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Skunked, skunker, skunkeroonie... how many more ways can I say it when I get home? I haven't caught a flippin fish since december when I got a small chromer on the snoqualmie. I've been back there probably 8 more times and fished all day without a fish (but its steelheading so this really isnt a surprise).

Last month I went to some sub-alpine lakes near bellingham and got skunked but saw fish rising which is all the more infuriating. Last weekend went to the yak, rod broke while I was stringing up, shared my buddie's rod, and guess what?...nada. Today, skipped class and went to the MF of the Sno out of sheer desperation for a fish, even a 6" cutt.... nada. I nymphed a double fly rig very slowly and carefully in every single slow deep pool and not a single f'in bite for 5 hours. Also swung wooley buggers in vain.

What is going on?! I know that winter fishing is slow but damn, this is getting crazy. I don't mean to act like going fishing is a terrible thing, its a beautiful thing and I should be grateful to be able to go as much as I do, but being skunked for this long is killing me! I need to catch one soon or I just might have to go to one of those stocked little kid ponds with a net and...
 

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a tune i know well Willmeister
1 SRC...1 coho since December

Find myself resorting to "fish for 1 hour" approach.
As much as i enjoy staying out all day...multiple skunks leave me with an empty feeling..

With " fish for 1 hour" approach, i get my fix and walk away feeling like i am still fresh and have some gas in the tank ( mentally)...
Basically, it helps to keep me positive and not feel so beat up when i come off the water at the end of a day without any tugs.
 

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Will,

What is your fishing strategy? Your post reads like it's your strategy to go fishing whenever you can or get the urge. If catching fish is important to your fishing, a revision in strategy may be in order.

Rule No. 1 for catching fish: fish where the fish are and when they are there and when they are actively hitting.

Rule No. 2: Fish where there are more active fish instead of fewer.

Rule No. 3: Fish at the peak of activity in stead of the low.

See how your fishing strategy fits the above. You fished the Snoqualmie 9 times even tho the Snoq has been in the shitter for steelheading success in recent years. Strategically, there are probably less than a dozen days of the year when it makes good sense to fly fish steelhead on the Snoqualmie. So then you went trout fishing in the B'ham area lakes in January. One question comes to mind, WHY? Try them in May for a better fit with the 3 rules. Then you fished the MF out of desperation for a fish? You're kidding, right? That's betting on very long odds.

If you'd like to catch some fish, try building a fishing strategy around the rules that facilitate catching fish instead of a strategy that appears custom designed for the skunk.

Sg
 

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Just an Old Man
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I moved away from fishless Washington about four years ago. I haven't looked back. I fish in the middle of winter and catch fish. The last time out I got me a 19" Brown on a size 18 zebra nymph. If it would quit snowing every night I would get out again. I just wish I got a four wheeled drive when I got a P/U two years ago. As it is this P/U sucks in the snow.
 

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Smells like low tide.
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You and all your gear take a bath in lemon Joy, followed by the "Axe treatment," and then further scrub yourself and your gear down with a solution of baking soda and Dr Bronner's soap, diluted to a 20% solution. Hose off everything really good.
That oughta get the skunk off!
 

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The places and times you are fishing have pretty low rates of success. I wouldn't feel too bad about getting skunked given the conditions. If your into catching fish and not just fishing, follow Salmo's advise.

I haven't been skunked all winter, but thats just because I have yet to get out. I rarely fish in the winter for the exact reasons you describe. To me winter is a time for fixing gear, tying, boat maintenance, and anything else I neglect during the other seasons when I'm out fishing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Salmo,
Thanks for the advice, its appreciated. You're right, I tend to fish opportunistically sometimes, ex, the bellingham trip was a time also spent with non-fishing friends who just wanted a hike so I thought why not bring the rod. On the yak i spent a week researching hot flies, reports, techniques, access, etc. As far as the snoqualmie goes, can you tell me where I should go instead? It seems like you must know, i'm not asking for any secret holes here. As for the rules, when I do go I do actually have a stragedy, its not like I'm just fishing blind with no account of the weather, time of day, etc. I've been going when it's warmest out and try to plan according to that because as I understand that would be key to winter fishing. I just want to know if I am doing anything wrong and what exactly.
Thanks -WC
 

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Will,

I don't know all the tricks, that for sure. I know trout feed some during the winter, but it's a pittance compared to spring, summer, and fall, so I never fish for trout in the winter, or at least late winter, like March, when winter is transitioning to spring - in lakes, not rivers. Like most things, fishing is full of exceptions. There are tailwaters that maintain fishable temperatures all winter and contain actively feeding trout. Then there's the Skawla hatch on some rivers, that gets trout active. Still, I don't fish for trout in the winter.

I fish for steelhead during the winter. They are active in 40 degree water, and can be caught at 38 or even colder under certain conditions and locations. The Snoqualmie isn't one of the locations. Steelheading is so poor generally on the Snoq, I wouldn't fish for them there unless I had very intimate knowledge of exactly when and where, which I don't have, so I don't fish it. Too low a percentage proposition. Where you should go instead have been written about extensively on this board. I'm not going to repeat it all here cuz it's too much typing and cuz no one should be spoon fed that kind of information. The key is to learn how and where to find the information about when and where and under what conditions steelhead are relatively more abundant and catchable. Obtain that information and you will be able to follow thru on the rules and dramatically increase your odds of connecting. If I was fishing for steelhead this weekend, I'd go west young man, go west.

Sg
 
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