Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don’t jerk on the steelhead.

This evening we had 10 members and our guest speaker to turnout for this first scheduled autumn meeting of the Walla² Fly Fishers.

After dinner without introduction our guest speaker Dave Karl, fishery biologist with WDFW, told us of his lastest fishing adventure in Montana, which got everyone casting arm ready for his evening's presentation. This evening Dave told us a little of the fishery recovery plans for Mill Creek which runs through the city center of Walla Walla. You may have read about this project in the Sunday 18 September Union-Bulletin. Dave is very involved with this program and told us of the WDFW and CTUIR hopes of seeing steelhead and salmon again running through Walla Walla's City Center in harvestable numbers.
Not only is Dave a fishery biologist, but he is also an avid steelhead chaser with flies and rod in hand. His knowledge of the small mouth bass, salmon and steelhead fishery of eastern Washington, western Idaho, and northeast Oregon makes him a most valued info source for all anglers of our area.
This evening the jest of Dave’s discussion was detailing steelhead fishing in the above mentioned areas. He discussed the timing, places and flies of his choice for fishing Idaho’s Clearwater, Lochsa, Selway, rivers; Washington’s Grande Ronde, Columbia, Klickitat, Touchet, Tucannon, Walla Walla rivers; and Oregon’s Grande Ronde, John Day, Deschutes rivers. Dave discussion gave us about 2 hours of his many years of steelhead fishing experience, which is more than can be reported here. Below is a table of highlights of this evening’s discussion…
Flies – size #2 hook
Gen. Location
Sept – Nov
Nez Perce Indian Reservation
Oct – Nov
Egg Sucking Leech
Ringold area
Sept - Oct
through The Canyon
Grande Ronde (WA)
Oct – Nov

Dec - Jan
Green Butt Skunk,
Muddler Minnow, Leeches (in winter)
Boggan’s to Shumaker
Stateline / Big Bend area
Lower Walla Walla

Upper Walla Walla
Sept – Dec


Dec - March
Kaufmann / other's fly patterns


egg patterns
below Stateline Rd
above Stateline Rd
Lower Touchet

Upper Touchet

Jan - March

red and orange egg pattern w/skein

Lamar to Lukenbill Rd -------------------

Upstream of
Lewis and Clark Park
Grande Ronde (OR)
late Oct

Nov - Jan
Dry flies
OR-WA stateline to Troy
Since steelhead are anadromous, the above dates are traditional, and it is best to have a fishing contact/source of info to determine the best time to be on the water in your quest for steelies.
These are some quick reference links that might help with your steelhead chasing…
Another very helpful information source is the US Army Corp of Engineers / DART website for adult fish passage through the Columbia River drainage / dam(s) system. If steelies are not in the stretch of water you wish to fish, you might as well keep tying flies.
Also discussed this evening was tactics and techniques for finding, and hooking steelhead. Since steelhead are anadromous, one technique does not fit all. From the time these fish leave salt water, until the end of steelhead fishing season -April 15th- in most reaches of our area, the angler has to adapt to all fishing conditions along the way. Weather and light conditions can change the "playing field" rules on a daily or hourly basis. One major trick to hooking and landing a steelhead is don't jerk on the steelie. This is easier said, than done... stay calm, let the fish take the fly, do not raise your rod tip to the sky to set the hook; wait until your reel is screaming "fish on" before setting your hook.
We wish to again thank Dave for his most informative presentation of this evening. Dave is truly a most valuable individual / WDFW asset for all the fishing public of our area. Our meeting was adjourned at 8:50 pm, with several individuals reaping a few more bits of fishing details from Dave thereafter.

The next scheduled meeting of the
Walla² Fly Fishers will be Wednesday, 12 October please mark your calendars.
Respectfully submitted,
Dale McKain

Tight lines and good fishing.

Walla² Fly Fishers

Tight lines and good fishing.

Tyson Kopfer - President
Dr. Doug Coe - Treasurer
Dale McKain - Secretary

Past Presidents
Bob Long
Scott Peters