Early steelhead season advice . . . .
If you are like the rest of us, you are anxious to get on the water and hook your first, fall steelhead. I know that it is hard to tamp-down that strong desire with just common sense, but if you have experienced a few steelhead seasons you know “early catching” is tough.
Don’t believe any September fishing report that says fish are in the streams, and be skeptical of early October reports too. In early October 2018, fishing was limited to low light times near or in the lake. Trout Run produced best, but it also attracted the most attention so good casting locations were crowded.
When water flow spikes upward, there is a surge of fish entering the lower sections of all tributaries, but then the dropping water makes fish retreat back into the lake. Watch the USGS flow gauges. A substantial flow that is maintained for several days coupled with lower air temperatures will produce fishing that is worth a trip. However, you will be forced to fish close to the lake and endure crowded fishing conditions. If free time is limited and you have not made a commitment that cannot be changed, be patient.
If you lack patience, have plenty of free time then by all means plan an October trip. Mid to late October would be best, but go whenever you can. Be prepared to fish smaller presentations, concentrate fishing at low-light times or at night and expect crowds.
I like single eggs in October. Small nymphs or egg patterns are good options too. Cleo’s or Kastmaster lures tossed into the lake work well if you like heavy metal. Small egg sacs with floaters fished on the bottom at night from a bag chair is the insomniac’s choice. The “nervous” jigging of soft plastics and small, hair jigs often gets reaction bites.
I am not a fan of minnows, but some anglers always have a bottle or bucket of shiners.
Ever tried using night-crawlers injected with air and floated off the bottom? This is another bag-chair presentation that gives you plenty of time to relax and “shoot the breeze” with your fishing buddy.
Early season is not the best, but it will have to do until the major run of fish arrives.