Wayward Fish Experiences

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Fished a tiny river on Friday looking for SRC and any resident 'bows that would show up. I worked my way up from the access bridge and back with attractor patterns to no avail. Worked my way downstream and while I was moving through a shallow pool, I noticed a friggin' submarine about 2 yards downstream in maybe 18 inches of water. Turns out it was a smallish king that had blown past the hatchery a little ways below. It came up an rested until it figured out that I was OMG one of the boots that had been terrorizing his kind further downstream. Then it rocketed up the creek to the next pool. Shortly later, another king came by and as I continued down, additional kings were motoring up through a shallow riffle, half out of the water. All were pushing upstream. Icing on the cake was pulling in a very healthy 12" 'bow from a mini-run created by riprap on a little parachute Adams. The river was maybe 8' wide where I was fishing and I called it for that creek after releasing the fish.

How typical is it for non-native salmon to blow past their hatchery? These were all hatchery fish from an infamous local fishery known for combat fishing and associated skullduggery.

On Sunday on another river, my buddy and I had a good sized salmon explode from little riffle while we were hiking to the next fishable section of water. It just about gave us a heart attack. We had a good time spotting it holding in a shallow pool and attempted sight-fishing before moving on.

Cool stories of big migrating fish in skinny water welcome!
 

Birdsnest

Active Member
While not a big migratory fish, I once caught a 10-inch fish in a small mountain stream in Northern California that I am pretty sure was a lake trout. Where I was fishing was about 15-20 miles downstream of a lake that has lake trout and I assume it was washed downstream. Unlike the browns I also caught that day, it was really skinny.
 

NRC

WFF Supporter
I grew up fishing a beaver pond in a small creek that ran through our farm in Oklahoma. The method was essentially:

1. Walk through weeds and catch grasshopper
2. Put grasshopper on hook
3. Put bait in water
4. Wait 5 seconds
5. Pull out bluegill
6. Repeat

I would also occasionally pull an 8 inch catfish out. Anyway on one occasion I saw a shovel sized tail suddenly fan near the surface of the water and drop back below. I lost my shit but managed to cast to it and immediately hooked a fat almost 30 inch channel cat that must have washed in from a pond upstream. I beached it, walked it home in a bucket with its tail sticking out, and put it in a stocktank to make sure everyone got a look at my accomplishment.

I also one time caught a little four-inch largemouth bass that washed in from who knows where. I had no access to bass fishing at the time and immediately decided that my creek had become the bass fishery I had always dreamed of. I held the fish and stared at it until it died, whoops, then released it. Never caught another bass there.

Final story, the creek was in flood stage and I was standing on a bridge above it on the road adjacent to the property. Looking down and just upstream, I could see the head and back of a huge fish bobbing as it held against the current in the muddy water. I did the math and realized that the only explanation was that this was a massive paddlefish. I had heard the lore about these giants and was beyond excited to see that one had decided to inhabit our little creek. I immediately started casting to it from the bridge (5’ spin rod, 5lb line, plastic panfish lure on a bait hook with some split shots above versus 5’ paddlefish in wood-choked creek at flood stage, smart kid). I landed some pretty sweet casts just upstream of it but got no reaction from the fish. But thankfully it was holding its position really steadily. Five more minutes of this and I started to get suspicious. This fish was holding a remarkably consistent position. I then realized I was actually looking at a partially submerged fence post held in the current by some barbed wire strung across the stream. The barbed wire was attached to the top 1/3 of the post by a single staple, I think, and the back 2/3 was slightly submerged and trailing in the current while the front 1/3 bobbed up and down on the wire. Like I said, smart kid.
 

Jake

Active Member
Fished a tiny river on Friday looking for SRC and any resident 'bows that would show up. I worked my way up from the access bridge and back with attractor patterns to no avail. Worked my way downstream and while I was moving through a shallow pool, I noticed a friggin' submarine about 2 yards downstream in maybe 18 inches of water. Turns out it was a smallish king that had blown past the hatchery a little ways below. It came up an rested until it figured out that I was OMG one of the boots that had been terrorizing his kind further downstream. Then it rocketed up the creek to the next pool. Shortly later, another king came by and as I continued down, additional kings were motoring up through a shallow riffle, half out of the water. All were pushing upstream. Icing on the cake was pulling in a very healthy 12" 'bow from a mini-run created by riprap on a little parachute Adams. The river was maybe 8' wide where I was fishing and I called it for that creek after releasing the fish.

How typical is it for non-native salmon to blow past their hatchery? These were all hatchery fish from an infamous local fishery known for combat fishing and associated skullduggery.

On Sunday on another river, my buddy and I had a good sized salmon explode from little riffle while we were hiking to the next fishable section of water. It just about gave us a heart attack. We had a good time spotting it holding in a shallow pool and attempted sight-fishing before moving on.

Cool stories of big migrating fish in skinny water welcome!

It is not unheard of for anadromous fish. It’s a way of balancing populations and a path for repopulating a stream or river similar to species colonization. With hatchery fish it’s one of the many controversies of hatchery fish. When those hatchery fish spawn in the wild, they introduce their genetics with the wild fish. On the other hand, the numbers of spawning fish may be higher in that area than if it were only wild fish spawning.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
... When those hatchery fish spawn in the wild, they introduce their genetics with the wild fish. ...

This particular river (some call it the Ditch) did not historically have a run of king salmon unless I'm mistaken...the hatchery has pretty much always functioned as a dumpy meat market for a few weeks in August. There isn't really anything to repopulate, compete with, or restore in this case as I don't believe the river realistically has suitable habitat unless I'm missing something. I guess these fish will make fine fertilizer for the critters that the resident dinks and fry subsist on, and it's worth noting that all the fish I saw had clipped fins.
 

Jake

Active Member
This particular river (some call it the Ditch) did not historically have a run of king salmon unless I'm mistaken...the hatchery has pretty much always functioned as a dumpy meat market for a few weeks in August. There isn't really anything to repopulate, compete with, or restore in this case as I don't believe the river realistically has suitable habitat unless I'm missing something. I guess these fish will make fine fertilizer for the critters that the resident dinks and fry subsist on, and it's worth noting that all the fish I saw had clipped fins.

Huh. Thanks for the info! Always good to know more.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
The ditches on the side of the road in the Sammamish Valley by 124th used to have coho and such every fall...
The ditches (the little ones by the street collecting rainwater in front of the house) by a creek in North Seattle used to get stray fish when I was little. Happened every year so I thought it was normal.
 

kmudgn

Active Member
When I was growing up in VT we used to see Brook Trout "swimming" across flooded fields to move from stream to stream. The fields usually only had a few inches of water and the trout were most often 2/3 of their height out of the water. It was almost like they were walking
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Great stories, everybody. This weekend was the second time I've shared the same few feet of skinny river with oceangoing fish. Similar deal happened once last year with a tired, spawned-out coho on the NF Stilly.

Those fish that return(ed) to urban waterways have/had it rough. Everybody has seen either via video or in person how chums scoot across roads in the fall. Didn't think I'd ever get to see something similar for myself.
 

camtheflyman

not sponsored
WFF Supporter
I love this thread!

Living in the midwest in an area with no native trout, we get quite a few instances of warmwater fish pushing into what is now a trout stream and trout ending up in areas where you would not expect them. My favorite from the midwest was a 23" fat brown trout in a creek that was just a skip across. No idea how it came to be here.

The most memorable experience I've had, however, actually occurred in Alaska on a small glacial fed creek on a family road trip when I was 11. We had some local intel about a creek that should contain resident dolly varden and rainbow trout but wasn't supposed to have salmon running into it (maybe just not at that time of the year which was in the middle of July). Standing in the middle of the creek, I see a large shadow floating toward me. I step to the side thinking it was a log, but it turned out to be a firetruck shaded king salmon that was as large as I was. I don't know if the creek gets a small run of salmon, or if this one had lost its way, or it was late/early, but it certainly was a surprise as we were not prepared to see salmon at all, much less a 50+ lbs king; either way, it's something I won't forget.
 
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