Early-season steelheading on the westside Whidbey Island beaches is not necessarily a great fishery, but it does provide the first look at fish headed for Puget Sound rivers and it can be fished when the rivers are running high and dirty. It’s also unique in that it is one of the few spots in the world where saltwater steelheading is practiced regularly.
The usual spots include Bush Point and Fort Casey, and casting accuracy and distance are not factors. You’ll be tossing your gear out 50 or 60 feet, letting it sink to just off bottom, and reeling it back slowly all the way to your boots. That last part is important because more than a few saltwater steelhead are hooked almost underfoot. An outgoing tide makes your day more pleasant, since the water will be relatively clear of seaweed and other flotsam.
The lure is a Spin N Glo bobber in red, pink or orange, on a standard two-hook mooching leader, followed by a hoochie skirt. Put a quarter-inch bead ahead of and behind the bobber, and secure the head of the hoochie with a gum cone. Use a three-way swivel, mainline on one leg, 4 feet of leader on the second, and a short dropper with 3 or 4 inches of pencil lead or other type sinker, crimped on. Last, use a good quality scent of your choice.
Persistence is critical on the saltwater beaches because you don’t know when fish will be passing and you have to rely on keeping your gear in the water for as long as possible.