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Fish Recycler
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a generic question regarding exploration on Westside streams.

I have been searching a lot of smaller streams, ones that it's hard to find names for or that it might be easy to cast across. I really enjoy little streams like those.

I've found sculpins in my searches, but no catchable fish. (Although I have not been fishing, only scouting, looking for signs of fish, turning over rocks and scanning the water).

My question is, on west-side waters, if the stream looks 'fishy,' is it likely to hold fish? That is, even if it doesn't hold trout, will it hold whitefish? Or if it gets warm in summer, is it likely to hold smallmouth or something like that? Or even suckers and carp?

I gather that in general those waters that hold trout hold small trout due to lack of aquatic nutrients, but since I have no experience around here, I guess I don't really know.

I'm not trying to get into anybody's secret spot, I'm just asking a question more of general stream fish habitation around here so that my fishing searches won't be completly for the aesthetics, I'd like it if they included fish sometimes.

Thanks in advance,

Teeg.


You can be a fish recycler, too. Let 'em swim.
 

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First before stepping foot in any stream your exploring, check the regs and make sure its open. Streams that are not listed usually will have a general rule they follow.
As long as a stream is somewhat forested, has a few deeper pools and has room to make a cast it may be worth a try. Just be careful though. Many of the small 5 -10" "trout" people try to catch are actually salmonid smolts and fishing for them can have major impacts. Try to avoid streams that are rearing sites for juvenile coho, steelhead and cutthroat, unless you are specificly tagreting returning adults (where open).

The trouble with the westside is that most of the streams that still exist have been messed up by urbanization and general land use. This is part of the reason why there are so few lowland trout streams. When streams are altered it not only reduces fish habitat, but limits the abundance of insects and other primary producers. From what I understand, there used to be more resident trout here, but like the resident trout in Alaska, they rely on spawning salmon for the majority of their nutrients. Since we have greatly reduced the number of salmon, there is less food for resident trout. I consider most of our streams to be in pretty sorry shape, well at least in relation to the more pristine streams like in Alaska.

I know this sounds a little discouraging, but unless your after anadromous fish, there really isn't much in the way of stream trout fishing. The only real pristine streams left are on the OP or in alpine & sub-alpine areas, which may be worth a try. some may give suprising results if you put in a little work. Lakes may be your best bet though, since most of the lowland lakes provide trout and or warmwater species.
 

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Patrick
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West side streams even small ones will often hold trout. If they hook up with Puget Sound it will very likely hold some cuts and maybe some baby salmon. The trouble is many of those small streams have been hurt from over fishing and street and yard run off that has killed much of the food the trout need to survive. The copper from brake dust from cars that washes into our streams when it rains is deadly by itself. You can still catch trout in many small streams in Western Washington even some in the cities. I know some old timers who tell me stories of fishing streams such as Des Moines Creek with a small chunk of worm and a line for some nice sized trout but these small streams even though they still have some fish are not what they were before heavy fishing and trashing of the clean water. Some of the mountain streams still have some nice trout with most being small but still very pretty. I feel that a stream is always worth trying as long as it is open to fishing, always check the regs,but since the fish in many of the streams already are in danger, catch and release with no out of water time is the rule I use. You will find fishing these small streams take a lot of stealth. Any noise you make walking over rocks or any shadow you throw on the water will tend to spook the fish. Which may be why you are not seeing any in the stream. Walk low and softly with nothing such as glasses or watches on since the flash from the glass will spook the fish as well. Fishing the small streams can be a very rewarding experince with not many fish caught but the few you catch you will have worked hard to get. These are wild fish not the farm raised ones.
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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Teeg, I like your approach. I also liked the advice to you about making sure you arent doing any harm and that you are on legal water. Given that, I suggest you keep right on exploring! That's how people discover new things, new fish, new water. Sometimes it's in your own back yard.

This time of year I would be thinking ESTUARIES for sea run cutthroat trout.And I wouldn't want to miss out on the last of the winter's steelheading over the next weeks ahead.

It all comes with time on the water, allot of time. You might come up with something truly grand just by continuing the adventure. Keep a diary if you can, even just field notes can be very helpful.Patterns emerge over time.You begin to weave an experience and pick up on the rythms. Go for it.
 

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The problem with west-side streams is that they drain into the ocean. The so-called trout in the rivers are mostly smolts; sometimes they get rather big if conditions are right, maybe even 12" once in a while, but mostly 3-5." Personally, I think these fish should be left alone.

Where the river drains to an area where the water gets too warm for trout, the fish won't migrate and a nice trout fishery might develop. Generally, rivers that drain into the Colorado or Missouri Rivers have good upstream trout fishing if the water is cold enough, not more than 72 degrees. A big reservoir might also prevent migration.

But don't despair. Eastern Washington has some of the finest fishing in the West. It's a few hours away, but it's worth it!:thumb
 

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Just an Old Man
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I used to know it all---but now that I'm older I seem to forget it all.

I don't seem to have any problem catching trout out of the rivers in Western Washington. But in order to do that you have to be in the areas where Steelhead and Salmon do not get to. You have to go to the head waters to do that. The fish are not monsters but their fun to catch on a 4wt. I think about 12" is tops for where I go. But I have to wait until they open up before I go. And those are the spookiest fish I have ever came across.

I'll give you a small hint. They are the head waters of the S/fork Sky. There are six rivers up there and one creek that are named and a few that aren't. As for any fishing up there you will have to find out for your lonesome as I have done.

Jim
 

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Just an Old Man
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I used to know it all---but now that I'm older I seem to forget it all.

I thought that I would add this to what has been said. We out exploring today up off the Suiattle river. Found a couple of small lakes not beaver ponds but small lakes. One I could see the bottom on and the other one was deep about 4 to 5 acres in size. What is funny is that the shallower one is shown on some maps and the bigger one is not. So much better for me. The larger of the two seems to be man made as it has a levee like bank around the front of it. It might have started out as a beaver pond but there are no beavers there now.

Jim
 
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