Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Hunt for Winter Steel

For various reasons and excuses I've fished more on the tributaries this Winter than I did in the Fall. After putting in some extended time, I have come to enjoy the experience more. There are less people, everything is usually covered in snow, and the fish are still willing. The big variable in the equation is the weather, but every now and then, windows of opportunity present themselves.

A few friends of mine decided that they wanted to experience some winter steelhead fishing on the fly. We settled on an extended weekend and before I knew it, I was a passenger on someone else's planned fishing trip. I can't say that very often and I didn't even have to drive (thanks Ben). I even got to sleep for an hour on the ride up. On the downside, my tributary routines that had been honed and established over the past five years were challenged, but I excepted that fact and rolled with it.

On day one, we fished unfamiliar water between some familiar sections of real estate. With the temperature reaching into the high 30s, we had high expectations for some increased activity. It ended up being our least productive day. While Ben and Dan actively nymphed the runs and pools, I split my time evenly between indicator nymphing and throwing a skagit line and a medium sized intruder in brown. After day one, we all hooked up with nothing to show for our hard effort.

On day two, we experienced a hellish day on the water. Temperatures in the mid-20s with snow showers and 30-40 mph winds, gusting to 50. In other words, it was really cold. Despite this, we were able to find a few fish in some overlooked nooks and crannies in the lower fly zone. If you can even call them "overlooked".

That night, Dan and I were content and wanted to head home. A cold front was moving in and the temperatures were dropping into the single digits. Ben wanted to stay so we did. We headed back to the Mike's Mid-river Motel, and tied a new set of eggs for the next morning. Ben's decision to stay and freeze ended up being a wise one.

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