Stillwater Steelhead, can indicator fishing actually work

Irafly

Indi "Ira" Jones
#18
After I mentioned it on our trip, you just couldn't help yourself could you? Just think how much faster you would have unlocked the box had I been there doing it with you ;). I love the idea of indicator fishing for steel in those stillwaters. Hmmm, when is my next road trip?

Nice job Mark!
 

Irafly

Indi "Ira" Jones
#20
That guy in the other boat in the background of the last picture, also has a nice big indicator on as well. I kept looking at the picture waiting for the indicator to dive down.
 

SilverFly

Active Member
#21
Looks like you have it dialed Mark. I'm not surprised though. I remember you doing extremely well at Herman creek many years ago. Great job putting the indicator puzzle pieces together. Now I need to figure out the indi thing myself.

I was up there one afternoon this weekend fishing a different area, and only caught one native. It was a worthwhile trip though because I got a rare opportunity to see what is actually going on below the surface - and why the indicator approach makes sense. That afternoon it was dead calm - something which the Columbia Gorge is not exactly known for. At one point I was casting to fish completely off anchor and not having to re-position between casts! The water level was also up about 2 feet and, for some reason, the relatively murky surface layer of Columbia river water was only a foot or two deep. The cold (about 55 degree) tributary water below is crystal clear.

This unusual combination made it possible to not only see the schools, but individual fish in depths ranging from 8 - 20'. The downside was that it made for very tough fishing because the fish were very skittish. I knew that even the clear intermediate lines can spook fish, but the water was so clear that afternoon I could see most of the line as it sank and if it went too deep, it would scatter fish, or "slice" a school into halves. Also got to clearly see how the subsurface tributary current effects an intermediate line as it sinks. I could lay out a cast, watch the line sink straight down for about 1-2 feet, then suddenly start moving sideways at roughly the same speed it was sinking at. Even got to see the one grab I got as I started to retrieve and the fly line began to "swing" in the current. Watched the fish rise out of the school about 3 feet, turn, and grab the fly in full view. But that was it for the day in spite of seeing hundreds of fish within casting range. I will be fishing shallower, and with longer, lighter leaders after seeing this.

Not trying to hijack Mark's thread, just supporting the reasoning for his technique. The intermediate lines work, but have some serious limitations which I didn't fully understand before this weekend. By suspending the fly under an indicator it should be (and obviously is) a much stealthier means of presentation.

Wish I could have gotten some better pics of the "aquarium" I was fishing in, but these will have to do. In the last pic, you can see the fly line actually arcing as it swings in the subsurface outflow (moving right to left).

Again, these were VERY unusual conditions which I don't anticipate seeing anytime soon or possibly ever. Usually you can't keep your hat on in the wind, or see much more than dark patches in the water and you're fortunate if you can see that. Even then it's hard to be sure what is a weed bed and what is a school of fish.

Small school (about 15-20 steelhead) holding in 8 feet of water


The dark green stripe is about 30-40 steelhead holding in the subsurface tributary outflow in about ten feet of water. Got my only grab of the day here - in plain view.


Larger school holding in 12' of water. Fly line can be seen "swinging" in subsurface trib outflow. I should have been positioned further upstream to present the fly better, but this is "stillwater" fishing... right?
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
#26
That is a bank "BAIT" fishermans bobber (coon-shrimp) I can tell you this "WE ARE NOT ALONE" Plenty of fisherman, bank and boats. private fishing it's "NOT" MOSTLY KNUCKLE DRAGGING, MOUTH BREATHING, TOOTHLESS HEATHENS JUST LIKE ME! We also threw some bobbers and bait today when there was no wind and my friend broke a fish off with bobbers and bait.
Ira likes large indicators.... is there a correlation here?
 
#29
Looks like you have it dialed Mark. I'm not surprised though. I remember you doing extremely well at Herman creek many years ago. Great job putting the indicator puzzle pieces together. Now I need to figure out the indi thing myself.

I was up there one afternoon this weekend fishing a different area, and only caught one native. It was a worthwhile trip though because I got a rare opportunity to see what is actually going on below the surface - and why the indicator approach makes sense. That afternoon it was dead calm - something which the Columbia Gorge is not exactly known for. At one point I was casting to fish completely off anchor and not having to re-position between casts! The water level was also up about 2 feet and, for some reason, the relatively murky surface layer of Columbia river water was only a foot or two deep. The cold (about 55 degree) tributary water below is crystal clear.

This unusual combination made it possible to not only see the schools, but individual fish in depths ranging from 8 - 20'. The downside was that it made for very tough fishing because the fish were very skittish. I knew that even the clear intermediate lines can spook fish, but the water was so clear that afternoon I could see most of the line as it sank and if it went too deep, it would scatter fish, or "slice" a school into halves. Also got to clearly see how the subsurface tributary current effects an intermediate line as it sinks. I could lay out a cast, watch the line sink straight down for about 1-2 feet, then suddenly start moving sideways at roughly the same speed it was sinking at. Even got to see the one grab I got as I started to retrieve and the fly line began to "swing" in the current. Watched the fish rise out of the school about 3 feet, turn, and grab the fly in full view. But that was it for the day in spite of seeing hundreds of fish within casting range. I will be fishing shallower, and with longer, lighter leaders after seeing this.

Not trying to hijack Mark's thread, just supporting the reasoning for his technique. The intermediate lines work, but have some serious limitations which I didn't fully understand before this weekend. By suspending the fly under an indicator it should be (and obviously is) a much stealthier means of presentation.

Wish I could have gotten some better pics of the "aquarium" I was fishing in, but these will have to do. In the last pic, you can see the fly line actually arcing as it swings in the subsurface outflow (moving right to left).

Again, these were VERY unusual conditions which I don't anticipate seeing anytime soon or possibly ever. Usually you can't keep your hat on in the wind, or see much more than dark patches in the water and you're fortunate if you can see that. Even then it's hard to be sure what is a weed bed and what is a school of fish.

Small school (about 15-20 steelhead) holding in 8 feet of water


The dark green stripe is about 30-40 steelhead holding in the subsurface tributary outflow in about ten feet of water. Got my only grab of the day here - in plain view.


Larger school holding in 12' of water. Fly line can be seen "swinging" in subsurface trib outflow. I should have been positioned further upstream to present the fly better, but this is "stillwater" fishing... right?
Excellent description with the "intermediate line" dilemma (i'm sure Mark doesn't mind too much) and how you worked around it to success SilverFly.
 
#30
I almost hate to say this, but try a Hex nymph during the summer. It has been years since I have fished any of those locations, but if you fish late in the evening during the summer, you will know why.