With recent water temps ranging 47 degress in the am to 52 degress by midday, I can't help but spend some time skating flies for my local winter runs. In Dry Line Steelhead, Bill McMillan's data of steelhead activity to the surface in relation to water temps continues to play out in my mind when I get out. I have a new, reliable stream thermometer, so I've been back to taking water temps first thing in the morning and at midday or in the afternoon. I'd also take a water temp reading at the time of hooking a fish, whenever that may happen someday.
I got out last monday with it being the President's day holiday. Great to be a state employee at times... The water temps were 47 degrees first thing in the morning so I elected to wait until mid day to try skating. I had skated through a couple runs and by about 2pm, I settled into a little run that was perfect for the skater with good structure, nice soft chop, and perfect depth. By the time I was near the bottom of the run, I was near to being out to time to fish and having to pack up and leave for home. I was approaching some overhanging branches that marked the limit of how far I could continue down (I was longing for my pruning saw at that point).
As my big #2 purple/green butt skater came into the upper third of the swing, I was giving it some gentle, pulsating twitches when a surface attack came. A fish exploded at the fly, but I felt nothing on my end of the line that correlated with the aggressive rise and my heightened level of sensory awareness.
I went back with comeback attempts without success, but I was overjoyed to have raised what I assume must have been a winter steelhead to the surface. I say I assumed it was a winter steelhead based on a internal process of elimination: I did not actually see the fish, but.... there would be no salmon around and the rise was too big of a surface disturbance to be a trout. The only other possibility was if it was a trophy sized sucker.
I got out again yesterday and the conditions were perfect for skating. 48 degress first thing in the morning, 50 degress by midday. I skated for most of the day. The water levels provided many shallow lies that could have held a surface friendly winter steelhead. But alas, my visions/fantasy were interrupted with reality as no steelhead came up to play. Still a pleasant day and I will continue to try for the elusive winter surface steelhead attack as conditions allow.
Hopefully folks who actually want to catch steelhead will not follow my crazy example!
|Armed and Ready|
|JM Reid 8592 Wee Heavy|
|Skaters En Masse!|
|This must be a sickness!!|