Winter Steelhead on the dries?

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

  1. tediousthumper

    tediousthumper Hello My name is Thad and Im addicted to flyfishin

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    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.
     
  2. Randall Clark

    Randall Clark Active Member

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    not me, my friend...

    although I have been mocked by my fair share of geese while fishing...plus occasional otter
     
  3. papafsh

    papafsh Piscatorial predilection

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    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.

    LB
     
  4. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

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    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.
     
  5. dryflylarry

    dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

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    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.
     
  6. Randall Clark

    Randall Clark Active Member

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    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.
     
  7. Robert Engleheart

    Robert Engleheart Robert

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    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.
     
  8. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    I saw a fish in Yakutat eat a caddis once
     
  9. wet line

    wet line New Member

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    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.

    Dave
     
  10. Big valley

    Big valley notworry'n bout it

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    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
     
  11. Robert Engleheart

    Robert Engleheart Robert

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    Big Valley,
    I totally agree with you. Just saying, it can be done in certain conditions.
     
  12. MasterAnglerTaylor

    MasterAnglerTaylor Member

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    dang Larry your gettin old....steelhead in the hood canal? Thats unheard of :)
     
  13. sothereiwas

    sothereiwas Member

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    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.
     
  14. Big valley

    Big valley notworry'n bout it

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    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
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    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!

    Curt