And suddenly it’s March. Despite the fact that as I write this I look out on what could possibly the most significant snowfall we’ve had here this year, winter is coming to an end. Who’s thinking of spring when everything is covered in a blanket of fresh powder? I am. Spring is so close I can taste it and it has me yearning to be river side even more. I know the potential that the next few weeks may carry and it’s causing me to lose sleep. With spring comes a new run of steelhead pushing up river with a certain urgency. Technically it’s still winter, I get that, but the next few weeks could be some of the best steelheading of the spring.
As day length increases spawning windows begin to close. It may not be a big deal just yet for spring run fish, but for the ones that arrived in the fall that window has shrank considerably. Typically spawning from mid-February to mid-March these fish have little time left and are now on a mission; out of their winter slumber and on the move.
The urgency might not be quite as strong for the spring run fish, but they’re picking up on the day length too and are also on the move. Even though their spawning window is still a long way from closing, fish are going to start not only staging, but moving in, especially the ones in bigger systems that have a long journey.
With a less than harsh winter like we’ve had this year we could be looking at a ‘perfect storm’ of steelhead fishing. While a typical winter usually see’s the hold over fish spawning and dropping back before the spring run fish make their move, warmer winters like this one could mean the right conditions for both to be sharing the same water.
What are we left with? A mixed bag of what could possibly be the best steelheading all spring. We’ve got hold over fish that have yet to spawn; we’ve got hold over fish that have already spawned and have begun to drop back; and we’ve got fresh spring run fish; all swimming together in perfect steelhead harmony. Combine that with the fact that most are trying to salvage what’s left of the hard water season and it’s all together possible to have these fish all to yourself. A recipe for some damn fine steelheading.