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Winter Steelhead, the Journey

<a href="">Jason Hartwick</a>

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If there is one season I look forward to every year, it has to be Winter. Might sound crazy to most, but it’s the time of year I want to be outside and fishing on the coast. Winter brings life to the forests, the rivers are flowing, natures colors intensify, and winter steelhead begin to show. I love steelhead! Just saying, who doesn’t? We are fortunate we can chase these finned creatures most of the year and in many locations. So why Winter?

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It’s a game, kind of like gambling. If you play enough, you will surely win a few hands, but your going get your butt kicked more often then you win. A friend use to call it, “The Voluntary Beatdown!” I have never heard it put any better, especially for swinging flies and winter steelhead fishing. Winter fish can be tough to catch, yet are the most rewarding!

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BUT, it’s not just about steelhead. It’s everything related to finding winter steelhead. Walking out into an emerald green river lined with three hundred foot tall trees covered in a foggy, misty rain. Standing knee deep in a freezing cold river with rain and wind coming down sideways. Wearing too many layers to feel comfortable. Picking out the right fly? Who knows, does the fly even matter? Are they going to be in this run at this flow? Are there even fish around? Drinking that hot cup of coffee riverside to warm up. Driving to yet another piece of water in search of the ghosts of winter. It’s the journey or process that keeps most of us coming back, not necessarily the results.