So, you donít think you need a steelhead guide!
As an avid angler and long time resident of Idaho, I have experienced just about every kind of fishing there is in this great state. I have fished from Priest Lake for lake trout to Henrys Lake for rainbows, from Salmon Falls Creek fishing for walleye and bass, to the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers for steelhead, and I must say that with out a doubt the most frustrating and rewarding times Iíve had, has been steelhead fishing. Like most anglers, I have my nemesis. Steelhead fishing is that nemesis. I have been several times over the years, always chasing this unique creature from the "day late and a dollar short" approach. Always arriving at the fishing hole just as the oleí guy on the bank says, "you should have been here yesterday!" and I was too cheap to pay for a guide.
I always felt I could figure any fish out with a little knowledge from reading a few articles, and using my wealth of experience of about forty years as an angler. Yet with all my worldly fishing possessions I had never landed a decent steelhead until I took the opportunity to get some help. A professional guide that is, someone who knows more about a particular method, body of water, and the fish that lie within those depths than most people will ever know, even if they are avid anglers, like myself.
by Dennis Udlinek
This past fall my friend Jack and I were fortunate enough to be invited to experience the Clearwater B Run Steelhead by the good folks with the Clearwater Drifters and The Guide Shop in Orofino, Idaho. This trip couldnít have come at a better time. I was about to go into withdrawal for lack a fishing time, and I was in bad need of some good photos of steelhead fishing for additional articles. The weather seemed cooperative so the trip was on. After several hours of the usual fish, wait, fish, wait, rain, snow, brief sunshine and a little fog, the first hook-up came and before long we had landed some real beauties.
I can honestly say that I learned more about steelhead fishing, landed my best steelhead, and renewed my spirit for steelhead fishing all in one day. I realize guided trips arenít for everyone, but if youíve been frustrated by hours of casting practice, and spent lots of dollars on some strangerís advise, itís time you got yourself a professional guide. That day on the Clearwater, I learned the difference between gently drifting baits along the bottom, and dragging them onto the rocks. I learned that line size, hook size and weight effect the drift angle which plays a big role in the presentation of the bait, which increases the percentage of strikes. I learned that when drift fishing from a boat, distinct boats react differently to the current, which effects the way the angler is able to drift the bait along the bottom. I also learned that fishing holes named, Black Rock, the Pinch, and the Pink House were all prime lays for steelhead. Sure I suppose I could have found most of this out by reading my favorite fishing magazine, book, or by asking a few questions of some locals. But only in general terms, and only second hand through someone elseís eyes and understanding who may not be any more experienced than me.
Our guide for the day was Joe McCarthy, a second generation river guide who grew up on the Clearwater. He probably knew more about the river by the age of twelve than most people will know in a life time. In that one day he passed on his secrets for curing eggs, and making his special egg sacks for drifting. He shared his technique for rigging poles with light leaders and his understanding of the fish and their peculiar habits along with an historical account for their decline over the years. One doesnít learn all this just by going fishing a few times on your own, no matter how experienced you might be. You know itís funny, because Iíve been a fishing guide, and something people used to quiz me about was hiring a guide. I always said, "if you have the rest of your life to learn how to catch a particular fish in a certain place with a special technique then all you need to do is go fishing. But, if you donít have many opportunities to go, and donít know all the techniques for catching the fish, or you are unfamiliar with the water, by all means hire a guide!"
With all the best gear, and an "all you eat lunch" provided, the cost is little more than you would otherwise pay on your own, and the experience could be the best you ever have without spending half your life and money trying to figure out steelhead fishing. It just doesnít get any better than that! For more information about fishing the Clearwater River for B Run Steelhead, call The Guide Shop at (208) 476-3531, or E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org