I don’t know how many times a year I am asked, “When is the absolute peak time for winter steelhead fishing.” My joke answer is, “The best time for fishing is when you are there”, but in reality February is my favourite month for steelhead fishing. Most of the run has entered the river but they are still bright and fresh, and aggressive.
No matter what style of fishing you prefer, whether it is fly fishing, float fishing or fishing with spinning gear, February steelhead will be attracted to your presentation. When fishing with flies you cannot go wrong with the good old egg-sucking leach, although a golden stone fly, an egg pattern or a black General Practitioner will produce strikes.
Anglers who like fishing under a float will find lots of success with a pink worm but if the water gets low and clear an orange corkie is my go-to lure. Mad River eggs, Gooey Bobs and 10mm trout beads are also good bets and a simple puff of pink or orange wool also works well.
One of my favourite ways of fishing for February steelhead is with plugs and my favourite plug is the Luhr-Jensen Hot Shot. Both the #35 (with rattle) and the #30 (without) work very well, especially the metallic green. I always like to work plugs in pairs, setting them out about 40 feet behind the boat. You can fish them from an anchored boat or slowly back troll them through the deeper pools, either way keep an eye on your rod tip to make sure the the plug is working properly. Don’t worry about keeping too close of a watch, your rod will start bucking like mad when a steelhead hits.
On a side note…
Cowichan River brown trout fishing has been awesome this year!