How to fish for steelhead in high and off colored water: written by Dennis Hull (Bite Me Guide Service)
If you love to fish for steelhead here in Oregon and Washington then you are well aware that mother nature can ruin your fishing plans. That doesn’t have to be the case always. Most steelhead fishermen look for the optimum river levels and flows but they also need to be flexible and be able to fish high and sometimes muddy water.
The same current seams and pockets that you would fish aren’t where you want to fish in high water conditions. Steelhead will move out of the extremely fast water and move to the edges of the current and in some cases will be only a foot or two off of the bank. If the river is full of mud and sediment they will also look for some water that isn’t as full of debris to hide in. Another thing to keep in mind is that the visibility isn’t good and you have to put your baits on the nose of the steelhead.
When pulling plug or using spoons or spinners you want to find the pockets that steelhead are most likely to hide in to escape the heavy water and put big bright obnoxious offering right in there face and try to force them out of the resting spots. While most of the time you use fairly small baits for steelhead fishing, when the river is high and off color you want to use big and bright baits. Good colors are Orange and chartreuse in larger sizes pinks and reds and darker colors won’t show up as good in brown water this is true in drift gear as well as pulling plugs. Look for areas that are sheltered from the main current, up tight against a bank pockets with somewhat clearer water and don’t be afraid to fish right under your feet, you just might be surprised at what is swimming there.
The steelhead fishing will still be better when you have perfect conditions but don’t wait for them or you will miss the fishing because when the steelhead arrive in the rivers in winter they are on a tight schedule and they aren’t going to wait for the rivers to be perfect. Use extreme caution while fishing on rain swollen rivers they can be very dangerous especially in a boat or wading.