Thursday, November 29, 2012

Transitions, Trout, Steelhead and Snow

Here we are, the week after Thanksgiving, and we're still waiting for the snow.  Last year was ZCA's first foray into the world of frozen water, and we're anxiously awaiting powder days and apres ski nights.  In the meantime, the fishing is still decent.

Zach Scott of False Casts and Flat Tires has been streamer fishing quite a bit this late fall, in between hunting trips, and he's posted some really cool pics from his travels over there and on the MAngler Blog.  We fished the 'Root this week, and unfortunately, I brought my bad luck along.  Zach still managed to stick a sweet 18" bow, but he assured me, it's been fun times on the minnow patterns virtually every other trip he's taken.  Water temperature, like always, is something you want to pay a lot of attention to.  We didn't and it was a slow day, but the fish are still looking.

As for me, I've decided to dedicate this fall to learning how to catch steelhead on the swing.  Many of you know, I've nymphed up my share of metal the past few springs, but this fall, it's been all about the down-and-across.  I recently purchased a few two-handed rods l and I've set out to learn to cast in earnest.  Up to this point, I'd been stealing Entztrix's switch to practice with, but I'm finally making some progress now that I have a few of my own.  Thanks to Tim Rajeff and Echo Fly Rods and Airflo lines for making excellent quality equipment available on a fishing guide's budget!

I've primarily been going to the Salmon in the North Fork area.  Lots of good fly water, nice folks, and not too crowded, but it ain't easy.  My first real trip down, Will Fisher and I managed to hook three and land two in two days.  This gave me a false sense that I knew what I was doing.  I returned two weeks later only to get blanked four days in a row.  Gotta pay your dues in this game.

On my most recent trip, I hooked two and landed one in two days, so I'm improving.  If you haven't noticed, I recently added a Steelhead Links section to the blog, where you can find Idaho weather, stream flow data, and fishing reports for both the Clearwater and the Salmon.  If you're planning a trip this winter or spring, be sure to stop here first to see what you'll be getting into.

Looking forward, I've been chatting online recently with Washington steelhead guru, Dec Hogan, and I plan to review his excellent book A Passion for Steelhead here in the near future.  I'll also be writing some sort of "why I steelhead fish" piece about my adventures too.  Until then, pray for snow, tie some bugs, and hit the river on the warmer days.  Until it gets frothy, there are still some trout to be had out there.


  1. Ever try the South Fork in the fall? I know there are fish in the river by October. I have been meaning to make it over there but wasn't able to this year.
    Thanks for the steelhead info.

    1. Never fished the South Fork in the fall. There are definitely way fewer fish up there, as I think most fish overwinter in the mainstem, but I'm sure there are a few. I've been considering a trip down to the lower Clearwater this month. Water temps stay a lot warmer there than Salmon, although the rain makes it less predictable. Thanks for the comments!