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Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Dry Line Swing in Winter Part 2

Fresh winter steelhead that munched on a 5/0 Winter's Hope

 It seems the winter steelhead season has come upon me suddenly with low summer rivers quickly giving way to rain swollen flows as the new normal.  Since the beginning of the month, my efforts have turned to chasing winter steelhead on my favorite coastal haunts and I've been reconnecting with my usual winter steelheading companions Craig Coover and Keith Tymchuk.

With a few early season trips already under my belt, I'm coming to terms with what appears to be effects of an el nino year, with above average rainfall and rivers running high.  I got out on a coastal stream yesterday and with all the rain we've been having, flows were "marginal".  Keith and I found a few soft inside cushions, but options were limited so we quit before noon and made a quick retreat to town for a late "breakfast" at a local diner.  Sausage and cheese omelets never tasted so good to a couple of rain soaked steelheaders.

As I begin another winter steelhead season I ponder my prospects as a dedicated dry line steelheader.  Of course I plan to stick with the dry line throughout the season.  I anticipate rivers running at higher levels this year which means I'll most likely spend more time on smaller streams that drop and clear more quickly than larger systems.

Fishing smaller water means busting out the single handers and switch rods as long casts are not needed in close quarters.  My JM Reid 8' 5" 9wt "Wee Heavy" has already got some airtime and my single hand glass rods will also get out as well.  My 11' Cabela's switch rods will see some use too.  Ambush lines and Rage heads will be my dry lines of choice with tapered Maxima leaders delivering Winter's Hopes tied on heavy irons the primary set up used most often.  I'll be tossing skaters when flows permit, especially in the early afternoons.  Front weighted MOALs, sparse intruders, and simple lead eyed rabbit strip flies will come into play in snaggy areas where "disposable" dry line flies are needed.
This chunky winter buck dwarfs my 7wt single hand set up
As usual, I know my talented, sink tip-equipped friends will fish circles around me, but I will continue seeking to make improvements in my technique within the limitations of my chosen method.  Getting a winter steelhead on a skater is always a goal as well and I'm hoping the 2015/2016 winter/spring season could give up a second winter steelhead to a surface fly for me.  My one and only winter steelhead landed on a skater was taken in late March 2013, but I seem to at least raise a couple winter steelhead  to the top each year.

It will be interesting to see how the winter steelhead season develops this year.  Wishing you all a great winter season!
A Little Hope is all I need!
Black Friday Steel
A non traditional fly does the trick, a memory from a winter's past
Winter's Hope in the corner of the jaw, where it belongs

A Happy Place

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