Friday, December 7, 2012

Everything I Needed To Know About Steelhead, I Learned From "Animal House"

I've known and fished with Steve Culton for several years. He, along with Jon, even infected me with this desire to fish for Steel though clearly he's more committed and addled than I. Below is a post from a local fishing forum to which I thought many of you equally addled anglers could relate. Below is his account of recent day trip (i.e. suicide run) to Pulaski, NY reprinted with his permission.

“Road trip.” - Boon and Otter
There’s something liberating about heading off to a far away place where steelhead live. An opportunity to be alone with your thoughts on the way up. Smoke a few cigars. Listen to the football game on the radio. It’s an adventure, flying solo. Too bad Fawn Lebowitz couldn’t make it.

“Oh boy, is this great!” - Flounder
I got to the river a little after six. It was dark enough to need a headlamp as I negotiated the wooded hillside down to the water. There was the uncertainty of crossing the river at 650cfs without a wading staff, but I had that old composite hockey stick shaft I use to prop up the hatch of the Jeep. Worked like a charm. I find fishing far more enjoyable when I’m able to cover the entire length of a run, and I did so in splendid isolation for nearly two hours. By nine, three other anglers had joined me. We exchanged pleasantries and fishing talk, which is civilized and makes you feel good that you’re not sharing the water with morons. Two of them were swinging flies, so to appease the fishing gods I gave each of them a classic-styled soft hackle. Sadly, the fishing gods had Monday off, too.

“Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?” - Babs
Really? Not a single take, not even at first light? Not in the deeper runs, the soft seams next to the fast water or that really sexy confluence at the bottom of the island? Not right after all those midges started to hatch? Not on the zitty day-glo patterns or the somber naturals? Courage, lad. Your moment will come.

“Thank you sir, may I have another?” - Chip
My plan was to move around to find fish, so by 10:30 I was headed down river. Rumor had it there was a bunch of fresh chrome in the DSR over the weekend, and maybe they’d be up to Pineville by today. Or not. Fished five different holes over a quarter-mile stretch. I caught two sticks, one log, countless leaves and a fine selection of cased caddis. Not a bump from a fish. This is turning out to be a proper spanking.

“If I was in your shoes, I’d be…”
“Leaving! What a good idea.”
- Dude at Dexter Lake Club and Boon
The old college try will only get you so far.

“You have to drive us to the Food King." - Otter
To this point I have fished almost 7 hours and only seen three people. Including my last trip, I’m now into my 16th hour without a touch. So I am biting the bullet and heading to Altmar. Yes, there will be crowds. But there will also be fish. Mmmmm. Ring me up for some steelhead.

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily." - Bluto
Good grief. This mob is ridiculous. It’s a Monday. What’s it like on a Saturday? Still, if this is the price of admission to catch a steelhead, I’ll pony up. I fished a few vacant holes then jumped into an opening in the sweet spot I had my eye on. I noticed a pile of beer cans on the shore behind me. A hookup would be most intoxicating right about now.

“I don’t want to seem…you know, pushy" - Chip
You know you’re too polite when you jump into a spot that opens up, you take great care to ask the angler below you if he has enough room, then ten minutes later a guy just walks into the space between you like it’s his own private beat.

"Mr. Blutarsky: zero-point-zero.” - Dean Wormer
Insert Culton for Blutarsky and that’s my day. And I did it without a single pencil up my nose.

“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is!”- Bluto
I was walking out at 3:45 when I saw the little hole where I had hooked a fish last December. So I climbed in and fished for another half hour. By 4:15, I had made my decision.

“I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.”
- Otter
Yep. I'm going back next chance I get.


Steve Culton lives in Connecticut. He is a freelance writer, guide, professional fly tyer, and moderator on While he is an educated man, Steve will sometimes drive to Pulaski, fish all day, catch nothing, drive home and still proclaim the trip a success.


  1. No, no, no, don't think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself. -Otter
    - just like your profile, even if you catch nothing, the trip is still a success

    1. Though a tug on the line once in a while does have it's appeal.