Steelhead Have Made it Up to Stanley
by Roger Phillips
Idaho Statesman, March 25, 2010
It should come as no surprise that steelhead are jetting upstream, but I was still a little surprised when I got an e-mail from Jane McCoy at McCoy's Tackle Shop in Stanley.
"It looks like this is it. The steelhead have arrived and numbers of fish being caught are phenomenal," she wrote. "If you haven't caught your fill of steelhead yet this spring, now is the time to come to Stanley. The fish are in really good shape right now, too."
So there you have it. As close to the source as you can get without getting your feet wet.
It's certainly no secret that it's been a banner steelhead year. In fact, the run has broken several records, including total count over Lower Granite Dam, largest harvest and biggest amount of angler effort.
There's no telling when, or if, we ever will see another run like this one. We can work to make sure salmon and steelhead have a place at the table in regional political decisions, but there are no guarantees. So treat the last remaining days of steelhead season like a sunny day. Enjoy it. Grab your rods and head up the Upper Salmon. There is a lot of river to fish between Stanley and Salmon, and it's pretty easy to access it from the highway.
The upper river is a lot smaller than the Salmon around Riggins, so it makes bank angling and wading much easier.
Like all steelhead fishing, don't expect it to be easy. The fish are there and the anglers will be out in full force, but these fish have seen a lot of tackle dangled in front of their noses since they left the ocean last summer.
The fish tend to go on and off the bite for no apparent reason. Plan to put in some hours and work at it.
Keep the fish with clipped adipose fins because the hatcheries are going to have more than they need. If you catch a wild fish, land it quickly, treat it gently and release it. If you have to take a photo, keep the fish in the water.
You may encounter spawning fish. They will be kicking their tails in the gravel to dig redds. Leave them alone because they're producing the next generation. It's the right thing to do.
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