Those who find themselves knee deep in the river at their favorite “secret spot” each fall know the chrome that I am talking about. The chrome sides and almost transparent fins of a fresh fall run steelhead tops the list of favorite colors for most anglers. These fish invade the rivers from late September on in search of a fresh protein packed meal provided by their Big Lake cousins that preceded them in the previous weeks. There is little a steelhead favors more than salmon eggs. That is why every fall hundreds of fish find themselves several miles from what they call home and in water sometimes just deep enough to be submerged to feast and provide a little fattening before winter. These fish provide some of the best fights found on a fly rod with its high speed acrobatics dancing across the water. Swimming into 5th gear, up and down the river, jumping and cartwheeling, trying to swim anywhere they can to find a gap in the line to shake your hook. Fall chrome is the ultimate reward for anglers around the state.
There are a couple of different methods of fly fishing to pursue these fish. Like I mentioned, the egg is on top of their dinner list and with the seemingly endless buffet of salmon eggs in the river, why not! Egg patterns in natural colors such as orange and peach floated under a bobber is the easiest way to find a bite. In fact, if you do not find a bite, an adjustment in size of your eggs or tippets is probably all you need to change your luck. There are times though that all the eggs in your box don’t seem to work. This is a great time to try swinging a much larger fly across their path and trigger an instinctive predatory strike. It is fact that swinging speys doesn’t produce as many fish, but it’s the slam of the strike that have more and more people rekindling the one of the oldest methods in fly fishing. Casting the long two handed rods became popular in Scotland where long casts were needed to reach salmon and steelhead. They can also be used in small confines of our rivers as well. There is nothing like the crushing hit of a 12lb steelie and the 30 second ride that follows.
So when you are thinking about your next fall color trip, consider adding another stop along the way and see if you have what it takes to ride the chrome express right to your net.