Steelhead: Remember This?


Remember this? Wow.What a change a few weeks make.  Going steelheading tomorrow with Rick Hammer and Chris Beeksma. In 68°F weather. What could ensue?

We know one thing. Hammer doesn't like marching around in the woods with waders on when it's over 50°F out there. "I chafe," he mumbles. But that's not the issue (thank all that's holy).


I was supposed to be on Lake of The Woods this week, but nobody up there could find any pike in the, uh, oddly open water. Hmm.


Look at my previous post. Panfish not where they have been at ice-out for 22 years. Of course, ice-out occurred earlier than it has for, uh, 22 years. Hmm.

What will steelhead think about weather warmer than anybody can remember this time of year?

Will they:

A/ Punt? Stay in the big lakes and absorb their eggs?

B/ Come in en masse and spawn everywhere, like a silver tsunami?

C/ Enter the river in waves through May (sometimes early June), as they do in "normal" years?

Past experience tells me B is the answer. But, then again, I'm prejudiced (and, my gray beard ratting me out, completely inexperienced with a spring this strange). I hate A and love C, so I'm likely to hope for the best and pick B. But that's hardly anything to hope for. Urgent runs of steelhead are frustrating. Running fish don't bite, and spawning fish are off limits (for me) in streams where natural reproduction occurs. Urgent fish can ram up river 40 to 80 miles, spawn, and leave the river within 48 hours. Barely time to tip your hat.

Day length. Probably why pike guides can't find pike and guys like me can't find bluegills this year. (Why do I find it necessary to keep writing about that?)

But a friend of a friend caught 22 steelhead 48 hours ago in a stream we're targeting like a heat-seeking missle. Gone now? Darn. But maybe we'll catch fire there or on another river, Hammer chaffing all the way. He'll get used to it. Pretty soon the rainbows will spawn side-by-side with the browns.

Then what? Experts Gord Pyzer likes to quote predict dire things for salmonids and other fish that require cold water.

On the bright side, we'll probably find some morells. (If they're fast learners.)

We are the stuff of stars, said Carl Sagan. Which is literally true. We would not exist without the exhumations of stars that exploded billions of years ago, providing the basic components of our bodies, our brains, and all the fish of all the seas of the world.

But, shouldn't the "stuff of stars" know when to err on the side of caution? Stay tuned. The fish still look bright and healthy, according to Scott and Marty Glorvigen, on their annual steelhead safari across Michigan, kicking butt and taking names, driving 10 times farther every day than the atmosphere extends above our heads.

We may find something.

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