I’ve never gone for steelhead. They’ve always been attached to a stigma for me that was called the Salmon River. And to me the Salmon River has ninety-nine percent of the time meant crowds, anglers at every bend and pool, before it’s ever meant big fish. To me. I’ve fished it in the heat of summer for smallmouth and it was great, but maybe I shouldn’t say that out of a fear of giving away a good secret. But then you have to ask yourself if I’m just lying to distract you from other waters in the summer time. I am a fisherman after all, and all fisherman lie.
It ended up being a beautiful day. The sun would hide behind clouds and then the clouds would move past and you could almost hear the temperature rise a degree or two before more moved in and you could feel the drop. When the temperatures are hovering right between those two numbers where one means snow and the other means rain, yet neither is happening, I seem to notice the rises and falls of the thermometer with more awareness. Of course it might just be that I’m enjoying feeling the sun on my face only because I’m hoping it doesn’t warm up enough to feel a freezing rain on it instead.
Few words have the impact when spoken that steelhead does. See? You just felt something when you read it. Steelhead. Don’t believe me? Do you remember the scene in Stand by Me, (if you don’t know the movie then stop reading. Just stop. You’re probably too young to have seen it, because everyone else in the world that’s old enough has. Find it, watch it, and then come back to this later) the scene where Ace says to Eyeball and Charlie “You guys are like my grandmother having a conniption fit. I don't see your problem. We brought a whole bunch of fishing gear, and if a cop asks us what we're doing here, we're just here to take a couple steelhead out of the river, and look what we found!” That one line set a tone of extreme maturity and coolness at that moment in the film. Suddenly, a punk, a thug named Ace became a very cool guy for a few seconds. It was a line that would have never worked, never been so powerful had steelhead been replaced by bass, or even trout. Because of the use of steelhead, the line was pure Hollywood gold. I’ve never gone for steelhead, always avoided it because of people, but even I recognize the power in the emotions the name evokes. There’s only one other word in fly fishing that comes close to grabbing the attention of fly anglers by tender regions and making their eyebrows raise, their heads tilt to one side or the other like a dog, listening to the conversation with a feeling of importance. It also happens to be connected to steelhead…Stonefly.
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I'd struggled through my first year with a fly rod in my hand in epic failure for the most part. The casting came fairly easy when I decided to give it a try. It was the catching that challenged me. My first fish came a couple months into the struggle,...