The 2010-11 season was a tough one for steelhead - at least for me. The few opportunities I had to get out on the water were met with low clear water, high and bright skies, and cold temperatures. Typically those conditions are tough conditions to pursue steelhead. But good fisherman catch fish in tough conditions. Well, after a couple of goose eggs I was beginning to doubt my fishing acumen.
However, my steelhead season ended with a bang! While this season has put a nice dent in my ego, last weekend marked the start of my road to recovery. See a couple of the better shots.
Some Fish Stories
Guide and good friend Jeff Hubbard took us out for a great couple of days on the water. We (My Dad and I) hooked about 5 or 6 a day and landed about half that many (not impressive but hey that's fishing). As my Dad likes to say "hooking them is the hardest part." In any event, the fishing was interesting. At times the conditions were typical spring i.e. air temps around 40, water temps around 38, some bedding fish, some hopped-up chromers. At other times fishing was reminiscent of winter i.e. air temps around freezing, water temps in the mid to low 30s, subtle takes that gradually gained momentum. For instance, on Saturday morning, the air temps felt warm, the water temps were close to 40. At the second hole a chrome hen crushed my fly and freaked out. She fought as fresh as she looks. The morning bite was great. In the afternoon a cold front moved in and the bite shut off. The second day was tougher. I had another big chrome hen take my fly. However, the take and initial few seconds were so subtle I thought it was a trout. After a couple of moments she got into the fight. She took off down stream and started bucking on the surface. We stayed connected long enough to haunt me until next November - she was big.
The big buck pictured with my Dad acted much the same way as my big hen. First, a subtle take followed by a few cautious moments. Then, he got into the fight and fought like a champ.
Some Additional Observations
As I mentioned, we saw a number of fish hitting the gravel. To each his own but I suggest you leave these fish alone. We must remember that some rivers, like the Pere Marquette, are totally wild runs or have wild runs. Ever year more people get into the sport, which is great. But all too often people can't help themselves and go after those big fish in the shallow clear water. Hey, I'm guilty of hitting the gravel in the early years. No more. If you're new to the sport don't get into the habit. If you've been doing this for a while it's time to quit. bob the pools, swing the runs, let those bedding fish support the population.