Its another cold spring. Spring 2008 is looking a lot like a repeat of 2007 with cold temperatures, low water, and a slow start to the fishing.
So far, the steelhead fishing has been tough due to very cold water temperatures and gin-clear low water. The stream survey guys at Fish and Game were recording river temps of 1-2 degrees celsius! While some steelhead have moved in, they have been skittish and hard to hook.
What we need is a dose of warm rain and it looks like we are going to get it this week. If things play out like they did in 2007, steelheading is about to get really good. Here is the scenario. The rains set in and this starts melting the snow pack and bringing river levels and water temperatures up. This in turn causes a bunch of big, happy, grabby steelhead to push in. Now through the end of May should be primo fishing for chromers.
Don’t be afraid to swing a big seductive fly when the water is up. Try a Pink Articulated Hareball Leech or a Foxee Prawn in Popsicle. Fish deep and vary the action of the fly. MOAL (Mother of All Leeches) in Pink or Black , Frank's Fly , Polar Caballeros , and Black Egg Sucking Leeches are all successful patterns. Both Peterson and Cowee Creek are good bets on the Juneau road system.
The beach fishing is just starting to pick up for sea-run Dolly Varden. The salmon fry are late in emerging and the Dollies are taking their time coming out of the lakes. The channel has been slow but fish have been taken around the Douglas Bridge, the Shrine of St. Terese, Dupont, and Gastineau Channel.
As we all know, when DIPAC Hatchery releases their Chum fry the Dolly fishing goes crazy. Usually the first Chum release is in Mid-May. Due to cold conditions and slower growth rates, DIPAC is looking to start releasing around the third to fourth week of May. The releases will be staggered but when all is said and done over 30 million Chum fry will be released in Gastineau Channel! The Gastineau smolt releases will occur at both Salmon Creek and Sheep Creek. Let the feeding frenzy begin! In addition to the the Gastineau Channel release, nearly 50 million Chum fry will be released at Amalga Harbor. Clouser Minnows in a variety of colors, Salmon Fry , and Stinger Clousers are all great producers. Keep your eye out for feeding birds (usually Arctic terns) to help locate schools of fry.
Fishing the lower half of the tide for Dollies is most productive. Three hours before the low until three hours after the low. The higher end of the tide tends to spread out the fish. Expect a lull in the fishing right around the low, too. A few spots to try include Sheep Creek, the beach near the Douglas Bridge, Kowee Creek on Douglas Island, Salmon Creek, the area where Peterson Creek flows into Amalga Harbor, and Echo Cove. The Dollies move around looking for fry but these spots are good starting points.
See you on the water! Brad