#MyWideOpenSpaces: John Bickell Makes Landing Steelhead Look Easy


Still in high school, this outdoorsman gets the most out of living in the Pacific Northwest.

John Bickell, 18, has been living in Corvallis, Oregon, for the last 10 years. And, if you look at his Instagram page, it should be clear what he's been doing over that time span.

Bickell has been fishing ever since he was old enough to hold a rod, as his father would take him hunting and fishing at a young age. It wasn't until he was 12, however, that he would land his first steelhead.

"I spent weeks trying to get my first winter steelhead from the bank," he said. "But when I landed my first chrome, I was addicted."

Fast-forward six years, and we come to this impressive post (one of many on Bickell's Instagram page).


The Catch

The days prior had been hot and rainy, so Bickell made the most of a nice day. Friends of his were fishing a local river, catching as many as eight or nine fish apiece. He decided to hit one of his favorite spots, which was just downriver from where one of his buddies had already hooked a few.

"Anything he would hook would have to go through me," Bickell said.

His gut feeling would serve him well, too, as he watched his bobber vanish on his first cast. He would lose that fish and another 30 minutes later, but he looked at his first two hits with optimism.


"After that, I knew it was going to be a good day," he said. "I hooked a fish about every hour."

He ultimately landed two of four fish he hooked at that particular spot, each of which were about 9 pounds. The river was on the drop and the bite began to slow as it reached dusk, so he decided to rendezvous with his friends. They had been having some success even farther downriver, so he decided to throw a line before it got too dark.

As they were about to pack it in, though, one of his friends slipped and almost fell in the water, causing Bickell to turn around and laugh at his buddy's expense. But when he turned back around, his bobber was gone.

"The bobber was nowhere to be found," he said. "I reeled down, set the hook and the fight was on."


So after what was already a pretty successful day of fishing, he finished on what he estimated to be a 13-pound steelhead.

Bickell is quite the versatile outdoorsman, fishing for salmon, sturgeon, bass and bluegill, and hunting for deer, moose, turkey and waterfowl.

If you want to participate in the #MyWideOpenSpaces contest, just post a photo to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use our hashtag. It can be any photo that relates to hunting, fishing or the outdoors in general. Maybe it's photo of a catch from your latest fishing trip or that first spring gobbler of year. Or, maybe it's a scenic photo from a hike or a recent camping trip. We aren't picky; we love all things outdoors. We'll select one winner each week based on the quality of the photo, the trophy and even the caption.

Winners will receive some free gear, which will vary as the contest progresses. Then, we'll contact you to hear the story behind the photo, which we'll write and publish on our site!