Advice when steelhead won't open their mouths?

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SmallStreams

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Went to Bonnie Lure park for the first time on Sunday, just to get my bearings on the creek and sample the Clackamas salmon. Eagle Creek was running very clear. Didn't expect to see any steelhead in the creek, so close to the mouth and so late in the season, but then we spotted 3 holding in a small hole and then a fourth and fifth joined them while we tried everything to get a reaction from them.

Nothing. They soundly ignored every bit of hardware we sent their way, small or big, dull or shiny. They didn't spook, just sat there hugging the bottom at the forward edge of the hole. Yes, we were bouncing stuff off their heads.

So is this common behavior? Do they stay put instead of bolting when they're spooked? Any other advice when steelhead won't open their mouths?
 
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benkearney

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This is when archery fishing comes in handy. :)
 
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fish_4_all

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Only thing that works for me when that happens is to make them move for it. Sometimes right in front of their noses won't get a strike but 12 inches above can or 2 feet to the side will do it. If this doesn't work, the fish are just too smart for me. When it comes to steelhead that isn't much for me though.
 
brandon4455

brandon4455

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fish the stuff that makes you think "would a steelhead even bite this?" adding a bit of flash to you rigs works sometimes. it's the stuff that hasnt gone by their faces 2millon times that they will bite. even small tweaks can work sometimes not always though.
 
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SantiamDrifter

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The biggest factor in fishing steelhead in low clear water is making sure they dont see you first. Once they spot you its over. You have to sneak up on them... But if that doesn't work, go big and bright. Throw some flouresent red plugs at them. Its soooo intrusive they sometimes strike.
 
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Yohan

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Go somewhere else where they are biting... ;)





(p.s. that was a joke for all the super sensitive people out there)
 
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fish_4_all

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Going big can work too. My biggest summer steelhead was on an aweful looking egg sucking leech pattern. Thing was 5 inches long and looked like a dead leech with fur but it worked when no one was hooking anything. Was pretty much the same situation also, low water, fished hard and could see the fish, well see all but where I hooked mine.

Don't forget to try really small too. A 1/32 ounce jig in a leech pattern or a really bright pattern may do the trick. And definitely get your eyes off the fish. find them and then back off before fishing, makes a huge difference in shallow water at times.
 
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SmallStreams

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Well... I went back tonight, saw 2 chrome and 1 uglified, but couldn't even catch them with a camera!
 
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ProfessorChromology

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If you are flyfishing, fish them like trout. Find them, then sit down for ten minutes and watch. If you have to stand up to see them, try to stay as low as possible. Then tie on a #6 weighted black wooly bugger and trail a weighted caddis or small stonefly nymph off about 20 inches of leader from the bend of the hook of the wooly bugger. Cast up stream with a long leader and let the bugger swing down toward the fish. I usually use 8 pound test fluorocarbon. My fingers are sweating just thinking about your "predicament". Good luck!
 
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SmallStreams

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Return trip last night. Beautiful weather, creek was a little higher and the water not as clear. Spotted two good-sized fish in the same hole and by evening's end, there were four in there (may have been there all along; the sediment and higher water reduced visibility).

Thanks for the reminder of sending a wooly bugger past their noses... still didn't work. What seemed to get them stirring around a bit was a bright red hotshot, but I couldn't tell if they were trying to avoid it or were mildly interested in it. In any case, they weren't interested enough to strike nor annoyed enough to leave the small hole.

At least it was another enjoyable evening even if I'm not learning much!
 
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fish_4_all

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Try a bead next time. Might be the idea of an egg moving into their potential spawning points that gets them to take something. Maybe even a nightcrawler free floated if possible.
 
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