My winter steelheading is about to come to an end here on the Little North Santiam. The fish will be pairing up and starting to spawn next month. That’s my signal to leave them be so that we will continue to see good runs in future years.
It’s been a great season. Beginning in late November, the Little North dropped into shape and some steelhead moved in. As usual, a summer hatchery fish or two followed the winter natives in and I was able to mark my tag and put one in the freezer.
The first week of December was pretty hot. Seven fish hooked and five landed. Got my first buck of the season once the river dropped and I could swing some Intruders.
We had very little rain here in the Pacific Northwest in December and the river dropped to nearly summer levels. Needless to say, not many fish moved in. Holiday rains changed all of that and we had high water for several weeks to start the new year.
February has been awesome!…. when the Otters aren’t around. There have been two groups of otters in the area. A group of 3 fully grown critters, and a mother with 3 yearlings. They make the fishing turn off, but they’re awfully fun to watch.
My step-son landed his first steelhead a couple weeks ago. Not just any any steelhead….. a monster! I’ve caught a few bucks in the 33-34″ range before, but nothing like this brute. A 36 1/2″ wild fish that gave him a workout! I’m guessing this fella was on his 2nd trip home.
There are probably a couple good weeks left here on the Little North before it’s time to give them some space to “do their thang”. It’s been another season of learning more about these great fish – lessons I hope to share with my clients on the main river when the summer hatchery fish start moving in. The Wild Buck this past weekend may be the final fish of “my season”, but I get as much, or more, enjoyment out of netting fish for those that choose to share my river as guide clients.