The 10 percent rule

C

Catch 22

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I was just talking with a young man on a recent fishing trip about this and thought it would be a good thread.

Why is it that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish?
They fish the right 10% of the water.

Reading water is THE most important thing in fishing. This thread will focus on steelhead in tributaries such as the Clack and the Sandy.

A steelhead is lazy. This is important to remember. Steelhead are not like salmon in any way. In fact they are like polar opposites. Salmon are extremely powerful and can use their power all day. Steelhead use bursts of power. Once they hit tribs like the Clack or Sandy, they will need to feel protected from preditors. They will make their runs at night or in water that they feel protected in. Understanding this will help us to locate them.
When steelhead are not making runs, they want to relax. They will be in what is referred to as "holding water". Locating and recognizing holding water is crucial to your success.

I will try to list a few types of holding water and explain them the best I can:

Tailouts. Tailouts are where a larger pool starts to shallow out. It will be where the surface starts to ripple. Imagine under water that the river bottom is rising up towards the surface as we leave the pool. The surface isn't dropping, it's staying level like a glass of water. Take a glass and fill it a quarter way with water. Now lean it over until it's just at the point of spilling. The water's surface is still level. What this means is the water is being pushed up out of the pool and spilling over the gravel washout (tailout). The hydraulics of the water being pushed up let the fish rest as they are essentially being lifted off the bottom. Couple that with the broken surface of the water giving them protection from preditors and you have perfect holding water.

Runs. Runs are slots of water that aren't pools or tailouts that are like long channels. These should have some breaks like rocks for fish to hold in. Also fish will hold in front of rocks. The reason for this is that as the current hits the rock, it creates a friction that develops a soft spot in front of it. Think of driving your car down the freeway. You are pushing air and there is a bubble of air in front of you as well as a slipstream behind.
Good runs will not descend too much, but will stay flat for a while. It's the flat spots that we want. Remember that steelhead are lazy and are there to rest. So if the current is pushing down on them, they will move on.

Pocket water. Pocket water is the little protected pockets that are too small to run plugs through, too small and sometimes too slow to drift fish. Pockets are where the fish are when you are the 10th boat through that area on a Sunday that everyone has pulled plugs through and beat the water to death with gear. This is where you can toss a bobber and jig/bait. These little gems are what seperates the men from the boys. This is when you pull your boat out and are the guys with fish when nobody else does. Pockets are hard to describe, but when you see one, you will know. Plus pockets are fun to cast into while drifting from one hole to another.

You will find that fish seem to hold in certain tailouts or runs. You'll wonder why they like that one over the other 5 that look just like it. Remember that you can only see the surface. It's the hydraulics that fish look for. Just because it looks the same, doesn't mean they get the same lift or protection at the right water level.

Find that 10% of the river that fish want to be in. Know what holding water is and spend your time fishing it instead of the other 90% of the river. You will be a 10%er.

Please remember that like all my posts that you paid me nothing and got every penny's worth. :)

Jason
 
Troutski

Troutski

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Sweet, very sweet...

Sweet, very sweet...

Thanks Jason....very insightful and wise. Thanks for the tutorial, one can always learn from the intuitive angler...:clap: :clap: :clap:

Chuck
 
N

ninja2010

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thank you so much c22. i think you've managed to summarize a crucial aspect of coldwater river fishing into just a few concise paragraphs.

worth every penny for sure.

what about the "front" of the pool where the tailout pours into the pool? would fish hold there? i would think that could be a nice comfortable holding area...
 
B

bir48die

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Also heard from an avid angler that in the winter, steelhead will stay in front of rapids/rocks for the reasons you stated but that there is plenty of oxygen in the water. In the summer, they'll hold below the rapids to get more oxygen. Don't know if you see that holding true. Would like to get your take on it.

Great info. Thanks
 
A

ArcticAmoeba

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Haha, I think it is appearing to me anyways, that it is a 1% rule! 1% of the anglers are fishing 99% of the good Steelhead water.

Birdie, To be real honest, you are correct about the dissolved oxygen content being higher, but Summers will hold in the heads of riffles, not in the tails of them, that is big squaw water. The lazy Winters are just going to be in hydraulic slack areas. Where you see a slick, you can bet there will be a fish under it. Fish the heads of the riffles when it is like a bathtub. Otherwise stick to the slower drifts while its like a fridge. Gotta love the Winter returns. They are hauling upriver in natures best state of preservation. 36 degree water! Makes for tasty fish. Don't forget Steelhead are super freaks too. Fish "freaky" water when there is nothing going on in "classic" drifts.
 
F

FreshMoneyFisher

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Fish the heads of the riffles when it is like a bathtub. Otherwise stick to the slower drifts while its like a fridge. Gotta love the Winter returns.

AA - always enjoy reading your words....would you mind expanding on the bathtub/fridge analogy? Still trying to dial in on locating the optimal 'holding water' thing. Thanks
 
A

ArcticAmoeba

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Sorry man. I type how I speak quite often, which when you try to read it does come across rather cryptic at times come to think of it. Ah, what can ya do! Haha!

The bathtub, fridge deal is just a reference to seasons, or more specifically water temperatures. The dissolved oxygen content, and water temperature determines where the fish hold, quite often when targeting Steelhead. There is almost no O2 when the water temps comes up into the upper 50's and 60's, so I say fish the heads when its like a bathtub, or in late spring, and summer months. But when we get mother nature to drop the thermostat, the fish become more lethargic, and lazy in water where they are actually able to be, lazy, and lethargic. Making them hold in different areas, than the fish stewing around in warmer water. So I say stick to slower, lazier drifts when its like a fridge. But essentially all I was getting at, is when starting out targeting Steelhead, try and fish more "aggressive" water for Summer fish, and hit slack, "lazy" runs for Winters. They do hold in different pressure zones, and it is just a simple description(Bathtub/Fridge water) on where to start hunting for the two different runs of Steelhead we get around my locale. But yeah, simply put, the fat lard Winters are going to be more lethargic, and slowed down in every way, than the wiley goats we call Summers. So ask yourself. If I were a freeky deeky Sewer Trout in that river, and it was that temp, with that much available O2, or breathable air for us land bound species... Where would I want to hold easily, physically and with this much inhalable Oxygen, and how would I run the river? Would I screw around and mosey slowly, or would I hit the shortest, straightest run? I for one, in the Winter, probably wouldn't jerk around too much, I would use the most direct route home, and rest when I needed to...For the most part, remember these nasty trout are truly, very strange. They do weird things, so always be prepared to fish weird stuff, in weird water if you can't entice 'em otherwise. Hope that helps a little, and again, sorry for the Yayhoo wording that I sometimes let leak through. Good luck man!
 
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C

Catch 22

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Also heard from an avid angler that in the winter, steelhead will stay in front of rapids/rocks for the reasons you stated but that there is plenty of oxygen in the water. In the summer, they'll hold below the rapids to get more oxygen. Don't know if you see that holding true. Would like to get your take on it.

Great info. Thanks

In the summer, steelhead will sometimes move in and out of the areas you're describing. It's not really holding water though. Think about that glass of water idea again but now the water is dumping down into a deeper pool (glass is filling like it's being held under water). The hydraulics aren't lifting the fish helping it rest, it's pushing the fish towards the river bottom.

Sometimes you will see fish in a pool coming in and out of the oxygenated water. I usually see this on smaller streams like the Eagle creek or Kilches river. They are using the deep pool foer protection as the water is shallow in most parts. They need to feel protected.

Most of the time they will be in a flat run with breaks in sections around 5 ft deep. It's when these aren't available that they will hit a deeper pool to hide.

The purpose of this post was to describe classic holding water for 99% of the time. I hope I'm making sense.

On a side note, a fly rod is deadly in the water you described at the right time and the right place.

Jason
 
A

ArcticAmoeba

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Good call, it is like a glass of water being filled while completely submerged. Not many people notice how the fish use high, hydraulic pressures to rest.

Ah ha. I wasn't goin to say anything because I did not know how to explain it, other than just saying it is what the fish do on the Kilchis. But your description is short, and simple. I have seen it many a time up there especially.

I dunno how you are thinkin of using a fly rod, but we have a highly bastardized, hybridized metod. You drift it similarly to a casting setup and we slay 'em in the late summer when you can wade out to your calves, in just shorts and crappy shoes. You hit 'em with traditional flies? On a fly line, and classic tippett, or tapered leader?

I will say though, I do like purist casting dry flies to thick runs of agressive bucks up North. Seeing a legit 12-16 pound, 38 inch fish rise to a big 'ol bug is pretty impressive!
 
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C

Catch 22

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Good call, it is like a glass of water being filled while completely submerged. Not many people notice how the fish use high, hydraulic pressures to rest.

Ah ha. I wasn't goin to say anything because I did not know how to explain it, other than just saying it is what the fish do on the Kilchis. But your description is short, and simple. I have seen it many a time up there especially.

I dunno how you are thinkin of using a fly rod, but we have a highly bastardized, hybridized metod. You drift it similarly to a casting setup and we slay 'em in the late summer when you can wade out to your calves, in just shorts and crappy shoes. You hit 'em with traditional flies? On a fly line, and classic tippett, or tapered leader?

I will say though, I do like purist casting dry flies to thick runs of agressive bucks up North. Seeing a legit 12-16 pound, 38 inch fish rise to a big 'ol bug is pretty impressive!

I like to use egg patterns and nymphs dead drifted out of the riffles. Little to no weight. It can get a little snaggy but you need the weight to drop into the pool. So I like to cast farther than needed and strip a little as it runs the riffles to keep it off the bottom. Then let it drop into the run or pool. It's something that is effective in the summer and is fun and different.

I noticed there were a lot of questions buried in other threads and realized there were quite a few people reading this that might want a brief tutorial on holding water that would get there percentages rising. I see lots of beginners fishing bad water.

The first fish is the hardest. The learning curve can be brutal. Once you hook a few fish, it starts getting easy. Too many people give up as they don't catch enough fish for how many times they go out. That will change I promise. You're not going to run a marathon the first time you put on some running shoes. But it's very feasable.

Jason
 
F

fisch

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Awesome reading

Awesome reading

Thanks guys this is better than a book. I know it's better to see it and actually do it than just read it but at least this is a good start. Thanks again.
 
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fishnquest

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Jason,
Thank you for this tread. I have got so much from this forum. Reading and sharing here is great, being out there on the water is even better, experience is the best teacher, the more time you spend out there (even failing), the more you will learn. I have spent most of the last week on the water every day, looking, learnng, and fishing. I know some of what I want a water to look like, but really didn't know why or how to explain it. Steelhead fishing is new to me and certainly a new challenge I am looking forward to conquering. Thank you for the insight. I have not had a bite yet this year (that I recognized, anyway), but I am determined to have a fish dinner before I leave. Thanks again.
dale
 
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FishSchooler

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If you are one of the 10% that catches 90%, you are a commericial fisherman. :lol:
 
Irishrover

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Nice thread and good attitude. Helping to get people on to the fish it's a good thing.

I'd like to toss one thing out there about the cover from predators, which was covered. It's sunlight and shaddow. About 35 years ago I used to fish the Salmon River (Sandy system). We used to hike into a place called Final Falls. It is a dead end for steelhead and salmon because there is no way over the falls for them. We would get an early start so that we could be certain we would be first to the hole. When we would arrive there would be no direct sunlight on the hole. The canyon wall were to steep. The fishing would be fantastic. By noon the sun was full on the river and the bite was off like a switch. Took me a while but I figured there was a direct correlation between the sun light and the bite. I didn't know why there was a correlation I just knew there was one. Later I took a fly fishing class and learned it was all about cover from predators and it made scense to me. The fish don't like to be out there center stage with a spot light on them. They prefer the shaddows as one of there methods of concealment.

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents worth to a good thread. Thanks Jason
 
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skunk

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Thanks for sharing the info. Once I catch on to something I like to teach others. Brings a sense of accomplishment. This seems like a great forum.
 
D

Diehard

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my 2 cents.

my 2 cents.

i read something on stealhead fishing a few yrs ago on clothing while bank fishing on smaller streams it is a good idea to where dull colored clothes because sthlhead have exceptional eyesight and can see out of the water and if your fishing a hole and wearing bright flashy clothes you can actually spook the fish right out of a hole just by the clothes your wearing. could be true. p.s. dont believe every thing you read sometimes wrong info is put into text and it can really screw you up reports, tackle, colors,scents exc;)
 
B

Bfishin

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Wow, this sticky is old, but this is the first time i've seen it. That is some great insight on reading water! I believe reading water is one of, if not THE most important factor in catching Steelhead. I'm definitely a rookie when it comes to these fish, but it makes sense to have a good idea where the fish are.
 
B

brysageek

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thanks

thanks

Learned a lot just reading this tutorial now to place my self in the newbie realm, is a fishfinder a benefit when trying to determine a "Bathtub" scenario?? I can visualize the fish coming up off the bottom and resting, I guessed I am used to using a fishfinder to discover deep structure for Bass??
 

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