North Coast Steelhead

The time is now!  Don’t hesitate, as the fish are there and conditions are solid.  A big reason for heading west is the availability of so many streams in a reasonably small geographical region.  No matter what the conditions are, unless an absolute weather blowout, there is always something to fish.  When the weather has been “dry”, look to the bigger streams that hold their water well. In opposite conditions, look to the smaller streams that don’t blow out as easily and clear quicker when on the drop.  Your favorite river might not be prime so look to other opportunities, opening a chance for undiscovered treasures. 
On a recent trip, my son and I met the most fishing pressure we’ve ever experienced.  If there weren’t three rigs in a pullout, there would be five.  But we were able to swing every run we wanted, unbothered.  Gear anglers, for the most part, leave fly water alone.  If you are willing to hunt and peck your spots, some really great water can be found.  Another way to avoid excess pressure is to fish higher, upstream from the popular boat launch.  This puts everyone on foot, evening the field.
Personally, I fish single-handed rods in upper water sections.  Give me a 10-to-11-foot rod with a short Skagit head and 10’ of T-10.  Short casting strokes in tight quarters are the rule most of the time.  Long casts are usually not necessary.  For flies, all the usual winter offerings work well.  Keep in mind lead eyes for deeper swings and lighter, non-eyed patterns and tubes for softer inside water.
Fish of late February and March are, in my opinion, the best of the year.  Some are quite large, with most being of Wild origin.  Do take great care fighting and handling them, as they are the true “Gems of the River”.
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