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Discussion Starter #1
Friends,
I've been fishing this one river for steelhead recently and have had consistent trouble landing fish in this particular situation (2 nice fish lost at this spot). Where the fish hold is a small depression about 15-20 feet above a tailout where the water drops into shallow rapids. When I hook the fish, it will make several upstream runs and I'm in good shape. But if the fish makes a downstream run and appears to rest at the tailout, it often ends up in the rapids and I can't run downstream fast enough to keep from losing the fish. I think might need to tighten the drag to help. Any suggestions on how I should change my approach (e.g. follow the fish upstream during its initial runs)?

Thanks
 

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It might sound strange but too much pressure will often cause the fish to head over the rapids. I will often let up to almost no pressure when the fish reaches the top of a tail out. The pressure seems to panic them and down they go - they likely do not want to head back down a run they just came up. So I will apply gentle pressure and try to work them back up into a run. I have heard some folks say they try to throw slack so the line pulls from downstream which can make the fish move upstream. Never tried this method.
 

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Hii,

Cool question - all tackle talk here makes one long for a topic like this! It always is hard to give advice on situations where you not are known to the place. Here are a few hints, though.

Would it be able to back up 10-50 yds from where you hooked the fish? If so I would try to "walk the fish". We often do this with Atlantics hooked in places like what you describe. Simply block the reel and slowly start to walk/wade upriver. Often enough the fish follows like a dog on a leash and can be led quite some distances up river. (The more arrogant of us likes to point the rod back over the shoulder to concentrate on the upriver wade. Looks cooler than what it is!) Try to keep everything absolutely stable without vibrations from reel cranking etc. In principle every yard gained increases chances to success.

On the Babine this has worked well on large steelhead, too. With those explosive critters, (they really ARE different!) it is best to let them do their first crazy runs and to wait until they settle in the dangerous zone close to the tail out, should they do so. (Again - I have only done three weeks so my experience is very limited as compared to Atlantics)

Another trick is to let go of all pressure when the fish charges upstream. Then they sometimes stop high up and one can ever so carefully wind in to get level to them. From there it is better to slowly assert pressure so the belly of the line still makes the pressure come from below. If lucky, they will shoot off further upriver again. I really agree with Rick on the dangers of too hard pressure on the fish. When fishing LOOP Traditionals, where there is no drag at all - fish often behave much softer than when using a braked reel set rather hard.

A third one would be to let everything slack when the fish appears to be done for the rapids. (Or if he bolts during the initial "walk up"). By feeding some extra line out (maybe 10' to 20')the pressure again will come from below, making the fish reluctant to turn. If you then get him back over the lip again it is best to be really hard on him, assuming that he is rather spent. Nothing is worse than having a tired fish flopping on the surface with the current taking him away. Some big bucks I had at the Bab. pulled that dirty stunt. Then again it is best to feed loose line out to give the fish a chance to swim down and get a grip of the current.

Many words - hope some will help!

Per

PS: One scilly thought comes to mind: If you learn that basically every fish will return back through those rapids, whatever you do, maybe one should play it that way..... Hook him, release the pressure and walk down AHEAD OF THE FISH while gently feeding line out. That would be real master class.....:whoa: DS
 

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Tighten down. I keep my drag set tight as by the time you can re-adjust or palm a rim, a real hot fish can sometimes strip a lot of line.You don't want to give an extra foot in your case. A lot of other surprises can happen in the excitement of those first 10 seconds too so every bit of preparation ahead helps. As gordonf said above, "Put the coals to them".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks

Appreciate everybody's help on a problem that has been a challenge. I will definitely put these techniques to test when I hit that spot again. This is a great board!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well it sort of worked

Guys, I applied some of your tips today on the water and they certainly helped me bring fish to hand much faster.

That said, at the particular spot I referred to earlier--I hooked a nice steelhead which headed straight downstream. I was just about ready to bear down, "walk the fish", "put the coals", etc. when the fly line wrapped around my fly patch just long enough for the steelhead to break off. Well, you live and learn.:rolleyes:
 

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landing

well i guess you proved that "bearing down " did not work,even thought it was somewhat inadverdant. i always lay my rod down on the water pulling toward the bank.the current pushes against the line from the rod down the line .this quikly pushes a belly in the line without the risk of" throwing some slack". this keeps some pressure on so the fish can not burn off over the rim but quikly changes the direction of pressure.then you can slip some line to change the direction even more. once the fish starts upstream, do not pump and dont apply more pressure, let the pressure ease and smoothly reel enough to keep up and gain some line. dont give any ground. if anything gain some by moving up stream. it works most of the time for me.
beau
 

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Bad luck!!

The place you mention reminds of two hopeless, but unresistably tempting, spots on one of the Skeena tributaries called "Rocket Pocket" and "Spooled again".........

In both those spots a "soft" approach, similar to what Beau and I have suggested, has worked swell. As the current keeps things tight one can feed line out as soon as the fish is hooked - I yet have to loose a fish at that stage. Maybe you should consider to fish that spot with a long (5-10') loop being ready to release at the moment of the take. Hey, we must find a way to stop them!!

Why is it you can't folllow the fish down? Vegetation, too long a rapid, bad bank or what?

Per
 

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Coednakedspey
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I suggest always trying your best to stay with the Steelhead. Do what it takes with your feet, if possible, to stay with the Steelhead so that the line between you and the Steelhead is perpendicular to the current.

Advantages of this are a few. One, the fish feels the pull from the side, so it usually fights you up and out when it wants to run.
Two, you can use the hookset to your advantage. Most Steelhead takes from my expierience are usually in the corner of the jaw on the side closest to you in the tough cartilage there (well, usually I must stress). By being beside the fish, you will be reinforcing that hook set with steady tension (don't jerk the line though as if to stress the hook set. One good tighten up when the fish takes usually does the trick initially and the tension on your line keeps it there). Three, by letting the fish fight you up and out, you can use the power of the butt of your rod by pointing your rod downstream and reeling up to and pulling on the fish, to pull the fish off balance. The fish loses energy this way as it must fight the pull of your line as well as the fight to regain balance in the curren to maintain it's position.

If you can't catch up to the fish, and you figure the fish may go downstream into the rapids, let some line out so that some of your fly line gets bowed down current and it changes the pull on the fish from upstream where you are, to downstream from the big bow in the line which is getting sucked down the rapid.

Best of luck,
Scott
 

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I doubt that there exists any technique of stopping a downstream charging steelhead that will work 100% of the time. If a steelhead is hell-bent on blowing the chute and your tackle isn’t stout enough to stop him, there’s probably nothing much you can other than run. I fish the N. Umpqua a great deal and hook a lot of fish in tailouts and slicks just above fast water. I rarely have fish spill over if I play them firmly from the get-go and walk them into safer water. To be honest I don’t think most of the fish I’ve hooked over the years in these situations really want to leave their pool and they just need a good reason to stay. As an illustration, last month I hooked a large N. Umpqua steelhead on the VERY lip of the tailout for Lower Burnham. There is a heavy chute directly below that he could have slipped into and no amount of pressure on my part could have stopped him. I knew the fish was large when I hooked him and I immediately began backing the fish away from the lip and into the gut of the pool using heavy and steady sideways pressure. 20 minutes later I eased a perfectly proportioned 16 lbs wild summer-run buck into the rocks by shore – the largest steelhead I’ve ever landed on the N. Umqpua.

All that said, every now and then I’ll hook a fish that gives me the finger and spools me. When you’re playing with the big boys you’ve got to accept that you’re going to lose a few…
 

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Oh yes, and thats what keeps us coming back remembering those hot big ones that left you in astonishment at there fury and power. I remember every one of those fellows.:smokin:
 

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"Roger That!" Hal. Of all the fish I've hooked the ones that

stick in my mind the most are the ones that got away.

Some notable exceptions that I've said to self: 'self, that guys got to be left in the gene pool.' But the one's that got away ... Ah, the memories of how big, how fast, how everything.

Still remember, still wonder, about one fish I hooked up stream from where I was standing (Green River south of Seattle) that I hooked (drift gear) with 20# line and 15-17 pound leader. I don't even think he knew/cared he was hooked as 'he/she' peeled off 170+ some yards of line off my reel swiming up stream. No run, no flash, just took it all off...... and truely 'spooled me.'
fae
 

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I had one of those about 15 years ago on the St Josephs river, had to be a monster steelhead never jumped just took off down stream ,I tried to follow but it had straightened my hook out. Think I had at least 12 lb test on since I was fishing for kings and lake run lake trout. Yes we even have lake trout that run into some rivers in November. About 3 other ones also stick in my mind like the big boy that took my nymph this past spring on the PM, came right out in head thrashing leap, against a pine forest background, and said good bye, Hal.
 

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Theres some tough wading between those deep holes and fast currents in that area. Lost one of my big boys about 15 years ago upstream from there in The Cedars section, also called The Whinnery section when their cabin was there. I saw that one before I hooked it, he finally hit the squirrel tail streamer I was throwing came out what seemed 10 feet out of the water than headed back to Lake Michigan, no chance on that one. Ever hook a May PM steelhead ? They are really hot when the water temp heats up which is when this one was hooked. Great memory !
 
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