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Pacific Steelhead VideoHi Speed Only

Friday I ended a 5 day sales trip in Boise, Idaho. Being only four hours south of some incredible Steelhead water I could not resist making the drive north. I picked up my buddy Jami who lives in Boise, and we headed to the Clearwater River drainage in search of Steelhead. Steelhead fishing is rarely easy anywhere and in Northern Idaho it is almost never easy. This area offers literally thousands of miles of fishable river which makes finding fish the most difficult part. The Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers all flow here eventually merging with the Columbia in Oregon and their lengths bring volume. This time of year the Snake alone carries around 12,000 cubic feet of water every second into Oregon. The major rivers alone give Steelies thousands of miles to negotiate on there spawning migrations from the Pacific. Also, in addition to the major rivers, there are literally thousands of miles of tributaries for fish to spread out in. There is a lot of water but there are Steelhead scattered throughout. Typically this time of year does not offer great fishing opportunities. In December these systems usually lock their pacific treasures in ice and they do not become fishable again until the spring thaw hit. But, my hopes of catching fish were buoyed by warmer than averages temperatures, lower than normal snow pack and lower than average flows. Most of the smaller rivers were relatively clear and very fishable. The fishing started out slow in the morning, low clouds shrouded the mountains and after only a few casts my warm weather delusions began to fade. The water was only about 38 degrees and the air was not much warmer. It never ceases to amaze me that leading up to these trips my minds eye creates warm fuzzy thoughts of giant steelhead slamming my fly and ripping me into my backing on every cast. But those fabrications are often shattered by blistering cold, high water, wet sleeves, leaky waders and other people fishing where I would like to be, and then there are the thousands of casts and flies and snags. But Spey casting occupies your time and idles your mind. Long drawn out casting motions keep you warm. Soon I was focused again, concentrating on making precise casts in order to avoid mending and keep my fly directly on the bottom. There were a couple of guys fishing with spinning outfits and giant bobbers just below Jami and me. Bait dunkers no doubt, but I didn’t mind. That is the way it goes around here and besides I figured if there were fish they would surely catch one and that would improve my outlook. Just then the sun peaked out of the clouds and as my fly swung across the current the line came tight. I had my first steelhead of the day. For the next hour the sun stayed out and we all caught fish, a couple of fish each as a matter a fact. The action ended as abruptly as it started. The sun faded into the afternoon clouds and my feet began to warm as we walked back to the car, and once again my mind was invaded by warm fuzzy thought of giant Steelhead slamming my fly.