Monday, July 27, 2015

Late May steel

While I normally veer away from targeting late season steelhead due to water temps being too high and stressing fish, when I got an e-mail from a friend about seeing a few steelhead in one particular stream that was, for the most part a brook trout stream....I couldn't pass up the chance at possibly hooking into another steelhead!

While there are very few people I trust with "secret" spots, my good friend Chris was one of them.  So after a short talk, he was on board to go chase steel.  The river we fished was small, gradient, and very turbulent.  It made sight fishing a bit tough, but in a good way.  We started low on the river, scanning and fishing our way up.  We stumbled upon a pod of spawning suckers with one HUGE female at the center of all the commotion.  She was probably the biggest white sucker I've ever seen, and we didn't pass up the chance at trying to catch her.  While doing so, we "accidentally" caught a few of the smaller males circling her, which were all for eating nymphs and eggs.  After a while, it was clear that getting a fly in front of her was nearly impossible because she was on the move constantly (and I don't blame her with 8 males crowding her)  Still, Chris wanted to catch this pig of a sucker, so he stayed behind while I scouted upriver.

Not too long after leaving Chris behind, I saw a flash in a pool upriver.  I stopped moving forward, crouched down and waited for more movement in the pool.  A few minutes had passed until I finally noticed that there were at least 2 fish in this particular pool, one being in the low 20" range, and the other was in the high 20" range.  I called downstream to Chris to let him know what I'd found, and he quickly came up to see.

Chris was first at bat, and these fish were putting post-spawn feedbags on for sure.  They were both in feeding lanes, picking off anything that looked edible as it drifted by them.  I hadn't seen the larger one for a while, which probably moved up to the next pool.  Chris worked hard for a hookup, but the fish just didn't seem interested.

Eventually we switched spots and I had a whack at it.  I changed flies a few times before remembering that the suckers down below were mid-spawn.  A sucker spawn fly seemed like the most logical thing to try, so I did.

We have a winner!  A handful of drifts later, I hooked into the smaller one and it started blowing through the pool, nearly flying downstream in water that was seemingly impossible to fight a fish in.  I had Chris block the only way downstream to avoid that and it worked - the fish stayed upriver in the pool.  Chris came in with a perfect netting and celebrations followed.

Some of my favorite looking fish are male steelhead because of the dark maroon color they end up with.
After releasing him, he took off upstream and probably spooked the larger fish in the pool above.  We both worked through the next pool where it had to be, but no hookups.  We spent the next few hours trying to find more, but it seems we may have stumbled upon some of the last fish to drop back.  Still, it was all worth it!

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