Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Steelheading Report

Summer steelhead taken while swinging a purple and pink bunny leech
Recently summer steelhead fishing has seemingly gotten a lot more consistent in regards to having success out there. Over the last few weeks steelhead fishing was more what the reputation is, where you cast all day and maybe get into a fish, or even worse, you get a "bite". Luckily that has changed to much more productive levels, and that has made me really stoked to be guiding out there. I am not one who is all about swinging flies all day and stepping through runs to get that mythological maybe grab, or even maybe a landed fish. I like to steelhead when the odds are in your favor, and you know that covering runs will lead to hot fish on the end of your line. As of late, the fish runs are tremendous, and the fishing has gotten much better out there too. Lately the worst we have done on my guided trips is landing one fish per trip, and that is still what most consider to be a successful day of steelhead fly fishing. ODFW deems 3/4 a fish per boat to be the average catch for steelhead, and that is including all forms of rod/reel tackle (not just a fly rod). We are getting to that point in the run where the action is going to be hot and heavy from here on out until the river gets too high and dirty for fish next winter.
Fish On! Steelhead taken while swinging a Hickman's Party Boy in Black
We have been swinging flies for summer steelhead thus far, and the best patterns for me have been motion prawns, purple/pink bunny leeches, black and blue moal leeches , some invented ostrich patterns with the same color combos, and some traditional patterns like the Silver Hilton. I have also been messing around with some other patterns, but those are my go to flies for swinging where I fish at. We have been using mainly moderate sinking tipped lines and now the water levels are getting into floating line and light sinking tip mode.
This steelhead connected on the last spot of the day with a long purple string leech
The other day, I went out after an am guided trip, and I resorted to dead drifting patterns in a deep run that was loaded with fish. I could tell that the fishing was hot as a rocket due to several frequent hookups amongst the drift fisherman on the bank and in several boats on the bank of a "combat fishing" run. Well the dead drifting proved to be ultra effective, as I hooked up with a large Spring Chinook for a short lived fight as the fish charged straight at me with a fast run and let enough slack in the line to self release it. Then a few casts later I was rewarded with a feisty chromer that I landed. The fish took a 10mm Trout Bead that I was running off of a MOAB Stone with a Thingamabobber . I had the depth set; so when the indicator dunked, it was going to be nothing but fish (about 1 foot above the bottom).
10MM Pink Trout Bead couldn't be resisted by this summer steelhead; even with heavy angling pressure
A few casts later, I was tied up with another insane fish. The fish hammered my offering and gave a battle that never ended. I fought the fish as hard as I could, not letting it have an ounce of slack. I was practically closing my reel shut when I could, only letting it go when my tippet's strength was going to be compromised. After forever, the fish was seemingly getting closer to yielding, and eventually I got it into the net. It was pretty big, and was probably the largest hatchery summer steelhead I have landed on the McKenzie River so far. I have had clients land bigger fish than this one was, but I have only landed a fish that was close to this once before, and lost two huge ones several years back. Just shows that fishing in a crowd can yield goodness, and sometimes you can pick up a few fish with methods other than swinging flies. Not as fun to fish while you are fishing, but the rewards can be great nonetheless.
Summer steelhead fell to a swung  black, purple, and blue articulated conehead marabou leech
Fishing for summer steelhead should remain hot until the heat waves kick in, and the crowds should start to lessen as time goes on. Water levels are dropping into the summer low flow, and that tends to turn off the guys who prefer to use bait, hardware, and other non fly fishing methods. When time passes even more down the road the fly fishing presentations tend to take over for success, and that again causes the angling pressure to lessen. As of now, the angling pressure can be rather awful at times, but each day that passes by with low water and harder to catch fish for the conventional anglers; will cause the pressure to lighten up more and more. The less people out there fishing for these summer steelhead; the better the fishing will get.
This summer steelhead fell to a swung Motion Prawn while swinging such a short cast
The hitch is that the summer steelhead right now are hot as a rocket, and can offer the nuttiest battles you can ask for. If you want to engage in an insane battle with a steelhead that completely goes BATS on the end of your line; then get out there now. You will be fishing with lots of other anglers around at certain times, but there is a reason that people are attracted to these hot fish. They will reward you a lot more than catching many other targeted fish species. If you are into solitude and catching lots of trout, then this is probably not your fishery of choice. If you are into seeing a fish crack a four foot air, and rip you straight into your fly line backing, then to pop an air again, then you should experience this.
Large Summer Steelhead caught dead drifting with Trout Bead with heavy fishing pressure around
You cannot catch fish like this unless you are up for the challenge. You cannot expect to go out and have them climb on the end of your line. You have to work for the fish, and you have to fish with a system. Steelhead are not fish that are looking for your offering. They are out there, and you have to fish the water to eventually come onto one. When you finally pass your fly by one, you have to then hope that it is the fish that decides to play. You may get not even a drop of attention to your offering from the steelhead, and other times they decide to tie on and provide you with a battle you will not stop talking about for days......

No comments:

Post a Comment