Trey Carskadon sees the bright side of things in the Northwest fishing world, and yesterday he saw the beautiful bright sides of a 39-inch-long wild winter steelhead, an absolute beast of a fish he caught in very wintery conditions.
The Portland angler said on social media that his “goliath steelhead punctuates a lifetime spent chasing a fish of this magnitude,” and he caught the Oregon chromer at a time of year that his life is otherwise consumed 24-7 by his day job.
Carskadon is the public relations director for Rose City-based O’Loughlin Trade Shows, which puts on the Northwest’s biggest sportsmen’s shows.
In a normal year, today would be the start of the Puyallup show, with – ack! – the even larger Portland event coming up in a scant two weeks.
But this year, the events have been pushed back till March due to Covid.
Trey and I were emailing about that last month for a story in our January issue and he saw it as a personal opportunity to make some lemonade out of lemons.
“Moving the shows to March means more steelheading for me than in previous years,” he noted.
And indeed, yesterday found him on the water with his brother Marty and a guide – just as a storm moved into the Northwest.
“The weather was awful, snowing sideways, freezing cold (literally) and we were all drenched and near hypothermic. Classic winter steelhead weather,” Carskadon posted on Facebook.
In a call this morning, he likened the conditions – and his accomplishment – to a certain golfing movie.
“It was like that scene in Caddyshack. The weather’s blowing sideways, and the guy’s out there having the round of his life,” he recalls.
“I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s going to come down for quite a while.” –Carl Spackler
Carskadon credits his guide – whom he nicknamed Josiah “Trey, I’d cast over there if I was you” Darr – for the catch.
“A lot of good fortune went into landing that fish, but honestly, without Josiah Darr’s support and guidance it’s unlikely I would have landed it. Josiah really came through. He knew from the first jump what a special fish it was and went the extra mile and a half to make sure he put the net on it,” he said.
They were bobber doggin’ a river on Oregon’s North Coast when the steelhead bit.
During the 25-minute-long fight, Carskadon said the fish nearly spooled him twice, before taking off in the direction of a tailout and whitewater that he worried he’d lose it in had it not been for some quick thinking and getting back in the boat to row across the river.
“Finally, after another 10 minutes of maximum pressure, Josiah put the net on this tanker. It measured 39 inches. We took some quick pics and it was ready to go the moment I gripped its tail for the release, as it swam off full of the piss-and-vinegar it had started with,” he recalled on social media.
Carskadon said that it was the longest he’d ever fought a steelhead since first trying to catch them as a preteen.
“I’ve been chasing that dream for 50 years – literally. I caught my first steelhead when I was 12, guided them for several years, fished for them a lot longer and could never seem to best 18 pounds — that is until yesterday,” he said.
His fish is one of several large winter-runs that have been popping up on social media in recent weeks.
And the catch couldn’t have been made by a more positive force for good in the Northwest fishing world. At a time of intense, almost overwhelming negativity infecting nearly every facet, he is my personal beacon of hope, reminding me of all that is still available and providing the long view of past dips in the runs and recoveries.