Chinook Weather, Steelhead Production
A freight train of a Chinook blew in on Friday, February 6th, bringing rain and warm winds that bumped river levels and will ultimately reset steelhead holding locations. The Grande Ronde topped out at 8,000 cfs late Saturday night and has begun to drop. The same pattern occurred on the Wallowa (currently clear above the Wallowa Canyon mouth) and Imnaha Rivers (the Imnaha at Imnaha jumped from 219 cfs to 1390 cfs by Saturday night and now has also begun to gradually drop).
So what does this mean? For a group of hearty steelhead fishermen and fisherwomen who drove fourteen hours from Colorado, fished Thursday afternoon through Saturday, it meant steelhead. And then no steelhead. And then, as the river turned big and muddy, carrying sticks and other debris, seriously no steelhead.
For the rest of us? It means steelhead are going to start moving. Big time. In from the Snake River and up the Grande Ronde and Wallowa. While last week produced some steelhead on the Wallowa River earlier in the week and over last weekend, by Wednesday and Thursday runs were feeling beat. When flows began to rise the fishing got hot, and then shut down once water levels really got moving. For best success keep an eye on river levels this week and look to great fishing by the end of the week if overnight temperatures drop back into the thirties.