Summer Steelhead or Winter Steelhead ???
|As anglers and biologists, we classify steelhead into two races, Summer Steelhead and Winter Steelhead. Both races are in many local rivers in nearly equal numbers through April. Specimens of both races can be equally fresh from the Ocean and be equally bright. They may be equally aggressive to the fly and be equally strong. This time of year winter steelhead and summer steelhead can be a little difficult to tell apart. So lets examine what perceived differences led to the separate classifications.|
|We might also examine if in fact the separate classification of summer and winter steelhead is even an entirely valid approach. There are bright, new steelhead in many of the larger lower Columbia River tributaries every month of the year. Summer Steelhead are sexually immature when they leave the Ocean. In the Columbia basin, both wild and hatchery summer steelhead can leave the Ocean as early|
|February and as late as October. Their gonads are very small and the abdominal cavity is full of layered fat. They rarely spawn until the following winter, usually from late December through early February. Winter Steelhead are classified as fish that will spawn within a week or two after entering fresh water. Many leave the Ocean with vents that are already dilated, ready to spawn. These fish are full of||
|eggs or sperm. They have much less body fat than summer steelhead when they leave the salt. Winter Steelhead can be found spawning in some local rivers as early as November and as late as July. In the 1950's, some steelhead were tagged in the Columbia River in November. Several of these fish crossed Marmot Dam on the Sandy River in April, nearly 6 months later. They reached sexual maturity during their long stay in the river, much like summer steelhead. Yet they were in the river during the winter.|
|There is also a group of wild steelhead that enter the Sandy River September and October and some individuals spawn in early November. Are they summer or winter steelhead? The two fish pictured here were caught on consecutive days. They probably left the Ocean at about the same time. Cathy's winter steelhead will probably spawn in a very few days. Eric's summer steelhead probably won't spawn until January 2004.|
New Hot Colors - Cone Head String Leeches.
Chartreuse is a hot color for Chinooks. It can also be productive for Bull Trout and Large Mouth Bass.
|06239-04||Conehead Rabbit Strip String Leech, Chartreuse||4||3 for $6.50||-->SALE ENDED|
|String Leech, Pink
Hot pink can be a good bet for Steelhead, Chums, Silvers and Chinooks.
|06240-04||Conehead Rabbit Strip String Leech, Pink||4||3 for $6.50||-->SALE ENDED|
|String Leech, Red
This pattern is often your best for steelhead bet when bright sun is on clear water. A red string leech will often move fish when nothing else will.
|06241-04||Conehead Rabbit Strip String Leech, Red||4||3 for $6.50||-->SALE ENDED|
Casting for Steelhead and Salmon:
Evaluating Your Switch Cast:
· Much can be learned about your firing stroke by watching the shape of your line and loop formed by your forward cast. These critical observations may hint at or uncover fundamental problems with your mechanics, and are also be used by advanced casters to evaluate the action of a rod or quality of a line’s taper. As with single–handed casting, a tight loop during the forward cast will improve distance and casting performance in windy conditions. Carefully observing how the line lays out will give you valuable hints regarding casting faults, if you know what to look for.
· Ideally, no matter what length you are casting, the line should lay out much like a single–handed cast: straight out with the fly landing just before the rest of the line. The leader should be straight, and the fly should not land in a bird’s nest at the end of the cast. Although at longer distances (more than 95 feet), it may be impossible to have the whole line aerialized throughout the forward cast before the fly lands, the straighter the line, the more control over the fly you will have, and the more effective your fishing will be.
[Tip: There seems to be a natural tendency among the males of our species to try to cast farther than they are actually capable. This may represent a genetic pre–disposition to impress, or may simply represent the presence of circulating testosterone. Forever trying to cast “just a little farther” will lead only to the perfection of bad habits, and lost good ones. Consistency must be your goal, and whatever length of line you can cast perfectly 19 out of 20 times should be your maximum working length for fishing. “Distance is for show, Consistency is for dough”. Your payoff for consistent casting will be better coverage of the water, more fish caught, and a great deal less frustration.]
The Shock Dimple
· The shock dimple is a downward deflection of the line formed during the forward cast by the downward deflection of tip of the rod following the abrupt “snap” at the end of the power stroke. Because Spey rods are slower in action than single–handed rods, and due to their long length, the effects of this downward deflection are magnified. (Careful analysis of a forward cast, especially with a long line, will usually reveal the presence of more than one shock dimple, caused by the dampened, but still present oscillation of the rod tip down and up more than once after the sudden “stop” motion.) In general, slower rods will cause larger shock dimples. The net effect of a shock dimple may be negligible, but may result in the belly of the line contacting the water before the fly has fully “laid out”. A large shock dimple may also be caused by a number of casting faults, including the “Kow-Tow”, “Throwing the Shoulder”, and “Chopping Wood” (see above). A large shock dimple may further be encouraged by the formation of a sloppy Loop during the backcast, and the use of a line that is too light for your rod. Although there are numerous potential factors contributing to the formation of the shock dimple, it is very useful to examine the shock dimple as an indicator of how “clean” and precise your casting mechanics are. The shock dimple may act as an overall indicator of the “grade” of your cast.
The Loop Formed by the Forward Cast
· Like single–handed casting, your rod’s action will have an effect on the loop generated by the forward cast. Within the normal range of Spey rod actions, and excepting the extremes, it should be possible to generate a reasonably tight loop, provided your line is matched well to your rod. Large loops may be caused by casting faults, especially “Throwing the Shoulder”, the “Kow–Tow”, and “Chopping Wood” (see above sections), but may also be caused by a poor match between your line and your rod. In general, “old fashioned” double taper lines will tend to make generating tight loops difficult, especially with casts over 60 feet. A longer front taper is required for Spey casting, and lines properly matching your rod, with long front tapers will generate better and tighter loops. Each rod will have it’s own “sweet spot”: an optimum “stop” point at which you should suddenly bring the forward power stroke to an abrupt stop. For some slower rods, this may be at the 10 o’clock position, and paradoxically, for some faster rods, this may be at the 10:30 or 11 o’clock position. You will have to learn by experimentation, finding which stop position works best for your rod and line.
· The combination of a pronounced shock dimple with even a tight loop may make casting into a headwind difficult. The shock dimple will have the effect of driving the loop skyward, the effects of which will be magnified by a headwind.
· Occasionally, you might notice that your shock dimple may travel forward rapidly, often merging with your loop to add extra energy to the loop. Try to replicate this effect if you can; to be honest, I have not figured out exactly why this occurs, but it is definitely desirable!Focus on your loop and shock dimple while you practice. Aim to minimize the size of your shock dimple, while casting as tight a loop as possible. Evaluating the combination of the shock dimple and your loop will provide the clearest feedback on whether you are performing the basic casting movements optimally. Focus on driving the line forward (see the “Paint Brush” tip above), and always remember to RISE to the firing position!
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