MF Snoqualmie Report

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by kbromer, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. kbromer

    kbromer New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Was able to get out for about 3 hours yesterday (noon-3pm-ish) afternoon and get a line in. Gorgeous day, variable but acceptable flows, and perfect clarity.

    I'm still very new to fly fishing (had a great Steelheading lesson with Jeremy and Mike last weekend on the Sky) with experience back east in bait/tackle stuff, but wanted to get some more time in while the weather was good. Those single-barbless a bit tougher to land than the tridents I'm used to working with ;)

    Quite a few bites but only managed to land a few cuttys (like I said, pretty new here ;)), about 6-9"s, all on a caddis. Great time, lotsa fun, was able to apply alot of things I learned on the Sky with a bit of modification to the Snoq.

    Just curious out there, I've been trying to get a feel for how the MF runs and what the real barrier points in the water are. I've always headed pretty far upstream to fish it, usually past the Snoqualmie trail head, what has people's experience been with the water down below? It looks like it gets alot more pressure, but maybe is a bit better holding water for larger fish. Any thoughts?
     
  2. grizzwint

    grizzwint Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    issaquah, WA
    sounds like you had a good day :thumb: From my experience, you can find fish just about everywhere, but the further off the beaten track you get, the better the fishing seems to be. Ive fished all up and down the middle fork road, and theres fish all through it, but theres some truth in idea that the spots further up the road recieve less pressure, therefore more (hungry, naive?) fish. Dont get too technical, and like you said, its great scenery and a great place to hone your skills. cheers.
     
  3. Stew McLeod

    Stew McLeod aka BigMac

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Messages:
    1,195
    Media:
    37
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Renton, WA
    I've always liked the area up and down from the main concrete bridge. Lots of good water and an easy hike.

    Whether there are larger fish is an unknown since I think they tend to be closer to North Bend. At least in my experience with the other forks.
     
  4. C-hawk

    C-hawk New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Fowler, CA
    Visiting WA for 3 weeks. Fished the MF Snoqualmie for a couple of hours Saturday. Beautiful river? From what I have read on this forum and it's links, the fish are typiclly small and far and few between. Why is that? It is catch and release, so in theory fishing pressure reducing the population should not be a problem. The section I drove and fished had a good variety of water types and habitat. There is abundant streamside vegetation for producing terestrial food. On turning some rocks along the way, I did not see many significant insect populations. What is the limiting factor(s) on this stream?

    Are there good water flows in this river all year long, or does it get extremely low in the late summer.

    Does WA state fisheries stock any of their rivers like the Snoqualmie with catchables or put and grows?
     
  5. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,790
    Media:
    27
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    The Snoqualmie is a wild, natural reproducing trout population, although many/most of the fish are remnants of stocking programs from decades past. The Middle Fork keeps a decent minimum stream flow and probably doesn't impact trout survival too much.

    The relatively sterile nature of the Snoqualmie forks is a function of its short, high gradient course form the crest of the Cascades to the Sound, and its cold, snow pack derived source. Virtually all of the west slope Cascade rivers are like this. Great trout streams typically have longer courses, lower gradients and a longer growing season for the algae that form the base of the food chain.

    C-hawk, if your perception of beauty in a river is determined solely by the size and quantity of fish, then I can understand why you might be disappointed in the Middle Fork. If your eyes ever wander from your strike indicator, you might appreciate some of the other aspects that some of us have come to appreciate in the streams here in the Cascades.

    D
     
  6. John Paine

    John Paine Resident fishing dork

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Messages:
    215
    Media:
    2
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    C-hawk, if your perception of beauty in a river is determined solely by the size and quantity of fish, then I can understand why you might be disappointed in the Middle Fork. If your eyes ever wander from your strike indicator, you might appreciate some of the other aspects that some of us have come to appreciate in the streams here in the Cascades.

    :thumb:
     
  7. C-hawk

    C-hawk New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Fowler, CA
    Oops! I am a lousy typist (I look) and on a smaller keyboard than at home. "Beautiful river?" was supposed to be "Beautiful river!". I noticed the error after I posted, so I can understand your comment. No offense taken. I used a small maribou streamer on a sink tip, so I had ample opportunity to survey and appreciate the surroundings. Hence the question, everything is here, why so few and small fish?

    The experience was enhanced by the fact that I was "guided" by my son whom I had not seen since Christmas time.
     
  8. Xander

    Xander Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    So Dick,

    I haven't done my homework on this, but if I read your post correctly, the reason the fish in these rivers are not very large is due to the lack of insect life, which is due to the high gradient?

    Also, a related question: with the Middle Fork as an example: if you create a C&R fishery (and people actually practice it :)), should not, over time, the fish be able to get bigger? Maybe at slower rate if indeed the food selection is limited, but in theory, they should at least have the opportunity to grow, right?

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance,

    Xander
     
  9. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,790
    Media:
    27
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Xander -
    I think your analysis is correct, but I am not a fisheries biologist, so maybe someone with a bit more background in our western Washington fisheries can chime in. The high gradient and cold water contributes to the low productivity. Rivers on the east side of the Cascades (e.g., Yak, Methow) that have a longer course before reaching their mouth (in the Columbia) have a longer, warmer, growing season for the base of the food chain and they support more and larger fish. The size distribution may have some other factors involved. Large fish often have a diet of larger prey and the lower productivity of the west slope rivers don't have as many large prey items (e.g., small fish). The Cedar seems to be the exception, but it has Lake Washington as a resource for the larger fish, who probably have a seasonal migration to the Lake.

    C-hawk, my apologies for jumping on you for your typo.

    Dick
     
  10. Matt Baerwalde

    Matt Baerwalde ...

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    966
    Media:
    188
    Likes Received:
    368
    The Cedar also gets salmon which input nutrients that the Forks don't get. I've also heard that the lithology (rocks) contributes to slightly acidic water that thwarts insect life. I know from my own water quality sampling for work that most Cascade streams around here are slightly acidic (pH 6-6.7). And finally, it has been noted on this site that Coastal Cutthroat are a particularly slow-growing and short-lived subspecies, perhaps an adaptation to a number of variables already mentioned.

    Oh, and I know there has been some stocking on the Sno Forks in the past, but I'm pretty sure that most of those cutties are full-on wild, native fish. I have absolutely no proof or sources.

    -Matt
     
  11. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    7,163
    Media:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Not sure
    I'm no fish bio (as Dick well knows!), but as I understand it, additional factors contributing to the smallish natives in westside streams are fairly acidic water and low levels of dissolved solids. Both factors influence the relative lack of aquatic plants which form the bottom rung of a river's food chain. By contrast, streams and lakes on the east side of the Cascades are much more alkaline and have dramatically higher levels of dissolved solids which translates into more plants, more and bigger bugs and thus fish.

    Also, I'd hesitate to characterize any of the Snoqualmie forks as having only a few fish. Just because someone didn't end up with a double-digit day doesn't mean they caught all the fish that live in the stretch they fished. I've had several 30 and 40 fish days on the MF. Yes, the fish were generally all small and yes such high count days usually happen only in late summer and early fall as the fish strike at nearly anything in their rush to pack on body fat for the coming winter. Nonetheless, if someone only caught 3 or 4 in an outing, I think that says more about their fishing skills than the quality of the fishery.

    K
     
  12. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    7,163
    Media:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Not sure
    I think you're right but likewise, I have no proof. I do know that some fish that were stocked decades ago by the USFS and the old DFW in Cascades lakes managed to wash down into the forks.

    Before WWII, the USFS believed that brook trout (a char) were the salvation of high lakes in that they could reproduce in conditions that true trout (cutthroat and rainbows) could not. By planting brookies, they reasoned they'd only have to plant some lakes once and that there'd always be fish there. Brookies have turned out to be the scourge of high lakes fishery management as they not only displace the native species but they will overpopulate the fishery, consuming quite literally the entire available food supply.

    I'm convinced that even if the forks were never planted per se, the brookies that live there today are descendants of those high lakes plants decades ago that washed down along outlet streams, much like the west slope cutts (aka Montana black spots) that occasionally turn up in some of the tributary streams.

    K
     
  13. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,790
    Media:
    27
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    So, what about the rainbows in the Snoqualmie forks? My (perhaps naive) assumption was that only the coastal cutthroat were native above the falls and that the brookies, bows, and occasional westlope cutthroat were all derived from old stocking programs.
    D
     
  14. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    7,163
    Media:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Not sure
    Could well be. I've never seen a RB in any of the forks firsthand but that doesn't mean they're not there. Given the ease and frequency with which rainbows and coastal cutthroat hybridize, I'd be surprised to see 'pure' looking rainbows in any of the forks.

    I know rainbows were planted in some of the high lakes (and still are). Calligan Lake, the largest lake on the tree farm, was dosed repeatedly with RBs over the past 60-70 years. But given the lake's huge size (~300 acres +), it's likely that they simply hybridized with the native cutts, never to be seen (at least as RBs) again. It's possible and perhaps likely that some of those RBs or hybrids could also have washed down Calligan Creek and into the NF Snoqualmie.

    This points up the difference between the terms 'native' and 'wild' fish.

    To me, the term 'native' refers to a fish species that's always populated a specific fishery, or at least since before humans began messing with it. Coastal cutthroat are the native trout in the coastal Pacific Northwest while rainbows are not. Some argue that certain populations of resident or lake-run steelhead such as in the Cedar may well be considered rainbows. But such populations are relatively rare compared with the widespread distribution of coastal cutts.

    I regard the term 'wild' as describing fish that live and reproduce in a fishery naturally but which might not be natives. Thus, pure coastal cutts in the forks above the falls would be both native and wild, brookies would be wild as would rainbows and rainbow x cutthroat hybrids.

    Finally, rainbow x cutthroat hybrids can be notoriously difficult if not outright impossible to visually identify. Hybrids can have the spots and throat slashes of a cutthroat along with the colored side band of a rainbow, throat slashes and no spots or banding, or anything in between.

    K
     
  15. Bonefish Jack

    Bonefish Jack Strictly FF

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    84
    Location:
    Kent WA
    All good points ... makes me wonder about the authenticity of my claim for a SF Slam ...
     
  16. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    7,163
    Media:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Not sure
    I just got off the phone with a fishing buddy who floated the main stem of the Snoqualmie above the falls yesterday. He launched near the Three Forks Park bridgeand floated to the second steel bridge just above the Salish Lodge where there's a good take out.

    To refute my point above though, he said he caught a couple dozen fish, all rainbows (sideband coloring, no throat slashes) and up to 10".

    K
     
  17. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    3,959
    Media:
    207
    Likes Received:
    1,577
    Location:
    Pipers Creek
    I think another factor limiting growth are the annual floods.
     
  18. Xander

    Xander Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    So would this explain why everyone says that the Cooper River, for example, (which looks like it has fishy water) really doesn't have many fish?

    Thanks all for all the responses. This all makes a lot of sense to me. I like the Cedar logic too. I am learning a lot from you all! :thumb:
     
  19. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2005
    Messages:
    2,790
    Media:
    27
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Kent -
    See my report from Saturday for a pic of a nice bow from the North Fork (I was being coy about which fork in that report, but ...). http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php?t=50424

    I've caught rainbow and cutts in all three forks and brookies in the N and S forks. My experience in all three forks is that the cutts inhabit the higher, smaller stretches of the drainage and bows are lower down. My experience on the N Fk is the most striking. Below a certain tributary that is closed to fishing, I typically only catch rainbows; above that point, only cutts.

    Dick
     
  20. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    2,226
    Likes Received:
    529
    Location:
    Mill Creek, WA
    Home Page:
    Heck, I'll just come out and say it since it is just the S Fork... EXIT 42 - rainbows, almost exclusively in my experience... :) Jeff and I were up there a couple weekends ago and I think only one cuttbow was caught, the only sign of cutties in that stretch - we were into double digits, so it was a fairly large sampling. Many other trips to the same exit have yielded the same result, almost all bows, a few cuttbows, maybe a full cutt or two, and a very occasional brookie.