Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis The Season.........To Get a Chromer........Try, Try, Try, Try, Try....., Try, Try, Try, TUG!!!!

When water levels do this during the wintertime in Oregon, it means it it time to go steelheading
Winter steelhead have been reported in several coastal streams, and they are also in the Clackamas and Sandy along with a few other rivers. With a recent blast of rain the rivers have risen significantly, and now most of them are on the drop, or are about to crest out and start falling. That means that all of the steelhead that were itching to enter freshwater, or the ones that were stacking up down low in the rivers during the last low water event are going to scream on up to their destinations.
Wild Steelhead like this fish are really special creatures. Treat them well - you know they treat us right!
2012 Winter Steelhead - This fish was caught while my friend & I were fishing "high water". Water level was falling...
 There will be mainly hatchery run winter steelhead for the early run, but there are some really nice wild fish here and there. I saw a picture of a gorgeous wild steelhead caught on a coastal river right before the levels bumped up; so fish are in. It's time to go winter steelheading!
Swinging with a "low & slow" presentation will produce winter steelhead
 In order to catch winter steelhead on the "wet fly swing", you must alter your techniques to get your fly into the strike zone of the fish. There are various little nuances you can do with your rod/body stepping to alter your cast, mend, swing speed, etc to get your fly to the steelhead's strike zone, and those variables alone could be enough material for a chapter in a book. The main thing for winter steelhead fishing with a wet fly swing is that you need to fish with sinking tips that keep your fly down in the zone for as long as possible. You also need to fish with fly lines and equipment that helps you get that fly into the zone for that long duration, and also with ease while doing so. With the modern day of equipment it is easy to say that switch rods and spey rods get your fly out there with ease, and they handle your line  the best and with the least effort possible. Skagit heads are the lines that throw your winter steelhead flies with the most ease, and between the Rio Flight Head or the Airflo Skagit Compact, they are both great choices. You will want to have a variety of sinking tips ranging from T-8 through T-14, and that can be a whole huge topic in itself. The main point is to have appropriate sinking tips to get your fly down per the given spot. Otherwise you may be hanging up all day long or you may be getting your fly just under the surface and it is several feet deep in the spot you are fishing depending on sinking tip being too heavy or too light. Choosing flies can be confusing for winter steelhead, but it is more important to fish with three very different flies regarding color, profile, weight, materials, etc. For example a wise selection would have one large black with blue highlights large profiled fly that could be made of rabbit, ostrich, or rhea feathers. The second fly could be a orange and pink tube fly with a large bead head that is 2 inches long made of rabbit fur. The third fly could be a smaller marabou Spey style fly with no weight, or a marabou muddle minnow for that matter. Showing a fish three radically different flies, vs three flies that are all 2.5 inches long with pink materials will likely produce more while swinging. You can even use the same fly pattern in three or four different colors and sizes, and that would do the trick to make it simple. An easy setup for swinging for winter steelhead would be a skagit head looped to 7.5 feet of T-14 sinking line, and then a 4-6 foot long leader and a black with blue highlighted articulated ostrich fly. It produces for many anglers, and will work in a variety of winter steelhead conditions.  
Dead drifting egg patterns and other flies can be very productive for winter steelhead
Certain times, spots, and situations call for dead drifting flies. Many fly anglers condone it, and give an attitude to the fly anglers that chose to participate in this technique. Fact is that is completely crushes fish, and it can be a method that leads to numbers when done properly at the right place at the right time. My personal belief is that people should be open to it, and realize that it is a moral decision to put nymphing for trout as okay, but you are a terrible person if you use a Thingamabobber for steelhead. When nymphing for steelhead you can do it blindly to slotted defined water that you can assume a fish would be holding there. You can also rely on seeing fish from climbing above the river and looking into clear spots for fish holding in tailouts, heads of pools, and near boulders in runs and pools. Egg flies, trout beads, marabou flies tied for dead drifting, & steelhead style nymphs can all produce winter steelhead while doing a dead drift presentation. An easy setup that will produce winter steelhead dead drifting would be a Thingamabobber on your leader 3-5 feet above a weighted pinkish orange egg pattern with a weightless steelhead orange egg pattern tied off the first fly's hook bend. It works and it is relatively easy to rig up.

Hope you get out on the rivers; 
so you can get tight to a 
chrome bright winter steelhead!!!

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