We are coming up on that part of the winter steelhead season when some changes are about to occur. Those changes will largely be in regard to some of our smaller rivers closing for the season at the end of this month.
The streams and rivers affected are Stevens Creek, John’s River, the Hoquiam River including the west and east Forks, Wishkah River, Middle space and West Fork of the Satsop River, and Cloquallum Creek in our immediate area. Some others designated as north coast rivers that will close are Copalis River, Salmon River and Kalaloch Creek. A few other smaller streams are also listed in the regulations that close at the end of February.
Obviously our attention is focused upon the larger rivers or main stems which accommodate hatchery steelhead. As we make our way through this season, we will see later closures and eventually the termination of the 2013-14 season.
Some of the northern rivers have an April closure to accommodate anglers applying for the special wild steelhead regulations. In select streams, anglers may retain one wild steelhead per license year.
I recall fishing a small river with one of my friends during the month of February some time ago. We were in a rather tight location with not a lot of room and tree branches hanging over the water. My friend hooked a nice hatchery steelhead which decided to put on an ariel show. After this fish tail walked the river, it leaped over one of the overhanging tree branches. Now, his line was hung up on a branch and there was no evidence of an attached steelhead.
I quickly volunteered to go upstream, cross the river and see if I could free his line. All the while he was sure he had a bonifide snag up. As I made my way to the overhanging branches, I was also able to reach his line. With excitement I told him that the fish was still attached. I could feel it pulling on the line below the problem tree. When I carefully removed the line from the branch, the battle between man and steelhead resumed. Before I could get back to my friend, he had already landed a nice female steelhead, which left a memory for life.
One of the points of this story is perseverance. Steelheaders find a way to “get ‘er done!” Anyone who has fished for steelhead knows there are more days when you come home skunked then days when you come home with a fish.
Occasionally, anglers will have a bonus day when they come home early with their limits. I have had a few of those times and let me tell you, it makes you feel like a winner. If I could equate the sensation, it would be like getting a hole-in-one in golf. They happen and some get a fair number of them whereas, others have not experienced that thrill given the fact they have golfed all their life.
My view is that the more steelheading you do the greater are your chances of not only hooking a fish but also coming home with your limit.