Outdoor News: Two-timing for Winter Steelhead

It was nearly a year ago, while drifting Oregon’s Wilson River, when co-worker Jarod Higginbotham hooked two steelheads on a double-rig, fished below a float. The bite was off that day, but those two steelhead and several cutthroat hadn’t gotten the message and were pulling Jarod’s float down in rapid succession while friend tackle rep Randy Woolsey and I couldn’t raise so much as a sniff.

At the time, Jarod was using a Maxi steelhead jig with a 24-inch leader extending from it to a bead rigged 2 inches above a small red hook. As he explained, with a double setup it’s important to allow your non-buoyant egg imitation to nudge bottom occasionally while drifting along in the river current.

It was only after I suggested he try a Corky drifter with its buoyancy offset by rigging it in combination with a larger hook that Jarod employed it for his two-timing steelhead rig. I remember him being more than a little excited when explaining to me how the buoyancy of the Corky helped float the hook point up (meaning he got hung on the bottom at lot less often) and how the larger hook seemed to produce more hookups per strike due to its larger point-to-shank gap.

The first time we tried it together on the Klickitat we landed four steelheads; three came on the Corky as compared to one on the Nightmare colored Maxi Jig located just 2 feet up the line. With success like this, we wondered, why not add a leader and Corky to your steelhead jig when float fishing?

Float fishing is like drift fishing in that you cast out, across and slightly upstream, pick up any slack line, and allow your float to drift through the holding water. You may need to mend your line upstream to prevent your float from skating on the surface and moving through the drift too fast. Realize that you are not fishing if your float is skating downstream, so line mending is important. If you’re a boater, you can cast to the side too, but you may find better success and eliminate all line drag by anchoring above the spot and maneuvering your bobber directly downstream from your craft.

Float fishing works best when the rivers are medium to low in height and clear in color. And although float fishing will work anywhere fish hold and is especially effective for fishing current edge. Steelhead like to hold where fast and slack water meet.

Most anglers will suspended their jig half to three-quarters of the way to the river bottom when fishing areas where the water is 8 feet or less in depth and within a few feet of bottom in deeper water.

The two-timing rig means adding a 24-inch leader to your jig — just tie it to the bend of your jig hook and slide the knot up the hook shank toward the jig head, which allows the jig to suspend below your float in a horizontal position (the fish like this jig presentation best).

Corky drifters float so it’s important when fishing one under your jig to offset the buoyancy of your Corky with a hook large enough to make it drift below your jig and the hook to tap bottom occasionally as it drifts downstream in the current.

In more turbid water or at times when fish might respond to a larger egg imitation, try a size 10 or 8 Corky rigged in combination with a size 1/0 red hook. The key here is to peg your Corky 2-3 inches above your single hook with a round tooth pick. The buoyancy of the Corky floats the hook point up so you get hung up less with it as compared to using a bead or other non-buoyant egg imitation.

This is the time of year when winter steelheads are ascending many Northwest rivers including the nearby Hood and White Salmon. Why not double your chance of success by using Jarod’s two-timing steelhead rig?

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



Log in to comment

Columbia Gorge news and businesses