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Pateros Steelhead

Dave Graybill - 11/5/2012
I turned in the Jetcraft to Bob Feil Boats and Motors, and am waiting for the new Kingfisher to get rigged up for the Seattle Boat Show. I waited until the rain stopped and then got in a couple of days of steelhead fishing at the end of last week. Lucky me I have some great friends that found room in their boats to get me out on the water.

My fishing buddy Rollie Schmitten uses Barb’s Boat in the winter, and invited me to fish off the mouth of the Entiat River for a couple of hours last Friday morning. We had fished here last year and had pretty good luck. So we put the boat in at the City Park and headed for the bar outside of the bridge. This bar changes pretty much every year, and since our friend hadn’t been out yet to anchor the milk jug to mark the fishing spot, we had to poke around a bit to find where the fish were holding. Schmitten deftly maneuvered the boat around the edge of the bar, looking for the path the fish were using to enter the Entiat River.

He found it. We were anchored right on the edge of the bar and casting toward the shore when he saw me go on point like an exited retriever. I had noticed my bobber not go under, but just hesitate in the light chop. When it happened again I set the hook, and he netted a nice hatchery steelhead for me. Not long after, when his bobber was no more than 15 feet from the boat his bobber dipped under the surface and pop to the top of the water again. Schmitten patiently waited for the fish to really commit and when the bobber went down he struck. The fish threw the hook before we could get it in the net, though, but he had the fun of a great battle with the bright fish.

While we were fishing, a couple of anglers showed up on the shore. I saw one of them strike twice but not hook up, and then a short time later hook a fish. It took him a while to get this fish in. When we saw him reach down to release it, we could tell that it must have been close to 10 pounds.

We had a couple more very subtle bites, but ran out of time before we hooked up again. It was a really fun couple of hours on the water and we are planning to try this spot again sometime soon. This morning was even more special as the fish we had in the cooler kept our string of successful steelhead days running into the third season.

I was up early the following day to drive to Pateros and jump on the boat with Shane Magnuson. He had a couple of clients, but my wife had told him that it was my birthday weekend and since my trip on the Grande Ronde had been postponed, he invited me to come along. We were also joined by his old buddy Garrett Grant, who just started teaching school this year in Brewster.

Magnuson’s clients were Anton McCourtie and his eight-year-old son Christian. They had just settled in Wenatchee a few months ago, and are wasting no time in taking advantage of the outdoor fun available to them here in Central Washington. They had already fished for salmon with Magnuson at Vernita and now wanted to try steelhead fishing at Pateros.

We headed downstream and started drifting and casting the area known as the Rocks. I don’t think we got a fish on our first pass, which prompted Christian to do a serious “fish dance” in the boat, and it seemed to work. On the next pass Grant’s bobber went down and he hooked a nice fish—quickly handing the rod off to Christian. We all agreed that the first fish would be his. He had never caught a steelhead, and in fact had caught a total of six fish in his life, the others being small trout. What a thrill. He cranked and cranked and we watched the fish run and jump and put on a great show. We all celebrated when it came to the boat. It was a beautiful, bright wild fish, and he didn’t mind at all as he watched it swim away. Garrett Grant unselfishly handed off the rod to this youngster more than once. What a great gesture.

His dad got in on the act, too, casting his bobber and jig and hooking steelhead for the first time himself. He not only had the fun of battling steelhead, late in the day he caught a real surprise—a smallmouth bass! Yup; right at the bottom end of the drift his bobber when down and the fish took a terrific diving run. We were all amazed when it came up near the boat and turned out to be a bass.

We had a busy day with this father and son, and I know I will be thinking of them as they continue to explore the lakes and rivers of our region. They are sure off to a good start, and all of us will remember the day they spent aboard Magnuson’s boat.

I want to remind everyone that both the Fishing and Cooking TV Shows are now becoming available on my web site. You can view the new shows each month anytime you want now, simply by going to the Fishing or Cooking TV Page and clicking on the show you want to see.

I already have plans to get back out on the Columbia, to try some new water. My season is off to a great start, and I hope yours is, too!

By Dave Graybill