Perry Azevedo

Stage 4 Angler
WFF Supporter
I just recently moved back to Wenatchee after a decade and a half away. Though I didn’t really get into fishing until I first picked up a fly rod 4 years ago, I do know several local hotspots for the various salmon runs. Trouble is, most all my fishing experience has been trout and bass (though I did just start chasing steelhead since moving back to the PNW).

One of the things I’ve been anticipating most in the year leading up to our move back, is to attempt catching salmon on the fly.

That said, around here, all the salmon fishermen/women I know and have talked to only use spin rods or boats with down riggers. So, intel has been limited regarding how to catch salmon on a fly around here. However, I have been able to get enough info to determine I am not on a fool’s errand.

So, this year, I’m planning to take my local knowledge thus far and try to adapt my fly fishing experience and limited steelhead experience into trying to catch Central WA salmon.

The rivers I am primarily going to be targeting are:
  • Lower Icicle (late May & early June, if it’s open)
  • Columbia River (summer)
  • Wenatchee River (fall)
I will likely take a trip or two to some other good fisheries not in my area, as well. Most likely ones that are on the west side of the state as I often am traveling to Seattle. What other rivers should I target and when?

All that said (sorry for the novel), I don’t have any gear that can handle salmon yet. So, what rod(s) should I start looking for on various classifieds and eBay?

What I am thinking is to get both a solid 8wt spey rod and a single-hander for floating and smaller water.

For the spey:
Some of the local non-fly fishermen keep trying to tell me that an 8wt will not be enough, and that I need to go with a 9wt. My friends who fly fish for steelhead have told me to look into the Sage One 8136-4 and the Sage Z-Axis 8136-4. I’ve also been reading that the Echo King is worth looking into. However, that is as far as I’ve been able to get in my own research.

My main concerns are:
  1. Getting flies down to 12–15' on some parts of the Columbia. Other parts are more shallow and fish can be found in more shallow water, no more than a few feet deep.
  2. Being able to handle a King, should I hook into one of those. Otherwise, I would just use a 7/8wt steelhead spey rod. I would actually prefer just buying a rod that works for both steelhead & salmon, but I think that may be an unrealistic preference.
For the single-hander:
As long as they don’t close the lower Icicle for half the season like last year, I am planning on fishing this stretch of water for the entire run. I’m thinking that the spey rod might be too much since most of the creek seems like it might be too skinny for Spey. Additionally, I’ll likely need a good single-handed rod for the times that I am fishing from a drift boat/raft. One more consideration, though this may fall under the “unrealistic preference” like before is that this rod could also work fishing in salt water. I’d love to start out with one 8wt rod that could handle salmon, as well as ocean run fish and the occasional trip to catch bonefish. Too much? LOL.

Back to salmon fishing…if you have any experience on these rivers or have knowledge of fly fishing for salmon in general, I would appreciate any tips on gear and/or advice on chasing salmon on the fly that you are willing to share.

Thanks.
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
There might be some king fishing on the Wenatchee and Icicle, but it hasent been open in the fall for quit a while, dont keep your hopes up.
 

jake-e-boy

sans caféine
Wenatchee and Icicle will not be open for springers this year.

Edit:
Also, good luck trying to find the few spots on the Columbia “near Wenatchee” where you can swing for springers. Not a lot and well guarded. I’ve already said too much.

I like black bunny and a 14’ 9wt
 

Perry Azevedo

Stage 4 Angler
WFF Supporter
…Icicle will not be open for springers this year.

What makes you say that? The lower Icicle usually opens May 15 and I haven’t seen any Emergency Rules yet.
The Wenatchee River is never open in the spring. Only for two months in the fall and limited to what you can target.

Edit:
Good call on the black bunny. :)
 

jake-e-boy

sans caféine
What makes you say that? The lower Icicle usually opens May 15 and I haven’t seen any Emergency Rules yet.
The Wenatchee River is never open in the spring. Only for two months in the fall and limited to what you can target.

Edit:
Good call on the black bunny. :)
Helps to know the guy that has ran the hatchery for the past 30 years. Wenatchee has had springer seasons, when I was a pup my dad use to run the hog line in Leavenworth in his sled, before all the *ucking 206ers built 2nd homes on the river and didn’t like the noise. They had a springer season on the Wenatchee a few years back, 1st one in ~twenty years, ‘twas a blast.

I guarantee Lower icicle will not open for springers this year
 

Perry Azevedo

Stage 4 Angler
WFF Supporter
Oh wow. Didn’t realize that we had a Wenatchee spring run so recent. Bummer to hear about the lower Icicle being closed again. :(
 

Freestone

WFF Supporter
Not all salmon are created equally but your 7/8 spey should be fine for everything except big kings. Same with an 8 wt single-hander. As it sounds like that rod will be the most versatile for you, I'd start there - especially until you know what our upcoming seasons are going to be like or if they happen at all. You could always just use a light leader on the 7/8 and 8wt and if you hook one that is too big, just break it off. Then, if we actually have a season and if you figure things out and start reliably hooking big kings, then you could make the decision to splurge on a 9 or 10 wt.

BTW, yes the Icicle is very small plus there are not many public places to wade and the water is often high during the spring season. It is hugely popular with the gear crowd and often jammed with boats with lines going every which way. I've had words said to me just trying to float it on my paddleboard after work, even when I was trying to be as respectful and mindful of their fishing as possible. If it ever looks like we are going to get a season again, I'd go do some pre-opener floats without gear just so you can scope things out and try to figure out spots that you might be able to swing. It is a very short stretch of water and if you don't know it well and keep moving down trying to find the next possible spot, you will be out in the Wenatchee before you know it. Same with wade fishing - scope out potential spots before the opener or you will get frustrated. Please note that there will be tons of no trespassing signs as there is only one other parcel of public of the land along the creek besides the hatchery property.

Best of luck!
 

Chic Worthing

WFF Supporter
I have to tell a story about a trip to the Icicle probably 25 years ago with a friend. He told me to bring rain gear and I told him the weather forecast was for blue skies and sunshine, our most common product here outside of apples. I grudgingly brought my rain gear. When we arrived at his favorite pool it was dark. At daylight the adjacent land owner came out with two hoses and set them up with rainbird sprinklers so all of us anchored were getting "rained on". After about an hour of successful but very wet fishing in bright sunny skies, the land owner got in his truck and drove in the direction of Leavenworth. After a few minutes, one of the boaters maneuvered his boat so he could get on shore and began to chop up the hoses and our rainfall stopped. He did tip toe over and shut off the water. A while later the land owner returned and had a colossal shit fit. He stormed over to the bank and demanded to know who had done this. He request was greeted with what sounded like a rehearsed chorus of "who had done what?" No one saw anything. Landowner said he would hook up more hoses and someone commented that he better plan on spending the day out there guarding them. He left to well deserved thunderous laughter.
 
Last edited:

Perry Azevedo

Stage 4 Angler
WFF Supporter
Not all salmon are created equally but your 7/8 spey should be fine for everything except big kings. Same with an 8 wt single-hander. As it sounds like that rod will be the most versatile for you, I'd start there - especially until you know what our upcoming seasons are going to be like or if they happen at all. You could always just use a light leader on the 7/8 and 8wt and if you hook one that is too big, just break it off. Then, if we actually have a season and if you figure things out and start reliably hooking big kings, then you could make the decision to splurge on a 9 or 10 wt.

Thanks. That’s a good idea (going with the lighter leader). I would much rather go ahead and take the plunge on a good 7/8wt spey steelhead rod.

As for the Icicle, I spent a lot of time floating that river when I was younger. Not to mention I may or may not have accidentally fished some of it back then (before I knew what was what). Oops. :rolleyes:
My wife’s parents live just one property away from “barking dog hole” and I know several of the riverfront owners, so I should be good on finding spots. ;) Though, I need to make friends with someone who has a drift boat/raft as that is very limiting around many of the rivers around here.
 

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