south fork snoqualmie


not your average member
Tried fishing the south fork today. The water is pretty high but with great visibility. Couldn't get fish to take on anything. No big bummer as we had plenty of skeet shooting to keep us entertained. Does anyone know if the dam on the south fork has a fish ladder?meaning do the fish likely go down to the mainstem when the river is up, or stay high and picky about food. I know later in the summer is great for small trout up there .

Pat Lat

Mad Flyentist
do you mean above the falls? the resident fish above the falls stay pretty small as there is not as much bug activity as the east side of the cascades. Use a 0-3 weight rod and its still pretty fun because the trout aren't super picky and every once in a while you might catch something over 12 in. I usually catch bigger whitefish than rainbows though.


not your average member
Ya for sure... fished the area a lot last summer. I mean the south fork along 90... there is a dam up there. Wondering if it has a fish ladder


Active Member
Yep I've fished it twice this year just to be on a river. Didn't expect to catch anything and I didn't. For some reason the fish seem to disappear and only show up in the summer. Don't know if there is a fish ladder.
I haven't had any luck post runoff either. I've been thinking of swinging small streamers through the bigger pools, but haven't got a chance to try it out yet. After things warm up a bit the fish seem to come out of nowhere.
I tried today below the Twin Falls area. While walking across a bridge I spotted a few fish in a hole. Not sure if they where all white fish but I am positive at least one trout. Walked back to the car to suite up, and when I went back a group of kayakers were had floated in and were practicing role over drills in the damn hole... So that ended my quick trip... No fish for me..


Well-Known Member

If the stream is passable for trout, then a ladder would have been required at the Twin Falls diversion dam. There are often natural migratory barriers in steep gradient streams like the upper South Fork. When natural barriers prevent upstream migration of trout, WDFW doesn't require a fish ladder since the fish couldn't go very far anyway.


Pat Lat

Mad Flyentist
huh, I never realized there was a dam, I guess cause theres not really a reservoir. I wouldn't think they'd put the money out for a fish ladder just for resident fish, The size of the tribs make me think that there wasnt much of a river there before the dam, probably more of a "crick" without many fish, so probably no need for a ladder. But heck I'm obviously no expert on the subject. Does anyone know what it was like before the dam?

I caught my first fish on a fly at the spot below twin falls, it took a crane fly pattern as soon as it hit the water, not very big 6 inches or so, but I was a kid so it was very exciting.


Active Member
Above the barrier falls that I just mentioned there used to be another dam that is on wsdot property. I'm not sure what year they tore it out but I'm pretty sure that it was after they put the one in at Ollalie.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Yes there is a fish ladder there. But the little dam there goes up and down with the flows. But nothing gets up and over Snoqualmie falls.


Joe Streamer
Assuming you're all talking about the hydroelectric facility at the upstream end of Ollalie, that's not really what I'd call a dam. There's already a series of impassible falls right at that facility. All they did was put a big water pipe at the top to divert some (not all) of the water down to a turbine which then spits that water back into the river at the bottom. It doesn't alter the already-existing fish passage barrier there.

As far as where the fish go on the forks of the Snoqualmie between roughly October and may, the answer is probably that they go where all trout go in cold water: deep, slow water. Despite the warm air temperatures yesterday, that water was super cold. Trout metabolism in super cold water is very low. They just don't eat much. So probably the fish were there, concentrated in the deepest/slowest holes in a given stretch, but not feeding yet. Wait until mid June or later.