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Made it out to Forks for the first time over the weekend Sat-Tues to check out the coastal rivers. Stopped in at Waters West in PA on Saturday, bought a couple maps and a some flies but all the info I could extract from the salesman was that he had fished the Hoh and Sol Duc within the last week and a few steelhead are showing. There is a lot of water to cover on those two rivers . . .

Sunday we decided to drive south. The Hoh was packed with drift boats at 8am. Counted 10 that I could see from the Hwy 101 bridge. Decided to keep going and ended up driving all the way to the campground at the Queets. Saw several fishermen on the lower river but once we got about 10 miles in, had the place to ourselves. Walked from the campground down a couple miles, hit several beautiful holes and logjams but no fish. Saw a family of river otters and three bald eagles. Elk tracks and turds everywhere along the bank. Would love to go back when the fish are in. Saw one other fly guy on a pontoon but he didn't slow down to chat. It was solid overcast and breezy, mid-40's but no rain.

Monday I wanted to check out the fly-only water on the Hoko. Never got to it. I found the upper bridge over the little canyon but not the road that goes upstream from there. Very dissapointing. Settled on fishing downstream from the upper bridge (bait and kill zone). The Hoko is more of a creek, never more than about 40-50ft wide and often more like 30. It's completely grown in by vine maple and alder so a single-hand spey cast was good to know. Fished downsteam about a mile but my 8wt and sinktips were really over-gunning. Ended up breaking off my type 3 tip on a snag and lost a load of flies to sunken logs. Between not locating the upper river access and beating up my gear, I was in a pretty foul mood after a couple hours. After a lunch break I decided to fish through one more pool and then call it for the day. About 3 casts in a steelhead started leaping below me (not on my line). It would shoot 4 ft out, splash down and shoot out again 10ft upriver. It must have jumped 6 times and swam right in front of me. It was a dark fish of about 6lbs. Just seeing that fish completely rejuvenated my day. As I walked by upstream, I fished through the same holes I had already covered but actually saw steelhead in every pool. I counted 4 fish from 5-10lbs, all summer-looking, no bright chromers.

I was about 50yds downstream from the bridge and broke off two flies on two casts. This was my sign from the river gods to pack it in. My parter was standing at the trail that led up to the car. As I approached, she said that a fish had jumped in the pool there. It was a big, slack backwater with several sunken logs . . .not steely holding water, but what the hell. I took her rod (6wt rigged with floating line and 9ft leader to 6lb tippet, size 6 bell-head ESL) and made a couple casts for fun. I saw a shadow move out from under a log and approach the vicinity of the my fly . . .the line jerked, I jerked back and an 8lb steelhead shot straight up. It was another dark summer fish that probably had recently spawned. He didn't give much of a battle, jumped twice and then thrashed on the surface. I soon had him pulled up next to my rock on the edge of the pool. I didn't even bother with a picture, just tugged the hook loose and he splashed me on his way back. I heard voices from the bridge above. A couple local guys had just seen me catch the fish. They were saying something along the lines of "yeah, I know, a FLYROD!??". I walked up to my car passing them on their way down. They each had a carton of sandshrimp and tipped their hats as we passed. They were the first fishermen we had seen that day.

If anyone can clue me in to access on the upper Hoko, I'd be much abliged. It was great to actually see steelhead (the first I've seen since October)!


:D
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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Access to the upper Hoko is pretty simple. When you drove up river and arrived at the big bridge where the river is running through a narrow slot in the rocks, that's the
beginning of the Fly Water.The old hatchery is on the right just before the bridge and looks like an old hill- billy home. You can park and hike in from there all the way up.There's a little road up to the left BEFORE THE BRIDGE,drive up there and you park at the blue gate and hike down to the river. You'll see some barways and logging roads all along the main road up there too,above the big bridge, with closed gates usually, and most of us park near the gates and hike up river and fish back down river.Don't ever get locked in up there because it's a long walk to town and a phone and they'll fine you for trespassing.I believe the deadline demarcation for fishing is Ellis Creek, but check the regs.Better yet, call the hotline or look at the wdfw web pages before you go.Access to the upper-upper river is via west lake pleasant road, which is at the west end of lake pleasant at highway 101.You'll see that it's a private logging road and that means be very careful and don't block the road at all or they'll just mash you to pieces with a load of logs and then they'll sue you for being in the way. Nice Huh?. You park near the river and hike down. I think it's closed above the Ellis Creek so you may have a hike before you can fish it.There is no real existing road up along the river banks anymore. It's better that way and quieter too. Just expect to hike along on one side or the other and you'll do fine.You would do well to get a washington atlas and gazatteer and DNR and forest service maps of the area. Most forest service offices have the maps for sale, like in Forks or Quilcene.They are very useful for forest and logging road info and access.One of the maps has public lands shown clearly on it, which is usually an public access to fishing water.I brought a friend up there and he caught a nice 31" steelhead in the flywater for thanksgiving. I would say it sounds to me like you had one hell of a time out here.As for the upper Queets, that's my idea of a little piece of heaven. Some pretty big fish get caught up there in the winter and it's not like there's a big noticeable run of fish. You go and you put in your time and you see what happens.This is the prme time up there- right through febuary too.Watch for special regulation changes on the Queets, especially in the Park.
 
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