Was just there the week of the 14th.
Caught a few 6-10" cutthroat off of the state park's nature trail. Practice up on your bow and arrow cast as this is small water with brushy banks. Mosquitoes seemed to be the ticket.
Anyone know why the surf smelt would be completely absent for seven consecutive days?
I have been dipping smelt on trail 4 for 20 years and have never been skunked until this trip.
I had errands to do today at our old place at Queets, so I fished the lower river (near the mouth of the Salmon) for about an hour. It's real low, has about 18 inches of visibility, and was 58 degrees in water that I could wade. I imagine it is clearer up high. I didn't catch anything, but I didn't expect to at 12:30 under a bright sun. I had a great experience, though. Just as I broke out of the woods and skidded down the bank to the bar, I saw a big black bear 100 or 150 yards downstream. I though, well, I guess I'll go upstream. But the bear walked into the river and began swimming. It swam straight across the Queets, but the interesting thing is is that really took its time. It was quite a ways away, but it looked like it was looking down into the water. Does anyone know if bears look for fish while they are swimming? Anyway, it finally got to the other side, shook itself off like a big Lab and then walked up the bank. I didn't see it for a few moments, then I saw a couple big plumes of dust. It was, apparently, rolling in the sand. So then I walked upstream a short distance to fish and noticed four elk in a glade on the other side. I fished for a few minutes but the elk were acting skitty. The wind was blowing upstream, coming from the direction of the bear. The bear probably wasn't coming after the elk (there were two cows, a yearling and a calf) but they were definitely nervous, and it occurred to me I was standing at the head of a riffle where they could cross the river. I made 10 more casts, then backed off and hiked back into the woods. I could see the elk moving toward the river. It was a really cool experience.
As for the smelt, I have been checking the beach and with the folks at Kalaloch for a couple of months and haven't heard a single report of smelt. Maybe somebody is doing okay, but I haven't heard of it. I also talked to a woman who has lived in Clearwater for a long time and she says the run has been off the last few years. Two Indians I know also said they were late a couple months ago.
Getting back to the Queets, the park finally opened the reroute into the upper river. It is off the Forest Service 21 road that is about 6 miles or so south of the original access into the lower portion of the park water. So now you either fish the section from the Salmon River up to the Matheny Creek washout or drive the new route that gives you access to the campground and Streater's Crossing.
Although it is a beautiful--and one of my favorite places to fish for summer steelhead--there are very few left in the Queets, and you probably have as much chance of catching a stray hatchery fish (none are planted) as a native. I wouldn't set your sights on them, especially if you are doing family fishing. There are still decent numbers of sea-runs in late summer and the Queets is legendary for its large cutthroat. You'll have a better time if you consider them your target. You may also end up hooking big bull trout (which you can't target), whitefish, jack salmon, and, who knows, maybe a steelhead. But think cutts and fish cutt water. As for flies, a Spruce fly is a terrific fly on the Queets if the water is clear enough. So are all the old standards like Royal Coachman Bucktails, Kalama Specials (orange and yellow bodies), Knutson Spiders, Reverse Spiders, Hoh River Specials, Faulk Specials, and Haig-Brown's Silver Brown and Silver Lady--all of which can be seen in Les Johnson's cutthroat book. If it's real hot or rain kicks the flow up, think big, dark, mobile leeches. Although you are focusing on cutthroat, I would fish a 6-weight or heavier, because you never know what will chomp down on your fly and it is often very windy on the Queets, especially in the afternoon. Finally, you don't need a license on the ONP portions of the Queets, but you do need a steelhead punch card if you are targeting them.
Wow! Thanks Doug, for that advice. I had been getting so exasperated with the total skunkings in my attempts at summerruns, that I have recently decided to take that approach in all my late summer river fishing on the O.P. I'm just gonna target the searun cutts, and any summerrun or other player will be an unexpected bonus.
Except for the upper Elwha and other "rainbow waters," that is.
Good to hear it from you. Sort of confirms my decision.:thumb: