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AKA Beadhead
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No, not in Bellevue you yuppies! :)

Just curious what people think about targetting desert steelhead in the early spring (Snake tribs, Wenatchee, Methow, etc...) I have read conflicting words on this topic.

I have heard that these summer run fish enter the doldrums in December and January and then get more active by Feb or March depending on the temperature? What are the ethics of targetting these fish? Are they dark summer run boots best left alone to complete spawning? Is it a hatchery mop up of fairly active fish? Do they fight well or are they a shadow of their former selves?

Deschutes Angler suggests leaving the Deschutes steelhead alone and suggests targetting trout with the early spring hatches starting to come off. I am inclined to trust this advice since they make money guiding people and Deschutes steelhead start showing show up in July. I have heard in some rivers though that summer run fish hardly show up before January.

Since the 2009 season was strong, I am wondering if this is a sustainable option for C&R wild fish or a hatchery brat for the BBQ. Or are the brats rank and the natives needing some privacy to get their freak on?

Just wondering, especially since westside fish are getting pounded, and the Skagit closure will put more pressure on other populations.

ChrisW
 

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They are more active because they are starting to spawn. The fish will most likey dark and pre or post spawn. If they recommend leaving the Dehutes fish alone check a map and see how much further journey it is for the fish over here.
 

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AKA Beadhead
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not asking for consent PH -Just input. Do you really take it personally if someone from 206 or 425 comes over to fish 509? I think we have a lot to be gained by sharing info if not about specific spots or rivers, then at least some general input about a conservation oriented question.

I am inclined to think along the lines of the last 3 posts, but find it interesting to hear some folks out there pumping the fishery and other folks saying hands off. I was wondering if different rivers had different timing. Also curious why WDFW and ODFW keep the seasons open so long.

Yes Leland - I prefer them bright too, that was part of my question. Yes- I did fish several of these rivers in the fall, I caught some very nice trout even though I was targetting SH, I lost one SH on the Wenatchee,that was my season.

Thanks for the input any other opinions or agreements out there?
CW
 

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Still fly fishing in the PCW
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Yep, they are all dark and nasty just like this old hatchery boot I got in mid-March last year. Keep in mind you that have to harvest any hatchery fish you land so if you aren't willing to do that, go to the OP.
 

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A lot of the differences between viewpoints come down to whether you fish summer fish in the summer/fall or you if you also like to fish for wintering pre-spawn summers. The WDFW is still looking to get the hatchery fish out of the Methow and Wenatchee. Nothing wrong with that. Now, will you swing or nymph? The most ridiculous of all is the spring steelhead fishery in the upper Salmon near Challis and Stanley.

Leland.
 

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AKA Beadhead
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was just saying that you seemed to already know the answer to you own question, being that you're a PNW steelheader. So I just didn't undersatnd the intent.
Thanks Panhandle. I have been actually pretty unfamiliar with eastside fish until recently. Started fishing the Deschutes 1x a year back in '06 . Last year ('08) I tried the Ronde once in Nov as well. This year I didn't make it to the Ronde proper, but tried the Wallowa in Nov, and also made it to the Wenatchee 2x in Oct.

So... my effort has increased slightly. But interestingly, but I am 1 for 4 with one hookup a year the last 4 years...the only one I landed from the eastside was a 30" hatchery hen from the Deschutes, ironically from the very first run I fished back in Oct '06. It was raining at the time.:rolleyes:

This record is actually better than my westside record. I am something like 1 for 4 over here too, except this is over the last 7 years on this side and with quite a bit more effort... Not exactly setting records, but I have fun. 95% swinging... mostly Spey these days, but I am not opposed to nymph a pocket here and there.

I have never fished the eastside past Thanksgiving which is what prompted my inquiry.

CW

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Well, I wont speculate about how righteous it is or isn't, but I'll be living near the Tucannon and Touchet, so I'll certainly be fishing them, and keeping any hatchery fish for the smoker. And I've certainly had some great fighting fish late in the year, as well as a few slugs
 

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that's His Lordship, to you.....
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I haven't seen anybody fishing the Wenatchee for a while now, but with the warmer temps, the river doesn't look bad at all. I might wander out this coming week, if I can pry myself away from playing with a new toy. I hear from other folks that the weather reminds them of Seattle: cool, foggy, no sun (actually, I enjoyed a cigar out on the balcony the other day, in the sunshine, with a high of 48!). Those 5 Vegas Golds are great afternoon cigars!!
 

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Chris,

This is a very good question; one that I will provide my opinions on. Yes, these are all summer run fish, most having been in freshwater for many, many months. They hit winter doldrums because of water temperature. They aren't very active in water temperatures hovering around the mid 30s. They do become more active once the water temperature warms up and as they prepare for spawning. Yes, many fish are a former shell of what they were in the fall when they are much more receptive to taking flies on floating lines. But you can't really blame the fish for that as they have been living off stored fats for 8 months or more without actively feeding. And as they use up their stored fats and as their gonads further develop, they lose some of their table quality. If anyone is looking for C&R steelhead fishing, I suggest you go elsewhere other than the east side of the state. These fisheries are intended to remove hatchery fish off the spawning grounds, not for C&R wild fish. If the creel workers observe C&R fishing without taking the hatchery fish, the fishery will be shut down pure and simple.

However, if you are not opposed to keeping potentially dark, hatchery fish for the smoker, that may or may not fight well, then you can have success in catching them. If I lived on the west side, I'd be fishing the coast. However, since I live where I do, I participate in these fisheries, mostly because I'm a steelheader and I can still respect them and even find a little sport in catching them without driving all the way across the state.
 

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dirty dog
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I fished the Wenatchee on Saturday 02-07-10.
The day was beautiful, the water was beautiful, my casting was beautiful, swinging the fly and nymphing all beautiful.
Catching? another story.
I say if you want to come fish come ahead, if you want to catch, maybe you should try somewhere else.
 
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