Monday, November 23, 2009

Steelhead trips

John and I are recently back from our steelhead trips but pining for more. How could one ever get enough though? Our two trips were entirely different. Both were wonderful fishing trips with great memories of beutiful rivers, classic steelhead runs and good company. And as we all know, you don't need to catch fish to make for a great trip - that's steelheading...

Part of the fun of any fishing trip is the pre-trip preparation and one of the most enjoyable is getting together with your buddies and tying flies. John and I tied a verity of tube flies for our trips and we both fished these tube flies eagerly over good steelhead holding water - John in the Pacific Northwest and I in New York.

Pacific Northwest
Weather is always a wildcard...For weeks we had heard the Pacific Northwest Rivers were enjoying great numbers of returning steelhead - "the best run in years". We've all learned over the years to take these reports with a grain of salt and not get too overly optimistic. However, when I wished John safe travels for his trip I was somewhat jealous and bummed about missing out on the great return of steel in the northwest. While the weather back home was perfect, the weather in Washington State was frigid! Water temps dropped 10 degrees prior to John's arrival and while there were good numbers of fish in the river, they responded to these sudden drops in air and water temperature by doing little more than just hanging at the bottom of the river.

John reported that he tried everything from floating lines and large flies to sinking tips with very small flies and even dead drift nymphing. Steelhead definitely saw his offering but not willing to take - even when the fly would scrape across their noses! Did I mention weather is always a wild card?

Great Lakes
We had heard that the steelhead fishing was also good in upstate New York. I had never fished for Great Lakes steelhead but always wanted to fish Cattaraugus Creek and I looked forward to swinging tubes flies on two-handers like I had always done out west. The Buffalo, NY Rivers were only a ten hour drive from home and I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by what they had to offer...

I had been talking to both Nick Pionessa and Rick Kustich about river conditions and where we might want to fish. As it turned out the Cat was not fishing due to high water from recent rains and never did clear during our stay. Eighteen Mile Creek was high and off color but dropping nicely so Mike, Curtis and I would start there. To make a long story short, we had one day of fantastic steelheading during our four day trip. Water conditions were high and muddy the other three days and we couldn't fish at all on the third day of our trip due to inches of rain that fell the night before. Weather - always a wildcard!

I was surprised by the steelheading in the Great Lakes and I'll certainly be back for more...For more pictures of the New York trip please visit the HMH forum and go to "fish pics". I'll also be posting some of the tube flies we were using soon...

Craig Uecker