Low and clear conditions have slowed fish movement in many of Oregon’s coastal rivers the past couple of weeks. Yet Steelhead have continued to trickle through, and fly anglers have had good shots in low water. Now that rain is expected through the first part of the week things will change and so should your tactics. Keep a close eye on river levels, once the graphs start to head back down, winter steelhead opportunities will be excellent. The smaller streams will clear the fastest and fishing high in river systems will be an effective strategy in terms of fish numbers, and water clarity. While Lowly Glowlyhas been deadly in the low water, larger brighter flies will perform better in the higher “steelhead green” flows. Try Steelhead Darts, River Rat Jigs(wait that’s not a fly, but is does work well), Veiled Assasins, Hickman’s Chrome Magnets and other “brighter” patterns. With bigger flows think about dead drifting and swinging some of these larger patterns. The low water gave us a great look at the bottom topography, the slots and holes were small, the fish were in the deepest darkest water. High water gives the fish more room to spread out and hold in the pool or run, but in a variety of spots in the given piece of water. Fishing the larger fly in will get the steelhead’s attention and make him move to the fly within the pool. Use short high density sink tips and short leaders/tippets. If you have been using your floating line and don’t have a sink tip think about a fast sinking poly leader to add to the end of your floating line. Or get a Tungsten shooting head and chop it up into several lengths you can add to your existing floating line set up.
Fly fishing for winter steelhead is never easy, and a one fish day is a good one. Your best opportunity for 2009 lies ahead. When the rain stops and the water drops go get em!-CD