Winter Steelhead Review [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Winter Steelhead Review

03-20-2007, 11:16 PM
Looking at that post from the "Kid" made me wonder how it went up and down the Pacific coast this winter, now that the Ides of March have passed and we can now concentrate on Springers.

Our season in coastal central Oregon was a real hit-and-miss affair -- long periods of high water in December, followed by a virtual drought in January, and then the deluge again in February. Most of the time, the rivers were too high or too low for really good fishing. Unless one had the mobility to drop everything and head for the right spot in the right river at the right time, it was chancy fishing.

I went up to the hatchery on the North Fork of the Alsea in mid-January to see what had shown up, and was impressed at the average size of the fish in the holding pens. If these beasts were typical, there were lots of double-digit steelhead to be caught by those able to catch them.

Anyway, just wondering how you all did this winter -- was it typical fishing; better or worse than other years, or what? I'm looking for data and wide-ranging input here.

Thanks in advance for your review of your season.



03-20-2007, 11:26 PM
I didn't mean to step on the Sauk/Skagit thread -- just wanted to see some coverage up and down the coast. Interesting that the fish seemed larger. As I said above, that was my impression of the fish I saw in the holding pens.

-- Eric

03-20-2007, 11:29 PM
I don't know about this year because I was out of the state from july-mid february, but last year the hatchery fish in the Skagit system were typically large as well. I remember looking into the traps and seeing most of the fish were 3-salt fish, and at least one fish that was about 17lbs or so. Later I asked a hatchery worker and he said he taped it at 38" and had a girth to match. I didn't land any that big, biggest was around 7-9lbs, but my buddy caught one in the low teens and I saw a bunch that were in the 10-13lb range which is big for skagit hatchery fish.

03-21-2007, 07:22 AM
Well with all this talk I am going to have to add my 'sampling' efforts to the statistics very very soon.

03-22-2007, 02:54 PM

It has been real hit and miss here in the northern Puget Sound rivers this year too. Friends who live on the Oympic Peninsula tell me the same has been true of the rivers around Forks, WA. We have had lots of rain, flooding several times, very high winds, snow and ice, much colder than normal year temps. And like you mentioned, if you didn't have the ability to drop everything at the drop of a hat to hit the river, you were probably not going to have much fishing this winter.

Heck, we had flooding on the Skagit and Sauk last week and since then the Skagit has been running at 3-4 feet above normal flow ever since. Today we have a pretty good breeze blowing, which would make fishing miserable.

Yesterday, I had to go to Forks so I talked to some friends who live in Port Angeles to see what shape the rivers were in, they told me to leave my gear at home because everything was out except the upper reaches of two rivers and even these two were iffy because of the volume of water. I didn't take my gear and when I crossed over these two rivers, it was easy to see they were indeed marginal at best with very high flows and water in the willows.

It has certainly been a winter to remember.

03-23-2007, 02:20 PM

Just a little addendum to yesterday's post. Today we have a flood watch posted from this afternoon on to Sunday evening for the Skagit, which at this time the weather service is saying will be "minor flooding". The snow level is to go up to 9,000' tomorrow and then drop to 3500' on Sunday, which is why they think only "minor flooding" will occur. There are some pretty good winds blowing in with it too, just like we had two weeks ago.

Nothing like these pineapple expresses we've been having this winter continuing on into spring and blowing out the rivers.

03-24-2007, 10:46 AM
Our winter fishery was and is non existent here on the Cow. In late Oct. they raised the river and it mudded up with all the rain and floods. For a two week period in Feb. it was fishable but still high. Then back to the rain, snow melt and high water. There was a record run of Silvers but only a few caught up at the barrier. Water was way high, 23,000 cfs or so . Fishable is below 6,000. Oh,, this is the way it's been every winter for the past three years. Weather forecast rain with one or two days of sun in the next week. As I look out my weather forecasting window,,,,, heavy rain is what I see. Juro you might as well stay home. Some of the smaller streams have been fishable on and off.

Not much hope


beau purvis
03-24-2007, 11:05 AM
Think Positive!Think escapement!Beau

03-24-2007, 01:03 PM
Well, I'm supposed to be Steelheading right now but here I am typing away with all the rivers blown.

Ditto the other comments - windows of fishing opportunity have been few this winters.

But there are fish in the Skagit and Sauk as soon as the rivers return to a fishable condition.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a good April! :)


03-26-2007, 10:47 AM
Flytyer has the call for the OP spot on. With the exception of the day I walked into the Spruce Log there has been nothing to report. I doubt that my favorite river will be in shape agagin before the closure mid April. There are other places to fish around here and I will fish them but my heart belongs elsewhere.:roll:. Haven't heard much from Pescaphile but I think "WINTER" was really tough up in his north country retreat. One thing that looks promising is the early show of Summer Runs and the amount of snow pack for the Mountains around here.

03-26-2007, 07:05 PM
Wondering about the Smith and some of the other winter steelhead venues in northern California. Any comments? Also, haven't heard from the good folks on the Rogue, Klamath, or the Brookings area. Anything to report from down there?

As Beau points out, escapement should have been exceptional, and, hopefully there was some significant spawning success, barring the redds being scoured out by repeated high water.

Hope (for) Springs Eternal,


03-27-2007, 01:43 PM
Early in the year the Skagit was kind to me with some early natives. Since the beginning of March with all of the high water and such I have not touched a fish on the few times I have been able to fish. I look forward to April and some low water.

Steelie Mike
03-27-2007, 07:56 PM
This was my best winter for SWW steelhead. There was a lot of early hatchery fish in December and January. It has been slow since, but spring is in the air and with any luck I can get a crack at a few more before the winter is all over.