Elwha River Report... [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Elwha River Report...

02-18-2007, 09:50 AM
Just about every Elwha River report from the last couple of decades is in reference to the removal of the two dams that have blocked off the river to most fish migration. That project is still in the works and should start in 2009 on the Elwha Dam below hiway 101 and Lake Aldwell. But that information is not the purpose of this report!
I actually drove down to the Elwha and went for a walk the other day and it was so perfect and there were no other fisherman around I decided to try my luck at a little fishing. I fished the "Place" side in the estuary and things felt pretty good so when I finished up there (without so much as a sniff) I felt compelled to look at the area below the one way bridge there were no rigs in the parking lot so I hit the trail headed for the old "spruce log hole" which still after all these years looks just right.
I worked my way down the run and near the tailout I had a great grab that didn't stick but the contact was way out while the fly was settling, the fish followed the fly around and really hammered it about halfway through the swing. It was solidly hooked in the hinge and fought very well with several good jumps and a couple of 100 foot runs. I was very pleased to see when I landed the fish that it was a Wild Native female 32" 12 pounds chrome bright with not so much as a mark scratch or blemish of any kind.
Word has it that wild fish in the Elwha are numbered at less than 100 animals so while happy to see there are still a few around I probably won't make a habit of bothering them routinely.
There is wide spread speculation that after dam removal the Park Service will close the river to all fishing for as long as thirty years I have not gotten that from any officials but sometimes rumors are just early press releases! If that is the case and given that the last wild winterrun I landed in the Elwha was about 20 years ago that may have been the last wild fish I will ever get a chance to catch in the Elwha. Sobering thought on a Sunday morning with the rain fall filling the rivers back up for another fresh run of fish here on the OP.

02-18-2007, 10:00 PM
Congrats on the hookup what a fantastic way to spend the day.

02-18-2007, 11:19 PM

Good to hear that there are still fish to be found in the old Spruce Log Hole. When I lived in Port Angeles, I often fished it for it was a favorite. Just far enough of a walk to keep most folks from fishing it.

When I lived in Port Angels, John Meyers, who I know is retired now, told me that he expected the river in the park to go to selective gear rules, with strict C&R once the Elwha Dam comes down. I suspect that is still going to be the case; however, I also heard some of the local gear guys at the time say that was just like "shutting down the river to fishermen" since they weren't going to get to bonk fish in the park.

And because of the hatchery and number of hatchery smolts released by both the state and tribe, I don't see the river below the hatchey being closed.

I'm very much looking forward to the dams coming down though and wish they never would have been built.

Mark Vegwert
02-19-2007, 05:37 PM
Moonlight: What a great story.

02-20-2007, 10:54 AM
The elwha is a special gem in the treasure chest of my life too. I have released a few wild feb fish since the mid 80s each very special and like yours grabby and untamed chrome. May she someday show the world glimpses of her original grandeur even if not in my lifetime.

02-20-2007, 03:16 PM
Thanks Moonlight - a great story.

I have many from the Elwha, from an unseen summer steelie that literally mauled my fly (closed the hook gap by about half) as it was swimming across a shaded pool, to my first winter fish hooked on a corky and yarn in a small interim pool below the hatchery many years ago.

I still remember the stunned frozen amazement as I watched the "rock" turned into an angry chromer that jumped from the water and crash back, breaking my leader. I think it took me a full minute to pry my thumb from that spool.

That is one special river, and I'll echo Juro's comments that I hope some future generation is able to withess it's return to a semblance of it's former greatness.


02-20-2007, 04:47 PM
Congratulations on a good fish from a special place. Knowing that the Elwha played a big role in your early angling history, your thoughts of what may be in store for the river, and for you, must truly be poignant. I wish I could have been there too.

Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts. It leaves me feeling optimistic. Long live the Elwha!