Low and Clear Presentations Required

I got out winter Steelhead fishing with 2 other buddies this past weekend. Today the weather was around 2 degrees Celsius with a chilly breeze it felt below zero. These are not my favorite fishing conditions but with two toddlers a small window of time to get out on the river must always be taken.

The Vedder river system hasn’t had any significant rain for 10 days so has been on the drop for awhile, aka. low and clear! In these types of conditions there are a number of factors that come into play but for this Journal I’m going to highlight 2 important ones:

  1. Small presentations are mandatory. I’m talking dime size or smaller.
  2. Cooler temperatures means the fish are less active.


Small Lures & Baits

Lures, baits, whatever you use should be no larger than a dime size in these these conditions! This is even more important when you’re on a highly pressured river like the Vedder River. Knowing the water levels and conditions the night before, I tied a few leaders: 2 x 8 mm beads, a small gooey bob/wool combo, and 4″ pink worm.

The winner for this morning belonged to the 8 mm bead under a float. Small and simple, that’s all it takes sometimes on these types of days. If you want more information on bead fishing see my bead tip here.

Less Active Fish

Cold weather can really shut down the bite! Cooler conditions means less active fish. This is really important as it means you need to do more drifts/casts when covering water. As the fish are not as willing to move for your bait, you’ll need to put it right in front of them and have that perfect presentation.

You’ll often hear in a Steelhead class/lesson, book, video, etc that you need to “cover a lot water”, or something like “if they are there, they’ll bite right away”, yadda, yadda, yadda. I agree with these statements, heck, I often repeat them… BUT, we’re talking about cold and low water conditions, this changes the game. If you like a piece of water, I’d recommend you spend at least double (maybe) more time systematically covering it than you typically would in warmer conditions.

Lastly, with lower and colder water conditions the fish will not be “on the move”, they’ll usually stay in pocket water or runs and hold there. In those areas they may see a lot of gear and baits go by them, so you really have to offer something perfectly! Keep changing things up, run through your lure arsenal (focusing on small baits). Fish it thoroughly and hard, this is key for these tough fish in tough conditions.

2 Wild Winter Steelhead on Beads

This is a short video showing the effectiveness of small presentations in cold and clear water conditions. Additionally, my buddy Jason provides a great tip on how to hold a Steelhead upside down in the water in order to calm it down while still ensuring the fish’s condition. Apologize for the videography, certainly not my best.

My name is Jesse, I’ve been obsessed about fishing since I was a toddler trying to catch fish with my minnow net in any type of water. These articles are another fishing outlet for me as I have a passion to promote fishing in an educational, fun and respectful format. Feel free to reach out to me with any fishing questions or business inquires, see contact page.


BC Fishing Journal

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