Thursday, May 5, 2011


Took a short break yesterday from chasing Springers on the lower river and headed back up into the fly water.  My winter steelhead season usually ends each year by "tax day'.  This year's winter steelhead season just didn't seem like it was ever going to end with the long, wet cold winter we endured.  The cold water seemed to hold the north umpqua winter fish down in the mainstem much longer than normal, as many fish didn't cross the damn until well into March this year.  As a result, alot of fish showed up long after everyone had gone on to other "springtime" activities, like chasing Springers.

  Heathers first winter steelhead taken May 2nd.

Fishing for winter steelhead on the North Umpqua (or any river for that matter) in April can put anglers into contact with spawning fish if they're not very careful to avoid areas where favorable spawning conditions exist.  Deliberately fishing over spawning fish is a "fly fishing felony" and anyone who engages in such detestable, unethical and scurrilous an activity would also be suspected of kissing their own sister.   With that said, you can avoid scandal by simply fishing slower, deeper runs that have bottoms devoid of gravel and preferably have good structure like ledges and large - Volkswagon sized boulders.  If your not sure, don't fish a run.  I also recommend looking over a run very closely, especially when water clarity allows you to peer down into the flows to make certain that there are no spawning fish, spawning gravel etc. around. 

But winter steelheading in May?  Never heard of such a thing.  Winter steelheading in 77 degree weather, with a bright, summer-like Oregon?  This winter?  NO WAY!  YES WAY! 

Chad with his gorgeous North Umpqua winter hen taken May 4th.

So now I can officially call the 2010/11 winter steelhead season over.  Put a fork in it.  Ya, obviously there are still some nice fish around.  Frank said Steve Rajaff lost a nice last week.  We found these fish this week.  But honestly, I'm tired of chucking monster flies.  Tandem tubes, Intruders and the likes.  I find myself this way every year.  Longing for a full floating fly line, a nice long leader and a skater merrily chugging along until it disappears in a boil the size of washtub!  That's what I long for...until next November when a deeply swung, greasy looking black or blue or purple colored Muppet will draw that monster grab from the next run of winter natives!