Tucannon Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Wapitiman, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. Wapitiman

    Wapitiman New Member

    Hello all you fellow fly fishers. This is my first venture into the forum. My daughter got me started, and we were planning to make a trip up to the sky on Sunday since she heard the Chum were running rather well. We live in Snohomish so it's a short run for us. I wanted to see if by chance there was any info on what to use, and there was. So on my first day I've found the forum to be very informative.

    I have a question regarding an east side river, the Tucannon. My bother in-law, a fellow fly fisher living in Richland, ran into a state Fish and Game guy who was talking about the largely overlooked steelhead run on the Tucannon. Apparently this has become a healthy fishery and the recent reports from the few that have been fishing it are very positive. Almost daily limits every trip with numerous fish put back to fight another day. I wondered if anyone on this forum has ventured over there, what part of the river they predominately fish, and what they use if any different than traditional steelhead setups. I've fished regular trout, mostly at big four lake, and some fishing on the river itself, but I have never given steelhead much thought until now.

    Wapitiman(Tom)
     
  2. bwtucker83

    bwtucker83 Member

    I have fished it a couple times, but only for a few hours each time and both times it was at the tail end of the run. There was still quite a bit of fish in the sytem but they were pretty worn out. If you check out the weekender report at wdfw website you can see the catch rate per hour. Somtimes the tucannon gets to be an hour per fish caught. I think it is close to that right now. The whole river is supposedly good. I liked the stretch down by starbucks. If you end up going let me know how you do. I"m planning on fishing it over thanksgiving on my way home. Hoped some of this rambling helped.

    Brad
     
  3. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    The run is far from being largly overlooked. It a nice river, acess is tough execpt for some heavily fished spots here and there. I enjoy other rivers around that area just as much, and they dont get fished that much. There are also alot of bull trout and whitefish in the toucannon, that like to think they are steelies when they hit. All in all its a nice river but i wish it didnt get fished so much.

    Peace,
    Andy
     
  4. clockwork

    clockwork New Member

    i agree with the Zen master, I wouldnt call it overlooked. but its not badly crowded usually. problem is access on the lower/middle sects. very limited, only a handful of holes on the ACE land. i was always lucky when we fished it in that we were always the first ones to hit it early in the morning. i wouldn't have been very hyped about it if i knew someone had been thru there before me, too small of a river. i never caught steelheard there(just some trout) but my freind did on gear, they were fairly weak fighters and worn out, possibly downstreamers(spawned out). i think the hatchery rereleases their fish after they're done with them. there is a farmer near starbuck who will give you permission to a sizeable stretch of river, he has a sign in box near the road.
     
  5. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    I haven't hit the Tucannon yet this year, but I'm heading out for a few hours on Friday with a friend. Last year I fished it a couple times, and was able to hook up with a couple. Last year in December, they dumped a bout 1000 hatchery brood stock at the mouth and the river was full of fish.

    Each time I fished it, I bumped into WDFW workers. They were mostly counting the salmon redds. Each time they looked at my flyrod and laughed. They said that I'd catch a lot more fish if I drifted some eggs with a regularly fishing pole.

    One time my buddy and I spotted a steelie holding deep in a pool. We casted to the fish for about 90 minutes. We'd get occasional looks by the fish, but no hook ups. Finally I tied an egg pattern below an indicator (glorified bait fishing) and the fished moved 12 feet over to hit the egg fly on the first drift. At least it was one of my own-tied flies.

    There's not a lot of access along the river, but as a previous post stated there is a land owner who will let you fish if you sign into the refrigerator along the road. The WDFW guys helped out alot eith access issues.

    Good luck when you go. I'll leave some fish for you. I'm heading to Wallowa Lake for Thanksgiving so will take a day to hit the Ronde while I'm up that way.

    Wayne
     
  6. dbk

    dbk Active Member

    Wayne, I concur with your assessment on the use of egg patterns on the Tucannon. I fished it quite a bit last winter and did well using egg patterns (however, I never using an indicator as it takes away some of that "glorified bait fishing" feeling that you accurately mention, although not all of it). I found a size 10 orange bh egg pattern tied with some flash and white antron as the milt to my most effective pattern and had a quite a few multiple hookup/fish to hand days on the Tucannon using that pattern. I even took my dad out last winter for his first and only attempt to catch a steelhead (one of his first few times fly fishing for that matter) and he hooked and almost landed a nice fish on that egg pattern. I have tried larger streamer/leech patterns with very limited success, and have also interestingly enough had a couple good days, one amazing day in particular, using a lime green caddis larva pattern in a size 10-12.

    If you go out, please do us a favor and post a report. I return back home to Washington from graduate school in December and one of the first places I want to hit is the Tucannon so it would be helpful to know what is going on there right now. Good luck.

    Dave
     
  7. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    Thanks for the info Dave. I hooked one fish last year on the double egg - sperm fly, which sounds somewhat like the egg flies you use. I'll try to remember to post a report this weekend, and hopefully a picture as well.

    Wayne
     
  8. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

    Just curious, where is the Tuccannon River?
     
  9. It's in eastern WA near Starbuck. :thumb:
     
  10. Wapitiman

    Wapitiman New Member

    Thanks for all the feed back. My brother and I are planning to hit it the weekend of Dec11. A dual purpose trip. I have a permit for a special deer season on the breaks of the snake, north side of the river, just west of Clarkston. We plan to go fish a bit, go fill the deer tag, and go fish some more. I'll report back. Happy Thanks giving!
     
  11. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Steelie Mike

    It starts out in the Blue Mountains near the Washington-Oregon border and runs north and west into the Snake river about a couple of miles NW of Starbuck. If you had a map of Columbia Co. You would see it all.

    Hope this helps.

    Jim
     
  12. Mike Etgen

    Mike Etgen Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

    For those of you who might develop a taste for fishing the Tucannon and want another option...

    Just before I moved to the west side, a fellow FFer and I heard that there was a land company in Dayon that would sell, for ten bucks a year, access to about a mile and a half of the Tucannon off the road that goes up into the Blues - I think the Tucannon River Road. It's the Broughton Land Co. and they're on Main Street (Route 12) in Dayton, on the right as you head east, can't recall the intersection but it's a modest office right on a corner. If they're still selling access, you'll get a card that describes your vehicle or vehicles with tag numbers to carry with you and another to leave in your vehicle.

    If I hadn't been moving, I would have definitely purchased a permit. The Tucannon is a sweet little gem of a river, and when we fished other areas, like the spots around Starbuck, it was rarely crowded. I miss it and sure wish I'd caught on to it sooner...

    :thumb:
     
  13. pwoens

    pwoens Active Member

    I have to correct you Mike ;) . We had a huge discussion with Broughton a few months back and they are no longer allowing this access. Only to previous holders. No new holders because of all the abuse the land was taking by people. Sucky situation.
     
  14. clockwork

    clockwork New Member

    that's lousy. no big blow to steelheaders though as few steelhead get up as far as that. the hatchery is lower correct? and ive never seen a wild tucannon fish.
     
  15. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I thought that the hatchery on that river was just a trout hatchery. I think when and if they do plant Steelhead in that river they do it in the upper reaches. And it's not in the lower river. The hatchery. It is about 10 miles above Marengo.

    Jim
     
  16. Mike Etgen

    Mike Etgen Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

    Patrick...Thanks for setting me straight. It was about eighteen months ago that we talked to Broughton, and they were "open for business" at that time. Too bad it's been ruined since then. :hmmm:
     
  17. pwoens

    pwoens Active Member

    hatchery is up higher...I have caught several wild fish on the tuc but your right that most are brats from the hatch.
     
  18. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Well,that little river should be full of fish. I just did the check me out thing at the WDFW and that river received about 193,000 smolts in 2002 and 153,000 in 2003. But these are summer fish. If they all didn't get lost at sea it should be smooth sailing in the summer time. Or is it they are catching them and nobodys telling. :(

    Jim
     
  19. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

    A friend called me up last friday wanting to fish. Snowmelt and big rains had send the local rivers up to 10 times thier normal height. Think 1400 instead of 140, no kidding!! So, off to the toucannon. We fished some private land but it was dead, plus we saw another guy. Man, that landowner is letting other people fish on our spot, what has the world come to!!!. The guys were tossing eggs, old timers that could probably fish our socks off. They said they hadnt touched a fish. I caught a trout about 2 times the size of my string leech, but that was it. Lots of wore out chinnok, probably putting the spook on the steelies. One of the old guys commented on how nice it was that my friend (27) was taking his son out (me, 16 in 3 weeks) to catch some steelhead. That was the highlight of my toucannon steelheading day. That place gets pounded now. My buddies wanted to look at some public spots that had good holes. We saw 11 cars probably twice that many fisherman, in like a 3 miles strech!! Rocky ford baby. It was still only 10am, so we booked it back to another small river, and pounded it for 2 hours. I hooked up with one steelie for about 3 sec, but got a crappy downstream set (i was upstream of the fish) so it pulled off. We talked to a guy who was just leaving who said that he caught 2 steelhead, one that was 14inches and one that was 16. I think that he may have just caught some resident bows because there are some nice fish in that creek. Whatever they were, not bad for an hour of fishing. Even if it was with a worm ;). So, if your gonna go to the toucannon i would try to go on a weekday, or fish on private land if you can talk to the landowners, or both. My steelhead fishing total for the toucannon in the past 3 weeks is: 0 steelhead hooked, 3 bumps, 4trips, 2 trout, one whitefish that i didnt even land, and one pair of ripped waders, through both layers. Here is my total for "other rivers" in the past 3 weeks is: 18 steelhead hooked 10 landed, all hatchery. 10 trips. 1 two fish day. average time on the water was only like 3 hours. Purple leech and black girdle bug were the hot flies. ranging in size from 2-10lbs. I am no steelhead god, but this seems to tell me somthing about how the toucannon is fishing this year. It also just may be that the chinnok are giving the steelies a hard time, and once they move it will improve. That is what the lady at the bait shop in starbuck said. She also tried to sell me a pair of 24oz weights for fishing in the ladder of the dam or whatever. I told her all my flies put together don't weigh that much. She then figured out i was a trout snob and left me alone. someone did catch a 19lb steelie and an 18 out of the toucannon at the big hole in the middle of starbuck. All i saw when i was over there were some pretty tired looking chinnok, didnt even fish the whole. That was just alot of random facts conerning the river, and they might be helpful if you can begain to put them together. The toucannon does get more fish back than the walla walla fyi. Just seems like this year is slow. There are also alot of bulls on the toucannon and the biologist told me he himselfs fishes for them. I have not yet, but last i heard they are thinking of opening a bull trout selective fishery over there. The biologist also mentioned they they are seeing ALOT of bulls up at the hatchery, like enough to support a limited fishery easily. Hope this helps

    Peace,
    Andy

    Peace,
    Andy
     
  20. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

    Andy,

    I've been up to the Tucannon once so far this year, and my experience was the same as yours. I hooked and landed one nice fat rainbow about 12 inches but that was it. I'm going up later this week to try again. I had good luck in December last year so I'm hoping it improves in the next couple weeks.

    Wayne