Eh! It’s been a long, chilly, and record-setting winter, but double-digit daytime highs have finally seemed to settle in up here in Southwestern Ontario! This past week the steelhead run just about peaked on many rivers and creeks along Lake Ontario’s north shore. Meanwhile, some fish will follow after the next few rainfalls.
This weekend will be a busy one. Trout season opens in the province at 12:00 am, Saturday. Early Saturday morning many anglers can be seen on the bank night-fishing for steelhead or holding their honey holes until there is enough light to fish.
Opening weekend gives anglers the chance to fish rivers top to bottom for the first time in several months, which is a great feeling since we have all been confined to short stretches of legal water. Keep in mind, many tributaries have sections which close the end September and others the end of December.
As a die-hard steelhead angler I’ve religiously spent every opening week preparing bait, scouting water for signs of fish, and gearing up prior to fishing hard all opening weekend. On opening weekend we camp out and fish multiple rivers, putting in many kilometres chasing not only steelhead, but resident brown and brook trout. Not only does opening weekend allow me to be more versatile as the water warms up, it gives me two more trout species to target. I’ll be using single eggs (Orange Deluxe and Yellow Jackets) for the resident trout.
For the past month my steelhead fishing has consistent of float fishing Pautzke Fire Cure steelhead eggs (scraped). The hot colours have been orange and natural for plunkers and those float-fishing. I’ve also discovered something new. Rather than throwing out old spawn sacks, I’ve been dousing them in Pautzke Red Nectar, which rejuvenates the colour and plumpness of the eggs in the spawn sac. The Nectar brings old spawn sacs back to life.
My rod and reel set up for this upcoming weekend will be no different from what I use throughout the whole season, however I will use different float sizes according to the size of the body of water I am fishing. Bigger and faster flows require heavy setups. This means larger floats come into play in order to get the presentation down into the strike zone quickly. Smaller flows, which require a more finesse-style approach, often require a much smaller float. Ten to 15-foot medium-light to medium-action rods are standard, paired up with either a spinning reel or a centerpin/float reel.
This weekend’s arsenal:
13′ G.Loomis IMX (medium-light action)
Islander Steelheader centerpin/float reel
8lb Blood Run mainline (clear)
Cool Waters Fishing Floats (4-22g) (www.coolwatersfloats.ca)
5lb Drennan fluorocarbon leader line
Raven Specialist hooks (size 4-10)
Pautzke Fire-cured steelhead skein tied in chartreuse, pink, and white spawn mesh.
Balls O’ Fire (Yellow Jackets, Green Label, and Orange Deluxe)
Although we’ve had another record setting year of ice accumulation on the Great Lakes these cold water conditions do bring one good thing, and that’s keep our steelhead around until mid-May for the second year in a row. Remember to play it safe when wading this weekend. Our rivers and creeks are running fast this spring. Also, don’t forget to keep steelhead redds (gravel beds) in mind when wading shallow riffle water stretches. These spots are where it all begins for these fish.
Stay tuned, for a post-spawn steelhead fishing blog. To all the anglers in the province have yourselves a great opening weekend!