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The Gearboat Chronicles

Smoked Steelhead for Santa

How many rounds of milk and cookies can one guy eat? Seems the jolly fat man might appreciate a touch of variety. Perhaps a plate of smoked fish might be nice. Like, say, a freshly caught Wallowa County steelhead.

I’d much rather collate my Frosty the Snowman mailing labels for the list of eight people I send Christmas cards to, but if Santa wants smoked steelhead and that means I have to go fishing, so be it.

You’re welcome, Santa.

We’ve all heard the old saw about steelhead being the fish of a thousand casts. Bit of an exaggeration, as it only took 9,998 casts to land this one in cold, snowy December conditions. 

Mike Baird making slush angels on the water with his indicator.

Awfully pretty out there on the river this time of year when the snow lets up and you get some feeling back in your feet.

(Christmas gift tip for the winter steelheader on your list: fleece socks from Wolfe Fleece in Joseph are a not-too-bulky yet super-cozy second layer for chilly wading.)

Just another spectacular Wallowa County canyon. Yawn.

Here’s another tip. If you’re like me and you’ve heard about this Instagram craze but don’t really care, it doesn’t matter because the lens on your camera will get fogged up and you end up taking an Instagrammyish picture anyway of your fish on a mossy rock. Mira:

So to save time and not download Instagram, all you need to do is walk around in waders with your camera in a slightly damp front pocket and boom, there you go.

Speaking of boom, there you go, here’s the fish for Santa, ready for the smoker after marinating in candy canes, gingerbread and eggnog.

I hope Nick likes it.

And I got him a little something extra this year, aside from the smoked steelhead.

Next to the other stockings on the mantle I’ve added one for Santa because, come on, he should be at the top of everyone’s Nice list.

So enjoy that gift certificate for a rafting adventure with Winding Waters, Santa. You choose the river and we’ll bring you, the Mrs., elves and whoever you want down the Lower Salmon River, Grande Ronde or Snake River in Hells Canyon.