Spring Kings? Nah, It’s Steelie Time In The NW!

Amazing how a bite — maybe even a fish landed — jazzes newbies.

Last Friday, Northwest Sportsman writer Jason Brooks floated an Olympic Peninsula river for the fabled sea-going steelheaded rainbow trout of the Pacific Northwest.

Today he’s still day-dreaming about the sun-bright nate he caught, his first-ever.

THE NORTHWEST'S NEWEST STEELHEADING CONVERT, JASON BROOKS. (JASON BROOKS)

“‘Oh, was that a bite or am I hung up on a stump again? Nope, Fish ON!'” he writes in an email to Headquarters this morning. “I love that daydream. I can’t stop looking at the photos from Friday’s trip.”

We’re betting that David Brennamen and Mckenzie Moorhead are probably also sharing the same daydream too.

They hit the Nestucca River over the weekend with Northwest Sportsman reader Jason Harris and did pretty good, landing their first-ever metalheads too.

"GUIDE" JASON BROOKS AND HIS NESTUCCA RIVER STEELHEAD FROM LAST WEEKEND. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

“Tons of hook ups and losses, a few natives and a few premature releases due to tackle failure — larger fish in faster water, one broken swivel, and big native on 12-pound line,” reports Harris. “Glad I got to be a part of a great experience with them.”

DAVID BRENNAMEN'S FIRST EVER STEELHEAD. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

They were drift-fishing sand shrimp tails with a midsized Michael Jackson Corky.

“The action all afternoon was the best I ever seen it in the past couple years. We had around 50-55 degrees and overcast, and the water was a perfect steelhead green with a hint or grey,” Harris writes.

MCKENZIE MOORHEAD BROKE HIS STEELHEAD CHERRY TOO ON THE NESTUCCA. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Then there’s the video on Facebook of a young gal landing a nice steelhead at what appears to be Dworshak Dam on the North Fork Clearwater.

“It was goooooooooooood,” she says after pa successfully nets her fish.

NEWBIES AREN’T THE ONLY ONES finding good steelheading around the Northwest right now.

In recent days I’ve received some shots of beautiful winter-runs taken out of the Cowlitz River by Northwest Sportsman sources.

SEEN THE LATEST SALMON STEELHEAD JOURNAL? HERE'S ONE OF THE SHANKS BOYS -- ALEX -- BACK HOME FROM BC WITH A NICE COWLITZ STEELHEAD. (ISLAND GUIDE SERVICE)

“The Cowlitz has been smokin hot,” reports guide Andy Shanks of Island Guide Service, who sent in the above shot of son Alex this past weekend.

“We hooked seven and landed four in just a few hours,” he reports.

That goes along with a report last week from Northwest Sportsman contributor Terry Wiest of Steelheaduniversity.com

STEELHEAD UNIVERSITY DESCENDS ON THE COWLITZ. (TERRY WIEST)

“Had a great day,” Wiest reported after a March 6 trip. “We went nine for 11.  Largest a 17-pound hatchery fish. We doubled up getting the 17 and 15 at the same time!”

The day before, and at the opposite end of the state, Jeff Main of Spokane was having a “fair day” on the Grande Ronde.

ANOTHER GRANDE RONDE STEELIE FOR OUR MAIN MAN IN SPOKANE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

“Hooked seven, landed five — two decent ones,  7.14 and 9.5 pounds,” Main reported.

I was emailing with a Washington fisheries biologist who I know for a fact fishes the Grande Ronde, so I asked him how it had been, to which he declined knowing anything about said river —  “Never heard of it” — and redirected the conversation back to springers.

Springers, schrimgers, say I, with action like this.

This year’s steelhead return back to the Wallowa River, a trib of the Ronde, is expected to be 33 percent larger than last year. While the Union County Observer reports the run is late, it also shows an image of an angler hauling three fish off last week!

Back out on the Oregon Coast, Hollie Matz’ Boyfriend Kyle  Rathbun of Albany had a pretty good day earlier this month on the Alsea, landing two 8-pound hatchery steelhead.

KYLE RATHBUN WITH A PAIR OF OREGON COAST HATCHERY STEELIES. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Then there’s the fishing in North-central Washington, on the Brewster Pool.

“The upper Columbia steelhead bite has been spectacular when it’s on,” reports Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Guide Service.

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON ANGLERS ARE NAILING STEELHEAD ON THE BREWSTER POOL. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

Jones says not all days are good, but when the bite’s on, quarter-ounce Rock Dancer jigs with bait work well.

Just above the Brew Pool, on the Methow River, Chad Hurst continues to regulate. Ever since picking up the steelhead stick for the first time last September, he’s been having lots of fun. Last weekend he went three for three.

And well downriver from there, the kids at Northwest Fishing Addicts have been having some fun in the late season, posting several videos of recent battles on YouTube.

(MARCH 16 UPDATE: “Andy – Just got off the phone with Jerrod Gibbons – They’re still banging late season steelhead in the Okanogan. His drift boat trip last Sat. tallied six hatchery keepers, 2 wild and lost 2. The water is shallow and clear, so small gear works best, small jigs like 1/8 oz mini Rock Dancers, under bobbers are working best. The steelhead are stacked up, so when he hit a productive hole and got one hook-up, he usually got at least one more. –Leroy”)

TELL YOU WHAT — with the missus and kids fleeing the country soon I had planned on using every available minute springer fishing.

But now I’m not so sure of that.

The Nestucca calls.

The Ronde calls.

The Oly Pen calls.

The Methow calls.

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2 Responses to “Spring Kings? Nah, It’s Steelie Time In The NW!”

  1. BLULL Says:

    I think a wet newspaper has more flavor than steelhead

    Everything pales in comparison to fresh spring Chinook….everything.

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