The anticipation gives you chills. Eyes affixed to a strumming rod tip, telegraphing a staccato tap ...tap...tap...tap, telling the terminal gear's position as it slips downstream through choice holding water. A sudden stop, a slight pull followed by an instinctive hookset transforms "bottom" into fiery life, all before a taken breath. With shaking legs and racing pulse you try to match each acrobatic, flash-quick move. The fish is tiring, he's yours, two-plus feet of gunmetal blue, mercury silver and stark white slides into the shallows. A single sea lice clinging to its underside, signaling mere hours from sea. Briefly admired, revived and sent back to the river of its birth, or if hatchery origin, brought home. Lack of sleep, less than tolerable weather and long drive now seem well worth the sacrifice. To thousands of faithful, this is drift fishing for steelhead and salmon.
Whoever was first to spool braided silk lines onto single-action reels and begin drifting bait (approximately one hundred years ago) opened the door to the most popular river fishing method for salmon and steelhead of the present day, likely far into the next hundred. Drift fishing in rivers is not merely sport, it's art. But as no one can pick up a bowling ball for the first time and average 200, the same can be said for drift fishing. Time, patience and experience are virtues of experts. Truly skilled drift fishermen absorb as much information as they can possibly take in-and then some. While writing Pocket Guide to Steelhead & Salmon Drift Fishing, two parties were kept in mind inexperienced anglers looking for guidance, a starting point if you will, and seasoned veterans searching for that elusive tip or just brushing up on basics before beginning new seasons. So many new techniques, combined with ever-changing innovative tackle designs, make drift fishing even more effective and, dare I say, easier than thirty years ago. Both novice and expert enjoy today's superior technology. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Drift fishing techniques developed and highly effective fifty years ago are still practiced today.
Always keep in mind the three keys to successful drift fishing: patience, confidence and persistence. Add a dash of hard work and the most beautiful places anywhere-our steelhead and salmon rivers-will share their silver secrets with you.