Just a couple of questions....

If you look at page page 17 in the statewide freshwater species rules, the bait fishing rule that has been previously mentioned, only applies to trout. Steelhead are excluded.


Active Member
An interesting fish indeed.

While our fish as a whole are fairly predictable and tend to fit in nice neat "boxes" when it comes to their behaviors there always are those individuals that resist being put in those neat "boxes". Like baseball while fishing one is apt to encounter something unexpected and perhaps something you have never seen behavior. It is those surprises and unexpected turns that add spice to our fishing experiences.



I hired an attorney to help me understand WA fishing regulations. He soon refunded the retainer fee, shook my hand, and said "good luck" ;)
LOL. Yup. You can ask three different ODF&W folks and OSP outdoor officers and get three different answers when it comes to the regs in Oregon... evidently, the same applies to Washington.

The reason is quite simple -- we have many different species of fish in the rivers at the same time and they don't all fall under the same regulations. AND, at least in Oregon, the different species will take the same patterns using the same presentations.

The fish don't care if you are targeting them or not. They could care less what rod size you're using.

Case in point. I fish the Siletz quite often for SRC and steelhead. Many, many times, I'll be targeting steelhead and catch SRC... they take the same patterns presented in the same manner. The reverse holds true.

A ton of years ago I was using a five weight system and fishing for SRC downstream from spawning salmon. I was with a friend, Tom, who recently moved to Oregon from Montana. I was using nothing more than a dry line, a split shot and an egg pattern. The technique was very effective for catching SRC. So much so, I wrote an article on the technique...like I said, this was a loooonnnng time ago.

Something took the egg pattern and I knew immediately it wasn't a cutt.

"That's a steelhead!" I announced to Tom.

A few seconds later a steelhead jumped because it didn't look the taste of a hook attached to its mouth.

Tom went as nuts as the steelhead. He'd never seen a steelie caught with fly gear.

I landed the steelhead with the five weight system. It wasn't really that difficult. But it did take time. So from that day forward, I started using a seven weight system when fishing for SRC... just in case.

The reverse holds true. Originally, I used a sink-tip and an across and down presentation (it is now called "swinging") for steelhead. One of the largest cutts I've ever caught was while targeting steelhead and using a Freight Train pattern. I've also caught jack salmon while "swinging".

So... at least in my experience... you can not go by the gear or the technique you are using to determine what you are targeting.

BTW: Tom was so impressed by that first steelhead he witnessed caught with fly gear that he went on to become an ACE steelhead fly angler and the best one I've ever known. Eventually, he bought a spey rod and never uses anything other than a dry line with weight on the leader and usually, his version of a Winters Hope.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Yes, it is clear as mud and the same goes for the Oregon regs.

At one point in time, you could continue to fish for a species when you had your limit as long as you switched to C&R. Then someone figured out if you're using bait C&R doesn't work all that great.

In Oregon, if you catch your limit of hatchery steelhead, you can continue to fish for SRC or salmon -- assuming both are present in the fishery. You can not target steelhead.

This is not a problem if you are using fly gear. The OSP outdoor officers are not as concerned with fly anglers as they are bait anglers.
Obviously you can C&R a species you catch that you are not allowed to keep with a fly much easier than with bait.

Thing is, you can use the same gear to fish for coho, steelhead and salmon so gear choice doesn't indicate much of anything to enforcement.

All they can do is watch you to see how you react if you catch a species you are not allowed to keep. If you've caught your limit for that species and hook another, it's usually a good idea to snip off the leader so you don't touch the fish in the least.

This is a nightmare for law enforcement when the rivers are full of multiple species of fish with different bag limits.

At least in Oregon, you can continue to fish but not for any species that you've reached your limit. I assume the same holds true in Washington. I don't know how they can stop you from fishing for SRC or Salmon just because you caught your limit of steelhead.
Here in Montana, there aren't any fly only water's. You don't have to even pinch your barbs. But I do. I had to pull a fly out of the webbing between my finger's the other day. You can fish with what ever your little heart desires here. But I only fly fish and throw them all back.

Our fishing Pamphlet is small and easy to read.
Regarding second question. In southeast Alaska silvers are known to eat eggs. In fact the ADF&G allows the use of bait in fresh water after September 15 so people can use it to fish Silvers (Coho). I'm a fly fisherman and do very well on flies so I don't use bait personally but I have caught coho many times that were stuffed with eggs that they had eaten. Most of the rivers where I am from are small so the fish are not long out of the salt this might have some affect on the coho feeding patterns.