12-22-2001, 08:01 PM
Since the board seems to be caught in the winter doldrums, I thought it would be nice to share our first fly caught steelhead or atlantic salmon (And no, they don't have to as long winded as mine!). This is probably just a rehash from a previous thread, but there are a lot of new members (myself included) that could probably contribute.
Rob's post about Joe Howell and his "river" started me thinking/reminiscing, as my first steelheading experience was with this man back in March of '93 where I lucked myself into a winter fish which also happened to be my first steelhead. That, however, is another story for another day.
Now my life is the result of an out of control chain reaction that has lead me on the single minded pursuit of steelhead with a yearly special treat chasing atlantics in Quebec.
The story I want to share is my first MSW Atlantic caught and released June 8, 1998. After poking around in Ireland and Scotland while on vacation (Now I could not leave my fly rod home, could I?) catching a few grilse, I decided it was time to try for the big boys closer to home.
I ended up booking Glen Emma water on the Matapedia June 1 to June 8, and also arranged permits to fish the public sector during the mornings and afternoons. The first 5 days of the trip I spent 14 hours a day casting and casting and casting...By this time I stopped getting up early and started knapping in the afternoons. Casting 8 solid hours a day on Glen Emma from a canoe, or shore had flat wore me to the bone, and trust me that is saying something. By this point I had also had enough of the bigger spey rods and started to fish my Sage 7136, not really believing that I was going catch anything anyway. But a silly quote from Richard Adams, directed to yours truly, one afternoon stuck in my head "Anytime your fly is in the water you have a chance". Of course in theory this is true, but the karma had all but left my body. I was just going through the motions and re-thinking next years strategy.
I decided that since June 8 is my last day I would get up early and put in a full day to finish with the old college try. I ran up to the Forks to find it busy, so I turned downstream and found Heppel open and made one quick pass and then headed down to Lower Adams. As you could tell, the fishing was slow, still I was amazed to find this pool empty. I hastened to the head of the run and started casting, really just going through the motions. I remember the color of the light as it swept over the forested hill, a remarkable orange for 5:45AM. I remember the smell of the dew as it was burning off of the grass, and I will ALWAYS remember seeing my fly being snatched out of a wave. I caught this peripherally, and it is permanently etched into my psyche. There was a snout and small explosion of breaking water and then the line went tight. At this moment all time stood still, I was in complete disbelief. Couple that with THE massive rush a adrenaline, it nearly choked me up with tears of joy. The fish indecisively swam around for about 15 seconds then pointed her nose downstream for the most powerful run in all of freshwater fishing.
Lower Adams is not a huge pool by any stretch, probably a hundred and fifty yards from absolute top to the next spill which happens to be a nasty spill where the game would be over if any fish left the pool through this exit. My hen fish streaked a legitimate 80 to 90 yards and then holed up. I was able to walk the embankment and gather my line back where we settled into the proverbial tug of war, about 20 yards above the chute. At this time all I wanted to see was what had taken my fly. Ten minutes later I finally pulled her far enough up in the water column to get a glance in the tea colored water, I estimated her at 25 pounds, or about average for this time of the year.
The next 25 minutes were a series of small deep runs, gain line back and lose it again. I really did not know who was going to give out first, a 7136 is not the best weapon of choice when dealing with a fish of this size. This fight did fit the billing of a series of rounds during a boxing fight.
A few minutes after a villager from St. Florence came down to observe, the fish finally had her will broken and made a run to opposite side and performed a half-belly flop. For a split second she lay in the surface in full view, I was in even more shock as I realized that this fish was larger than 25 pounds and easily over 30.
All I have to say is a big "Thank You" to the kind villager as he helped me tail this fish a few minutes later where I quickly removed the Green Highlander. I then put the fish against the rod and marked its length. One quick cradle and away she went splashing me profusely, while being no worse for the wear. I shook the gentlemans hand, but could not exchange names as he spoke french and I did not.
The fish measured at just under 45 inches and probably weighed 33 to 35 pounds, was full chrome and easily the most magnificent speciman I have ever, or probably ever will see. The feelings evoked by this experience are just as strong today as I write this, and will be just as strong 30 years down the road. Nirvana, and yes Richard was right!
12-22-2001, 08:52 PM
Thats a good topic.
I can remember my first steelhead on the fly quite well which was in the fly fishing only section of Michigan's Pere Marquette (PM) in 1981 (wow that has been twenty years !). It was the spring run the last week of March when the spring run is normally in full swing. Also is cold winter steelhead fishing with air of 30 degrees and water in high 30s low 40s. I had been up fishing for 2 days without any luck but knew the fish were there. The third day there was a heavy rain in the early afternoon. I had gone back to the motel to catch a little sleep for a couple of hours, planning to go back around 3PM and hit the evening hours. Well I overslept by an hour, the rain had stopped and I knew this would get the steelhead moving. I was only 10 minutes from the river by car and got there quick. Got to the famous 1st Clay Banks area, just below Horshoe Bend are the Deer Lick runs made famous in Ernie Schwiebert's writings. No one else was there since it was week day and the heavy rain probably scared some guys from returning. This area always hold fish year round. Perfect trout and salmon water.
The river was a beautiful steelhead green color and had not browned out yet from the rain but had risen. The PM takes a lot of rain to blow out. Was using the most reliable fly at that time a Hex may fly nymph imitation called the Spring Wiggler. A famous fly in Michigan waters. Started down through the Deer Lick which has several beautiful steelhead gravel runs and holes one right after another. Could periodically see a few fish surfacing and moving around. I knew they were there. The excitement level was high.
All of a sudden I see a ten pound hen, silver as can be jumping about 4 feet out of the water, I said wow that was cool. I did not realize it was hooked to the end of my line. Then the fight started. I managed to keep her in the Deer Lick runs because if she took off downstream I could not follow on my side of the river, but would have to cross over. It is possible in lower water conditions but not with the level the river had raised to with the rain.
I don't think she jumped more that a couple of times, but fought hard and deep with head shakes. Since I was only using a 4 pound test leader (normal on the PM due to very clear water and spooky fish) I had to be very careful. Well I slide her up on to the gravel bar and have to admit I kept her since she was my first steelhead. For the record I have not killed a steelhead since 1984. All have been released, all steelhead on the PM are wild fish and have had low keep rules of 1-2 fish max per day in this section of the PM. Two years ago it went to full no kill of anything trout or salmon in the fly fishing only section.
As I was walking out to the car, there was a Michigan State University research project going on which took scale samples from the fish for their study on PM wild steelhead.
That was a two year quest to catch my first steelhead. I had been a trout fly fisherman for the 20 years prior to that growing up in Northern NJ and fishing the Catskill Region. Quite a thrill as each subsequent steelhead has been. We tend to remember all of these now don't we even the big ones we lose. But lets save that for another day.
Below is the URL to PM River Journal, the front cover shows the Deer Lick Runs in the ClaY Bank Area of the fly fishing and no kill section. PM is reported to be the most scenic river in Michigan, has National Scenic river protection. I beleive it, it is a special place.
Happy Holidays to All !!
Pere Marquette (http://www.amatobooks.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=Amatobooks.Com&Product_Code=isbn%3A+1-878175-77-7&Category_Code=River+Journal)
12-22-2001, 09:48 PM
Great topic and one which raises all kinds of fond memories from past trips. My fist Atlantic Salmon on Fly (as opposed to net which I did as a summer job in my early teens) was on the Moy in Co.Mayo Eire. Back then the Ghillie was Geoff Hearns who's father(grandfather?) created the Thunder and Lightning.
June on the Moy equals a big run of grilse with occasional big fish. Talk about an education! After missing five fish by striking too early, Geoff was starting to make threats about re-engineering certain parts of my anatomy if I did it again. That did the trick and about three hours later I had landed five - not bad for a first time out. The Ridge Pool is like that - I don't think I would go back. The fish I count as my real first - un-assisted and completely wild was on the R. Taw. The previous day I had taken a Spey Casting lesson with Simon Gawesworth - that was long before you guys got to know him over here. I called the Rising Sun Hotel and, yes, there were a couple of beats available. I arrived to find the river running at an August trickle under a blazing sun - not conducive at the best of times. There are plenty of deep holes on the beats so, without thinking about catching anything, I set to practicing my new found techniques. Late in the afternoon, I was watching the line swing through in one particular pool and could just about see the size 8 shrimp pattern under the surface. There was an imperceptible boil - more like a brown trout rise. Old Geoff's threat from a few years previous must have been well ingrained since I managed not to strike. I just let everything go. The line came tight against the reel and I lifted the rod into a feisty 10 pounder - the first fish taken on the river in several weeks. Back at the hotel, photos were taken and Peter Huntington dusted off an ancient leather bound fishing ledger in which my name and details of capture were inscribed with a blue fountain pen. That will always be my "First".
My first steel head is out there somewhere too!
12-22-2001, 10:30 PM
Good story, my first atlantic salmon is also out there somewheres.
12-23-2001, 12:28 AM
My first Steelhead on a fly came on a partly sunny September afternoon. September 25 1985. It was a well colored summer run buck of 10 lbs. It rose to the surface for my steelhead caddis in a run called Straub's on the Washougal river. I hooked and landed the fish with a 9ft powell fiberglass 7wt and a double taper line. The fight was about 10 minutes and the fish was released. At that time I was 15 Since then there have been a couple hundred each one memorable in it's own right. My most memorable steelhead was a beautiful 15 lb buck, also from the Washougal around 1995 also in September that fish made 2 250yard nonstop runs. This fish was even more memorable that a 17lb Babine hen I got last fall. It was also the last wild steelhead I caught out of the Washougal and will likely remain the last one.
My first steelhead on a fly was a thick bodied winter buck with perfect fins and an attitude. It came in a really kinda funny way, one that I will never forget.
I had been feeling the urge to move away from using gear for a while, kind of like a steelhead hearing the call of their birth-stream I guess. Although I had no lack of success with gear and deeply appreciated steelhead, there was just something a little unjust about it. Now don't get me wrong, this is not an elitist statement - it's just that my whole fascination with steelhead was based on a fascination with atlantic salmon when I was a kid in England and Montreal Canada. As I grew up in Boston and moved to Seattle, the northwest's salmonids were the realization of a fishery I had only dreamed about as a trout angler in the northeastern states and Canada. This whole fascination was based on the deep-rooted flyfishing culture that emerged in the British Isles and buried itself deep into the Canadian Maritimes rocky soil on the left shore of the Atlantic. There was no other way to pursue these majestic salmonids as far as I knew, growing up anyway.
I had already gone through this once with trout. Like most kids I started out with salmon eggs, marshmallows, and all that and got interested in the flyrod. It was amazing just how receptive trout were to the bugrod and what it did for my interest in trout fishing was amazing. Even when I couldn't cast I would dump my line with a black-nosed dace into the current and tease it back in. Those stocked trout would hit it greedily and what a difference in the feel. Even if I had to struggle with crude casting skills and low hanging trees to get a gnat out to where the spring trout were rising, to watch a trout take a surface fly was just amazing and infinitely more fun than corn and a forked stick. But this was all long before moving out to steelhead country.
So there I was, an experienced steelhead and salmon gear angler in the pacific northwest. Even though I was primarily gear-oriented I would visit Schoff's or Swallows Nest, Kaufmann's or Morning Hatch, or any one of the many flyshops in the Greater Seattle area with growing interest in what seemed to me to be a more fitting and deserved way to pursue the steelhead. The notion of steelhead on flies started to take over my whole passion for steelhead. Those who know me well know that I love a challenge more than a sure-fire success, and this was exactly what I needed. At first as I started to get more and more committed to flyfishing for steelhead, the gear 'crutch' always knocked me off the wagon so to speak and I could never reach the necessary level of proficiency. Then one day at a garage sale I sold all of my non-fly gear. My wife was elated. I was committed. I never turned back.
So there I was, on a crisp February day with my then-best fishing buddy who was disgruntled by my new affliction. He wore hip waders with straps up the sides over his jeans attached to a leather belt with a plastic bait holder wiggling with extra-small and lively sand shrimp scratching on the lid and a fresh rag tied to it. I had one of my first well-tied steely flies on the rod, an adaptation of a skykomish sunrise but with 3 colors of layered marabou tips for a wing. We walked down the dry creek bed to the river together, him riding my butt all the way about my strange looking fat bright line and me getting all 'religious' with this flyfishing stuff, etc.
He settled into the prime part of the pool, joking about how he wanted to stay away from me and that goofy line that would surely scare away the fish (with a smirk). I walked up onto a grassy knoll to 'read' the river above the rapids from him.
After a few moments, he started to laugh about my approach. He had cast maybe a dozen good casts, and I hadn't even stripped out my line from the reel. He asked "Is that how a FLYfisherman does it?" with a giant smile. I smiled back and stepped down to the water, liking what I saw on the far bank.
My first cast to this slot was too far downstream and the fly never lingered in the hollowed out gut of the bottom behind a root wad against the far bank. The line got swept quickly down to the rapids and the fly nearly started to skate. I waded back, repositioned, and this time the fly fell perfectly in the crease while I mended. The fly came under tension and began a gentle dance in the currents somewhere in that mysterious dugout that stretched from behind the root wad down to the vee formed by the tailout. I was thinking the front of that slot might hold a fish, but the line was starting to swing out of there and the line was just starting to accelerate the departure from this good looking spot. As the fly continued, it came out of the hole and onto the shelf just before the head of the rapids, when it happened.
A bright flash looking like half the width of the river turned from the hollow, came up onto the shelf and anihilated my fly! The rod bent violently down to the cork and the line started to scream out as the fish began to churn up the pool. I was shell-shocked, and couldn't manage even a word from the lump in my throat. Jack's jaw dropped so low I swear his cigarette fell into the river as I battled this heavy, football native buck in the fast water. Another angler appeared from the woods on the far side and watched as I battled the fish, which made three very memorable leaps. He crossed over at the head of the pool and came to admire the fish as I removed the barbless hook. He said he watched the whole thing and mentioned something about "those aggressive natives" and walked on back toward the valley road. I snapped a quick photo of my very first steelhead on a fly and the husky male rushed back into the currents to continue his mission.
My partner was speechless the whole walk back to the cars. At that point I was converted beyond the point of no return. Sadly, we eventually went our own angling ways after several more attempts at choosing the water we both wanted to fish (I started to see the river differently) and before you know it I was hooking up as often on flies as I typically did on gear.
But it's not about the numbers, or harvest, or any of that. It's about satisfaction. I enjoy flyfishing for steelhead in the beautiful places where they occur like few things in life and when I bring one to take my fly it is the ultimate experience, each and every time. Long live wild steelhead!
12-23-2001, 01:14 AM
I can remember my first quite well. It was 1986, I was 16, and I was at my girlfriends house....OOPS. You meant first steelhead caught on a fly. My bad. LOL.
I remember my first steelhead extremely well. Can name you exact day, year, and hole I caught it on. My first fly caught is a bit harder. You see, I was born and raised a bait maan, so it was frowned upon using a "'bug rod". Had an uncle who loved to fish the Hoh with one, and heard stories of his prowess whileIi was quite young (he died when I was 4). I tok up the sport using an old 9wt fenwick glass rod an a pflueger 1498 (which I stil haave too). I knnw I hadn't hit teenage years yet. I was maybe 12. I do remember where I hit tha first fly caught though. Was fising just down from Minnie on the Hoh. It as a buck of maybe 12lbs, but was a solid hit all the way. Was using a creation oof my own. Was summertime andd using a "shadowed royal coachman dry" is best way I can describe it. bascially took the red and white fibers in the fly and changed it to black. 'd haave to say it was maybe 1982. I do remember my Dad was still driving his 75' blazer, so was before 84'. I was hooked, buut still loved using the old conventional gear, probably because it' hat my Dad used and I wanted to be like him. lus, I enjoye using that gear. But my first steelhead on any tackle was on December 25, 1976 on the Puyalup just down from the old Mickey Mouse hole. 19 lb hen caught on clown spin n glo and eggs. She burned by thumb up while my Dad just ssat there and smiled. He had to cast the rod for me (it's hard for a newly turned 7yo to cast a big plunking rod with 5 ounce pyramid without backlashing LOL) buu after that I did al the work. Ii set the hook and played the fish in. Was the basis for my obsession of the big boys. After that, trout fishing lost it's luster to me. Not saying it's bad, Ii like to screw around with them myself, but I love fighting stelhead and salmon.
Hmmmmmm, speaking of firsts, her name was Julie, a gorgeous brunette....................:)
12-23-2001, 03:10 AM
Obviously I had to hook and lose steelies before I ever landed one.
I had a couple maybe hookups before I ever solidly hooked into a steelie.
The first one came during my first year of serious steelhead fishing. I had taken a steelhead clinic at the now defunt Diamond Hitch (or Back-dont remember) in Mill Creek. The final day of the clinic was an on the water session with one of the instructors in a driftboat.
We were anchored up off the Cracker Bar and had been tossing drift gear for a good portion of the morning. My 'guide' for the day told me of the old adage that one should always have their gear in the water when a train goes by as the train stirs up the water and gives the fish a short period of activity.
Well a train was passing by and I, for no particular reason, was staring at the train as my gear was bouncing along the bottom. Suddenly I had one hard slam to the rod and then nothing...
I reeled up and found half a sandshrimp. It could have been a chum or who the Hell knows but to this day I like to think that that was my first encounter with a steelhead.
My next encounters including my first ever steelhead came to the fly.
The next encounter did not occur for another few years...:whoa: I was standing at the shelf that seperates Deer Creek from the main North Fork and fishing a 15' sinktip. It had been a long day and I was waiting for my mom to come pick me up (she worked in Arlington and during the summer she would drop me off on the river in the morning and come pick me up in the evening after she got off). My line was swinging down and across as I was fiddling with something (what?...I dont remember). I looked down and saw my coils of line magically uncoiling themselves. By the time I reacted, the line had ceased all forward motion through the guides on the rod and I was fishless.
My next encounter came after I was taught the ways of the indicator. This came a year later and I had gained large amounts of knowledge as I started working at a tackle shop and my fellow co-workers and their close freinds took me under their wing.
It was late-July or early-August and I was fishing the point of the riprap at Fortson. Bryan (who I worked with) was fishing just down below me, covering the tailout in front of the logjam and his best freind was covering the creek area.
I was fishing a half and half marabou (black and white). My indicator dipped down and I lifted up. I felt him and then my mind, my nerves, my heart pressure etc. all went into overdrive. I pinched the line at the cork with my right hand and and started reeling as quickly as I could to get the excess slack up. That is when the steelie decided to run and because I was putting all my attention on getting the slack line up, I did not give an inch to the fish and he popped off.
I fell backwards in a heap of flyline. Major expletives came flying out of my mouth, I turned around, kicked as much water around as I could (the expletives still flying), threw my rod in the water and about broke down into tears. At the point, I thought I was never ever going to catch a steelhead. This was my chance and I failed miserablly.
I walked into work the next day and my boss greated me with a comment regarding my foul mouth. Word was spreading fast that I was a swearing cracker!
After that day, Bryan and I were fishing Picnic Table via the gravel bar side. He was getting restless and took off. Next thing I noticed he popped out on the highbank side. He walked down to the only opening in the riprap and proceaded to hook and land a fish. *Ding Ding Ding*
A week or so later, I had Picnic to myself and was working my way though the run. I started getting the urge to make my way over to the riprap and try spotting fish and then casting to them.
I made my way over to the riprap and noticed a large pod of steelies laying right in front of an opening (pseudo-staircase to the river) in the riprap. I walked down the staircase and stood right below the water and began casting with a renewed excitement.
Within a couple casts, a steelhead moved over and grabbed my fly. I lifted but he spit the hook before I could set it. Instead of bursting into expletives like I did a couple weeks prior, I bit my lip, took a deep breath and reassured myself that there were too many fish in front of me for another not to bite.
About 45 minutes or so later, I was fishing with a Spade (tied on a jighook with leadeyes), and I got another chance of catching my first steelhead.
I got a good hookset into him, did not touch the reel (I learned my lesson ;)) and waited for him. He just swam in circles and as I was shaking, I was telling this steelhead to just run damn it, so he would pick up the line and get himself on the reel. This he did!!!...two runs that brought me into my backing both times. I waded out into waist deep water (it is far from an easy place to land a fish), and after about my 3rd try tailing him, I had him in my hands. I was living the greatest moment of my life (that other first just did not compare-which I wasnt going to learn until later :D)! I unpinned the fly, revived him and he was on his way. He was a chrome buck of about 12 pounds.
I wish I could have gotten a picture of him but I was alone-I had years prior decided that I was going to release the first ever steelhead I caught as a religous right of passing sort of thing. The only physical momento of the most amazing encounter of my life was that fly. As I walked back up to the grassy yard that overlooks Picnic, I sat down. I could not stop smiling. I nipped off the fly and put her back in my box. I had just done what most fisherman could not, catch a steelhead. I strutted around the rest of the day and thought I was some sort of God. :rolleyes:
When I walked into the work the next day, I was smiling from eye to eye and screamed "I got one, I finally got one, I caught a steelhead!"
I cant keep myself from smiling just thinking about it...
My first steelie on the fly ... I was 18 and it was 1973. It happened on Gold River, Vancouver Island at the A-Frame Run. I was a seriously hardcore gear fisherman but I usually had a flyrod in the truck. This glorious day had given me 4 fish and I was feeling great! Since I was 5 minutes from the truck I decided what the heck I might as well give the flyrod a whirl. Lo and behold if I didn't catch a 12lb doe - I was thunderstruck! Now I didn't catch another on the fly for a couple of years - but I knew it was possible.
One of my most cherished days with the flyrod came 2 years before that and it didn't actually involve hooking a steelhead. I was fishing the Campbell River and why I was using a flyrod that day I don't actually remember - but I'm glad I was. I ran into none other than Rod Haig-Brown (I was fishing the run just down from his house - now called Haig-Brown's). Not only did he take time to talk to a punk kid, but he talked about fly fishing, gave me some pointers and suggested that I go down to the River Sportsman and get myself one of the new sink-tip lines that he had been using - it was very cool indeed. Needless to say I immediately got the line - which turned out to be the one I got that first fish on!
12-23-2001, 10:08 AM
Thats quite a memorable event meeting an icon like R.H. Brown by yourself when fishing and getting to talk to him alone. Right up there with your first steelhead memory for sure. His book "The Master and His Fish" 1981 copywrite, came out at the same time my passion and pursuit of steelhead emerged. I started fishing for steelhead in 1980 when I moved to midwest from east coast. Has a number of short stories on steelhead in it which every serious steelhead fly fisherman should read. I pull it out evey year at Christmas time and reread each of these short stories. I have it here right in front of me now.
The only icon fly fisherman I met on the river while fishing was Ernest Schwiebert, which was on the NY State - Big Beaverkill River during the Hendrickson hatch (invaria) in the early 1970's. We were fishing the famous Hendrickson pool, just the two of us. Actually I caught a 14 inch brown before he started catching them. He taught me about the Red Quill flies (subvaria) which also emerge during Hendrickson hatch period which I did not have, and that was what they wanted !! I learned something that day on matching the hatch from a master on possibly the most famous fly fishing river in America, where american fly fishing is said to have had its birth.
Schwiebert also loved steelhead and has some great short stories on the Pere Marquette, North Umpqua, Stillguamish, Campbell River (he interviews R.H. Brown in the story entitled " The Orchard and the River") in his books which are highly recommended. Also great stories on Atlantic salmon and all aspects of trout fishing world wide.
Both R.H. Brown and E. Schwiebert were great writers as well as fly fisherman. That sets them a part in my mind.
Good holidays to all
12-23-2001, 11:20 AM
Lived in Seattle area for many years and was (thanks to the Steelhead Trout club guys) an early convert to fly rods for steelhead. My first fish acutally was on a drift rod. Fish hooked himself on the end of a very long cast. Didn't even know I had him until the silly fish leaped out of the Sky to make a point (besides the one on the top of my head).
The first fish I really remember was on the green. Never saw the fish. Hooked him on the (fly rod here) upper part of the dead drift and I don't think the fish even knew I was there. He just kept swimming up stream, my reel just kept getting more empty. Sooner than later I ran out of beach and the fish still hadn't turned his head. Got to the point that it was grab what was left of the fly line backing and stop this brute or he was going to strip me cold.
He handed me back a hook in a "L" shape. Never slowed, never turned, don't even think the darn thing knew, or cared, I was there.
12-25-2001, 10:42 AM
That reminds me of a big Michigan fall run steelhead I hooked in the early eighties. Was fishing the Lake trout run, yes we have some rivers in Michigan which have large runs of lake trout and brown trout, in addition to the salmon and steelhead. This fish just took off like a freight train, nothing I could do, it was on the St Josephs river, which is wide. It must of ran 150 -175 yards then it stopped. My hook also came back in L shape.
That fish had to be at least 15 pounds, one of the two largest steelhead I ever hooked.
The fall run steelhead in the mid west are by far the hottest ones, since the water temperature is still in the upper forties or low fifties.