Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quick Solo Fishing Report - Coastal Winter Steelheading

This past Friday, I was able to escape for several hours to fish all by myself. I got out there a little before 1pm, and hiked to the first spot I wanted to fish. It is a spot where the bucket is all the way across the river, and you have to hold your fly in there as long as you can while mending over a heavy plume of mainstream current. On my third presentation, I had a insane take, and the fish was running up through the main gut of current before I even knew what was going on. It bopped a huge air, and revealed its chrome bright look, and oversized native body before turning downstream and burning a turbo charged blistering run right to the tailout above a long set of rapids where it stopped on a dime. I thought puewww....., but then it turned back up, and ran so fast where I could not keep up with the line speed. It blew up another air, and turned down to the tailout and ran full speed to stop on a dime again right at the lip of the pool. It was totally out of control. I played this crazy wild fish, and thought I had it budged after it finally felt a tad bit more controlled. After a while, it ran to the tailout again, and I was working the line patiently back to me, when all of a sudden the line flew slacked into my chest. Wow!!! That was insane!
Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing - Oregon
A few casts later into the zone, and I had another one on for some brief head shakes. After a little while later, I decided to hit another pool. I went right to a spot where on a previous outing, I had a client tie into the largest steelhead of my guiding career. After several presentations, I had a dunk on my indicator, and I struck hard and tight in a downstream direction. I felt a mushy resistance, and knew there was life on the line. I pulled really hard to try and bring this mysterious beast up to the towards the surface to reveal it. Right when the fish materialized, I felt a head shake, and the line went free..... It was huge! It was gone! What was it that caused this short lived battle? My tippet was broken, and I basically felt like I blew it! I felt like my blood knot may have pulled free, but hard to tell. An opportunity to get my trophy of the winter and possibly a lifetime, and it was short lived. 

Besides blowing my trophy shot, and losing another awesome fish, I was fired up on the hot fishing I was experiencing. I went to the next run upstream, and I probed my offerings into the water. I had another dunk, and struck tight to get rewarded with another fine wild native winter steelhead. This fish went about 9 pounds, and it was a chrome bright buck. Fishing was hot on this day!

I started to think about the first spot I fished, and hiked back to it. I fished it hard again, and was rewarded with two hooked and landed hatchery bucks. They were fun to fight, but nothing compared to the amazing wild steelhead I had tied into before. All aside, they were steelhead on the end of my line, and that is always rewarding. I ended the day with one more fish that took a swung fly, and it was a nice bright hatchery hen hooked in the tailout of a nice wide boulder ridden run. I left a little after 4pm, and it was a fun quick productive session of winter steelheading. You gotta love fishing sessions like that!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Quick Video Clip - Trophy Winter Steelhead

This is a quick clip from the other day when I had my client Bob rope into a nice native winter steelhead on a north coast river. The cool thing to think about was that Charlie (Bob's friend) got a chrome bright hen that was blatantly larger than this fish, but the tippet popped when the fish was in the landing mode before I had a chance to put the hoop of the rubber "catch and release" net under that big beauty. We saw it so close and personal though, and it was a dandy specimen of native Oregon wild winter steelhead to see. Watching Charlie battle with it through 500+ yards of treacherous water (stair-step waterfall included) was one of the most awesome angling feats I have ever witnessed! Too bad we did not have that one on film!

Enjoy the video clip, and sorry we have no close up pics of the fish. It was released right after what you see in this clip after a few quick shots and measurements taken with the fish in the water. It never spent more than a few seconds out of the water, and you see it in slow motion on here. Please take care of our wild native fish!!!! They are treasures we need in our future!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February and March Can Yeild that Trophy Winter Steelhead You Dream About

Unhooking a large native Oregon winter steelhead
For the last 3 days, I was guiding two really great guys from Oklahoma. They had fly fished around, buy steelheading was not in their resume. At first, getting the guys used to switch rods was the first line of order. Luckily switch rods are so user friendly; so they were banging out casts into likely holding lies in hopes of chrome. Now it was just a matter of having a fish intercept their offerings.
Winter Steelhead Admiration - fish caught by client on trip
It turns out that their timing was very good; since the water was very low for a long period of time, and a new freshet was here bringing some new smells into the water to pull in a new fresh batch of steelhead to ascend to their natal spawning grounds. On top of that, the chances of a very large native fish are always present this time of the year. It turns out that the "big fish" gods answered our call, and both of the anglers got to experience a fish of a lifetime. One day Charlie hooked into a chrome bright hen that took him literally about 500+ yards downstream over a double stair step water fall, and down through boulder strewn set of rapids, and into a long pool to have the fish take the whole fly line 3 more times (with the drag cranked down). When we were standing there getting ready to net (rubber net) the seemingly over 40" chromer with the leader cranked into the rod, the fish gave one last pull, and snap! She was back off to continue her run.....Luckily, we saw this awesome beast, and she was the largest fish I have seen in person (steelhead-wise), and she was in close and personal several times. The only thing we did not get to do was to scoop it, take pics, and maybe measure it under water. Otherwise, she gave us the entertainment of a lifetime! Charlie was super stoked on that amazing fish and crazy battle he endured with the fish.
Large Native Oregon Winter Steelhead Caught February 21, 2012
Yesterday, right when we were taking our lunch break, Bob was still fishing a few last casts before opening up his thermos of hot chilli in the misty rain. Right then, he yelled fish on, and I noticed that the rod was bent in a sturdy fashion that appeared to be something significant. When the fish materialized on the surface, it was again another trophy winter steelhead. Luckily this fish was in a pool, and there was not too much that could mess this battle up, except a long set of boulder strewn rapids downstream, but this hefty buck was staying in the pool and cooperating perfectly. After a few small runs and lots of sturdy headshakes and some thrashing around, Bob steered this hog to the hoop of my rubber net where I scooped around the fish's kyped beak to then end the battle. It was a trophy steelhead landed! We snapped a few quick pics, measured the length and girth to get a 37" and 20" girth for the fish. That keyed into a steelhead calculator I found online called  Piscatorial Pursuits and the fish came to 19.09 pounds. Whatever it really came to did not matter; since it was huge and awesome looking. A steelhead of a lifetime! After some quick admiration, we sent the large fish back off into the mysterious steelhead green to swim on upstream.....
One of hatchery hens caught
 We ended up having several other fish, but those two were the standouts on the trip for Charlie and Bob. It was pretty crazy to think and be able to confirm how large Charlie's fish was. It was a good bit larger that Bob's landed male steelhead. The huge fish Charlie had on was chrome bright, wild, and so angry that it took us through the craziest battle I have seen so far for steelhead, or any fish for that matter! It just shows that when you though you have seen everything, you haven't seen it all!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Coast Winter Steelhead Rivers Are Getting Low.......

With not much precipitation, the coast rivers have been dropping and getting low and clear. With that, you can start putting your focus on the larger systems that take a long time to finally get into fishing shape. Smaller systems will become low and clear and the fish start to really feel the angling pressure much more easily. Recently, on my last guided trip, we faced these tough low water conditions where it was hard to not spook fish while walking down to the pools, and harder to land them once they got in the rapids and rock gardens. Between the two anglers, they battled with 5 fish, but all of them with the exception of 1 freed themselves on rocks, with headshakes, or areal acrobatics.
Fishing to several steelhead holding in a pool.......
  One fish was a large bright wild male that blasted a huge air right after the hookup, tore right between Dale and I, where I got a great glimpse of this specimen. Then it catapulted a huge air right on the leader where the impact broke the tippet, and it was back off to his early premature freedom. Right after that, Jenn struck to a Thingamabobber dunk with a bright chomer on, that released itself after a few big headshakes levered the hook from its jaws. With redemption from the steelhead gods, Jenn cast back out into the mysterious green flowing slot near the bushes with confidence from the brief chrome encounter, and the very next cast went tight! Fish on again! Yeah!!!
Fish On Tight - Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing In Oregon
It was a crazy battle with the fish, which luckily never ended as the fish "winning", by breaking the line off under the tree that was halfway across the pool. Eventually after many reel zipping runs, the fish yielded and Jenn pulled it in towards the rubber net. I scooped under it and lifted the hoop of the net around this wild beauty, but kept her in the water like an aquarium so we could check her out. 
First steelhead successfully landed! - Oregon North Coast River
We admired this acrobatic female wild winter fish, snapped a couple of pictures of Jenn's first steelhead that she has landed, and let her swim off to continue upstream. I was super stoked that her first steelhead was a wild winter steelhead. That makes it even better! We all gave each other high five's and were stoked! What a day to be out in the warm winter sunshine (oxymoron-but it was nice out for winter), and hooking up with winter steelhead!
Getting the hook out so this wild Oregon winter steelhead can swim on her way
An innocent bystander of the winter steelhead fishing
Dale on tight to a fish!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Strange Steelhead YouTube Video I Found - Steelhead Stomach Contents.....

While web surfing on YouTube, I came across this video, and it made me think about steelhead feeding behavior. This is a video that is totally off topic from what this blog is all about, but nonetheless it is very interesting in my opinion. Makes you think about what to use for colors, and whether or not steelhead eat, don't eat, etc....

Enjoy thinking about steelhead after this video!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This Winter Steelhead Season is Rocking!! Things Just Keep on Getting Better!

Nice wild native male steelhead caught on a Oregon north coast stream
This fish was caught on Friday February 3rd, and it only testifies to what kind of fishing is on our dinner plate now. I walked up to a nice choppy run, and probed my fly into the heavy chop, and the take was like I was hooked on the bottom. I felt three huge swooshing head shakes, and I knew that I was not attached to a rock or flapping branch. My line peeled off, and the battle was on. I fought the fish for all I had, but I was not going to budge, or screw this one up. I finessed the fish in, but with brute assertive force. Every time I had him in, he turned his head towards the depths and pulled line out with a sturdy abrupt fashion. Eventually I figured out how to wear him out, and how to get his head turned into the bank. After several feeble attempts, I finally got this hefty buck to yield, and I tailed him securely. We snapped some pics, and he forcefully freed himself scurrying away back into the "steelhead green" deeper water from my sturdy grip on his deep bodied tail. He swam off so hard into the depths and was gone, like the whole episode never even happened.........
Admiring this awesome native steelhead - Oregon
Fishing has been very good for winter steelhead lately, and the fish runs are tremendous this season (so far). A big dry spell is supposed to happen; so we'll see what comes out of it, but typically the farther from a rainfall the more you should focus on the larger mainstem rivers; while the closer to the big rains, the more you should focus on smaller systems that drop fast and clear up quickly. Below are some pics from the last few times out......
Chromer long distance releasing itself with an acrobatic areal.....
On tight to a very large chrome bright fish.....
Nice chrome bright wild buck - Oregon's North Coast