Skamania Madness

Skamania Steelhead often fight so hard that by netting time they have exhausted themselves!

Their overwhelming size and unmatched fighting power draw Great Lakes fisherman from near and far to sample the incredible action!

For those of you that don’t know, a skamania steelhead is actually a strain of Rainbow Trout, also known as steelhead Trout. THEY ARE NOT A HYBIRD!
The Great Lakes has two strains of Steelhead – the Michigan winter one’s and the skamania.
Skamania are native to the skamania River in Washington State.
The skamania run the rivers in July, August and September.  They stay in the rivers until spawning takes place in February. The Michigan winter strain runs the rivers during the winter months and spawn in March or April.

What’s faster than a speeding bullet,  more powerful than a locomotive and  able to leap tall buildings  in a single bound? Is it a “Super fish”? No, it’s a skamania steelhead Trout, at least if you believe the press it has gotten over the years. Much of what has been published about this “Super Fish”, has been penned by writers who pulled into town, fished a day or two, and pronounced themselves experts…..In no way do I consider myself an expert either, but over the years I’ve learned  a few lessons, a few tricks, and have come to some conclusions of what makes these fish tick and what it takes to put them in the boat.

I can tell you this! I don’t know of any freshwater fish that fights harder! They make incredible jumps, take more runs and indeed often  fight so hard that by netting time they have exhausted themselves!

 I’ve  used spoons, trolling flies and just about every type lure  available on the market today. Most of  the Skamania I have caught were taken on a  floating  J-9 and J-11  Rapala in the color shown below.

The largest skamania i’ve caught to date is a 23 pound, 39 inch beast  back in July of 2007.  I nailed it on a Gold Fl. Red Floating Rapala  lure above …..Just recently on June 27th of 2012,  I brought home a 38″ incher that weighed just over twenty pounds. Again,  caught on the same type lure pictured above. The colors and lively action of the Jointed Rapala (above) is more than  a serious skamania can resist….. June and July are the top months to long line for this super Fish!  Here is what I recommend:

  • Never use a leader of any kind.  All trout are leader, snap and swivel shy(a small split ring is ok) A Rapala knot is recommended (pictured above)
  • Fast  zig-zag trolling is best (always experiment w/speed)check lures along side of boat to make sure they are running straight.
  • Use no more than 10 lb low stretch mono line
  • Use 10-12 ft. light or ultra light rods
  • Use a gold fl. red  floating J-9 Rapala shown above for best results…..A gold fl. red J-11 is also good
  • Flat Longlining (when traffic allows) is usually best
  • Planer boards (when traffic allows)with less line out, also works well

When traffic allows, run out about 150- 200 yards of line…..Use  level wind trolling reels loaded with at least four-hundred yards of 6-8 lb low stretch mono line…..Big skamania can take out hundreds of line on connection in a heartbeat. The long ultra lite rods are necessary to absorb  the shock of a  jumping  skamania. When you hook up  with one, you better be prepared for fast-paced action. They have a way of making a cool-headed fisherman act like a kid in a candy store! Here is a word to the wise:  Never set the hook or try to horse in a good sized skamania, as they tend to  barely hook themselves…..try not to let slack in the line, and lower your rod when they leap out of the water! 

Certainly, you might even catch a big  skamania with a broom stick with guides,  loaded with fifty pound black braided line!  I’m only saying what I know works! Anyway, what do you have to lose,  besides a 30 lb skamania?