Not much of an Elwha Report

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Ed Call, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    No fish were harmed, hooked or even seen in the making of this report. For those that have read enough, have a nice day. It was a pretty good day overall with us seeing some great sights that I'll share if I can figure out why my mini disc is not recognized by my system...photos hopefully to follow, I'll edit the thread if I can master the technology.

    Rob and I met Sunday morning near my house and we headed to breakfast at The Oak Table in Sequim. A great start to a crappy weather day with predicted high winds and lots of rain. Today was on our calendars, so we were going, but Rob's suggestion of a nice breakfast was a great one.

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    Just before we reached Whiskey Bend a ranger informed us that there was a tree down 1/4 mile from the parking area. We parked at the last turn out, the trailhead for Lake Mills, and geared up. As we headed down the trail I could hear the roar of the river which must be several hundred steep sloping feet below us and I was sure that the rain was having an affect on the river.

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    We hiked to the Rica Canyon spur trail. I was winded, due to the fact that I'm fat and horribly out of shape, but I got there (this is a very short hike). Down we went from the trail to the canyon. I was amazed at the cut bank height drop down from where I stood to the river. It was at least 30' vertical straight down. If the river can swell to this level it would certainly be an awesome sight to behold.

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    We worked our way along a trail headed upriver to a point to rig up and drop down to the river bed. The river was turbid, maybe 4-6" of visibility, churning wildly and angry. The rains over the past couple of days was not good, but again, this was on our calendar, so we were here. Rob stated that at worst we'd get a good hike in, and that was fine with both of us.

    We tried weighted nymphs and streamers in the softer water along the banks. Neither of us touched any fish. I worked my way along a steep rock wall toward a log crossing the river. Rob watched me for a while then disappeared out of sight. As I'm clinging and scrambling he says from above "want me to take your rod", the freaking trail that we had left was about 10' above my head. I abandoned the though of my path and climbed up to the trail.

    The next area of softer water we found was a hard bend creating a back eddy. We both tossed some junk into the swirling water but still touched nothing. At this point our trail led upward away from the river so we climbed up over a bit of a saddle I guess the area around Goblin's Gate, then back down to river at Krause Bottom. More meandering here, fished dries in a soft side channel, nymphs and streamers in the main channel and still no fish. The river was raging and it was powerful and awesome to see.

    The flats of this river bed has numerous gravel bars that likely are submerged during run off periods, but now it seemed that it is a playground for wildlife. We spooked a small herd of elk a few hundred yards upriver of us. Since the fishing was not happening I figured we'd stalk up and try to get some pics. I got a few from a distance, one of a nice sized bull that Rob said was a six pointer. He and the rest of his herd saw us, scampered away and crossed the river to the west just below Humes Ranch.

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    We had now hit the two stretches of river that tons of others fish when they are not committed to hiking into the upper Elwha, but that is what we had the time for on our trip. It was a good day, plenty of rain, not much wind, and after a late lunch at Humes Homestead Cabin after passing through the meadow that allowed us to see several deer. This hike was not difficult at all, the drop and rise down to the river was a bit of a challenge, but the rest was really a challenge due to my diet and inactivity.

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    Hopefully the photos will show some of the beauty of this place. I am saddened that I've come to trout fishing in moving water so late in life and have not made more of a solid connection to this beautiful area. Hiking it once, without any idea to fly fish the area, some eight or ten years ago is just not doing this fine spanse of the earth its proper appreciation. Now that the river is about to close to fishing (get there by the 31st if you can) for the year and then for many years due to the two dams being removed this area won't satisfy your fishing needs. If you appreciate vast, beautiful and rugged country this area still merits a visit with a backpack and tent. I hope I can convince my family to join me on a hike or few in this area over time.

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    Between now and then I better get my fat ass in shape and those dam things will be a thing of the past.
     
  2. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier Trout Hunter

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    At least you got out on the Elwha before it closed and had a nice hike. Thanks for the report.
     
  3. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    Looks like a great trip to a beautiful place in spite of the fishing. And, at least you can say you fished it before the dams came down. You should get the girls up there to hike and fish so someday they can make the same claim when they are old and gray. Heck, sounds like an extra credit report for school to me, one now and one in high school after the recovery....take lots of pictures to give them lots of filler for the report(s)...

    Need any more reasons for the Mrs? National History? An Environmental Milestone? A change in direction in US Environmental Policy? A once in a life-time opportunity never to be repeated? 'Cause it's really cool - and educational? Let's see, how many more ways we can spin an excuse to enable you all to go this weekend?! I hope the weather clears...go for it!
     
  4. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Dang you are good. I do hope that we can make a family trip up there before too long. Maybe as the snow begins to stick. Book reports...genius. I'm sicking you on the Mrs. While you are convincing her about the trip you can give her a casting lesson!
     
  5. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Going, going, almost gone (for a while). Too bad you waited so late in the season. The ranch section can be a treasure in late August / early September (I know, I know; there are so many good options during that window). I've fished the ranch every year for seven years; in that time, I have been amazed and impressed at the changes in the course of the river. Just an fyi for when you return with your daughters when it reopens, you reach the Goblin Gates from a spur trail that branches off to the right as you about reach the final plateau off the Rica Canyon trail. When the river is crossable (not now obviously), there is usually a nice fish or two in the big pool that leads into Goblin Gates (see the pics from my late August trip in my gallery). One of my favorite pools, so much so that I will often save it for evening, is the Elbow Pool, the pool with the log across its bottom.

    Five years will pass soon enough (I hope) and we'll be able to enjoy again this special spot and entice trout (and maybe salmon and steelhead) to try our bits of fur and feathers.

    Steve
     
  6. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Steve, is the elbow pool the one in my photo with the log crossing? There is a big turn there. I was so tempted to get over the log to fish that corner from the gravel bar in the middle. I totally agree with you about it being a treasure. We won't wait until it reopens for fishing for a visit. We'll just make that a hiking trip. I'm sickened that I've not taken the time to make that short trip before. I'm certainly a fool for that.
     
  7. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Yes, the Elbow Pool (my name for it) crashes into the cliff face (see the first picture on this thread: http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php/71114-Humes-Ranch-Section-of-Elwha); the trail crosses the cliff face and then heads away from the river as you head to the Krause Bottom. At 600cfs or less, you can cross the tailout pretty easily and fish the pool from the gravel bar side (as you can see from my friend's position inside the Elbow in the linked thread). In previous years, all the river flow plowed along the edge of the bottomlands forest and into the Elbow Pool. This year, when my friend Bob and I fished it, some of the flow cuts diagonally across the flood plain and missing the Elbow Pool (entering the Wrist Pool below - silly names) You are correct that even if the fishing is off-limits, it is a wonderful day hike from the trailhead.

    Steve
     
  8. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Steve, that is the log! Once you said Elbow Pool it made sense, tight 90* turn! The river was high, dirty and fast...but I wanted to get to where your buddy Bob was in that first photo. I chickened out though. Both Rob and I tossed some junk into that pool from the inside edges, but we got no reward for our troubles. We were really unable to fish much of the runs, only tight to our side trying to find fish in the slightly slower water near the bank. That Wrist Pool looked inviting, but to reach it I think we would have had to cross the river and that was not an option.
     

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