A few weeks back, I advised my fellow steelheaders not to panic because the runs were coming in smaller than anticipated. I figured we had big runs in recent years, which typically show up early, and hot weather was also stalling fish in the Columbia River.
I hoped things would change in September when water temperatures started to cool. Now rivers are cooling, but the fish arent exactly showing up in droves.
It looks like this run could be the smallest since 1999, but that remains to be seen. Were less than half way through September, which traditionally is the third-biggest month of the year for the steelhead migration.
But seeing those low numbers makes me feel like I just woke up from a steelhead hangover after the last few years of banner runs. My steelhead buddies and I still speak in hushed, reverent tones of the funhouse in 2009.
We knew it wouldnt last, but at the same time, we silently wished it would.
And now, reality sets in. Its one year and one run, so I am not going to freak out. Nor am I going to stop steelhead fishing, but Im going out this fall with very modest expectations. I will fish hard and appreciate every fish I catch that much more, assuming I catch some. If not, well, its happened before, and it didnt kill me then.
Steelhead are passing through Lower Granite Dam and heading this way. Theyre already catching some on the Snake and Clearwater rivers. A few fish are showing up on the Salmon River near Riggins, and I will be heading that way soon to welcome them home.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215