With the recent cold snap, the water temperatures in the area streams had plummeted into the upper 30s. Normally those low temperatures would create a very lethargic bite for the steelhead and other fish species that swim. Basically, a fish will not move far in low water temperatures; so you more or less have to luck out and have your flies drift withing a very close proximity to the fish. Otherwise they will not have any interest in your presentation; while warmer water temperatures will cause fish to activate and become much more aggressive.
It was 2/25/2011, and when I took the morning water temperature, the reading was about 38-39 degrees, and the air temperature was running at about 16 degrees; so it was downright freezing out there. We were layered up and ready to rumble with some steelhead! Now it was a matter of how willing to cooperate the steelhead were going to be.
We hit the first spot, and Gabriel had a dunk on the Thingamabobber before we knew what had happened. It was all but three casts into the day of fishing, and the Thingamabobber was down. It turned out to be a little chrome bright “one salt” fish that shook off after a few seconds. It was a valid steelhead though; so signs were looking good so far for this day. Time for the next spot…..
We checked out some water, and tried to spot out some steelhead, but we could not find any with our eyes. We persisted upriver, and kept on with the hunt for steelhead. I happened to spot a really large wild buck in a deep tailout, but I did not notify Gabriel in time before he got too close to the fish. Unfortunately, I noticed the fish a half of a second too late, and one step too close was taken, and the fish wearily swam off. Time to move on to the next spot….
We pulled into a spot that almost always has a fish in it, and there was nothing to be seen holding. I told Gabriel to blind fish in the deep probable water at the head of the pool, and within a few casts, the Thingamabobber dunked hard. He struck and the line became full of life! FISH ON!! When the fish materialized, I could tell it was a WHOPPER. It appeared to be the largest steelhead of my guiding career. The fish screamed the reel and the line when dink. Gabriel wondered what had happened, and the answer was the ice on the guides seized the fly line and the tippet was what had to budge. We were both bummed out……
We fished hard through a bunch of holes, riffles, runs, and tailouts, but no signs of any steelhead since that huge one had the best of us. We decided to warm up and get some lunch to warm us back up. We were ready for some redemption, but question was if the steelhead were ready to play.
We fished a few spots after lunch, and no fish were giving in to our presentations. I then decided to try and hit one of the “old faithful” kind of holes, and it proved to be faithful to us. After a few drifts through the probable lie, the Thingamabobber went down. Gabriel struck and there was a fish on! I was stoked and he was even more!
He fought the fish until it yielded itself towards the beach. We admired the wild buck, and took some trophy pics before sending him back off. What a way to finish off the day! We fished another couple of spots, hoping to get another fish, but nothing more panned out. Success again! The final water temperature reading was a whopping 42 degrees. It did warm up a few degrees though…..