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The Gearboat Chronicles

Grande Ronde steelhead fishing

He’s a cowboy. He’s a rafting guide. And everything in between. The only thing I’ve found that’s not on Craig Nichols’ resume’ is astronaut. And there’s still time for that.

Craig had himself a big ol’ surprise birthday party this past weekend. Happy birthday, Nichols. If you missed it, wish him a happy one on your next river trip with Craig.

And snake handler. That’s also on his resume’.

Craig’s gourmet grass-fed Corriente beef cows are so happy you can often see them playing frisbee out in the field when you drive by the 6 Ranch on the way out of the valley.

But protein comes in many forms and you don’t get any more free-range than swimming around out in the ocean, then swimming right back to the Wallowa Mountains.

Grande Ronde River steelhead have been on a monumental trip out to the big blue and back. So if you manage to link up with one via flyrod, they don’t just throw in the towel.

You’d best adjust your drag and get ready for a wrestling match. They peel line. They leap. They jump out of the water and make fun of your stupid hat. Grande Ronde River steelhead are known for their coarse language and fighting dirty. It’s something to do with the minerals in the water running off the majestic Wallowa Mountains. Makes them ornery. Even the hatchery fish, though they don’t use as much slang and naughty words when they’re cursing you in the middle of a fight.

600 more Wallowa County steelhead came over Granite Dam in the last numbers update from our fish scientist sources.

The Winding Waters steelhead support trip that came down the Wallowa and Grande Ronde last week hooked up with good numbers, after one day where the rains brought the river up and slowed things down a touch . . . but the waters have settled in and look to be holding there, so the Grande Ronde and Wallowa River steelheading is looking good, folks.

To refresh your memory on the difference between normal fishing, and steelhead fishing, I present this photo comparison exercise:

Photo A is of a smallmouth bass. Fun to catch . . .

But, uhhhh . . . .

Get a load of this one here:

Both of Paul’s arms actually broke off at the wrists after holding this fish for just a few seconds. It was that heavy.

Fish swam away just fine, but I had to splint Paul’s hands back on using sticks and some tippet.

Speaking of tippet, here’s a look at the Grande Ronde fall colors that will be your backdrop while tying on new flies. Pretty, huh?