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Hi guys, new to this site. Thought I might pick your brains about some dirty water steelheading. I am a guide on the Niagara River. Over the last few years, the water in Nov and Dec have been constantly dirty. I suppose its due to the climate changes, we seem to get alot of high winds on Erie which in turn dirties the whole Niagara river all the way to lake Ontario. In the past, we might have of only had to deal with this for a week or two in Nov, now it seems it lasts until we get a freeze in Jan, which of course by then, its too cold to fish from boats. If we dont get at least a foot or two of vis, most guides around here cancel their trips. How do u guys deal with dirty water out there. Whats the least amount of vis that you will fish in? I usually keep my baits simple, either roe bags or yarn flies. I dont use alot of corkies or combinations of things, mostly because I never had to. We have been quite spoiled out here, 15-30 fish days where quite common. I think I have to accept reality and start fishing in some tougher conditions for fewer bites and learn to appreciate every fish alittle more. Hope you guys can give me some advice. Thanks alot.

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There was great article by Jason Tonelli regarding Steelheading High Water a few issues back. It is written under the assumption that most high water can or will be dirty.


Here is the link to buy the back issue.

I have it somewhere, if I can dig it out I will post the highlights.

Not sure if the Niagra will have the same type of water he refers to in the article.

Good timing with your question we are amidst the dirtiest water of the season. Although I think most are waiting for the water to clear and reveal the first good push of steelhead in the local rivers.

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Well obviously you would be in tune with where the fish are, so that HUGE part of the equation you have figured.
Keeping in mind that these fish will be more secure in cloudy water and possibly change their holding habits a bit.

The next would be figuring out what senses the fish will be using most.

Having their sight restricted will make these fish turn to their amazing power of smell.

Also fish have a system of locating movement with their lateral line, so a lure with action is another key to dirty water steelheading.

One of the best ways to catch dirty water Steelhead is using a lure with lots of action or vibration in conjunction with a stinky scent trail. Many times it is best to fish this staionary and allow fish to come to you.

Large globs of chunk roe done with a wet milking cure is always a great bait for dirty water.

Other scent ideas are oils and pastes which are available everywhere and have exploded in popularity of late.
For Steelies I like krill, crawdad, herring, squid and anise.

Fishing bait below a spin n glo is one excellent filthy water tecnhnique west coasters have been using for many decades. The spin n glo provides excellent vibration in the water and the roe is the final selling point to a hungry steelhead( although some people think they don't eat when returning to fresh water I beg to differ).

If you have no good roe try palcing a 6" bright pink rubber worm on the hook and scent often and plenty.

Other ideas would be a good size thumping spinner like the ones at the bottom of my report http://bentrods.xplorex.com/page220.htm

You can troll these or cast them, but with dirty water I would sit on anchor in a good holding lie and have your spinner working at a depth your confident these steelies are at. I strongly suggest putting a cured and scented prawn on the hook and this technique should work great. The rod tip should be a steady thump and not a fast vibration, a key to spinners effectiveness.

When water color drops below 1 foot it becomes very tough to catch steelies IMO and once you get past that they are certainly catchable.

One of the great things about dirty water is the crowds are at home and if you dial things in correctly you can enjoy some peacful fishing and still catch some fish.

Good luck.

15- 30 a day :happy:, man are you guys spoiled.

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A few other things to consider when you are fishing dirty water is keeping an eye out for clear water infalls. If there is a substantial amount of clear water entering the main stream, you can often find a few fish enjoying the softer current and the cleaner water....Also with regards to colours, it may come as a surprise, but "darker water/darker colours" is my rule......All of B/R's info is right on regarding the fish' receptors, I would just add that purple/black/burgundy colours seem to be more attractive to steelhead when the waters are less than perfect. Brass is usually a better choice than silver, and the traditional pinks/light orange colours etc. do not seem to work as well as they do when you have 2 ft. vis.

Ortho 8)
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