By: Todd Daniels
This season we are experiencing higher than average water flows which has given us off colored water. To be successful catching steelhead we must adapt to those conditions. By adapting we are going to go bigger, bolder and brighter. What I mean by that is I’m adding more ingredients on the hook than during average and low water years. I do this because we need the fish to see and smell our offering.
There’s no reason to be intimidated. Achieving this doesn’t take much. I keep it simple for winter steelhead. My normal steelhead cure consists of three parts Natural BorX O and one part sugar. I mix these together in a Ziploc and sprinkle them on the eggs. Remember steelhead are sugar junkies. They like sweet cures.
There are two things I do different to my cure in high and off color water. I add 10 drops of pure anise oil to make it sweeter. I also sprinkle a tiny bit of Red (or Pink) Fire Cure to give it more of a vibrant color. This little amount of the Fire Cure doesn’t put a whole lot of sulfites in it. It’s just the right amount of cure to change the cure color enough to make a difference.
Due to the stained and higher water it’s also a good idea to create a larger profile. One trick I use to achieve this is adding yarn to your egg loop. I do this because I can change the colors needed for the day based off the water color and can get my eggs to pop if the color is super off. I use bright orange, pink or cerise yarn when the water isn’t clear.
More of Todd’s Tips
*When fishing high water focus on casting to the softest seams and edges.
*Shorten your leader. I’ll drop down to even as short as two foot. They aren’t leader shy in these conditions.
*In off-colored water I’ll use 10-pound monofilament Izoreline.
*Even when using anise oil I’ll often add a tablespoon of Fire Power for extra flavor. Scent is important when water is high and off color. Every little bit helps. We can get away with mixing Fire Power and anise and because one (Fire Power) is a natural scent and something they eat out in the ocean whereas anise is a sweet scent triggering their sugar tooth.
Editor’s Note: Todd Daniels operates Tall Tales Guide Service. For more info on his guided jet boat steelhead trips please visit www.talltalesguideservice.com.