This morning my good friend Matt Ramsey and I fished one of our favorite stretches of a local steelhead stream. Even though we got a late start, there were no other boats out save for a few guys buzzing around in jet boats looking for springers. The weather was perfectly fishy; calm, overcast and humid. We pulled into one of my favorite runs and parked the boat to get things started. Matt hopped out and started swinging through the top of the run. We chatted as he worked out his short casts. Matt is a good friend of many years, a fellow fishing guide, a chrome magnet and taimen whisperer. We work together with some regularity but seldom get a chance to get out and fish together anymore, and this was a rare opportunity to spend the day covering the river, comparing notes and swapping stories. After Matt worked his way through the top of the run I started to fish behind him. About the time I had gotten my head out and a little bit of running line and the swing started to feel good, Matt hooked up on a something solid. His rod folded about half way through the swing, and after the first tail splash and run we were both convinced he had hooked a Spring Chinook because of the magnitude of the fish. After a few runs I was able to sucker the fish into the net long before it was exhausted. It was among the biggest summer steelhead I have ever seen in the Willamette Valley; 35 inches long and 14.5 pounds.
Catching a steelhead in the first spot of the day is always a nice way to get things started. Getting a fish like this in the net, however, lifted our spirits with an adrenaline rush that endured for a couple hours as we worked our way downstream, covering likely spots. Down river about a mile and a half in another one of my favorite spots we both had solid grabs but were unable to convert on the opportunities. Later in the afternoon I hooked, played, and landed a chrome bright summer hen of about six pounds. The little hen slammed my fly with abandon and fought brilliantly. After I landed it, however, it didn’t even look like the same species as the fish Matt had caught earlier that morning.
The summer run is on in the Willamette valley. With more fish coming in every day, it is time to get out there and swing for chrome.