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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Steel heading JuJu
by Randal Sumner

There are anglers that will tell you that catching Steelhead on a fly is the ultimate trout fishing. They say itís the fish of a thousand casts that you have to put your time in on the job, pay your dues. It is a grim business, like breaking rocks at a Federal penitentiary. The horror stories are the thing of legend, the time and money spent, plus the collateral damage incurred at home all because of a sea going rainbow trout. This is generally not a happy carefree bunch of characters. At times they seems more like a cult ready to break out the Kool-Aid.

Over the last twenty years I have caught, landed and released a pretty fair number of these beautiful fish but I am by no means a Steelheader. I lack the right psychological profile to stay focused and grim for long, itís like holding a grudge, not really my cup of tea. I donít have a lot of rules when it comes to fly fishing for steelies except Iíve never kept one, Iím not telling anyone else what to do but for me it would be the bad JU JU. This fall I received a call from my business partner Dave that he had been steelheading and had hooked ten fish and landed six, that is as good as it gets, David is the king of the understated remark.

Linn Kraft and I left early a few days later to meet Dave on the Not to be named river. The weather was perfect for Steelheading, cold and wet, the water had come up a little and it felt good to get into my nasty old wool sweater. The actual fishing for steelhead is for me a rather dreary bit of work; Dave had us rig up the gear for nymphing with a big cork bobber and a very heavy fly. The idea is to bonk a big fish on the nose then hang on when it strikes. This is just like a regular nymph set up except on steroids with an 8wt rod and floating line, not for the light hearted. Most of my other steelhead fishing has been swinging sparsely dressed wet flies on the surface but like I say Iíll try anything once.

Steelheading with the fly rod was a new experience for Linn; on the drive to the river he made up every excuse in the book as to why he would not catch a fish of a thousand casts his first time out. After a few hours fishing, he was sure he was doing something wrong, until he got the big strike. I was daydreaming a short distance away when I heard the commotion and saw the big fish cart wheeling across the river. I dropped my gear and headed up the river with the camera, the fish was still airborne. It was one of those moments of fishing purity, the look on Linnís face and the beauty of the fish in the shallows when I tailed it for him. I took a picture of him with a nine-pound hatchery buck. I also told him it was a fish he could keep, as Linn carefully released it back into the current. And that my friends is why we play the game.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner