Saugeen Steelhead this Spring [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Saugeen Steelhead this Spring

02-13-2003, 04:51 PM
I was thinking about visiting the Saugeen this spring for steelhead. I know that the river is very large and the runs can extend into May, but was wondering what time frame fishes the best.

Typically in the Great Lakes, we will have more than one run of steelhead, with fish moving up after a large rain and staging throughout the system. On the Saugeen, do you get alot of staging fish that stay in the river long and stale or do you guys get alot more fish that spawn and then go back to the lake. I would think since the river is so large, you would attract more fish ealier and will utalize the river to stage as they await the spawn. I would also think that dropbacks are common. Again, I do not know the fishery and what to expect just looking for options.

I heard that the river is somewhat shallow, and hard to break apart, is this true? I know I should be fine with a spey, I will probaly bring along a 12'6" 7wt and maybe the 9wt if I am going to use tips and heads.

Please offer some assistance:D

02-14-2003, 03:19 PM
The steelies are spreadout from April through to June with trickles starting in March. The Saugeen is a very large watershed and it's quite shallow through most of the system. The river has a few spots that will concentrate fish but al lot of it, while not featureless, would certainly be difficult fishing, especially for the nympher. The stretches from Dennys Dam up to Walkerton are best done by drift boat trip or canoe. John Valk has a drift boat service if you want to use one. The upper section is best fished either with a single hander or with spey-nymph set up. It averages about 50' to 100' wide, sometimes a bit more but as it's so easily waded, there isn't the need for a lot long casts.

Below Dennys Dam, the river has more the appearance of a big, brawling PNW river as it cuts its way through a large gorge out to Lake Huron. This section gets a lot of pressure from the abutments down about 500 yards but after that, things definitely thin out.

Most anglers use the Canadian float rod system and they need the same type of water as a nympher to be really effective. The water well below the dam area is flatter and broader, ideal swing water, so it sees less float rodders. The centre of the river is unreachable by the float rodders but spey fishers should be able to reach most of it. It gives us the opportunity to reach fish that haven't been pounded with roe bags. There is about a mile or so of excellent swing water that hardly sees a single angler so if you don't mind the walk . . .

I'll post a few pics in a little while.

02-14-2003, 03:46 PM
Two of the upper section:

and two of the lower section:

02-14-2003, 06:48 PM
Thanks for the great pictures i to would like to fish the geen but did know what it looked like . Hay Peter lets float that baby sometime soon .

02-14-2003, 07:54 PM
Well, I've already got one trip booked in May - my buddy is coming up from MA to try for his first steelie. It would be really good to try the same trip via canoe as there's lots of water you would want to bypass to get at the good holding water. Mind you, there's great water that practically no one fishes, right in the town of Walkerton.

A canoe has the speed to cover a lot of water though a few of the rapids would be "interesting". :D

02-15-2003, 01:01 PM

Nice pictures and nice water. Have to put that on on the long to do list of steelhead rivers.

Are there many outfitters to rent canoes from there ? I would like to do that. Done that a number of times in Michigan.

PM Out

02-15-2003, 02:06 PM

Nice photos, think you could do that area in pontoons?

Those things can handle all types fo water.

02-15-2003, 02:23 PM
Pontoons or canoes would be great in the upper section but rather dangerous in some parts of the lower section. The chute pictured in the lower section pictures really moves when the water is up and its much bigger than the pictures indicate. There are standing waves in the three to five foot range in the middle of it.

I'll have to check into canoe rentals on the Saugeen - lots on the Grand. I assume there has to be some since it is a tourist oriented area. I'll see what I can find out.

02-15-2003, 03:04 PM

Thanks, don't worry at 55 years old, I am smart enough not to take the large white water risks like I did in my twenties.

Now will get out and line the boat through dangerous class white water for sure.

Nothing like an autumn canoe trip on a steelhead and salmon great lakes river.

Pm Out

02-15-2003, 03:53 PM
I always wanted a good excuse to buy a mini-drifter.:D

They really are not that expensive if you find a used one.

02-15-2003, 05:20 PM
Hay MJYP Peter and pm i have a hyde minni drifter and a full size fish rite i could stack the minni in the big boat and bomb out there and do it in style . five dudes could fish in comfort let me know how long the floats are and how are the put ins and take outs also have small kickers for each boat .:)

02-15-2003, 05:28 PM
Walkerton is an easy put-in but the take-out that we've used is a farmer's lane. We might need a shorter or longer drift to get a public take-out. There is surprisingly little public access at this end of the Saugeen so the take-out would probably have to be at a bridge.

It does sound lke a plan.

02-15-2003, 05:57 PM
Peter that dose sound good a7 or 8 mile float is good for a day because with the motors you can fish the best runs longer if you like or go through with a diferent fly. dudes i am pumped i am always serching for new spey water sounds like the geen is for me.

02-15-2003, 06:23 PM
That my friends is the voice of a true Steelhead bum.

Your secret is out my friend.

02-15-2003, 06:34 PM
I'll get some details on potential take-out points, use of motors etc. and get some idea of distance. I'll be drifting it the 6th of May so we might want to drift it shortly afterward to take advantage of whatever additional info I pick up.

I'll get back to ya.

02-17-2003, 06:19 PM
Thanks for the info. Defintly looking into fishing it. Looks adequete for the longrodder, which would be nice.

Drool, Drool;) Wish it was spring and I was there!

02-21-2003, 06:17 PM
Did some checking on put-in, take-outs for a drift trips and the news isn't great. Walkerton has a few spots so a short trip (4 km) can be laid on by using these. Once outside of Walkerton, you have to arrange access with a farmer or be prepared for an ugly lift out at a country road bridge.

Light craft that can be carried from the water won't be a problem but anything that needs to be trailered is going to be a major hassle without a friendly, riverside farmer. And in answer to your next question, I don't know any.

Motors are not a good idea as some of the riffles are very shallow plus the river bottom is dotted with boulders that reach up and grab props.

One very neat feature in the river - you'll be gliding along in 2' of clear water when you suddenly pass over a ledge and the water goes jet black. All around you, water is boiling up and the bottom is waaaaay down there as an underground river flows in to the main channel.

02-21-2003, 06:37 PM
Sounds like it put on the Simms and enjoy the walk, which is very cool.

You get a different aspect of the river while walking the banks.

02-21-2003, 06:58 PM
Without a drifter myself, I will be walking unless I can arrange something with some buddies or a guide. I prefer not to go with a guide only because of the cost(with all the $$$ I have put into my own equipment, gear, and even $ towards books for knowledge:D :D ) although I might learn alot about the fishery and might be able to find the fish easier. Still, I like the adventure and challenge of doing your own gig....

Well thanks for the input.;)

02-21-2003, 09:56 PM
Bets way to learn a new river is with a local or guide. Seeing as how the bang for the US $$ in Canada is way in our favor a guide would be a good idea. Could even give him a good tip and still get away cheaper than any stateside guide.

02-22-2003, 10:18 AM
I have floated the walkerton stretch 4 times with guides from
Grindstone Anglers ( John Valks ) , There is good walk in at
Walkerton and at the end of the Float. DO NOT use a canoe on
this river in spring, maybe a summer or low water fall float,
It can be dangerous even in a drift boat, I saw one go down,
Save your life and some money, float with a guide, I believe
Johns outfit is the only one floating the river. It's worth it
beutiful river, fish , and no pressure, in an 8 mile float I've never
seen more then 4 other fisherman. You have an honnest shot
at dry fly steelhead in may on this stream. Also it is very under
rated fall stream for salmon.

02-22-2003, 02:44 PM
Were you with the Rob when the boat got hung up on a sweeper? Must of been fun.

What's the snow pack like this year? The last few Springs it hasn't been that bad for high flow but then there hadn't been that much of a snow pack either.

03-22-2003, 05:01 PM
Peter, Ya I'm the one that had that interesting ride, Still look forward to going back, ecsp. now that I have a new spey rod to break in
Steve B