"Gray area" on uppr Dungeness River

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
After reading Little Stone's report of his excellent day hiking with a friend on the upper Dungeness River last week, I was contemplating hiking up there myself and doing some flyfishing. But as the regs stated that the river above the hatchery intake pipe had closed to trout fishing on Nov 30, but is still open to fishing for
"other gamefish," I had to rethink my plans, as I really wanted to flyfish for steelhead.

I take it that the only "other gamefish" to be found in the upper river would be Whitefish. I had just purchased a new 8wt Rio Versatip with X-mas $$ and was dying to try it out. Seems to me like an 8wt is a little heavy for targeting Whitefish, and I wanted to go after steelhead, anyway.
As I was visiting my folks in Sequim, I managed to get away for a couple of hours at mid-day on Christmas day and fished a few runs and holes on the lower river a couple of minutes from my parents' home. Lots of footprints on the bars told me others had been there before me, I didn't see any fish, but I had a fun time trying out my new line and working on my technique. (I love it!)

Had to get back for an early dinner, but decided to hit the water near the hatchery early the next morning. Got up there early at dawn, only to discover that I had left my wallet with my license at the folks' place. By the time I got back, there were three vehicles at the pullouts below the hatchery, so I decided to fish the few holes in the water between the hatchery and the "intake pipe." I skipped all the holes with direct sunlight on them and fished the first one still in the shade of the mountains, right off the access road from the hatchery to the intake pipe.

Am I lucky or what? I caught my first Bull Trout ever, on a fly I tied myself (conehead hot orange and fushcia marabou with a little crystal flash tied on a red #4 gamakatsu T10-6H), using a type 6 sinktip, in that hole. A beautiful fish it was, about 18 or 19" long and full of fight. Snapped a quick shot with my waterproof disposable and released it unharmed. That made my day!
Thanks Little Stone, for the idea of trying the water above the hatchery, as otherwise, I probably would have fished below, where the chances of hooking a hatchery steelhead are much better. But what can compare to catching your first Bull Trout on a home-tied fly?

Later, I stopped in at the new, 2nd location of Waters West on Hwy 101 in Gardiner, and discussed fishing the upper Dungeness with Dave Steinbaugh, the owner of the shop. We arrived at the conclusion that as long as you are targeting "other gamefish" (other than steelhead, cutthroat, bull trout, or any other trout) up there, and
using artificials with barbless hooks, it OK if you incidentally catch and release unharmed a specie of trout. I think, though, that I would take my 6wt (lightest I have) and use small flies in patterns that might be dubbed (pun intended) "whitefish patterns" just to keep myself honest.

Almost forgot to ask: Any whitefishfishermen out there know what patterns and in what sizes could reasonably be claimed to be "whitefish patterns?" I've never fished for whitefish. Thanks!


Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
The (Upper) Dungeness rules were listed incorrctly in the regulations guides. The notice for the season to be through february was listed in the WDFW press releases and recent news a few weeks ago.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Much thanks, Bob Triggs! And you too, Alpine Trout, for the link to the update. My bad, for not checking. :beathead

Still had a great day! Didn't have a buddy along, though, and one lone over-the-hill hiker might look too much like prey to those cougars.:eek


Damn! That flyshop owner sure has a good poker face!

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Try a small white fly like a maggot.Some streams where it is legal to fish for whitefish call out to use a size 14 or smaller hook. But not all do. I have never targeted Whitefish but have read a lot about fishing for them.


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