Clear, Cold, and Consistent
With the days short and temps continuing their decline, the number of anglers hitting rivers like the Grande Ronde and Snake for steelhead dwindle as well. For those hearty enough to continue the pursuit the season never ends.
I was able to make a second trip down to the Grande Ronde last week. The river was eerily quiet for prime steelhead season, other than Kelby out in front of me, we had the place to ourselves. The week before had seen some very cold temps which actually caused ice along many parts of the Ronde.
Slightly warmer temps thawed out the river, but left the conditions cold and exceptionally clear. The clarity was so good you could see straight to the bottom and pick out rocks that normally go unseen. I've witnessed the river like that before, but not very often and typically after very cold conditions. We managed a couple buzzer beater steelhead in the last moments of daylight to salvage the day.
The guide season is winding down as well for us on the Grande Ronde with the short days. Kelby, Kenyon, Bjorn and BJ worked hard to find fish, fish were found, fish were lost. Some days better than others, but overall most days found at least a short glimpse of a fish or two. While the numbers weren't as frequent as other years, the size was pretty impressive this season. Some fish taped out at the 30" mark or even better.
A conversation I was having with Kelby this morning about the steelhead season revealed that success was found with smaller and varied flies. Fishing different patterns than in years past proved successful as well as fishing those flies very close to rocks or walls. With low, clear conditions throughout the year switching things up can be a difference maker and the fact that most fish were found tight to cover made sense give the amount visibility. The steelhead were probably not interested in hanging out in the open with that much exposure.
As the story has been the last couple seasons, those don't go, don't catch steelhead. And those that fish hard and fish smart are rewarded. Perhaps not with massive quantities of fish, but possibly nice quality steelhead. Talking to Kelby about his stats this year compared to last proved that hard work provided consistent action with each day at least having a couple shots at putting a fish in the net.
We appreciate all of those that did trips with us this season, or picked up their supplies from our store. For those that continue casting for steelhead throughout the winter we wish you continued success in what was an exceptionally difficult year.
Stay in touch for the latest reports this winter on the Grande Ronde and Snake River via our fishing reports page.