Consistent with the month of December comes cold day and night-time temperatures, which have an enormous impact when it comes to fishing.
For starters, it directly affects anglers. Usually only the hardy make an effort to get into the field and actually fish. It requires one to dress appropriately for the occasion. Next, it means decisions need to be made in terms of which species of fish will be the primary target. Also anglers will need to adjust to different river conditions.
As temperatures drop, so do river levels. When water levels drop, it usually means cleaner water and more care in lure presentation.
Our rivers are hosting both steelhead and salmon at this time. It is a transitional stage in fishing which only lasts until the end of the month. It all depends upon the strength of the salmon runs; but, we can start to see them wane somewhat as the steelhead population takes over.
Because this transition occurs, rules will change in our local rivers in a variety of ways. The move from what is primarily a food fish fishery to a sport fishery is reflected in these changes.
For the balance of the salmon season, some rules have changed effective the first of December. Whereas, some of our rivers have closed to fishing at the end of October, others have closed as of Nov. 30. Notably night fishing opened as of Dec. 1, which coincides with the game fishing regulations in the state of Washington. As would be the case with standard game fishing, treble hooks are permitted as well. Some argue that single hooks work just as well; and therefore, it is not all that necessary to make the change over.
The biggest adjustment before anglers is the matter of targeting steelhead. A lot of similarities exist between salmon and steelhead fishing; but, they are very different in terms of movement and even bait presentation.
First of all, steelhead are feeding while in rivers; whereas, salmon have ceased their eating patterns when they enter fresh water. Their focus is to spawn and shortly thereafter they will die, thus ending their cycle.
So, when presenting a lure, it must be understood that it is done for two entirely different reasons. In the case of steelhead, it is to entice them to feed off your presentation for the most. Salmon, being territorial, will strike to protect their space which is a different concept entirely. Sometimes this approach will work with steelhead when using a spinner or similar lure. It can work as an attractor when fishing colored water conditions. However, in recent days, the colder temperatures have caused the rivers to drop and to clear up. Anglers will need to adjust accordingly.
So as we approach December fishing, anglers need to consider transitional measures. When done correctly, it can produce favorable results. The catch numbers for steelhead start rising considerably in December. It is a good month to bring home a fresh steelhead and some fine table fare.