On the run!
For some, there are great memories captured in a photograph. For a lot of us there is no camera shot and the fish is never landed. It might have been from all the logs and branches found in portions of the split rock, or maybe the often crazy fast, rock infested water of the Knife, or one of the hundreds of leader eating rocky bends that line our rugged North Shore Rivers. For this angler it was just a fresh fish not having any part of being landed in the rough water of the this North Shore River.
So what is the solution to potentially landing more steelhead in these types of situations, when moving downstream is no longer a sensible option? If you are sure the fish is heading for troubled water, but not quite there, slack line 'em! That's right, feed him line and do it as fast as you can. The key is to trick him into thinking he is no longer hooked. I know this might not make sense, but if you have a solid hook set you might be surprised at the outcome.
Once again, the key here is giving the fish enough line so he does not feel hooked any longer. No longer feeling threatened a steelhead will often turn and move back to its previous holding location or further upstream to continue it's migration. Now having said this, there are a few factors that may work against you. Too much weight on your line, to much distance between you and the fish, and fast current seams between you and your catch.
I have found that slack lining works best when the water is all pretty much moving at the same speed as in riffle water and long pools. It also works best with rod tip-to-fish distances under 75', more than that and the weight of the line alone can cause irreversible tension. I have been able to land several fish using this technique, fish that would surely otherwise been lost.
When you get into a pickle this spring and all your steelhead fighting tricks have been used up, try slack lining, you just might find your steelie will turn in your favor.