Had a chance today to explore a small great lakes trib that I had not visited in a while. When I arrived the water was very stained, but the particular river I was fishing has a reputation for this. When I decided to fish despite the conditions, I had no idea what to expect. I soon found out however, that the steelhead and trout had absolutely no problems with the stained water. They bit well all morning, mostly on egg patterns. While the two steelhead I landed were skippers, I hooked 2 others that were each around 4 pounds or slightly larger. A lot of small, wild steelhead smolts around today, a very good sign for the future.
Small stream steelheading has a special allure to me. Hooking and fighting a raging steelhead in close quarters requires stealth, precise drifts, and good fish-fighting ability. I learned to salmon and steelhead fish north of the 45th parallel, where the rivers run cold and clean. For example, one of the rivers up north is so clear that a person can literally stand on the riverbank and count the stones on the river bottom in a 6 foot deep hole.
I took my early lessons learned from those northern steelhead rivers, and applied them to other small rivers in our state. Tight little roll casts, the kind you may not learn from a casting instructor, become normal on the stream. A 6-inch difference in a drift can make a world of difference. Holding water is different. In fact, fishing a small stream is just that, different.
20" hen skip
19" male skip
bobber fishing a good run