Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Skinny Water Steel

The flow on the Rocky River is dropping fast and the temps are rising. That means the steelhead fishing is heating up. Today, after work, I headed south to try the East Branch. When the flows are about 500 cfs, the East Branch of the Rocky is an attractive, yet skinny stretch of water from the dam downstream to the parkway bridge.

The water was turning green and that had the fishermen out in force. I thought I could squeeze into a spot, but after watching a guy in hippers walk over a few fish in the run I wanted to fish, I opted to take a short hike to a quieter stretch that usually holds a few fish. Against the far bank is a narrow, gravel lined channel that is a few feet deep when the river is a little high. Two fish were holding at the head of the run as I walked across the river. I cast my white minnow fly to the bank about 10 yards up stream of the fish and the current carried it right to them. As it swung in front, one of the two steelies made an aggressive jab at the fly. I tried to set the hook, but after a brief tug came up empty. Thankfully the fish didn't spook and after a brief pause, I tried again. A few casts later, a female crushed the fly and took off downstream after I set the hook.

Because the fish was hanging out in a narrow chute -- or skinny water -- there wasn't much room for her to run and I quickly brought to the shallow stretch in the middle of the river, took the fly from inside her mouth, and returned her to the river.

After fishing a deep run nearby, I headed back downstream to the spot where I had started. The crowd had thinned out and a few large steelhead cruised up to the head and then back into the tail of a faster, deeper run. I worked the mid-section of the run, where the water was deepest and quickly hooked a small, dark male. He too enjoyed the minnow fly.

There's not a lot of places to fish on the East Branch, but on higher water days it can be a fun place to stop on the way home from work to do some skinny water fishing.

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