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Steelheading in Low Water story of 2011 (Best Catch Contest)
by Bob Waldhaus.

As an avid reader of Angling BC I have found it a fantastic resource for all angling. I spend a lot of time on the ocean fishing salmon and have recently been spending a lot more time in the Winter on the rivers fishing Steelhead. The Steelhead fishery in BC is a precious resource and one we must treasure and enjoy now and years to come. Many of your articles go a long way in improving my angling techniques which seem to always result in memorable trips on the river.
As we all know Steelhead fishing is probably the most rewarding fishing and angler can experience. The Steelhead is an extremely hard fish to catch. They are even harder to catch when the conditions are tough. That was the case this past winter when I hit the Stamp River in Port Alberni just after Christmas. The water levels were unseasonably low and the fish were hiding in tough spots making them very hard to entice. I had walked the river most of the morning finding that my most productive spots were not holding any fish. When water levels are low, steelhead will look for cover. Those areas are usually shallow fast ripples and rushing currents where the steelhead will seek cover from the bubbling rushing water overhead. This gives the steelhead a nice canopy of cover. What makes these spots tricky is that they are very shallow and its makes it very hard to properly drift without getting caught up on the rocks. I decided to target these areas by keeping my leader lengths very short, under 12 inches and using smaller floats. When fishing these areas it is important that you also look for darker patches of water in these fast currents where it may be a little deeper. Using this technique I carefully drifted through these seams constantly reeling in my line as not to get my gear caught on the bottom. The tackle I used was also small, a single rubber unscented egg with sparse wool draped over thus giving it what I felt was a good tiny presentation. Drift after drift it became clear through the morning that the fish would be very tough to get to bite. Persistence is always the key in these situations as well as changing your color patterns very 20 casts or so. By mid morning I had thrown just about all I had at them without a touch. I decided to back to the tiny orange egg I began with , this time removing the wool. I casted upstream well above the fast water letting my gear settle to the bottom, as my drift traveled over a large bolder I quickly jerked it as to not get caught up on bottom, while slowly retrieving my line, and my presentation swung perfectly behind the bolder and quickly into a small patch of fdeeper fast rushing water, just then my float sunk below the surface, at first I thought I was hung up but it soon became apparent I had a nice steelhead on my line. The fish came out of the water shook its head and took of down steam. It was a beauty. It ran out about 40 yards of line and did everything in its power to get away. With low water conditions the fish has an big advantage over the angler as rocks become a big problem and it is very common to lose a steelhead when your line wraps around a rock during the battle. With this in mind I insured I kept my 11'3" rod held high above me in attempt to keep line clear of any obstructions. Two more strong runs by this beautiful fish and I soon had it at my mercy. Gently bringing the fish to my feet I reached down and quickly unhooked my hook from the fish, got a quick picture, and watched it swim away for another angler to enjoy. This was an awesome experience and what makes Steelheading so enjoyable and rewarding. It was a great day.

Please practice catch and release and enjoy this fabulous resource.
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