05-29-2006, 08:16 PM
Going to Vancouver for X-Mas this year. Want to take my fly rod. Can anyone point me in the right direction to catch some Steelhead. Have only read about it, have never thrown any flies at any. Flies/Line Wt/Anything else would be a real help in my QUEST to catch a Steelhead!
Sean in Alaska
There are several excellent steelhead rivers within easy driving distance of Vancouver, all of which should have fish by Christmas time. These rivers would be the Kalama, the Washoughal, and the East Fork of the Lewis. Depending on rain, conditions could vary anywhere from prime to too low or too high, in terms of river heights. Too low is a whole lot better than too high when fly fishing for steelhead.
At this time of year (Christmas season), because these rivers are so easily accessible to a large metropolitan area, they may be very crowded. If you find this to be the case, you might want to head west to the smaller rivers near the mouth of the Columbia.
Most common line systems are sink tips looped to the line in various densities to match the situation at hand. For example, a floating 30ft head would be cut back 15 ft and looped, to which 15ft tips could be attached. Some will use floating lines in winter, but few and only in special situations.
If you Spey cast, the same applies. The more stout and compact the head the more grains and larger fly it can carry.
Typically a fly is swung deep through the line in a manner to entice the aggression of a steelhead to strike. Coverage is a key factor in finding fish, as is presentation within the area you are able to cover.
In winter, cast down and across at an angle that permits the line to descend into it's swing depth then apply tension to the line to make the fly swim across the pool to settle into a hang down in a fishy seam. Many takes will occur as the swing starts or in the hang down, few occur without tension on the line.
Clearer (lower / colder) water typically calls for smaller flies at least for me; rain swollen waters get me to pull out some beastly flies and they seem to work well. Black, purple, orange/pink, natural color bunnies and marabous do the deed; check out Ed Ward's intruder for the ultimate big winter aggression seeker. Smaller flies I've done well with include Freight Trains, Skykomish Sunrises, Purple Perils with seal dub bodies, Black Herons, as well as a boxful of my own creations.
Another river I enjoy flyfishing for steelhead in addition to Erics list is the Cowlitz, which gets a bad rap because of the mob mentality at two sections of the river and the freeway-level jet sled traffic. Even as I describe that is sounds horrible, but there are beautiful stretches of river away from the crowds and most years an awful lot of fish to swing to.
That being said the East Fk Lewis and Kalama when in shape would be the better choices, or if you have some time and the rivers are in check out the Olympic Peninsula streams like the Sol Duc, Hoh and Upper Bogey (Bogachiel).