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Ronan's report


Wednesday 13th February, 2008

As Eric mentioned, things really are back to normal here at Sexyloops. Paul is on the move. Eric is saving the day. Magnus put together another great FP (though I'm not so sure about that POD) yesterday about a parasite that may or may not be threatening the UK's salmon . I'm back for a go at the Wednesday FP, even though my first attempt at today’s POD crashed my computer. No, I didn't save the files.

I've been busy this winter. Work has had me in the field, tromping up and down small tributary streams looking for ways that a local government agency can improve water quality, habitat, and riparian vegetation. We've had lots of rain here in the valley, and snow up on the mountain, and skiing has been pretty good. I haven't fished as much as I'd like (who does?) but I've found success nearly every time I've been out for steelhead this winter, which is a great thing to be able to say.

Arguably, the most critical factor in winter steelhead fly fishing success is river level. Too low and the fish stay put in the deepest pools looking for shelter in the clear water or never even enter the river. Too high and the river becomes a muddy and unfishable torrent. Somewhere in between there is a narrow range of flows that are high enough to keep the fish moving through the system, but low enough to make them accessible to fly anglers as they pass through or rest in lies that can be effectively fished with standard gear (DH rods and sink tip lines). Knowing the ideal range of flows on a given river is a great advantage, especially now, when access to a computer equals up to the minute information about stream flows all over the US.

Great, right? Maybe. Check out this graph of stream flows from just before Xmas through today.

flows

The thin blue line is flow rate in CFS. This is a river I like to fish, and I know the best levels for fly fishing. I have shown them as a red horizontal rectangle. The vertical purple rectangles show the weekends, when I get to go fishing. See the problem yet? I had a shot at good water conditions on this river where the thin blue line passes through the intersection of the red and purple rectangles. That only happened about 3 times so far this winter. Subtract a few of those weekend days for skiing, and you begin to see how small the window of opportunity can be. Here's the cool thing though. I was there on December 22, when flows were in the zone for only a few hours, and I got a steelhead. We were there again on February 3rd, with stable flows in the zone, and we landed multiple fish.

The lesson is simple. Go With The Flow. If you have a job, call in sick, quit, whatever. The chances are few during a long and rainy winter. If you see a chance, take it.

Cheers,
Matt


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