictures tell the story. We need to work on photography some. Getting a little too much light in the shots.
The drive up. Snow in OCTOBER???!!!! That wasn't fun. I love it along the stream sometimes but on the roads, no thanks. Not when I'm trying to make record time to get in as much fishing. It makes the trip a "white knuckle" journey.
This is one way to take a picture of a 20 something inch brown trout when you are on your own. She spit up a few salmon eggs when I landed her. Plus her eggs were probably still a few weeks away from releasing. Beads under strike indicators, Alaskan style is what we used up river behind all the spawning salmon.
My best man Diego with his first ever steelhead. I got to be the net man. He did quite well that day too.
My friend par who just started fly fishing this past year. He took a header into the 48 degree river while fighing this fish but somehow managed to hold on. It was strange seeing just a forearm attached to a bent rod against the morning fog.
Diego and Par left a day early because the fishing was kind of slow so my good friend John, (sleepy weesle) and I got to finally put in some real fishing together. We found the mother load of fresh fish down low and played with them for two days before driving home after dark on the final day. 7 hours drive after 12 hours standing on the water is not recommended but wow was it worth it. Here's some of the bounty. Holding onto fresh, slimy steelhead is not an easy task, especially while standing in the middle of the river or using an old dead tree as your perching point.
What a perfect way to finish the day. It was still light enough to make our way back without too much trouble.
Sunrise, no people and eager steel. That ten minutes before legal fishing time can be the longest ten minutes of your life.
John with one of the biggest fish of the trip. Of course we each got smoked by this fish's mother but that's the fish that lives in my dreams and will be waiting for me this winter or next year sometime.
Last edited by Salmo trutta; 10-27-2009 at 01:29 PM.
Congrats on your successful Salmon River trip. Great story and awesome pics. The Salmon River is just amazing! I was up there the 1st weekend in October for my yearly trip. Our group did real well on the King's and Coho's. Trying to put a trip together for mid November to try for Steel for the 1st time. After seeing your pics I hope it happens. Thanks again for the story and pics!!
I've been doing it for 20 years but mostly chasing steel for the last 8 or so years. For a first timer, I'd highly recommend a guide. There's too much to learn. I will still do it from time to time just so the guide takes me to where the fish are and I don't spend a lot of wasted time looking. Or just so it's easier on me. Especially when they can take you down in a drift boat so you can fish just about every pool without having to hike miles a day which is what we normally do.
I also did a trip to Erie, pa the following weekend. Never posted any pictures of that but if you're after steelhead, and are a numbers person, plus don't like wading big rivers, Erie, Pa is the place for you. The sheer numbers of fish is mind boggling. But even there you have to fish and they can be moody at times. This year I saw a lot of larger than average fish. Erie is known for their smaller fish but not this year. Good luck.
Yes we each used the spey rods from time to time. I have a 14' 8/9wt, my second true spey rod and like it. I told the two rookies to each bring extra rods because I was certain at least one of them would break one on a salmon. Well, there weren't too many salmon around the lower river and we didn't hook many at all. Guess who broke the rod? Me! On an old nasty salmon up river making a stupid mistake.
We used the true spey rods for a while down river for steel but did not connect. My good friend John just bought the Redington CPX 11' switch rod, the 7wt. This thing is amazing. You can mend line 40 feet out, you could easily high stick nymph fish with it or throw double speys all day long with or without sink tips. Light as a feather, powerful enough to stop a freight train, the ultimate steelhead rod for that river at 350-700+CFS. I want one bad. I somehow ended up with the 6/7wt River Run Rod switch rod by a company in Rochester. I ordered it the day I got back from the Salmon River trip. But it's like a noodle, nothing like the Redington. Haven’t tried it yet (except in a pond for bass) but I'm not too sure how it will hold up on the rivers.
We've been spey fishing for 4 or 5 years up there now. It's one thing if you add weight (which sucks) but to fish traditional spey, grease line technique, is where it's at. Only problem is you may only get one or two takes on a good day and with time as limited as it is now a days, I'm looking for more action. The switch rod or the 1.5 handed style rods are the way to go. They will still allow you to fish traditional spey casts but also easily switch to one or two handed roll casts, high stick nymphing that would be too difficult or too cumbersome with the traditional 14-15' double handers. The switch rods do it all. Anyone want to buy a 14' Orvis Spey rod? I may only use it in the surf now, which I could use some practice doing.