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Does time of day influence where you tend to find steelhead the most?
 

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no it only determins when i fish for them in the summer.. I know fish on the North Umpqua don't move to find shade they just hold in the same spot all day sun or shade. I do believe however that in the summer in many locations fish move better to a fly on or near the surface in low light conditions.. but as to the positioning of fish in the river? i think it's irrelevant.. However in many larger rivers fish will move in very close to shore at night and then move out in the daylight hours but i think this has more to do with angling pressure than anything..
I have heard stories of fish at ringold springs on the Columbia where in the early morning fish can be seen with their tails out of the water they are in such shallow water but then move out a little after the first fisherman of the morning..
in the winter i don't think it matters a bit...
 

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For me, I would say it depends much on the river and on the sun. On one favorite eastside river, it has always been a first light show for me. Sometimes I will fish from dawn till dusk but rarely will I find a fish in mid-day. To be fair this is also likely influenced by the plethora of jetboat activity that comes an hour or so after first light. On other rivers, it doesn't seem to matter as much although I still hold that first hour or so of the day special.

For me, sun is also a good indicator of fish action. This seems to has more of an impact on winter fish than summer-runs. While I have caught spring and winter fish at mid-day in bright sun, for the most part cold water and bright sun seem to not be a good combination for me at least.

On a river I was fishing the past few days, I had the pleasure of taking some guy named Dana's picture with a lovely 15# buck in bright sunshine. He had just told me that sun didn't faze the fish in that river a bit and then he proved his point. Gawd I hate a show-off! :hihi:
 

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It's The Sun

We all have to speculate on reasons for fish behavior largely because the fish do not take surveys well. If you could plot a graph, I'm confident that mornings and evenings would plot signigficantly better than mid day. Further I am confident that the sunrise/sunset curve would not be as dramatic in the Winter as in the Summer. It is my personal conclusion that fish do not like looking directly into the Sun any more than we do, ( they do not have eye lids, hats or sunglasses ). If you're working a fly on a sunny day, ( and clear water ), in the direct sight line between the sun and the fish, I don't like your chances. However, if that sun light is behind the fish, I think you're good to go. I have noted better success in the middle of a bright day when in a shaded or indirect light situation. There are other variables; like has the water been stepped on which is more and more likely as a day wears on; barametric pressure, etc. - - - but I think the amount and location of the light is key.
 

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JD
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well documented

hisgarness said:
We all have to speculate on reasons for fish behavior largely because the fish do not take surveys well. If you could plot a graph, I'm confident that mornings and evenings would plot signigficantly better than mid day. Further I am confident that the sunrise/sunset curve would not be as dramatic in the Winter as in the Summer. It is my personal conclusion that fish do not like looking directly into the Sun any more than we do, ( they do not have eye lids, hats or sunglasses ). If you're working a fly on a sunny day, ( and clear water ), in the direct sight line between the sun and the fish, I don't like your chances. However, if that sun light is behind the fish, I think you're good to go. I have noted better success in the middle of a bright day when in a shaded or indirect light situation. There are other variables; like has the water been stepped on which is more and more likely as a day wears on; barametric pressure, etc. - - - but I think the amount and location of the light is key.
There have been volumes written on this subject. Much of it focusing on whether the sun is in front or behind the fish. Even to the extreme of matching the hook color to the light conditions. :Eyecrazy: Makes sense when you read it but too much for my pea brain to absorb.

The K.I.S.S. method. When in doubt, use black and be done with it. :D
 

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Ted,

The time of day I've hooked the most fish is late afternoon into near dark. However, there is a famous S river here in Puget Sound that I regularly wait to start fishing at 10:00 a.m. in the summer. This river is well-known with a lot of fisherman visiting it most days. I find starting in late morning has not been a hindrance to hooking fish if I use small (meaning $8-#10 regular dress wets or dries and #6-#8 true low-water flies tied not longer than half shank) flies and not fish close in water. Small, sparse, and bright often works very well during this late morning to mid-day time frame.

There is a famous river on the Olympic Peninsula that most fish early morning that I've also had very good fishing on during late morning to mid-day in summer after nearly everyone has left. I use the same small flies. I've also found the same thing on Wenatchee River, which has been closed to fishing since 1996, and usually waited until the dawn patrol quit the river before I started to fish.

There is a set of conditions on the S river mentioned in the first paragraph when this doesn't work and the dawn patrol is nearly mandatory. This is when the river is low, there has been little or no rain for a protracted period, the air temps have been consistently in the upper 80's-low 90's, and the water temps have moved up into the low 60's. The years when those conditions occur, fishing is virtually useless anytime but dawn to a few hours after daybreak. These conditions also make it very easy to kill a steelhead from stressing it in the high water temps so I don't bother to fish this river when these conditions are found.
 

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A slightly different twist to time of day - Anyone who fishes the Vedder knows the run below the train bridge. Up until last year, it was a reliable peice of fly fishing water. There was, (is), a train which crossed the bridge just before lunch, and about 45 minutes later, I would start to get into fish. I always figured the rumble of the train spooked the fish out from the pools below the bridge, and spread them out into the run.

So best time of day? 45 minutes after train....
 
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