“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”!
A common quote that is believed to be of Latin origin and attributed to Desiderius Erasmus sums up early season steelhead anglers. Simply put in a place where there are no talents at all, the person with even poor talent is regarded highly. Enter Regis and Jack – founts of useless information with just enough talent to make the cut.
Here is what Regis and I do to catch a few steelhead when early season water/weather fishing conditions are suited more for bass than steelhead.
When you are faced with an early season weather chart like the one pictured, there is no reason to be optimistic. Air temperatures too high and below average rainfall combine to eliminate an early start to the steelhead run, and any chance for easy to catch steelhead. There is however a glimmer of hope that "one-eyed kings" clearly see – wind direction. That weather element can be used to your advantage.
A stiff wind out of the north creates pounding surf that churns the lake shore, creates off-color water and makes it impossible to fish Trout Run or Godfrey Run. Even the Walnut Creek pier gets over-run with waves crashing into the channel. Those winds of change bring opportunity.
Because many steelhead are staging close to the lakeshore waiting for fall rains to trigger the run, these fish are susceptible to catching a ride on the heavy surf, and ending up in locations where anglers can reach them.
Fishing locations like the upper end of Walnut Creek channel and often around the bend upstream to the stop sign hole hold early season wind-driven steelhead. Fishing where the waves subside and the off-color water clears can be a good place to make a few casts.
Rising lake level makes lower Elk Creek look more like a lake bay than a stream mouth. That slow moving nearly stagnant waterway holds wind driven steehead when a big blow comes out of the north. Tossing a little Cleo on the flats below the mud hole could give you an opportunity to use that new smoker.
So when you are weary of waiting for rain to pull fish upstream to your honey hole, dress warm and head to the Walnut Creek Channel or lower Elk Creek to fish the “chop”!
You can use reaction baits like spoons or fast-jig soft plastic minnows to trigger a bite, or use a slip sinker rig and fish floating egg sacs on the bottom.
Will you catch fish? Perhaps you will, but a nasty wind-burn is a given!