The icy countenance of winter Steelhead fly fishing
We are now entering a normally cold period of winter here, with a high pressure ridge moving in over the eastern Pacific regional waters.This has brought freezing temperatures down to the ground level in many areas of western Washington. And happily, for Steelhead fly fishermen, this is bringing our rivers back into very good shape. As this coming week progresses our rivers could actually become low and clear. And so far the forecast is for a drier week ahead here, with beautiful skies, and a trend toward milder, warmer air through the week. By next week end they are calling for a little rain and snow here, which is perfect. As long as it's not too much! It is wild winter Steelhead season here now!
A very helpful Blog link for travel and trip planning is written by my favorite weather Guru- Dr Cliff Mass, at the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences dept. If you look at his page you will see updates, on a regular, frequent basis, as to any significant weather changes. And each week there is much to learn as he shares some lessons on many aspects of meteorology. Dr Mass is widely considered to be one of the best and most qualified sources for accurate information regarding our weather. He also wrote a great book a few years ago: "The Weather of The Pacific Northwest". This weekend he is warning us about very cold conditions at ground level, and how we can avoid driving on black ice, or at least be prepared for it. In this weeks blog he also shares a useful travel safety tool, provided by the U.W., called SNOWWATCH, which displays real time data on freezing temperatures at the road and bridge surfaces- This is critical information for winter driving. The thermometer readout on your car is not this accurate! On that page the screen shows two options, one for the Seattle Greater Metro area, and one for Full Domain, which shows the entire western region, including the peninsula.
Along with all of your other preparations, play it safe with your driving. We are in a maritime environment here, and often we get fog, freezing fog, and ice on our roads during these dry cold periods. Plan for a little extra time to drive now, take it easy. It's supposed to be fun.
Here is the link: Dr Cliff Mass weather blog.
I also like the statewide travel advisories offered by Washington State Dept of Transportation.
(These above links are nice to have bookmarked on your smartphone now too.)
I expect that our river flows will continue to drop now here this week. And so I am going to be sure to plan for a range of variable flows and depths in just about any of the many locations that we fish. Each winter high water event that occurs here has the potential to rearrange some parts of the rivers, some reaches more than others. So as these flows recede we often find new structure, eroded gravel filled shallows and scoured depths, log jams etc., where once it had been very different. Much of my work is spent on scouting these things frequently every winter. This is also a reason why I suggest that fly fishermen bring multi tip line and head systems, with a full spread of the available sink tip and floating head sections, usually provided in some kind of wallet by the makers. For either Spey, Skagit style, Switch or single handed casters, I always recommend RIO Products fly lines, tips, heads, running line, leaders and materials. The quality and suitability of RIO products is unparalleled in this kind fly fishing opportunity. And these materials were developed and tested in some of the toughest winter Steelhead conditions that our region has to offer. If you check out their website you will see that they can help you match up your rod and your fishing to the lines etc., that you need. And do not be afraid to call them- they are there to help. (You won't be talking to someone in India).
And speaking of ice, these are the kind of cold spells that can cause ice to form on your rod guides and lines etc. This can be very vexing and interferes with normal line handling and casting work all day at times. One good solution to this icing issue is offered by Loon Outdoors Try their paste antifreeze in these conditions and you will be very glad that you did: Stanley's Ice Off Paste. They do provide instructions.
My fly box will include a wide variety of weighted and non weighted flies, (even a few surface Muddlers, wakers and skaters),some brightly colored, some drab, and always, always- some purple and black flies; Speys. Marabours, Bunnies, Leeches, Intruders, Shank flies etc. I will have flies as small as size #6, and as large as size 1/0. More on flies very soon, with some pictures etc.
If you want to come winter Steelhead fly fishing here with me, now is the time to be booking your winter Steelhead fly fishing trip for late January February, March and April.
And please remember: Catch & Release, Fair Chase, Fly Fishing Only!
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