Fish, Fur, Fowl: Winter steelhead waiting to be hooked

By Ed Oldham

Now that the waters have started to return to normal, river anglers are starting to catch some nice winter steelhead. Right now, the upper part of the Skagit and the Cascade rivers are the two places to be around this part of the country.

The snow level has dropped and has left a nice light blanket of the white stuff on the island, and we can hope that the river water level will continue to stay normal for awhile which should keep local anglers happy.

I have personally wanted to give jigs a try on steelhead and many anglers have reported success using these types of lures.

I’ve been hearing some reports that pink and red ones are being very productive when suspended under a float.

I am hoping my schedule will permit me to go out with some experienced steelhead anglers and give this particular method a try.

Other anglers report success using shrimp behind and others swear by eggs, which have been the “go to” set up for many years. It makes sense, considering that the fish enter the rivers following the large salmon runs and eat the eggs they find along the way.

Lures back-trolled into known good holes work great on steelhead as well if you have a boat. As for me, I am going to just rely on my friends until I feel the need to get a nice drift boat myself.

Out on the salt, when it has been fishable, there have been reports of few fish being caught. The local blackmouth population hangs out near the bottom this time of year and you have to keep your downriggers within the bottom 10 feet of the water column. This can be a very time-consuming way to fish, but it is the most productive.

Try green-glow hoochies or coho killers behind a green flasher for some decent action. Be warned though, as we have seen lately, the weather can turn very quickly so be prepared for the worst and be safe.

Duck hunters have sure benefited greatly from the foul weather and cold fronts have moved those big northern flights into Washington. Although the wet weather also provided many more areas for them to forage in before heading south, it has also kept them moving and this is essential for hunter success.

This is a good time of the season for hunters to give their calls a good workout in the field. New ducks are moving in to the area and they haven’t had a lot of hunters calling. They are more likely to see your decoys once they hear your calls and there is nothing like watching a bunch of ducks cup their wings and almost fall out of the sky to get to your spread.

I remember some of those extremely cold mornings, sitting in a blind with the temperature just above freezing, waiting for the ducks to come in and then as the sun would rise you could watch the surface of the water ice over. Does anyone know why? If so, please e-mail me.

Christmas is just around the corner and I hope you all have had a chance to get most of your shopping out of the way. Shopping for most of us is easy, just open a Cabela’s catalog to almost any page and there you go. It’s shopping for others that makes it difficult.

Either way, have fun.

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