Steelheading Success Rate

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Steffan Brown, Jan 12, 2012.

?

How often do you hook up with a fish during steelhead pursuits?

  1. At least 9 out of 10 times out...

    6 vote(s)
    4.9%
  2. 60%>89%

    21 vote(s)
    17.1%
  3. 20%>59%

    31 vote(s)
    25.2%
  4. Less than 20% of the time...

    44 vote(s)
    35.8%
  5. I'm still looking for my first...

    21 vote(s)
    17.1%
  1. flyfishmt

    flyfishmt Active Member

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    I have been fishing for steelhead for over 30 years most of which was on the Salmon River in Idaho. For the past 18 years, I have added the Stamp and Somass Rivers near Port Alberni, BC on my list. I must admit that I started my steelhead career as a bottom bouncer, but have been fly only for the past 15 years. The Salmon River in Idaho is Disneyland when it comes to catching steelhead. I don't believe there is an easier river to catch one if you pay attention to the run and river conditions. Granted, I have fished it hundreds of times and know all of the good holes to it. It is also very accessible and you can cover a lot of water in a day's time. I would have to say my catch rate on the Salmon is in the high 70 percent range.

    The BC rivers are much different and my catch rate is probably down in the low 30% range. I fished it four days this December and one day one, I hooked and lost one, day three, hooked four, landed three, day three, nothing, day four, hooked two landed one. These were all on flies swung and dead drifted. I would not even want to wager what my casts to hookup ratio must have been. All I know, is that it would be waaaay up there.

    As far as the subject matter of beads go, I am not a big fan of them and do not consider their use to be fly fishing. I do not think they should be allowed on "fly fishing" only waters. Having said that, my favorite flies for steelhead have flame coneheads or nickel dumbells on them. I also use glo-bugs and egg sucking leeches. I have caught as many steelhead with yarn flies, as I have anything. I guess a bead fisherman could label me a hypocrite and I realize that this can be a very heated topic of discussion. I too, do not mean to stir the pot and am only stating my point of view.
     
  2. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator

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    Beads are illegal in fly only waters in WA.
     
  3. Jim Kaiserman

    Jim Kaiserman New Member

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    Great thread! I thought I'd better jump in on it which I'm usually reticent to do.

    After a year or two of swinging flies I decided that I needed to go all in or get out. At best, swinging is a tough game and growing up fishing northern Utah, western Wyoming and eastern Idaho I was used to great fly fishing. I worked hard at it and caught a lot of trout and so I started swinging for steelhead thinking I'm going to kick ass, take names and put a lot of steel on the bank.....well, all of you know how that turned out!

    The variables involved with having success swinging flies is tremendous. A lot of you are close enough to rivers containing runs that you can go any day of the week. I live 3 hours from the nearest swinging water and it makes it a lot more difficult to put in the time. When I go, I try to make it a two day deal and bust my tail to fish dawn till dark and maximize my time on the water. Given, I can't just run over for an hour or two I started tracking all the data from when I went so that I could try to figure out what the conditions were when I was successful. I love swinging flies but I also get in a couple of multi day trips a year with customers or friends where we bounce some bait or yarn and so I've also tracked all those days fishing. After a couple of years of collecting the data I definitely found that there were patterns to the river flows, water temp's, etc. that I felt indicated when to get the lead out and haul my ass up there.

    I've heard a lot on here over the years about bad mouthing guys that keep a diary but I've got limited time and resources and so when I decide to spend the money or time I want to be as successful as I can be. If all I wanted was casting practice I can go half a mile away and cast till my arm falls off but there aren't any steelhead there and I absolutely have a goal to put fish on the bank...every time I go.

    The survey is interesting but as previously stated there's so many variables. Before collecting my data I went on a lot of trips when if I'd have looked at the right reports-both weather and water I'd have stayed home and tied more flies. I've stayed home and found out that guys kicked some serious tail and wondered where my notes mislead me. I used to believe that the best time to go was whenever I could. I've certainly backed off that and try to put the odds in my favor by going when the conditions are are at least neutral but hopefully favorable. It's helped my success rates tremendously. I suppose it's like most things, you can expend the effort to become knowledgeable or you can just be another wannabe.

    Per the note taking, it's helped a lot but you have to be careful. Last winter I was up north and it had rained all night, the cfs was running up and I stayed late in the morning drinking coffee and bullshitting with my buddy. From all my experiences and notes, the conditions pointed to getting my ass handed to me and it was cold, wet and windy out there and I wasted most the morning. I finally got out about 11, stopped by a nice run on the way home and hooked and landed 3 steelhead in the next hour. I was so pissed that I'd screwed around instead of just going fishing. How many could I have caught before 11? I might have set my all time PR!

    At best swinging flies is hard as hell-learn when conditions are in your favor (fish, flows, temp), learn what those are for your river, become adept at the art of delivering the offering and then put in the time. If you do, your success will go up. Those that answered the poll with great success may not write in a diary, but I believe they understand all of the above and practice it.

    What's my success rate? That's hard to state. If I go by myself it's a lot higher than when I take some friends. You laugh at that but here's the deal. I know a lot of runs and know where the fish typically hold. A run might have two great holding spots and if I go through I might hit two fish. If I take my college kid I want him to get into the fish so I follow him through. At the end of the day he's always giving me shit about who caught the most. Sloppy seconds will never collect as many as the first guy through-given he's got decent capabilities. Two weeks ago i fished a run and touched 4 fish, caught two. The next week I went through that run with 3 other guys. As a group we touched 5 fish. I think there's only so many players within a run at a given time and if 1 guy goes through he's got opportunity with all of the players. Fish it with more and you can divide it up-more often than not.

    All I know is that the more I work at it and the more I learn that I will have success more than I used to. Personally, I'd like 5 fish a day, reality is that a great day is any day spent on the river, awesome days are any day that includes steel.

    Just my opinion.
     
  4. flyfishmt

    flyfishmt Active Member

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    That is great! I wish more states would adopt that rule.
     
  5. hydrological

    hydrological beads are NOT flies and snagging is just ghetto

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    montana. illegal in all waters for gamefish. it's defined as snagging if the fish does not voluntarily take the hook (and that includes a fly below a pegged bead) into it's mouth. except for non gamefish, and seasonally paddlefish, it's not allowed. unfortunately one has to read the regs VERY carefully, and it's rarely enforced. and the worst of it is the douchebags snagging spawning fish intentionally. thats why you see them using that giant red hook.
     
  6. Sir Castalota

    Sir Castalota New Member

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    I think there is no defined answer. Success is at times as simple as dropping the fly in the water, and other times near impossible for reasons never known for sure.
    The beauty of this sport is that each time a guy unwraps a mystery about getting these fish to take a swung fly, he unearths three more. It's the nature of the beast, unless you have a balloon on your fly pole, the mystery will always remain. That's the stuff that keeps me going-
     
  7. gearhead

    gearhead Active Member

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    oh c'mon........................
     
  8. Steffan Brown

    Steffan Brown ...

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    Where?
     
  9. gearhead

    gearhead Active Member

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    best i could come up with without being censored....:clown:
     
  10. FT

    FT Active Member

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    I haven't voted in the poll for the very simple reason that if a person is concerned about the number of steelhead he (or she) catches in a day on the river, he isn't really enjoying himself. Steelhead fishing isn't like trout fishing, despite all the fools who claim steelhead fishing is just like fishing or large rainbow trout. Steelhead move up the river, rainbow trout stay put. Steelhead are in the river for spawning, rainbow trout live there all year for as many years as they are alive. This means that just because you found steelhead in a particular run or hole one day, it doesn't mean they are going to be there the next day, or even that afternoon or evening, unlike a rainbow trout that will be found in the same run or hole day after day, week after week, year after year. Steelhead don't feed in the traditional sense of taking in food for nourishment, in fact their stomachs are atrophied so they don't digest it. Rainbow trout actively eat (take in food) for nourishment and as such take up feeding stations during insect hatches and ambush stations for bigger meals like baitfish (or trout fingerlings).

    All of this adds up to me that if I need to catch fish most every time I go out, I ought to be fishing for trout, and not steelhead. And before someone asks, I spent a lot of time fishing Pennsylvania's rivers including the famous spring creeks as I was growing up and before I left that state at age 25, which was 34 years ago. I also fished New York's East Branch Delaware, and then spent 12 wonderful years living and fishing in trout heaven, otherwise known as Montana where the trout fishing was so good that unless someone has spent a good amount of time fishing there, the number of trout a person could catch in an hour sounds unbelieveable and like a made-up fairy tale. Yet, I hardly ever fish for trout anymore because I prefer the challenge and unpridictability of steelhead. Heck, I haven't even fish for trout in 5 years because I don't care about numbers of fish caught.
     
  11. Codioos

    Codioos Active Member

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    I've only been steelheading on the East side for three years and only been skunked once; and that was last week. Probably dumb luck that I hanvnt been skunked more. Now that I am trying swinging my success rate will deffinately drop, but at least I look cool!
     
  12. gearhead

    gearhead Active Member

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    i hear this all the time here..the old, if your concerned with the number of fish you hook in a day, then your not enjoying your self. i know how not to enjoy myself, its hooking no fish in a day. i know, i know, but it would be hard to judge the disappointment on my face masked by my grin getting into some fish.
     
  13. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    With success rates as high as I've read the fish must be damn near jumping in your boats!!

    With steelheading in my world, there are two games...winter & summer.....there are rivers with fish in them, some without and some when they show up is anyones guess...I haven't found one yet where they stick to any human clock...they were there last week and show up again after you've left...When you decide to head to a new area the old one gets a late run...and of course when you show up at the new one, you should have been there last week..

    Rivers are high, low, to hot, to cold...lots of variables...but for all of them..If the fish aren't in, your not going to catch them...When they are, Your method, your time on water, your skill at reading water and the more time on water will help....your fishing skill while over looked by some has been shown to me to be the difference between a fish here and there and fish caught pretty consistantly..

    last but not least..are you fishing for wild fish or rivers choked with hatchery fish? Standing in a line up hucking beads or bait over a timetable hatchery brat...Killing all you can or getting kicked off the river is IMHO not a whole lot different then saying your an expert at trout fishing because you slay um on the keep and kill stocked trout ponds....

    Guys who's numbers I am interested in are the ones you can plop down on any river with wild fish and they will find the water, swing the fly properly and hook up consistantly, while other so called experts come back and bitch that those rivers are horrible....

    I used to think those guys didn't post on the internet much anymore..but after reading this thread I'm amazed at how many world class, best in class fisherman we got on here!!! I am humbled!!!
     
  14. gearhead

    gearhead Active Member

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    i think the secret to catching more steelhead is three things the advantage of chasing them with gear for many years before switching to fly, fishing only where there is fish, and three, and most importantly, actually trying to catch them.
     
  15. JS

    JS Active Member

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    Word. It is really incredible how many people just rail on fish all year round. I guess if you wait until November to fish for summers, your success rate will skyrocket. When you swing for early chrome fish, you often come up blank. That goes for even the most accomplished angler.