Thread: Steelhead?
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:57 AM
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Default Re: Steelhead?

From what I gather through reading and first hand knowledge from people who fish various GL Tribs, there seems to be some degree of similarity as well as differences. I'll preface my advise with my first hand knowledge which comes from Lake Erie Tribs in PA.

Flys I think may have the greatest deal of similarity between the GL tribs in terms general patterns but I know that each GL has it's "go to regional" type patterns. Size recommendations will vary per stream which I think largely has to do with species/strain of fish inhabiting them as well as the size/depth of the stream. Know which species of fish are inhabiting your tribs and know the spawn. Eggs around the time of the spawn are deadly. I like to throw streamers in the winter as I've seen the bait guys land a good deal of fish using them. Really though, be open to anything and try a wide variety until something works. Heavily pressured fish can be very picky, so show them something they haven't seen before. Even a subtle tweak to a fly. Use different color combos and even materials on eggs, add a bead to them, add a hot spot to a nymph are just a few suggestions.

As for tactics: you can double nymph, egg & nymph with or without indy; bottom bouncing with short or long leaders; dead drift, or swing streamers. I really got turned on to bottom bouncing for steel this past season much like I've learned to do for trout--it has proven very effective. This seemed to work very well especially when the tribs I fish are low and clear. Consequently, this is a common theme for Lake Erie tribs-the most shallow of all GL's. Sometimes, just like flies, you need to try different tactics until you figure out one that works. It can differ from one hour to the next, literally.

In the tribs I fish (Lake Erie PA), I am often going down to 4x or even 5x (as crazy as it sounds) because of the notorious low and clear conditions. This doesn't seem to be as necessary if at all or ever on some of the other GL tribs.

The most universal piece of advise I can offer is learn to read the water you're fishing and learn to know where the fish are holding during the given point of the year. Winter fish are most often in tail outs, eddies and slower moving water. When they're running, they're towards the heads of pools and in fast water.

Then there's the X factor that seems to defy all logic of what we generally know about them--mother nature. She has created some bizarre weather conditions for us these past 15 or so years. As a result I've seen some strange things this season as far as where the fish were hanging out. Days when you'd expect steelhead to be in the fast water and on the move, they're in the middle or tails of pools. Fish stacked up like chord wood that it was actually a chore not to foul hook a fish by casting at them.

If you can share with the folks which lakes and tribs you intend on fishing, somebody I'm sure will chime in with more regional advise.
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