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Fall Steelheading...Oh Yeah!

Fall Steelheading...Oh Yeah!
As fall arrives in our region, some anglers begin to feel a bit anxious, almost hormonal in a way. It's the change in the air as we walk downtown to work or while trout fishing one day late in the summer, we can smell it, even sense the change of season upon us. It is fall and my absolute favorite time of year to fish and not only fish but to swing flies, both dry and wet for steelhead. For some, it is the time of year when they will marginally consider going out fly fishing, only if the weather is "cooperative." For those anglers it is the last chance at a steelhead for the year as they won't endure the winter conditions to pursue these fish, their disease hasn't set in -- yet! Fall steelheading is pure serenity on the water. Cast, mend and step, watch the line swing, or not, take a deep breath and feel the cool crisp fall air deep in your lungs -- repeat. Paying more attention on the next one because you know you are headed for the bucket or something grazed your line on the last pass, nearly impreceptible in this perfect piece of water, a mere hesitation that brought you back to your senses. As those of us who are hosts or carriers of this affliction/affection for steelhead wander or sprint our way into this time of year, we inevitably question ourselves on every facet of the pursuit. This is the game and we love it. It drives many nuts to even open this proverbial can of worms with someone like us because there are no absolutes with one exception -- you must be in the water with your fly to even have a chance, this we can all agree on. I don't wish to delve into the minutiae of the rest, only want to open a door here for those who haven't yet had it cracked. Without question, this time of year will drive those whose heart is not owned by a particular river insane -- way too many choices! May favorite question from my regular and new clients is "Where should we go to get a steelhead?" My mind says "HOLY CRAP, did you really just ask that!" Because I can only come up with about 20 absolutely beautiful, serene, sexy, fantasmical (word unsure?) rivers to watch water pass on. Especially if 7 hours drive isn't too much and for those afore mentioned anglers, this is not a problem. Here is a brief list of my favorites with candy: North Umpqua River, Oregon Grande Ronde River, Oregon, yes Oregon John Day River, Oregon Deschutes River, Oregon Snoqualmie River, Washington Cowlitz River, Washington Hoh River, Washington -- Yeah, there are summer fish here too! Skykomish River, Washington I think you get the point and the scary prospect is this barely scratches the surface. Imnaha, Clearwater, Rogue, Willamette, Toutle, Wenatchee, Methow, Klickitat, Sol Duc, Salmon, Kalama...if it happens to be a tributary to or even a trib to a tributary of the Columbia or any of these other rivers, it likely has steelhead in it this time of year. And don't let anyone tell you you can't catch steelhead on the swing in these either, you can you just have to actually do it. Please do not let someone tell you they are going to have you swing then after an hour of half hearted effort be like, "Well, good thing you have that long rod because it sure makes managing your indicator easy from the boat!" Choose your path and stick to it, make it a mission and it will happen. One item to note, so as not to make it even worse, I haven't even mentioned leaving the U.S. to the north, even I can't take it once we bring those lovely waters into the picture. So to summarize, where will you find yourself this fall? Here maybe: "Where is this?" you ask. Anywhere you want it to be, you just have to get yourself there!
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