The Days Of Purple Fingers For Steelhead

The Days Of Purple Fingers For Steelhead

Steelheading heavy toward the far north of their Midwestern range this week. Action included browns to 6 pounds, late-running, bright-silver coho salmon, and steelhead to 27 inches. Which is 7 pounds world 'round.

Bright cohos in November. What next? The weather has been forgiving to say the least. A normal scenario, during the ides of November, would include a sky spitting snow, ice-bound tributaries, and temperatures dropping into the single digits (Fahrenheit). Today, temperatures strove toward 50°F on November 18.

Steelhead bite no matter how cold the water gets. As I've observed and reported many times, steelhead readily bite in water temperatures registering 31°F — frozen solid but for gradient and movement. Pocked with ice floes, steelhead rivers continue to produce. For almost 40 years I've looked forward to those first nights where temperatures hover near 0°F to 10°F. The Days of Purple Fingers. Not for the faint of heart. Traffic slows to a trickle, the trickle represented by footprints of one man following his own week-old tracks into the woods.


Balmy 45°F days apparently won't discourage many hunters from putting their guns away for a few days. Last week I ran across 6 or 7 other anglers per day. In the northwoods, that's the equivalent of rush hour on Broadway.


The weather's too stinking nice. Beam me up, Scotty. I want to see deer tracks over the most recent bootprints. The smell of the salmon eggs, the roar of the crowd. Saw somebody an hour back. Adrenal glands are swelling. Cold sweat in a cold breeze. Need to clear out. Find a stream in the back of beyond with a few dozen steelhead in the entire river but nobody around. But. Where's the float?

Ok. Being a little hasty. We'll stick it out for another hour. Strike the order to strike Camp North. Still. The nostalgia of purple fingers is overwhelming around this next bend...

Steelhead just don't behave the same in 40°F water. They scatter into indiscriminate pools of indiscriminate depth and current speed (oh, the horror). Short days. Dark soon. Drifting Along to Jamiroquai on the way back to the Cave. (We find the cheapest rooms in the region and turn them into Steelhead Caves reeking of shrimp, spawn, good Scotch, and wet waders.) Caught 4. Not bad.

But not half as good as the Days of Purple Fingers.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

In order to sustain good fishing, it's important to understand which to release and fish you should for a fine meal.

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north or south, will help you pinpoint their predictable locations year after year. 

Walleyes spawn in spring, but spring may arrive in February in Mississippi, March in Walleye

Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Trending Articles

More Trout & Salmon

Trout & Salmon

Trophy Saskatchewan Pike

Jeff Simpson - February 07, 2017



Don Wirth: When cold water rushes through the turbines of a dam, an incredible, albeit Trout & Salmon

Tactics For Tailwater Trout

Chris Hoffman - October 13, 2017

Don Wirth: When cold water rushes through the turbines of a dam, an incredible, albeit

Lefty Kreh passed away March 14th, 2018.

In the world of fly-fishing, Lefty Kreh stands out as the Trout & Salmon

Lefty Kreh: The Man Behind The Legend

King Montgomery - May 05, 2015

Lefty Kreh passed away March 14th, 2018. In the world of fly-fishing, Lefty Kreh stands out...

Float rigs for steel during fluctuating water levels. Trout & Salmon

Float Fishing Steelhead

Matt Straw

Float rigs for steel during fluctuating water levels.

See More Trout & Salmon

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now