Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by cj6530, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. This is my first season of steelhead fishing, and I have yet to even get a bite. I have been fishing the snoqualmie and the skykomish. My question is in regards to fishing a run. From advice from this board i have been actively fishing down runs taking a step every couple of casts. Is this correct.....the reason I ask is i have yet to see anyone else on the river doing this. All other "experienced" looking flyfishers (some with guides standing over them), just stand in one place casting over and over again never really moving. While inturn, I am all over the place walking up and down and everywhere covering water. Whats the correct way to fish these rivers?
  2. cast mend swing step. repeat.
  3. Don't feel too bad about not getting any bites.
    I fished the Wenatchee for about 6 hrs on Saturday.
    I was swinging for steel and Sharon was fishing for whites.
    No bites, no fish seen, saw and talked to two other fishers (man and wife with the kids) no luck for them either.
    Fished (Turkey shoot and the County park).
    Beautiful day, low clear water.
    Great to be out enjoying life.
  4. CJ6530,

    Don't sweat it. You're in good company. Well, at least company. Steelhead have been as scarce for me this past year as sex in Sunday school. If that's any consolation. I've been fly fishing for steelhead about 35 years, and I've never had such poor results except when I first started out. With no internet, no fly fishing guide services, and no books that were very good, I fished in all the wrong places, at all the wrong times, using all the wrong techniques and got results comparable to the last 12 months wherein I know when fish run in rivers, which rivers, which areas in those rivers, which f#@*&ing rock in those rivers, and how to feed a fly to any fish in the vicinity of those rocks, and still no steelhead love. End of rant.

    I've shared this steelheading philosophy before, so this is old news to many. I never, repeat NEVER, make two consecutive casts from the same spot while fishing for steelhead except under the following conditions: I'm just starting to fish a pool, and at the head of the run I pick what I think is the best stand and make mulitple casts, each progressively longer than the previous, covering new water each time until I have out my "working" length of line I will use to fish that pool. Another condition is that I've snaggend up and break off my fly. I tie on another and repeat the cast and attempt to miss whatever I hung up on the previous cast. Another reason is if I totally botch a cast and want to repeat it. The fourth reason I'll make a second cast while standing in the same spot is that I know I'm on a fish, either by seeing it, or usually by having had a strike, or my 6th sense of steelhead presence tells me to. When you consider that some 99% of all the water we cover while fishing for steelhead is empty of steelhead, why would you make another cast into water that is probably empty as determined by your last cast?

    I'm not an expert steelhead guide, but I did guide a little bit once a long time ago. I explained to my clients what I wrote in the above paragraph. I then instructed them to "move yer ass" or "move it faster." Steelheading is about covering as much potential holding water per day as is humanly possible. Unless I know for a fact that a particular spot is positively loaded with steelhead, I consider it a waste of precious fishing time to fish water that I just fished one cast ago. Also, I very seldom take one step between casts. My minimum is two steps, and that is if the water is fairly dirty. When the water is clear, and I'm fishing a long pool like Sauk Bar on the Skagit, I make 5 to 10 steps per cast and don't feel like I'm missing many fish.

    Lastly, the correct way to fish these rivers is the way that you make your own, provided it yields the satisfaction you're seeking.


    Salmo g.
  5. CJ6530,

    As Salmo already mentioned, this has not been a good year for steelhead hooking. Great year to be out on the river fishing, but not a good year for hooking fish. I suspect most of those who saw with guides standing in the same spot and continuously casting were simply getting spey casting lessons from the guides. You'd be surprised at the number of fly fishers of all ages who either don't know how to spey cast, or who have very poor spey casting technique; therefore, a lot of the time the guide has to be teaching them how to cast instead of fishing.

    Don't feel bad about not hooking any steelhead. It is your first your chasing them, you have a lot to learn about holding water, presentation, and line control, and the hooking for very knowledgeable and experienced steelhead fly fishers has been rather low this year.

    Like Salmo, I always take a few steps between casts as I work my way through a run and only make more than one cast in the same spot for the same reasons he gave.
  6. i havent touched a fish in the 2 years i have been fishing for steelhead.

    ive fished a the same runs a hundred times, and run right back through them with gear and hit fish.

    its really annoying.
  7. That is VERY interesting.
  8. Bankwalker,

    I accept that fly fishing is less effective than gear fishing for winter steelhead, but that report suggests to me that those runs either aren't very good fly water, or you ought to modify your technique some.

  9. Great points by all above. Just stick with it! Id say most important is try and work at making a good presentation of your fly to the fish. Dont worry about what fly, put something on you are confident in. Just concentrate on making the best type of presentation of your fly to the fish. Study the water choose your prefered line setup and plan of presentation and concentrate on making a good presentation, cast after cast after cast.... step after step after step...... And also stick with it, dont get frustrated and give up. It only takes ONE cast to hook a fish. My first fish this winter came about a half hour before dark. I was pretty tired and was thinking of calling it a day but decided hey only an hour or so of light Im gonna grit it out. Started at the top of the run working out my short casts and on about the fifth cast WHAMMO! So there was that one cast, never would of happened if I called it a day. It does take a while for most to hook there first steelhead on a fly, almost two years for me! But after your first hook up the next ones will come easier and more often. Or at least the memories of the previous hook ups make it seem that way. Stick with it and dont give up. Hope you make that ONE CAST soon. Kevin

  10. yea more then a good caster and thats about it.
  11. Don't feel bad. It took me 4 +years to hook a winter fish. 2 years ago I fished about 100 hours without a tug. Flies don't make a difference, lines and water do. Fish hard these last 2 weeks down there.

    Go Red Sox,
  12. Many good points brought up here... Covering lots of water is key... I covered about 6-7 miles walking on the upper clearwater river this weekend and didnt touch a fish or even see a fish water was very clear..I dont think the bright sun helped out, i probably spooked them before i could even cast to them...Lots of good water on that river but no fish. Also covered quite a bit on the queets before it got dark on me... This year has been really bad, i usually average 5-10 steelhead a year and have only managed one so far this year and i have put in lots more effort than other years as well... (Finally got the jinx off on saturday with a spawned out hatchery kelt that did put up a hell of a fight)...

    Don't get discouraged.... just keep at it and you'll get rewarded. I think this year the steelhead has been the fish of 10,000 least for me.

    SG... you are definitely right on with the comment about getting fish with gear out of certain runs and not with the fly.. definitely has to do with the type of water or casting or presentation of the fisherman. I am not a professional by any means but some water is definitely easier to cover more effectively with gear...

    But you got to love the occasion when the gear guys arent getting squat and you are slayin them!
  13. A hard fighting, spawned out hen? Hmmmm?

    Well, that's what the Clearwater will give you in Late Febraury. :confused:
  14. Keep your chin up!!:thumb: I grew up fishing the Trinity and Klamath and now I fish the Ronde, Snake and Clearwater. Summer or Winter it does not matter... It is the sport of a thousand casts. If you are swinging a fly, once you get that first tug, you will never go back to any other way. I have caught hundreds of Steelhead from California to Eastern Wa. It never changes, "the tug is the drug". Keep throwing, it will happen, once it does you will be hooked for like.

    Tight Lines,

  15. I see you are in idaho...not talkin about THAT clearwater... and the one on the OP should have a fish or two scattered somewhere... =

    As for the spawned out fish, it was amazing that it put up the fight that it did. It still made 3-4 good aerial jumps and just as many hard runs. I've had a couple 12-13lb chrome natives not fight that hard.
  16. Definitely don't be discouraged. This has been a slow year relative to years past.

    As far as people who sit on a run, it is a pet peeve of mine as I personally see it as poor etiquette (hogging the run) and poor ethics (effectively flossing if someone's hammering a spot that has fish but they aren't takers). And by not covering as much water as possible, those who hog a run are likely also lowering their catch rate.
  17. Ahhhh. Sorry. :)
  18. I feel your pain cj6530.
    This is my first year seriously fishing for winter steelhead and I've spent 10 fishing days in total without a strike. I'm not about to quit but I have a question for the more experienced steelheaders on the board. Yesterday I was fishing a deep shaded hole underneath a steep bank with a gravel bar on the far side. From the bank I could actually see fish hanging on the bottom of the hole. Three of them at one particular time. I had a perfect casting spot from the gravel bar and I swung 8 different flies in front of them on a flourocarbon leader attached to a sink tip over the course of the day. Not a bite.
    I was casting at 45 degrees to the bank and allowing the fly to drift over the hole then retrieving when it got straight downstream of me.
    Are there some aspects of presentation that I'm overlooking here?
    Any tips would be welcome!
  19. were the flies down in the strike zone? alot of times i have fish move latterly more easily than if they will come up for a fly especially if they are holding in a deeper cut bank area or near trees or root wads.

    Drift any egg patterns in front of their nose?
  20. and if you can see them... they can most likely see you... which greatly lowers your chances. In that situation i usually leave the hole for a while and fish some other runs, then sneak up for another couple shots if the fish are still there.

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