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Swing Into Spring

by John Gouker
Schmidt Outfitters

The days start to warm up and there are more daylight hours to enjoy. Winter is coming to an end and spring is just around the corner. The time for getting out and fishing for steelhead is here--swing time is here! Fall tends to get the hype for swinging flies, but some of the best fishing for steelhead is in the spring.

The early spring (March) is prime time on the small waters. The smaller waters tend to warm faster than the larger river systems. This is key to finding more aggressive fish willing to eat a swung fly. When these water temperatures hit 40 degrees and above, it is game on and you should take advantage of it. These small waters continue to fish well into the month of April.

The larger rivers tend to hit the 40 degree mark in early April. The fish are active, but boat traffic can make swinging a fly more difficult due to a lack of space. Fishing these waters is often more effective during later spring (late April through early May) due to fewer people on the water. The numbers of fish have decreased but water temps are on the rise and the fish that remain are looking for an easy meal. This late season fishing can be excellent with good shots at steelhead and some of the larger trout of the season.

When heading to the water, switch rods or full two-handed rods will enhance your experience swinging flies. Switch rods in the 11 foot range or short two-handers work well for the smaller waters and most of our larger rivers. The Skagit-style lines will work well for both types of water, just bring an assortment of tips to adjust to river conditions. Flies can range from large and flashy to small and drab. Change it up until you find the magic fly.

The opportunities for swinging a fly to steelhead in spring are excellent. The key is to remain flexible. Swinging is not just a big water technique. Take advantage of our different rivers. Fishing the different types of water will make you a better angler and allow you to increase your odds of having a productive fishing day. The days continue to lengthen and get warmer, so what are you waiting for? Get to swinging!



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