The warm temperatures and Hawaii Pineapple Express warm fronts have been pushed back by the advancing cold fronts and the glaciers have stopped melting and are now frozen. The bulk of the moisture that falls is coming as snow in the high elevations and less slides down the hills as surface water so the streams start to clear and recede. Likewise the Squamish and the upper Pitt begin to recede and clear and this is how the winter trout fishing starts.
Now is the time for eagles to gather and battle each other over the remaining salmon carcasses that float in the shallows and back eddies......and, now is the time before the Steelhead when the big bull, rainbow and cutthroat trout are feasting on the last of the salmon eggs that are still drifting from the spawning late run coho and the odd chum that is still around. These trout are feasting on a diminishing supply of eggs but they are beginning to look for shards of salmon flesh that has gone pasty pink or white and also for any wayward minnow that should haplessly swim above them.
It is the time when I love to tie big streamer flies onto a heavy fast sink-tip fly line and then let the games begin! Today, I saw some of the pools holding the remnants of salmon with four to six bull trout cruising in constant circles around them, waiting for wayward eggs. The coho are focused on the spawn and the trout were hard to knock off the eggs but a slowly drifted egg pattern might still work. I tossed several egg patterns but in pools these do not drift fast enough so I resorted to various streamers. Both the coho and the bulls chased the patterns almost to the shore but would turn at the last minute.
Then the rod began to slowly pulse and I realized it was not a log but a monster fish which I could barely control. I had a 9 weight rod as originally I was hoping for the large coho but they had not gone after my offerings and when the rod doubled over and I could not turn the fish, I was beginning to wonder just what had I tied into? I saw a large silver flash which immediately brought the thought of a rogue early Steelhead. The Squamish does not usually see the Ironheads till late march and mostly in April so I began to suspect I was into one of the biggest bulls I had ever tied into in the Squamish. The rod kept bending and pulsing and the reel kept peeling out line so I did all I could to try and turn the fish from going into the fast water.
It was a tug of war to get the fish into the slow back eddy and eventually onto the shore where the tape said it was 27 inches long and looked to be 8 to 10 pounds. I thought this would be a great way to end the day, but there was still some of the run left to fish.