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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Loaded Run

When one pursues steelhead on the surface, it is often the case that long periods of blank hours/days of casting can take place between grabs.  Every now then, conditions come together to provide the unique window of opportunity that cause steelhead to look up.  I had a memorable day of surface steelheading recently, which was great after all the skunkings I had this season.

I typically work four ten hour days a week so fridays are usually my fishing days.  I had an unexpected opportunity to do even more fishing than my usual friday when my lovely wife tells me one recent saturday morning, "you have a free weekend, go fishing" so, I did as I was told.
Upon arriving on one of my favorite pieces of water, I noted that the run just looked perfect.  Of course I'm fishing surface flies all day, so I have one of my #6 Green Butt skaters on the line. When I get to the lower section of the run, a steelhead explodes at the fly near the dangle. I keep twitching, but no come back from the steelhead. I make another cast, nada. I changed to a yellow/orange skater, still nada,  I changed to a riffled steelhead caddis, nothing.   I tied the GB skater back on, made a couple casts as I continued down the run and a steelhead explodes on the skater again.  I keep twitching the fly, feel solid resistance, and the fish is on. I  feel some headshakes, then on the first run, while I am enjoying the rush that comes from the electric energy having of a steelhead at the end of the line, the hook pulls out..........dang!

I wondered to myself "what's the chances another fish is in here??" I continued fishing down, a couple casts later, a steelhead explosion comes again, but no hookup. Another cast, nothing. One step down, cast, another explosive rise comes to the fly and the fish is on.  I get some  some throbbing headshakes, thrashing on the surface, and as the steelhead starts to run, fish off!!   Can't remember if I was able to see the fish on the rise or just after it got hooked, but it looked like a good one, maybe 10lbs.

By then I was a mess of nerves, but it was no time to stop fishing!   I made another cast and another steelhead exploded at the fly, but no hookup resulted. Another cast, one more rise, again, no hookup. Another cast, nothing.   Next cast, the fly swings around and as the skater settles at the hangdown, a steelhead comes up and gulps the fly, fish on!   I'm never confident of hookups on the hang down, but this steelhead seemed to be hooked solidly and after easily coming in for a bit then giving a few nice runs and bulldogging, I was able to drag her into the slower shallows up higher in the run. I had her at my boots and tried to get a hold of her, then she flopped over and broke the tippet and got away. She was about a 28" hen with a bit of color, just a beauty of a steelhead.  Darkness was approaching and it was time to call it a day after about 30 minutes of blissful, fast-paced surface steelhead action.  It was with the greatest reluctance that I left that run.  I would bet that if I had more time, I could have raised more fish on a second pass.
Besides a couple days I experienced in BC, that was some of the best surface steelheading I've ever had.  It seemed the overcast weather and impending thunder storm got those steelhead looking up.  It is certainly true that such a weather change in summer gets steelhead active and on the bite.  The consistent, explosive rises from those steelhead certainly indicated aggressive responses and such rises were so exciting to see.  I felt like Christmas came early this year.   It also seems my little Hardy Perfect has been a lucky piece of fishing equipment for me since I've purchased it.
That day was the kind of fishing day I live for - aggressive surface grabs from steelhead stacked in a single run - a day that will live in the memory for a long time.


  1. Todd,

    About ten years ago I had a similar experience with a client from Scotland. We rose one fish, thirteen times through 8-9 fly changes. It was amazing! Having multiple fish with multiple rises, thats a recipe for stroking me out! To much FUN!

  2. Yes Dean, days like that are all too rare, but just heavenly when they happen. I'd never experienced anything close in all my steelheading in Oregon. I'm looking forward to the next time I encounter a loaded run!