Free-Range Steelhead

It’s sunny and warm on the Dean, so Paulie and I enjoyed a stream side conversation on a comfortable log. Longtime Dean and Sustut guide Paulie, aka Squig, has a theory about steelhead holding in fast current, rolling and jumping when they return to freshwater. “They remember what’s it’s like to be kids. After all that time in the ocean, they just want to have fun and play.”

We noticed net marks on many fish midweek. Otherwise totally chrome. Probably from a short-duration commercial chinook gillnet fishery out in the channel. The fish we hooked had either escaped the nets or been brought on board, held in a “revival tank” for a few hours, and released. Makes you wonder what a wild free-range steelhead is thinking when that happens. Or as he swims by the net-pens on the B.C. coast. All those fish in prison? Or is he jealous of the easy life of pellets and camaraderie? Does he stop and make contact, like visiting an inmate? Maybe telling stories about life on the outside- Japanese, Russian and Alaskan waters? The Kraaken? Maybe the net-pen fish see a wild steelhead as some sort of bumpkin from the wilderness, with no understanding of their urban fish ways? Hard to say, eh?


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