Fly Fishing Whitefish vs. Trout

General fishing related questions.

jaredoconnor

WFF Supporter
I've been fishing a Snoqualmie tributary for the last few days and have caught a bunch of whitefish, but no trout. Earlier in the year, I caught trout, but no whitefish. Below are the flies I have caught fish on, over the last few days.

#18 pheasant tail nymph - 5 fish
#10 hares ear nymph - 1 fish
#10 3xl black stonefly nymph - 3 fish

Does anyone have any theories about why I'm not getting any trout? I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong!

I thought I might be fishing too deep, so I fished lighter flies. However, that didn't seem to make much difference; I just stopped catching any fish at all.

I would usually only fish slower water this time of year, but I covered all the water just in case the trout were holding elsewhere. Again, that seemed to make no difference; all the whitefish were caught in slower sections and I didn't get any takes in other areas.
 
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Solution
On our Crooked River tailwater here in OR, whitefish tend to school up: catch one, catch a lot. In December, whitefish spawn by broadcasting their eggs in riffly water. When this happens, the trout are not far behind and below!

SinglehandJay

Misanthropist
I've been fishing a Snoqualmie tributary for the last few days and have caught a bunch of whitefish, but no trout. Earlier in the year, I caught trout, but no whitefish. Below are the flies I have caught fish on, over the last few days.

#18 pheasant tail nymph - 5 fish
#10 hares ear nymph - 1 fish
#10 3xl black stonefly nymph - 3 fish

Does anyone have any theories about why I'm not getting any trout? I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong!

I thought I might be fishing too deep, so I fished lighter flies. However, that didn't seem to make much difference; I just stopped catching any fish at all.

I would usually only fish slower water this time of year, but I covered all the water just in case the trout were holding elsewhere. Again, that seemed to make no difference; all the whitefish were caught in slower sections and I didn't get any takes in other areas.
This is the time of year they spawn, they might be doing their thing where you are fishing
 

jaredoconnor

WFF Supporter
On our Crooked River tailwater here in OR, whitefish tend to school up: catch one, catch a lot. In December, whitefish spawn by broadcasting their eggs in riffly water. When this happens, the trout are not far behind and below!

I read that whitefish only spawn from Oct to early Dec. I figured it was over by now. If they were spawning, how would that affect trout fishing? Would they key in on whitefish eggs or something? Also, if they are spawning, why is it that I'm catching a lot of whitefish now and not earlier in the year?

This is the time of year they spawn, they might be doing their thing where you are fishing

Do you mean the whitefish or the trout? I didn't think cutthroat or rainbow spawning peaked this time of year, but that may explain it.
 

long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
You might be seeing the fish moving to seek out optimal conditions. E.g. as the river warms, the trout move further up into the system to seek cooler more oxygenated water. As the river cools, the trout slide back down into the system into the broader/deeper well oxygenated sections. Did a snorkel survey on the MF Snoqualmie years back (from goldmeyer to the forks). Lower slower sections held fish in winter and early spring. By end of summer the same sections were mostly empty except for a few dace and some Lamprey (and the water was measurably warmer). A bit anecdotal, but something to think about as it might explain what you're seeing.

They will head up into creeks to spawn Feb- April, but I suspect that's not why you're seeing less fish now.
 

Cruik

WFF Supporter
In addition to fishing lower in the deep slow areas...I've had the best luck using larger flies. I kind of think that the smaller fish kind of hunker down in the winter, but the bigger fish ~11-12 inches seem willing to move for something big, like a streamer.

But I'll be honest, it's always going to be a tough grind in the winter. I feel like it's almost weirdly like fishing for steelhead, with a lot of covering water, no visual indicators of fish, and very little action.
 

wetswinger

Active Member
In this cold season, Whitefish school up, usually in slower water. Using a adjustable bubble, a florescent green, pink or yellow fly and yes, a maggot on the tip, you'll clean up. The best fly is just a slim thread body with brown hackle collar. Split shot 10" above. They all stay about the same depth, so if you get one keep the bobber in that spot . Move it up and down until you find them. Smaller ones, <14" are delicious this time of year. Smoked or just scaled and then fried, oh ya baby. Its just indicator fishing, so enjoy your day out.....

40 yrs. ago I lived in the Bitterroot and for St.Paddys Day the Valley Bar in Darby would have a fish fry. All the patrons would go Whitefishing before and bring their catches in for a great drunken feast. Great times and good food....
 

SinglehandJay

Misanthropist
I read that whitefish only spawn from Oct to early Dec. I figured it was over by now. If they were spawning, how would that affect trout fishing? Would they key in on whitefish eggs or something? Also, if they are spawning, why is it that I'm catching a lot of whitefish now and not earlier in the year?



Do you mean the whitefish or the trout? I didn't think cutthroat or rainbow spawning peaked this time of year, but that may explain it.
The whitefish. The rest of our pacific fish have run times between a certain time through a certain time, also river system to system, Sometimes they start earlier or later than other times so this year could have been a little later. Whitefish eggs have a pretty specific size and color. If you matched it I'm sure you could find some participating trout.
 

prmike307

WFF Supporter
I read that whitefish only spawn from Oct to early Dec. I figured it was over by now. If they were spawning, how would that affect trout fishing? Would they key in on whitefish eggs or something? Also, if they are spawning, why is it that I'm catching a lot of whitefish now and not earlier in the year?
Our Crooked River whitefish definitely spawn in December and the trout key on the eggs. A Ray Charles sowbug worked well..


Do you mean the whitefish or the trout? I didn't think cutthroat or rainbow spawning peaked this time of year, but that may explain it.
 

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