Winter Steelhead on the dries?

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

  1. yeah, I just about picked that up the other day, but went with The Complete Steelheader by John Larison...lots of good info in there.
  2. Steelhead on drys are taken every year on the Trinity in Northern CA. It's not common, but does happen. It's a tailwater in the upper reach and water is usually above 45 and I'm talking a balmy 50 plus, maybe even 60 degree day. Prolific hatches all season, winter included. A friend took 3 in one afternoon on a dead drifted (downstream) #14 adams, no BS. He's the GOD! He swears they were sipping like resident trout and went after them thinking that's what they were. We take a lot swinging small bunnies & buggers on dry lines in the winter, but I've not been so lucky as to coax up a "classic dry". When conditions are right, as someone mentioned above; a balmy day after nasty weather, as they can be here, I believe it could be done.
  3. I saw a fish in Yakutat eat a caddis once
  4. Rober,

    Ylour point is well taken but you are talking 500 miles south and a much warmer river condition. Here we are generally looking at water temps hovering around 40 degrees when it is warm and close to freezing at other times. Fish don't like to move much in these condfitions. Yes there are exceptions but they are the exceptions. The other thing to consider are river flows. In the winter the flows are generally up and fish do not like to move very far from holding areas that give them relief from heavy water.

    I have no doubt that a winter fish can be caught on a skater under very unusual winter conditions. But even in the summer when flows are down and the temps are up it is not all that common to catch a fish on a surface fly. Yes, it does happen but it certainly is not all that common.

  5. And don,t forget solar & lunar periods, or more so when solar & lunar periods overlap, it does make a difference. On the other hand I have recently taken up bobcat hunting, but not considering using a wrist rocket but it could be done!?
    Here I thought my buddy Josh had the most positive attitude on the river but winter fish on the skated dry dude you rock!
    keep at it but stay heavy on the leader,at least 15lb maxima or yo zuri & just maybe you'll rope a hog.Dave
  6. Big Valley,
    I totally agree with you. Just saying, it can be done in certain conditions.
  7. dang Larry your gettin old....steelhead in the hood canal? Thats unheard of :)
  8. I skated flies today. I dont think taking a winter on a skater is that out of the question. IMHO if you want a decent shot at it you would need to fish smaller water, steelhead seem to be more aggressive in confined lies. I would also focus time on water that has a decent amount of native fish. This will be my first year giving it a go and I have confidence I can pull it off.
  9. I totally agree, Think about the fish you've got over the years. When you sick a fish in a small seam it goes ape shit, stick a fish in a large & long run it might go nuts it might not even come out of the water of course it depends on each fish & their personality or fishonality if you will. And totally water with native fish, the only reason a hatchery fish would even be looking up would be because it thought feed pellets where falling from the sky. Hatchery fish R turds but they sure taste good. Dave
  10. Randall -
    While steelhead will roll at strike indicators or the gear guy's floats I have to agree with Salmo g. that getting a winter fish to take a dry fly would large be a fluke. Heck I recall a fish that took a banana peel that my partner had tossed in the stream while we were eating luch; however I would not dream of attempting to take a fish on a banana peel or a "banana peel fly".

    However that said if that idea of taking on a dry intrigues you go for it! A spawning male probably would be the easiest but my fishing ethics would not allow me to play that game and frankly taking such a fish even on a dry would not count for much in my book. To help stack the odds in your favor on non-spawners I would look for the following conditons. I would focus my efforts in the late winter/spring looking for water temperatures creeping towards the mid-40s, look for traveling fish, looking for unpressured wild fish (more aggressive) and I would skate a large bug (say 2 1/2 to 3 inches). The final piece of the puzzle would be to try to be on the water as it just starts to clear - looking for 18 to 24 inches of visibility. My thinking on fishing the "dirty" water is that the fish are more apt to travel most of the day, they tend to be more agressive and finally in the right situation they can be found in as little as a foot or18 inches of water. Which of course means that the fish does not have to move far to take the fily(which by the way shoud be black).

    How is that for pulling things out of left field. Anyway good luck!

  11. If you want to swing a dry and that's what makes you happy. Do it. At least you'll have the complete confidence that the guy ahead of you isn't giving the fish the same presentation.

    A couple years ago I took a trip with my brother on the Nestucca. He caught his line in the tree above my head. I pulled his line out and his indicator splashed just 5 feet from me. Within a second a big bright steelhead came up and destroyed his indicator. Earlier that day another steelie gave him a good scare as it crushed his indicator at the end of his drift.

    When it feels right, give it a try and then post the picture so everyone can submit.

    Good luck.
  12. I'm no expert, but it's my understanding that a little knowledge and a lot of confidence can do magical things... Just sayin'.
  13. From all fish tales of strikes on indicators, I think I'll put some indicators on a hook and see what happens... :)

  14. thanks for the input, I have a couple of smaller coastal streams that are relatively hard to get to in mind (actually, a couple of specific spots in mind). The majority of the run these streams is wild my thinking is, that if the conditions feel right, to swing a dry through, if that doesn't work then swing a wet through.
  15. Totally agree, Brad. In an article I read by Bill McMillan's son John, he mentions hooking several fish per year up on the Oly Pen (more wild fish up there) on skaters once the water get 46+ degrees. Around here that may be late February and thru March but according to John, it can be done. At the very least I think you could fish confidently in those conditions with a dry line and wet fly especially in some of the shallower tailouts. And once I can put the tips away it's a good feeling!

  16. I dont even think the water needs to be 46 deg. Late last November I rolled a fish in 42 deg water. A decade ago on a Skamania river we used to take summers on skaters, when the water was 38-40 deg with snow on the ground, on a regular basis. There are a ton of people that dont have the confidence to fish skated flies at all. I've heard many times from guys that do fish them that they work best in the fall. Or that Skamania hatchery fish dont look up. How many people have the confidence to even bother. Its no fluke you just set the bar to low.
  17. Curt,
    You have explained the concept vividly, my thoughts almost exactly, I would say.
    As far as I'm concerned, the hounds have been loosed! A goal is defined, how long will it take?
    Hummmmm we shall see.


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