I have been on a steelhead streak since March—March 23 to be exact. Pretty cool, right? Yes, my glorious streak of NOT catching a steelhead in this period of time has seen me run the gamut of emotions like I’m in a 12-step program. I was in denial, then I was angry, then depressed, then accepted it, and now am just plugging away with zero expectations of ever hooking into a chrome-bright steelhead again. I’m sure I will eventually get there, but an eight month stint of not sticking a fish takes its toll.
At one point, I even considered taking a ‘break’. That thought lasted about two hours until my best friend said if I took a break I was never allowed in his boat again. That straightened me out proper.
That streak of getting skunked is not what I want to focus on today. I want to focus on the opposite end of the spectrum. While I have been toiling in the bowels of my ineptitude one of my good fishing buddies who just recently picked up a Spey rod has quickly caught fire on his local river in southern Washington. On three consecutive outings he has landed a beautiful steelhead on the fly (two wild, one hatchery).
Hot streaks like this do not come around often and must be relished and respected because they can quickly turn into the kind of streak that I am currently embarked upon. I once heard someone say that it takes a solid five to six years of steelheading in this region to really begin to understand what you are doing and how to catch fish consistently.
I honestly believe that to be true because there are so many rivers to choose from with each season bringing different water levels and temperatures and numbers of fish in the river. The more time you spend on a specific river the better you get to know its runs and how to fish them.
The general average in Pacific Northwest steelheading is approximately one fish for every eight hours spent on the water. Eight hours. How about eight months, people! You don’t want to know what I would give to be able to have that average. Some people go through stretches where they can’t buy a fish (me) and some go through stretches where they find fish everywhere they cast (my friend).
That’s how it goes though. I’m confident that my cast, swing technique and flies are correct for the most part and I just have to wait for it to all come together again. It doesn’t help that the Clackamas had a bad summer and I spent 75% of my fishing time there. A positive I am taking from this though is that I know that river well and when a good run of fish comes up I will know where to look for them.
I know that all streaks must come to an end and I hope my friend is able to get a few more steelhead to hand before his streak turns cold. And all I can do is cast, swing and take two steps down.
Wet Boots Are a Way of Life.