With each additional Clearwater Steelhead landed my spring fishing fever resided. As I mentioned last week in my “The Fever” fishing report, I had surgery on my wrist 8 weeks ago to remove a pestering ganglion cyst that that would painfully flair up after long days fly fishing. My surgery proved to be a success as I landed my biggest Steelhead to date without pain in my wrist. The 3 day fishing excursion to Idaho included icy roads, cold hands, sleepless nights, good company, and Big Fish!
Arriving in Idaho in the early hours of Saturday morning we got right to work setting up camp and getting the drift boat in the water. We camped a ways above the confluence of the N.Fork of the Clearwater on the main stem of the Clearwater River near Orofino, Idaho. We spent all of our time in this general area fly fishing out of my 16 foot RO drift boat.
Putting in long days on the river proved to put Steelhead in the cooler. By fishing from first “fishing light” around 5:45 am to last light around 6:15pm we were able to not only find fish, but catch fish. Locating Steelhead on any river can be a difficult task, especially fly fishing. In order to do so you need look at the variables and answer several different questions. Although we may never understand all of the variables that attract a steelhead to certain areas of the river, my fishing bud, Jurell “THE DUKE” Linford and I have developed an understanding of several questions that are worthy of answers. The most important of those questions are….. Are the water flows rising, dropping or remaining steady? On the given day will the steelhead most likely be running up river or will they be staging in holding water waiting for better running flows? By answering a few questions you can eliminate a lot of the fishing water and target the water you believe to be holding the fish.
After answering the above questions The Duke and I decided to concentrate on the deeper runs that we hoped to be holding fish. Our strategy over the 3 full days of fishing paid off as we landed 13 fish including my near 38 inch red sided beaut. We tried a variety of different flies but had best success drifting beads and yarn-eggs under an indicator.
Jurell 'The Duke" Linford
Another nice male steelhead
Steelhead with battle scars from the long journey
Steelhead fishing is high risk, high reward fishing. It is more common to go fishless over a day then to cut a notch in your tag. The Duke and I know that by enduring long waking hours, cold hands, hungry stomachs, and fishless days that our strategies will eventually pay off as they did this past weekend.
Written by Kjel Olson: MORS TEAM