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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looks like things are wrapping up for coho this year, seems a bit earlier than normal? This is my first full year 'on the fly' and it's been a blast. A bit challenging at times, but I'll never go back, I'm hooked (ok, thats bad) on the fly. For the first while I always went hiking with two rods, kind of like bringing a crutch along. By the end of the season my drift kit stayed in the truck :)

I found some 'nice water' last couple of trips out as well but I have no idea if it's steelhead water or not as I've never caught a steelhead.... YET... :) So, perhaps some of you wiser vets could put me on the right track and let me know (for fly fishing) what does good steel head water look like? What does GREAT steelhead water look like?

It's a bit late but I'll put up a report of my last trip with the photos I took, found some beautiful spots.

RR
 

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k i'll take a shot, correct me if u think i'm wrong. 1 i've caught steelhead in 2 feet of water.

I think good steelhead water is 2 1/2-8ft deep, goin at a man's walking pace. i like water with obstacles, big boulders, logs, drop offs, undercut banks, choppy water. A steelhead run i think should have a riffle, then a deep gut or current seem and then a nice sloping tail out. My favourite and most productive water is 1 type of water. Goes from rapids, down to a current seem running past an undercut bank with a tailout that has a couple big boulders in it. Its about 6ft deep and has over hanging trees and the run drops into a big set of rapids again. the fish need to get rested after goin up the rapids, so they hang behind the boulders, then they feel safe and leasure up through the current seam insteading of shooting past, they have cover from the trees and the bank, and then they hang around in the riffle until they're ready to keep goin.

Steelhead need cover, oxygenated water, easy travel route.

anyone have anything to add?
 

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avoid sandy bottom areas, fish gills and sand dont mix, skip that run. find nice sized boulders, logs in the water, troughs, seams, riffles and of course my favourite tail outs. you will be amazed at what they will sit in.
avoid sloping runs, find flat pieces of water.
 

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well dont under estimate peices of water under 2 feet either. I have caught smaller steelies in 18" of water right near shore in clear water. they hide in behind rocks so make syre you let your fly swing basically all the way into shore especially when the water starts to warm up. sometimes they will smash your fly right at shore :eek: few years back I saw a guy that got one around 18lbs in less than 2' of water my dad and I couldnt believe it because they fishes back would have been level with the top of the water :happy: :happy: sure was a nice fish cause i took the pic for him ;D


HOOK
 

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i have no idea because i only caught the one little guy behind a rock with wool a few years back promptly to lose it LOL i think getting them in shallow water like that is more luck than anything. however swinging a fly many guys have told me that alot of the takes are when it is almost at shore especially in late Feb-May when the water is warmer. they will sit and slowly stalk it then when they figure its getting away BAM!!!
 

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2 years ago my old man pulled one out of 18'' of water in a side channel, there was a slight riffle adding cover along with a fallen log along the side of the river. this is all they need to feel secure.
 

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I was down by the train bridge one day a few years back and had a couple of them swim just a foot or so in front of me. and i was standing on shore!!!! I even managed to hook one of them once she moved into deeper water after seeing me but she popped off anyway :'( oh well I was still learning about steel then (not that im not still learning)
 

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YG has a very good description that will get you started. i think that water speed and cover is key. so water that is productive at low clear levels may not be the best place to look when the water is in flood and coloured up. heads - tails, shallow - deep, close to shore - out in the middle will all hold fish in different conditions.

here is a tip for you: if you see someone hook a steelhead, pay close attention to where his NEXT cast goes. he will put it back in the exact same spot in the hopes of getting another fish. you have just learned a holding spot.

DP
 

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I fish the tailout in medium to high water mostly and the head of the run or main pool in low, clear conditions. In high off colored water don't neglect fishing at your feet! Then again, if calculating steelhead holding water was an exact science, I would not have anything left to learn which would be pretty sad for a fisherman.
 

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STEELHEAD WATER IS WHERE YOU FIND STEELHEAD. WITH THAT BEING SAID FISH AS MUCH WATER AS YOU CAN AND MOVE ON AND COVER MORE. BUT THERE ARE AREAS WHERE HOOKUPS ARE MORE FREQUENT. PREVIOUS POSTS COVERED VERY GOOD SECTIONS OF THE RIVER TO FOCUS ON FOR SURE. ANOTHER GOOD RULE OF THUMB IS FISH THOSE AREAS THAT PROVIDE A BREAK IN THE FLOW OF THE RIVER...BOULDERS ABOVE AND BELOW THE SURFACE, INSIDE BENDS OF RUNS AND LOGS OR DEBRIS. THESE BREAKS IN THE FLOW WILL CREATE SEAMS WHICH YOU CAN SEE ON THE SURFACE. THESE SEAMS WHERE THE FAST FLOWING WATER MEETS THE SLOWER WATER ARE WHERE STEELHEAD WILL REST AND THEN CONTINUE BACK UP RIVER INTO THE MAIN FLOW. THEN THROW IN WATER CLARITY AND YOU WILL FIND MOST FISH WILL SEEK OUT COVER OR DEEPER WATER WHEN CONDITIONS ARE LOW AND CLEAR. WHEN THE LEVELS GO UP AND GET DIRTIER, THE FISH WILL FEEL MORE SECURE AND WILL BE MORE ABUNDANT CLOSE TO SHORE WHERE FLOW IS MINIMAL. GOOD LUCK
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the great info guys! I think I suspected some of the conditions described so I'm glad my hunches were not totally out to lunch. This has been a great thread and I'm sure there are a few lurkers out there that appreciate the wealth of information you're all willing to share. Next beer is on me ;)

If I could cast another angle into the mix (not even ashamed of the terrible pun ;) ) There's been several references to holding spots - seams, back eddy, etc., when drifting my fly through a spot like this, what do the steelies chase? Is it a dead drift through their space, a slow pull against or across the current (I've had some really exciting almost explosive hits pulling dead slow back up the current after the end of a drift). Do they go out of their way to attack or is it more like trying to target their nostrils and hoping they might wake up?

Thanks all !! :)

RR
 

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the warmer the water gets the more aggressive they get and more willing to move to attack stuff. I got into 13 one day all in the same piece of water and it was clear enough i watched them fly out under the logs and smash my wool needless to say i missed the first couple but still hooked up 13 and guy next to me got into 6 all in about 3hrs. since then my best has been 2in a day :'( hoping to change that this year as im adding roe to my arsenal
 

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i missed the first couple but still hooked up 13 and guy next to me got into 6 all in about 3hrs.
Over 20 steely hooked in the same run! You hit gold! :happy: Just curious If this was the stamp river?

Cover water, once you do this you will slowly pick up on where the fish are, when you know where the fish are, you will only get more fish.
 

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no steely this was the dream day on the Vedder. I couldnt believe howmany fish were holding under these logs and in late March none the less ;D hope i can have some multiple fish days this year even into double digits again would be nice :happy:

when you find a hole like that it sure is like finding gold all to yourself. and the bite turned off just as quickly as it came on. so i went home ;D


good luck out there


HOOK
 
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