I just got back from a few days in Pulaski, NY chasing steelhead with my friends Joe Cermele, Fishing Editor of Field and Stream and John Frazier, Editor of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters. In four days, the weather ran the gamut from pouring rain, to bright sun to wind and snow. We fished the Douglaston Salmon Run, which covers the first 2.5 miles of the Salmon River, effectively giving us the first crack at the steelhead as they moved in from Lake Ontario.
If I wasn’t a believer in the difference color makes when targeting steelhead, I am now. As we geared up in the parking lot before sunrise on our first day on the river, veteran Salmon River guide Gary Edwards told us to change colors every 15 minutes to show the fish something new.
Throughout the trip, no less than six times did a color change trigger an immediate response from the steelies in front of us. A couple times it happened right when we’d rotate between casting positions. Often the first or second cast from the new fisherman with a new fly resulted in a bright chrome steelhead tearing off downstream.
I’ve seen this with stripers too, when a change in lure color can put you into (or out of) fish. Sometimes a color switch will entice a larger class of bass. It’s safe to say, no matter what species you’re after or what you’re throwing, it pays to have a few colors on hand.