Which river?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Dan-O, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. As I stated in my introductory post, I'm new to steelhead here in Washington, but not to fishing for steel in general. My question today is this: which river near Seattle would you recommend learning?

    I do have a 10ft pontoon that I could float with if I had to, but I prefer to wade the river. I just want to start learning a river around here that also gives me a decent shot at some steel and or salmon. Any and all information is sincerely appreciated.
  2. If you've fished for steelies before (gear or fly, doesn't matter) you'll have a jump on where to look once you hit the river.

    The Skykomish from Ben Howard access up to the boulder runs above Reiter Ponds hatchery is a good place to start learning. Fishes late Nov - Feb then again June-Sept depending on summer weather. That pontoon boat will put you onto the best, least crowded water (monitor flows though, the rapids right below Big Eddy / High Bridge access can be pretty gnarly. After that it's usually mellow).

    If you really prefer wading, check the WDFW river access list but don't expect to be alone or have lots of room for casting flies (The Ben Howard launch might be a good spot to start if you're swinging, usually some space and a good traveling lane against the far bank). For less crowded options cruise up Highway 2 and start scouting road side access.

    If you live in Tukwila the Green River is a closer option to get to know.
  3. This time of you is a bit in between "seasons" for the West side of the Cascades. Most all of the Columbia tributaries will have Steelhead (summer run). If you wait around till Thanksgiving, you will start to see the Hatchery seasons for winter steelhead begin on the coastal rivers.

    Without knowing you ability to row it is hard to point you to a coastal river. Some are quite easy like the Upper Hoh, and Bogachial. Others are only recommended for those that have good skills and knowledge of their water like the Sol Duc and Calawah. If you frequent this Forum from now till November, you can get a pretty good idea when the runs will hit.

    The Cowlitz river in Lewis county is always a good bet to begin your steelheading career. There are steelhead in it 12 months a year and the water is pretty easily rowed on all sections. The downside of the river is that on the weekends it gets a lot of jet sled traffic, as this is the states premier put and take fishery.

    Dont be afraid of P.M.ing me or some of the others on here. I have found that the function is used far less than in the past. Which is a shame, as people are more apt to share information in person than yelled across the digital room.
    Derek Young likes this.
  4. Dan,

    With "near Seattle" as prime criteria, the Sky is pretty much it. It has both summer and winter steelhead, so a longer season than say the Snoqualmie, where summer run stocking has been discontinued. The Green is a bit closer to you, but the runs aren't good enough these days for me to seriously recommend it.

    As for having a "decent" shot at steelhead, I'd have to recommend fishing out of state. Seriously. WA is only considered a steelheading destination because of its past reputation, not for the fishing opportunity it currently provides. The only reason I fish here is because it's a much longer drive to go out of state, but I spent more days fishing summer steelhead out of state than in WA this year.

    Phil Fravel likes this.
  5. I appreciate the honest advice everyone.

    It sounds, to me, like I need to start learning the Sky.

    Anyone feel like teaching me to row it? I'm proficient enough that I can follow someone very well and safely, but I don't like floating a river for the first few times without someone who knows the river better.
  6. your more than welcome to float along with me, i have floated the sky in 300 cfs to 11000. i much prefer the sky when its big

  7. Sounds like we'll have to go float it together once the fish start to come through in the winter. Keep me posted about what days work for you and what times would be better for floating/fishing it and I'll try to work my schedule around that.
  8. pretty much a weekend warrior now that were running out of daylight
  9. Dan-O,

    The Sky from the high bridge down is pretty easy and straight-forward rowing. I've done it in my little 7' rubber ducky with no issues. If you know how to row a boat on a river, you should have no problem.

  10. THis video might help givin the right condition. Be safe!

    This is the Skykomish High Bridge Drift

  11. Dan the only time i consider the sky even mideratly difficult is below 300 cfs and that isnt even bad
  12. Except they cut away before the only really difficult section
  13. Watch out for car vandals along the Sky, lost a nice backpack and a small cooler about three weeks ago. Watched the bastards break out a window in my rig while I was walking up. This was right off Ben Howard in the middle of the day and close to a house ...
    Dan-O likes this.
  14. ^ That. Verrrrrrryyyy important when fishing the Sky. Unless you like getting windows replaced.

    Don't have anything of value in view. Ever.
    Dan-O likes this.
  15. dan-o, i see you list tukwila as home. so your closer to the cowlitz than the north sound rivers. plus its almost all freeway driving to the cowlitz/lewis or maybe satsop, etc. if it were me i would learn the cowlitz. it stays open year round and has good returns of fish. and then maybe learn the Kalama or other south end rivers.
    just my 2 cents.
    Dan-O likes this.

  16. Thanks for the heads up Skyrise! I'm just wanting to learn, but wherever that takes me is fine by me.

  17. That was very helpful. Thanks!
  18. if you want the best chance, then you want the rivers with the most fish.
    winter: its forks or the cowlitz.
    summer: its cowlitz for close by. then like salmo_g said its off to Canada or the clearwater/grande ronde or maybe the methow.
    if you just want scenery then the sky is pretty. but the best days are long gone. you should have been here in the 70's. when they used to land more steelhead just below lewis street in one month then they see all winter now days. and many of those were caught by plunkers.
    again just my 2 cents.
    but i do miss those days. landed my 1st steelhead down from lewis street.
    maybe the Skagit will come back. who knows ?

  19. That seems to be the way of the fish these days. When I was fishing in Oregon I would come across people that would reminisce over the "old days". It's sad, but it's reality.
  20. Right. I should keep it to myself. just re-run the tapes in my head.
    anyway good luck up here. sounds like you know Oregon streams. many of those rivers are pretty good i hear.

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