Sunday, February 23, 2014
A solo mission north for two days of swinging flies was met with unseasonably warm temperatures. With freedom from ice in the guides, I took advantage and fished a skagit line for a little more fun casting and some much needed practice. I kept the tips on the lighter side and flies in the 2-3 inch range hoping to entice a fresh winter chromer into taking a fly. In the shallower sections, I switched it up to a scandi and went with a mono leader and a small wet fly. The lower temps resulted in a few periods of snow intermixed with sleet and freezing rain. It had been awhile since I fished gloveless on a steelhead river, so I enjoyed the two "warm" days…
I began both days fishing lower in the river to avoid drift boats and people clogging the upper river area. I covered known holes, pockets, and pools on various sections of the river. Interestingly, the cold vortex of air that swept down into the east coast from Canada left thick shelf ice extending out into the middle of the river. With the warmer temperatures the shelf ice would slowly break, collapse into the river, and leave floating icebergs littering the flow. Some of these sheets of ice were larger than 4 ft. across and you constantly had to keep looking upstream to dodge the ice, or else get a dangerous surprise that would cut out your knees.
In the afternoon, I headed upriver to areas that I knew held fish. I power fished sections before nightfall and was able to pick up some fish during the warmest part of each day. Each of the fish I landed had a touch of chrome and fought hard in the cold water. The final fish succumbed to a brown/olive bad hair day fished deep and broadside through the gut of a run. Sometimes, switching things up and varying your presentation and speed of the swing will get a fish to move when nothing else will work.