Sport fishing column for Nov 14 to 21, 2011

There is no other angling practice I know of, that is bathed in more myth and mystery than steelhead fishing. While I have my own theories as to why, I choose to remain silent. I keeping with my belief that the sport of steelhead Fly Fishing has been made way too complicated; I begin our look at steelhead flies with the simple Wooly Worm.

The Wooly Worm has a history that goes back centuries to the days of Izaac Walton and Charles Cotton. The seldom used steelhead addition was created by Jerry Wintle and Bob Taylor forty eight years ago. On its creation and testing Taylor had these words to say;

"One evening after the day's fishing was done, Jerry Wintle asked me to tie up some flies for the next day. What he wanted were big flies with red tails, black chenille bodies, and when he noticed the grizzly cape in my Tying kit, lots of that on. As I was Tying this up on a 2/0 hook, I realized that what we were making was that popular trout fly the Wooly Worm.

We ended up with a few to try the next day and the large Wooly Worms were an instant success…"

My favorite story of the Wooly Worms prowess is when I used this fly to trick my friend Barry into his first steelhead.

Barry, at the time was a novice fly fisherman, and had been out fishing for winter cutthroat. Upon his return he told me about some large rainbows he had spotted but was unable to move. Knowing Barry was unaware that the rainbows were steelhead, I chose to use his ignorance to set him up. Explaining that rainbows in winter are slow moving and lethargic feeders, I suggested that he tie up some pink Wooly Worms and present them as close as possible to fishes noses. The following evening I got a call back from Barry, who was ecstatic about the two large rainbows he had caught. I replied with, "Well done! Now that you have caught your first two steelhead on a fly rod, I don't think anyone will be able to convince you that catching them is as hard as some believe." The rest of the story? I leave that to your imagination.

The report

Fishing on our lower mainland lakes is fair. Try a slow troll or retrieve with: Coachman, American Coachman, Professor, Wooly Bugger, Micro Leach, Sixpack, Dragonfly Nymph, Halfback, Doc Spratley, Baggy Shrimp, or Zulu.

The Fraser River is fishing fair for spring, chum, and cutthroat. For spring try: Popsicle, Big Black, Flat Black, Stonefly Nymph, Squamish Poacher, or Eggo. For chum try: Christmas Tree, pink & purple Wooly Bugger, Met Green, Holliman, Popsicle, or Flat Black. For cutthroat try: Eggo, Rolled Muddler, Tied Down Minnow, Mickey Finn, Stonefly Nymph, or American Coachman.

The Stave River is good for chum, coho and cutthroat. For coho try: Christmas Tree, Rolled Muddler, olive Wooly Bugger, Bite Me, or Coho Blue.

The Harrison River is good for chum, spring, coho, and spring.

The Thompson River is fair to good for steelhead and rainbow. Try: Squamish Poacher, Big Black, Flat Black, Popsicle, Kaufmann Stone, Steelhead Spratley, or polar Shrimp.