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#904543 - 08/31/14 12:43 AM WHERE IN THE WATER COLUMN FOR STEELHEAD?
CAPT.BOB'S FISHING Offline
Alevin

Registered: 06/29/11
Posts: 19
Loc: Union, WA.
A two-part question: Where in the water column would you want your fly : for Summer Steelhead? For Winter Steelhead???
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#904559 - 08/31/14 09:10 AM Re: WHERE IN THE WATER COLUMN FOR STEELHEAD? [Re: CAPT.BOB'S FISHING]
topwater Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 06/28/00
Posts: 452
Loc: Rocky Mountain High
summer.... right on the surface
winter.... 1.5-2' off the bottom

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#904561 - 08/31/14 11:06 AM Re: WHERE IN THE WATER COLUMN FOR STEELHEAD? [Re: topwater]
Direct-Drive Offline
ExtenZe Field Tester

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 8015
Loc: Vancouver, WA
Originally Posted By: topwater
summer.... right on the surface
winter.... 1.5-2' off the bottom

That's pretty accurate right there.
Some might argue top 6"

Now is a fun time of the year...as in right now.
Those junkyard dogs are in attack mode and will chase from a good distance if they can see it.
Those bastids have taken some good chunks of hide off of me lately.
Hopin' to get even this weekend.

Summertime and the livin' (catchin') is easy.
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#904626 - 09/01/14 12:25 PM Re: WHERE IN THE WATER COLUMN FOR STEELHEAD? [Re: Direct-Drive]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13123
For me it's not whether the fish are summer or winter steelhead. It depends on water conditions, mainly water temperature, and seasons. The water is invariably cold when winter steelhead are in, and I want my fly within one or two feet of the bottom. In the early summer season, water temperatures are often no higher than 48*F, so I still fish winter style - deep sunk fly. I don't know of any summer runs taken on the surface in WA coastal waters in early June.

The right place to fish for summer runs varies. I've seen occasions in Sept. when a surface fly outproduces a deep sunk fly 5:1. In that same month I've seen the deep sunk fly outproduce surface flies by 3:1 or more. If steelhead will rise, I'd rather catch them on the surface, so at certain times I will carry both a floating line and sink tip line and fish through a run first on the surface and follow through with the sink tip if the floater doesn't produce. And then there are times when I just want to do it how I want to do it, and fish a floating line all week, knowing that I'm catching fewer fish and am OK with that.

Sg

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#904694 - 09/02/14 11:06 AM Re: WHERE IN THE WATER COLUMN FOR STEELHEAD? [Re: Salmo g.]
FleaFlickr02 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/28/09
Posts: 3070
As has been suggested, there are no absolutes. Another factor that SEEMS to determine how likely fish are to chase stuff up high in the water column is how long the fish have been in freshwater. Most of the fish we catch in the late summer have been in freshwater a month or more, although the occasional chromer can be found. As steelhead return to a riverine lifestyle, they seem to act more and more like rainbow trout, and they start eating for the sake of eating. IMO, this is what makes the October caddis such an important bug in fall fishing.

Anyway, we all know that resident rainbow trout can be caught throughout the water column, but dry fly fishing in the winter is challenging at best. If steelhead are rainbow trout, why should they behave much differently?

I do think there is something that separates steelhead behavior from that of resident rainbows: They get increasingly aggressive as they near readiness to spawn. I've seen winter steelhead caught in March and April on skaters (big, bright things that look nothing like food). I also had a huge one roll on my strike indicator once while doing some dirty a$$ nymphing. I think this is evidence that when steelhead near spawning time, they get ornery and will strike at stuff just because it's invading their space. I think that might have something to do with why flies with big profiles are productive for spring steelhead.

So you see, the answer is....?

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