My good friend Jason and I have fished together for a number of seasons. We have explored the Northstate seeking trout in fabled rivers as well as little known places. We decided it was high time to get serious about Steelheading and planned a three day sampler. After discussing a number of options and briefly studying current conditions we decided to drift the Rogue for our first day as flows appeared ideal. In between snow squalls the fishing was hot, we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. We hooked ’em, jumped ’em, lost a few at the net and landed them. Half Pounders, several nice adults and even a beautiful Cutthroat! We celebrated our good fortune with a fine meal and even finer wine at Porter’s Steakhouse in Medford. We had heard recent successful reports from the Applegate and though flows seemed very low, decided to go take a look the next day. The river was little more than a trickle. We fished a few runs in the morning without much hope and decided to fish one more run before heading to the coast. Jason hooked and landed a small buck, raising our spirits for the drive to the Smith River in the afternoon. Flows on the Middle Fork Smith looked near perfect though a tad clear. We started at the top near Patrick Creek and worked our way towards The Forks cherry picking a few favorite runs. We spotted a gorgeous fish in a tailout but were unable to solicit a grab. We met a local gear angler, Steve who reported that the season had been dismal and like other locals had heard no reasonable explanation. Steve claimed to have fished the river successfully for thirty years but had yet to bring a single fish to hand this season. Since nobody was on the river, we floated from the Forks to Ruby State Park on a spectacular spring day. From snow on the Rogue to sunburns on the coast the following day, Steelheaders learn to be prepared. We didn’t touch a fish but basked in the glory of the huge Redwoods, emerald pools and companionship. A great sampler it turned out to be, we experienced both bounty and bust. Being in the right place at the right time can so often be a big part of the game in steelheading , but when it turned tough we still had the joy of fishing good water well.