Proof of Steelhead in the Stilly???

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Runejl, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. Runejl Josh

    Posts: 390
    Bellingham, Washington
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Allright, this has been driving me nuts. I have fished the Stilly fairly regularly through the summer time for the last eight years. In 2000 it seemed as though I hooked into a Steelhead on most every trip. In 2001 I did well also. Since then I havent even had a legit pull by anything other than Sea Runs and resident rainbows. I have seen a few Steelhead in Fortson hole, which I will go to just to stare at the fish, but other than that nothing. I have also never talked to or seen anyone that has landed a steelhead from this system.

    I am dilligent and maybe a little stupid to keep trying a river that doesnt give it up, but I was wondering if any of you guys had pictures of the summer fish you have hooked out of the Stilly over the last six years? Something to keep a guy going. Sorry about my whinning, but lets see some Stilly fish porn.

  2. Joe Smolt Member

    Posts: 532
    Bothell, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +9 / 0

    I feel your pain. I haven't even tried to chase summer steelies the past two years. The chance of catching one seems too low vs the frowny points I'd get for lost family time.

    Here is one caught in 2006. Interesting story. I was chasing silvers in the main stem with no luck. I got so frustrated seeing rolling fish and never hooking up, I decided to go to the north fork. Started catch a lot of nice SRC, but I was using a spey rod. So the next weekend I said screw fishing for silvers...screw fishing for steelies, I am taking my trout rod and chasing SRCs. Turns out I hooked and landed two silvers and this steelie with my 5 wt. I was outgunned, but took full advantage of a side channel.

    My advice is say screw chasing steelies. Go to the river and just enjoy yourself.

  3. Runejl Josh

    Posts: 390
    Bellingham, Washington
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Thanks Joe, that is a gorgeous picture. Nice Fish.
  4. fmunoz Member

    Posts: 112
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    a few weeks ago, while floating the stilly with a friend, we saw a few schools of large fish swimming very fast upstream, they were hugging the bottom and not interested in any flies presented to them. We thought it was too early for Salmon and too big for SRC, so we assumed they were steelhead.
  5. Buck "Ride'n Dirty."

    Posts: 1,475
    Seattle, Wa.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    Could have been kings.
  6. fmunoz Member

    Posts: 112
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Maybe, I'm pretty new at this, the fish were about 20" - 30" long, and it was a little hard to tell them appart from the bottom, the water clarity was pretty good, but the fis were right under us. I saw some turn a little and flash a little silver.

  7. Rob Zelk I swing, therefore i am.

    Posts: 606
    Steelhead Central
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    There is a run of sockeye in the stilly too. They are there every year and are on the smaller side, easily mistaken for bright steel when they're fresh.
  8. Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    Posts: 1,272
    Kailua Hawaii
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Ahhhhh, just figuring out the Stilly is not a marquis river. You are on the way to steelhead enlightenment. Unmatched in tradition, talked about constantly, on every fly shop report board, pimped by local guides, beautiful as hell in parts, fly friendly and really not much better than below average at best for steelheading, especially wild ones. But it sure draws a lot of anglers to it all summer and keeps then away from other rivers I used to actually hook a lot of summer runs in. Tight lines Coach Duff
    PS It's always cool to fish in a river system that Zane Grey and Haig Brown landed their first steelhead in.
  9. dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Posts: 4,103
    Near the Fjord
    Ratings: +569 / 0
    I think it was Deer Creek for Haig-Brown--:D --- no biggie. :)
  10. Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

    Posts: 433
    Whitehorse Mt.
    Ratings: +107 / 0
    It's really tough to catch steelhead when there are none in the river. I've logged my share of hours on the river and this summer I've landed 2 wild fish and 1 hatchery. The last few years have especially sucked. It was rumored a few years back (I can't remember exactly, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, CRS has taken hold of me) that there was no summer run smolt plant for that year. That year a hooked up way more than the years since and they were mostly quality 3 salts. Go figure. Being the dumb ass steelheader that I am I keep thinking the next freshet will pull some fish in. See ya on the river.
  11. Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    Posts: 1,272
    Kailua Hawaii
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    That's why I said "River System" in my post Dry fly Larry. It was actually Deer Creek for both Zane Grey and for Haig Brown who was then working in a lumber camp in 1932. He hooked and landed the fish on a Devonshire Minnow. No biggie both ways. Tight lines Duffer
  12. Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

    Posts: 2,572
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +106 / 0
    My Dad "Verner Holmstrom" was a good friend of Roderick as he worked in the same lumber camp near Deer Creek. I think my sister inherited all the old logging photos.

  13. cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

    Posts: 1,674
    Ratings: +332 / 0
    2002 was my last summer of really good fishing on the NF. I had one stretch that summer when I landed at least one steelhead on nine consecutive trips. Those weren't full days either, more like a couple of hours in the morning or evening. Since then it's been slim pickins.
    The last few trips I've been doing everything I can to look into each pool after I fish it just to see if I've missed any. Total steelhead counted: 2. A friend and I floated it a few weeks ago. We saw a total of 2 fish that may have been steelhead. They could have been sockeye or lone kings.
    For my efforts this summer I've got one hatchery fish.
  14. Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    Posts: 1,272
    Kailua Hawaii
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Very cool Daryle. Pm on the way. Duffer
  15. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Posts: 3,209
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Ratings: +112 / 0
    sounds like sockeye to me, sockeye don't stop in biggish rivers for just about anything and hang out right next to the bank...
  16. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +718 / 0
    It is highly unlikely that the fish Fmunoz reported seeing on the Stilly were sockeye. By this time of the year on our local rivers the sockeye are usually pretty colored and would standout with little doubt that they were salmon.

    He doesn't tell us which section of the river he was on. It is not uncommon if steelhead are holding in a pool for them to be "pushed" to the tailout by the raft/boat and then swim quickly back upstream. So the fish could have well been steelhead - especially if they were on the upper North Fork. That said I nearly always see early coho in the Stillaguamish during mid-August. They tend to move up river in small pods and are more or less constantly on the move. I beleive that the majority of those fish end up in the South Fork. If he was floating the main river I would say they probably were coho.

    Regarding the recent poor fishing on the North Fork. Up until the last 5 or 6 years the returns of summer fish had escaped the poor marine survival that has been typical of the winter fish we have seen since the mid-1990s. Clearly our summer fish are now suffering from the same poor survivals we had seen with the winters. If I recall correctly the number of hatchery summer steelhead smolts being released with a couple of exceptions have been pretty constant since at least the 1970s.

    Tight lines
  17. HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Posts: 2,750
    Ratings: +105 / 0
    I saw some steelhead on one of those super hot days about 3 weeks ago.

    It was when the water temps were way too hot for humans and fish but I had to get my fix. I was wading through a tailout and saw some white things moving near the bottom just at the edge of my view. They ended up being the bright white mouths of fish in the 26inch area that were grey ghosts on the other parts of their bodies. I could see their mouths clearly moving as they were gasping for air in the tailout because of the high water temps. There were about 7 of them.

    Anyway, glad I didn't have time to fish them, they were better for it.

    All I have had for all my efforts are some super fiesty smaller kings from the fast riffles, released carefully of course.

    I know that as Fall comes on there will be more of the 18-24 inch steelhead I catch up there. They aren't hefty fish and haven't made a serious ocean going venture to get lots of weight but they are still beauties and chrome as can be.

    I don't know anyone with a Deer Creek fish caught, just huskier NF fish.
  18. fmunoz Member

    Posts: 112
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    This was on the stretch between Arlington and I-5, the date was August 9th. I saw about 5 -6 schools of 15-20 fish each, beautiful sight.

  19. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,584
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,709 / 0
    I used to fish the NF Stilly a lot in the 70s. Threads like this are heart-breaking.

  20. FT Active Member

    Posts: 1,245
    Burlington, WA
    Ratings: +103 / 0
    Salmo G.

    Especially when it is the closest summer run river to you and you consider it to be your home river in summer. Lots of days with skunks has been the norm the last 6 or so years as Curt already mentioned.