In the painstaking weeks leading up to the start of the steelhead run, anglers are left with little to do except stare at weather reports and wait.
Unless…there was something that could be done! Early preparation for the upcoming season can pay major dividends once the run is in full swing and every waking moment is spent thinking about how to get to the tributaries and go after some chrome.
Some might say that tippet rot is nothing more than an old wives’ tale, but who really wants to take that chance? It’s best to keep a dedicated set of steelhead leader and tippet that never lasts longer than a season or two. Getting a fresh spool of 3X and 4X prior to the season will boost confidence and ensure that a lost fish is certainly not due to faulty line!
Is there something to be gained from sitting behind a computer screen? You bet! Each year, state fisheries agencies go through the thankless job of acquiring more public access points on steelhead streams. Typically these can be seen in the form of press releases from the respective agency, but there is also usually some chatter about it on online forums. By learning about these new fishing spots in the offseason, anglers will have a better sense of where they might want to go when the run is in full swing.
Boots on the Ground
A lot can happen from one season to the next. Floods, ice jams, downed trees, habitat improvement devices, and just general changes in the stream bottom can radically change holding lies for steelhead. Going for a walk on a favorite waterway during the pre-run months can provide valuable information on where the fish might be found later into the season. It’s also advised to carry a rod along just in case!
Stock The Boxes
Steelhead, perhaps more than almost any other fish, can really do a number on a fly box in as little as a day. Sharp runs and spiraling cartwheels can shred line to pieces and with it our flies. There are days when a particular size and color of fly can get ravaged thanks to caught fish and snap offs. Refilling our steelhead boxes in summer can help alleviate some of that pressure later into the season. Few things are worse than running out of a hot fly that the fish can’t get enough of!
The weeks and months leading up to the annual steelhead run can feel like an eternity. Instead of anxiously looking at weather reports and praying for rain to bring in that first surge of fish, do the prep work now to make for a great season once the run begins!