Words from the West
"God hates a coward!"
|A typical small west |
coast steelhead river
Did I say west coast? That should be wet coast. After a totally dry summer, the rains have come with a vengeance. The salmon that have been waiting in the estuaries have been moving upriver for the last few weeks, and so are the steelhead that provide such excellent sport.
At this season, timing is everything. The rivers that drain the craggy mountains rise and fall quickly after each deluge. The Englishman River on Vancouver Island, for example, went from 1.5 metres to 4.5 metres in 24 hours last week, and dropped back by 2 metres the next day, so anglers are watching the forecast with an eagle eye and visiting websites such as Environment Canada's hydrometric site (see below) to find out how much water is in any given river right now.
|The fly has drifted through |
the run and is swinging
across the current.
Concentration is the key
Takes are tentative and easily missed, and keeping in touch with the fly without causing it to come to the surface is an art in quick, deep currents. The ideal water is 3 to 5 feet deep and moving at a walking pace, but such water may not exist after heavy rain.
Rod, Reel and Line
A 7- or 8-wt rod is about right for smaller waters, but large rivers and large fish call for a 9- or 10-wt. The reel is all important, as steelhead fight hard and the water can be moving fast. A good disc drag is essential - one that can apply sufficient braking to slow the fish but takes off smoothly when a run starts.
|A fresh, bright steelhead, |
hooked on a popsicle.
Photo: Courtney Ogilvie
When I last signed off I was setting out to retrieve my rod and reel from the bottom of a lake - not! But first let me tell you how it came to be there. On a nearby lake, trout anglers have come close to being scarred by bald eagles that try to take hooked fish as they're being brought to hand - one friend had one taken from his canoe! These are big and impressive birds, and I was determined to get some pictures of this phenomenon.
|A bald eagle takes the trout |
- and the fly with it!
I had elbowed my favourite rod and reel over the side in what turned out to be about 40 feet of water. Twice I went back and tried trawling the bottom with a weighted hook, to no avail, and a good friend went diving for it, but couldn't find it in the silt.
If, like me, you've ignored the advice to attach your rod to the float tube, you might consider taking that advice. It could save you a lot of money.
Environment Canada's hydrometric site:
Articles by the same author
- Essential Skills - Dry Fly and Mayfly with Oliver Edwards
- New Canadian Beaver report spells doom for Scottish salmon
- Fly Fishing for Atlantic Bass - new book reviewed
- The Streamside Guide - Road Trips
- Wet Fly Fishing on Rivers - Essential Skills with Oliver Edwards
- Venezuelan smorgasbord at Los Roques
- Pope of the Madison
- The principles of layering - the base layer
- Game Fishing by Bob Church
- The Streamside Guide - Planning the Trip