Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter steelhead fishing on the Siuslaw River

Winter steelhead fishing on the Siuslaw River above Whitaker Creek yesterday, Wild Bill and I again tried our luck chasing the silver monsters. The river was absolutely jammed when we got there -- tons of wade fishermen, and easily a dozen boats between Whitaker Creek and 126.

We kept going upstream, past the Whitaker Creek boat launch, and the people dropped off to nothing. Where the hell were all the people? We didn’t have our regulations in the car, but our first thought was that the river was closed above Whitaker Creek. We drove back down to the boat ramp to see if we could spot someone official looking to ask.

We found a guy walking back up the road from a pullout downriver. He was wearing all green, so we figured that was a good enough reason to trust him. He said the stream was open for several miles above the ramp. So we went for it.

Bill had rushed out that morning, forgetting his wading boots and his rain jacket, so needless to say, he wasn’t in top shape for the water. He wore his L.L. Bean duck boots over his waders and the rubber bottoms of the boots had the traction of roller skates. But undaunted, we drifted some excellent water.

I couldn’t believe we had the place to ourselves. Deep slots, lots of cover, definitely a fishy spot. Bill hooked up with a trout right away on a nymph w/ egg dropper. A good sign. I was fishing a woolybugger/egg combo under a float.

The rain was coming and going and the water looked milky blue. I thought for sure we were on to something. Or fishing illegally. Eventually I spooked two hens, and I watched them run upriver from a big riffle I was trying to fish.

We left.

Despite going 0-4 on my quest for winter steelhead this month, I have learned a few things:
  • Don’t fish in rubber boots.
  • Carry a copy of the regs in your car.
  • Get out earlier -- especially on the weekends. You’ve got to be in front of the mob to get these winter steelhead to bite.
  • Work slower. I’m spooking a lot of fish, probably right out from under me. I need to work closer and be more patient.
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