What's the best steelhead river right now in the northwest?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by manitoba, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. John Dude Learned skills from George Dickel

    Posts: 329
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    best steelhead river right now is nothing. But Saturday it will be the Grand R
  2. wet line New Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Burien, WA, King.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Maybe you should be looking at the Skena system!

    Washington steelhead are a ghost of the past and bolstered by old memories and present day wishful thinking!

    I grew up here and am over 60 yrs old. As a youth there were rivers that individually produced more sport caught fish in a year, than are caught in the entire state in a year today.

  3. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,219
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +197 / 2
    Wet Line,

    You post a couple of real interesting things. I find it fascinating and pathetic at the same time...that some rivers produced more sport-caught fish in a year than are caught in the entire state when the population must be significantly increased since then.

    And that you mentioned the Skeena as an alternative. On average, and especially the past few years the Snake returns have been vastly superior than the Skeena returns as far as sheer numbers. That being said, I have fished the Skeena 7 days in the past year and the Snake 0 times even though the Snake is substantially closer to my home.

    Just some weird information all things considered.
  4. Keith Hixson Active Member

    Posts: 1,496
    College Place, Washington
    Ratings: +52 / 0
    The River you are fishing at the time!
  5. wet line New Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Burien, WA, King.
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    I am not sure if you mean population of fish or people.

    In the early 60's the Cowlitz. Green and Skagit had punch card returns from 18,000 to 20,000 fish each. And who can guess at the numbers of fish caught and released. And there were a lot of fish released especially when larger fish were preffered on systems that had good numbers of fish over 12 pounds or so.

    There were very few streams with adequate water flows that didn't have at least a few steelhead in the Puget Sound Basin. One of my favorite places to fish was a little creek that ran through where South Center in Tukwila is now. Not a lot of fish but always some fish. They weren't too difficult to hook but darned hard to land in a creek that was 6 to 8 feet wide lined with cattails and lots of water weeds. Most of the fish when hooked would go absolutely crazy, turn their nose down stream and take off. Those little creeks with small populations don't hold fish anymore for all sorts of reasons. So I will stand by my statement that our steelhead fishing is but a ghost of the past. I don't even care to think about the rivers that no longer have steelhead.

  6. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,219
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +197 / 2
    Wet Line,

    I'm not disagreeing with your statement about the major steelhead rivers producing the kind of numbers you state. In fact, I think the Skagit recorded 30,000 fish caught one year, although I don't think C&R was practiced anywhere near like it is today so I'm not sure C&R fish added substantially to the total number caught. Yes, our steelhead fishing is a ghost of what it was, no doubt about it. However, my point is that the Snake will get well over 200,000 steelhead returning this year. The number of returning adult steelhead to the entire Skeena watershed, with all her famous tributaries doesn't get near that number, according to the Canadian bios. And yet, people flock there from all over the country and pay large amounts of money to fish there, including me even though the Snake is relatively close to me.
  7. stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Posts: 1,381
    Carlsbad, CA
    Ratings: +190 / 0
    The NF Stilly used to get a return of approx. 60,000 to 90,000 fish a year.....Can you imagine? Ive seen pics of what Deer creek looked like then, Deep holes with steelhead stacked like firewood
    I talked to Alec Jackson one day, and he told me that in 1949, he landed almost 150 fish on the fly in the Skykomish, all native
  8. Preston Active Member

    Posts: 2,453
    Ratings: +423 / 0
    Just a note on the numbers of fish that used to inhabit our rivers. During the heyday years of the sixties and early seventies, the annual catch statistics were almost entirely generated from punch card returns. Since only about 25% of punchcards were ever returned some clever number cruncher decided that the cards not returned should reflect the same figures as those that were. This was, of course, a fantasy; most of the cards which were not returned were blank. The result was an inflation of the department's reported catch numbers by a factor of about 75%.

    I agree entirely with BDD's remark: in those days it was extremely rare to see anyone release a steelhead. I remember catching (and releasing) a sorry-looking, rusty old buck late in the season on the Nisqually; when I twisted the hook out of his jaw and let him go, I was approached by three (count 'em) anglers who felt, in no uncertain terms, that I was not a nice person for not having offered it to them.
  9. Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

    Posts: 416
    Whitehorse Mt.
    Ratings: +72 / 0
    One man's crab bait is another man's dinner. Shame on you for not sharing!
  10. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,454
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,578 / 0
    Stilly Stalker,

    Not meaning to rain on a parade as to inject a bit of reality. To the best of my knowledge, Alec didn't live, let alone fish, in the US in 1949; nor did he catch 150 steelhead on the Sky or anywhere else. And what pictures of Deer Creek with steelhead stacked like cordword? Who has them? Where are they? Please excuse me for being skeptical of their existence. Further, that 60,000 to 90,000 steelhead attributed to the Silly system (the entire basin, not the NF) involves some questionable extrapolation of old commercial catch landings. Not saying that those numbers of fish weren't caught, but nobody knows exactly where all those steelhead were bound for because the catch was predominately in salt water.

    I can be such a spoil sport, I know. I miss a lot of party invitations because of that.


    It's true that the old punchcard numbers don't accurately reflect steelhead catches of the 60s and early 70s, but I don't think they are quite as bad as you indicate. Intensive creel surveys during the mid-70s indicated that best estimates of actual steelhead catches were 62% of the old extrapolation method. The upshot is that WDG (now WDFW) changed the extrapolation factor to more realistically estimate catches, and the result is that steelhead harvest from every river dropped dramatically.

  11. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,361
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,329 / 9
    The best steelhead river might be the one that OrangeRadish is not fishing on...might want to send him a "where you fishing this weekend" message and go the other direction. Sorry O-Rad...just sayin'.
  12. speyforsteel Degenerate Caster

    Posts: 316
    Eastern Washington
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    The Babine
    Go fish it while you can
    I'll continue to fish on the not so great rivers
  13. Richard Torres Active Member

    Posts: 1,350
    Mill Creek
    Ratings: +76 / 0

    when are your plans? Freestone is spot on with the fish holding up at the mouths of these rivers.

    The predicted Pineapple forcasted for Monday should put a lot of the recent snow back into the rivers for the west side and i'm

    sure some of the east side rivers will also turn into fudge dragons, which should get the fish back into migration mode..

    Something I might have to look into....
  14. 1morecast Active Member

    Posts: 742
    Port Angeles
    Ratings: +47 / 0
    The one I am standing in!
  15. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,257
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +603 / 0
    Not the one I was on yesterday, if that helps . . .