Fly Fishing For Winter Steelhead
Copyright 2020 James Marsh
by Alan Snider
November 2020 Issue
Fly Fishing For Winter Steelhead
Catching Winter Steelhead takes a lot of planning and patience when you get there. You
must plan your trips between storms and during the right stream conditions. If your new at
Winter steelhead fishing, you will need to know what your really getting into. This isn't to
try to discourage you. It's just to make you aware of what your up against so you can plan
First of all, you should get read to cast for hours and that may turn into days before you
hook the first steelhead. On the other hand, it's possible to have multiple catches in one
day; however, your just as likely to go home fishless.
Steelhead have their on schedule. You can't change that. You have to plan your trip to
coincide with their schedule. You can't catch a Winter Steelhead if they are not any in the
river where you're fishing. You must do the necessary research to make certain your
fishing the river or stream at the right time. Much of that information is available on this
website. In addition, you need to pay attention to the weather forecast. Get the long
range forecast if your planning on fishing for a few days. You should also get the USGS
stream flow data for the river you plan on fishing. Data and associated graphs provide
information on how the river is doing, whether it's rising or falling, as well as it's current
condition speed and height in relationship to what the normal stream flow conditions are.
Beware of rising water occurring during your trip. It takes time for rivers to recede back to
fishable levels in most cases. It takes time for the water to clear reasonably well and all
rivers differ in this respect. Some clear fast and some clear slowly.
If you're new to the river and you plan on spending a few days, it pays to learn the
access points and where the best holding water is prior to your trip. Again, much of this is
available under the stream section of this website. Concentrate on one river rather than
trying to fish several different ones in the area. You may have to change streams due to
changes in water levels, but other than that, your better off sticking with and learning to
fish one river. In most cases, a few days isn't enough time to learn a large river. changing
rivers isn't going to improve your odds unless conditions turn adverse on the stream your
fishing. The grass usually isn't any greener on the other side of the hill and the steelhead
are not usually bitting better in the next stream over the hill.
To be successful at catching winter Steelhead, you must be persistent. You have to be
fully prepared to fight the odds. You may encounter heavy rain, snow, wind and the water
is always cold.
The way to handle the situation is to first, never under estimate the importance of having
the right attire. Layered clothing is a must. It's about the only way you are going to remain
comfortable with the constantly changing conditions. You must have excellent rainwear,
not just any waterproof designated rainwear but good rain gear that will not leak. The
northwest Pacific Coast and the tributaries of the Great Lakes will put all the seams of
your waterproof clothing to the ultimate test.
Yes, you will have those good weather days. You may have to stay a month to encounter
one though. They don't happen very often. Everyone needs to understand the
importance of being comfortable when you are fishing. It is necessary to remain alert and
aware of what's going on and to react when you do have an opportunity. It's necessary to
be patient and dedicated to the point you wiling to put up with some tough conditions.
There's plenty of good clothing you can purchase for steelhead fishing. We're not going
to get into brands and specifics but you need to have the appropriate layers of clothing,
newer fleece type garments, wool socks, fingerless gloves are a must, good head wear,
and other clothing that keep you warm during cold inclement, weather. Avoid any clothing
that absorb and/or retains moisture.
One most important thing you can't do without is a good wading rain jacket. It has to be
large enough to go over all the other layers of clothing you may wear.
If you plan your Winter Steelhead fishing trip right, remain patient when there's little to no
action, and dress properly for the weather, you may learn why many Steelhead anglers
think it's the ultimate fishing experience.
Chris Tobias with a Great