As I look back at the lower Skeena, winter started on November 16th. That was the day I stopped chasing the summer steelhead run on the upper tributaries. My sights were set on the fall/winter run on the lower Skeena system. Unlike most anglers I was determined to stay with my long head spey lines throughout the winter. The reason for this decision was that I found the mainstream Skeena remained at an all time low. There was no reason to use heavy tips!
During November and December I had very few hits. The fact of the matter was that I found the fall steelhead run were almost entirely tuned onto egg patterns. From a observational perspective it looked like everyone using egg patterns were smashing the fish.
Once January set in I started to get catch more fish, and my fly of choice was the 'polar shrimp'. I was extremely successful in a few select spots where the full dryline fly could be swung onto fish sitting in the flats or in moderately deep water.
February tested my nerves because the Skeena was locked up with ice, -literally frozen over. This just made the few mild days worth the pursuit. For the most part February only saw my footprints in the snow while the fishing became tedious and inactive (unlike last year). Late February delivered only one fish over 20 lbs. It was a pretty winter run steelhead that was unbelieveably chrome.
The 'Ides of March' and the beginning of the spring:
Early March was really tough and the winter cold air relentlessly blasted us on the river. Finally the rains came and oh yes that rain was a blessing. When the Skeena attained her wonderful muddy colour I benefited by having multi-fish days. The March rain allowed me to land my first 40 inch fish of the year. When the rains suddenly stopped, it was spring! To be honest I found the winter 2014 steelhead run to be sluggish. Their numbers were half as good as last year -sub par if I may say. But today I landed one and it was a nice HOT chromer!
Even with a low river and extremely cold temperatures I do enjoy winter steelhead fishing. I love the alone time and spey casting the Skeena while big snow flakes fall. It's just beautiful! I will miss the winter and desire a late spring. If you learned anything from this journal entry I would say, 'Don't miss the next rain, the fishing will be epic!'
Thanks.. March 27 2014