Is this normal? - first steelhead experience

S

SmallStreams

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
265
Location
Oregon City
Since I vowed that I would learn about steelhead and salmon this year after many decades of being a summer trout fisherman, I made my first attempt yesterday on the Salmonberry River with a couple friends who are equally novice with steelehad. President's Day was a holiday for all of us.

Why the Salmonberry? Well, we have good trout memories from the '80s & early '90s, know the stream reasonably well, and are also interested in how the trout are doing up there without any fishing pressure. A bit of Internet research says it's a late run, so since we missed the earlier fish, it seemed like a good idea in our neophyte minds...

On the trip in, the Nehalem was on the muddy side, so we were pleased that the Salmonberry was not. It was high and fast, visibility 6'-8' when the surface wasn't roiling around. We didn't see any fish moving around, but after working our way upstream checking the slower holes, we caught a couple baby trout. Eventually, at the last hole we tried, I had a large trout follow my lure (large krockodile), but not connect. The hole was large enough and had enough structure that the three of us had been casting hardware in many ways for about 45 minutes and we weren't crossing lines, so it was a bit of a shock when the adult trout was spotted.

Shifting and moving around on the shore, I finally got to glimpse a dark steelhead rise up off the bottom and take a snap at the krockodile in earnest as the lure swung into shore. That was both a thrill and a disappointment when it missed by the skin of its teeth. We kept trying for another 15 minutes, but never did see any more fish.

So the questions are:
1) Had the steelhead just been laying on the bottom mostly ignoring us or was it cruising through or newly arrived?
2) Is it normal that one doesn't see them for the most part?
3) Is it normal for them to ignore lures until you bounce them off their nose?
4) What would best help my fishing in this situation?
 
T

troutmasta

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Messages
2,438
Location
in a van down by the river....
Since I vowed that I would learn about steelhead and salmon this year after many decades of being a summer trout fisherman, I made my first attempt yesterday on the Salmonberry River with a couple friends who are equally novice with steelehad. President's Day was a holiday for all of us.

Why the Salmonberry? Well, we have good trout memories from the '80s & early '90s, know the stream reasonably well, and are also interested in how the trout are doing up there without any fishing pressure. A bit of Internet research says it's a late run, so since we missed the earlier fish, it seemed like a good idea in our neophyte minds...

On the trip in, the Nehalem was on the muddy side, so we were pleased that the Salmonberry was not. It was high and fast, visibility 6'-8' when the surface wasn't roiling around. We didn't see any fish moving around, but after working our way upstream checking the slower holes, we caught a couple baby trout. Eventually, at the last hole we tried, I had a large trout follow my lure (large krockodile), but not connect. The hole was large enough and had enough structure that the three of us had been casting hardware in many ways for about 45 minutes and we weren't crossing lines, so it was a bit of a shock when the adult trout was spotted.

Shifting and moving around on the shore, I finally got to glimpse a dark steelhead rise up off the bottom and take a snap at the krockodile in earnest as the lure swung into shore. That was both a thrill and a disappointment when it missed by the skin of its teeth. We kept trying for another 15 minutes, but never did see any more fish.

So the questions are:
1) Had the steelhead just been laying on the bottom mostly ignoring us or was it cruising through or newly arrived?
2) Is it normal that one doesn't see them for the most part?
3) Is it normal for them to ignore lures until you bounce them off their nose?
4) What would best help my fishing in this situation?

I dont know much by I do know You have to fish as deep as possible. They do hold on the bottom and if youre not seeing them its cause they're not moving.They are there though and if they are on the move they will "flash". In most cases you have to put in right in thier face. Even at that the may not hit it. People literally "floss" holding salmon and steel and they dont get hit. Find what they like and put it right in thier face. Pink and white is what im discovering works in semi clear slightly green water. IF youre not snagging go deeper. good luck
 
A

adambomb

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
354
Location
Forest Grove
1) If the fish was on the dark side chances are that it was close to the end of its migration. Steelhead will hold in a position that is safe, once spooked into moving, they become more aggressive as their cover has been blown and they are now on the defense.
2) Yes!! I would say that being able to see a holding steelhead is not common, although seeing them roll, jump, or surface is fairly normal. Safety is their #1 goal
3) Depends on several conditions such as water temp, clarity, height and presentation. If your presentation matches all of the current conditions they will strike with purpose. If the water temp is 33-39 it is harder to get them excited as their metabolism is slowed down. Should you spot a fish, and it ignores your lure without getting spooked, don't give up, eventually it will get annoyed enough to strike or spook.
4) Keep in mind that steelhead are bottom fish, that's where they feel that safest. Cover every square inch of the bottom with whatever your tossing, and do it with confidence. Once you have covered the hole, move on to the next one.
 
M

mullet

New member
Joined
Feb 17, 2010
Messages
1
I would say 6' to 8' vis is abit clear.
If you can see them they can see you,
those are tough conditions.

I like having 2' to 3' vis in my opinion.
In clearer conditions you need to downsize
your terminal tackle to get bit.

JMHO,Mike
 
F

FISHHEADMAFIA

Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
177
Location
Sandy Or .
I would say 6' to 8' vis is abit clear.
If you can see them they can see you,
those are tough conditions.

I like having 2' to 3' vis in my opinion.
In clearer conditions you need to downsize
your terminal tackle to get bit.

JMHO,Mike

exactly what i was going to say . except that 6-8 ft vis is more than a bit clear . that makes it for some lousy fishin.
 
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