One of the reasons a lot of people prefer early season steelhead fishing over late season is that the fish are much more aggressive to a dry fly. However another attraction to catching steelhead in warmer water temps is having the opportunity to fish some very interesting water . With warm water the fish will search out fast, highly oxygenated spots to hold. With even a couple rocks to lay behind the fish will find extemely fast water to relax in. Often times these are very random spots that very few people would ever think to fish. For me that opens the doors to my favourite thing – catching fish for the first time in new water.
Fishing the same beat several times a week I will eyeball a spot for days as I boat up and down the river. If it continues to look good I will eventually slide into the piece with guests. More often than not we will find at least one aggressive steelhead to attack the fly. When the early season fish are in fast water many anglers will make a big mistake. They will start a classic run too low, and finish too high. The fish will be often above the head of the run in the fast non descript water, or way back in the fastest part of a tail out. The fish will in essence be holding in water in between the runs which is a lot of fun once you get it figured out.
If you examine this type of water and start to look for other sections of the river that match the depth and speed, you will quickly realize you can find it in places that you have never even considered fishing. Two – Four feet of fast riffle water with even the slightest bit of structure will hold fish.
Instead of simply looking for the perfect glassy glides steelhead are known to love you can start looking for small fast sections that rarely if ever get fished. For a guide that means we step off the beaten path and start fishing in between the runs targeting hot, aggressive fish sitting in water where they are crazy for a swung fly. It’s a short lived period on the Bulkley. When the water temps drop just slightly the fish move into the runs more consistently. So take my advice, when they are in fast water I highly recommend switching up the way you think and catch some of these fish that are often unintentionally passed up.