Winter Steelhead on the dries?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Randall Clark, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. I'm relatively new to this whole steelhead game. So far, all that I've actually caught have come while nymphing. Consequently, most of my fishing for steelies so far is just nymphing. Now, for trout, I'll go the extra mile to hook them on the surface, even if I'm sacrificing numbers (not there yet with steelhead). My question is, what type of water do you look for when targeting winter steelhead on the surface? I realize that this will drastically reduce the number of takes, but it's definitely something that I think would be a little more interesting (not to mention the significantly higher doses of adrenaline) than watching the bobber float by...


    I just can't think of anything better than swinging a chromer to the surface on my Fenwick 8wt. glass and USA-made Martin spring/pawl rim-control reel.
  2. try getting a few on the swing first, then go for the dries
  3. love the enthusiasm! I want Taylor Swift to come and marry me and give me an amex black card and say have fun too.
  4. wow, thanks for the help...I'd call her but I prefer brunettes...
  5. the point we're getting at is.... dry flies are more of a summer fish game when things are still warm. cold water temps will have these fish glued to the bottom
  6. Randall,

    Winter steelhead to a dry fly is in the catagory of a fluke. Don't count on it. Ever. But, hey, knock yourself out.

  7. Winter steelhead on a dry.Good luck with that one.Summer steelies, a bit more hope.If you do get one to take,you'll have reached Jedi status.
  8. Two years ago I had a 10 plus pound stealhead rise up and much my oarnge thingamabobber 4 cast's in a row. This was the middle of December, snow on the ground, and only about a rods length in front of me. The fish was ten plus pounds, and was bigger than any steelhead I have ever caught on my fly rod. The image of a shadow emerging into a rosy cheeked, open mouthed behemoth and then dissapearing again with my thingamabobber will be an image that lives in my head forever. Not only that, he did it four cast's in a row.

    I should have made a gear change, I should have tied on a large oarnge fly and just dangled above his lie, but I didnt. I was in such shock, my knees knocking so hard that I dont think I could have managed to tie a proper knot. Total Buck Fever.

    The fish look up, but I doubt I will ever recreate that experience. I would stick with the sink tip, find the water that swings well for you and once you have proven it to hold fish (catching more than one) go back and play with your Dry. It could be a long time before you ever make it work. I would fish water that is three to four feet deep, walking speed and has large rock. It's all about the rock.

    Good luck.
  9. I've seen a few steelies sip a orange and a pink thingamabobber on the Bogachiel (one this season and 4 last season). Usually they are towards the head of the run when they are holding in the shallower water.

    I've also talked with some BC guys that have swung dries like mice and caught fish in BC when the water temps are under 40 degrees on the Kispiox and the Bulkley. The Fall steelhead up there are classified as summer run fish, but it could work down here.

    If you want to get one on a dry, I would pack a orange bomber and wait until one one sips your indicator then skate or dead drift a dry over it. But, if one takes your indicator you can usually pick it up on a yarn bug a foot or two under the surface.

    Good Luck.
  10. are you tired of catching fish or something?

    It can be done, but if your new to steelheading you would be far wiser to really try to learn steelhead habits, and holding water. then after you figure all that out and catching one fish every couple of trips gets down right boring, you can bust out the dries.

    but if ya just can't wait for xmas; find a nice spot where the fish haven't been bothered much, go hit it after a really long winter hot spell so the water has a chance to warm and go enjoy the very small window of opportunity for dries. its not a matter of them thinking "its winter, flying bugs arent out this time of year and I shall pass" but finding them in the right mood (rested, warmish, and feisty).

    good luck and please post your success although no one will believe you.
  11. That's what I'm getting at, have any of you encountered such conditions in the winter where you might think about skating a dry as opposed to a wet? I've heard some people say that it's more a function of the difference between air temp and water temp (in finding a player who will rise) than it is water temp (as long as it's within their preferred temp range). In lurking over on this site, it seems to me that a helluva lot of you folks fish for steelhead, and do it well...hence the rather basic questions.
  12. a few times I have spotted fish on balmy days during a warm streak, and sometimes in shallow tail outs on sunny days right after a big cold snap; that would actually move towards chunks of floating debris and give it the angry eye. that is when I would skate a dry for winter fish.

    the one I caught that actually committed to hitting the fly was a chromer with lice attached. granted this was before the fog lifted, and the water was a little too clear, and on the OP where the ocean isn't far away. Im certain this was a fish on the move and he was well rested and full of piss and vinegar and ready to head upstream.

    for me its one of those things where when the opportunity presents itself go for it. but don't miss out on other opportunities just cause you have a hard on for dry fly action... it is winter after all.
  13. I've seen Steelhead slam into large strike indicators and ignore the fly underneath. I saw a gear fisherman have his plastic bobber ruined when a steelhead hit it and ignored his jig with a shrimp on it. I would then guess if you fished a large poly yarn fly on the surface you might on a rare occassion get a hit. But, don't count on it. I would fish smaller streams with shallower holding holes. Never tried it but it might work.


  14. believe me, I completely understand that...

    I was merely asking a simple question hoping to gain knowledge on what others have experienced (some have shared, others,...not so much).

    it's all part of how one learns...that and spending time on the water.

    Part of the reason for asking in the first place, was that a friend of mine was out earlier this week, was nymphing a run of about 3ft. deep, didn't catch anything but said that he did witness several fish breaking the surface.
  15. Those fish you saw breaking the surface were just laughing at you. That's their way of flipping you off.
  16. So true!Between them and the ducks that laugh at me while fishing.It's enough to drive a sane man crazy.Quack hahahaha Quack Quack.
  17. not me, my friend...

    although I have been mocked by my fair share of geese while occasional otter
  18. Winter steel on dry's, or, skated dry's specifically, that's not imposable but it is rightly thought a rare occurrence....however...It can happen as noted here by others. It happened for me once on the Skykomish, in January, up behind Gold Bar. There was light snow on the ground and I began working a small slot with an indicator and nymph. The indicator was a yarn type and happened to be pink. The steelhead rising to engulf that indicator was totally unexpected. I recovered my set-up, backed away from the water, and collected my thoughts as best I could. Rummaging through my fly assortment, I found a pink fox fur fly that would float, just long enough, I hoped. After making the necessary adjustments, and taking time to smoke a small l cheap cigar (don't do that anymore), I slowly moved into position, cast.......and "GULP" fish on! She was a nice, bright, hen who gave a good account of herself, average size but very memorable for me. I remember posting on here about it, that was about 4 years ago, I think. I will always be able to replay that mental video, in detail, as though it happened yesterday.
    In this case the opportunity found me, rather than the other way around, but, I've been thinking more and more lately that when conditions are aligned, air, wind, and water allow, I will be skating fly's more this year too.

  19. Winter fish on a dry LINE is certainly possible so split the difference? And on an outstanding day when everything clicks, skate something and shut these guys up with a juicy post/pic. Live the dream.:D
    Bill McMillan's Dry Line Steelhead is the classic reference.
  20. Years ago when I chased steelhead more often, I was fishing a small stream that enters the Hood Canal. A steelhead rose right close in front of me....twice. I swear it was taking a bug. It was December and a sunny warm day. I skated a fly over it's lie with no result. It was fun trying. I never forgot that. I don't think it was just rolling, I think it took a bug. Just think. You would be the cat's meow if you nailed one.

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