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Old School Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Armed with a brand new 8 weight, a type V sink tip line, and a confident optimistic attitude. I headed up to try my luck on the Pilchuck sunday. Hit the river at 12:30 and fished downsteam (about a mile) until 4:00pm...A beatiful little river.
A large blue heron flew gently over me at about 3:00pm.

I saw no steelhead, several stanky zombie chums, 3 gear chuckers and one other fly fisherman. Lots of bait (eggs and shrimp) were littered about the parking area and on the shore.

I have caught many trout on a fly, but I have yet to catch, hook, or even see a steelhead... so any tips or pointers would be greatly appreciated. I directed my casts 45 degrees down and across the stream. I cast behind every boulder, rock or log in the river. The sink tip was getting down fairly well even in the deeper 6-8 foot holes. I especially focused on the tails of each run or pool thinking that the steelhead would prefer to rest there. I hooked the bottom twice, so I must have been near the bottom on occaision. I let the fly swing in the current and hang below me for maybe 10-15 seconds before retrieving line to make another cast. I mended my line upstream immediatley after each cast to help the sink tip do its job and prevent the belly of the line from pulling the fly out of the proper zone. I fished several flies, mostly black and purple rabbit strip patterns with a little flash.

:beathead

1) Am I wasting my time on the Pilchuck?
2) Should I start looking for good spots to fish on the Sno or Sky?
3) Is there some flaw in my technique?
4) I figure I made between 350 and 500 casts... Shall I continue until I reach 1000 casts and ask these questions again?

I humbly seek wisdom from the Steelhead Oracle

-Brad
Calmness is power...
 

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It sounds like you have done what I have done since August. Practice fishing and get to know the rivers. But now the winter run is starting. I'm hearing reports from a few friends and on this site, that the chrome brats have started up river. Mtlhead just sent me a photo of him holding a chrome snake. No report, no "ha ha ha". Just a little thing in the subject line, Will try sending this again. I knew I should have gone fishing with him Sunday.

Anyway, I plan on doing the same type of fishing that your doing. After each cast I take another step or two downstream. This way I methodically work a stretch and move to the next. I believe that my technique will get me a hook up. And more than one over the next month or so. If not, at least I'll be on the river twice a week until the run is over.

Matt

"Everyday that you wake up and decide not to go fishing...is one less day you'll go fishing." Forrest Maxwell
 

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Just an Old Man
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I have caught one steelhead,but it was with bait,and have seen two others caught out of there but that was two years ago. The Pilchuck gets only a small run at least that is what I heard. But it has a few big Natives in it. The best time to hit it is after a good rain and when it is starting to drop. There have been reports of fish to 25lbs caught out of there. But it was with bait.

It might be a good place to practice on but I would prefer to fish a better known river as the N/F Stilly,Sauk,Skagit,Sky ,or Snoqualmie. Or as some one else has said the 5 S's

Jim


The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.
 

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Formerly Tight Loops
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1,341 Posts
Well, depending on the river, and I haven't fished the Pilchuck, one should not case 45 degrees down. I usually cast straight across to 10 degrees upstream, depending on the current, my line and how the bottom bumping is going.

The fish are less likely to come off the bottom in the winter, so you want to make sure your fly is there.

Now, the runs appear late, so don't be too concerned about not catching anything. A strike out is normal for winter steelies.

Rob
 

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I would agree with Rob about casting straight across instead of 45. Not that with a mend in the line, it gives the sink tip more time to drop, it's just that 90 degrees to bank just seems to be where my line lands, most of the time.

Matt

"Everyday that you wake up and decide not to go fishing...is one less day you'll go fishing." Forrest Maxwell
 

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Bent rods and tight lines!
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109 Posts
I have fished the Pilchuck and it is a better river in January. Best for the bait gys but I still flyfish it. Keep moving. It is a small river so you should be able to read the holding water and move on. Don't waste time covering water that will not hold fish.
If you want a good lesson in fishing for steelhead check out a school with Dennis ####son. http://www.flyfishsteelhead.com/ Worth the time and money.
Good Luck:+
 

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Old School Member
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Pilchuck Report...More questions!

What is the optimum fly size for winter steelhead...I'm throwing #6, #4 in purple, red or pink....Is that cool?

Also does a typical steelhead prefer to hold near the bank, behind structure, at the bottom of a deep hole, or at the tail of the run?

:dunno
 

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Formerly Tight Loops
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Pilchuck Report...More questions!

For winter steelhead, I throw flies from #4 to 3/0. I would say that normal sizes are #2 to 1/0. I would also add, black, orange, yellow, and green to your list.

And steelhead hold in all those areas, except the bottom of a deep pool, unless frightened. They like to be adjacent to big flows of water. So you need to add heads of pools.

It sounds like you need to read a good book on steelheading. I recommend "Steelhead Fly Fishing" by Trey Combs.

Rob
 

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Old School Member
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Pilchuck Report...Thanks!

Tightloops:

I've read that book and many more...(My dear old Dad has just about every steelhead book of any value that was ever published)...I guess my problem is that my book learnin' doesn't translate into steelhead hooked. Essentailly, I'm a new england trout fisherman who has no experience with these chrome missile fish...That's why I'm begging for tips from local masters who might actually know something.

I will tie some larger flies ( #2 ) tonight in orange black yellow and green...and I won't waste time dredging the bottom of those deep pools...

Your help is deeply appreciated...and the casting continues.

-Brad

:hmmm
 
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