steelhead and water temps.

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Panhandle, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

    Posts: 479
    45th Parallel NW Michigan
    Ratings: +23 / 1
    I aint hungry enough to tackle a dead horse.... Yet :) Back to the O.P. Do you feel that our fish [G.L.] would behave differently in the same cold water temps as yours? [PNW]

    Edit: Directed to all, not the original poster exclusive.
  2. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Water temps are water temps, it’s not as though 34f there is any different than 34f here. They would certainly behave differently in this ecolosystem and vice versa.
  3. Erik F. Helm Frozen in the river, speyrod in hand

    Posts: 40
    Wisconsin
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Hard question to answer. What I know comes secondhand since I have only chased summer-runs in WA, OR, and ID. From some of the campfire chat it would seem that if water conditions are good, PNW steelhead will rise and hit flies such as hairwings only a couple of inches under the surface in quite cold conditions. Some guys I know will only fish a dry line for them even in the worst conditions. I always thought that GL 'steel-rainbow-whatever head' were more aggressive in colder water than PNW fish simply because they live in lakes such as Superior which seldom get above 40 degrees on a hot July day, but I have no evidence to back this up.
    But, the differences between the fish are based on our observations, which can be less than scientific. For example. For a long time it was thought that GL 'steel-rainbow-whatever head' in Michigan would not take a swung fly. Some famous steelhead fishermen who moved to the PNW made note of this. They exclaimed how different PNW steelhead were from GL 'steel-rainbow-whatever head'. But, they were dead wrong. They were not trying hard enough, didn't give it enough time, or whatever. Fishermen on Wisconsin's Bois Brule Laughed at anyone not using nymphs or yarn. Nobody thought they would take a swung fly, but then someone tried it and WHAM! fish on! Then nobody thought GL 'steel-rainbow-whatever head' would rise to take a skater. Myself and others have debunked that myth too.

    Once when fishing in Washington, the river we were fishing went off due to glacial milk. The locals and guides were sitting in camp getting drunk and told us that fishing would be futile until the water cleared. The fish wouldn't be able to see our flies. We looked at the water, and said 'Man, that still looks better than some of the muddy and silty chocolate milk we have in Wisconsin. We fished anyway, and one of us hooked a fish. We just had confidence and didn't know any better.
    The first time I fished in WA, I fished the Klick. My only experience with steelhead was fishing for 'steel-rainbow-whatever head' on the Milwaukee river. I fished an intermediate sinktip with hairwings. After catching 5 or 6 fish, I learned from the experts on that river that were camped next to me that that setup would never work there....I would have to use big flies and category 6 tips. I just did it because I was ignorant, and I caught fish. On a run in that river I hooked fish in a certain place. When one of the experts fished it with my buddy, he pointed out the sweet spot. "Erik caught fish way at the bottom" my friend said, only to be told that nobody ever catches anything down there...
    Hmmm.

    I know this rambled about, but I guess my opinion is that the more we look at it the more similarities we find between PNW steelhead and GL 'steel-rainbow-whatever head'.

    I for one am just glad that once in a long while, one will eat my fly...:)
  4. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,207
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    hey I dodn't really care that much what you call em, I'll just point out that up here we don't call lake illiamna rainbows steelhead even though by great lakes defintion they are totally steelhead, they spend most of their lives in a really really big lake with lots of food and come up the streams in the fall stay there, spawn in the spring and go back to the lake for the summer, also they look like this:
    [IMG]

    I'm sure great lakes bows fight good and are fun to catch but they aren't steelhead. I'm of the opinion that if you took resident rainbows and stocked them in a fairly sterile river with access to the ocean they will eventually become steelhead and if you put steelhead into a productive river a bunch of them will stick around and continue to be rainbows, if that is the case (although I don't have any data to back that up so I may be pissing into the wind) then how do we tell steelhead from rainbows? Are the 8 inch rainbows I catch that are genetically steelhead steelhead or rainbows? They are of course rainbows, what about the odd steelhead caught on the naknek which come from rainbow genetics is that a rainbow because of its genetics? of course not its a steelhead, remember the genetics of rainbows and steelhead are close enough that they are the same species, so how do we tell them apart? Simple, the ones that spend time in salt water are steelhead and the ones that spend their entire life in freshwater are rainbows, the great lakes are freshwater therefore great lake fish are technically adfluvial rainbows.

    Now what you call them is really up to you I'm just saying if I were to brag on the internet about catching a 28 inch O. mykiss I would call it a rainbow and not a steelhead because a 28 inch steelhead is nowhere near as cool as a 28" rainbow...

    I haven't caught a 28" rainbow in my life but I've caught a 36" steelhead...
  5. Panhandle Active Member

    Posts: 4,103
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    What does the ocean have to do with this whole argument? There has to be something genetically and behaviorally different between true ocean fish and lake fish. The contrast, I assume, is the difference between a steelhead and a true trout. Though they follow the same instinctual spawning path, the ocean has to be the dominating factor between the two and what dissiminates a steelhead from trout. I'm not dissing GL steelehad, in fact I plan to come over there some day and fish for them, but I could never consider them true steelhead. What does this have to do with water temps? I don't know, but none of these threads stay on track.
  6. Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

    Posts: 1,409
    Yakima, WA.
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    Most important to us in Washington is how WDFW defines steelhead in the regulation pamphlet: "A sea-run rainbow trout 20 inches in length and over".
  7. Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

    Posts: 2,141
    Twin Bridges, MT
    Ratings: +19 / 0
    back to the original question, anyone know where you can get online real-time water temps for the ronde, cw, or methow?
  8. KevenSamuelson Member

    Posts: 55
    The Desert
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have witnessed a large wild steelhead stalk and then roll on a yellow yarn strike indicator early in the morning with water temperature at 37 degrees.