Its raining in Vancouver today, hard. Its been a week since we had much measurable rainfall and the rivers have gotten pretty low. Over the next two or three days some areas of the Pacific Northwest are forecasted to see a few inches worth of rain, how much actually falls remains to be seen. Generally though its pretty likely that depending on where you're fishing conditions will range from absolutely perfectly cherry to somewhere just shy of flood stage. With a week of fishing ahead of me I'm taking a wait and see approach, watch the hydrographs and the weather forecast closely and make a call when things get a little bit more clear. For a normal member of society unaccustomed to the whims of winter river conditions it might seem maddening, particularly when most people plan vacations months ahead of time. For the steelheader it offers the tantalizing possibility that one or more of the favored stomping grounds could be fishing perfectly. A little high and green always beats the hell out of low and clear.
I've also been doing a good deal of tying lately. Then again, when am I not? Fishing with Ralf last weekend got me thinking about pattern design, size and what makes a steelhead bug "fishy". He's a proponent of smaller flies, tied sparse with just a little bit of flash so they sink well, but have lots of lifelike movement and shimmer. I've always loved the classic lines and sensibility of spey style flies but the appeal of more modern fly design with its emphasis on tubes and stingers, articulated, flash covered sea creature like monstrosities tends to also play a prominent role in my pattern design. So I've come up with a compromise. A classic prawn style spey fly, tied with all the traditional materials, but embellished with just enough flash and nastiness to make the fly really swim. This batch is tied on 1.5 AJs and should fish well under most winter conditions, but I think the pattern holds promise for summer runs as well if its tied on a smaller hook, particularly early in the season when the fish are bright and aggressive.