As promised, here is Steelhead Dreams Part 2 – hopefully, you will enjoy this video as much as I do. I feel this is a fitting close to Steelhead Season for now. We will continue, but for now, I am going to turn my attention toward Trout fishing another favorite of mine. So enjoy and maybe in the comments share some of your Steelhead Dreams.
May you have Tightlines throughout this entire season!
Everyone has their moments. You know the time when it is like Wow, I want to do this – this video was one of mine. It still brings excitement when I watch it – it is about a guide, Hannah Belford, who lives in British Columbia. A female angler who steelheads in some phenomenal rivers. I found this video before I had caught my first Steelhead and before I had learned to Spey Cast. Watching this video was what pushed me to accomplish both of these tasks. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do. Next week I will share Steelhead Dreams 2 as we close this chapter on Steelhead for now and turn our attention to Trout fishing.
One of my earlier Steelhead, though not very big I was clearly excited
Steelhead travel from the Great Lakes into the streams and rivers from late October until early May. The fish that arrive in October will overwinter in the rivers until spring when they spawn before returning to the Great Likes. The October steelhead is the first to spawn on beds of fine gravel often in March. The spring run steelhead will follow in April before making their journey back to the Great Lakes – this pattern will continue many times until the steelhead dies.
So what are they eating during these times? The October steelhead is on fire as they arrive into the rivers. This can make for some exciting fishing with burning drags and jumping as you work to land this fantastic fish. They are eating voraciously, getting ready to winter in the river. The fish feed heavily on the Chinook and King Salmon eggs that are spawning in the fall. They also feed on the aquatic life in the river and will even turn onto a shrimp looking pattern – something they were familiar in the depths of the Great Lakes.
Spring Steelhead, while focused on spawning, will gobble up an egg pattern of the right color, or a stonefly floating past them. This is an exciting time to fish, and many steelhead fishers look forward to the spring steelhead.
Conditions during both times of year play a huge role in what will be effective. In higher, cloudy water, your selection should be large, bright, contrasting, and can be unnatural – you are just catching the attention of the fish. Whereas the opposite is true in clear, low waters – the color selection must be as close to natural as possible. This varies from river to river.
The top five flies that I always keep in my box are :
The day was cold, and the wind was a fierce howl moving down the river, chilling my boat mate and me. It was becoming frustrating as I swung my fly and it landed only inches from the boat, blowing closer to me each time. I watched my friend pull her line in and begin to change the rig on her line. Curiously, I asked her what she was doing – this was my introduction to “Chuck and Duck.”
In this article, I am going to go through the basics of Chuck and Duck, line set up and share when this method works best.
So what is Chuck and Duck you may be asking? It was first introduced in the early 1970s by a Fly Fisherman – Ray Smidt – a well know guide in the state of Michigan. It can be called bottom bouncing, dead drift, or the name that I learned Chuck and Duck.
This method is very effective for catching steelhead – especially on the cold, windy day, as I had experienced. This type of day will be when the steelhead are often lying in the deeper holes or along the edges of drop-offs. The rig used for this method is set up different than traditional fly fishing. It involves a heavyweight that will allow the line to sink rapidly to the bottom – the video by Brain from The Northern Angler Fly Shop shows how to set your line up – so I will not explain this now.
To cast this line, start by striping as much line as you think you will need. It is easiest if you coil the extra line loosely into your hand. This will lessen the tangling of the line. Then with the rig dangling at the tip of your rod, “Chuck it ” toward the target. It is lobbed as if you were attempting to land the weight into a basket. After the cast, it is then fished as usual. You will feel the weight bouncing off the bottom of the river. Be alert if you feel any tug, a stop, or anything different set the hook – remember hook sets are free. I have landed several trophy fish with this method – so give it a try and let me know if it is an effective way for you too.
In the next few weeks, I am going to share some of my favorite fishing – Fishing for Steelhead. There is nothing more exciting than feeling that mighty tug and hearing your line scream as the fish begins to run. This post will show you how to rig your line using beads. The video uses already designed beads, but many who fish enjoy painting their beads using nail polish to match what is in the river at present. So sit back, pour a coffee, grab a beer or whatever beverage you enjoy and watch this short video on rigging your line with beads.
In Michigan, we are starting to see the sunshine longer. We are by no means out of the cold, but at least heading in the right direction. As the weather changes, the excitement starts to build. Soon Steelhead will be aggressively making their way out of the lakes into the many rivers to spawn. A fisherman’s delight – after a long drawn out winter finally days on the river and not just any days – days spent fighting an aggressive fish – Michigan Spring Steelhead.
This year I am beyond excited – after last year’s catch I am anticipating the fight again and just typing this starts story, my heart racing.