Whether you’re bumping along in a drift boat on the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY, sitting on the banks of the mighty Skeena, or weaving through one of the many log jams on the Situk River, there is one thing for certain, you can find die hard steelheaders on all of them. Regardless of the waters you find yourself on, one thing is for certain, a steelheaders insatiable appetite for head shakes and hard runs.
I recently returned home from an excursion to Yakutat, Alaska where I fished the Situk River. The Situk isn’t huge by any means, but it is very unique in that almost the entire length of the river is comprised of spawning gravel. This allows for a very healthy fishery and successful spawning of not just steelhead, but the multiple species of salmon that also use the river to carry on future generations.
Logistically, fishing the Situk can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. There are many outfitters that will rent you drift boats, or you can do what I did and bring along your one man cataraft and camp along the many gravel bars along the length of the river.
I knew heading down to the Situk that conditions would be less than ideal. The flow was only at 100 Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) as compared to the normal 350-400 CFS for that time of the year. But, this trip was planned well in advance of knowing what the conditions were, and short of the river completely blowing out, I was committed to going.
On a trip like this you want to be sure to have everything you are going to need, so this meant I had to have all my Trick Em’ Beads ready to go before I flew out. Needless to say I almost didn’t have enough beads, and I had four good size boxes with me on the trip. From losing gear in the timber, to breaking off on one of the many large steelhead I would not bring to hand, by the end of the week, my stocks were running low. Not all of the my fish came on beads, and I managed to trick a few with jigs and pink worms, but my money maker for the trip was 8mm and 10mm creamsicle with a few other flavors in my bead box tricking a few fish when things slowed down.
I have fished for steelhead in many places, to include many of the tributaries of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Skeena, Kitimat, Squamish, and many of the steelhead rivers on the Kenai Peninsula. There is nothing like hooking a fresh dime bright steelhead fresh from the ocean. Even the smallest of steelhead fight so hard, that every time you would think you hooked into a monster fish. I can only imagine what a large dime bright 40” fish would fight like.
I fished as hard as I could for six days, and by the end of the trip my body was feeling it. My hands were dried out from constantly having them in the water, and my fingers were tore up from unhooking fish. It wouldn’t have been so bad if a certain individual hadn’t lost my pliers that I let him borrow to unhook one of his fish.
If you’re planning a trip to your favorite flowing body of water, or one that is a trip of a lifetime, be sure to have all the essentials packed, as well as more tackle than you think you’ll need. To include ample amounts of Trick Em’ Beads and Jigs!