My Passion, My Story
Southeast Alaska Steelhead fishing has been a passion and mainstay of my personal fishing for over 30 years. I remember flying to a well known Southeast Alaska stream every month (November through May) to chase steel. I had an addiction that I had to feed. During the spring months when things started to thaw and warm up (Mary-May), you could look up and sometimes see up to 200 different species of birds – Blue Herons, Aleutian Terns, Sandhill Cranes, to name a few – migrating or nesting in the area. And if your timing was right, the river would be full of outgoing and incoming fish. I wrote and article in Fish Alaska many years ago, describing just that, a crystal clear run that had hundreds of fish just waiting for a fly to be presented to them.
During the winter months, I’d ride a snow machine over fifteen miles through deep snow, just to get to the river. There were times when after two great days of fishing, the third day would find the river completely frozen, and I would have to cut my trip short.
Except for two old timers that I would occasionally see during those odd winter moths, I would have the river all to myself. I remember walking the stream and not seeing anyone for days, just river otters playing along the riverbank, sliding in and out of the water. Sometimes you would see them chasing after steelhead trying to secure a meal. I remember hooking so many wild-eyes, sea-lice laden, fresh-from-the-ocean fish, that the lactic acid buildup in my arm would be almost unbearable. I would literally start casting with my other hand just to keep fishing. Sometimes I would get the shakes (from standing in waist deep freezing water), and laugh at myself at how crazy I had to be to be out here. But, every time iI would reach down into the frigid water to release another gorgeous chrome fish, I had no doubt about what had drawn me to this moment in time. And despite the trying conditions, I was truly in my element. I can truthfully say, “I was living in the moment.” There days were incredible life experiences that still guide me tot this day. I took lots of pictures back then, and I still look at them from time to time, if only to remind myself of hose great the steelhead fishing was back then to never take anything for granted.
Over 30 years, the dynamics of the fishery have definitely changed, and not necessarily for the better. But, since change is inevitable, I can’t and won’t let it stop me from pursing my passion of chasing steel.