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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Surface Steelhead Chronicles 2016/Ninja Magic

I've been posting some short stories on social media on my fall surface steelhead fishing so thought to share them here (in reverse chronological order).  You may note that the Ninja has been getting more than it's fair share of action.  The tiny black wang has changed my surface steelhead game this year.  Any more, the 4s and 6s I used to use look like B52s!:

Cabela's Tlr rods went back on sale and I had some Cabela's gift cards on hand from my birthday....get where this is heading??
I grabbed not one, but 3 more TLRS! I added the 9'4wt, 9'6wt, and the 10' 8wt to my collection of these awesome budget rods.
Since I already have a 6wt Ambush on hand, I took the 9'6wt out this evening. The rod cast the Ambush line beautifully and the #10 Ninja flew out with ease into my favorite evening flow.
The overcast and rain didn't stop me as I got into the rythym of my new setup. As I got to taking my last cast in the bottom of the run, a spirited hen came up with a brisk, confident rise to the little black fly.
As with other hookups I have been getting with the small wakers I have been fishing, the hook held surely and securely. After several strong runs and a strong fight, I had my prize on the bank.
Interesting to note that the rain and color of the water didn't discourage this gal from finding my miniscule fly.
It was nice to have a steelhead break in one of my new cheap skate specials so quickly!
Gotta love the abundance of fall!

Skating in the rain...
Got out for a very short morning session today, I had enough time to fish just one run. I was surprised that the storm only bumped the river a tad, thank you Army Corps for holding back some water!
In anticipation of some wind, I left my current favorite 9'5wt TLR behind and grabbed my 11'6wt tlr with 350gr Ambush instead.
I tied on one of my "Octowangs" (October caddis wang) which was built on an old Mustad 3906 size 6 hook and sporting bright foam posts.
I started a the top of this favorite run and found no players in buckets that produced rises in the past. I continued to the lower section of the the run and wondered if the slight bump in the flow could provide a better chance of steelhead holding there.
My time was just about to expire when a quick, explosive rise came to my octowang as I was twitching it across on it's swing.
The steelhead was instantly on and proceeded to provide an exciting fight with several strong runs and even a couple jumps. A beautifully colored fall hatchery buck soon graced the short gravel bar nearby.
The small, short Mustad 3906 hook proves it's worth in holding onto steelhead once again.
As I took photos and admired my rainy day prize, I thanked God for the blessings He provides me through the thrills of surface steelhead.


Sometimes I get what I hope for....I drove for several hours and contemplated if it would be worth the effort just for a day trip. I got my answer within my first hour of fishing when this beautiful native hen came up and gulped my Ninja and gave a fun fight on my 9'5wt TLR. As I noted before, when using trout gear, fight the steelhead aggressively and there is no harm to the fish. Took me about 5 minutes to get this gal in.
This steelhead actually came to my fly 3 times, she lunged and missed the fly on her initial appearance, she then came up a second time, nabbed the fly and gave a quick pull. I didn't think she would come back a third time after feeling some weird resistance when she tried to eat my fly, but of course, I had to try. Sure enough, on the next swing, she came up with a confident gulp and was on.
The Ninja was tied on a #8 Mustad 3906 (s80) hook. I am becoming convinced that the small, short hooks do a better than average job of holding on to Steelhead. It's like tying a skater on a trailer hook.
The Ninja has been a game changer!


Skating for steelhead with trout gear (in this case a 9'5wt) is frowned upon by some, but in my opinion, if one uses the usual steelhead tippet (8# or 10# Maxima) and the steelhead is fought aggressively, using the power of the lower section of the rod, steelhead are landed as quickly or even more quickly than with heavier spey or switch rods. I enjoy the light weight of the trout class single handers and the Ambush lines make single hand spey casting easy and fun.  Evening session produces this hatchery brat. 9'5wt TLR, 5wt Ambush, #10 ninja. Figured to get a shot before this storm hits.

 This spunky hen ate my Ninja tied on a #8 Mustad 3906 (S80). She grabbed with the afternoon sun at her back. Feeling blessed.....and redeemed! Tis the season for tiny black wakers.

Ninja Magic!!

Decided to try something different, tied on a waker and got this wild Willamette hen on #10 ninja. This skating thing is kinda cool...

Evening session hatchery hen, she gulped down my black and blue Celestial waker in choppy water, couple strong runs had my 3 7/8 perfect screaming. A few casts later and another steelhead came up to play, on the first run, hook pulled out. Love Fall!! This the best time of year for skating. If you have never given surface steelhead a fair shot, now is the time!

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Steelhead Paradise with @adriancortessteelhead & @stevturn & Tony Torrence. Fishing was tough for the most part, did not seem like a lot of fish were about. My fishing partners were finding a few steelhead and we were especially thrilled that Tony hooked a couple on his dee fly and he encountered multiple steelhead on surface flies, bringing him a step closer to the surface steelhead obsession known to Adrian and me.
The fishing was especially tough for me. I raised a few to my crazy foam contraptions but none showed full commitment. By the time we were on our last run of the last day, I had still gone without hooking a single steelhead over the course of the week.
Just before the end of our time in paradise, Steve hooks and lands a beautiful hen on a muddler. By the time I made my way down to the guys for a toast to Steve's steelhead, I had accepted that this was to be a trip where the blessings of being in God's creation and the fellowship of wonderful friends was beyond sufficient.
Just then, the guys unanimously insisted that I hit Steve's spot for a few minutes before finishing out our trip. I obliged to the kindness of my friends and after several casts an explosion comes to my "Midnight Special" wang.
I was able to land this beautiful buck after a strong fight - a dramatic ending to an amazing week.

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