Elwah river between the dams

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by wbugger, May 2, 2003.

  1. wbugger

    wbugger Member

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    I am thinking of hitting this section of the Elwah right after the opener. Was wondering if anyone had fished it this early and what it was like.

    I know the Elwah above the dams (hike in portion) isn't really fishable until July (sometimes later depending on snowpack), but I was hoping that between the dams may be a viable option.

    I had good success on this portion of the river last year during august. Also, imho, this is a beautiful river.

    Thanks for the info.

    Todd
     
  2. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    I have to agree with you. The good news is that the trout in the Elwha river are now fully protected from harvest and you may not kill them.The regs will not take effect in lake Mills, the uppermost impoundment on the Elwha, until spring of 2004. So maybe that fishery will begin to repair it's self after years of abuse. It does depend on flows, runoff etc. But this year is a mild one, so maybe spring fishing will be great. I like the mouth of Lake Mills, at the top end where the river comes in. Hiking in on the west side is best, from the boat launch parking area there on the west side of Lake Mills. The trail is fair but often very wet this time of year. You can take a boat up there too, anchor adjacent to the flow and work the currents that way. I don't think a pontoon would be practical, nor a belly boat, because of the wind trends there. Though if you don't mind hiking it that would be a good combination: hiking in and floating a light craft at the mouth.Big Bull Trout there this time of year add something to the mix. And the Bows can be bodacious!
     
  3. wbugger

    wbugger Member

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    I either read or heard, a while back that they were going to start the process of taking both dams down on the river.

    The way I understood it was that the first step was going to be cutting a section out of the bottom of both dams while widening the river to allow for the extra water that will result from this. After the lakes had both been drained down enough, the deconstruction of the dams was to begin. I don't remember a time table except for the starting of this process (2005).

    I've heard that over 90% of the Elwah drainage is considered still "pure" or "unspoiled". The hopes are that with the removal of the dams, we'll see a return of the monster anadromous fish runs that occurred prior to the dams.

    Just imagine catching steelhead, chinook, or silvers at humes ranch!!!

    Todd
     
  4. D3Smartie

    D3Smartie Active Member

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    That lower section is just not enough to support the big runs of salmon that it used to have. It would be so cool to have those dams taken out but the whole lower section would change completely unless they did something about the silt and water flow.
    I can't wait to see the new river if they ever get the dams out.
     
  5. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    As far as I understand it the dams will come out in the next five to ten years. it will be a long process. There has been much to hinder it along the way. The big recent delay was related to water use and protection of the aquifer and wells along the lower river. There are several parties interested in continued use of the wells and the concern was the sediment that will be released from behind the dams- 100 years worth and some millions of cubic yards. There was some strong political resistence to the dam removals, spearheaded by Slade Gorton,(of the "Gorton's Seafood" family from Boston). As far as I know that has subsided. A newer problem is that all of the delays may have caused the seed stock, for replanting and revegetation, to become non viable. So another big effort will now have to go onto re collecting all the indigenous plants and seeds for that. If anyone has more info it would be welcome.
     
  6. ChrisC

    ChrisC Active Member

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    The biggest reason, among many, why Mr. Gorton is a moron and one that is thankfully not serving us anymore. He sure didn't do anything for the salmon/steelhead of the Pacific NW. Ironic that his family is associated with seafood when he seems indignant to all the concerns that make a seafood self sustaining resource
     
  7. BOBLAWLESS

    BOBLAWLESS New Member

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    One of the best things to happen to flyfishng was the defeat of Slade. Clinton gave him the money for the damn removals but he sat on it. The cost is just pocket change when it comes to the federal level.
    Many folks (the dam gangsters) are afraid if the Elwah dams come down, the virgin spawning habitat that lies upstream will become so filled with fish that there will be a cry for more dams to come down.
    IMO all the Snake dams should come down as well as some from the Columbia itself.
    The Snake, because of the dams making the water so hot in the fall, becomes lethal to the fish.
    A fine kettle of fish indeed!.
    Bob:beathead
     
  8. Mike Etgen

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

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    RiverFishing

    Thanks to those of you who have taken this post beyond the question of fishing prospects - not that fishing prospects aren't worth discussing!
    I'm an eastsider and also relatively new to the PacNW and the west, and all this controversy about water rights is fascinating. If I say so myself, some of the trends that are established out west are likely to set the tone for the rest of the country, because it's just a matter of time IMHO before the special interests go to war over water rights everywhere.
    What drew me to this particular post is that my wife and I took a long weekend trip to the OP last fall and while staying at a bed and breakfast near Port Angeles, I sat down and read a local history of the Elwah, the dams, etc.
    It sure is an interesting read. I wish I could recall the name of the book or the author, but it's a great study of how the rich and powerful can capture and exploit a natural resource, using the justification that it's good for the economy, and then pretty much do whatever they want. It's well documented in this book that the gentleman who pulled this off (name begins with an A and one of the lakes in named for him) flatly disregarded the requirement that he make provision for fish migration, the end result being that the anandromous fishery was pretty much destroyed.
    I mentioned to our hosts the following morning that I'd read and been fascinated by history, and was told pretty bluntly that the whole dam-removal decision process was a "Clinton administration conspiracy" that none of the locals favored.
    I'm not making a judgement about my hosts or the history; just wanted to share a perspective, and perhaps kick off some conversation about this complex issue.
    And if any of you are really interested, there have been numerous articles about the Klamath watershed in recent months. Regardless of your perspective, there are a lot of lessons in the making down there that bear watching up here.
    My .02 worth...

    Mike :dunno
     
  9. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    Mike, I also read an interesting discussion of the Elwha dams situation in Fly Fishing the Olympic Peninsula, by Doug Rose. (1996, Frank Amato Publications). He devoted an entire chapter to it, Ch. 10, "The Crook That Stole the Brook" and ends the chapter remembering a quatrain he "had read in the Washington Department of Fisheries' publication a few years earlier:

    "The law locks up that man that
    takes the salmon from the brook;
    but lets loose the larger crook that
    from the salmon steals the brook."

    AMEN! (Sometimes that larger crook even gets elected to the highest political office in this country!)

    The real threat is coming from the fear mongers who are attempting to distract us with wars and terrorism alerts while they set about dismantling and/or defying progressive environmental legislation. (IMHO, of course!)

    My Plug Nickle:professor Jimbo
     
  10. D3Smartie

    D3Smartie Active Member

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    great quote Jimbo... thank you for that, and how true it is.
     
  11. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    Thanks, but don't thank me, thank Doug Rose! Great book he wrote, by the way.
    Jimbo:thumb
     
  12. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    Todd and others, Another great view of the Elwha history is a video called "Unconqering The Last Frontier". It may be available at Port Angeles library. It is a video movie history of the Elwha and the people and much of what has happened over the past 100 years.
     
  13. troutman101

    troutman101 Member

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    What is even more exciting is all of the great steelheading to be had in 20 years when all other rivers have been destroyed by hatchery programs. My hope is that the tributaries in the upper Elwah will contribute to the recovery of the greatest steelhead and salmon run this state ever saw. Imagine having the oppertunity to hike 15 miles and catch a newly recovered fish only to return it back to the river so it can regenerate it's species. It would be almost too good to be true.

    I suspect that the rainbows that were caught in the upper river could start descending to saltwater again as steelhead. I wonder if the Game department plans on monitering the trout to see if any native trout resort back to sea run salmonids. We would then have again native steelhead which will open up a whole can of worms.


    I fish therefore I lie.
     
  14. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    I used to know it all---but now I forgot it all.

    It should be a good thing,getting rid of the dams but I don't think it will happen in my life time. I'm getting on in years and right now I'm getting ready to slip on a banana peel.

    Jim
     
  15. D3Smartie

    D3Smartie Active Member

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    have you ever caught one of those rainbows in the hike in section? there are some very big trout up there. I wouldnt be surprised if they were steelhead.