Steelhead season observations

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Will Atlas, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. junebug41

    junebug41 Junior Dave Monti fan

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    I went about 0-for-15 in winter steelhead trips. Didn't even hook a fish anywhere I went. Fished the OP and most of the rivers from Seattle north to the Skagit. Up to a total of about 0-for-40 in steelhead days now all told. I figure I'll give it one more year of honest effort, then go back to being a trout fisherman exclusively.
     
  2. Hillbilly Redneck

    Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

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    I did pretty good out of the Sauk in March. But I didn't fly fish at all. My brother borrowed my 8 weight for a trip to Patagonia and I haven't gotten it back yet. Only took my boat out once. Most trips were just a few hours hitting spots on the middle and lower river. Very light pressure during the week. I probably fished a little more than normal knowing it was a short season. Went out Monday afternoon and there were guys standing in every hole all the way down to the Gov't bridge. Everyone trying to get their last fix in.

    Fish were small for me this year. Quite a few 6-10 lbs. Only a few nice teeners. Hooked a big buck Monday that looked to be the biggest of the season... but I lost it. It was a low water year, but the days it wasn't gin clear it made a big difference. A lot of the fish I hooked in heavy water that would be difficult to fly fish. I would agree that lots of people don't seem to know what their doing or don't know the river very well. I see people fishing goofy spots all the time. Gear and fly fishers. Boats and bank maggots.

    The early hatchery season was decent but I just don't put as much effort into catching winter hatchery fish. In fact the only memorable one was on Nov. 30th as the sun went down on the N.F. That may have been the last time I went fly fishing.
     
  3. John Dougher

    John Dougher Member

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    I read in the Oregonian this morning that winter steelhead return for the upper Kalama river hatchery was the worst in 30 years.
     
  4. Rob Zelk

    Rob Zelk I swing, therefore i am.

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    Tell ya what, I'm about to sell my speys, or move somewhere where its worth the gas money. This is ridiculous. Especially when the runs just fished so dam nice, and no one was home. Those who caught fish either know what their doing, or just simply got lucky. Right time, right place, and it doesn't matter what kind of presentation you give. I know I'll at least hook em if they are there. And most the season they just weren't there, maybe I was extremely unlucky and just fished the sweetest water when no one was home. But I have friends who are excellent gear fishermen, as good as any anywhere, and their reports of low catch rates weren't just an illusion this year, usually around end of March its 6-10 fish days for them, this year 0-4. This year, like some of you posted, numbers seemed to be around half of what they were last season. They need to outlaw all fishing from boats, and stop the netting, and there will be some hope.
     
  5. SeaRun Fanatic

    SeaRun Fanatic Member

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    Ahhh, Coach... how does your chest stand up to all that pounding? Back in the day, did you also have to walk 25 miles in a snowstorm with bare feet and no jacket just to even get to the river to fish?:rolleyes:

    But to the point of the OP, I hooked a ton of fish on the fly after Jan. 1 and hardly saw a soul... by mostly ignoring the steelhead "mystique" and fishing for other species! :thumb: Sadly, only one fish hooked when actually targetting steel.
     
  6. SeaRun Fanatic

    SeaRun Fanatic Member

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    Yeah, Rob... I think my one fish was one of the lucky ones, what my buddy and I call a "booger fish"; stop to pick a booger, pay no attention to your drift and WHAM! Fish on!:cool:

    As for hope... not so sure...bawling:
     
  7. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    The west side was ok to me this year, i got 3 nates to hand and about 12 or 15 hatchery fish, however I only went when I had good reports, and from up and down the coast the fishing was spotty.

    On the east side the A-run was more normal than last year, fish in the fall and spring as opposed to just spring fish and hardly any fall fish last year. The a-run was larger than average with some very nice wild fish in the mix. However the b-run and the clearwater system in general was much slower than last year with probably 1/2 the caught compared to last year for me.

    I think the west side winters got hit by something because several of the sw washington tribs had sadly low returns of wild fish and hatchery fish numbers far below average. The Kalama and Elocoman rivers did not meet egg take, nor did the Cowlitz to my knowledge, although I am not sure on that one.
     
  8. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

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    Hey Sea Run Fanatic, I was saying that there has been far worse pressure in the past, way before the explosion of flyfishermen and spey rodders. If the fish return which they did with a vengance in the mid 80s, the gear fishermen with their plugs and slinkies in their closets will come back out on the rivers. Add that to the growing numbers of spey fisherman and yes, then we'll see pressure. In the meantime, you can sit on your ass behind your computer screen and roll your eyes. The sarcasim was a real stab in my heart. I can't wait to see the real heavy stuff. :eek:
     
  9. clackaman

    clackaman aka T Colagrossi

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    I'm going to ignore all the posts and give my opinion.....I fish every way possible, spey, single hander and gear...I for the most part fish the skagit and know for a fact that this season SUCKED out there, even the gear guides that know the river up and down were dumbfounded on the lack of fish. By no means am I a fish biologist or anything like that, but the poor fishing on the skagit wasn't because of the pressure, I saw the same amount of people if not less on the river this year than the two years prior and those years produced more fish....the water was low all year and my thoughts are that with the exception of a couple weeks there was no big push of fish. After hearing words from guides such as Rob Endsley those fish haul ass up the river when the water is clear and low as it was all season. I think the numbers might have been lower, but for the most part the fish were just not holding, which in turn doesn't allow us time to swing a fly, or toss a yarnie in front of them.

    For what it's worth....those are my thoughts.

    Hopefully next year is a hell of a lot better, or at least we get a full season.
     
  10. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    No kidding. I got a late start Monday and saw 7 guys in the water when first got a look at the river. I fished one long run and had 4 drift boats and 3 pontoons go by me, plus three different people came and went across from me and three guys stepped into the run below me. F that, I drove down to the Skagit and found fewer people.

    The number one mistake I see flyfishermen make is that they don't target fly water. Lots of water that holds fish can't be effectively fished with a fly. With gear guys, a lot of them camp out and spend way too much time in one spot.
    Goofy spots are cool as long as they don't take up a bunch of time and they can be fished effectively. I'll make a cast into an odd spot while walking or floating to the next run but won't spend 45 minutes fishing through a whole run that looks like crap.
     
  11. Hillbilly Redneck

    Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

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    Hit and run! That's the name of the game when it comes to native steelhead. If they're home... they'll let you know.
     
  12. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    I blaim that fat fu*kin' sea lion at the mouth of the river fer the steelheads bad return. He gave me the hairy eyeball once and flipped him the finger and than he went under an I ain't seenem since but I know he eatin' all the 'head round here and making a mess of all the good catchin we should be havin'

    *rolls up sleeve wipes beer from chin*

    Now who wants to fight about it!?!
     
  13. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    You guys over analyze way too much. I go fishing to let my mind relax and enjoy getting away from work and traffic and trying to solve the worlds problems and fighting with everyone and trying to get that promotion etc etc. Sounds like some of you need to find some new home water if you are finding your fishing time sounds more like a typical work day....

    Some years the runs are good, some not so much. Just hit it and enjoy the hand your delt!
     
  14. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    the middle drift is always a zoo, cause alot of people dont spend the time to learn the rest of the watershed. not that I mind...I agree with you Rob, the fish for the most part just werent there. I know some very skilled anglers who didn't even get a fish on the Sky this year. Its a bummer to be fishing over such tiny runs, for us and for the fish. Bottom line is we need to do whatever we can to allow our wild steelhead to recover, because as anyone who's caught a wild puget sound steelhead knows they're some epic fish. in my opinion the finest freshwater sport fish on the planet. At least on the Skagit, when you get skunked you spent the day on a river in the middle of the north cascades. That isn't too bad on its own.

    Will
     
  15. PT

    PT Physhicist

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    Chad, the title of the thread is steelhead observations. While some may rant about pressure or lack of fish it's a better topic than which 5 wt should I buy.

    If you like to fish for the shear joy in experiencing the outdoors and showing your kids all what nature has to offer then that's pretty cool.

    At the end of a steelhead season it doesn't hurt to compare notes. Plus, it gives our coach one more chance to chime in from the top of the mountain.
     
  16. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    I forgot, you mastered steelhead fishing this winter chad
     
  17. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    That's right. Now stop sending me those PM's asking if I'll show you the ropes :)
     
  18. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    When it comes to catch, the past year is my lowest ever, not counting a few steelhead hooked in BC last summer. Didn't fish much for the hatchery winter run due to poor water conditions when I could get out. The weird thing is that I fished more days this past year while catching far less. I attribute some of that to luck of the draw, but the poor showing of fish had to have something to do with it. I could always increase the odds by fishing at hatchery blood holes, but I didn't want to catch one that badly. I can't say that fishing pressure had much to do with my lack of catch since I try to plan my fishing to avoid a lot of the pressure.

    Sg
     
  19. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    Wow, I wished we could all be like you Chad and fish the uncrowded waters of the Sky..... I know it can be uncrowded, but you need to be there at the right time and place. And considering my location in Tacoma, that pretty much percludes me to getting there at the right times and forcing me to weekends.

    Some of this discussion is genuine concern over pressure on the water. Some of it is griping over missed opportunity and expections, while some of it is internal pressure to perform. Fishing means different things to different people, and providing the "wizened" advice you have has done nothing to help this conversation.

    For me, I know that I had a pretty bad year, and that in some cases fishing for steelhead this year *was* stressful. Why? Because I have expectations of myself that weren't fullfilled (that weren't in any way related to catching fish). The goals weren't all that bad either, but they were things that I was hoping to accomplish, and in my mind should have. Stupid? Maybe, but to simply wisk away the concept that I *shouldn't* have expectations in my fishing is to assume I want to be like you Chad....

    In some ways simply wandering out to the river with no predispositions would be nice (and I do that at times). But not setting goals and not striving for *improvement* would make fishing in my mind much more boring and less fullfilling in the long run. To each his own I guess.

    -- Cheers
    -- James
     
  20. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Thanks for your contribution James.

    Everyone like me? Keep working on it - but don't set your expectations so high.... ;)
     

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