Fishing during the holidays is unique and carries with it some interesting sidebars. The very fact that it is the Christmas holiday plays into the equation more strategically.
Some folk have time off from work during this season and, it gives them an opportunity to get away. It seems that fishing can get more serious when you have a few days to devote toward it. An extended time gives one a chance to get a feel for the sport, read the water and to take some deliberate steps in pursuit of fish. Right now most anglers have their sights on winter steelhead.
The next thing that plays into fishing at this time is the probability of new gear. Whether one has received gifts related to fishing or whether you have found something you could not live without, priced just right, gives the angler a good reason to get out — if for no other reason simply to test the equipment for functionality. The weather could be a factor. However, that base is probably covered as well with some new layered clothing which will keep you warm on the coldest of days. All in all, it could be a good time to get out and do some fishing.
There may be a few salmon lurking the waters as we near the close of the month. It is safe to say most of that species has made their presence for the year. Anglers are definitely going to be after steelhead. The reports of fish being caught bear this out. The Satsop, Wynooche and Humptulips rivers have yielded several winter fish already.
In terms of regulations the standard game fish rules apply throughout our region. There are some locations where the selective gear rule has been applied as of the Dec. 1. One such place is the upper portion of the Wynooche River. Usually, this rule goes into place to protect fish in what would be considered spawning water.
This selective gear rule limits what the angler is able to do while pursuing fish. It states only unscented artificial flies on lines with one single-point, barbless hook are allowed. Up to a total of three artificial flies or lures, each containing one single-point barbless hook may be used. Bait is prohibited and fish may be released until the daily limit is retained. Only knotless nets may be used to land fish, except where specifically allowed under special rules for individual waters. If any fish has swallowed the hook or is hooked in the gill, eye, or tongue, it should be kept if legal to do so.
The weather pattern of cold nights and sunny days is likely to continue for some time. Even with some rain or snow the rivers are going to drop in temperature. This will have a direct bearing on fish metabolism and will have some effect on hookups.
When water temperatures drop into the 30s, steelhead metabolism reaches a near dormant stage. Fish will proceed upstream; but will do so at a much slower rate. A slow drift presentation will give steelhead a long look at the offering and the fish will hardly have to move to take the bait.
Adapting to current water conditions may produce a bite if nothing else, it will make you feel better about your new gear.