The low/clear water myth...

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by sleestak240, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Lex

    Lex Active Member

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    Was just thinking the same thing. His shit is getting old.
     
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  2. underachiever

    underachiever members only

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    The ignore feature of this forum is very effective. It can really increase the signal to noise ratio.
     
  3. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    This thread has me needing to ask some questions about "CLEAR WATER" you see i took a trip to the OP some 15 years ago when it had not rained in the whole region for at least 2 1/2 weeks. I was headed to forks to fish the famous OP rivers and on the way checked out quite a few rivers.

    First was going over the famous Green river I had read and heard so much about! It's was a horrible brown-green color, I was shocked at it's color and baffled at the same time. The Puyallup river was even more disgusting looking for no rain in so many weeks.

    I drove up either the sky or sno river knowing of it's fame and there was only about 2 feet visibility and it had a milky green like summer snow melt color to it! Now this being late February I knew this river with no rain for weeks should of been clear, again I was shocked and did not understand the low visibility of it's flows for the very little or "NO" rain for weeks. As I drove it seemed every river was like this. I stopped at the Bogey to check it out because I wanted to float it one of the 5 day's I was there and i couldn't believe at the very best it only had 2 1/2 feet visibility. This being a smaller river which I would think would not be effected by glacier influence I again couldn't believe the color. When I stopped at the local fishing shop I mention the stopping at the bogey and how dirty it was and the shop guy asked how much visibility does it have and I said maybe 2 1/2 feet - He got all excited and said "THAT'S GREAT" and proceeded to say he would float it the next day.

    Now it seemed the only two rivers I saw on the whole trip that were above the Cowlitz that were remotely clear were the Sol duc and the Quanault and maybe the Calawah.

    When my daughter moved up to the Seattle area about 2 years ago she came back home one trip and started saying how weird the river were in the area, She stated she couldn't believe all these people standing elbow to elbow fishing in mud! She had driven all over the area to find a river that was clean enough to maybe swim or wade in or just hang-out and she could not find any. after two years she is still very, how would you say - "SHOCKED" about not being able to find clean water to have recreation in, or even want to fish.

    Now all this may sound like I am bashing the rivers up north but actually just sharing my experience from someone from a different region that has floated and steelhead and salmon fished the rivers in northern Oregon and s.w. Washington all his life which would be some 40 years. Even my 18 year old daughter was shocked at the difference in the water quality of the two regions!

    So I guess my questions would be what is clear water to you fisherman up north? 3 feet? 5 feet? 8 feet visibility?

    In my region if it hasn't rained for 4 or 5 day's our rivers have 5 to 8 feet visibility and constantly run like this until we get heavy rain which will dirty rivers for a few days but for the most part only "GREEN THEM UP NICELY"
    Most of the time on the sandy, clack, wilson, trask, nehalem, molala, and well, just about every river in the area from the coast to the hood river the rivers run clear and when you talk about clear water to me it means 5 to 8 feet visibility which is what we fish about 70 percent of the time!

    I had to figure it was the region? That Mt. Rainier has a much different snow pack and a lot more glacier flow feeding the rivers in the whole region. Either that or the region has logged and clear cut all of it's drainages to almost complete destruction of it's rivers. Given that and the possible destruction of so much habitat at the rivers banks that they never really run clear. I base all this on being in the region during cold temps and had watched rain amounts for some 3 weeks and was actually concerned about conditions and river flows would not be in our favor for floating (to low and CLEAR) for the week.

    I am hoping this is a geological thing for your whole region and not pure destruction of river water quality through over population. This has concerned me ever since I took the trip and have never been back to the region. Just really don't need to I have plenty of beautiful rivers in my areas to fish that actually run a blue color 70 percent of the time.

    I guess I need to be educated on the differences and why they are so extreme? We do get snow melt in the summers that effect the water color to a "milt" color when temps run 80 and above for weeks or a month at a time and snow melt from Mt Hood silts the water up.

    As far as color and clear water I always stay away from orange and greens in clear water, pinks and peach are always a better choice or a toned down red like the fly posted. For 20 years the best lure on the sandy was the pink pearl corky in a #10 because of it's clear water. Blacks and purple of coarse are a good choice and one of our favorite plugs in the stillwaters above Bonneville is copper. I never liked pulling plugs in the rivers although low cold water it's hard to say it doesn't work. There is something about copper that steelhead like. I also use it to wrap trout fly bodies instead of gold and brass wire.

    I also kind of understood the 12 to 14 foot fly rods and throwing half a chicken sized fly in the waters up north. Heck from what I saw it would be what it takes for a steelhead to even see the fly. For low-cold-clear waters IMO it simply isn't needed.
     
  4. WT

    WT Active Member

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    This is good stuff. Makes me wonder about leader and tip length in these conditions?
     
  5. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    FWIW, when i say clear, i mean i can see to the bottom everywhere, except riffles where the slosh obscures.
     
  6. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    So Jeremy, for you, does more pressure mean you will be fishing a smaller or less intrusive fly? Or will you go bigger? Or something else?
     
  7. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

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    Lately i've been fishing black and blue in clear water w/ dark skies, without any flash. One of the few big pulls I got on the Sky this season was when fishing a 2.5" black/blue tandem tube with the flash clipped out. That was around 2300CFS and clear as a bell and really cold. Same on the Sauk, got a good pull with black and blue with very little flash and overcast skies. If the sun is on the water, I'm a big fan of reds. Purple and red or bright red/claret/black tubes. If I'm fishing low in a river system, I fish pink or pink/orange almost exclusively regardless of conditions.
     
  8. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    From the sounds of it, you are basing your view of the puget sound rivers on one trip through the area years ago. Might not be the best basis.

    Certain rivers do seem to always run the color of chocolate milk (the Puyallup under I-5 comes to mind).

    On the other hand, I've fished the Sky and Snoqualmie several times the last few months, and I haven't been out there under the conditions you describe once. The rivers have mostly been low and clear with several feet of visibility, or if anything the slightest tint of that nice steelhead green we all like. In fact, I'd say the rivers have been, for the most part, too clear.

    Also, I don't think water clarity (or lack thereof) is necessarily an indicator of water quality. I swam in the Nisqually plenty of times growing up--nothing wrong with that water. I think it colored up more because it comes straight off a glacier.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts on a couple of your questions. I'm sure there are some geologists or hydrologists around who could give much better information as to the differences between rivers in various regions of the state.
     
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  9. Hillbilly Redneck

    Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

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    In the winter when the water is clear it is often also very cold. Big flies will "wake" up the fish. That's why spoons work good in these conditions. Summer time is a different deal. The fish can be very active. Smaller is better so you don't spook the fish. There are exceptions to every rule. I find summer fish 100 times easier to catch with a fly rod. Also, when I see the edges of the river start freezing... I stay home and drink bourbon.
     
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  10. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    i think we can learn some things from what gear anglers use, but at the same time we shouldn't read too much into it. spoons and spinners have actions that really cannot be recreated in flies.

    of course, i have always tended to move where i fish in low-clear conditions to glacial rivers that will still have some color during cold snaps.

    also imagine a 1 inch fly compared to a 3-4 inch fly. for a 25-35 inch fish that difference is pretty small. fish what you have confidence in and look for unpressured fish. pressure makes fish as dour as cold, clear conditions.
     
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  11. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    More pressure means I would be more likely to be dead drifting something more natural (summer) or soft hackled (winter), and smaller.
     
  12. BDD

    BDD Active Member

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    A friend and good steelheader did not believe in the small, dark fly in clear warm or cold water temperatures. He called them stick flies because they didn't move much in the water but rather floating down the river like a stick. Many of the most famous, traditional flies are like that. You folks who like them, keep fishing them. I prefer some size, profile, movement, flash, color, and weight in my flies to catch fish. However, I understand that the gaudy flies of today would probably draw sneers from those of yesterday but they didn't have the reduced numbers and increased pressure that we face today. Still, I'd trade all the fancy new stuff of today for a chance to fish some of their waters with their primitive gear any day of the week.
     
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  13. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    I'd fish anything if I could have had a shot at the falls on the mouth of the Deschutes before the dams, or the Sauk when my Grandpa fished it in the 20's, 30's and 40's. I think there were so many fish, that finding a player was pretty easy. Well, easier.
     
  14. golfman44

    golfman44 5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year

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    Small and dark has worked for me in the summer. Purple and baby blue mixed in too

    s7_321813_999_01.jpeg
     
  15. DanielOcean

    DanielOcean Active Member

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    This thread is about steelhead not coho.
     
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