Each spring as I look forward to the sunny days of an Idaho summer, the realization of waiting another 9 months to fish on the coast sets in. Washington is my home, and the coastal rivers of the Olympic Peninsula are my refuge.
Growing up fly fishing was a summer activity, reserved for vacations in Idaho. I learned to cast a fly on Silver Creek, a place many either love or hate. At 8 years old I loved it, and still do today, maybe more than then. I catch more trout now, but that didn’t matter then. As a guide I am incredibly lucky to share this river. Each day I witness old men become young, wives catch more fish than “veteran” husbands, and children who find something better than Disneyland. It changes everyone for the best, even when it turns you away empty netted. There is no place like “the creek”.
Trout fishing is a grand hobby, a passion for many, fly fishing IS trout fishing. Steelhead fishing changes lives, and swinging for coastal steelhead is either part of you, or it isn’t. The vote is out on whether this can be considered a good thing or a very, very bad thing. I had no choice, my family tells me I was born this way, a trait passed down by the grandfather I never met. He was a passionate fisherman, and steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula his pursuit. My grandparents first owned, then built a cabin on the peninsula in the years before I was born. If only we could have fished together. Out there I like to think we are.
I have caught steelhead of the north, they are more fabled, prized and often larger. British Columbia is plenty big, cold and potentially cruel, but the sun shines more. There are more fish to catch, days less sorrowful. A great vacation, not a time to suffer. During the winter and spring on Washington’s coast it is dark, gray and wet. Fish leave the salt for roaring rivers that eat the rainforest alive. Under a stormy curtain fish feel comfortable, as if they are still in the Pacific. Nothing feels right when it isn’t raining. It becomes harder to find fish, even when you know where to look.
This is where the wild fish are, where the great fish are, and they don’t come easy.