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KerryS 04-12-2004 09:49 AM

Different lies
Are the steelhead holding in different water then in previous years?

My steelheading success rate this spring seems to be considerably lower then in previous years. Also, it seems that most of the other fly fishermen I talk to are having a less then stellar year.

The little success I have had I seem to be finding fish in deeper, slower water then in the past. Anyone else experiencing the same scenerio?

sinktip 04-12-2004 10:27 AM


Interesting question. Post February 28th, I haven't hooked a fish in either traditional water or the water you describe. I just attributed it to few fish around. In the winter season I managed to hook a few and all seemed to be in the lies I would expect. All that proves though is that is the water I was fishing. Curious to hear what others think.


MJC 04-12-2004 10:51 AM

Hey Kerry...

My steelheading success rate this spring seems to be considerably lower then in previous years.
That's cause OC is out on the streams at night herding them steelhead away from you boy's "honeyholes".:devil:

fredaevans 04-12-2004 11:58 AM

Personally, I'm finding the same thing on the upper Rogue.
'Classic holding' water from past years has shown me very in the way of results. Places I'd rarily fish are producing the most hook ups. It appears that a few squirts of high water last, and this, winter really changed severl major lies.

In one major case it looks like all the gravel that the fish would hold in has been swept clean right down to bed rock. To make things even more interesting (lower Modoc Ponds bar) has had a major tree dump into the river. That will screw up casting/fly swing .... sigh.

Doublespey 04-12-2004 12:22 PM

Yep, new water
Many good pools on the Skagihomaguamish have been silted by the floods, and new pools and runs have been created. As Dec once commented to me - time to relearn the river!:D

Than being said, the steelhead I've hooked and witnessed hooked/landed this year have all come from typical steelhead water. It's just in different places this year. :cool:

flytyer 04-12-2004 01:46 PM


The two steelhead that I hooked since March 1st were both found in the bottom half of tailouts. I've managed to hook dollies virtually every time out though in water I expect to find steelhead.

Brian Simonseth 04-12-2004 01:49 PM

I have to find that river!

andre 04-12-2004 05:09 PM

Kerry, while I haven't fished much this spring I've done exceptionally well. I don't think steelhead have changed the type of water, but as the floods go so does the holding water. We all know perfect runs that for some reason don't hold fish, the slow deep water you speak of may have some new structure effecting the current?


KerryS 04-12-2004 09:55 PM

Living next to the Skagihomaguamish I started re-learning the river as soon as the flood waters receded. I have been on almost every stretch of water from Marblemount to the forks and from Darrington to the mouth more then a few times. I have learned where the new runs are, where the old ones are not and where even older ones are again. I can tell you where to run your sled, drift boat, pontoon boat and where you should not. I have spent hours on classic runs without a take and a few moments in places a steehead should not be. Where have I had most of my takes? In those places a steelhead should not be. I am not complaining. I am puzzeled.

wet fly 04-12-2004 10:43 PM

Your problem is
Kerry, Your problem is you have been where the fish should not be when they are there. You have been where the steelhead should be when they are not there. Simple as that. Jerry

Riveraddict 04-13-2004 12:15 AM

Different lies
It's been a real weird Spring so far...
- 85+% of "holding water" on the Sauk is sanded in. There are darned few "clean" areas of rock.
- Sauk bar looks better than it has in over 10 years, but isn't producing as good as it looks.
- steelhead takes for the past couple of weeks have been quite non-aggressive in nature.
- steelhead hooked in the last couple of weeks have not fought well.
- the proportion of bright to dark steelhead landed for the last couple of weeks has been unusually high on the bright side of the scale.

My take for what it's worth, just theory, mind you. Fish are running late this year (unusual # of bright to dark), and are therefore "charging hard" up the river (tentative takes/lethargic fights - ruled out temp as a cause, the Sauk has been up to 50 degrees on some days already). The "charging" means that the fish are taking less time to hold, which makes them less susceptible to being caught on the fly. I also do not think that we have any real substantial pushes of fish moving through, just small, sporadic bursts. "Catching" this year seems to really hinge, more so than usual, to being in the particular run that a fish or two has chosen to hold in for a short time, and not being in the 25 other holding spots that look good but are barren. It all boils down to the fact that not enough fish are moving through to "fill up" a bunch of runs like back in the "good old days".

Riveraddict 04-13-2004 10:18 AM

Different lies
Any hooow,
To answer the question... the steelhead that I have hit in the last couple of weeks have been in "standard" steelhead water. What has been a bit unusual is that very few of the fish have taken the fly on the "inside" or towards the latter part of the swing. I think that this points back towards the "nonaggressive mood" that the fish seem to be in lately - they are not willing to "track" a fly very far right now, and the fish that are being caught happen to be the ones where you get a bit lucky and happen to put the fly directly in their face and therefore the fish does not have to move hardly at all to take the fly. The takes for me recently have been mere "stoppings" of the fly, or just "ticks", both indicators of fish not moving far from their lies to take the fly. Disappointingly lacking are the "strong grabs", and "incrementally increasing two ton weight" type takes, which are the "usual" anticipated takes of our April fishery, and indicative of a fish that has moved a significant distance to take.
I thought at first that water temperature was the cause of this phenomona, but the Skagit has been reaching upper 40's in the afternoons, and the Sauk has been even higher. These are temps that should be inducing high states of activity in the fish, with resulting aggressive grabs. But, the fish that happen to be passing through lately, seem to be in a very focused state of getting from point A to B with very little and brief "lingering" in between. I have seen this same circumstance occur up on the Skeena systems, where physical evidence of the presence of fish is much more evident (active rolling and porpoising). I have stood in runs full of obviously moving fish (constant sightings of rolling fish occuring consistently every couple of minutes throughout the entire day), and had takes on the fly only occasionally. The few takes that did occur were not very aggressive in nature. Also, the majority of fish hooked under these circumstances did not "rip it up" during the fight, seeming "asleep" or "in a trance" when hooked. These conditions always occured when the fish were running "late", and that appears to be what is happening so far this April on the Skagit/Sauk. Of course, we are also dealing with a low return this year also.

beau purvis 04-14-2004 08:13 PM

Interesting observations RA. I could take those same comments and aply them to the Dean last summer.I was there all summer. the water levels were abnormaly low all summer, except for a couple of bumps.There were major riverbed changes from prior fall floods.The runs were down. In particular,we noticed the fish seemed to burst through the section we were fishing and were disapointing inn terms of not displaying the traditional robust fighting qaulity of Dean river fish.We also were constantly thinking they were late,until we ran out of season.Never heard of a fish without lice below the canyon until mid august.Definitely no lingering. only places they seemed to hold were at obstructions caused by low water{remarko reef]. I have heard really poor reports from the Gold!Beau

Robert 04-16-2004 11:24 AM

I'm wondering if the reports of lethargic fights and steelhead holding in slower water, especially on the Skagit and Sauk could be due to the inreased level of suspended solids still in the river. This could be affecting the ability to recieve oxygen through the gills. It would be expected that the suspended material would drop out in slower water and the fish may be able to find more oxygen in these lies.

Just a thought.

Sharp Steelie 04-16-2004 11:24 AM

This is a really interesting thread. Tried the Kalama a few
times this winter/spring and have yet to see a single
Steelhead in it. Found fish in the Toutle system just to the
North and the Lewis system just to the South. Concure with
the winter runs seeming lethargic this year. Had landed
a small Steelie on the SF Toutle that in my opinion fought
like a Walleye! In the same stretch of water hooked into a
larger sucker that actually put up a better fight than the
Steelie. That particular small Steelhead wasn't even much
of a challenge - completely opposite of summer runs from
last year!:confused:

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