It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green

Steve Duda  /  2 minuti di lettura  /  Fly Fishing

Photo Essay: Waiting for the Wild on Oregon’s North Coast

The waiting game. After another mighty Spey cast, Jeff Hickman swings his fly across the river, hoping to intercept a wild steelhead. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Editor’s Note: For a closer look at how Jeff Hickman works to protect the future of Oregon wild steelhead, check out our accompanying feature story, It’s All Home Water: Oregon Steelhead.

Fishing for wild winter steelhead along Oregon’s northern coastal rivers is far from a casual outing. The weather is wildly unpredictable, the water levels and clarity fluctuate from hour to hour, the two-handed casting technique requires timing, dexterity and a non-intuitive, wrist-arm-shoulder-brain meld. More than anything, the steelhead — powerful, unpredictable wild animals with deep reservoirs of evolutionary guile — are at a fraction of their historical numbers.

Beatdown or not, it’s always scenic. Even on a grey day overset with cheerless clouds, greens ranging from moss to pine to laurel mingle together and punctuate to the striking vein of jade that runs down the center of the small valley. That glowing spine—the center of everything to a coastal steelheader— is known as steelhead green.

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Jeff Hickman and Barrett Ames discuss flow, casting positions and potential holding lies of a steelhead run. Opal keeps the seat warm. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Paybacks. Jeff Hickman on the soggy end of a well-executed tail drenching. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Walking to the run. Jeff Hickman works through chest-high ferns to get to the next stretch of steelhead water. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Although usually temperate in the winter—but always a bit damp—steelhead streams along the northern Oregon coast do occasionally see brief shadings of the fluffy stuff. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Jeff Hickman unfurls a near-perfect Spey cast. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

When you least expect it, expect it. Jeff Hickman connects to a wild steelhead just moments after setting the hook. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

Mosses, ranging from vibrant tennis-ball green to more sedate shades of sage, emerald and olive envelop the streamside trees, stumps and rocks along the ever-damp rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

“A good steelheader needs to be persistent and patient and stay optimistic. It requires a lot of optimism. You can’t be a “negative Nancy” and be a steelheader.” —Jeff Hickman Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

An abandoned rail line curves along a coastal river in northern Oregon. Lines like these hauled countless logs out of the forests and toward coastal mill towns like Nehalem, Coos Bay and Astoria. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

It’s All Home Water: Steelhead Green
Steelhead Green

“You’re standing around by yourself for a long time. You have a lot of time to think. You’re in the steelhead’s world. You’re really observing everything. Yeah—you have a lot of time to think.” —Jeff Hickman Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Steelhead Green

Jeff Hickman and Barrett Ames discuss flow, casting positions and potential holding lies of a steelhead run. Opal keeps the seat warm. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Paybacks. Jeff Hickman on the soggy end of a well-executed tail drenching. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Walking to the run. Jeff Hickman works through chest-high ferns to get to the next stretch of steelhead water. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Although usually temperate in the winter—but always a bit damp—steelhead streams along the northern Oregon coast do occasionally see brief shadings of the fluffy stuff. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Jeff Hickman unfurls a near-perfect Spey cast. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

When you least expect it, expect it. Jeff Hickman connects to a wild steelhead just moments after setting the hook. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Mosses, ranging from vibrant tennis-ball green to more sedate shades of sage, emerald and olive envelop the streamside trees, stumps and rocks along the ever-damp rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

“A good steelheader needs to be persistent and patient and stay optimistic. It requires a lot of optimism. You can’t be a “negative Nancy” and be a steelheader.” —Jeff Hickman Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

An abandoned rail line curves along a coastal river in northern Oregon. Lines like these hauled countless logs out of the forests and toward coastal mill towns like Nehalem, Coos Bay and Astoria. Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

“You’re standing around by yourself for a long time. You have a lot of time to think. You’re in the steelhead’s world. You’re really observing everything. Yeah—you have a lot of time to think.” —Jeff Hickman Photo: Jeremy Koreski (en-gb translation)

Help Revive Abundant Wild Steelhead

Tell the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that you support Oregon coast wild steelhead and their future protection.

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