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dansteelieman 02-13-2003 04:51 PM

Saugeen Steelhead this Spring
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

peter-s-c 02-14-2003 03:19 PM

My ears were burning . . .
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.

peter-s-c 02-14-2003 03:46 PM

Two of the upper section:

and two of the lower section:

HERON 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 .

peter-s-c 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

pmflyfisher 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

removed_by_request 02-15-2003 02:06 PM


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

Those things can handle all types fo water.

peter-s-c 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.

pmflyfisher 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

removed_by_request 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.

HERON 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 .:)

peter-s-c 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.

HERON 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.

removed_by_request 02-15-2003 06:23 PM

That my friends is the voice of a true Steelhead bum.

Your secret is out my friend.

peter-s-c 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.

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