Wow, I can’t believe it’s nearing the end of January, 2013. The first part of this steelhead season has flown by. As the early hatchery run tapers off and we gear up for big native steelhead, it’s a good time for an early season recap.
December, 2012 was characterized by lots of major rain events, high water and plenty of river pressure. Not the greatest combination for hooking big numbers of steelhead. Still, we were on the water a bunch, had a handful of days where we worked hard for a few fish, a bunch of good days with high single digit hookups, and a few great days. In short, it was classic Winter Steelheading. On days the river was in perfect shape, we did really well. If we caught the river high or on the rise, it was a heck of a lot tougher.
January has been a whole different story all together. We’ve had low amounts of rainfall this month and long, cold, clear, dry periods where rivers have dropped to very low levels. We love those kind of conditions and specialize in low, clear, technical steelheading. If you’re up for the challenge, there are plenty of fish to be had when rivers get bone dry. Often times, we have had to struggle through icing guides and reels during the first couple hours of each day, but as the day progressed and the ice subsided, the fish really began to turn on. We witnessed a few of those epic, lower river bites with dozens of fish kegged up in small pockets less than two feet deep. Fish like that can be spooky, but if you find them when the light is right, sometimes it feels like you can do no wrong. It almost feels as if you’re cheating, but only for a minute.
Overall, I would term December and January as generally typical Oregon Coast Steelheading. There are certainly not as many hatchery fish as last year, but then again, last season brought record numbers of hatchery steelhead. Native numbers appear to be decent thus far. There has been a couple early season pushes of big wild fish, with far more to come throughout February and March. We’re excited for the next couple months and can’t wait to put our customers on some of that big native chrome. We’re anxious for the opportunity to put our hands on some of those 40+ inch fish.