Last week I had 3 guys who have been friends for over 30 years fish for 2 days on the Cowlitz River for winter run Steelhead. My clients for this Cowlitz River winter Steelhead fishing trip were Walt from Nevada, Pat from Oregon and Oliver from Illinois.On Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 we were on on the Cowlitz River at 9:00 am. These guys did not want to start at 6:00 am, and I assured them the later start would not affect their fishing results. As I said, “If the fish are here, you will catch them”. Standing in the bow of my “Thor Built” boat, Walt was first to get his bait in the river. Walt got a bite and he set the hook. After a good battle, I netted a nice 12-pound Cowlitz River Steelhead. The Steelhead was a keeper because it was a hatchery Steelhead with a clipped Adipose fin. Next to land a Steelhead was Pat. This was Pat’s first fishing trip ever and the excitement of catching a big Steelhead was unbelievable. During remaining part of the day Walt and Pat both landed another Steelhead. Oliver missed a couple bites and was aching for his first Cowlitz River Steelhead. While steering the boat and baiting hooks, I hooked a fish. Because Oliver had yet to hook a fish, I passed the rod to him to land it. After a good battle I netted another 12-pound keeper. After the first day was completed they had 5 keeper Steelhead in the boat
My clients wanted to sleep in and still catch Steelhead, so on Wednesday, March 10th we again launched on the Cowlitz River at 9:00am. Walt was the first one to get a bite. He set the hook and the first Steelhead was in the boat. By this time, Oliver was really itching to catch a Steelhead, and thankfully he did not have to wait too much longer. We were drifting on the “port” side of the boat when the bite came. Oliver set the hook and was determined not to let this Steelhead get off. After I netted the 13-pound “buck” Steelhead we stopped for a shore lunch of Steelhead sandwiches made from yesterday’s dinner leftovers.All the lines were next to each other, but Walt had the lucky rod today and was next to get a strike. This 14-pound “hen” Steelhead would turn out to be the biggest fish of the 2 days. Walt circled the boat as the big Steelhead tried all the tricks she could to get off. Next, Pat landed a 7-pound keeper, but looked a little disappointed at the size. I remarked, “They all can’t be 12-14 pound fish”. These guys now have four Cowlitz River Steelhead in the boat.
While drifting on the starboard side Oliver was next to get a bite. After the hook was set the angry Steelhead jumped 3 feet in the air and proceeded to cut the line with his teeth. This lucky Steelhead survived to see another day and continue up river to spawn. We made another pass along the same water, and Pat landed his second fish of the day.
After two days of winter Steelhead fishing on the Cowlitz River were completed, we had boated ten clipped Steelhead from 7 to 14 pounds. I cleaned the fish for them and they returned home with fresh Steelhead for the dinner table.