TCO End of the Year Steelhead trip
Posted on 30 December 2019
This past weekend some of the TCO crew headed to upstate New York to participate in a Simms dealer camp and to do some winter Steelhead fishing. These kinds of trips accomplish a few things. Firstly, we always come back with a further knowledge of the products we sell and also get to test plenty of gear. Secondly, and most importantly, we have a chance to share special moments together as a family both on and off the water. The second one is most important, we are all gathered at TCO for a reason. We all love fly fishing and the beautiful locations and moments that come from it. In fact, we all took a moment to appreciate our lives and the path in which they have taken, then we hit the water!
For this post I want to tell some quick stories about the trip and talk about some of the gear that we used in these frigid, unforgiving conditions. There are very few locales that test gear harder than sub-freezing steelhead fishing. Every piece of gear that you rely on is constantly at its breaking point, anglers included; and when the river temp is below freezing as well, one wrong step can be extremely dangerous.
We arrived late Saturday night and stayed at the Tailwaters lodge https://tailwaterlodge.com/ in Altmar, New York; an oasis in a beaten down Salmon fishing town. There were 10 TCO team members arriving so gathered at the bar and waited for everyone to get there. It’s exciting to have the group together, many of us have been with TCO for years and we are mixed with some new hires hoping to fit in with the group. It was a great first night, sharing stories and anticipating the fishing. The next morning we wake up to temperatures below 10 degrees. We all carefully choose our layered clothing, knowing that we will be on the water until dark.
The consensus choices for layering is as follows. One single pair of heavy darn tough socks. More than one sock will slow circulation to your feet and make you colder. Next, a base layer of Simms Exstream Core Bottoms and Exstream Core Top . Add on a fleece mid layer and jacket. To lock it all in, we all chose various versions of Simms Gore-Tex Waders and a solid pair of boots with as many cleats as possible. All of this combined to keep us warm enough to tolerate the cold temperatures until the sun started to peek through the clouds. Keep in mind not to over layer as you will sweat while hiking to the river and be colder because of it. Below is a look at what my layering in extreme cold temperatures looks like.
We survived the mornings frigid conditions despite frozen guides, leaders and fingers. Unfortunately, the fish were not yet active.
That changed however once the water started to warm, the slush washed through and the sun hit the water. Our willingness to fight through adversity had paid off as the river started to fish really well in the early afternoon. We hooked and landed many beautiful Steelhead that day, the hopes of the night before and the morning were fulfilled. Any thoughts of disappointment and hopelessness were replaced with amazing chrome colored fish and the shouts of success.
We fish either 10’ 7-8wt rods with a single grip or 11’-12’ two handed switch rods in these conditions. The reels attached to them must have very capable drags and be sealed to keep out the ice. Lines for these rigs are almost exclusively floating lines with big heads to turn over the larger rigs we use.
We came in from the cold to spend several hours going through the fall '20 Simms line. I can say we are all very excited by some of the new products being introduced and can't wait to be able to share them in the shops.
The team spending time viewing the new Simms lineup. Dealer camps are great for staff to get a first look and feel for the upcoming products.
In the end, the trip was a great success. Many fish were landed, we had a great time as a team and we learned a lot from the Simms dealer camp. I always come back from these trips reminded of how great our lives are, that we get to share such great memories. This year has been a wonderful one and I know we all look forward to 2020 with the same level of excitement.