The steelhead (a rainbow trout that went to sea, grew up and then decided to return to the fresh-water neighborhood he knew as a fingerling) seldom is caught in the ocean. But this year, during the State of Washington's big midwinter steelhead run, the situation is different. Beaches on the east coast of Whidbey Island, just north of the little community of San de Fuca, are aswarm with fishermen. They are casting lures and catching steelheads almost as fast as fishermen on the nearby Skagit River, best of the fine steelhead rivers of the northwestern Pacific Coast and maybe the best in the world. So easy is the beach fishing that oldtimers haul patio chairs out onto the sand and, casting a mere 20 feet from a relaxed sitting position, enjoy frequent success. The beachcombers are sitting athwart the homeward route of the Skagit-spawned trout.
Half of these steelheads are graduates of the Barnaby Slough rearing ponds on the upper Skagit (SI, Sept. 10, 1962), wherein 1961 a planting of 350,000 steel-head fingerlings produced, after raids by kingfishers, mergansers and minks, 150,000 sturdy, resourceful and evasive juveniles that were able to make their way to the sea the following spring. It had been estimated that perhaps 10% of that 150,000 might survive ocean predators to return to the Skagit. Now, to judge from the success of the sedentary beach-casters and their stream-fishing counterparts, that estimate may have been far too low. Everybody is catching steelheads in unprecedented and unpredicted numbers.
TIP FROM THE SLOPE
The most fascinating tip for recreational skiers to come out of the Winter Games at Innsbruck is this: don't worry about keeping your skis perfectly together. The Egon Zimmermanns and Fran�ois Bonlieus and Billy Kidds certainly did not indulge in this functionless elegance. Ski the natural way, with your feet where they feel comfortable. If that means feet as far apart as the tracks on a Russian railroad, ski that way—and be happy.