I was very fortunate to grow up in Tacoma, Washington, an area with abundant fishing opportunities. From the salty waters of Puget Sound, a short fifteen minute walk from our house, to the abundant streams and lakes of the southern Puget Sound region, there were always many different species of fish to pursue.
My first angling experiences were the days spent trolling for trout out of a rented rowboat on Lawrence or Tanwax Lake with my father, Douglas. I quickly developed a love for the sport and would anxiously await each trip, which were never as often as I would have liked, but greatly appreciated nonetheless. Eventually these trips with my dad led to small stream fishing on Skate Creek, near Packwood, Washington. It was here that I first learned how to read water and developed a better understanding of where fish would hold in a stream environment.
I continued fishing throughout my school years, but the constant distractions of girls, cars and school sports greatly reduced the amount of time I spent on the local waters. It wasn't until I started working for the local utility company and met up with a couple of other fishermen, that I first made an attempt to hook a steelhead. These first efforts consisted of two or three trips up to the Green River, near Auburn, Washington each December. Not properly set up with appropriate gear or clothing, these early efforts resulted in frozen toes and fingers along with alot of frustration. Not having anybody to coach me along, I paid close attention to other fisherman. Although I did not have any success myself, I did see enough fish caught near me to increase my desire to hook one of these beautiful fish.
This pattern of two or three trips each winter with no success continued for several years, until one December in the early 1980's on the banks of the Elochoman River in southwest Washington. My first steelhead was a hatchery fish around six pounds that picked up a bare Okie drifter as it swung through a riffle below the hatchery at Beaver Creek. I will never forget the feeling that came over me as I landed that fish. I caught three more fish that winter, all out of the Elochoman.
Little did I realize at the time that I would develop such a passion for pursuing these fish. So much so, that thoughts of these fish, and the eager anticipation of the next trip fill my thoughts every day. I have truly become a steelhead addict. I now spend almost every weekend fishing for steelhead or salmon and usually devote two weeks of my vacation doing the same. I visit the Olympic Peninsula as often as possible, but primarily fish a handful of rivers within and hour or two drive time from my current home in Graham, Washington.
I now consider myself to be a highly accomplished steelhead angler, and although I still suffer through an occasional skunking, they are becoming less frequent. I rarely fish with bait and catch most of my steelhead on jigs fished beneath a float, or on spoons. I have also recentley added the deadly pink worm to my favorite's list. These three techniques have become my favorite methods for hooking steelhead and will work under almost any conditions I might encounter during the year. They also have the advantage of being legal under the ever increasing catch and release seasons that are becoming more common on Washington rivers.