Steelhead season observations

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Will Atlas, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    Ouch... It's tough to match that kind of target....
  2. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,284
    bellingham wa
    Ratings: +539 / 0
    I completely agree with James as far as striving for improvement goes.

    My goals are not entirely based on more fish to hand.

    For example, one goal that I have made is to be able to fish for steelhead enough to keep myself happy while minimizing the effect on the wife and kids. I was fairly succesful, although the April closure surely helped.

    Another goal was to find walk in access to a few stretches of river. Again I was fairly succesful. So although I have not caught as many fish this year I hope to have laid the groundwork for future success by learning strategies to be more efficient. I may have a few different non-number related goals next year.

    Sox lose 6-3,
    cds
  3. Snake tryin' not to get too comfortable

    Posts: 621
    between the mountains and the sound
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    iagree:thumb:

    I enjoy every day away from the city, whether I catch fish, or not.

    One of my goals this season was to take a newbie floating/fishing on the Skagit, and raise money for the not-for-profit I work for:

    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php?t=38258&highlight=ethical

    The winning bid was placed by a good guy, who appreciated the experience of floating the Skagit in the winter, the eagles, and scenery, and river time. He didn't care about not hooking steel, because that wasn't what he was ultimately there for.

    Beginner's mind. Zen mind.

    It allowed me to re-assess my own goals, and appreciate it, too.

    The best part of life is right under your own nose. Just gotta get the perspective necessary to sniff it out.

    I also wanted to get better at basic survival skills. I trimmed my daypack down to the essentials, and practiced making shelters and starting fires in heavy wet conditions when the rivers were blown. Mostly a good excuse to just get out, but educational, nonetheless, and fulfilling, in a weird kind of way.

    Learning something new, or exploring a new place, is never a waste of time, IMHO. :ray1:

    There's just so much to do and experience, that defining your worth and time by catch ratios seems silly, in the big run.

    God, i love this world.
  4. cuponoodle breakfast gritty

    Posts: 1,650
    Arlington
    Ratings: +303 / 0
    If I didn't care about catching fish and just wanted to relax, I'd take up yoga.
  5. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    Never said anything about just relaxing and not setting goals. Just noting how several guys stress out, argue, whine, compete, and take things way too seriously at times. I fish to get away from all that and was only suggesting that if some find fishing just as, or more stressful than dealing with traffic and crowds and stressing out at work, than maybe they should take a look at why they fish in the first place.

    I'm lucky enough to fish near a few decent steelhead rivers and have a flexible schedule to hit them when they are prime - for a few hours at least. My hours per fish was pretty good this year and I can only think of 2 times I shared a run for a few minutes with anyone else who came in after me. But that is the joy of fishing week days and knowing where the less pressured spots are that hold fish.
  6. Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Posts: 2,483
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +786 / 0
    I'm not an avid steelhead fisherman. I only got out in their pursuit a couple of times this year and didn't land a fish. That said, I still fulfilled two of my goals as a steelhead fisherman, to fish the Grande Ronde and to fish with a friend from Idaho, who is an avid steelhead fisherman. I accomplished both in the same week in September. We were there too early, as it turned out, but it was a good time in a beautiful place that I would never have discovered if it weren't for my interest in fly fishing and steelhead. Catching a fish would have made it nicer, but I have no complaints.
    D
  7. knothead Banned or Parked

    Posts: 118
    Redmond, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Wow, after catching 8 steelhead last summer, when everyone was saying fishing was slow, I thought I had it dialed in. Till I went fishing for winter fish. I did'nt go just once or twice, I went enough times that my family was planning to do an intervention on me. I was 0 for however many f**king outings, and no fish. At one point I was even considering bobber fishing. Until this thread I was resolved to the fact that " I SUCK !!!! ". I probably still do, suck, but it is good to know I am in good company. Been having fun catching a few Cutts, and am already planning my strategies for next year.
  8. Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

    Posts: 420
    Whitehorse Mt.
    Ratings: +80 / 0
    Knothead,

    You now know that catching summer fish is WAY easier than winter fish on the fly. At least for me it is.
  9. Dave Hartman is tired of trout

    Posts: 591
    Whitefish, MT
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    I dunno. I've been talking to a few ex-girlfriends recently who said this was a very poor yoga season as well. It's starting to show in their thighs. :eek:

    I gotta say, this thread has made me feel better about my poor season. I caught some fish, all of them wild and all on the swing. I even got one from the Wenatchee. But I also swung about 100 days, so my numbers per hours fished. . . man, I don't even want to say it.

    All in all, I guess I'll chalk it up to bad luck in choosing this year to move out here and focus on swinging for nates. I gotta say, I've really enjoyed the scenery, learning the water, meeting many good people, (some from the board, most not, and many gear fisherman with lots of looselips). There was lots I could've done different to catch more, I'm sure, but I had my mind set on the swing, and staying away from the crowds (popular holes). I'm certainly no expert, but I've caught enough steelies to know that this is the way I like to do it. Results be damned.

    Buehler, I agree with you, there's a lot more "speydudes" the past few years, (I see it increase every year, the Clearwater being the river I see it the most). But you gotta remember, you and I are a part of that. I've met many anglers that have been popping snap-Ts many, many years longer than me, and if they're not complaining, then why should I?
    And Coach, jeez man, please calm down in your posts; you really come off like an asshole. I'm sure you will flame me for saying that, but I only mean it for you to think about.

    BTW, Cup, that was probably me, Charles Sullivan, and urbnfly who floated by you the other day at the Sauk's Closing Day Parade. Funny thing is, after the float, we had the Sauk bar to ourselves. But then the hail and winds low holed us.

    Guys, :beer2: here's to another season of casting, hoping, and taking two steps down the river. There'll be another one here in just a few months.
    Til then, I'm gonna go watch some baseball games!
  10. Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    Posts: 1,272
    Kailua Hawaii
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Hartman, this is the internet. Please tell me you actually have the intelligence to seperate it's importance from real friendships and actual face face social interactions. Quite a few of our esteemed colleagues hide behind these screens and live their flyfishing god fantasy lives. That's fine, it doesn't take long to figure out just how socially challenged some of our members actually are. Until I meet you face to face, I have no idea who or what you are, and you should remember that. I really doubt you would call me an asshole face to face. But that's the internet, kind of "electrical courage". But I had made the mistake after reading your earlier posts that you took this shit with a grain of salt like I do every time I post. Hell I've been called everything from a racist to a thug on this site. Now Hartman, let's talk about fishing pressure. If you fish do return which would be the third time in my life after a so called "near-extinction" period, just how crowded would the rivers be? Do you have any references from which to draw conclusions? I was just focusing on the North and South Sound, which is the area I grew up fishing around. Just curious.
  11. cuponoodle breakfast gritty

    Posts: 1,650
    Arlington
    Ratings: +303 / 0
    I hear that the classes have become crowded with all the yoga newbies. They spend a bunch of money on yoga leotards and think they're pros. Many reports are that the yoga matts were smaller than previous years too.

    Did one of you have a dog on the pontoon? I thought that was pretty cool. I got to a run above the Sauk later just as two fly anglers were walking out and proceeded land two natives in the first 5 or 6 casts. My only Skagit natives of the year. Like I mentioned earlier, lots of guys swing flies in water that isn't fly water. In that case, it was heavy spoon water. :p
  12. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,284
    bellingham wa
    Ratings: +539 / 0
    That was my dog Shea (wife's a Met's fan).
    GoSox,
    cds
  13. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,645
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +539 / 0
    This year i had a very negatory attitude about my ability to put a fly in front of a steelhead, and of course i sucked a big 0. I only went out and targeted steel 4 times, and nary a tug. I practiced improving my swing... less mending ... trying to get the fly down. With absolutely no positive feedback, I still am not sure if I am getting it down. I like to feel a fish on the end of my line (that's why they call it "fishing" instead of "casting"), and I hate doing this:beathead: all the time.

    Next year I am most likely fishing roe and sandshrimp for the hatchery swags in Dec. and Jan. in my local coastal streams, especially those without hatcheries, as I really do feel that it is better to yank those genetic degenerates out of the river by the most effective means possible.
    I'm not having any success with flies, which i used to do with gear and bait. Before I started fly fishing for steel, I only got skunked maybe 1 out of 3 trips.
    Many of my local streams don't have hatcheries to intercept these fish before they hit the spawning grounds, and I don't want to let them have that chance to fork up the wild spawning.
    Really, with flies (and I hate to admit it), I'm just not doing my job.

    On rivers like the Hoh, the Queets and the Quinault, and when wild fish are showing their presence no matter where i am, I'll stick to flies.

    One more shot at it tomorrow morning on the Queets. I'm meeting another angler up there at daybreak. If I have any luck, I'll post a report. We'll be swinging 'em, mostly.
  14. Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    Posts: 2,556
    Quesnel, BC
    Ratings: +318 / 0
    Jim,

    Are you bumping bottom often? Like every few swings or every time if you backmend on the final third of the swing?

    Most of the trick to swinging success for them is knowing what type sink tip, how many seconds to let it sink before you put it under tension, and where to concentrate your time, so you are actually spending as muc of it as possible fishing. Then you let the line do it's job. Most of that is personal knowledge that is passed between folks or figured out through trial and error.

    I struggled with the switch from gear to fly. I knew there were fish in spots I couldn't fish very well and I have just gotten to the point where I just dont care anymore. I like to run an indicator on one rod now too to make those areas that much smaller, or non existent.
  15. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,645
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +539 / 0
    Thanks, Jeremy. I have only one fly rod for winter steel, an 8 wt.
    I'll change from a sinktip to a floater and indicator, and back again most times, but sometimes I tire of switching back and forth.
    Maybe I'll rig my 6 wt up with an indicator/egg pattern setup, and just put the cork to any big fish I might hook. I'll be swinging rabbit fur and marabou with the 8wt.
    Gotta go ready my gear for the trip....raining here on the beach this morning.
  16. Dorylf Oregon Member

    Posts: 109
    Salem, OR
    Ratings: +61 / 0
    Made it out about 12 times since November and was skunked 4-5 times. Three of those were the days I fished the OP in mid-March. I've never done exeptionally well there, but this trip on this year was really slow.

    I have the advantage of knowing my local waters a little better, and it seemed an average season in Oregon. In general, there seemed to be a few more large fish this year.

    And, having fished rivers around here for over 20 years, I can tell you with confidence that there are more fisherpeople on the water, at least late in the season.

    Conventional wisdom in the 80's and into the 90's was that the steelhead season was over by the end of January. That all started to change with the "Fishing & Hunting News" publication. And, now with the internet... well, we simply live in different times.

    Like some have already commented, I'd sure like to see how WA rivers would be without netting and with C&R for all wild fish on all rivers.

    This thread is a good discussion and it's interesting to hear how others have done and their thoughts at the end of a year.
  17. Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

    Posts: 2,141
    Twin Bridges, MT
    Ratings: +19 / 0
    Do you regularly mend in the middle of your swing?
  18. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Tacoma
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    I do! :)
  19. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,645
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +539 / 0
    I used to mend in the middle of my swing, but I read that doing so pulls your fly higher in the water column. The advice I read was to cast with more precision, and not too high of an angle, mend properly when the line hits the water, and refrain from any unnecessary mending so as to keep the fly deeper. (Winter steelheading).

    At first, I was apparently casting too high upstream (straight across) and mending too much. And fishing mostly barren water, as well.

    I had a hard time being where the fish were this year. My drift buddy has to go when he has time off from work, and we hit the rivers at less than optimal times, and let other boats get ahead of us.

    I almost never go to crowded places with big runs, as I hate crowds and being around too many people....I usually am drawn to secluded spots where there MIGHT be a fish. I've always been motivated to avoid crowded places. For example: When it hits the reports that the hatchery brats are stacking up in the Calawah near the Bogachiel hatchery, I won't go anywhere near Forks. I'm sure this bad attitude of mine really cuts my chances of running into any fish.