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Name: tframe Date: January 21, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: All Day Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Got to highway side of reiter this morning with only one other car there. Not many people out which was nice. Just one other guy fishing highway side and probably a dozen or so on the hatchery side. Wind was blowing so made it a little tough but thankfully it died down mid morning a little. Caught one on a silver 2/5 oz little cleo spoon and another on an orange worm later in the day. Both were darker bucks with a lot of color and on the smaller side. First was probably around 4, maybe 5lbs. Second I estimate to be slightly over 3lbs. Not very big but still fun to catch. Saw about half dozen caught all near the big rock on the hatchery side. Sorry no pics today.
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Name: TahoeFisherman Date: January 21, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Afternoon Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Went 2 for 2 on the afternoon. One chromer about 5 or 6 lbs. and one spawned out about the same size. Fished random hole between gold bar and the hatchery from about 2pm until 5:30. Lots of Chrome fish moving around in the river.
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Name: tframe Date: January 16, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: All Day Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Wow what a day. Got to highway side of reiter with only 2 other vehicles in the pullout. Hiked down and starting fishing. About 20 minutes in, let my float and nightmare jig drift down right next to the bank and watched the float take a dive. Set the hook and boom, fish on. Didn't really put up to much of a fight with no jumps or big runs but still took a couple minutes to get him in. Got him to the bank and realized it was a nice wild buck so off he went.

Fished my way down to the cable hole with no other hits so decided to take a little break. Noticed my float was a little damaged so switched it out for a clear one and tied on a pink/white aero jig. Finished lunch and tossed my line out about 15 feet out in a nice slot. All of a sudden it submerged, set the hook and boom fish on. This is where it got interesting. As soon as I set the hook it felt like a whale. I have caught a lot of steelhead and never have I felt a take like this. She took off peeling line like crazy than she jumped and I knew this was a doozy. She jumped 3 times and made a half dozen runs or so and finally got her to cooperate. Got her close enough to get a good look and it turned out to be a massive wild hen. By far the biggest steelhead I have ever seen let alone caught on any Puget sound river. She had a nightmare jig in her mouth that she must have broken off so I tried to get it out, but before I could she had enough and shook her head and out popped my jig and off she went. Feel bad I wasn't able to remove the other jig but she didn't seem to mind by the fight and power she showcased. Still shocked I was able to land her on 8lb maxima ultra green leader but luckily had my drag fairly lose. I estimate she was 18 lbs. She was as big around as a volleyball and 40+ inches easy. Made my whole fishing year.

Sorry no pics, my iPhone was in my backpack and since they were both wild, wanted to stress them as little as possible. Several people were catching fish on both sides of the hatchery. One hell of a day.
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Name: Reel Priorities Date: January 15, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Morning Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Starting Time: 7:00 AM
Location: Skykomish River
Method of Persuasion: Jigs
Setup: Okuma Celilo 9'6" 4-8 Pound Test Rod, Shimano Stradic Reel, 10 Pound Test Hydrofloat

Life has a way of interminably piquing my curiosity. From the simplicity evoked from watching a dime sized ember transform a lifeless pile of logs into a living, raging entity, to the mystery of a float slipping beneath the surface, coercing the most ornery of Steelhead. Though small in physical size and seemingly insignificant, the ember and 1/32nd ounce jig are very much alike, each harnessing the capacity to positively impact this world.

Three things come to my mind each morning I have the privilege of waking: gratitude for another day in my wading boots, curiosity regarding the current location of my Simms waders and the puzzling thought of how I'm going to tuck my better half back under the covers (without waking her) with one foot haphazardly hanging 2 feet off the bed. After achieving victory for the latter, I threw my yellow jig box in my left jacket pocket, synched tight the cables of my boots and groped the darkness for my fishing rod. It was my day off and the time to resynchronize with the rhythms of nature, further ponder Steelhead holding water and probe the depths for spotted olive backs.

Though the conditions were not ideal -the wind was raging and the water was off color- gratitude did not evade me, knowing how the river is a constantly shifting puzzle, never content with it's current course nor depth. Glacial runoff stimulated by the rise in air temperature had caused the resurfacing the entire river bottom; once known fishing haunts had become distant and cold to the touch. I accepted the fresh challenge presented before me, relinquishing all desire to control the conditions, redirection my approach of angling, like water flowing around the rocks. After all, nature is the most concise and candid instructor for the "Academy of Life," never faltering nor wavering during instruction.

A half mile into my walk, favorable water finally presented itself. Out flicked my 27th cast like a trick kite in Long Beach, slicing through the force of the assailing Northern wind. With laser guided precision, my Asian eyes traced the faint fluorescent top of my 20 gram DNE float (we're well known for our astounding peripheral vision). As it glided parallel to the far side of the bank -the river had etched a small pocket into the hillside- my float was no more. I saluted my opponent with 9' 6" of graphite, with the speed of a hand raised during a "volunteer call" from the Reptile Man at an elementary school. I was met with a solid "thump" on the end of my Okuma Celilo. Five ferocious head shakes and a barreling sprint down and across the river send a shock of fear through my spine. Would my Hydrofloat hold up? Only time will tell... He assailed the upper water column and darted to and fro, slapping his speckled, silver-striped tail against the water surface, like a boxer rattling a speed bag. I took a knee down on the grapefruit sized stones of the bank, being forced to play this Steelhead low, and leveraging the rod sideways. Three more attempts to sprint in the shallow water left this Steelhead panting for the now distant oxygenated water, churned by the rapids below his tranquil pool.

If you're reading this from your desk, you have my compassion; the weekend will return and so will you to your true residence. If you're reading this clothed in ACU or NWU, illuminated by infrared light on foreign soil, you have my deepest thanks for your commitment and for your life's service. The river, she beckons, and so echo the pages of history, as an answer to her call has never disappointed. As we near the season's close for the rivers of the Puget Sound, we enter the time of return for behemoth-like hatchery Steelhead, and the preface of the native stock. Like thumbing through the pages of your favorite novel, the river begins to reveal her favorite chapters. I dare you to take a day off from work, and push the envelope to pursue your "fish of a lifetime." Wait not another year, for truthfully, you have this day alone in your possession. When all is said and done, we but scrape the surface of angling, understanding how the art contrasts with the sole pursuit of winching silver-plated silhouettes to the bank. May your rods stay flexed and your creels overflow. Reel Priorities, out.

Rock to rock. Cast by cast.

"Specializing in the Instruction of Systematic Bank Fishing for Steelhead"

Official Digital Anglers Sponsor

ReelPriorities.com
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Name: Reel Priorities Date: January 14, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Morning Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Starting Time: 7:00 AM
Location: Skykomish River
Method of Persuasion: Jigs
Setup: Okuma Celilo 9'6" 4-8 Pound Test Rod, Shimano Stradic Reel, 10 Pound Test Hydrofloat

For a gardener, I imagine there are few things more satisfying than finding good soil to work with. Soil that not only has the ability to retain vital nutrients, but the potential to provide a future residence for a worthy plant. I'm thankful Brian decided to call me, for Brian and his son, Mason, were just the type of "soil" I was looking for. The Saturday prior to our excursion, we trained in the classroom, hand crafting jigs, weaving yarn balls, and studying the key elements of Steelhead holding water, in preparation for the instruction to come.

You know those days when you beat your alarm clock one minute to the punch? The type of morning when your eye lids pop right open like an oven roasted popcorn kernel, and caffeine becomes a memory of the past? Yes, It was one of those. After the crank of the key and the subsequent awakening my slumbering, red plated "beast" of a Civic, I was off like a Steelhead hooked on 6 pound fluorocarbon leader. And no, I do not endorse the use of fluorocarbon; that Izorline allows me to keep a few nickels lining the bottom of my pockets, while gracing me many Steelhead to the bank. From the eyes of a Steelhead guide, it distills down to the following, over immaculate line clarity: float speed, color and depth.

The first 20 minutes of our instruction consisted of blank casting (no live ammunition), until Brian and Mason, were casting like Bass Pro's and mending line like the practiced hands of a seamstress. How a great dividend was paid, following their diligent practice. After dialing in to the water, off we shot down the river, identifying seams, pockets of holding water and deftly placing casts to the opposing bank. Mason's first cast landed in the "belly of the run;" his float slipped underneath the water, but slack prevented a proper hook set. 5 minutes later, the water engulfed Brian's float, his rod loaded a light head shake, and then straightened back out. Hands weary from tying and having run out of patterns to stimulate the now "stale" bunch of Steelhead, it was time to "run from this slot" and "gun" to the next.

A wise angler once shared with me the importance of "creating a circuit of three to six well known slots." On any given day, it is highly likely one of your 6 slots will hold a willing biter. Not only has this led to my personal success as an angler, but how it has forever changed the way I approach water and the style of angling that I teach to my students. So, after a short refresher, we parked our frozen wading soles in the second slot. Brian sailed out his first cast. Two tastefully placed Hydrofloat mends, a carefully selected color and the proper feeding of line later, his float took a dive. Two seconds prior to the "sinking" portion of the run, Brian diverted his gaze as Mason and I redirected ours, watching Brian's float sink faster than a speeding bullet; I'll let you fill in the dialogue, facial expressions and banter you'd imagine after this scene... So it goes, Steelhead: 4, Anglers: 0. Moving on, Brian whipped out his second cast. And yet another. Just as his float was about to exit the slot on his fourth attempt, it shuddered, hesitated and began to inch beneath the surface; it was like spectating a descending escalator at Bellevue Square. He waited patiently for the float to disappear and subsequently executed a picture perfect hook set. "Fish on!" Brian chirped. Finally, he was rewarded with a bending rod and four adrenaline pumping head shakes, two ingredients exclusively manufactured by the Winter Run Steelhead.

For the appetizer, this intelligible fish immediately finned it's way to the tip of his rod, faking exhaustion. Responding quickly, we loosened the drag and sent a few shocks down the line to stimulate a run. With no response, I attempted water landing procedure; after a failed landing attempt, he shot off like a lever action Winchester 94 Carbine. One line stripping run upriver, two surface attempts and numerous underwater head shakes were in store with this young buck. Watching Brian play this Steelhead was like watching a locksmith precision cut a worn key; it was a treat indeed. The back and forth style of fighting from this particular contestant was reminiscent of the swaying motion of the conifers during a winter wind storm. As cortisol and fatigue set in, our Winter Buck lifted his dorsal fin, and opted for a trade. In exchange for his two fillets and a trophy picture of father and son, we provided him an intimate gander at my GoPro 3 Black Edition, and a blue penned catch code and date on Brian's catch card.

Though it would be desirable, not every outing ends with tangible success, manifesting in the form of a Steelhead. These wild creatures, reverent and defiant in nature, have gambled the odds and come out on top in the salt and glacial fed waters. Hatchery Steelhead or Native, both have been inducted in the 1% club; they demand a great deal of respect. The pursuit of Steelhead is an art, one that cannot be described through digital ink, nor conceptualized through the simplicity of a photograph nor YouTube video. For those of you who have yet to cast a line, I'd like to introduce you to the sport. Others who have filled their creel in seasons past, I challenge you to walk the river bank with me, in pursuit of your trophy fish. Fly or gear, the pursuit of meat or of the art, we all pursue the vitality and electricity only the pursuit of Steelhead fishing can bring. Keep those line mends succinct, my friends. Reel Priorities, out.

Rock to rock. Cast by cast.

"Specializing in the Instruction of Systematic Bank Fishing for Steelhead"

Official Digital Anglers Sponsor

ReelPriorities.com
Views:  1913
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Name: Reel Priorities Date: January 04, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Morning Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Starting Time: 7:00 AM
Location: Skykomish River
Method of Persuasion: Jigs
Setup: Okuma Celilo 9'6" 4-8 Pound Test Rod, Shimano Stradic Reel, 10 Pound Test Hydrofloat

When passion turns into profession, it seems as if the former fades to liking a lone ember shivering in a bed of morning ashes. It is a regal thing when -after 7 consecutive days of rising early in the morning, treading the old haunts and watching my clients go from zero to hero- I find myself rising (yet again) to celebrate the same tradition. Tasting the crisp morning dew exclusively distilled by a morning in the Pacific Northwest and watching the sun glow behind the far hillside never seems to lose it's mystery nor majesty. While the majority begin their mornings listening to NPR, sipping a hot cup of Joe and skirmishing traffic to visit a location they are so keen to leave upon arrival, my new fishing partner and I had the privilege of beginning the day chasing after a most illusive set pectoral fins and missing adipose fin.

The upper slots on the Skykomish looked like a good place to watch two DNE 20 gram floats bob and weave through the ubiquitous seams; off fired the pistol and the subsequent beating of the air with our fishing rods. Lady Luck usually makes an appearance within the first 3 casts of the day, though today she seemed to be distant, moreover shy. Nor the next 30. Mastro and I changed leader material, swapped colors, scents, chanted, danced and traveled water at a pace comparable to the plucking speed of a backwoods banjo player. The Steelhead were tucked cozily in the depressions of the river bed, under their glacier fed, liquid sheets this morning. Defiant and unwilling they were, to participate in the age old game of the "first light bite."

After stumbling through the first 4 slots, we came upon a most unruly spot, one I mentioned in days past how "I rarely casted this piece of water and prioritized it as a lower priority slot." And a lower priority slot it wasn't. So, I watched Mastro sail out a cast. The equation every angler loves is this: one cast plus one float down equals one fish to the bank. Oh, if only life were so simple, we would be such dull creatures. And so goes the equation. I've never seen one of my floats explode, but this Steelhead accosted that 20 gram DNE float down with such vehemence, it wouldn't have surprised me if it did. It ran straight for the deepest, cerulean colored portion of the hole, shook it's head sending shocks up the line. Watching the rod wave angrily back and forth while a fish shakes it's head holds a unique rewards in itself. Running to the surface, it faked a few well planned aerial attempts; it even graced my GoPro Black Edition with some mouth watering, overhead footage. Alas, it surrendered with white flag in fin to fatigue, and my well practiced hand water landing ability. Though dark, it was a winter run buck in good condition, worthy enough for the creel.

True, it is memorable day when a fisherman converts into an angler, and when an angler relinquishes the life of a Steelhead back to nature. The next step (and for some in between) is taking a limit of Steelhead, away from the hatchery. Shortly after punching the heart and marking the date and location on his catch card, another cast was delivered to the same slot. Sure as daybreak, his float disappeared again! A more perfect hook set on the float, I have seldom seen. Like a predictable motion picture, a chrome flash appeared beneath the surface, and the 9'6" Shimano Clarus saluted it's opponent with a top heavy bow. Several minutes later and after a few fantastic aerial displays, the blinding sheet of biological metal lay gasping for breath, flopping amidst the golf ball sized stones of the river bank.

There aren't many days when I'm out gunned and overrun in the world of river fishing, but I could not have been more please with the outcome today. What a treat it was watching my past client, friend and brother reeling in his first brace (limit) of Steelhead on jigs he tied, skill he practiced and water he approached correctly. There is nothing that fulfills me more than watching a student of mine take their tools, make them their own and run with them. Living and guiding in a world supersaturated with the "Steelhead Elitist" attitude, it takes humility by the riverside to redirect and remind me what brought me here in the first place. Truthfully, are we not all casting our lines to accrue: life changing memories, friends who stick closer than Sea Lice, and to learn the lessons in nature that we're too hard-headed to learn in our daily lives? Plus, putting some winter chrome to the bank always helps the cause.

As the number of returning Steelhead begins to dwindle, and the low and clear water will wire their jaws tighter than a vice grip, remember this: there are fish to be "had." To make it more difficult, the remainder of the run will be harvested by the ten percent who tried, tested and true by the elements, have unlocked the secrets of Steelhead. If you're interested in foregoing the learning curve altogether, give me a call. Many tight lines, bent rods, trophy smiles and high fives lie ahead this winter season, if you want them to. Reel Priorities, out.

Rock to rock. Cast by cast.

"Specializing in the Instruction of Systematic Bank Fishing for Steelhead"

Official Digital Anglers Sponsor

ReelPriorities.com
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Name: makscoot Date: January 02, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Afternoon Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Great water last two days. I fished on 1/1 using hardware, little cleo spoons with no luck.
Vis is around 5 feet with a great off green color.

Fished today for 3 hours on the lower Sky, floated jigs with shrimp scent, no takers.

I know most hatchery fish are likely upriver, but I like the area. Working on building some new jigs, so might have to take them up to hatchery before all the fishys are caught.
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Name: petersim Date: January 02, 2015 Rating:
 
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Took a couple of hours downstream from Monroe specifically targeting Dolly Varden on spey. While a bit cold and overcast, the day turned out to be a lot of fun. Had three hits, one did not set, one were on for a couple of minutes but #3 which were a feisty fish, was landed. A nice 24 inch Dolly Varden in super condition, silver and plum. Picture is unfortunately not in good focus. I carefully removed the fly and set it free, watching it speed away. What a way to start the New Year.
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Name: scotrobe Date: January 02, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Morning Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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(I've been fishing the Skykomish in various locations all week with no luck. I'm just reporting on my lack of luck yesterday to save time.)

I got to Reiter Ponds on Friday at 7:15 and the parking lot was already overflowing. (I should have known better and got there earlier.) My favorite spot across from the large boulder was taken (as were many others) so I had to find a spot slightly downriver). Right at daybreak (8am) I saw two fish caught right behind and next to the boulder which is where I wanted to be. I stayed there for about 2 hours and tried every color jig I had - pink, blue, purple, nightmare, white, orange - with not so much as a nibble. I tried with and without shrimp scent as well. I also tried Dick Nite spoons with no luck. (I had tried spinners earlier in the week with similar results.)

At 10am, being frustrated with no luck (which has been the case for the past 6 days), I decided to leave and try Wallace River again which I'll report on in another post.
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Name: FishingTenor Date: January 01, 2015 Rating:
 
Time: Afternoon Bait: Login to view! Tackle: Login to view!
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Amazing start to the new year! I had to rate this day #1, since no fish were caught, but really it should be #4 based upon how incredibly gorgeous it was at the Skykomish. I fished from 3:00pm-4:45pm. Eagles were flying, the water was low enough to make great headway up the river near reformatory hole. As the sun set, a beautiful moon came up through the trees. Though I had several snags, I believe this was the first time I have ever fished the river and did not donate any rigging to the river! I brought my girlfriend with me and she quietly soaked up the sunshine, serene beauty and fresh air. I floated a white headed, black body jig with a pink worm tail. Setup 2 was casting a 50/50 dick nite. A nice guy across the river, wearing camouflage mentioned he hit the colors green, then purple over a large stretch on his side, but to no avail. Maybe next time. Happy fishing!
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