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Does anybody else here skate for winter steel? There’s just something about lighter long lines, twitching a fly on the surface and watching boils happen that get my blood pumping. I can’t be the only one!?
 

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Does anybody else here skate for winter steel? There’s just something about lighter long lines, twitching a fly on the surface and watching boils happen that get my blood pumping. I can’t be the only one!?
I always carry a thermometer and take water temps hourly in Dec through March while spey fishing fishing my favorite winter pools. I also look for a flat stone at the waters edge with its top flush with the water level. I place a small stone on top of it as an indicator of any change in water level. As the morning warms, particularly during a Jan or Feb. thaw, I’m using the thermometer to check for an increase in the rivers temperature and the stone to indicate a rise in water level.
Usually around 10 to 12 noon, on a warming day, the water temperature starts to rise as well as the water level from bankside snow melt. A one to three degree rise in river temperature with a corresponding rise in water level of an inch or two, can awaken hibernating steelhead in the deeper winter pools, to feed or to move upstream. I find that this phenomenon is accentuated in the lower reaches of the river, as the melt waters accumulate. The effect of these warmer flows are particularly noticeable in GL tributaries within a mile of the lake, as they can trigger a run.
This activity usually peaks between 11 and 4 PM and is the optimum window for fly presentations with a dry line just under or on the surface. A riffling micro Black or Willie Gunn tube fly is effective in these murky waters. I tie them sparsely on a wood, quill, or plastic tube. I fish them Far and Fine Off, downstream with a cane rod and a greased silk line with the last 15 feet treated with linseed oil to act as a thin intermediate sink tip with a floro leader for a stealthy delicate presentation.
This is my favorite winter technique during these conditions when the planets have aligned. Regards from the Restigouche....Jim
375054
 

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Spey Rods. Singlehand Rods.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I always carry a thermometer and take water temps hourly in Dec through March while spey fishing fishing my favorite winter pools. I also look for a flat stone at the waters edge with its top flush with the water level. I place a small stone on top of it as an indicator of any change in water level. As the morning warms, particularly during a Jan or Feb. thaw, I’m using the thermometer to check for an increase in the rivers temperature and the stone to indicate a rise in water level.
Usually around 10 to 12 noon, on a warming day, the water temperature starts to rise as well as the water level from bankside snow melt. A one to three degree rise in river temperature with a corresponding rise in water level of an inch or two, can awaken hibernating steelhead in the deeper winter pools, to feed or to move upstream. I find that this phenomenon is accentuated in the lower reaches of the river, as the melt waters accumulate. The effect of these warmer flows are particularly noticeable in GL tributaries within a mile of the lake, as they can trigger a run.
This activity usually peaks between 11 and 4 PM and is the optimum window for fly presentations with a dry line just under or on the surface. A riffling micro Black or Willie Gunn tube fly is effective in these murky waters. I tie them sparsely on a wood, quill, or plastic tube. I fish them Far and Fine Off, downstream with a cane rod and a greased silk line with the last 15 feet treated with linseed oil to act as a thin intermediate sink tip with a floro leader for a stealthy delicate presentation.
This is my favorite winter technique during these conditions when the planets have aligned. Regards from the Restigouche....Jim View attachment 375054
Awesome! Thanks for the reply! In Oregon the winter water temperatures never get extremely low. I’d say they are pretty mild compared to other river in the winter time. I totally agree with you about the temperature change. I like to get out in the late morning, - 4ish as well. That temperature change that does happen sometimes turns that bite on.
 

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I skated one today, nada.
Funny phenomenon here on my local Vancouver island rivers. The water temp warms so slowly during the day that it peaks at about 11pm then starts dropping so slow that the warmest temps are at first light and coldest at about noon before trending up again.🤔
Weird but if the the hydrometric stations are reading true that's the phenomenon, although these fluctuations are only about a degree.
And of course a rain can do all sorts of things depending on the storm.
 

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Awesome! Thanks for the reply! In Oregon the winter water temperatures never get extremely low. I’d say they are pretty mild compared to other river in the winter time. I totally agree with you about the temperature change. I like to get out in the late morning, - 4ish as well. That temperature change that does happen sometimes turns that bite on.
Sorry to be contrary, but my favorite Oregon winter steelhead fishery typically freezes over for a variable period of time between December and February. Once, with two buddies, we fished ice jams on New Year's just to have something to do and to be able to say we'd done it. The day was short as we often found our lines freezing to ice floes if the lines accidentally crossed a floe, making retrieves challenging. We commonly come over to your side of the state this time of year for a winter break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry to be contrary, but my favorite Oregon winter steelhead fishery typically freezes over for a variable period of time between December and February. Once, with two buddies, we fished ice jams on New Year's just to have something to do and to be able to say we'd done it. The day was short as we often found our lines freezing to ice floes if the lines accidentally crossed a floe, making retrieves challenging. We commonly come over to your side of the state this time of year for a winter break.
I should’ve specified ‘Western Oregon’.
 

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Usually around 10 to 12 noon, on a warming day, the water temperature starts to rise as well as the water level from bankside snow melt. A one to three degree rise in river temperature with a corresponding rise in water level of an inch or two, can awaken hibernating steelhead in the deeper winter pools, to feed or to move upstream. I find that this phenomenon is accentuated in the lower reaches of the river, as the melt waters accumulate. The effect of these warmer flows are particularly noticeable in GL tributaries within a mile of the lake, as they can trigger a run.
I disagree with you that snow melt will cause a "one to three degree rise in river temperature" . Here on the Salmon River, N.Y. any snow melt will cause a drop in the water temperature for the next couple of days.
 

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I disagree with you that snow melt will cause a "one to three degree rise in river temperature" . Here on the Salmon River, N.Y. any snow melt will cause a drop in the water temperature for the next couple of days.
Well, there are variables that factor in to our observations. Upstate NY on the south shore of Lake Ontario is in a snow belt and gets buried compared to the Toronto area where my home River, the Credit, is located. The Salmon River watershed is very different than our Southern Ontario landscapes. As an example, we have only had two snow falls of a couple of inches since Christmas so far this winter and it has melted away in this urban area gradually as the temps warmed. I’ve taken advantage of these mild spells and have caught some steeIies under these warming conditions with the greased line techniques I described earlier. I had to mow my lawn yesterday and rake leaves that are still blowing around and didn’t get out fishing in the afternoon as I’m a football fan, but I’m sure some nice fish were landed yesterday and today which had similar mild conditions.
The Credit, and other Southern Ontario streams like the Ganny, Grand, Maitland, and the Saugeen will frequently exhibit this rise in mid day temps during a winter thaw. I’m not referring to a deluge of melt water that will certainly cause a temporary drop in water temps, but a ideal mix of conditions that can warm our winter waters, which is why I referred to the necessary planetary alignment....
A winter rain can have a similar influence on water temp and snow melt. A heavy rain in combination with melting snow will drop water temps but a drizzle during a warming spell that has already cleared most of the snow pack can produce these ideal conditions during mid day and trigger a run. Winter steel headers just have to be persistent optimists.
 
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