Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Ron Simpson, Oct 21, 2013.
Best way I've found to catch whitefish...go steelheading
Now that I live in Northern CA, I seriously miss whitefish. I was always more than happy to catch them on the Yak, Deschutes, or Crooked Rivers.
Whitefish have saved many a slow day for me. They tend to hold in medium flow/slower water about 4-6 feet down.
I agree . . . . beadhead anything should get you into them. Size #14 of just about everything has always worked for me.
Dark gold beaded hare's ear has what has worked best for me, another great choice is a red copper john.
Also have caught many many many whitefish on hopper/dropper with a beadhead down about 18 inches. Lots of fun.
I'll make another plug for smoked whitefish. Really delicious. And many WA streams have special whitefish seasons during the winter, which means I can fish some of my favorite smaller rivers and streams legally, as long as I'm following the whitefish gear rules (basically, hook size 14 or smaller). Smoked whitefish is a really nice thing in the middle of winter.
I landed one rather large Whitefish in a local stream last Sunday on a #14 Prince trailing 24" below a #8 EHC. My partner regards them as a trash fish but I was excited about it for a couple of important reasons. Though just slightly larger it fought much more vigorously and longer than several similar sized Cutts and Cut-Bows I landed; all on my TFO Finesse 3 weight . Also their presence serves as an indicator of a river's overall health since they require high water quality, tend to feed off the bottom, and are used as a food source themselves by other fish and animals. I have tried to enlighten my buddy and hope him stepping up to net it for me when it kept running from my net will help him see they are a valuable resource, are fun to catch, and deserve respect.
I was fishing the Beaverhead about a week ago. It was toward dusk and the fish were tailing and rising. They wouldn't hit my flies for nothing. I talked to guy that was there the next day and he told me they were Whitefish. These were feeding off the surface.
I decided that I didn't want to put up with them so I didn't fish the next day. That kind of puts off that they are bottom feeders.
I've pulled them off of drys before and mid feeding column... Rare but its happened.
You're right OMJ. Most think of them as "bottom feeders", but they come up to the surface more than folks think. In fact, I'd bet that most people (even guides) have been 'fooled' by what's surfacing, especially on rivers that have a high population of them.
I've been with friends (who were guides for years) on two different rivers in MT, and we fished for them thinking they were trout. Usually, in bigger rivers like the Clark Fork, they are easier to identify because they kind of "pod up". If you spend enough time on the water watching them, there's kind of a little "flip" of water after they surface, and not that big of a swirl, or as many bubbles as if it were a trout taking something off the surface. It's hard to explain really. The choppier the water is of course, the harder it is to notice.
We'd catch them on the Blackfoot all day, every day on the surface if we wanted to, but they seemed harder to hook that way, than just bouncing a nymph.
Catching them in the fall (at least on the Blackfoot) was just as much fun as catching trout. I think it's because they were in spawn, and perhaps a bit more frisky.
Must have caught a thousand of them camping on the Clearwater near Queets growing up. This thread makes me want to go find some and smoke em up. Never did try eating one
You have unleashed the "West's best kept Secret". Most of my steelheading adventures have ended up being whitefish days. Usually the morning begins fishing three pools that have given up a steelhead once in a great while. Off comes the 3 or 4X tippet and on goes the 5X and very small dry flies. Size 20 griffith gnat has its days when a midge hatch is on. No hatch equals an egg pattern which white fish can seem to resist. Keep the egg patterns small, as in size 14 weighted with a bead covered with bleached out egg colored yarn.
Eagle Lake in California. You'll occasionally catch them while fishing for the rainbows, they're just big Tui Chubs.
I've caught a lot of the things on small dry flies as well. Usually only get one hook up every 10 takes or so with such a small mouth.
I enjoy catching whitefish.