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!
 

flybill

A collector never stops collecting!
WFF Supporter
Finding these holes in these rivers these days is either you have it or ya don't. CAN'T BE TAUGHT. one them things. that's the deal!!
Ah come on Jimmy, you can teach an old dog new tricks with treats!! Hell I figured it out, and didn't start the fly fishing game until I was 30! I begged, borrowed and drove it like its stolen for a while until I learned it all and have become the Zen master, Guru and now womanizer I am today.. Plus a scotch and cigar connoisseur and gentleman!
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Ah come on Jimmy, you can teach an old dog new tricks with treats!! Hell I figured it out, and didn't start the fly fishing game until I was 30! I begged, borrowed and drove it like its stolen for a while until I learned it all and have become the Zen master, Guru and now womanizer I am today.. Plus a scotch and cigar connoisseur and gentleman!
Bullshit. I'll go along with everything you said except the gentleman part. I think I know you better than that.
 

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
It sounds to me like you're doing everything right. Using aerial imagery is the most effective and easiest way to plan where to fish or where to investigate further. Find likely looking water, and go see if it holds fish or not. There's no quicker way to do it unless someone points on a map and tells you it's fishy. Good luck with that these days.

If I'm going somewhere I don't know too well, especially without cell service, I'll save pictures of different spots to my phone so I have a game plan if spot A,B, and C don't pan out.

The biggest thing though is getting out and fishing. If you're just starting out river fishing, I would pick a spot out that looks promising, or pick an access area with a few spots to fish and fish every inch of the water. Fish the fast stuff, and the slow stuff, deep stuff and shallow stuff. You'll discover far more about where fish hang out this way and you can apply it to further searching.
 

John Dude

Learned skills from George Dickel
There's a good guidebook that covers all the main rivers in Wash. I think its from Amato publications. Good place to start. Gives maps and parking and access points
 

speedbird49

Active Member
The advice on keeping a journal is very good. Consider using Basemap as a tool. The advantage of this tool is that it gives you access and landowner information.
That is really cool, I will check it out. I started keeping a journal where I document roughly where I was using local landmarks, tide, weather, date, and fish caught
 

vader

Active Member
Starting out I did everything from reading books, videos, parking where everyone was, exploring, getting out and fish. At that time I was single and fished every day off and weekend. I became a teacher for the days off to fish, oops I mean for teaching for kids. Even with all that stuff nothing beat hiring a guide. After years of exploring I finally told myself if I want to do it right get a guide. Ever since I did my learning curve and confidence jumped 100%.
 

Phil Fravel

Friendly
IMO. Fish the same river often. The River I’m fished this week had only 50+ steelhead return to it so far this year. That said I have fished the same river for 10 years and know it well. Steelhead are like old men and like there comfortable chair. In some rivers that is structure. In other rivers that is flows. But in all rivers it is both and figuring out what flow/CFS. Works with each run. In other words all old men love an easy chair. I prefer mine with a sandwich pop and chips near by. I WILl BE THERE. But if the chair is in the right place and somebody keeps asking me to take out the guarbage I might move to a chair without the sandwich

What I’m saying is you will get an Idea of what each river likes. I have one particular river that kicks my ass. The Cowlets. It is more flow oriented. I fish a different river that I nail. It’s is structure oriented. Fish one river fish it often and it will unlock its secrets
 

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