Ah, yes; it’s that beautiful time of the year once more. When the waters cool down to frigid temperatures, when the trees have nearly all of their leaves, and when that crisp bite in the air last a little longer each morning. Or, in the language of river anglers: steelhead season. I’ve covered steelheading in the past, but a little refresher course never hurts. I love learning new tips and tricks from other anglers and today I have a few for all you steelheaders out there.
Usually, when I begin a sentence with the words “when in doubt,” I finish with “don’t.” When it comes to steelheading, I finish the sentence with a tip that might be day one stuff for experienced steelheaders, but important for everyone to utilize: “set the hook.” If anything feels a little off during your drift, it’s a good idea to set the hook. Does this mean that you’ll set the hook into a log or bottom from time to time? Yes. However, many times it’s also a steelhead. These fish rest on the bottom of rivers, which means your bait or lure needs to be presented very near the bottom. Of course, this means that snags can and will occur. Veterans will tell you that getting snagged is simply part of steelhead fishing, though, and if you’re not getting snagged now and then, you’re not fishing in the right spot.
The next thing I recommend is getting to know your river intimately. Steelhead will only hold in about five-percent of a given river and you need to know where these areas are. These areas change as water conditions change, so keep fish the river, fish it often, and learn all you can about it to gain a better understanding of its makeup, and thus, how steelhead will behave in its waters.
I’ll wrap things up with a little trick I recently picked up while steelheading: doubling up. If you like to use bait or egg sacks for steelhead, try using gang hooks instead of single hooks. Gang hooks are simply a pre-tied pair of hooks tied in tandem, which enables you to present double the bait. Two sacs or shrimp drifting by, instead of just one, will appeal to a fish twice as much as one, so why not give it a try? I can tell you from experience that it works.
It may seem like I’ve beaten the steelheading topics to death over the course of a few years, but fishing is one of those sports where you always learn something new and if there’s one thing I love more than actually fishing, it’s sharing what I’ve learned with others to help them catch more fish. Give the tips listed above a shot the next time you’re steelheading and don’t be surprised if your catches increase.