Destination Rivers for really big Steelies?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by mtp1032, Jul 8, 2002.

  1. All,

    If you had three full days to fish for steelhead anywhere within a 2 day drive of Seattle, and you wanted to maximize the opportunity to catch one in excess of 20 lbs, what river(s) would you want to fish?

    I'm very interested in the answer to this question, especially from members of the forum who've done something like this, because I'm starting to plan such a trip - Hopefully to take place sometime within the next year.

    Thanks. I'm looking forward to your recommendations.


  2. All you said was big fish, not most fish, so here would be two ideas for you:

    1) BC. The Thompson is just less than a one day drive, and the fish there are BIG and strong, albeit few and far between. There are also other rivers less than one day away in BC with similar patterns, like the Stamp. However, if you have time for the serious drive head up to Smithers and the Skeena system. I haven't done the drive myself but I've been told it can be done in two days. You can fish rivers like the Bulkley without dropping the $$ on a lodge because they are often on public land.

    2) Coastal Oregon. It doesn't get a lot of press compared to places like the Hoh (I'm assuming you know about that one already) but the river systems of north coastal Oregon have lots of big fish and many of them do not have the same netting conflicts that we do here. My personal favorite is the Nehalem, either fork. I've hooked two 20 pound class fish there in the last year (notice that I said hooked, not landed). It's only about 4 hours away. Other rivers like the Wilson are also surprisingly good.

    In Washington, I think the Hoh and Queets kick out as many 20 pounders as any other river.

  3. I'm not an expert on steelies and this is summer run time which usually produces smaller fish. I've always been told that the Clearwater River in Idaho has the largest steelhead in the continental United States.
    For Whatever It's Worth!
  4. I am going to eat my words for saying this but,

    The summer runs are coming in and quantity is better than quality. I would just skip trying to catch a 20 pounder only because your odds are against you. Now the 10 pound range is doable in just about every anadramous river in the P.N.W. Plenty to be had right now.

    If I was gonna try it though, I would pick the HOH before August. The big boys come in right about now on the HOH but they are HARD to catch. I did pretty good a couple of years ago and nailed a 16 pounder on an 8 weight with a floating line and a pisser offer fly.

    When I got the fish in, my leader looked like a frayed mess.

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