Two hands not required – single hand rods for winter steelhead

With the Alsea and other coastal creeks and rivers on the rise, steelhead will be moving upriver. When these fish get in the upper reaches of our coastal rivers, the need for spey and switch rods goes down and the good ol’ single hand 7/8/9 weight comes out. These are our tool of choice for fishing small, pocket water systems. Here is a breakdown of the rods we use.

Redington Path – 9′ 6″ 8wt $129.95- Fantastic rod for the price, responsive and powerful enough for even the biggest brutes without breaking the bank.

Echo Ion – 10′ 7 or 8wt $189.95- Although this rod is on the heavy side of things, the added length of this rod makes mending and line control a breeze. Add the durability Echo rods are known for and you can’t lose.

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Here comes the rain. Read our top 5 winter steelhead posts, then get out there.

1) Shooting Line Clarity – A must read to understand what you want to have attached to your shooting head.

2) Sink-Tips – The low down on the different tips you can fish and the situations that call for them.

3) What is a MOW tip? A simple explanation of intermediate and floating combo tips.

4) Winter Layering 101 – The title says it all.

5) Beaching your beautiful, wild steelhead is very tough on the fish. Learn the different ways we land fish to avoid it.

Wild Steelhead Action Alert

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comment on a proposal to eliminate hatchery steelhead plants as early as next year in three Lower Columbia River tributaries (EF Lewis, Green/NF Toutle and Wind Rivers) to support the recovery of wild fish. These three watersheds would join the Sol Duc River as Washington State Wild Steelhead Gene Banks.

The elimination of hatchery plantings in these three watersheds is the recommendation of three stakeholder groups convened by WDFW over the past two years. Gene Banks are part of actions endorsed by the state of Washington’s 2008 Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and were mandated by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect wild steelhead in the Lower Columbia.

Wild Steelhead Gene Bank designation does not close a watershed to angling, but does create restrictions placing the priority on the health of the wild populations, not angling opportunity. Establishing Gene Banks would be a solid first step toward limiting the negative impacts of hatchery fish on threatened wild populations in the Lower Columbia.

Comments and suggestions collected during this public process will eventually be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service who oversee the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead populations.

We ask that you let WDFW and NMFS know that you support management actions that implement the best-available science and recover threatened wild steelhead populations in Washington. Read and alter the comments below as you wish, but please make your voice heard in support of protections for wild steelhead.

[TAKE ACTION HERE] – it will only take you a minute or two to sign it. 

Step, step, and step again

img_1901-e1384977467882One thing I have often seen while guiding spey fisherman is that they just wont move. I’m not talking two-stepping here but simply working a run in a methodical and timely manner.  Under most conditions I prefer to move three to four feet between casts which has several benefits.

1) By steadily working your way through a run you will cover more water throughout your day than the person who only moves a couple feet every few casts.  Remember, we are looking for players, the fish who are aggressive enough to eat your fly on the first pass.

2) Constantly fishing new water it is simply more interesting and I tend to stay more focused as I move though a run.

3) We are not trout fishing – you will not find a steelhead river with 2-6 thousand fish per river mile, so covering water is the key to finding fish.

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I do slow down for several reasons.

1) If I know fish are in a certain area and I feel that they are not willing to move far to a fly, I will slow down my pace and work the fly with different presentations.

2) If I feel a grab but don’t hook up I will cast back to the fish, trying a couple of presentations. If this does not work I will mentally note where the fish was holding and make another pass with a new, smaller fly.

dsc_0707-e1385752827440By maximizing the amount of water you cover in a day you will swim your flies through more holding lies. When searching for winter steelhead covering water can make the difference, it only takes one fish to turn your day around.

What’s this “Bucket” you’re talking about?

One of the most common phrases you will hear in any steelheader’s circle will be “bucket.”  This ambiguous term has many synonyms: juice box, juice bucket, moneymaker, honey hole, and shnittles.

What does bucket refer to?

It refers to something that separates trout anglers from successful steelheaders. It refers to the specific section of river that ACTUALLY holds steelhead. Not good water, soft water, holding water; but water that produces fish. Water that causes the angler to step up his or her level of focus as the fly digs through the swing. The water that makes us quiver in our dreams.

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