I love small stream fishing. I love everything about it. It brings me back to my roots of chasing steelhead and trout on the tribs of the Clackamas as a teen. I love exploring, the "I wonder what's around the next corner?" and I love the lack of other people.
Many times on my day off from guiding I will hit the bank fishing a small stream. I might go to a favorite or go exploring a small stream that I've never fished, just to see what's in there. It's not uncommon for me to drive 100 miles or more from Tillamook just to check out someplace new.
I don't always catch a pile of fish out of these small streams. One to three is about average.
On this particular day I was checking out a nice little creek off just about everyone's radar.
I stepped to the edge of the pool and casted in my bobber and jig. My rig swung into the tail-out and I reeled in, adjusted my bobber about half a foot deeper and made another cast. I repeated the process a couple more times until I found bottom, then I shortened up a foot, made three or four more casts and then moved on, satisfied I had covered the water.
I moved onto the next hole and repeated the same process. Except this time on the third adjustment/cast the float shot under. I reeled down quickly and set the hook into a mean buck with a bright red stripe. After landing and releasing him, I made a few more casts and then moved on.
After working my way up-stream and hitting three more good pieces of water, I worked my way back to the hole that produced. This time I already knew what depth to set my float at. On my first cast my float slipped under the surface and I set the hook into a nice little hen.
One thing I look for in choosing a stream is size. I really like one that has pools that I can cover in five to ten cast and move on. And usually I want one I can wade back and forth and cover a mile or more of stream.
My gear consists of a GLoomis 1141S, one of my favorite steelhead rods. If it's real brushy I'll opt for a rod that is a little shorter, the STR 1044S.
I will pack the pockets of my Simms jacket with a selection of jigs, a few bobbers, some split shot and a leader wallet with pre tied yarnies. If I am going to use bait, which I rarely do for steelhead on these little creeks, I will add a pack of hooks and a spool of leader.
A pair of pliers, scissors and polarized glasses finishes out my gear.
Showing up at the river without polarized glasses is like showing up naked. They are so important for this kind of fishing. Not just to spot fish but for seeing structure and avoiding snags. I have two pairs of polarized in my truck, one with gray lenses for bright sunlight and one with amber lenses for low light and cloudy weather.
The water is small and usually clear so the fish can be spooky. For stealth I try and approach from downstream and work my way up stream. This will alert less fish. I also wear dark or even camo clothes and hat. I don't know how many times I have seen someone decked out in neon bright clothes scratching their head about not catching fish.
Get out and explore one of these little gems, especially after a rain, and have fun seeing what's around the next corner.