How to find holes on the river

speedbird49

Active Member
Hi. I recently discovered this forum. It looks to be a treasure trove of information as I start to branch into freshwater fishing, and enter the world of fishing on the fly. I realize this is a basic of the most basic questions, and comes dangerously close to asking someone for their holes (A big no no in the fishing community I am aware) but I have been trying to figure this out all year with no success. Generally, I will think of a place I want to go by going onto Google maps and finding a public access park or roadway. I'll look for bends and indentations in the bank that create holes where fish could shelter. But I know that Google maps is often deceptive, and that the only way to know if a place holds fish for sure is to go and fish it. But living in the greater Seattle area, that for me means at least a two hour journey, unless I head to the lower Stilly or Skagit which both tend to be browned out this time of the year from what I have been told. Should that be what I am doing? Yes. But as much as I wish I could, I can't go out and fish everyday. And with the amount of rivers our state has, it would take me months if not more to hit every single hole near me. And as I know from beach fishing, just because there were no fish at the spot one day, doesn't mean there won't be fish at the spot tomorrow.

I guess this is where I am struggling. When starting to look for fish holes, how do I most efficiently use my time and efforts? I realize that no one will tell me where to go, but I really want to have a better idea of how to plan a trip myself.

Thank you all in advance!
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Hi Speedbird - Welcome to the forum and congratulations for understanding the hotspotting rule. Hmmm, 19 years old - I'll give you this: man, you have a lot of years ahead to figure this stuff out. I really only have two suggestions. The first would be find a group (fly club - a bunch of crusty (or is it krusty?) degenerate old men (usually) but most of them enjoy the company of younger folks interested in the sport, and 2) Keep a journal. You might do a site search here for a few examples. I wish I'd kept a journal as my memory plays tricks on me.

Good luck.
Patrick
 

flybill

A collector never stops collecting!
WFF Supporter
Hi. I recently discovered this forum. It looks to be a treasure trove of information as I start to branch into freshwater fishing, and enter the world of fishing on the fly. I realize this is a basic of the most basic questions, and comes dangerously close to asking someone for their holes (A big no no in the fishing community I am aware) but I have been trying to figure this out all year with no success. Generally, I will think of a place I want to go by going onto Google maps and finding a public access park or roadway. I'll look for bends and indentations in the bank that create holes where fish could shelter. But I know that Google maps is often deceptive, and that the only way to know if a place holds fish for sure is to go and fish it. But living in the greater Seattle area, that for me means at least a two hour journey, unless I head to the lower Stilly or Skagit which both tend to be browned out this time of the year from what I have been told. Should that be what I am doing? Yes. But as much as I wish I could, I can't go out and fish everyday. And with the amount of rivers our state has, it would take me months if not more to hit every single hole near me. And as I know from beach fishing, just because there were no fish at the spot one day, doesn't mean there won't be fish at the spot tomorrow.

I guess this is where I am struggling. When starting to look for fish holes, how do I most efficiently use my time and efforts? I realize that no one will tell me where to go, but I really want to have a better idea of how to plan a trip myself.

Thank you all in advance!
Drive the river on the busiest days, weekends? If you see cars parked, you know where a fishing hole is.. come back and check them out as time permits. Generally if I see two or three cars already there, I move on...

Groups, clubs are great, if you can find one you like! Good luck!
 

Matt B

...
WFF Supporter
. And with the amount of rivers our state has, it would take me months if not more to hit every single hole near me. And as I know from beach fishing, just because there were no fish at the spot one day, doesn't mean there won't be fish at the spot tomorrow.
Assuming you enjoy fishing, this isn’t a problem, it’s a good thing. You don’t need all the answers before you leave the house. The joy in fly fishing should be in the doing. Enjoy the journey.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
Welcome. Some good comments above. I understand the drive time issue. Your on the right page doing your research. May I suggest also talking to the folks at the fly shops for some ideas on local rivers. Pick one, or possibly two rivers, and learn them. Fish a different stretch each outing. While some spots are good good year after year, a big flood winter like last year may change it. I noticed this summer over half my usual fishing spots were gone, or just moved up or down stream a bit. I'll fish the popular spot, but I'll also go as far up or down stream as I possibly can from that access point to see what's up. When I was young I wanted to be sure and get a fish so I chased "hot" spots and got a few. When I learned a river I got more. I penned a little piece last summer about the weekend warrior vs. the everyday guy so I understand where your coming from. Good luck.
 
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PV_Premier

Active Member
Agree on the advice to fish one or two rivers to start, and learn them well. The knowledge you gain from this, coupled with the google maps approach, will help you more quickly hone in on options in other rivers in the future.

But, be aware that Google Maps can be very deceiving. It is difficult to know what flow rate the image was captured at and fish in moving water are very sensitive to flow rates in their selection of where they hang out.

Book a guide for a few days, if you can afford it, and go into it with the perspective of needing to learn about how to catch fish, versus actually catching fish. Even one guided day, if you really pay attention, will teach you a lot about the type of water fish hold in and how to fish to them, which will be transferable to other rivers and situations. But if you can swing it, it's better to go a few days at a few different times of year to see how things change and learn from the experiences.

People forget about reading books. I recently bought a house in Idaho and could not find information online on streams not named Henry's, Snake, etc. But, I found some books that had great detail about nondescript streams and rivers that helped me shorten the success curve and find new places to fish that are less trafficked.

At the end of the day, you just need to go fishing and keep detailed mental or physical notes when you encounter success (and some might argue, equally important is documenting failure). Not just what you caught the fish on, but how much line you had out, where you were standing, what was the air temperature and cloud cover, water temp, river flow rate, etc. This level of detail will help you recreate that moment again on that hole at a later date, or on similar holes on similar rivers in similar conditions. I am a little AR, but I can tell you this level of detail about almost every adult steelhead I have hooked in my life if I really sit down and think about it.
 
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wetline dave

Active Member
If I am understanding you correctly you want to know how to read a river.

A book by Dave Hughes will give you a lot of detailed answers and a base to start from.

Trout Rigs and Methods, by Dave Hughes.

Hope this helps.

Dave
 

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
WFF Supporter
When starting to look for fish holes, how do I most efficiently use my time and efforts? I realize that no one will tell me where to go, but I really want to have a better idea of how to plan a trip myself.
I primarily fish for resident trout in smaller creeks to mid-sized rivers where I find it's easier to "read the water". I often hike-wade-fish one to two mile "sections" of water and find many potential "holes" or more specifically, "lies" in those sections. And to keep things interesting small streams can often change greatly after a high runoff year. When I fish larger water I honestly feel overwhelmed until I force myself to break the river into smaller pieces and look at them like small streams.

Here on the west side I find resident trout more readily in streams that have a natural or man-made barrier to saltwater.

I think there are some books out there that do a very good job of describing how to "read the water". The book that has helped me is aptly titled "Reading the Water" by Dave Hughes
(can't post amazon links on WFF)
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I also find it helpful to keep a detailed log of trips to include dates-times, CFS on streams with gauges (or nearby streams in the same drainage) plus I note hookups and other points of interest with GPS coordinates.
 
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Zak

WFF Supporter

Also, I find that trout like seams between fast and slow water. That way, they can hang in the slower water without expending much energy and dip into the faster water as food comes by. So the eddy lines behind rocks are good. Dark slick patches on the water surface can show faster, deeper water... Fish the edges of these. Mostly, just spend as much time as you can with your fly on/in the water. The river will teach you.
 

Gary Thompson

dirty dog
Welcome aboard mate.
IMHO you are starting in a time when there are not many fish to catch and more fishers than fish.
If I lived where you do I would be looking at the salt for my fishing fix. The still water and the head waters for my dry fly action.
The salmon and steelhead are few and far between these days.
I could tell ya where to find fish when the water is brown, but not on the open forum.
PM for that.
Tight lines
 

RD

Kung Fu!
In the PNW, it’s not only where you can catch fish, but also when. For salmon and steelhead, run timing matters. Keep a journal, talk with other fishermen on the river. Watch the river flow, particularly late summer and early fall. After a big rain, the river rises and the fish head upstream. It’s mighty hard to catch them if they’re not in the river.
 

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