Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Let the Snow Keep You Home From Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing - March Brings The Natives

Yesterday I guided these two guys named Ken and Will, and they were a total blast to be with out on the water. They wanted to hopefully get into a winter steelhead, and the weather system the day before seemed to really threaten our possibility for getting that accomplished. We were determined to go through with our plan, and the water levels did not raise with the weather system; since all of the moisture was locked up in the form of low elevation snow. Would the cold water from the snow affect our fish catching possibilities? Getting out there and fishing would be the only way to tell.....
Admiring this chrome bright wild native Oregon winter steelhead
The first pool we fished seemed promising, but we could not muster a grab from any of the possible fish that may have been in the spot. We saw a few flashes, but nothing would make the Thingamabobber take a downward dive. The water temperature was right around 40 degrees, and I was confident that if it would raise a couple of degrees we could have some good action. They were fishing hard, thorough, and they were picking up the techniques and tactics very well; so it was just a matter of the inevitable.
What a chrome bright buck! Oregon Winter Steelhead
We got into a spot, and I set up Ken in a area where he was waded out in the middle, and I was with Will helping him with distance roll casting, when Ken yelled fish on! We both looked toward him to see a WHALE of a steelhead breach the water with a huge air. It was a total monster!!!! Literally the biggest steelhead I have seen on someone's line in person, and I was praying we could land this beast. Ken battled the fish, and got several big airs, and some insane runs. It was headed down a nasty set of rapids toward a pool with a cliff on our side of the river. It was not looking good, but you have to try. Ken worked the fish, and I was down by it close and personal. I could see that this fish would easily brake the 20 pound mark and was looking closer to the 25 pound range (especially after having someone land a 19.09 pounder last week). This fish looked well over 40 inches, and had the girth of a fall Chinook salmon, except it was a acrobatic wild male winter steelhead. Ken got the fish down to the only area where we maybe had a chance for me to scoop it with my rubber catch and release net. It was a little side pocket of calmer water above the cliff at the end of the line of being able to go downstream anymore. Unfortunately the fish went over the last ledge rock, and was in the last possible foot of water before the chafed tippet popped and the fish was free.....Ohhhhhh soooooo close......I was standing there with the net out, but never had a viable chance to scoop this fish of a lifetime for Ken. Ken, Will,  and I gave the manly bro handshakes after that insane moment! What a fish!!!!! Sooner or later one of those huge ones is going to get landed!! They are that big for a reason.......
On tight to a strong winter steelhead on a Oregon north coast stream
Now it was Will's turn to hopefully rope into something insane like that one. We fished one pool after and nothing happened as far as hookups or seeing any potential action. We went to the next spot, and I set up Will where I hooked a monster last Friday, and had a client two Mondays ago hook into a very huge fish. Will fished a few drifts through,and suddenly the Thingamabobber took a plunge. Will slammed the hooked into the corner of the fish's grill and it was game on! The fish gave a super deep sturdy battle and it seemed like it would never end. The standard big buck fight; where it just hunkers down in a fast current and wears you out. Will endured the battle, and eventually got the ocean fresh chrome bright buck to yield. It was a fish that measured at 34" long and was chrome as a dime. We admired this native beauty, and Will sent him back off into the chilly flows to continue his run upriver to this natal spawning grounds.
One stoked angler showing his awesome wild winter steelhead - Oregon north coast stream
We then went to the next spot, and it was Ken's turn to rope into some chrome. He took about three casts into the "hot zone",and he was into another chrome bright fish. It was looking like a "normal" sized steelhead, and we kind of joked how it looked small after the two previous fish. The fish fought very hard, and made some nice runs, and really put on a seriously long enduring fight. Ken steered the chrome bright native hen into the hoop of the rubber net, before we unhooked her, snapped a few pics, and sent her off into the mysterious green waters. I took the water temperature and it was now at 43 degrees; which was interesting to see how that lined up with more consistent action.  
Winter steelhead or cannonball landing in the water?
We fished a few more spots with no action, and then I decided to take them to another "honey hole". I was giving them a demonstration of where to fish the spot, and on my second cast of the demo, I got into a fish. I offered the hot fish off to one of the guys, but they insisted I kept the rod in my hand and wanted to see my fight the fish. I had a fun battle with the fish, as it ran through my fly line, and went deep in the back end of the long pool. I fought her all the way back in, only to have her zip the line away several more times. When I landed her, she was a gorgeous wild hen that was picture perfect and went about 7-8 pounds. I checked her beauty out, and sent her off into the steelhead green pool. What a day! I even got to catch a fish on my guide trip!
Steelhead of a lifetime launching an air on a downstream run
I set the guys up in the spot, and within a few casts, Ken was on tight to another chromer. It fought well, and turned out to be a fin clipped hatchery fish; so we bonked it. Ken now had some fresh winter steelhead to bring home for the table on top of the wonderful native wild winter steelhead we got to experience. What a day we had out on the water to kick of March winter steelhead fly fishing. These native winter steelhead are something you have to experience! Get yourself out on the water!!
Picture perfect hen - native wild Oregon winter steelhead
I have a few openings for the remainder of winter steelhead season for guided trips; so if you are interested get a hold of me. You can email me at or you can call me by phone (541)-232-6360.

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