Water Temps for Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Big Tuna, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Big Tuna Member

    Posts: 1,958
    Wenatchee, Washington
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    What's the coldest water in which you have ever caught a steelhead. I caught one in December in 37 degree water. From what I've read, that's a bit colder than ideal. I'm wondering if other folks have had similar experiences.
  2. chadk Be the guide...

    Posts: 5,057
    Snohomish, WA.
    Ratings: +41 / 0
    I never check the temp when I fish, but I have read of guys fishing the great lakes area for steelhead when the river is frozen over. They cut holes and catch them through the ice on flies and jigs...
  3. Flip The dumb kid

    Posts: 806
    Lk Stevens WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    the nate that i rose yesterday was in 36 degree water
  4. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,800
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +655 / 0
    Big Tuna -
    During the late 1970s there was a period in Whatcom County where the air temperature never got above freezing for 30 days. The Nooksack froze from bank to bank from its mouth to Lynden. It is the one and only time I have seen anchor ice forming on the low elevation western Washington streams. The water temperature was as low as 31 degrees. Caught several steelhead in the North Fork (all on convential gear) at that temperature. Possible but not recommended.

    Tight lines
    S malma
  5. Lostinwater80 New Member

    Posts: 48
    Bellingham Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    My buddy caught one the other day, water was 30.5. Chunks of ice were floating by. Cold.

  6. BOBLAWLESS New Member

    Posts: 2,879
    Port Ludlow, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Some information for you but not sure of its accuracy.
    72> lethal for salmonids.
    52-54 considered ideal.
    <40 not good for flies.
    <35 not good for much.

    Bob, the I like my water to be in the mid-forties. :cool:
  7. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    This is my first steelhead season down here, but in Kodiak 37 degrees was like a switch. Below that, you might as well go home. Above, you had a shot at one. Like Bob said, 40's was good.

    Take care all,
  8. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,617
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,656 / 0
    When did Flip become Invisible???????. I can see him when ever he's around. :beathead:

  9. circlespey Member

    Posts: 244
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    I think it depends a lot on the fish, the trend, and the context. I have caught fish in 32.5 degree water in coastal Oregon but those steelhead are in fresh water for just a few days, so they are active and aggressive the entire time regardless of conditions. I've also caught fish on the SKy in 33 degree water when it has been cold for several days there, like they are used to it or something.

    But, I find that fish turn off when a river is dropping in temp considerably and rapidly. I was fishing the Ronde one week when the water had been consistently in the 40's; we were catching several steelhead a day.
    But, a cold snap dropped the temps eight degrees in one day (42 to 34), and three boats hooked one fish. The next day, with consistent temps - 34) my boat landed nine fishing the same holes with the same lines.

    Of course, overall I agree with Bob that water in the forties is primo in the winter. But don't give up because the water is cold; consider the trend and the fish.
  10. Rich McCauley Meiser & Mohlin

    Posts: 105
    Tacoma, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Like everything else ..it depends. I would prefer temps in the 40’s. As circlespey wisely points out, context is a large part of the equation. Which river are you on, are the fish rested? Temps constant or dropping. If they are very cold but rising there is hope. Thompson fish in particular are still aggressive in very cold water if they are well rested. My first trip to the Thompson in late December of ‘92 proved very cold indeed. My poorly made sink tip for my newly built Sage 9140 failed about 2 hours into the first day.. The loops were shredded by iced guides. I put on a floater, long leader and a slimly dressed 3/0 Partridge Bartleet. The strong winds aided my pathetic spey casts, allowing me to cover the run with boulders the size of VW’s. I hooked my first Thompson steelhead, a beautiful 12 lb hen. I finished out the trip with the floater and 2 more fish.
    This is not to say I recommend floating lines in winter, but sometimes the impossible is possible. And yes I learned to be much better prepared.