September Chinook on the Hoh River

speedbird49

Active Member
With my Summer Quarter stress fast being lifted from my shoulder I figured I wanted to do at least one of my evergrowing bucket list of fishing trips. The Hoh river is a drop dead gorgeous piece of water that I would love to spend some time on and I am going to try very hard to fish it end of September. I imagine by then we will see the start of the Sea Run Cutthroat fishery, one or two stray Summer run Steelies, and a decent chunk of Fall Chinook. I am aware that the Spring and Summer Chinook fishery's are depleted, but have been mostly told that the Fall fishery is healthy. I have not found projection or escapement numbers for the Fall run on Hoh anywhere. Is the Fall Chinook on the Hoh an ethical fishery to target? I know that there is a decent chunk of Hatchery springers that loose their way and end up in the Hoh as strays, is this observed in the fall as well? As much as I would love to catch a Hoh river Chinook, I'd rather leave the fishery alone if it is on its last legs, and spend my day chasing cutty instead
 

Thomas Mitchell

corvus ossifragus
WFF Premium
I need to go back and look at the regs again but I think it's open for retention after 9/16 so you should be OK if you fish responsibly with an eye toward preservation of the resource which you seem to have based on your post. As Cruik noted, if it's a low-water fish in a barrel situation, maybe leave it alone and get after the sea-runs.

Chinook is my favorite fish to target although I personally don't often target fall chinook as they are often dark as soon as they get in the river and while they pull really hard, they don't do much else - just bull down into the thalweg and refuse to move... I feel the same about tarpon, having done it once, not much desire to do it again. If I'm going to eat fall salmon, I'd prefer hatchery coho over fall king.

I would set your program such that you are in the right spot to give it a go right at dawn, then switch to looking for sea-runs after the light hits the water. Fish the deeper slots in current if you're fly fishing. A few years back I accidentally swung one in later summer on the lower Hoh at dawn while steelhead fishing. It tore me up on a light spey rod - one of those classic "fuck, I'm snagged... wait, that rock appears to be moving downstream very quickly..." moments.

The sea-runs seem to prefer skittered surface flies in my limited experience fishing for them on the lower Hoh and Quil. system.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member

I don't know if that's "healthy," but it's not a ton of fish. No comment on the ethics of fishing depressed runs. Although salmon fishing in September can sometimes look like low-water harassment. An alternate to the south, with hatchery fish, is the Hump.

The hump is about as grotesque display of the state of Washington salmon angling as it gets. That being said you can have success here down low stripping flies. You can swing as well but most of the action in those flows are on striped flies.
 

gt

Active Member
just crossed it yesterday on 101, hardly any water coming down. all the best with fishing until there are substantial rains.
 

Brian St

Active Member
Low water conditions make it that much harder for kings especially on the fly. They are super sensitive to light levels water level and pretty much every situation you can imagine in a river environment.

I spent close to 10 seasons rowing my dad down the Hoh river in September pulling plugs for Kings. We had some great days. I would not target them on the fly we would stop at certain pools and I would fish for steelhead. There were plenty of them around in September to be caught on the fly. Probably not this year though.

If I had the knowledge I have now about kings on the fly back then I would have targeted them for sure. If its legal to do so and ethical I would give it a shot for sure.
You need to have color in the water especially if its low water. My 2 cents.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
Low water conditions make it that much harder for kings especially on the fly. They are super sensitive to light levels water level and pretty much every situation you can imagine in a river environment.

I spent close to 10 seasons rowing my dad down the Hoh river in September pulling plugs for Kings. We had some great days. I would not target them on the fly we would stop at certain pools and I would fish for steelhead. There were plenty of them around in September to be caught on the fly. Probably not this year though.

If I had the knowledge I have now about kings on the fly back then I would have targeted them for sure. If its legal to do so and ethical I would give it a shot for sure.
You need to have color in the water especially if its low water. My 2 cents.

Low water kings are possible to be productive with. They will take some really unexciting flies. Different systems seem to have their own brand of biting or non biting fish. Some rivers I have better luck on than others. Worth mentioning two of my largest fish came off basic sized pink buggers essentially and floating line. Some places I fish the coho are around at the same time and using those methods taught me that small and bouncy does it even low for kings. I've even caught them on nymphs in low water with no action. If the water is high swing giant prom dresses and variants.
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
There's a plufera off info on fall Chinook on OP rivers on WFF, even a Hoh down sponsored by a WFF member and participated by members here.

Fall is much easier, but you will still have to work for them!
 

Cruik

WFF Premium
Thanks to TM, I have a new vocabulary word. Had to look up "thalweg". Can't wait to work that into a Scrabble game. :)

I hadn't heard it, either, but I've certainly been aware of the concept. I've just used a lot more words to describe it, including the term "river crotch." Sometimes when it's low and clear, you only find them in the crotch aka thalweg.
 

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