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Steelhead. can't catch them :-(((

1746 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  juro
I spent all day on Kalama river. There is plenty of
summer hatchery steelhead now. You can see fish almost
everwywhere from the road thru polarized glasses.
But this is the most frustrating thing. I see the fish but they
refuse any offer. I tried different skunks, muddlers, shrimps, beadheads, etc.
They lying deep on the bottom and not react to any movement
near them. Small fishes attack any kinf of fly recklessly.
Steelhead not. They even don't move and look like sleeping
What's wrong? How to make them more active?
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Chances are if you are seeing them that clearly then you are fishing them when they are off the bite. Try camping up near the foundation hole (public camping alllowed) and fishing the heads and tails of holding pools at first light, we are talking start when daylight is still dim. Bubble a muddler around boulders for fish hoding in rapids, don't waste your time with the ones you see unless you are able to present from way upriver and swing something subtle like a black sparse spey fly with a purple butt without giving them the slightest hint that you are there, and be the first on that pool -or- stay until the last half hour of the day.

I have gotten daytime visible fish to strike, I was even able to hook a fish in front of my mom in mid-day once, but this is not likely and you should put your odds elsewhere if an honest attempt at this holding fish fails to solicit a strike.

Also try a larger river with a big holding pool and wait until at least 6pm, fish a dry line with a long leader and look for deeper pockets with boulders close to shore. Don't wade deep and let the fly swing over the inshore boulder pockets as light leaves the day.

You can get these holding fish to strike sometimes, mid-day with bizzare flies and all - but the odds are against you. Fish in snotty downpour rain, fish in the first and last hour of the day, and fish where steelhead are holding in fast water.

Hope this helps, it sure increased my odds!
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Juro really gives a crash course above. Excellent advice.

I think all of us have had the experience you write about, Vic. We spot fish in the sunlit portions of the pools, get all excited, start throwing everything in the fly box, and wind up frustrated.

But, hey, it's a learning experience.

As you cast over the steelhead, which are probably sleeping, you can't help but observe what they're doing. Mostly they just lie doggo, but every once in a while, one will start to rock slightly from side to side, or drop back and move up into position in a quick, nervous way. Occasionally a fish will just take off and start swimming around the pool. Whenever you notice any nervous movement in the fish, that's the time to get a fly in the water. They will hit during the day, but only at odd times, and those times, for me anyway, have coincided with those nervous movements.

There are all sorts of stories related to this that I won't go into.

Watch the fish and learn from them. Jim Teeny made an excellent video for Scientific Anglers a while back on catching steelhead under bright, daylight conditions. In a nutshell, his method is to cast to the fish, at the fish's level, until the fish gets annoyed enough to strike. His fishing method for daytime steelhead causes ethical problems for a lot of anglers, but his motto is "If I spot 'em, I got 'em."

Steelhead are crepuscular--active at dawn and dusk. The rest of the time, since they're not actively feeding, they're conserving energy by sleeping.

Keep at it: seeing a steelhead in its native element is always a thrill.

One more thing: once the Chinook start to run, the Kalama steelhead can get almost suicidal.


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Thank you guys! I hope it will helps(+)

Probably I should stay for a night and fish for them early morning and late in the evening
Just curious: how appearance of big chinooks affects steelhead behaviour? Do they feel scared or uncomfortable near them?
I hate to tell you this but try it...

Do what Teeny does (of Teeny Lines Fame)...

Throw a rock into the pool and spook them than wait (because they always come back to fav holding spot).

I've never tried it but I've seen them do it at hatchery holes, see the fish get spooky, than they get aggressive and than they see that little red fly.

As for Kings? Kings are stinky and all the other fish hate them. If Kings are in the tail out the steelhead will be in the head and vice versa. I've seen groups of sockeye attack kings.

But everyone loves a CHUM!
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It's funny watching summer chinook on a humpy year in a crowded pool - wherever the ornery king goes, the pinks clear out a halo for it. The steelies pull off to the sides and are content to stay out of the hustle and bustle.
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