Wednesday, March 21, 2012

High Water Winter Steelhead Report - (3-18-2012)

This past Sunday, I had a trip booked with two anglers named Taylor and Rob. They were both itching to get out, and had a case of "Cabin Fever"; which can prove to be a widespread ailment in Oregon this time of the year. The weather lately has been nothing short of atrocious, and being outside and being active is the key to treating a bad case of "Cabin Fever". The conditions were far from favorable on Sunday, and I was going to cancel the trip, but the guys insisted that they wanted to hit the river. The assured me that they wanted to learn how to fish for winter steelhead effectively more than wanting a guided trip just to catch fish on. They told me that they would not hold anything against me since I was going to call the trip off, and they just wanted to fish, and learn how to better their angling techniques for getting into winter steelhead.
Rob on tight to a wild Oregon winter steelhead
When we got out there, the river even looked a tad bit more messed up than I was anticipating, but you have to deal with the given conditions. I was showing them the water speed and type of spot you would want to see to try for winter steelhead with a bloated high water river. We hit the first spot, and it did not yield any fish, nor any signs of fish, but you have to fish spots in order to catch anything.

A nice deep bodied wild male Oregon winter steelhead
The second spot proved differently, as Rob stuck a fish within a minute or two of fishing it. The fish took the offering hard, and the Thingamabobber took a savage dunk and Rob struck tight to connect with the wild winter buck. It was a pretty fish with rose colored cheeks, and a super deep body for its length. We admired the fish and sent him off to continue his run upriver to find a hen to pair up with.
Nice shoulders on this wild native Oregon winter steelhead
 Now it was Taylor's turn to get tight to a winter steelhead, as Rob was totally stoked to pull out a fish from the swollen water that the recent weather has pumped into the river. Taylor was fishing hard, and after a couple of spots later his indicator went under showing signs of a take. He came tight to the fish, but the hook did not hold the fish for more than a little while. It was another good sign though; since the water was high, and just getting a fish on was a big deal.
Showing where the fish should be holding in the pool....
 Luckily, the very next cast just a little bit upstream resulted in another take, and Taylor struck hard to see life on the end of the fly line. It turned out that a snarly snag of roots somehow got onto the line, as I scrambled over to wrangle it off. Luckily it worked out, and the line was clear to rip through the guides of the Access Switch rod. The fish ran hard down stream, and it thrashed on the surface only to free the hook.
Pushing a "stack mend" onto the Thingamabobber
This fish ended up giving itself a LDR (long distance release), as we all grumbled a frustrated sigh. Luckily Taylor is the kind of angler who was stoked for the hook up, and not bummed that he lost the fish. So many anglers do not value getting tied into a winter steelhead, and they only care about landing fish, and numbers. Going out and hooking up when the conditions are not in your favor is a treat in itself. Just hooking up with a wild winter steelhead is crazy enough!
On tight to a wild winter steelhead....
Rob and Taylor had a killer day of winter steelheading, and their angling skills soared through the roof on this day on the river. It is always rewarding for me to see people roll cast across a river, and get a several second dead drift to their fly, when it was not in their mind to do that in the beginning of the day. Getting out on the river can always prove to be worth while, and when you hook up with more than one steelhead on a day when the conditions are less than favorable is always a plus.
Working a winter steelhead run.....
You never know what a day of fishing can offer unless you get out there. I often hear people complain in the winter about high water and miserable weather, but it is always better when you are out there. Many times the weather is better out on the river than it can be in the Portland metro area, and you cannot catch winter steelhead on the couch.

Tight Lines!!!!


  1. Great stuff -- look forward to it every week.
    - Paul

  2. Yeah. Nice Job!! My dad told me mostly fishing is better when raining, or went up.

  3. An awesome day for sure. Just proves any day on the water is a good day.