After a season of what I would call normal steelheading on the Trinity River, I am hearing about a lot of people complaining that the fishing is poor. There are no fish in the river, and even a few people saying that hooking one fish every two days is not worth fishing. It sounds to me like too many people only care about CATCHING fish. To me, there is a lot more about steelhead FISHING than how many fish you catch.
Which brings me to this. Why do you go steelhead fishing? If it’s to hook five fish every time out, then let me tell ya, you’re wasting your time! It obviously must not have anything to do with getting away from the concrete jungle where you live to be on a pristine river with gin clear water, beautiful runs, and to swing a fly in hopes that a hot, bright 4-8 lb wild steelhead grabs your fly. The shot of adrenaline you receive when a fish slams your fly and is ripping backing off your reel while jumping its way downriver! Even on those days when we don’t get a fish, it’s pretty amazing to see black bears, deer, and bald eagles all around. What about working on your casting and fishing techniques. There’s a lot more to it than how many steelhead you catch.
Stupid returns of HATCHERY steelhead in the last 3-5 years on the Trinity River gave people the idea that hooking 5-12 steelhead a day was the norm. Many of those ridiculous numbers were had in the upper river nymph fishing. Yeah, in those same years we did quite well swinging flies, but 5 fish days were not the norm. While I believe fish returns are cyclical and the numbers of hatchery smolts has been reduced, we are back to normal returns of steelhead. We are still hooking the same number of wild steelhead but fewer hatchery disasters. Fine with me, I live for hooking big hot, wild steelhead that aren’t missing a fin! Things are back to where they were before the crazy returns and those who put in the time are still hooking some nice fish. Maybe not everyday, but if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Just remember, it’s steelheading!