Whidbey Island? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Whidbey Island?

salt dog
02-07-2005, 11:22 AM
I am hoping someone can give me an idea of when steelhead fishing is done off of Whidbey Island. I have heard some talk about fishing the West side of the Island, but nothing too specific as to timing.

Can anyone tell me approx what periods the native steelhead typically pass by Whidbey Island on route to spawning streams, when they might be available by beach casting, and what flies are productive? I'm getting an awful bad case of cabin fever, and the rivers seem to be blown out when ever I have time available to chase 'em. This is a new area for me and any info on this would be greatly appreciated before I make the drive over. Thanks.

02-07-2005, 02:10 PM
The area around Fort Casey is where most of the fishing occurs because it is public land and beach access is not a problem. Folks fish it from December on because they target the hatchery fish early and the wild fish from mid-February on. There are so many different types of flies and lures used, all you really need do is have some candlefish imitations or marabou spiders tied on stainless steel hooks. Be prepared for lots of company at times, especially if the fishing has been hot.

salt dog
02-07-2005, 04:59 PM
your response is greatly appreciated. If Ft. Casey is too crowded I will probably do some exploring and hit some of the other areas on the Island. Its nice to have options when the rivers are running too high.

BTW, I am a lurking admirer of your flies posted here from time to time; nice work.

02-07-2005, 05:07 PM
Thanks for the compliment on the flies. I've been at it for 41 years, including 20 professionally.

Leland Miyawaki
02-07-2005, 09:01 PM
Salt Dog,

Fishing when the rivers are high is precisely the time you should fish the beaches. Dat's how dem lil fishies find their way home.


salt dog
02-07-2005, 09:26 PM
Makes sense to me; my instincts most be pushing me in the right direction!

I knew there had to be some way to get at 'em without dodging 100' cottonwoods barreling downstream on me; and with all of you silent foxes out here in cyber land chuck full of answers just waiting from some green horn novice to ask the right questions! Makes me wonder why I didn't ask before now. :whoa: I guess boredom begets inspiration. This is probably the part where you tell me you take'em regularly on your popper! Hear tell that you catch everything else on it, I guess it wouldn't surprise me if you did.

Mucho gusto for the info; oh yea, one more: flood tide best?

Leland Miyawaki
02-07-2005, 09:55 PM
Yes, fish the incoming and high tide and no, I've never been able to get them up on a popper. I've used orange and yellow or orange and pink hackle and chennile "shrimplike" flies with lead eyes on #2 3407 hooks cast on a slime line quartered uptide and brought back slowly aginst the tide. Also, they're still a "fish of a thousand casts" in the salt.


salt dog
02-07-2005, 10:29 PM
...they're still a "fish of a thousand casts" in the salt.


... If you count my freshwater casts too, I should have one in my next five casts. :D

Again, thanks to you both, FT and Leland. I'll be whippin water this week fo' sure.

02-08-2005, 06:13 AM
Back in the day I used to head out to the Bush Pt boat house after the last of the Chum had gone through. They stopped working the lauch so I didn't bother with the boat the gang was all there fishing for ocean steelhead with large orange hoochies (did I say LARGE?) like the kind we use on the east coast for bluefish, behind huge spin-glos and corkies. They always looked at me funny whippin' the flyrod out there.

I think Leland's suggestion is as good any you could get, based on what I saw people hooking up on out there and also at Fort Casey.

The current runs strong around the point, and the fish run very close to shore. You don't want to wade if you can help it.

I've never had the honor of hooking up however I have only gone out there once when at least one person landing an ocean steelhead somewhere on the same beach on the same day. That was an impromtu clave we had with Martin Joergenson of the Danish website on a day when the rivers were too blown out to fish them.

One day I was casting and a ghostly chromer swam up so close I could almost poke it in the eye. In fact at first all I could really see was the eye, then the rest of the fish came into view.

Spectacular fishery out there, almost a religious experience in the sense that if you don't have the religion for it, it's not for you. However one salter steelhead in my lifetime would make it all worthwhile and I dream of spending winter days on the pretty beaches of Whidbey in pursuit of this holiest of grails again.

Leland Miyawaki
02-08-2005, 09:30 AM
Many years ago, I was listening to a sunday evening fishing show on the radio as the host was talking to the two owners of the boat house at Bush Point. They said they were using orange and yellow or orange and pink (or any combination thereof) hootchies to catch their steelhead. I didn't know what a hootchie was until I dropped into Warshal's, a local tackle shop. I simply imitated a hootchie with flytying materials (an interesting twist, copying a lure rather than the feed).

The fish definitely travel close to shore. The gear guys cast straight out and retrieve very fast to keep from hanging up on the bottom and only pass through the "fish zone." A flycaster can quarter a cast and retrieve a slimeline slowly all the while remaining in the zone.


Ken Hunter
02-08-2005, 01:36 PM
Many of the gear guy use an orange and chartreuce color combo too. In addition they use a slinky lead that will bounce along the bottom without getting hung up.

I've seen many sizes from jumbo to small. Since they catch very few fish for the time they spend, I'm not sure if the size makes too much differance. The color orange seems to be part of any offering. Steve Raymond in the Estuary Fly Fishng says that anything that is orange will catch fish. Since only a few fish will swim by on any given day, it may be that whoever has something in front of them at the time catches the fish.

If an incoming tide is best, how about the speed? Is a fast tide going to push the bait closer to shore or will a slower tide let you present a slower offering?