Seattle Area non-anadromous options.

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by wsender, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Hey WFF, this is my first post. I'll be moving from the East coast (Upstate NY/ PA area) to the Seattle area within the next year. I've seen some information about migratory fishing in the Seattle area, but I'm not very familiar with trout options near Seattle. I understand that people might not want to burn their spots, and I understand that, but any information about trout in the area would be great.
  2. Here's a couple good places to start: The Cedar River and Snoqualmie Forks are all within 30 minutes or so of downtown Seattle. The Yakima isn't much further. If you prefer still water the WDFW website shows stocking records and can give you some good intel on lakes. The search function on this website can lead you in the right direction too. For the most part the fish in Western WA tend to be on the smallish side but they are plentiful if you put the time in. For big fish (bigger than 20") you almost have to go east of the Cascades.
    JesseCFowl and dfl like this.
  3. Thanks for the post, I'm sure that will get me started. I'm definitely more interested in the streams/rivers then I am at the stillwater but maybe it's worth checking out. Big fish are fun, but I'm looking for some areas that I can fish after work or on the weekends. For the real big stuff, I have a friend who live in Bozeman.
  4. The plain fact is that 'trout' in nearly every stream in the northwest that empties into the Pacific are almost exclusively anadramous.

    Yes, there are exceptions (such as above barrier falls). But far and away the native cutthroat and rainbows in streams hereabouts are migratory. A contributing factor is that the waters on the west slopes of the Cascades are so darned pure and devoid of nutrients that they support very little of the biomass on which trout depend for food. Even those few streams that are beyond the reach of returning sea-run fish provide so little nutrition that the fish that do manage to survive there usually attain only modest size. From a purely Darwinian perspective, migrating to the ocean and it's abundant food resources is the best survival strategy.

    If you move here and succumb to a dose of the anadramous flu (and you'll find many fellow sufferers here), you can easily expect to spend many months, if not years, chasing your first steelhead. It's not by accident they're called the 'fish of a thousand casts'. Fishing for the more-plentiful sea run cutthroat can be more productive, but plan on adapting your technique and gear and to learn to read the tides. If you catch a bad case, a boat might be in your future.

    The larger issue here with steelhead though, is that through a combination of overharvest, habitat destruction and a misguided reliance on an imperfect hatchery system intended to compensate for the former, the fatalists (or realists) among us have now come to believe that within our lifetimes we may well see the end of runs of native fish in rivers emptying into Puget Sound and the Pacific. The figurative pinpoint of light representing extinction for native steelhead in local rivers has grown into a dot the size of a dime held at arm's length and is getting larger by the year. The politics surrounding schemes to halt their decline has devolved into arguments, finger-pointing, name-calling and a growing realization that any real solution is likely to be too little, too late.

    If you're a trout bigot like me, you'll probably find your options are pretty few: fish stillwaters (particularly those that require the expenditure of a fair amount of energy to get to); fish east of the Cascades in places like eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, or Alberta; or search out the relatively few streams that have resident (ie. non-migratory) trout populations.

    In spite of all this doom and gloom, I can't think of another part of our great country I'd rather live in.

    dfl, Lugan, Cedar and 1 other person like this.
  5. Kent makes some very good points. I'm with him on being a trout-only guy after realizing that fishing for "endangered" and "Endangered" anadromous species was just not my thing.

    Whether you find the fishing good or not depends on your perspective. Moving here from PA/NY, you will find the fishing different - better in a few ways; worse in a few ways. Just adapt and you'll love it.

    I recommend buying two books: Go to Amazon and, first, buy one or two of the guide books on fly fishing Washington. They are great starter guides. Second, buy a DeLorme Atlas for WA State. Use this to find blue lines to explore on your own that aren't in the books. Most of them will hold fish most of the year. And since you are new to this area, exploring on its own is very satisfying.
    dfl and Derek Young like this.
  6. Much of the advice above is good but you might still consider the sea-run cutthroat. While much of what you read on this site will be about fishing for them in Puget Sound (and this is a good option since there are hundreds of miles of accessible and fishable beaches) In some larger rivers sea-runs, sometimes called "harvest trout", begin their migration into fresh water as early as July (even though they will not spawn until late winter/spring), they continue to feed during this migration and provide western Washington's best stream and river "trout" fishing. The saltwater fishery in the south Sound and Hood Canal is very nearly a year-round fishery since the cutthroat don't enter the predominantly small streams there until much later in the year. This saltwater fishery is unique to the sheltered waters of Puget Sound and the lower Strait of Georgia (in British Columbia). Here's an 18-incher taken last October.

    dflett68, dfl, Steve Call and 3 others like this.
  7. there's also bass, musky's, carp, bluegill you name it.... And pretty much nobody fishes for them.
  8. They are leaving those fish for you.
  9. Nobody from Alaska fishes for them but you will find a large number of warm water species fishermen around here.
    McNasty likes this.
  10. Thanks for the posts everyone. I've learned a lot of great information. Although I'm not ruling out anadromous fishing all together, I am really more interested in targeting trout. I think I definitely have enough to get me started.

    Hopefully finding a job is easier then finding trout.
  11. shit that's all I want to catch when I'm down that way... I walk into fly shops and ask about bass fishing and everyone just laughs and says "we got salmon, steelhead and trout up to 14 inches here don't you know?" I for one love catching bass.
  12. I love the forks of the Snoqualmie above the falls.

    Fish are native, beautiful and at times bountiful. The falls are a natural barrier for the sea run fish.

    During the hot days of summer (air temp 80 degrees or more) the fishing for 4" to 6" native trout on elk hair caddis can be great. Remember, we only get approx 14 days per year of hot weather. Sizing down to a 2 or 3 weight rod with 5x or 6x tippit makes fighting a stunted trout more amusing. It is amazing how aggressive those fish attack a skated or drifted dry fly.

    I have fished it from North Bend all the way up to the pass. I have found my best fishing in areas that are at least a 15 min hike from easy access. As a general rule, the farther down the stream you go, the better chance of hooking into a larger (say 6" long) fish. Most fisherpeople do not want to put in the effort to catch small fish, so most times i have the entire steam to myself, especially on the upper sections with less fish and smaller fish.

    If you are based out of Seattle, stop by the Creekside Angler in Issaquah and purchase tippit/flies. They are usually dialed into the river and can give advice on where to go/what to use. Issaquah is on the way to North Bend and the pass on I-90.
  13. There was brief mention of the Yakima river in the first reply to your post, but it deserves elaboration. Just across the Cascades, via I-90, is the Yakima river. There are ca. 70 miles of year 'round, catch & release fishing for mostly rainbow trout, and some cutthroats. It is about the only Washington river where a match the hatch opportunity exists, or is required, to be successful (trout in most of the mountain streams are happy to take anything they can get). From September through early May it is usually wadable, but in summer it is a glorified irrigation ditch and is full to the banks, so a boat is pretty much required. Because it has been managed as a C&R, wild trout fishery for 25 years or more, there are more and larger fish than in most western Washington streams (not counting the anadromous fish). It can be a tough fishery, but it's worth getting to know.
  14. When I lived in Washington I found many places to fish for trout. Granted the fish are not big but every now and then you will tie into a surprise fish. You have to get above all the natural barriers.

    It just takes a lot of time and exploring to find these places. I know I invested a lot of gas. And now I'm almost willing to tell all I know

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