Goodbye to steelhead for a while. Hello trout.
The 2016/2017 steelhead return to the Grande Ronde watershed was slated to be one of those years with below average return. Biologists predicated that the returns of two salt fish would be greater than the one salt fish, because a large amount of one salt fish were killed in adverse ocean conditions.
The fish we saw this year were large and they fought hard. The smaller one salts were still around, just not in great quantity. I guess every now and again we have to have a not so stellar, but still somewhat productive year.
The Grande Ronde steelhead return does run in cycles and I've watched it go from fantastic to fair fishing. I still can't say that I've seen a "bad" year, because the fish have been here every year since I started spending the fall in Troy in 2009 and in good numbers. I would rather reserve the word "bad" to describe water conditions, when applicable.
The fish we did find this year were in pods. 15 steelhead were swung up in less than two days in a stretch of river no more than a few miles long on the Grande Ronde. And in saying that, we found the dry sections in between. So again, even the lower number years aren't "bad" and can be a lot of fun.
As the spring moves along, the steelhead get a break and the trout become more active. Devin Olsen and I were fishing the Wallowa (now open year round) on May 2nd and found plenty of March Browns hatching, along with some sporadic Caddis. The fishing was great and we had plenty of success both nymphing and swinging (stayed tuned for an instructional fly tying post on what is becoming a favorite fly of mine to swing for trout).
So as we put the big rods away and transition for trout, I'm confident this year will be awesome. We have a lot of snow which should keep the rivers in good shape and the temperatures in the safe range, through August. Give FSA a call to discuss a trip with us on what is shaping up to be a great trout year.