Written by Bob Melrose
There is a magic in September. A promise of things to come, not really rivaled by any other month. During the spring and summer we know the days will get longer, the weather will get hotter, the bugs will get more annoying, there will be more people, and it is time to get a Chinook in the freezer. However, in September there is a feeling in the air. True, we still have fish to outwit, the remains of the Pink run are present, the Coho run is just starting, most of the Sockeye are coloured up, but those are fish for the table.
So why is September so seductive to so many anglers? Well, it is their passion for Steelhead. The other salmon species spawn and die, Steelhead may spawn and head back out to the ocean up to 3 times, to return bigger and stronger for each trip. And why do we spend so much time and/or money pursuing a fish that we have to release? That question is easily answered by any angler who has ever been embraced by the Steelhead God.
My first Steelhead on the Thompson 44 years ago stirred those feelings and the love has never diminished, in fact, it burns even brighter. I have seen many anglers smitten by this beauty and many return year after year to chase her. A summer guiding on the Dean River and her beautiful summer runs, saw many first timers go completely head over heels in love with Steelhead and Steelhead Country. For many years later both fishing and selling tackle I have seen the effect Steelhead have had on her suitors.
It's hard to explain, there are so many parts to the Steelhead puzzle. Maybe it is just being close to the river, the pull of the current, the reading of the water, or just trying to keep the waders above the waterline. Perhaps it is the scenery, the bears, eagles, kingfishers, mergansers, the mountains or changing weather. Possibly, the memories of a previous trip where you saw/hooked/lost or had seen another angler hookup in that very pool or run. It is hard to pin down what Steelheading is all about but we don't want to over analyse we just want to do it.
In September we know that more and more Steelhead will show up every day. We know that there will be those incredible "Indian Summer" days, there will be no bugs, nights will be cool, rain will come down, and the colours of fall will take your breath away. We will see fish. Lose fish, land a few, take some spills, tie some "wind knots", and meet new friends. Above all this there is a constant level of high expectation.
It is present in all the fishing season but heightened in September. Early and heavy rains may blow some rivers, although there will always be places to fish, they may just be more crowded. An early and heavy snow can really put a dent in the season.
So, the best time to go Steelheading is whenever you can. The best day is today. It looks like a great run coming in.