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!
 

Shad

Active Member
If you're fishing smaller westside rivers and streams, I wouldn't spend a lot of time looking for fish in a lot of the traditional trout holding lies (pockets behind rocks, riffles, etc.). There are few enough (quality) fish in most of our streams to allow bigger fish to hold in almost exclusively prime lies. Cover lots of water and focus your fishing on the green stuff....
 

DrHare

The Coho King
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!
Start by checking out escapements from WDFW site. If you can find these, your are becoming an expert. Put those dates on your calendar on which river you want to focus based on usual return times. Avoid the biat drifting holes, cars and line on the bank, and locate up or down. Check the tribal net schedules, then try to find the NT schedules. Then get some good friends that might help you with new spots, not from Seattle.
 

Sportsman

Active Member
Start by checking out escapements from WDFW site. If you can find these, your are becoming an expert. Put those dates on your calendar on which river you want to focus based on usual return times. Avoid the biat drifting holes, cars and line on the bank, and locate up or down. Check the tribal net schedules, then try to find the NT schedules. Then get some good friends that might help you with new spots, not from Seattle.
Whatever you do, never listen to a fisherman that lives in Seattle. They are clueless and have no experience. Always fish after a tribal/NT opener, then you'll know where to go next year. Read the chum Bible...MICT.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Looking for places to fish cannot be found looking at a map on the computer. I've got the Nat Geo maps disc set of the USA. That might help a little but it doesn't tell you what the river,stream, creek bottom looks like. Or where to good lies are at. You have to get out and explore where you want to fish. I used to just take a day and go and look at what's out there. It's not a wasted day by any means. You find places where you can park, see the wonders of nature. You can't go wrong there.
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
Learn your quarry. Every species has a time and every species has its place in the river. Lets say you are after bulls. They are unlikely to hang out with chinook however if the chinook are spawning bull trout will likely be holding in water just downstream from spawning salmon. Each species will have specific habits that will dictate when and where in the river they can be found.
 

speedbird49

Active Member
Start by checking out escapements from WDFW site. If you can find these, your are becoming an expert. Put those dates on your calendar on which river you want to focus based on usual return times. Avoid the biat drifting holes, cars and line on the bank, and locate up or down. Check the tribal net schedules, then try to find the NT schedules. Then get some good friends that might help you with new spots, not from Seattle.
I've been trying to figure out how to read the weekly reports. Are they all the fish that entered the river that weak? Or is it a weekly updating annual count? What number of fish should you be looking at to have the best chances
 

DerekWhipple

Active Member
Just talking about steelhead, pick one or two rivers (that are open, obviously) and fish them exclusively for a season or two. Fish them when they are blown out, and fish them when they are bone dry. Steelhead are somewhat timing dependent, but you usually have a window of a few months where they will be in the river. Sticking to one or two rivers, you'll get to know the river bottom intimately and will be able to find all the spots a fish might hold. Don't ditch your chosen river because you heard a report that another river has fish. By the time you hear that a river is fishing good, you're likely too late and now everyone else is running over there. Fish any spot that looks remotely like it could hold a steelhead. There are the obvious holes that will have well worn paths, snarls of line, blue fox packaging and 3/0 red octopus hooks strewn everywhere. Give those a quick try because it's usually the primo spot, but don't try too hard, because a few people probably got up before you and already got the fish that was in there. These days with high pressure and low fish numbers, find the out of the way or non-obvious holes, pockets, and buckets. Find something like a small drop off that you can't see from the bank, or a little bucket where the bottom dips down a couple feet. Seeing the river at differing levels at different times of year helps you find these spots. The little spots usually get overlooked by most people who just pound the sexy classic steelhead water.

Most importantly, know when to move to the next spot. Give it a few drifts, or swing through, and if you don't get anything, move on. If someone is home and they are feeling frisky, you'll usually know within a couple casts. Use a swing rig and a bobber/nymph rig (or god forbid, bobber and jig/bead gear rig). Fish everything and keep moving. Make a note of where/when you hook your fish and what the water level is at. There will probably be another one there in similar circumstances next year. Fish everything and keep moving!
 

DrHare

The Coho King
I've been trying to figure out how to read the weekly reports. Are they all the fish that entered the river that weak? Or is it a weekly updating annual count? What number of fish should you be looking at to have the best chances
The counts are weekly but cumulative. Click the prior weeks till you see first arrivals. Then check usgs river flows since they like rain. Water drops, fish run up. Give you estimate when runs arrive, but as Sportsman states,. you could be missing them downriver earlier. Do this for every year on a river you like and youll get trend times and numbers. And best said above...check if nets scheduled..they did all your homework. WDFW makes it so easy to find, NOT. Best bet is fish and know your local or favorites well.
 
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