|Fall Swing Photo: Brian Chou|
Yes, there is a Code of Steelheading. An ethos, if you will that those who fish everyday or way too often carry among friends. It's different to each person but those within a group understand it and stick to it, otherwise they may find themselves in radio silence or just plain left out. Its not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but in a fishing circle getting left out leads to missed opportunities that do not come along often, especially when you have a busy family and work schedule.
With this new era of fishing and the internet, it is easy to get reports, help or hear rumors about what is going on throughout the Pacific Northwest. And like any real steelheader worth their chrome, we are all willing to make sacrifices to chase that hope of a fish on some fabled or less fabled water somewhere within driving distance of our homes on any given day. The fact of the matter is there are few secrets left out there and the ones that are, you can find if you are able to read between the lines. So those that are spot burners, you have to understand you are ruining it in the long run and you best learn to keep it zipped or your gonna get ripped the next time it comes around. Also in all reality when you chase those rumors, you chasing last weeks sweat and hustle and just because shit happens once doesn't mean its gonna happen again.
To break it down simple, each person is different, but those who you trust and know whats up keep that intel wrapped up tight. When one of your boys hands it to you or brings you to the spot, you keep it that way. That is just how to keep it real. Calling bullshit cause you brought one of the boys to one of your spots and finding him there with some of his friends there a day later is not exactly part of the code, but it happens and when the whistle is blown on you... well, don't expect pleasantries. This seems as if it would be common sense, but as it has been said, "common sense is not common to everyone".
There is also a grey area of well known spots that lead to reports given without hesitation, primarily due to the obvious and aiding in a less experienced friends learning curve. Educating friends, helping them learn about their quarry, casting, presentation, etc are just as important facets of the Code, but not everything is given without reciprocation. Respect of the resource, educating others and your peers views of secrecy are vital and mandatory in maintaining the code. In the end we all learn from each other.