Winter steelie on surface fly?


New Member
I was on Green today and saw couple of steelies rising.
I quickly switched to floating line and worked thru the hole with no success. If they come to the surface does it mean they can take surface fly as in the summer?


I caught a couple on the surface in November on the White River a couple of years ago on black wooley buggers, but it was a lot warmer than it is right now. Did you fish the hole agian with a sinking line? From what I've heard they usually don't take flies on the surface when the water temp is so low, but if they are rolling then maybe they are getting active again.


Active Member
If you are interested in the chances and some dry line techniques, a good book is Dry Line Steelhead by Bill McMillan. He has fished many, many hours and logged temperatures at which he rose, hooked and landed steelhead on southwest Washington (mostly the Washougal) streams. My interpretation is that if the temperature is between 48F and 58F I would consider fishing in (not necessarily ON the surface) the surface as a realistic, worthwhile method. Below 41F, the chances were very slim. Of course, Bill is an extremely accomplished angler and stressed the need to fish water that had not been fished that day. Try doing that on the Green or Sky. You'll be looking for water all day. I would guess the Green would be lower forties at the warmest. If you have fun trying, then that's what it's all about. Sometimes fish behave differently for reasons we'll never know. I've had steelhead literally spray me with their roll in 37F water on the Sky, especially the natives, but you won't see me skating a damp fly unless it's above 48F.

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