Photos: Swinging for Holiday Steel

Written by: Kubie Brown

A chrome steelhead on a swung fly is a great way to celebrate the season.
Photo by Sam Brown

Last week, my brother Sam and I set off for New York’s Salmon River on our annual pilgrimage to get in the holiday spirit by chasing steelhead with our Spey rods. The water was low and a bit cold, but the air was warm and we hoped to find that a couple fish would still be making their way upriver toward their winter lies.

Kubie sports the perfect hat for his annual trip to the Salmon with his brother.
Photo by Sam Brown

We started swinging the middle of the river just as the sun came up, and it wasn’t long before a smallish, colored-up buck smashed my fly in the tail-out of the first run. After we released him, Sam and I headed a couple miles downstream to another section of river. Sam went through first and had a strong grab before losing the fish after a couple seconds. I was following a few yards behind, listening to him curse, when my line came tight and a shiny steely leaped from the river before streaking off downstream. That fish was strong as hell, taking me into my backing twice before Sam got to me and managed to tail the fish. She was chrome-silver, still fresh from the lake. We snapped a couple pictures and then sent her on her way.

Healthy steelhead, straight from Lake Ontario, put up a serious fight.
Photo by Sam Brown

We thought we were done for the day after her, but decided to hit one last short run just before dark. It ended up being a good move, and I was the lucky one again. Just as the sun started to set, on what would be my last cast of the trip, I felt a sudden bump and then a hard grab. It didn’t pull all that hard, and when I saw the fish jump just across the river and figured it for a small steelhead. However I was pleasantly surprised as I slid the fish into the shallows to find that a gorgeous lake-run brown trout had engulfed my fly. I hadn’t caught many of them on the swing, and the fish was football fat and scrappy. We let the brown go and headed back to the car for the long ride home. We were tired, cold and wet, but still full of good cheer from a wonderful day swinging the Salmon River.

Sam launches a cast with his Spey rod, hoping for another grab.
Photo by Sam Brown

Kubie Brown, a former Trout Bum of the Week, is a Vermont native who used to man the fly-fishing desk at the Orvis flagship store in Manchester, but he has since moved to Montana to pursue his fly fishing dreams. He is now a guide at Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge.

Kubie’s first fish was a colored-up buck that struck in a tailout.
Photo by Sam Brown

A great way to end a long day: a fat lake-run brown trout on a swung fly.
Photo by Sam Brown

3 thoughts on “Photos: Swinging for Holiday Steel”

  1. Cool trip. I was there for 2 days last week-end. Couldn’t get a fish on the swing, so congrats to you, very well done. I managed to land 3 steelheads, in the 6-7 lbs range, and missed/lost 4 more, all drifting Sucker Spawn. Hope I can go back soon!

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