I got out recently for steelhead up north with a couple of friends Christine and Tony. It would be Christine’s first time trying a centerpin for steelhead, as I lent her a Rapala RType drift rod and Shift centrepin to try out. Christine is just getting into tributary fishing, and and it was a pleasure to have her out with us. We fished a medium size tributary with a rocky substrate and really fast flow. This made navigating extremely difficult crossing the river, so we only crossed when we had to. The water was high and off colour which was is perfect conditions for fall steelhead as long as it isn’t too dirty.
We heard there was a good bite the day before so we were excited. Although we had to work for our fish in ridiculous high winds and rain, we ended up having a great day out. We got into some spunky wild strain seelhead that went airborne and put up a great fight. The rivers are absolutely beautiful and many people have no idea that such beauty and wildlife is at their doorstep. I have been fishing Great Lakes tributaries for 35 years now, and I never get tired of fishing them.
We got all our fish on roe bags we tied ourselves with Spawn Net and Spider Thread. I used a Rapala RType drift rod with a 5″ Shift off-set centrepin reel. I absolutely love this reel! It is feather-light, takes up line quickly and is super smooth. It has quickly become the centrepin of choice for me. I wore the new Rapala ProWear XProtect breathable waders and Rapala wading boots, which made it possible to navigate the river in comfort. I added stainless steel 1/2″ hex head self-tapping screws to the bottom of my Rapala wading boots. This gives me the grip I need to fish rivers with a fast current more safely and icy river conditions into December.
I also had a quick local fish for steelhead. It was tough, but I did manage to catch one steelhead and a surprise Chinook salmon. I saw a few Chinook still around and a couple big browns, but I believe it is still a slight bit early for the best action. I think the best action is yet to come, so don’t put away your waders just yet! I noticed a sign for fish and wildlife violations on my local tribs which was nice to see.
The best time to catch tributary steelhead is typically November and December. Get out and enjoy it before ice fishing season begins!