On the Fly columnist and fly fishing instructor Jeff Weltz spoke last week of winter fishing and the steelhead. While the steelhead is the most well know winter fish of west coast streams, there is another fish almost a popular, the cutthroat trout, a fish that sparked memories from Weltz’ childhood.
While these fish are resident in our coastal streams year round, they adapt easily to the barrenness of winter. Nomadic by nature this fish can be frustratingly inconsistent in holding waters. Yet for many of us the cutthroat is held in fond memory as the fish of our childhood.
It was a different world in those days. Parents didn’t have to worry about children as much, so boys were free to go off fishing on their own, wherever, whenever, and for however long they wanted.
We didn’t have the convenience of a tackle shop in every town, so hooks were always at a premium. Weights usually consisted of the nuts and washers you could sneak from your Dad’s stash, without getting caught. Your rod and reel, if you had one, usually came from the discount barrel at the Army & Navy store in New Westminster.
An outfit for a day fishing was simple; your rod with a sinker and hook attached, (no spares) and a pocket full of worms. Yes, I said pocket. We usually put out bait in our pockets, because finding a can would mean digging through the kitchen garbage and that would be gross.
That’s how my friends and I did it back in ‘63; the fish were cutthroat not steelhead. After all these years and changes in equipment are we any better at catching them? Maybe, sometimes, it depends on who you ask.
So what is going to be this weekend; cutthroat or steelhead?
With rain in the forecast for Wednesday our Lower Mainland lakes should be fishable again by the weekend. Expect the fish to be slow and sluggish due to the cold water. Try a slow troll or retrieve, close to shore, with: Bloodworm, Chironomid, Zulu, Wooly Bugger, Wooly Worm, Big Black, Doc Spratley, or Baggy Shrimp.
The Fraser River sloughs and backwaters are good for cutthroat and dolly varden. For cutthroat Try: Rolled Muddler, Professor, Anderson Stone, Black Stone, Zulu, American Coachman, Flesh Fly, or Chez Nymph. For dolly varden try large (size #4 to 2) Eggo, Clouser’s Deep Minnow, Tied Down Minnow, Roller Muddler, Dolly Whacker, Big Black, Kaufmann Stone, or Flesh Fly.
The Harrison River is good for cutthroat and rainbow. For rainbow try: Kaufmann Stone, Big Black, Wooly Bugger, Black Gnat, Souboo, Zulu, or Renegade.
The Chehalis River is fair to slow for steelhead, and rainbow. For steelhead try: Steelhead Nightmare, Kaufmann Stone, Polar Shrimp, GP, Popsicle, Squamish Poacher, Big Black, Flat Black, or Steelhead Spratley.
The Vedder River is good for steelhead, rainbow and cutthroat.
A fly fishing instructor and outdoor writer,
Jeff has fished the area since the early 1970s.
Contact him at email@example.com