The Clearwater stands alone as one the most unique steelhead rivers on earth. The vast majority of steelhead rivers in the British Columbia and the PNW are located in ecological regions where watersheds are relatively sterile, meaning the rivers are clear, cold, and void of bug activity. Due to this environmental dynamic trout are scare and small in size. This equates to steelhead on the west side of the Cascades and in British Columbia lacking “trouty” traits and tendencies. This is why, for the most part, sink tips, short heads, and larger profile flies are required to activate these steelhead. You must get down to them and attract them with a fly that doesn’t resemble anything in the aquatic natural word and barrel of a line needed to cast it.
Once you cross the Eastside of the cascades the climate and environment become more arid and conducive to bug activity. Therefore there is a more plentiful food source and more ideal water conditions for trout to thrive. Steelhead reared in the Clearwater grow up, before heading for the ocean, living like trout and genetically retain this “trouty” mentality once they return back to the Clearwater after spending part of their life span living in the ocean. This is why Clearwater Fish respond intently to floating line presentations and small, sparse, buggy flies, and dries. Perhaps the only large steelhead river that rivals the Clearwater’s uniqueness is BC’s Thompson River. Tragically, however, the Thompson has virtually no fish returns due to poor watershed/ecological management.
Conditions: This year, like all years, conditions were stable. Being that the Clearwater’s flows are largely controlled by Dworshak Dam, the river remains clear and stable year round- creating an environment where Steelhead feel comfortable and are consistent in their holding sectors. Furthermore, water temperatures remain in prime ranges, between the upper 40’s and upper 50’s August through early November. Gear: Again, this year like all years, we are using Scandi and traditional full floating lines. Preferred lines are 42 to 70 ft. heads with leaders matching or doubling rod length based on length of line. We utilize rod lengths in the 14 to 15 ft range which are conducive to casting longer lines. Flies are small and sparse such as the Lady Caroline.
The newly implemented catch and keep regulations also made this year special and we hope that this becomes a yearly standard to some effect. From our perspective, the regulations brought more monitoring and supervision of angling ethics which led to a more spacious river and courteous anglers. In conclusion, we thank everyone for your support and shared experiences on the Clearwater River. We anticipate next year being even better, as with each following year, and we look forward to sharing the CSS (R)evolution with you. May next year bring plentiful fish and behemoth B-runs!
If you would be interested in further details or an itinerary then please contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine alternatively call our office on +44(0) 1980 847389.