Steelhead, oh Steelhead….What a crazy fish. Might drive a person crazy, I know I already am. For the past two years thing is the Steelhead world have been a bit tough. Sometimes it has seemed luck was the only real way to find any success. Of course having fewer fish does not help, but there is more to it then that. The pursuit of a completely reactionary anadromas rainbow trout, who is turn off and or put down by any and seemingly everything. The water is too hot, the water is too cold, the sun is in there eyes, the water is off color, the water is too clear, the barometer is changing, full moon phase is in effect, too much angling pressure, you pick the one or common ones you hear or have used. To think any of us are deserving might be another pipe dream.
On the list of fish species that are difficult to catch on a fly, steelhead might not make the top ten. I would wager that Permit would be the top of most lists. Permit are even more crazy is that those fish are actually actively feeding. Now for the reality of the Steelhead picture to take hold, Steelhead are not really returning to the rivers to feed. The animal may not even have a clue other than hormonally or chemically they feel the call of ancestral past to push them to swim up river. Now from the anglers view, The Steelhead needs to be in the taking mood the day I am going to be there, and be in the runs I fish, and find my fly and eat it because I drove here. Not be mean or break some peoples pride, but it seems like to fish are responsible for doing a lot of the needed work. As a guide my job is to facilitate the amount of variables and help to connect the angler to the fish, again I rely on the Steelheads reactive presents.
So with all this positive information I am writing down I have more to say. The only reason some of us know the past couple years have been off is because we have seen and fished in good years. We learn good from bad based on experience and after a couple days with the wonderful Peter Hayes. A fellow guide and great caster who told asked me if I knew what an experience was? Telling him maybe not his definition, he then told me “An experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”. After Steelhead fishing for the better part of my lifetime, I can tell you I have had a lot of experience.
Better years will come and great days to follow, but remember your only in control of a couple of things and the Steelhead no matter how many or few might take control of their end of the bargain some day. Until then we are left with days of 1’s and 0’s the binary language of these amazing and highly addictive fish.