MF Snoqualmie Report

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by kbromer, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    I just got off the phone with a fishing buddy who floated the main stem of the Snoqualmie above the falls yesterday. He launched near the Three Forks Park bridgeand floated to the second steel bridge just above the Salish Lodge where there's a good take out.

    To refute my point above though, he said he caught a couple dozen fish, all rainbows (sideband coloring, no throat slashes) and up to 10".

    K
     
  2. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    I think another factor limiting growth are the annual floods.
     
  3. Xander

    Xander Member

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    So would this explain why everyone says that the Cooper River, for example, (which looks like it has fishy water) really doesn't have many fish?

    Thanks all for all the responses. This all makes a lot of sense to me. I like the Cedar logic too. I am learning a lot from you all! :thumb:
     
  4. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    Kent -
    See my report from Saturday for a pic of a nice bow from the North Fork (I was being coy about which fork in that report, but ...). http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php?t=50424

    I've caught rainbow and cutts in all three forks and brookies in the N and S forks. My experience in all three forks is that the cutts inhabit the higher, smaller stretches of the drainage and bows are lower down. My experience on the N Fk is the most striking. Below a certain tributary that is closed to fishing, I typically only catch rainbows; above that point, only cutts.

    Dick
     
  5. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

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    Heck, I'll just come out and say it since it is just the S Fork... EXIT 42 - rainbows, almost exclusively in my experience... :) Jeff and I were up there a couple weekends ago and I think only one cuttbow was caught, the only sign of cutties in that stretch - we were into double digits, so it was a fairly large sampling. Many other trips to the same exit have yielded the same result, almost all bows, a few cuttbows, maybe a full cutt or two, and a very occasional brookie.
     
  6. James St. Clair

    James St. Clair stclairj

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    When I was in college at CWU I did quite a bit of independent research guided by my advising fisheries biology professor. We did some electrofishing in quite a few of the streams ranging from in Ellensburg all the way up to Snoqualmie pass. His general view was that 'bows inhabited these lower stretches, while cutthroat and brookies generally stayed closer to the headwaters. There would be a gradual change from the cutts and brookies to 'bows as you move downstream. Almost every creek we shocked we found this to be the case. There was a dramatic difference if there was an impassible fish barrier (usually manmade) somewhere within the system. For example, a small creek near Easton called Tucker creek is divided by a large culvert that would be impossible for fish to pass. Above the culvert we only dredged up cutthroat and brookies, whereas below the culvert the majority of the fish were rainbows with a smattering of cutts, and no brook trout.

    His explanation was the life history strategy, and overall competition between the species. Cutthroat and brookies can most often handle cooler water, and suffer from warmer water, whereas the opposite is true for rainbows, who can handle the warmer water, and while do fine in cooler waters, are generally more comfortable with a warmer temperature. The data we collected supported this opinion. While before the fish barrier was in place, bows were probably upstream of the now present barrier, and brooks may have been present below the barrier, but the ability of these species to succeed in these different habitats basically outcompeted the ones that we're on the borderline.

    On Richards point, I believe I have witnessed the same phenomenon in the NF Snoqulamie, where above (what I think you might be hinting at is Sunday Creek), the majority of the fish are cutthroat with a few brookies, while when you travel below the creek, most are rainbows and a few cutthroat. While this is no fish barrier, their must be some other reason for rainbows not traveling above this creek as often. Maybe its the water temperature above and below the creek, or maybe its that Sunday Lake has been stocked in the past with Rainbows, and the majority of the fish in the lake are rainbows, and thus also in the creek.

    This is also super obvious in the Yakima River, where above and around Easton there might be a few rainbows, but mostly cutts and brookies. As you move down towards Cle-Elum, there is probably about 50/50 cutts and rainbows with no brookies, and in the Ellensburg to Roza stretch there is probably 5% cutts with 95% bows. This is at least what I have found through snorkeling for WDFW, as well as personal fishing experience.

    On the size of the fish, I think you guys all hit the nail on the head, slightly acidic waters does not allow for vigorous bug growth indirectly through limited algae growth, and the generally year round cooler water temps, flood events, absence of salmon, and the short high gradient form of these rivers does not allow for fish to grow as large as one might expect even with the C&R rules in effect. If you catch a 14" fish on one of the forks, and there are a few in there, the fish is probably near the end of his life, 7 - 9 years old. Most of the fish we probably catch up there are in the 2-4 year old age class (between 5 and 9").

    Good discussion, I enjoyed reading peoples explanations and opinions on this.

    James:beer2:
     
  7. Xander

    Xander Member

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    This is really interesting, Speaker, because I had the same experience as you at the above location a couple weeks ago; however, last night, it was all cutties a few miles downstream... :confused:
     
  8. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Over the past 10 years I've fished the NF Snoqualmie from its confluence with the MF all the way up past Lennox Creek. Of the quite literally hundreds of coastal cutts and a few dozen brookies I've caught there, I have never landed a rainbow.

    In saying this, I don't dispute your claim that there are rainbows in the stream. But one would think that given a sample that size taken from a fifteen or so mile stretch of the river, at least some would be rainbows.

    Some time ago, before I learned that Sunday Creek is closed to fishing, I regularly fished it from the confluence up to Philippa Creek. All I caught were cutthroat. I'm 105% positive that Sunday Lake contains only coastals and has been planted with them for quite some time. Both Philippa and Loch Katrine contain rainbows.

    K
     
  9. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Another prespective on the fish populations of the Snoqualmie Forks.

    I learned to fly fish for trout on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie. By the time I reached my teens in the early 1960s my fishing had expanded to include all three forks. At the time the State planted catchable rainbows in both the South Fork (above twin falls) and the Middle Fork up around the area now referred to as the concrete bridge. Those fish were easily separated from the naturally produced fish that provided the bulk of our/my catches. By the time I had graduated from high school I had fished virtually every mile of the South Fork and most of the Middle Fork (up to where I could easily step across it without getting my feet wet.

    The trout limit was 15 fish/day later reduced to 12/fish. Very few folks practiced catch and release and most fished with bait. Like today the forks were prefect for a learning angler, the trout willing, but by mid-season demanding enough to bring about a gradual refinement in my angling skills. 40 years ago a typcial evening on the upper Snoqualmie would typically produce the following catches.

    On the South Fork from late May (opening day) to mid October and 3 or 4 hour fishing trip would produce from 10 to 30 trout or more on a good day. They were nearly all cutthroat with the typical fish in the 6 to 10 inch range though if I caught 20 trout I would expect 4 or 5 in that 10 to 14 inch range with each season producing a handful of fish in that 14 to 16 inch range. Each season I would a handful of brookies and the odd rainbow though every season to two I would get Bonefish Jack's "SF slam". Once in a while a bait dunker would get a 20 incher but I never was that lucky/skillful.

    The Middle Fork typically had an extended period of snow run-off and our fly fishing usually didn't really get started until mid-July. Agian the dominate species I caught was cutthroat. The catch rates on the middle fork were rarely as good as that on the South Fork but the fish averaged larger. A good afternoon or evening would produce 20 or 25 fish with maybe half of the fish in that 10 14 inch range with a larger fish a distinct possibility . Every season would produce several fish in that 16 to 20 inch range with the largest that I every saw caught being a 24 inch cutthroat.

    The North Fork was not as user friendly to me and I didn't fish it nearly as often as the other two forks. Generally we cutthroat in the lower section (below Black Canyon) most rainbows in the middle piece (spur 10 area) and cutthroat in the upper area (Lennox Creek).
    There some very large fish (rainbows) in Black Canyon which was difficult to access except during extra low flows.

    The fishing below the forks was a cutthroat fishery with most 8 to 14 inch fish though I could count on a larger fish or two every season. We did find good numbers of rainbows in the portion of the float - they were catchable fish dropping out of the juvenile creeks.

    The hatches on the system were some limited though did see some early season stones. There also were the ocassional decent mayfly hatch, especially in May and June. The bread and butter hatches were Caddis and midges. By this time of year success depended on your skill in fishing smaller buggers (mostly 16s to 20s). The last couple of hours of daylight would yield dozens of raisers in each large pool. Mid-day fish was mostly a pocket water game with high floaters in 14s and 12s producing most of the action. For two decades all season I fished nothing but dries though I now suspect if I had expanded my efforts to include dead drift nymphs and streamers my catch of larger fish would have been much better.

    In spite of more conservative management (for example the middle fork has been CnR since 1986) the fishing still has not rebounded to what I saw a couple decades earlier. I suspect that a significant factor in the decline in the quality of the trout fishery has been a poorer habitat. Remember for example much of the Middle fork was not logged until the 1960s. I still remember logging trucks coming out of the Middle Fork where the butt cut of the old growth Douglas fir was so large a single butt cut log would be a load and they had to cut slots for the trailers stake's to fit it on the trailer and to keep the loads weight down the long would only be about 20 feet long. The more frequent flooding and decrease in good over winter cover seems to have limited the populations. I understand that WDFW is setting up to do some detailed studies on the Fork's trout. We additional information we may gain additional insights in what is going on with the Fork's trout.

    Thanks for the chance to travel down memories lane - hope my ramblings were too boring.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  10. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    I wonder how much of the lack of rebound might be attributable to a vastly increased sportfishing pressure?

    Seems to me that ten years ago, I didn't see nearly as many fishermen on the MF as I do now. Maybe the meth labs and the abandoned cars shot full of holes kept 'em fishing somewhere else!

    Thanks for weighing in Curt.

    K
     
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Kent -
    The issue of angling pressure is an interested thought and I have thought about it quite a bit.

    Given that the Forks was my home wates as I was learning to fly fish was pretty excited when the middle fork first when to CnR in 1986. At that time the fishing was much like it is today - lots of 6 to 9 inch trout. I revisited some of my old stomping grounds in late August 1987.My expectation was that CnR regulation would not make much of a difference in the total numbers of trout but they would be larger (there were lots of trout just not many old ones). I expected to see a 3 inch jump in size from the previous year. And that was exactly what I saw. The average fish was 9 to 12 inches with a nice sprinkling of 12 to 15 inch fish. There were as many fish over 12 inches as there were fish under 9.

    After what I saw in 1987 I was eager to fish the Middle Fork in 1988 and expected to find the fishing that I remember from 20 years before. Was both surprised and shocked that what I found was the return to mostly 6 to 9 inch fish.

    To this day I still do not understand the mechanics of why there are not more larger fish. Though as is typically the case I sure that it is a combination of factors with as I expressed in the first post habitat being a major player. Though poaching and hooking mortality are also likely players in the equation. One thing is for sure in spite what many of us thought it became very clear that CnR is not the panacea to what ails our fisheries.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  12. Xander

    Xander Member

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    That's an awesome bit of history Curt thanks.
     
  13. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    Curt -
    Thanks for the detailed description of the Forks in the 60's. It must have been a teenage flyfisher's dream to have so close by. It is still a fun outing and good for beginners, but the larger fish are so few and far between that the anticipation of a big fish fades far sooner than the realization of catching one.

    James, Yes, Sunday creek.

    Kent, Are we fishing the same North Fork? Let's get out there some evening soon and see if they are bows or cutts!

    Dick
     
  14. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Absolutely! I'll try to remember to bring a reel along this time!

    K
     
  15. CoastalCutt

    CoastalCutt Member

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    I get around to all three forks in about a two week span, with the south being angled 2-3 times weekly by me. I catch a trout over 12" or right around almost every time out. My biggest ever was a Cutt. (which make up 98% of my catch with the odd cutt-bow but never any full bows) pushing the 20" mark.....no exaggeration. I snorkel the forks frequently also, and many would be surprised at the size of some of the fish in those streams. The Middle for me produces the more consistent catch of 9-12" fish, but I'd say maybe every 80th trout on the South for me is pushing up around or over 16." As for the North, the fish for me run a tad smaller than the other two, but there are some large fish present here as well. I suggest everyone who loves the forks should snorkel some stretches, you will see some cool stuff, including some humungous whiteys.