BD athlete Drew Stoecklein reports on skiing and steelhead fishing in Washington
With the dismal winter we've been having here in Utah, Black Diamond athlete Drew Stoecklein has been hitting the road north to get his deep-snow fix. After a stint in Canada (check out the Journal video HERE), Drew packed up and headed for Washington, where the promise of deep pow was sweetened by the chance to hook an elusive winter steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula. Check out his report below with awesome photos from both Drew and photog Garrett Grove.
[All fishing photos courtesy of Drew Stoecklein, all skiing photos courtesy of Garrett Grove.]
Once again it was time to leave the arid Salt Lake City desert and head to the Great White North in search of an adventure. With the Wasatch suffering for snow, I decided to head over to Washington's Olympic peninsula in search of the renowned chrome winter steelhead.
Washington is one of the few locations that one can catch 40-inch chromed steelheads and ski 40-degree waist deep powder in the same weekend. The rivers and the mountains here are truly unique.
When I landed in Washington, my good friends Jess and Bobby picked me up from the airport and we set off to test our luck on the river. Arriving at the coast proved to be a beautiful sight. The vibrant emerald rivers were engulfed by lush rainforest. Emerging from the thickets, the river poured into the raging ocean and somewhere swimming in these massive rivers were the mystical winter run steelhead. Most anglers dream about one day catching a chrome winter run Steelhead on the OP.
After two days of relentlessly dredging the river with our flies in the pouring rain, Jess finally hooked one. As Jess erupted with excitement, Bobby and I dropped our gear and rushed over to help him land the fish that he had been fighting for the past 20 minutes. Bobby waded out and tailed the fish so Jess could set down his rod. Eagerly, Jess grabbed the measuring tape and laid it down on fish's side. The wild steelhead buck measured 35 inches and was perfectly chrome with a hint of color. Its scales were micro mirrors with traces of sea lice. It had fought like a wild badger, but now it lay tranquil. We all admired it. Not only was it an amazing privilege seeing one of these wild beasts up close, but it was also a thrill fighting with one on the end of the line. This was truly a fish of a lifetime for Jess. For me, it was so incredible to be a part of that moment and see the fish intimately. That night we celebrated the great catch in Forks, and the next day Bobby dropped me off to go skiing with photographer Garret Grove.
After having an unforgettable trip on the Olympic Peninsula, Garret and I drove from the Seattle to the small Bavarian town of Leavenworth. I knew that it had been snowing in the mountains due to the torrential precipitation we endured on the river. But I didn't realize what was in store for us. On our first morning, we ventured to Stevens Pass. After hopping off the chairlift, to my surprise, there was 3.5 feet of cold smoke powder. I had no idea that Washington could get such light snow. All of us where suffocating as we ripped through the mossy trees, creating long smoke trails. With each turn, I had a grin from ear to ear. This was truly an epic trip that could only be experienced in Washington.
The next day we returned to Stevens Pass. The parking lot was packed, yet there seemed to be few people at the resort. The vibe at Stevens was friendly and mellow. It was great to be at a resort with no rat race. And despite the unbelievable snow, people were pleasantly easy-going. The powder was even deeper, however slightly more dense. Never the less, we happily barreled through it, snaking through the tight, steep, Washington trees.
Our third and last day at Stevens was greeted by even more snow. It seemed as if the precipitation in Washington was relentless. The snow pack felt bottomless. We shredded the side country all day, enjoying every turn to its fullest. At the end of another mind-blowing day, I hopped in the car and rushed to the airport to fly back to Salt Lake City. As I was sitting in the airport thinking back on the trip I could not believe how the all the stars aligned to create all those wonderful memories in Washington.