What’s up with the steelhead stalkers?

The crew of the research vessel Chasina gets ready to drop an acoustic telemetry receiver 300 feet down into Puget Sound. The device will record tagged steelhead as they swim out of their spawning rivers. Credit: Ashley Ahearn

OPB radio recently provided a look into the research conducted by Megan Moore (NWFSC – NOAA) and colleagues on an early marine survival project. If you didn’t catch the program, it describes the sources and locations of steelhead smolt mortality upon leaving their natal river. The researchers are tagging wild and hatchery smolts, then tracking their movements (and survival) through Hood Canal in Washington to study where mortality is occurring and if differences between hatchery and wild fish are present.

Continue Reading “What’s up with the steelhead stalkers?”

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.


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.

Hook Review: Tiemco 2499 SPBL size 6


trout/steelhead nymphs and stinger/tube fly hooks


  • The Super Point is extremely sharp
  • Light wire doesn’t sink fly to the bottom when fishing soft inside seams
  • Did we mention that SP = SUPER SHARP
  • To date, it has one of the best hook-up rates out of any hook
  • When winter takes are light and your B-10s doesn’t stick, these will
  • It’s one durable little hook


  • It’s barbless, and sometimes you want a barb
  • It doesn’t sharpen well
  • It’s light wire and doesn’t sink well (yes, this is a pro and a con)

Something to think about…

When fishing the salmonfly hatch next spring your size 4 or 6 dry fly can do some serious damage on the smaller fish you catch. THINK about tying your big bugs on tubes and fishing size 10 and 8 2499 SPBLs out the back. Your hook-up rate will be great and your damage to the fish will be minimized.

Hook and bead organization – it’s the little things


There are quite a few things out there that make life easier, but not everyone knows about them. Today’s easy button solution comes in the form of rounded bead/hook/accessory compartment boxes. These boxes have rounded bottoms on the front to allow you to easily slide out one or two of what you need, no more beads getting stuck in corners or hooks catching your fingers. Most fly tyers have plano boxes to organize their beads and cones, but without the rounded edge, your tying accessories can be tough to get at.