Please can anyone give me some advice on fly fishing the Sky for Steelhead, places to wade fish, fly patterns to use etc? I'm relatively new to the area and I'm not sure where to start fishing the river.
It would be too difficult to give you detailed driving directions in an internet discussion forum, but I'll give you a few of the better known (and productive) pools, and what side of the river they're on. After that, you're on your own.
Buck Island: Maybe the number one piece of fly water on the river. Be there by five AM or get in line. On the Highway 2 side of the river, on the eastern outskirts of Monroe. The pool itself is just upstream of the derilect railroad trestle. Small pullout on the highway, a bit of a ways from and above the river. Easy to miss, except that there's usually a couple of rigs on it.
IRS: My personal number 2 (although usually number 1 as I rarely seem to get up early enough to be first at Buck). Also on the HWY 2 side, almost to Sultan. Look for power lines crossing a large pasture and then the river. A pull out at a locked gate. Cross the pasture diagonally to the sw. The hydraulics at IRS can change with flooding, so it's not as consistent as some other spots, but is no doubt a long-time producer of fly-caught steelhead.
Ben Howard: At the Ben Howard boat ramp, on the Ben Howard Rd side of the river, a mile or so east of Monroe. I don't know, apparently used to be great and people still fish it. I've never seen a steelhead landed there. IS easy to fish; a good place to practice technique.
Two bit: Hard to find. On the Ben Howard side, a little better than halfway to Sultan. You pull through a driveway (look for a sign with a St Bernard? Anybody?) to a gate betwwen two sheds. Put a dollar in the pay box (used to be 2 bits). There's a boat ramp, so maybe you'll get lucky and see somebody pulling in or out with their rig. Actually a series of holes, some better for flyfishing than others. Lot of gear guys.
Taylor flat: Just above Two Bit on the Ben Howard side. Can access it by walking upstream from Two Bit, or from a pull out high above the river maybe a mile east of the Two Bit driveway. Kind of old fashioned water, a long straight flat (as you might expect) and a broad tailout. Does hold o lot of fish, and a lot of anglers, gear and fly. Is easy to fish.
Some others you can ask about: Audit Hole, the Penitentiary, Hansens Farm. Also, look at the water at Buck or IRS, a shortish dog-leg riffle breaking away from the bank, leaving a band of easy water against the bank, 20-60 feet wide. THAT'S good steehead fly water. If you see something like that, fish it. You want the fly to be swinging deeply across the seam between the bumpy and easy water.
Big marabou flies in Purple, black, blue, wine, orange, pink, or combinatins thereof, on a 10-20 foot sink-tip.
I didn't ask,but thanks for the info. I tried fly fishing for that metal head today for the first time. It's not as easy as it looks. Now I know why you need a bigger line. It's hard to throw those flies with a 6wt. But it can be done. I was in a out of the way place so that way nobody could laugh at me. I didn't try any big flies. Just regular sized ones. Jim S. :COOK
Well, I know too well how you feel. I remember just starting out around here, fsihing a backwater pool on the Stilly, wanting some privacy to make a fool of myself in. A kid rode by on his bicycle and stopped to watch for a few moments.
"Hey Mister!" he yelled. "Did you know that's the sucker hole?"
Also Fred, remember to honor the fisherman (not just fly fisherman) that is already in the run. Don't jump in below someone. If they just got in and are at the top of the run, just wait and watch. Who knows? You may learn something. On a more intimate stream, to even get in above someone you will make more friends if you ask if you can join above. On a bigger river like the Sky it seems fairly accepted that as long as you get above someone in the run they won't mind. Of course, if you come swinging a 2/0 hook into someone's Simms waders you won't make too many friends.
Not sure if you know, but most fly fishing steelheaders (even in winter) take at least a half step between (during works better) casts. That way you move your fly to the fish. Someone standing in the same place catches fewer fish and screws it up for everyone else.
Also, if you are first and someone is being nice and waiting for you don't wade up to your navel. Keep it at or below the knees so you're not stepping on fish that may like his fly, but not yours. If you really like the water, fish it again (the 3rd pass between the 2 of you) and then maybe wade to your navel.
Fished Buck Island last night with no luck. I guess that's why they call it fishing, not catching!
Excellent points skyriver. Those of us who try to take our river manners for granted should remember that sometimes the problem may just be a lack of knowledge, and friendly reminders to neophytes can't hurt.
Along those lines, I've been "victimized" a couple times in a way that I've never seen specifically addressed. Maybe others can tell me if I'm being too sensitive.
So: I'm the first guy in at IRS. I'm fishing through the run, taking my time, fishing pretty well, but so far to no effect. When I'm about halfway through,another chap shows up, watches me for a few casts, then steps in at the head. So far fine; a "good morning" or "touch anything yet?" might have been nice, but I've got no beef. Here's the rumpus: I make it all the way down to the tail, working one last cast for good measure. I turn to go back up to the head, but instead of following me all the way through the run, the fellow has gone back up to to work the top half again! Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that technically taking cuts? If a third guy showed up, sure, it's his turn at the top (though if I saw a guy finishing up the tail, I'd ask first, but that's just me). But if it's still just the two of us it seems to me we've established an order that my nimble-footed friend has violated. Isn't that third pass mine?
Like I say I'm not sure what's right, so I've never made an issue of it. Actually I rarely make an issue of anything on stream (I'm not a big guy), though one time a guy pulled this on me at Buck, AND HOOKED A FISH! I certainly gave THAT chap a haughty swing of the shoulders and tilt of the head as I left the pool.
I've had the same thing happen to me. It's one of those things that may or may not be right depending on "nimble foot's" intentions. Maybe from his vantage point (assuming he's unfamiliar with the dead-end tailout at IRS) he thought you were going to keep on going for quite a while. What about a run like Taylor's Flat where there is real no beginning or end? Those are the tough ones. If nimble foot's intentions were innocent (may not know unless you shoot the breeze) then oh well. If you're able to tell that he's barging in then you have the choice of leaving (which I usually do so I enjoy the rest of the day) or you fight fire with fire and jump in below him and catch that big hog in the gut of the run that somehow missed your perfectly placed fly the first time. Ha! I would advise against it though.
The only time I ever lost it on the river was, coincidentally, on the Skykomish. I was above Lewis St on the island about 1/2 way through the run when a guy and his younger buddy (I learned from the ensueing discussion it was his adult son) came in and plopped down right in front of me. I was a little peeved to say the least so I asked him "I know we're all out here to have a good time, but there's a good mile or two of river here. Why did you have to cut in RIGHT below me?!" He claimed ignorance even though he appeared to be a gear fisherman of fair skill and experience. His truck had the usual fashionable steelheading stickers and license plate covers so I figured him a jerk more than ignorant. He knew the biggest native fish hold in the run right where he set up camp. Those days you just have to move on and hope it doesn't happen again.
Wow it seems I have a lot to learn. Being new to the sport I really have not given much thought to all that has been said here but like anything else there is etiquette to be learned. I don’t get out very often but when I do get out (mostly on the Green) I tend to try and find a spot where no one else is (might explain why I catch very little). After all since I am still learning I would hate to hook someone. Is there source where someone who is new to river fishing can read up on such manners? The only fishing I have really done is lake fishing with a bobber and spin reel(when I was about 10) so my river/runs knowledge is next to nil.
I figure if I'm not home working in the yard I have already had a great day before the first cast, fish or no fish. Although it is nice to come close sometimes.
Well, some of us just fish the heads of pools, especially when other people have been around.
If I am at IRS and am fishing my way down the river upstream of you, I would think that you want to fish the pool its whole length, and that's fine with me. Now, if I find you in the head of a run, and I want to only fish the tail, then I make sure that there is plenty of space, usually 50 yards or so, or I ask if it is ok to come in downstream of you.
We step in up stream of each other to not interfere with other's drifts. If you really want a second pass at the run, then you might mention your intentions to the other folks.
Sure. Absolutely. But I don't know if it addresses the admittedly fine distinction I'm getting at. After all, Our Hero might have just as well cleared HIS intention with ME before he took the third pass. Like I say I've certainly got no beef with some one coming in behind (hell, if you ask I'm likely to let you in in front) but I'm talking about the same chap slipping in behind me twice, when we've got the pool to ourselves. If I had wanted the second pass at the head, I couldn't take it because he walked in when I was at the halfway mark, which was certainly his right. (He even waited for me to make a few casts to make sure he wouldn't crowd me.) Sure if I wanted to guarantee myself the third pass I could have gotten out and waited behind him, but why pass up the tail? It's in front of me; it's just the two of us: I got there first.
I know I'm really trying to split hairs here (and like I say, I would never make an issue of it, especially since plenty of opinion seems to go against me. I've had this discussion before). But doesn't good manners lead you to defer to the fellow in front of you? Is there a limit to onstream etiquette?
I fish up there in the summer/fall. WDFW actually trucks fish up into both forks (!) a few times a year. I've had a little luck, and there's actually a small resident rainbow (smolt? i've caight several over 12 inches) population that hits floating muddlers pretty well.
The forks close down in the winter (before recent problems, they used to close down the entire river above Sultan on 3/1). I have been up there in April and May and seen big, wild fish on redds (just looking, not fishing).
River ettiquette, is always an issue that is difficult for a woman who fishes alone.
I have never had anyone even ask if it is okay- smile, say hi or inuire about how things are going, if I mind if they get in or any of the above mentioned, when I have been fishing on the Sky this winter. Now , I am not saying that this is directly related to me being a girl, but- it is interesting that you are all so concerned about it, and I would have to say - that I would like to fish with any of you if you have this many manners on the River as your discussing these finer points. It has been several weeks ago, but I was up by Ben Howard, and I am not shy about getting in to a run, and I ask always. My dad would shoot a glare at me if I didn't. However, I never actually REALLY made it into the water, as these guys even after my asking several times very loudly, ignored me and I went ahead and went in, after they went through- (I might add I was allowed a very small place to get in) then, as in Rays case, they proceeded to tag each other by going around me I mean wading out deep and then in front of me - and below me, with one above and below me - I did not have enough room to cast and step- I would try to step on down and the one below would actually step up- towards me and the other one would actually splash out and down in front of me, then the lower guy would jump out and in a hurry go around me - I left. Which was what they wanted. I then went on to another spot and finally had a great little run to myself, I got through the first third of the pool and was in the 1st portion of the second drift a jet boat group spotted me, and raced down stream, cut to the left and backed in to the pool I was fishing and proceeded to get within 50 feet of me backing directly into my line, They laughed, and said- ahhhhh,it's just a girl, what does she know, and laughed again.
Yes, I am new to steelhead fishing, and may not know all the terms, etc. but- I have fly fished on a lot of really great rivers from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, and never experienced the ill manners I witnessed that day. I was saddened at how gracious those folks weren't.
I went and had ice cream. The weather was great - Maybe it wasn't my day to fish the Sky, UNNO
Glad to see you guys talk about it though.
Arrggh! That sucks. :REALLYMAD It may be small consolation but as you can tell from a lot of these posts many of us have frustrating "river etiquette" experiences. Unfortunately, it sounds like yours may have gone way beyond the norm because you're a woman and you had the unfortunate bad luck of being surrounded by a bunch of neanderthals. The Sky can be a very frustrating place to fish for anyone because it is often overcrowded (especially in the winter, when it seems there are a lot more gear guys about) due to its close proximity to Seattle and the urban East side, and the jet sledders seem to be uncommonly rude on that river. Summers tend to be a bit more mellow and you can often find a lot more elbow room. I wonder every once in a while if river fishing is worth the frequent frustration of overcrowding and bad manners. One of the guys in one of the local flyshops told me a while ago he's just given up and gone to saltwater fishing. I can't remember the exact stats, but there's something like 6,000 miles of waterfront on Puget Sound (including the islands), so it's much easier to find some solitude.
Well you certainly answered the question of whether I was being too sensitve. I've talked before about how flyfishers can be just as boorish as anyone else, but the behavior you're describing goes beyond the pale, no matter what kind of rod you're holding. It's the kind of thing that makes one emabarrased to be a boy. I'm sorry you had to go through it, especially given the obvious overtones of hostility and intimidation. I can't imagine where talking to these cowards would have gotten you. There was no mistaking their intentions, or their IQs.
I guess I'm too sheltered, but I find it hard to believe there are people still young enough to fish who even think this way. They pulled this crap on you not just because they dislke, disrespect, and fear women, but because they could, without having to fear any physical challenge or consequence. Take at least the consolation that you are ten times the angler and person than they will ever hope to be. They are nobodies by choice.
If we can't make room for everybody on the stream, then there isn't room for anybody.
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