Native Winter Steelhead on the Clackamas River
My red, orange and peach yarnie drifted its way across the Clackamas River’s rocky bottom, bouncing inches from this massive Native Winter Steelhead! The secret sauce called the fish in and it hit lightly–almost not enough to notice. But then, the yarnie caught in the Steelhead’s teeth long enough for me to think “Fish On!!” and set the hook! I knew right away that this was going to be a big fish–at least the size of the coho salmon from the Fall. My reel screamed as the fish took line and headed downstream. I gave chase and caught up, to it. It thrashed in the water a few times and didn’t leap out of the river (I think that usually that means its a hen), but I saw the really vibrant red striping on a gray-green fish. I’m not sure I’ve seen one that color before! I felt the fish give in a little bit, so I pulled it into the eddy, out of the current, and shouted to an onlooker to see if he could spot the adipose fin, since there were a lot of native fish in the river, and release it quickly if it were. The Winter Steelhead rolled on the surface again, revealing that it was wild and would fight another day. I moved in closer to try to tail the fish for the release, and the onlooker splashed into the water, to get a closer look, which spooked the fish, who made a run out of the eddy, rolling, and popped the hook and yarnie back out. That fish tore out of the eddy and back to the depths. Wow! What a rush!
This was the second annual Super Bowl Steelhead! It definitely fought harder than the crazy coho’s of the Sandy River. No photo, but it looked just like the picture above. I’d guess about 17 pounds, but I’ll never know for sure!