McKenzie Steelhead on three weights

Report from Mike Bellmore: Son in law (Jered) and I have been busy floating the river and tagging trout. As everyone knows, the water has been high and cold for much of our spring season. We haven’t experienced a red hot trout tagging day, but have heard reports of fellow anglers tagging over 20 trout in a single outing. Our best day so far has included a couple of fatty red-sides and a nice cutthroat!

During one of the few days that we found the McKenzie low and the trout ready, we happened upon a couple of chrome surprises. Jered had tagged a couple of fish and we were dredging the bottom with 5x test tippet material and small nymphs. We were fishing tight to the bank and probing all of the structure we could locate.

As we covered the area behind a downed tree, I set the hook and could see by the flash that we were into a very large fish. 200 yards and 25 minutes later, a beautiful 11lb steelhead buck was indelicately pounced upon and wrestled to the beach by Jered “Bearhug” Fry. To my amazement, the 3wt rod, delicate tippet and small fly had all performed to perfection! For a brilliant moment in time I basked in the glory that comes when a trout angler lands a large fish of that caliper. That glory was quickly replaced with the understanding that dumb luck is like playing the lottery.” You shouldn’t play for investment purposes”!

Photos by Mike Bellmore

What happened next, is even more bizarre! As we moved down river, congratulating each other on the brilliance of the day, Jered set the hook on another oversized fish. The entire drill was repeated in about the same amount of time and river real estate. I rowed and he battled. The fish crossed the river, went under the boat, tried to swim into the willows and finally came to rest in a backwater slough. It was my turn to pounce of a fish and I quickly took care of business!

Within a matter of minutes, we had landed two beautiful steelhead and had them laying on the gravel with rods in place. A couple of anglers who had watched the show commented about how lucky we were. After fishing the McKenzie for 40 years and spending so many hours chasing summer steelhead with a fly it is so painfully obvious: If given enough time, a chimpanzee can type Shakespeare’s Hamlet and, a fool can catch a steelhead on the trout fly!

This entry was posted in Fishing Reports, McKenzie River, Summer Steelhead. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to McKenzie Steelhead on three weights

  1. married to flystud says:

    ah, the luck associated with a father and grandfather-to-be….blessings abound!

  2. eri says:

    You’d be surprised how many steelhead hit small trout flies nymphing-good work

  3. Owl Jones says:

    Oh now. I don’t think you’re giving yourselves enough credit. I’ve never been blessed with the chance to catch a steelhead, but when the opportunity presents itself I’m sure I’ll jump on it with both feet. But the luck thing? I don’t think there’s ever been a truer statement than this: You make your own luck. And that applies to steelhead, brook trout or the girl of your dreams!

    Here’s wishing you more good days of taggin!


  4. David Swart says:

    They say even a blind squirel finds an acorn,but 2 in 1 day that falls under some one doing some thing right,some times with fish you have to go outside the box/norm,congrats on the fish,tight lines.

  5. steve jost says:

    Those are the biggest 3 weight rods I have ever seen……in fact they look like spey rods…..still nice fish.

  6. Bob Baggarley says:

    Very nice, indeed!

    I had somewhat similar experience on the upper Mckenzie in August of 2008. I was teaching my nephew the joys of fly fishing with 5 weights. He was attempting to cast to the lower end of a long slow pool. I was just below him so I could watch and had about 40′ of line out with a Possiebugger on the end, with the rod in the crook of my left arm.

    Wham! Bam! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
    When the steelhead jumped the first time, my nephews eyes bugged out, his jaw dropped and he shouted “Are there really fish this big in this river!”

    Being in water up to my wader belt, I could not simply run downstream with the prize. I had to stand and hold my ground. I almost had the beauty to the net, when my nephew’s excitement got the better of him. I had told him to slowly back out of the stream, take my net and wade back in behind the fish. Instead, he somewhat lunged at the steelhead.

    Once it got to the rapids below me it was all over. But wow, what a fish! It was about 8 minutes worth of fight that I will never forget. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *