olympic steelhead in the Hoh, poachers, and nets

well...back from a weekend on the Olympics and although no steelhead were landed, we had just a great time in one of the most beautiful places in the state, on one of the best weekends of the year! I was a little troubled by the lack of fish in the system, and was wondering if netting on the lower river could have influenced our lack of fish? Any thoughts? We spotted two beat up fish that were not interested in the least, and one member of our party hooked up for an instant. Covered a lot of water, maybe 6-8 miles over two days - and not much to be seen. Was really curious about poachers on the upper river. My understanding was that from the visitor's center upriver is all fly only, but we spotted two anglers that were fishing with gear...not sure what to do in that situation. Kind of a tough call, because I was not completely sure that it was fly only, but didn't know what to do if it was? any thoughts?


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I don't think it's designated "fly only", but it's special gear rules. Which means no baits/scents.

You're in the down part of the year. April the fishing slows down. Most of the good fishing was 1-2 months ago. Doubt it's poachers. Just fish spread throughout the system. Just have to work hard to get them, and find the pockets and work the seems. I always take a yearly fishing trip there around this week. Not as many fish but usually nicer weather and less people. Fish can be had, but won't be as focalized as earlier months.
I saw those gear guys too...far from being poachers as they told me they had actually read the regs before going up there to swing spoons and drift jigs with single barbless hooks for C&R. Here's a cut & paste of the Olympic National Park rules for the upper Hoh:

Hoh River, mainstem, above boat launch (located above South Fork) to mile below the Hoh Campground
All species
June 1 — April 15
Fly fishing only using a fly with a single barbless hook which is _ inch or smaller measured from point to shank, and a fly line; fixed spool reels, bait, and a weight attached to the leader or line are prohibited
Catch-and-release except 2 hatchery steelhead may be retained

Hoh River, mainstem, from mile below the Hoh Campground upstream
All species
June 1 — April 15
Artificial lures with single barbless hooks
Catch-and-release except 2 hatchery steelhead may be retained
I also got back from the Hoh this weekend and did ok. I caught my first Steelhead and am hooked for life. NO PUN INTENDED! The reason you saw so few fish in the upper system is because very small returns over all. The state is only expecting 3100 fish to spawn this year and from what I heard they may not even make that. Second, it is later in the season so the later arriving fish stay further down stream. This weekend you probably wanted to stay in the lower stretches of the river. We hooked about four fished but only brought one to hand. We saw a lot of fish jumping in almost very nice pool we past. I also heard the Indians have not been meeting there quotes as well this year. There are just not that many fish. -Nick
cool, thanks for the info...nick, congrats man! Good to know that everything was in compliance, just wanted to ask since I didn't know. Have been slamming fish on the that river all year and was just a little shocked by the dramatic difference.:thumb