Steelhead in Puget Sound Rivers

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by TomB, Jan 2, 2003.

  1. TomB Active Member

    Posts: 1,620
    Ratings: +58 / 0
    As many of you have probably already surmised from the hoards of pseudo-negative posts about the steelhead run this year in the sound, success rates are not as high as one might hope. Personally I have been out about 10 times in the last month without any success. Last year on the other hand, I had already landed two in only three outings. I know from reports and hearsay that bait-chuckers have caught a few fish at places like the Wallace, reiter, and other terminal fisheries, but fly-guys have reported very little if any success. Therefore this post goes out to all of you that have tried or been successful this year. I as well as many of you would like to know whether anybody has had any success anywhere. At all times but particularly during a bad run nobody that has been successful wants to give up a secret hole or area of a river. That is not what I am asking for. What I am asking for is for successfulo reports from major river systems. Such as "my buddies and I have had success on the Sky below sultan" or "I caught one near rockport on the skagit" this will just get us all a feel for where (generally) the fish are if anywhere. Thanks, and I will report back if I have any luck.
  2. Brad Niemeyer Old School Member

    Posts: 676
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Similar story here...trout fisherman looking to hook my first steelhead. No luck so far.
    Fished the Sno at the mouth of the Tolt ... nothing
    Fished the Sky at ben
    Fished the Pichuck at OK mill bridge ...zilch
    ... my new eight weight lamiglass casts great though...
    And I've tied some mean steelhead flies in the absence of fish! and the saga continues....

    What does your gut tell you? Does this mean a late year or a bad year?

    Thanks for your post
  3. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,628
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,657 / 0
    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    Well the Salmon runs were late and big so............... maybe the steelhead are doing the same thing. It would be nice if that is the way it will be. They say the runs in Oregon are bigger this year so it is something to hope for.

  4. Luv2Spey Member

    Posts: 177
    Sammamish, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Hmmmmm. Maybe my expectations are too low, but I'm quite pleased with my success rate. I've caught 4 Steelhead since Thanksgiving and have had 7 LLRs. That's 11 fish. Add to that the 3 steelhead I've caught between Sept and Thanksgiving, and it's been a pretty good year so far.

    On the other hand, I've put an awful lot of hours on the water this year.

    Anyway, it's inarguable that the fish aren't in the rivers in the numbers they were last year. Still, I'm seeing fish in the Snoqualmie (at the hatchery) as well as a few holding against the rock walls and deeper channels (e.g., the golf-course pool).


  5. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,628
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,657 / 0
    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go

    Well if the fishing is as good as you say it is.I don't know why I'm driving 90 miles to fish the Skagit. When I can just drive 70 miles and fish the Snoqualmie. As you see I live clo
    se to both of them.

    I have all next week to get some fishing in unrestricted as the wife has about 8 days vacation. I don't have to be home to watch the kids. So I guess that the Snoqualmie will have to be my home for a while.

  6. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Hey Jim, if you aren't going to be catching fish anyway, you might as well fish the sky... It's prettier! Let me know if you really are going to fish the Snoqualmie. I may have an idea where a fish might be, if one were to believe in fish that is. Me... I don't believe in them. I'm pretty sure all the steelhead I've caught in my life were the result of toxic farm runoff aerialized by riffles, absorbed through the eyes resulting in large, fish shaped hallucinations... Or not...

    P.S. What's 90 from the skagit, and 70 from the snoqualmie? I'm 6 from the Snoqualmie and 70 from the skagit. Personally, I'll be fishing a lake 24 miles from me this weekend... Even midging trout are better than steelheading right now...
  7. papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Posts: 2,224
    Camano Island, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +62 / 0
    As of today the Snoqualme looks like the Mississippi! Can you say M-U-D?

    The Sky at 19th St bridge was up and had quite a bit of color too. But then it was about 50 degrees today and that will put a lot of melted snow run-off in the rivers.

    I've only caught two steelies since November and both of those were on the same day, in my most favorite river. I'm now of the opinion that running all over the country is a waste of my time, and gas. I'm gonna' stick to my favorite spots until the fish show up. That's how they got to be my favorites anyway, because I got into fish there in the past!

    The way I figure it, I'd rather spend my time fishin' instead driving. "The grass is not always greener on the other side" and as far as this season is concerned "the fishing is not always better in another river"

    LB :beathead
  8. Luv2flyfish Another Flyfisherman

    Posts: 753
    Western WA, US.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Well, I was busting at the seams to leave the midwestern flat lands and return to where pine trees grow...I am here, and cant catch a blasted thing (except a few chum). I have fished the Green, Sky, Kalama, and Nisqually (only for the chum) and havent found a steely. Well, I found one in the Kalama, but that was a cluster _ _ _ _ as I couldnt cast to it. Was fun to watch it though. The Chums about blew up my poor 7 wt. It was Hurtin! I did land a couple though and they were the biggest fish I have ever caught. I may go to the Pen. this weekend if my fishin buddy doesnt bail on me.

    I made 2 trips to Cady Lake as well - couldnt catch a darn thing there either. I may have to start fishin with the Old Man! :D

    Tight Lines! J
  9. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,628
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,657 / 0
    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    I do like the Sky but if I was to fish it it would be up high on the N/Fork. Up there it is more friendlier to a single hander. It was up there in the upper reaches that my buddy caught a beautiful native. That went back in before any pictures were taken and where he caught a rock and fought it for 20 munites. Yes I like it better up there. But Luv2spey is saying that he is catching a few so I will switch rivers for a while. Besides I need a change of scenery.


    Edit: I live in Marysville and to where I went today is roughly 100 miles from my house. I was up by where Bacon Creek runs into the Skagit. And from my house to Chris's house is 75 miles. The Main Snoqualmie in Fall City is roughly 55 miles from home. I could fish the Pilchuck,but I think that it's to close to me. River or Creek their both open and have fish in them.

  10. Matt Burke Active Member

    Posts: 3,649
    Ratings: +57 / 0
    Since September 1, I’ve fished at least 2 days a week on the Sky, Stilli, NF Stilli, Sauk and the Skagit. I am still waiting for my prize. But I am a believer and know my time is coming. Plus I still have the Tolt, Sno, and all those rivers on the Peninsula. I’ll give up when they pry my rod from my cold, lifeless hand.

    For something new, I fished Reiter today, even though I knew the river was on the rise and when I stepped in to my knees, I couldn’t see my feet. I still needed to see how Spey casting was up there and it was gusty. Not a problem, once I had the timing down. I left as soon as I knew it was possible with a Spey. All those pathetic gear chuckers looking so sad that they weren’t catching. I couldn’t watch them cast after cast, thinking they could get something with the river on the rise. I had accomplished my mission and left. The weather even cooperated. Rained all the way up, Sun was shining while I acquired my targets and then rained all the way back home.

    Next week when this rain stops and the rivers start to shrink, that wall of Steelhead is coming up stream like a freight train. And I’ll be there. If not next week, then the week after, but I’ll be there.


    "Everyday that you wake up and decide not to go one less day you'll go fishing." Forrest Maxwell
  11. circlespey Member

    Posts: 244
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    The rivers on the Peninsula have some winter fish already. Unlike the Sky and others around here where the early wild run seems completely gone, the rivers on the OP do seem to maintain something of a wild run from late December on. My fishing partner and I got two nice wild fish on Tuesday before the rain blew out the rivers. Last year only fishing one day we got three.

  12. riggsbay New Member

    Posts: 4
    Sammamish, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    They're coming. Fished the Snohomish last week and watched a gear-guy catch 2 beautiful bright bucks off a sandshrimp and corkie. Said he had been out every day for 2 weeks and got nada until then. Maybe they were just the 2 scouts sent up from the salt.
  13. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,628
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,657 / 0
    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    I'm inclined to agree with you. I'm kind of tired of driving all over the place fishing and not seeing anything caught. Since I know where you are talking about and it is close also I will just have to go there some time next week and give it a shot. And that's about all I'm going to say about it.

  14. speyman Member

    Posts: 119
    Carnation, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    I have the added benefit of having clients look at me at the end of the day wondering why I did not put them in the fish.

    It has been a slow start. We all hoped the big rain in November would get things started but it has continued to be slow. Myself and my clients are averaging one fish in 15 hours of fishing since December 1. I am headed to the Hoh and Sol Duc next week and will add something after that.

  15. sinktip Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Keep at it as you will be rewarded eventually. As for specific spots it sounds like you need to follow Luvs2Spey around as he is doing better than myself of any of my hard core addict friends are. I brought a wild hen to hand in mid November, one of the missing early wild winter runs, but that has been it. I have heard of a number of sun-tanned summer fish still being picked up here and there but the winter-run pickings are pretty slim. Even the boondoggers are getting shutout on the Sky so that is a pretty good indication that at least on that river system, the fish are not here in any numbers. Have heard a few better reports from the Crummy.

    There is some hope that they are simply late and I know everyone including WDFW is hoping that to be the case. My guess is if we do not see them as soon as this latest highwater recedes, then we will be looking at emergency closures on at least the terminal fishery sites.

    Keeping my fingers crossed!

  16. Kevin Harris New Member

    Posts: 41
    Bothell, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I found this at the WDFW web site. #@!%* :rofl I was going to buy my Spey rod tomorrow!!

    600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

    January 3, 2003
    Contact: Bob Leland, (360) 902-2817

    Poor hatchery steelhead returns prompt fishing
    closures on seven northern Puget Sound rivers

    OLYMPIA – Recreational game fish fishing will close Monday (Jan. 6) until Feb. 28th on sections of seven northern Puget Sound rivers to ensure enough adult steelhead return to hatcheries to produce the next generation, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

    The rivers affected by the emergency game fish fishing closure are:

    * The Cascade River from its mouth upstream to the Rockport Cascade Road Bridge
    * The North Fork Nooksack River from the mouth of Racehorse Creek upstream to the mouth of Kendall Creek
    * The Upper North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth of Little French Creek, approximately one mile downstream of Fortson Creek, to 25 yards upstream of the mouth of the outlet of White Horse Rearing Ponds
    * The mainstem Skykomish River from 1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds outlet
    * The Upper Wallace River from the railroad trestle (downstream of Highway 2 Bridge) upstream to the mouth of Olney Creek
    * The mainstem Snoqualmie River from the Plum Access boat launch ramp, about a quarter mile downstream of the mouth of Tokul Creek, to Snoqualmie Falls
    * Tokul Creek from the mouth to the posted cable boundary marker about 700 feet upstream

    "This is a precautionary measure," said Bob Leland, WDFW Steelhead Fish Manager. "The low hatchery steelhead returns on these rivers is not at a critical point yet, but it is better to be conservative at this point in the season."

    The closed areas could reopen to fishing if egg take requirements are assured before the end of February.

    Additional game fish and winter steelhead fishing rules are available in the WDFW 2002/2003 "Fishing in Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet. Emergency recreational fishing rule changes are posted on the WDFW website on the Internet. The latest rule changes can also be accessed via phone, at (360) 902-2500, ext. 2. "

    That's just like my luck. :reallymad Well we still have a few places to try yet. The Sauk and Skagit seemed to be unaffected.....YET!!
  17. Brad Niemeyer Old School Member

    Posts: 676
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Steelhead Closures in Puget Sound Rivers

    Does this mean that a license carrying fly fisher can fish the lower snoqualmie ( tolt inlet down river), the lower skykomish ( ben howard launch down river), and the snohomish?

    I want to follow the rules...and with late breaking news like this its easy to get confused...:dunno
  18. Randy Knapp Active Member

    Posts: 1,132
    Warm Springs, Virginia, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Steelhead Closures in Puget Sound Rivers

    Yes. So far...

  19. Scott New Member

    Posts: 111
    North Bend, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have been snake bit since October. I'm still waiting as everyone else for the push of Winter fish if they ever come. One good thing coming out of this is that my fly boxes are getting nice and full again...

  20. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,628
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,657 / 0
    Steelhead Closures in Puget Sound Rivers

    The thrill is not in the kill---But to let them go.

    When you read about the areas that are closed you need to look at your map. The areas that are being closed are right around the hatcherys,NOT the whole river. The only thing that they are closing down completely is Tokul Creek.The Snoqualmie river is open from Plum access down.