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Lake Ontario tributary Steelhead action with Rapala Shift Drift outfits.

Posted on May 6th, 2014

Aaron Shirley, our pup Mulligan and I took advantage of high water levels and good weather conditions and headed out to a Lake Ontario tributary yesterday to enjoy the excellent high-water steelhead fishing that is available due to our late spring, cool temperatures, lot’s of snow melt-off and recent rains.

You know it’s going to be a good day when you tie into a fish on your first drift and that is exactly what happend to me, but unfortunately because I was trying to land my first fish in the same run I had hooked it in (I did not want to chase it down the rapids for a 100 yds or so), I ended up loosing the fish.

Aaron was able to easily muscle this prime "drop-back" steelhead using his 13' Shift Drift Rod and Shift Set-back Drift Reel and 8 lb test Sufix Seige main line and Sufix 6 lb test Fluorocarbon leader.
Aaron was able to easily muscle this prime “drop-back” steelhead using his 13′ Shift Drift Rod and Shift Set-back Drift Reel and 8 lb test Sufix Seige main line and Sufix 6 lb test Fluorocarbon leader.

Aaron hooked the next fish, which he caught drifting a small run next to a large submerged tree root.  When the water is high, steelhead will commonly lay in runs that would not be deep enough during normal water conditions.  Both Aaron and I have learned that if there is enough water to “hide”a fish, there’s a good change to hook a steelhead, so never pass-up at least 1-drift if you see a good run created from high water conditions.

multicolor_eggsacksMulti-clored, varying size egg-sacks are key to figuring our what the steelhead want, especially if the water conditions can range from clear to murky, or shallow to flooded conditions.  Both Aaron and I like to pickle our eggs and use different color mesh to make sure we can meet all of the different water conditions.

 

Luhr Jensens Kwikfish Stretchy Thread is ideal for tying egg-sacks or even helping hold bait to your hook.
Luhr Jensens Kwikfish Stretchy Thread is ideal for tying egg-sacks or even helping hold bait to your hook.

Luhr Jensen makes an excellent Kwikfish Stretchy Thread that is ideal for tying egg-sacks quickly and neatly!

The Rapala Shift Off-set Drift Reels are lightweight, they are vented which makes them light, yet very strong, they have smooth ball bearings which make for excellent free-spool drifting and they are a large diameter to help with line pick-up.

i used the Rapala 11 1/2' R-Type Drift Rod while Aaron used his 13' Rapala Shift Rod with the Rapala Shift Off-set Drift Reel.
i used the Rapala 11 1/2′ R-Type Drift Rod while Aaron used his 13′ Rapala Shift Rod with the Rapala Shift Off-set Drift Reel.

To me, the ultimate drifting,  hooking, & fighting  a trophy steelheadis using a 6 lb. test Sufix Fluorocarbon leader, an 11 1/2′ lightweight Rapala R-Type drift rod and Rapala Shift Drift Reel.

Worth the walk, drifting run anger run, hooking wood, and finally.......a trophy steelhead!
Worth the walk, drifting run anger run, hooking wood, and finally…….a trophy steelhead!

When many anglers hook a fish, they get so excited and try and reel it in as quickly as possilbe.  Aaron and I have learned over the years that it’s all about savoring the moment, which includes taking your time while fighting a fish you worked so hard to get on to your line, and gently landing it after it has finished fighting.

It's important to make sure a tired steelhead has revived properly so that when it's released it has lot's of energy to get back down to deeper water for cover.
It’s important to make sure a tired steelhead has revived properly so that when it’s released it has lot’s of energy to get back down to deeper water for cover.

Both Aaron and I try and take as much time is required to revive fish that we have fought out and held up for quick pictures.  We appreciate these beautiful fish so much we want other anglers to have the opportunity of catching & releasing them as well!

When a steelhead is fully revived and ready to be released, it's usually impossible for the angler to hold on to it any longer, it just shoots-off!
When a steelhead is fully revived and ready to be released, it’s usually impossible for the angler to hold on to it any longer, it just shoots-off!

This years late spring and colder than normal water temperatures are keeping steelhead metabolism down helping to ensure a healthy release.

Post-spawn steelhead revert back to their slim, Great Lakes shape and very bright "chrome" silver color.   Besides fighting well, they also take both bait and artificials very aggressively!
Post-spawn steelhead revert back to their slim, Great Lakes shape and very bright “chrome” silver color. Besides fighting well, they also take both bait and artificials very aggressively!

Steelheading is one of the most peaceful type of fishing any angler can enjoy.  All you need is a good set of waders, the right gear and to find a stretch of tributary that is holding fish.  If most cases you find some of he best steelheading away from the crowds in a very natural environment.

Aaron makes sure his fish is fully revived before releasing it.
Aaron makes sure his fish is fully revived before releasing it.

Aaron & I are going to try and get as many hours of steelhead fishing in over the next few weeks while there are still lot’s of fish that are dropping back down from the upper Lake Ontario tributaries!

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