On the last day of 2014, I wanted to get out to try my luck again. The fishing report was as cold as the air temp, freezing guides, numb fingers and toes, and lockjaw fish or few fish due to the chilly temps. I tried all the usual haunts with no bites. I’ll consider trying again tomorrow at first light.
Well at least for the next few days. As we wind down the year, the steelhead fishing has been pretty good for me. I’ve been out 8 days, hooked a total of 11 fish, but only landed 2.
We just got back from Portland doing the visits with family. I’ve been itching to get back on the water after reading many good reports for metal heads. The plan was to hit the creek at 7 am, but didn’t get out the door until closer to 7:45. I assembled the gear and was wading by 8:30.
The flows were up, but the clarity was still pretty good. I met up with JR and Lyle, Lyle had a fish on, but became un-buttoned. As I walked down towards the run a guy with a small orange and silver wiggle wort came over and started to fish below me. Shortly after a few casts he was hooked up with a darker buck that gave him a decent fight. I was surprised that those worts worked, I guess another item to add to the tool chest.
He left and then came back a another time to try his luck with no success. Shortly after JR showed up and we chatted a little. He had been fishing up higher and just a couple days prior finally landed his first steelhead on the fly rod. I can see him converting to a metal head addict.
He watched as I made my drifts, but had no hook ups. Around 9:30 I had a bump and a brief fight while the wiggle wort guy returned. It didn’t feel like a big fish but once he got into the fast water the hook became unbuttoned and that was the end of the encounter.
I kept on it, but my shot supply was dwindling and once I was out, would have to cut my morning short. After a few more drifts my indicator shot down and I was into another fish, this one felt nicer. I was worried I’d lose him in the swift water and led a brief chase. After get a handle on the fish she moved back into calm water and with the help of a nearby angler, he helped net for me.
After witnessing the action, the gear guy made a few casts and was able to return the favor with his nice chrome hen. I was satisfied with the experience and decided to leave at 10:30.
JR, and his first steelhead.
Friendly gear guy with his nice hen
My keeper metalhead!
I got a late start today as the boys are off school and had some work that needed attention this morning. David K. fished it yesterday and had a good day, landing a keeper and witnessing a lot of fish pushing up.
I met up with Vinny, from Sumner, who appears to have mastered the backyard ditch. He hooked a couple of fish during the time I was there and landed a nice chrome hen of 7-8#. He ties up a yarn and bead egg pattern in red and uses a curved piece of pencil lead to bump and probe the bottom of the swift water. He was helpful and gave up some good Intel. I helped him net his fish which he was grateful.
JR. S., and his buddy Lyle were working the seam below and JR is determined to get his first steel on the fly rod. Lyle did connect a couple times in the past but couldn’t keep them buttoned. Today he did land his first steelhead on the fly. Just below the out take flow tube from the hatchery. It wasn’t a beast, but still counts. Good job Lyle!
I however, never touched a hit, fished a few spots that are known to host fish, but seemed like the weekend crew plucked the fresh fish from the system. There is always another day…
My 6th straight day on the ditch water and each time the learning curve improves. Today Phil K. and I met up earlier to fish before sunrise. The rains greeted us and layered fleece and down and good wading jackets were the outerwear of the day.
We could barely see but was enough to poke around and fish by feel. I could sense the bumps, contour and rocks, check setting on anything that felt fishy. Around 8 am my indicator stopped and I had a brief encounter with another chrome fish. He or she turned and did a head shake spitting the hook after a 7 second hook up. Just as I yelled to Phil to ready the net, she popped off and swam off into the whitewater.
I would only have one more bump around 10 and then we called it quits as the banks started to line up with anglers and we only witnessed 2 fish landed. One guy upstream whom I helped net his big buck of estimated 11-12# filled my landing net from head to tail. What a beauty!
I’ll take a couple days off and back at it another day, hopefully it only gets better with the days and a little more rain in the coming days.
Rod: Sage SP 890-5
Reel: Galvin T8 with Rio Varsity line
Flies: egg patterns in Orange and Pink
I had been out daily this week at my backyard steelhead creek and each day learned a new tip or technique. Here are my findings:
1. You can never have enough leader. I use simple hand tied tapered Maxima ultra green tied in 30#, 20#, and 15# sections. Believe it or not, breaking off is easily done with lots of jagged rocks, and snags that end up shredding the leader. I carry extra strike indicators, fly rigs, #3 shot and smaller to fish different selections of water where I think fish will be holding.
2. Carry a net. I lost several nice fish this week and could’ve benefited with a hand net with large enough bag. These fish are strong and should be brought in quickly, playing them out too long gets them into the fast water and you don’t have time or space to lose.
3. Observe where others have hooked fish, steelhead like to hold in the same type of water. If you don’t get a hookup move to another spot. Return to those familiar holding runs ad work them systematically.
4. Talk to the locals, they have tons of valuable information. I’ve only fished this Creek for my second season and have met guys that have been coming here for decades. I saw more pencil lead and yarnies than any other set up. I mimicked this by tying egg patterns and using my dingleberry shooting, which uses the tag end of a blood knot at the leader to fly connection. I like to keep those ends long and not trim them. They become a good spot to crimp a split shot and helps bounce along the river bottom with less hang ups. If the rig does become hung an swift upstream motion most all the time dislodges the set up.
I blew off this fishery for many years but have grown to appreciate the technical aspect of it and learning how to read water. It has helped me to become a better nymph fisherman and how to adjust, set up and adapt to different water speed and depths. Usually I keep the indicator around 5-6′ but adjust the shot so that it’s just ticking and giving the indicator some hesitation so that your fly rig is on the bottom.
I have taken a less serious approach to catching and learning more fishing, talking to others, observing and watching the experts, and practicing good casting, line placement and dead drifts. The result today was 3 hooked and one cookie cutter landed. I did harvest this fish for my youngest sons birthday as we enjoyed ribeyes and fresh winter run steelhead.
On a sad note, I couldn’t finish out the day with a limit as my Helios 2 Orvis rod taco’d and broke off at the 2nd section and the tip was lost as the tippet broke. I can attest that this is the finest casting 8 wt rod that I’ve owned. Nicer than the Sage One, enough backbone and quality hardware than the Native run GLX, quicker action than the Scott S8. The major benefit is the light weight, I can cast for hours without arm fatigue or tennis elbow. It will take 3-4 weeks for the repair, hopefully back sooner as I have my sights on chasing Oahu bonefish next month and don’t want to be without this stick in my arsenal.
My backyard steelhead project opened up a month earlier than normal. That means a few more weeks of opportunities to harvest some hatchery brats. I didn’t want to fight the crowds on Saturday, but did make it out briefly yesterday without any luck.
Speaking with a few fishermen sounds like there were alot of fish caught on Saturday and a fair amount Sunday. I never saw a fish caught but I could tell evidence of fish caught by the entrails along the bank. I did walk up to the falls and saw a few dark spawners.
Tuesday would bring a new day and another opportunity, I have been battling a nasty bug and woke up at 6 am and figured I’d rather be coughing along the river versus in bed and pushed off. Having the right clothing is essential and the down zip and soft shell with fleece beanie kept me comfortable and toasty.
I made it the parking lot by 7:30 and walked out to my amazement noticed that just about every spot was taken. I tried to find a quiet water for myself and almost stepped on a guys fish while asking him how fishing was, I guess I answered my question. I found a nice slot and proceeded to work the dead drift. Almost instantly, the indicator stopped and I felt the roll of a fish and then as soon as it was on, it was gone. I knew there was a fish or two there and kept working the drift. On the 5th or so drift the indicator stopped and I set, a small summer run of 5-6# came to the surface and ran downstream into the rip rap and whitewater where it escaped my clutches.
I dropped down below as one guy left I wanted to work the run as I have caught fish before however known to be super snaggy and loss of hardware is common. Saw a few fish hooked around me but no love until I dropped down 20′ and fished slightly slower water. Behind a submerged rock the indicator shot down again and a couple minute battle didn’t produce a landed fish. It did get the heart racing and the excitement level elevated as it was a nice 10-11# summer run. The fish didn’t want to have anything to do with me and headed down stream and popped the barbless hook. Snap!!!
Part of the fun is tricking the fish, but would have been nice to land that one as it was so close. A quick trip to outdoor emporium and some time replaced my supplies and readied for the next outing.
Here is my recipe :
Size 2 Octopus hooks
Trout beads, orange colors to match the hatch
15# maxima leader l, as I was breaking off 10# too easily.
Walmart foam kids floaty, cut into 9″ section with 0.5″ slices to keep everything neatly organized and tucked into my gear bag.
More time with gear in the water with less time replacing broken leaders and hooks is a good thing. Seems the best action to be either near first light or towards the evening.
The last day of November and we were itching to get on the water to soak a few pots and run out the new motor. Everything mostly worked apart from the strong tides and having lost 2 pots with no crab to show for our efforts.
The Snohomish is pumping alot of silt and dead heads into the sound and it’s making it tough today. 33 degree air temp with 42 degree water made things chilly with I’m sure a wind chill much colder.
It was a nice day to get out but think this will be my last effort for northerly crab.