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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In keeping with the tradition of bordeom inspired posts, I'm wondering if anyone fly fished the Toutle much prior to the eruption of St. Helens. My step dad, who raised me gear fishing for steelhead from when I was about 5, talked so much about the Toutle and what an amazing steelhead river it was. When I was younger I used to spend so much time drooling at the pictures of Toutle fishing in his fishing albums, and watched his home movies of him and his friends catching the hell out of some steelhead. Anyhow, I never really hear this river mentioned when it comes to fly fishing tradition in this area, so I was just curious if there was ever much in the way of fly fishing on this river, and if so what was it like?

Nick
 

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Jasper hickman
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like you I wasnt around yet for the eruption but being from Kalama I have spent many days around the toutle vally, and I have to wonder how great was the flyfishing back then, not to metion the toutle but spirit lake, lewis river, upper Kalama, and some of the small lakes like McBride, cispus river, cowlitz river. I bet it was simply amazing, and would love to just get a glismp of the area before the eruption

J
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to that river and see it as my dad remembers it. I've fished the south fork many times, and the Green, and had some wonderful days, but it sure makes me wonder what it was like before the mountain blew. My dad's photo albums are pretty impressive.
 

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I missed the 'whole thing,' a good thing, due to a migrain headache the night before. Wey'er'zr had a wonderful campground there ($3.00/day or $30/mth for storage). Plan "A" was to drive the 5'th wheel down there that morning. Early to bed, and up at mid-nightish with a splitting head ack. Up at 0300 and still felt like hell so 'self says to self, no drive until later this AM.

Neighbor banging on the door a bit after 8AM telling me 'Thank God you're still here!!!' Say what? That's when I learned the Mountain had blowen out it's north side. Where the trailer would have been is now under 30' of dry mud; where I would have been fishing was called 'Hollywood Canyon' and that was swept clean 75' up its walls.

God, for what ever reason, was (and as is the present:hmmm:) not quite done with my sorry ass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I missed the 'whole thing,' a good thing, due to a migrain headache the night before. Wey'er'zr had a wonderful campground there ($3.00/day or $30/mth for storage). Plan "A" was to drive the 5'th wheel down there that morning. Early to bed, and up at mid-nightish with a splitting head ack. Up at 0300 and still felt like hell so 'self says to self, no drive until later this AM.

Neighbor banging on the door a bit after 8AM telling me 'Thank God you're still here!!!' Say what? That's when I learned the Mountain had blowen out it's north side. Where the trailer would have been is now under 30' of dry mud; where I would have been fishing was called 'Hollywood Canyon' and that was swept clean 75' up its walls.

God, for what ever reason, was (and as is the present:hmmm:) not quite done with my sorry ass.
Wow, close call. Bet you haven't cursed a migraine since then.
 

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I lived on the Cowlitz in Longview when it blew. What was a nice sloping green hill down to the river turned into a massive craphole of mud. My only memory of fish prior to the mountain blowing was my neighbor bringing in a beautiful steelhead (maybe a big cutthroat, I was too young to know the difference). I remember distinctly how beautiful the river was compared to what it turned in to.
 

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It along with the green used to be my favorite places to fish. I fished the Toutle any time it was not cement color from glacier silt. I fished the green in what used to be a fly fishing only area from the hatchery to the mouth at the Toutle. The Green used to be a very nice winter stream. Spring was the time for the big Toutle fish. Just across from the mouth of the Green used to be a house I drooled for and we had the second option for a nice house in Kid Valley next to the one they dug out for a tourist thing. It is still under the ash.

Skily
 

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Still truckless now farther away
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Back then i used to dream of fishing the Toutle from all I would hear and read. I had my young family in Portland and never made it up there. When the moutain blew I watched with tears in my eyes and when the TV started showing the flows of muck down the river it was terrible. I am surprised that you didn't get a larger response because that wasn't that long ago. Interesting thought though, I hope more replies com in. Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Go fish it. There are steelhead to be had in the Toutle. Its not what it was, but you'll have the river to yourself and a few steelhead.
I have fished the south fork many times, and the north fork once. We used to float our pontoons on the green on opening day of summer runs every year. Always seemed to catch fish. (Gear fishing at the time).

I was more so just wondering about before the mountain. My step dad damn near gets tears in his eyes when he talks about that river, but he never fly fished so I was curious if any of you had fly fishing memories. Interesting responses. Thanks.

Nick
 

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Piscatorial Engineer
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My buddy Jim Ruppert was supposed to be on the Toutle on May 18th, the day Mt. St. Helens blew. Thanks to a bad alternator and dead battery, he never made it. He was fishing by himself, and I don't think anyone would have known what happened to him had he made it. The Toutle used to be a very nice productive stream.

http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/board/showthread.php?t=39721
 

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There was a tributary, I believe, to the Toutle where most of the summer run steelhead originated. I won't post the name here but I'd be curious as to how if fishes anymore. Heard some great stories from the old timers about it.
 

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I used to fish the Toutle a lot back in the day. My favorite water (summer and winter) was in Kidd Valley. Same in the late summer and fall for salmon even though the Toutle salmon were the most tight lipped non biters that I have ever seen. I actually caught more winter steelhead out of the south fork than the north fork. I remember well the day the mountain blew. I was living up on Finn Hill in Kirkland at the time and was washing my boat in the driveway. We had spent a long day the day before fishing Possession Bar for salmon and got home too late to clean the boat. I had a radio going and they broke into the broadcast and announced that St Helens had blew. I didn't hear it go but watched all of the TV broadcasts that were available. Back then I was working in down town Seattle on the 34th floor of the Bank of California Bldg. We could watch the ash plumes rising on the clear days. It was several years before I went back.
 

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I grew up in Kelso and we used to camp on the Toutle about three times a month in the 1950's. My Step-dad was an avid fisherman and my brother and I learned to fish there. Our campsite was on the river, owned by a farmer or something and it was about $2 a night to stay. Only an outhouse and a wooden table. We got our water from the river. It was a great trout stream, as well. I remember many limits of 15 or more back then. I haven't been back since the eruption but it was a beautiful river to wade and fish. I never caught a steelhead. Heck, at nine years old I wouldn't have known what to do had I hooked one. I had and still have the little closed faced spin cast reel from those days. Kind of a keepsake. Some day, I'll go back. It's on my bucket list, if I can find a place to fish there. I'll have to do some study.
 

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dirty dog
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I have a friend that was working for the FS in Cougar at the time of eruption that was going to be inspecting the gold mine, but was to hung over to go to work that AM.
Dave would have been buried along with all the miners.
Dave gave a slide show some time later, some pretty grim pics.
 

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Well I can say I grew up there and fished the south fork with my dad for many years before the Mt blew. We lived in Castle Rock on the Cowlitz and if you think its a good fishery now you have no idea what it it was before the eruption. Many of our neighbors homes were lost to the mud flows and the wild fish spawning beds with them.

We fished from camp 12 up river to the closed line at the bridge per WDFW. The nice thing about the river was that it follows a hillside with plenty of rock ledge still there today. The river is not big so you really had more success just before dark when the fish could not see you.

The good news is the river still has some ok days on it, when the water clarity is clear enough to fish. I was last there in September, saw fish, no luck but some of the old holes are basicly in the same locations just less water.

well just thought I would ramble a bit, brings back great memories.
 

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The first river I ever fished for steelhead was the Toutle. My favorite places were around the Coal Bank bridge and the Weyerhouser Harry Morgan campground area and Kid Valley up to the Green River on the North Fork. I also fished the Green when it had the fly fishing only section on it for a few years. I never saw many fly fishermen on the Toutle and only knew one other who fly fished it regularly. It was a very productive river for hatchery summer run and hatchery and wild winter run steelhead, and a pretty good sea run cutthroat stream as well. I never did fish the South Fork in the days before the eruption. There was so much good water on the mainstem and north fork that I never got around to it.

Sg
 

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Here are my ramblings on the Toutle:

The Toutle was the first stream I fished for steelhead as a youngster way back in 1969. There was a camp called Harry Morgan just below the forks and right above Hollywood Gorge. I spent a week camping there on a school trip in Junior High. Hollywood gorge was still all in nice big old growth at that time. The class was called "recreational fishing", and the teacher was an avid steelheader. In the classroom we built our own rods from blanks, learned how to tie up for drift fishing, learned about the fish, and then went on the camping trip for the last week of the class (I remember that 3 of us went in together on groceries and feasted like the kings of the camp for the whole week with steak every night and bacon and eggs every morning for a total of $13). I still fish with a few of those classmates. Why don't we have classes like that anymore? That class was one of the experiences that led me to study fisheries in college.

In addition to steelhead, there used to be an excellent sea run cutthroat fishery down there, but there are very few returning now. Ask Pat Trotter about that fishery if you know him...

I went down there on the day of the eruption - but we couldn't get past Castle Rock so a bunch of us sat on a hill with a cooler of beer and watched the eruption for several hours.

After college, I spent many years doing research and sampling fish in the Toutle system. I remember one day in June I took my helper down there and told him to bring his fly-rod. The kid had never caught a steelhead. At lunch we fished the S Fk. Took him 5minutes to catch and nice summer run on a fly. Took me 5 years to do that. Beginners luck I guess.

The steelhead are still there if you know where to look. In a low water year, there are still holes down there where I've counted more than 20 summer steelhead.

Sad now to hear about the snaggers and combat fishing at the mouth of the Green - Yet another nice stretch of river ruined by crowds chasing fish below a hatchery.

For the remaining wild fish on the N Fk a big problem is the fish trap below the sediment dam. Lack of funding to maintain the trap and deal with the fish that need to be transported above it results in some serious impacts to the fish, (including listed steelhead and coho). Now the sediment dam has just about reached its capacity to store sediment, and much of that sediment is coming past the dam. This is huge problem without a solution. Tons of fine sediment will again be coming down the Toutle and into the Cowlitz. We will all be hearing more about this soon.
 

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I'm sure it was gorgeous before, but everywhere else in WA (except Spokane, Aberdeen, and Tacoma) is gorgeous so it's a nice addition. Mount Saint Helens is an amazing place as it is. Back when it was a beautiful, clear stream, it didn't have sideways dead trees and really cool mudflows to look at.
 

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Here are my ramblings on the Toutle:

The Toutle was the first stream I fished for steelhead as a youngster way back in 1969. There was a camp called Harry Morgan just below the forks and right above Hollywood Gorge. I spent a week camping there on a school trip in Junior High. Hollywood gorge was still all in nice big old growth at that time. The class was called "recreational fishing", and the teacher was an avid steelheader. In the classroom we built our own rods from blanks, learned how to tie up for drift fishing, learned about the fish, and then went on the camping trip for the last week of the class (I remember that 3 of us went in together on groceries and feasted like the kings of the camp for the whole week with steak every night and bacon and eggs every morning for a total of $13). I still fish with a few of those classmates. Why don't we have classes like that anymore? That class was one of the experiences that led me to study fisheries in college.

In addition to steelhead, there used to be an excellent sea run cutthroat fishery down there, but there are very few returning now. Ask Pat Trotter about that fishery if you know him...

I went down there on the day of the eruption - but we couldn't get past Castle Rock so a bunch of us sat on a hill with a cooler of beer and watched the eruption for several hours.

After college, I spent many years doing research and sampling fish in the Toutle system. I remember one day in June I took my helper down there and told him to bring his fly-rod. The kid had never caught a steelhead. At lunch we fished the S Fk. Took him 5minutes to catch and nice summer run on a fly. Took me 5 years to do that. Beginners luck I guess.

The steelhead are still there if you know where to look. In a low water year, there are still holes down there where I've counted more than 20 summer steelhead.

Sad now to hear about the snaggers and combat fishing at the mouth of the Green - Yet another nice stretch of river ruined by crowds chasing fish below a hatchery.

For the remaining wild fish on the N Fk a big problem is the fish trap below the sediment dam. Lack of funding to maintain the trap and deal with the fish that need to be transported above it results in some serious impacts to the fish, (including listed steelhead and coho). Now the sediment dam has just about reached its capacity to store sediment, and much of that sediment is coming past the dam. This is huge problem without a solution. Tons of fine sediment will again be coming down the Toutle and into the Cowlitz. We will all be hearing more about this soon.
Hollywood Gorge... that brings back memories, but not the good kind. It was an absolutely beautiful place, if you could avoid stepping on hypodermics and stand the stench of piss 'n beer.
 
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