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Steelhead - Back to Reality

Sean Visintainer - 11/03/16

Steelhead Bo Brand

Back to reality

While this may not be the banner steelhead year that people have come to expect since the 2009 season, 2016 might be the year of what I call... "back to reality". Prior to those outstanding runs of 2009/2010 catching "One steelhead" was a celebrated victory. Anymore if an angler says yeah I caught "One" they seem super disappointed. Interesting change of perspective.

At any rate, however you look at this year's steelheading, there are still some fish to be caught. Our guides are finding 'em, while not every day, a lot of days they have at least 1 or 2 connections to this mythical beast. Below is review from a recent client about his day of steelheading with Kelby from our guide crew. It is a great review of how a guide can help speed up your ratio of hours-per-fish and help you reduce frustration on the water. A guide is the "the Guide" for a reason, they have the time on the water to help anglers find fish and learn to become better fisherman themselves. But remember "the Guide" is not "God"... they may be able to lower your ratio of fish-per-hour, but they can't control the fish and the weather. A good guide is in control of the boat, the gear, the lunch, instruction, and a positive attitude... outside of all that you and fish gods are in control of what happens next.

- Sean Visintainer


Client Report from a recent Grand Ronde Steelhead Trip:


Grande Ronde Trip report - 10/21/16


Details - One day guided trip through Silver Bow. Guide was Kelby Braun, the youngest, newest guide on staff. Met at Bogans at 6:30 am. Fished the section above Bogans, putting in about a mile above Cougar Creek, taking out at Bogans. Kelby provided at 12 1/2 foot raft, 2 ten foot rods rigged for nymphing, and a Spey rod rigged for casting a streamer. The fly patterns were a stone fly, with some peacock and flashing combined with a lightening bug dropper. The nymphing was done below a adjustable strike indicator ( Thingabobber style ). Lunch was provided. Basically I showed up with waders and rain gear.


Weather - Cloudy with light rain


Pretext - This has been a tough year on the Grande Ronde. The trips usually get no more than two fish per day, and working hard for those. Their main guide was skunked twice the week before. The “Fish Lady” working for Game and Fish estimated 500hrs per fish. At my camp, I met a fisherman who had been there for 5 days and had only two fish on line and did not land either..


Results - We hooked 4 and landed 4! It was amazing. The first fish was a real experience as I did everything possible to mess it up. After the 1st run, I tried to reel in to take up slack, I reeled backwards resulting in a clustered reel, Kelby reached over my shoulder holding the line, while I tried to clean up the mess, the cluster went all the way to the backing, eventually I got the reel to work and we proceeded to land the fish.


All the fish were big, two hatchery and two natives. 3 took the dropper and one took the stone fly. I tried Spey casting but with out results. We had one other possible fish on the line, but could not confirm.


The next two days, I fished on my own, wading, trying to keep from falling in, minimal fly in the water time and with no results.


Summary - The Grande Ronde is not an easy river to fish. Wading is treacherous, slippery , uneven rocks, difficult holes to reach. Spey casting equipment is highly advantageous. Floating gives you much better access and increased time with your fly in the water.


The guided trip was invaluable no matter what the end result would have been. Kelby was very professional, knowledgeable, and personable. For each hole, we would adjust the depth of the rigging. If I would get all tangled up, he would immediately give me another pole, while he corrected my mess. For good looking water, we would drift , he would row back up, and we would drift again, multiple times. He maximized the water/fly time, making sure I had the right fly, at the right depth, in the right spot. He also pointed out holes I could access from the bank the following day.


I highly recommend Silver Bow and Kelby Braun.



Scott Redman




  • Steelhead Guide Travis with client after landing a hatchery steelhead.
  • Wild Grande Ronde Steelhead
  • Travis
  • Travis
  • Travis
  • Travis



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