Mid-summer fishing is both a bitter and sweet occasion. It is sweet in that the weather makes the event so inviting. No one would argue that being outdoors in the summer on Grays Harbor is as good as it gets. Yet, the summer months dictate weather, which proves to make fishing very challenging.
Summer fishing in freshwater leads anglers to largely pursue cutthroat, rainbow trout, and steelhead. Cutthroat trout can be located anywhere and everywhere. They do not appear in masses, but they can be taken from beaver ponds and found in isolated streams.
Rainbow trout are primarily occupying lakes in our region. They have been planted and do well until fished out. However, as the summer water temperatures rise, these fish become more difficult to catch. This is also the case with summer steelhead.
Steelhead occupy rivers where they are engaged in their life cycle, which includes spawning. As the water temperature increases, these fish tend to get very lethargic. In addition, river size and water depth shrinks providing less cover and protection for these fish. The result is they will become extremely wary of preditors and very skiddish. When they reach this mode, it is difficult to get them to bite a lure or take bait.
Anglers resort to extreme measures such as pre-dawn fishing or even well after the sun sets. It is important for anglers to keep their cover and do everything they can to go undetected.
It is helpful to know that summer steelhead enter freshwater in a sexually immature condition between May and October. They will require several months to mature and spawn. In the mean time, they take up residence in rivers and seek concealing locations.
They will seek areas that have plenty of trees and shrubs growing along their edges. These plants shade the water and help to keep the temperature down. By holding the soil with their roots, these plants also prevent erosion and help keep the water clean. Fallen logs and broken tree branches in the channel provide needed cover for steelhead protection from predators. Plants along the bank also help to provide food, such as insects and spiders living on plants, which fall into the water. This is especially true where plants or trees hang well out toward the middle of the stream.
Their summer habitat must contain areas with both riffles and pools. A riffle is a shallow area where water flows rapidly over a rocky or gravelly stream bed. Riffles are important, because they oxygenate the water and also supply the habitiat with food.
A pool is a deep area where the water flows more slowly. It is in the pools that the water tends to be cooler than in open areas. Steelhead need these pools for resting and for providing hiding locations from predators.
If an angler is able to assimulate this information about steelhead, it will be of great assistance when intercepting their summer world. Overcoming summer challenges is what it takes to be successful in connecting with steelhead. It helps to fish water that hosts this species as well. In our area, the Humptulips River and Wynooche River would be locations which have been stocked with steelhead smolt in anticipation of a return for this year. Your chances of hooking a steelhead would be best on these two rivers.