Winter has arrived according to the calendar, and we have winter steelhead fishing conditions in the Salmon area. There have been several periods of slush ice flowing, with intervals of clear water. The ice jam has backed up to between the Tower Creek and Red Bluff boat ramps, then cut back down a ways. There was shelf ice at all the ramps, but recent warmer weather has cut that out, so that the ramps upstream of and including Tower are usable. The river is open at Red Bluff, but there is enough of an ice wall that the ramp is not usable. There is about a foot of snow on the ground.
We have had a few warmer days, and there have been a few hard-core steelhead fisherman on the river. It seems that most of the steelhead fishermen who are dedicated enough to be out now are fly fishermen. My son John has been out the last few afternoons with a spey rod, picked up one steelhead this afternoon and lost another. But fishing has been slow. There has been some muddy water, but lately the river has been clear. Water temperature was 38 degrees this afternoon.
Cold weather is predicted, down to 0 in the next day or two, so ice will return for a while. When morning temperatures are in the 20s, usually the river will not have slush ice, at least in the afternoon.
I’m told I have to bulk this post up with “useful information” even if the report is done, so here’s a tidbit: Don’t back your rig down onto an icy launch ramp this time of year to go steelhead fishing, or you might swim. And they are all icy this time of year. Bring a long rope so that you can stay off the ramp. And now I have reached 300 words and can quit.