Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
1.) Stay Downstream
This one could probably mesh with our second tip, but staying downstream of the fish will almost always assist in landing more steelhead. A downstream angler position, and a downstream rod angle, will constantly pull the fly back into the fish, as opposed to out of the fish's mouth. When a steelhead runs downstream and we are caught above it, there is almost no way our rod pressure doesn't result in pulling the fly back out of its mouth.
2.) Mind Your Angles
In the frantic moments following a hookup, Wildwood guides will be barking orders at a rapid pace. Most often those directions will be things like, "rod tip left!" or, "rod tip right!" By applying proper side pressure on hooked steelhead, we can tire them out and get them in the net as quickly as possible. The sooner we do that the better chance the fish has of being released unscathed.
3.) Hands OFF the Line and Reel!!
The number one cause of a lost fish is an angler reeling or holding the line while the fish makes a run. The water is so often low and clear, meaning we have to use light line. That light line is forgiving, but will break instantly on a strong run if we don't allow the reel to flow freely. When a steelhead wants to make a move, just let it go! Once it pauses that's when we can make up line and get it closer.
4.) Bring a BIG Net
Steelhead are big fish, with the average size being somewhere around 24 inches and 4-6 pounds. Just based on the size differential, a trout net just won't do for these bruisers! Bring a net big enough to comfortably fit a steelhead in the basket to not only land more, but also make it easier to unhook and release them.
5.) Fish With a Guide
What could be easier than having someone net the fish for you? Even if you don't fish with a guide, having a buddy there to assist with the net goes a long way in landing more steelhead. Many fish are lost on solo missions in the awkward moments of trying to scoop up a fish with one hand while holding the rod with the other. A guide can talk you through the entire fight and steer the fish toward a position where it can be netted successfully.
Check out our steelhead trips page for information on half and full day trips on the Lake Erie tributaries!
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