Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dry Fly Steelhead On Glass

I don't get to spend near enough time perusing on the Fiberglass Flyrodders forum anymore (work finally blocked the website) but came across a thread that Todd Hirano posted of his dry fly steelhead experience on a vintage, but modified, Fenwick nine weight and old Scientific Anglers clicker that I thought would be neat to share here.

Todd wrote...  "Having committed Bill McMillan's writing in Dryline Steelhead to memory all these years and having been blessed to have some ongoing communication with Bill as well, I have been determined to someday get a winter steelhead on a surface fly.  Bill has noted that steelhead metabolisms and activity levels seem to begin a steady rise at around 44 degrees with a peak between 48 to 58 degrees - the prime range to try surface methods, regardless of season.  I have given surface methods for winter steelhead a try over the past few seasons when conditions seem favorable, such as when water temps are at least 44 degress, at reasonable winter flows and with reasonable clarity.

With the lower than average steam flows and mild, warm spring weather we have been having in Oregon, I figured I'd tie up some fresh foam Wakers and give them a try during what seems like an ideal window of opportunity.

I've managed to raise, but not hook a winter steelhead on the surface in prior seasons.  Well, it seems the stars lined up at the end of March.  I started off at the head of a little run and after hooking a little smolt, I continued down and had an aggressive grab as my Waker came across the main flow into the softer inside water.  At first I wasn't sure if it was a nice sized cutthroat, but after a few head shakes and short runs, I knew it was a little steehead.  She wasn't a big bruiser, but just a perfect, yet petite late running hen that had not spawned yet.  My first winter steelhead on the surface and it felt good. The water measured a balmy 51 degrees on this clear spring morning (raising to 55 degrees in the afternoon).

After photographing the fish I continued down and had another steelhead charge at my fly twice on the same swing but I could not hook it.  It felt like fishing for summer steelhead, except there are no summer steelhead on this river!

I knew getting winter steelhead on the surface could be done, but it does take a leap of faith to put the big wet flies away and tying a waker on and going with what can seem like small odds.  I also kept hearing stories of folks who were getting their indicators eaten by steelhead this year so I took that as a cue to try surface flies as well.

Of course, now that I have accomplished my goal of getting a winter fish on top, my confidence is up and I want it to happen again - soon!"

Fenwick FF909 with a Dan Craft5.5" lower screw in grip
Ambush 9wt/350 grain head with Rio .030 running line
S.A. System 10 (Marquis Salmon 1)
#4 Yellow Stimulator inspired skater

Damn...what a memorable day on the water.

I suddenly feel really dirty after a trip to Michigan last month where we "egged'em"...

1 comment:

Jussi Kauhanen said...

^This is the kind of fly , that makes FRRRPprpprpFRPPppprrrrrrrrr sound when cast ;)