tidal steel

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by wadin' boot, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. SeaRun Fanatic

    SeaRun Fanatic Member

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    I've fished SE AK tidal spring steelhead for decades, and have had much success all the way down to "barnacle water" - waaay below high tide influence, a mile or more down from the top of tidewater. I've seen fish hold in many of the same pieces of water that coho do in the fall, and typically fish them with loooong leaders and smaaaall flies on a sloooow swing. Often, an observant angler will come upon them while cutthroat or dolly fishing with smolt patterns on the saltchuck. I've even seen them caught on size 10 and 12 Smolt patterns and 5 wt rods, though I never leave camp without a steelhead rod when cutthroat fishing the 'chuck anymore! On an incoming tide, the current eventually slows to the point where it is not moving at all; at that point, it is time to bust ass up to the next good water with current and hit it again. At the very top of tidewater, fish will often hang out for days, and fresh can be seen moving into the holes on each tide. My avatar is a fish from a SE AK tidewater hole taken on a 15 ft leader and a size 8 beadhead bugger swung agonizingly slowly about 15 minutes before the water started to move upstream. Tidewater is truly one of my favorite places to chase steelhead in SE; I love the hike-and-hunt mode of covering a long estuary - chasing cutthroat and dollies with my 4wt LL, watching early spring bears digging roots and swinging up sea-lice steelhead!
     
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  2. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    I have a copy of Raymond's Estuary Fly Fisher, and I'm pretty sure he talks about he and his son fishing for steelhead with some success in estuaries. I've often thought about giving it a try but never have, oddly enough, since I live a stones throw from one. Maybe this is the year.
     
  3. Klickrolf

    Klickrolf Active Member

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    Excellent input! It's all hydraulics and conservation of energy. Rivers & tides have a rolling motion, water rolls from the surface down. The sweet spot for the upstream migration is at the bottom of the roll...that's where they'll be when migrating. With tides the fastest moving water is pushed to the surface because resistance is reduced at the air/water interface and the roll is a few feet below. Incoming tide they'll be near the surface, outgoing tide they'll be at the bottom of the roll.
     
  4. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    Hey Boot! Go to Bush Point on Whidbey Island. Fish the incoming tide in the cove to the right of the restaurant (if it's still there) and in front of the first house if they don't kick you off the beach. Use an intermediate line with a #2 or 4 unweighted Mustad 3407 hook with bead eyes, yellow chennile body with a turn of yellow and a turn of orange hackle at the head (I just made this fly up after I saw a hootchie a long time ago). Don't wade past the middle of your calf. Make long quartering casts across and downtide strip very slowly back against the tide. The fish travel close to shore and quartering casts (not straight out) keep you in the zone. The best times to fish are when the rivers are in spate (high and muddy if you're not Scottish). They're still a fish of a thousand casts, but at least they eat.

    Hope this helps,

    Leland.
     
  5. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    Oh, one more thing. They're pretty hot.

    Leland.
     
  6. Daryle Holmstrom

    Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

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    I Actually caught one at Lagoon point on a hoochie and a spin and glow
     
  7. JesseC

    JesseC Active Member

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    I
    EVERYONE knows they are incredibly easy to catch in the saltwater out there from Jan-Feb. Everyone should go. You're literally wasting your time on the rivers.
     
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  8. Daryle Holmstrom

    Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

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    ;)
     
  9. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    One thing that I have observed is that quite often there are seals chasing the steelhead at the river bars, or in the lower tidal reaches of a river. One example is the Hoh river, which has a very narrow reach just above tidewater. When the steelhead are coming in at the mouth of the Hoh River they are wasting no time at all. And the seals are right there chasing them. And I have seen the plunker bait guys hammering the hell out of them too. Just upriver of some nets. I have seen this in many rivers, that the fish are very vulnerable at this point. If you get in to a a very remote area, where there may be no nets or masses of meat head fishermen, you may have some undisturbed runs of fish that could well be likely to take a fly. That any fish at all get past the gauntlet of nets, hooks, baits, lures, flies etc, is a miracle.
     
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  10. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    estuary steelhead fishing is the most exciting and heartbreaking form of steelhead fishing I have ever done. I highly recommend it.
     
  11. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    This all reminds me of what I call still-water steelhead. did it for 10 years off the columbia in cold water bays. not salt but still water or very slow moving water. all we ever used was comet flies, I would always fish small sizes like mentioned in 8 or even 10 double bead eyed brown hackle orange body brown tail and the other was a purple, pink body version tied the same way both with maribou tails. s.a. scientific anglers system 2 lines in 8 wt. and when water would be pulling from the columbia (moving water) you would have to use a system 3 for better control of line and fly. long leaders. just like they used to do for chinook off the rouge in the bay, they used to use mostly comet flies out there too. if suspended intermediate clear lines just like lake trout fishing. we fished over stacked fish moving in the columbia that would pull into the coldwater bays that rivers would dump into. working comets slowly with 3 inch strips keeping the flies at the level of the suspended fish. 20 fish days is not uncommon. I would think it would work the same in tide water or salt. good thread!
     
  12. orangeradish

    orangeradish 1/2 an Ira

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    Jesus, Leland. If you aren't going to post anything helpful, don't post anything at all...
     
  13. miyawaki

    miyawaki Active Member

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    It's an untapped fly fishery and needs someone to spend the time to crack it, design some flies and quantify the places and methods.

    Leland.
     
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  14. orangeradish

    orangeradish 1/2 an Ira

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    Well, if there are any untapped fisheries that need cracking down my way, I hope you'll keep me in mind. Quantifying is a hobby of mine.
     
  15. SeaRun Fanatic

    SeaRun Fanatic Member

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    Steelhead on stripped flies in stillwater... Hmmmm..... Despite some naysayers, this is VERY doable.... Especially in freshwater estuary-like conditions... Just sayin'....