Lower Elwha is closed to all fishing [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Lower Elwha is closed to all fishing

07-21-2002, 02:55 PM
below the One lane bridge. This is to ensure that no one prosecutes a catch and release fishery on the endangered Chinook! It was not the intent when it was left open to fly fishing only for this chinook C&R fishery to develop. It was left open for a way to access the few hatchery Plant Steelheads and few cutthroats that are around.

07-21-2002, 09:00 PM
sometimes all it takes is a few ******** thinking only of themselves to get a fishery closed. If guys are targeting endangered chinook CLOSE IT DOWN!!!!! Wish WDFW was willing to do that in other more popular areas

07-21-2002, 09:46 PM
Maybe if a certain shop would keep their money grubbin' hands off these kings this great little summer steelie fishery would remain open...

...what I mean is that there is a certain shop guiding clients on these kings. :mad:

On a related note...something permenant is going to take place on the Stilly. Curt Kramer is fed up with certain flyfisherman targeting kings on the North Fork...some are targeting them with heavily weighted flies others are snagging them. There will either be another emergceny ban on weighted flies or the entire river will close all together.

Everyone knows I fish inidicators and heavily weighted flies and I would hate to see a permenant ban take place but if it is what is necassary to keep the river from being closed, I am all for it.

And if anyone who is practicing this unethical and appauling act is reading this, you should be ashamed of yourself and need to change your practices this moment....MORONS!!! :mad: :tsk_tsk: :tsk_tsk: :tsk_tsk: :tsk_tsk:

07-22-2002, 10:01 AM
What do you think of making a regulation on the "indicator"? I read somewhere a suggestion that only yarn indicators be allowed. Then those who wish to nymph fish could still do so.

07-22-2002, 10:15 AM
How about floating line, floating fly only?

I've only once hooked a chinook on a skater... and it was an accidental roll on the dorsal, lasted about 10 seconds but I could hardly believe it.

This was a riffly run on the headwaters of the Green above Palmer, and there were a lot of mint bright summer fish hanging right behind the redds (you could see their white lips eating eggs) but the only way to avoid fouling the big kings was on the surface. Willing to try anything but globugs, I riffle hitched an orange butted sedge and started skating away. Next thing you know a big black king porpoises and my fly gets lodged in it's dorsal. All hell breaks loose and the fly pops off - I shake my head thinking if I can't avoid them with a dry I am outta here, laughing as I left.

Steelhead sit in distinctly different water than the kings, I've always found it very easy to avoid the kings on the Elwha and find summer runs and fat golden cutts.

When the hell are they going to open up the headwaters!?!?

old man
07-22-2002, 11:07 AM
I understand the closing down the fishing for kings in the Stilly but why close down the whole river for a few assholes that won't leave these fish alone. Why punish us all for a few yahoo's.

I understand that the fishing was good on the Stilly yesterday. 13 fish at Fortson and one king. :)

07-22-2002, 11:57 AM
Fished the Stilly on Friday morning for a few hours. Came to find out my favorite hole was wiped out by the floods last spring. Took a 60 foot tree that created a nice hole and deposited it 300 yards downstream. Now all that is left is a featureless run.

That sucked so I headed up to fortson and there are a lot of kings and steel around. Only 5 guys there and for a first at fortson I saw nobody using indicators. Saw several hook ups and about 3 landed in an hour period. I missed one by being stupid and setting the hook way too quickly.

Anyway a few of the guys were talking about possible bans on indicators and heavy flies. I can see the weighted fly / indicatore argument. Will the stilly adopt the umpqua rules? Seems like it is going that way which is fine with me.

However that hole towards the tailout is so deep I do not think the fish could even be reached unless you had a 30ft sinktip on. To get to the kings you would have to at least have 20 feet of tippet under the strike indicator which would be tough to cast. I was there for 3 hours and no one was even getting flies anywhere near them. The guys that are doing this must be doing it somewhere other than fortson.

It was pretty cool to see some of those 20+ pound kings milling around the pool...


07-22-2002, 04:05 PM
Does anyone really think that banning weighted flies is going to protect the wild chinook on the Stilly? How many of these fish are hooked on weighted flies vs. sinktips. I know a king is more likely to pick up a nymph that is dead drifted vs. a fly on the swing but at least it's hooked in the mouth instead of the ass. The kings on the upper Stilly are pretty much are concentrated in just a few pools, most of which you can drive right to. How much enforcement manpower would it take to get the word out that targeting kings is illegal? Last year there were folks targeting the kings everyday at the Hazel road hole. How many tickets were issued? How many little poster signs did they nail to trees to inform people that it is in fact illegal to target kings? I know the regs say it's only open for steelhead but many people don't know how to interpret the regs. It's far to common to see gear and bait fishermen on the N.F. Stilly. Some of these folks are just ignorant to the regs but some are just blatant poachers. Especially the ones you see on private property. Last year I spoke with some kids who told me they were diving down into the clay bank hole above Hazel with a Hawaiian sling and spearing the kings. A weighted fly seems pretty harmless compared to a spear gun. The fact is the fly fishermen are visible.....the poachers are not. But the sportsmen will pay the price. I'm not condoning targeting the kings and I know enforcement is spread thin, I just think that banninng weighted flies won't save one chinook.....just make it harder to harvest the hatchery steelhead in the clear water.
Did anyone happen to attend the poaching meeting that was held a couple of weeks ago at the Arlington Museum? I wanted to go but was unable.

-Hillbilly Redneck

07-22-2002, 04:30 PM
I fish sink tips almost exclusively and have never foul hooked a king on the Stilly. Matter of fact, I have never hooked a king on the Stilly. Of course, I don't fish where they congragate either.

I agree that more enforcement is a better solution but, that ain't gonna happen.

I guess this is more of an ethics issue than a methods issue. Trouble here is the ones not using ethics are pissing off the guy in control of the river.

07-22-2002, 04:52 PM
If they ban weighted flies, whose going to enforce it?

07-22-2002, 05:07 PM

07-22-2002, 05:42 PM
I fished the Stilly pretty hard back in the day. Rarely did I fish Fortson, but I have caught a fish or two there and know the drill. It's a lot like other hatchery holes where the fish stack up and are susceptible to dead-drifted offerings. The ones I caught were pushing up into the fast current at daybreak or in the deep tailout pool on the parking lot side.

I did however catch my share of steelhead each season, all on the swing, and in the Stilly most of them were greaselining since I never fished it much in winter/spring. Most of the time they would grab a fly on a floating line eagerly in the morning and evening or in a riffle or boulder garden mid-day. A light sinktip would put a fly that dances well into the strike zone often enough to keep me in hog heaven.

I could be all wet but IMHO if they banned the use of weighted flies, all you'd have to do is fish somewhere else and figure out the way they react to the fly in other spots and you'd hook steelhead just fine.

I respect your perspective but banning weighted flies wouldn't bother me at all. In fact I never fished weighted flies for steelhead and found them to be quite eager to rip the rod out of my hands when things line up.

That being said, there might be other ways to protect the chinook in these situations. What would you suggest as an alternative?

07-22-2002, 06:01 PM
I rarely fish the Stilly but have spent a few pleasurable mornings there from time to time for Summer runs. I spoke with Curt Kraemer last fall about the abuse that happens there with heavy weighted flys and strike indicators. Most of our discussion centered on steelhead in the Dear Creek riffle though.

He is scheduled to speak at the WSC August meeting and I am curious to hear his thoughts on the king issue. As much as I would hate to see a closure, the actions of a few might impact us all. To my way of thinking, if you are catching or snagging kings, you must be targeting them. In my experience, they rarely hold in the same water as steelhead and in the occasions where they do, the kings stake out their territory and push the steelhead to the rear.

OC and I have actually enjoyed some good fishing in the late summer by fishing the water downstream from schooled up kings. Ok, it was OC that enjoyed the fishing but I got the pleasure of watching him hook 3 steelies one morning on a similar number of casts. Now you ask since he was following me through, did I enjoy watching him LDR each fish? Shame on you! :smokin:

07-22-2002, 06:40 PM
Dunno what can be done. But like I said, IMHO banning weighted flies won't save one chinook salmon.
For the record, I seldon fish with an indicator, but do enjoy nymphing with weighted flies when the water gets low and clear. I much prefer to take fish on the surface with a dry line but would be lying if I said that was the most effective way to catch a hatchery steelhead. Sometimes I just want to take a fish home for the BBQ and I don't give a rip how I hook it.
I find it annoying that one person can change regulations that can't even be enforced. To me, targeting the kings is not unethical because the reg book doesn't enforce ethics or teach them......targeting the kings is illegal.
I think some small signs posted at some of the popular holes stating that fishing for kings is illegal is the very least the WDFW could do before changing regs they can't enforce. Might cost them about $10

Scott K
07-23-2002, 12:10 AM
I realize that it is important to protect Wild Chinook Salmon. I am all for it. I find myself very disheartened when native nets down here hammer Wild Chinooks which are bound for the Upper Fraser and Upper Thompson River's tributaries (1000+K's or more to their spawning grounds) with no relent and with no consideration that these fish are irreplaceable. These fish are genetically unique, as are the Stilly fish, and they need our protection.

However, As much as it is important to leave the "Kings" alone, or as we Canadians call them, Springs, Smilies, Blackmouthes, Hawgs, Missles, Tyees (if over 30 lb), Chinook, and the like, you can't be blaming the Sport fisher for the demise of the Chinooks on this stream. By closing it down it appears as though whoever is managing the fishery is deeming it the sport fishers fault. Now by no means am I being stubborn and saying that we are going to point the finger because it's not our fault but the more appropriate approach in my opinion is to put up signs warning anglers of the implications of targetting Chinook Salmon when they are to be left alone, as well as the possible fines for violoations if this is not observed. Also, I don't know if you guys have an observe, record, report line or something like that where you can call in poachers to the proper authorities, but make sure you make a point to call whenever you see a violation like this. In BC, our enforcement officials respond to places where the conservation threat is the largest, and also where they are getting the most calls.

Putting up signs is something that is overlooked as a management tool. Imagie yourself, a client, and you are with a guide who is purposely tryin to get you into Chinook Salmon, when you read a well placed sign that says no fishing for Chinook Salmon.

The only problem with signs and things to that effect is that someone can probably argue that if there is no sign up, there is no regulation. Well fine by me, put signs up everywhere then.
It will solve some of the ignorant's problems, and give those who know what they're doing is wrong, not much fuel to argue with when you're casually informing them on the river while a Sign is right behind them, that their actions are going against the grain, so to speak.

07-23-2002, 12:42 AM
I fish the Stilly a lot in the summer because it is only a 30 to 40minute drive, and it is a beautiful river as well. I for one have told Curt to hve the regs changed to permanently ban the use of heavily weighted flies. Hell, I've seen 1/2 marobou jigs being used with 3 inch floats and had the guys fishing this stuff tell me that they were 'fly fishing!' Fly fishing with 1/2 marabou jigs, I don't think so.

If, as I've told Curt and have written to WDFW, indicators are defined as yarn or those small 1/4 inch pieces of foam, the problem with heavily weighted flied (or jigs) goes away because the yarn or small 1/4 inch piece of foam will not flaot them and those attempting to do so will be hung on the bottom constantly.

I've caught many a steelhead in the river above Oso on floating lines and low water flies. Yes, true low water flies tied on #6 low water hooks and only being 1/2 the shank total including tail. It amazes me that people think you can't catch them this way including in the hatchery holes. That is provided the fish haven;'t been pounded to death. Heck I've seen fish at Fortson's laying almost on the beach in no more that 1 foot of water on the beach side of the river. A fish like that doesn't need to be hit on the head with a heavy fly.

For the record, I never fish for steelhead or salmon with a weighted fly, I use sink tips if I want or need to get down. Inlcuding in the winter. It is amzing what a peice of deep water express in the 850 gr. size will do if you really need to hit bottom.

07-23-2002, 01:04 AM
Hillbilly did touch on a problem that has plagued the Stilly and that is the poaching...I've never come across a river where the poachers are so blatant because they can get away with it.

When last year's weighted fly ban went into effect, it seemed sort of ridicilous considering that you could walk down to Hazel anyday and bust the flyfishing snaggers...the problem is, is that it is a tough regulation to enforce and when it was, they were back again. :mad:

We arent dealing with any old fish population here...we have to remember that the Stilliguamish River Chinook are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act...WDFW is required under federal law to protect these fish and they saw a weighted fly ban as being the best route to go without closing the river down.

Btw-Duggan touched on the abuse of the Deer Creek Riffle by so-called indicator fisherman and I witnessed that same act this evening...totally uncalled for folks. Get a clue!!!

07-23-2002, 01:16 AM

This abuse is the reason I get so riled up with the weighted fly and indicator fishermen. I'm sure you have seen the 1/2 jigs being used and also have been told that this is simply indicator fishing with a fly. I agree with George McCleod, who had been fishing the Stilly longer than any of the rest of use, that the only proper way to fish it and to avoid the abuses we have seen or spoken about herein in to fish wihout out weighted flies. As George says, if you need to get down, use a sinking or sink tip line. This would stop the abuse.

07-23-2002, 08:37 AM
Here's an idea - since moving out to the northeast I've been inspired by many of the things people do on behalf of the striped bass. Recently, a group of anglers including those on this forum made up some posters and posted them around the most popular north shore fishing areas.

Scott makes a good point about the conscientious reaction of clients if a guide is leading them astray. I'd be happy to donate time, money and interest in such an effort although I can no longer walk the pathways to post the signs in person, much to my chagrin.

Any interest?

old man
07-23-2002, 10:38 AM
Here you are all talking about weighted flies. But to those of us that are dumb?. What is considered a weighted fly. Is it one that is when tied up weight is added before feathers.
Or one that has weight added after it is tied up such as adding small split shot or a ribbon lead to the line. Everybody talks about it but nobody explains it

I tie my woolybuggers with .020 lead wraps. and most of your Steelhead flies are tied on such big hooks that they wouldn't float either.

07-23-2002, 11:08 AM
The weighted flies that most are concerned about on the Stilly are tied with lead dumb bell shaped eyes. The weight of the eyes varies. Often these are tied on jig hooks and dead drifted under foam bobbers/indicators. As far as I know this is legal although not traditional. The skilled indicator fishermen hook more fish than the fishermen using traditional methods. This is not a problem at the hatchery hole(Fortson), but in areas where wild fish hold up, especially wild steelhead, it is a conservation concern. One thing I've noticed about the indicator fishermen that I've seen over the years is that they seem to come and go. I think they get somewhat bored hooking so many fish and come to realize they're impact on the resource and just move on to different methods or water. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope not.

07-23-2002, 12:32 PM
Well, from dawn until 9 AM PST, this date, no one was catching jack at Fortson, including myself. There might have been 10 fisherman total. I saw no bobber guys and only one yarno. And yes the kings were rolling in the hole.

Now for the off topic stuff: I noticed that several fishermen were of questionable skill at casting the single handers and finally decided my lack of skill with spey casting might go unnoticed in such a crowd so l had at it with my 10' single hander. LOL Had a blast trying the spiral cast I saw demonstrated at the Sandy River Spey Clave. Hot damn, but I found I actually could manage fair enough.

My morning's score - no fish and sore back but, I CAN do the spiral cast and change of direction cast with the single hander. Good day in my book! Going to try the double hander this evening after the aspirin take effect.:D


07-23-2002, 03:37 PM
Hey Watersprite, All you need is a couple of good hard pulls or a hookup with a screamer and you'll forget about the aspirin.:devil:

old man
07-23-2002, 04:24 PM
Hey,watersprite. You didn't fall in again did you. With your bad back and wobbly knees.It's a wonder that you can still walk.

The only way that he is going to get a good pull is that his son is going to pull on his line.

One last note. What shape was the water in. Was that rock there out of the water.

07-23-2002, 05:51 PM
No, I didn't fall in again. Actually I couldn't get near the spot because of all the other bodies, I didn't want to wade through another's spot (can't call it run when everyone is standing in one place). I fished lower down, around the corner. And it's not a bad back but a sore one; the knees get by.

The river looked really nice below the Fortson hole which always appears nasty-looking with all the flotsom.

As for a pull, I wish! I spent the early part trying to get one of my deer hair flies to skate, it did everything but. Then tried a dead drift which went better and which lead to the spey casting stuff. The casting went well and has me excited enough to finally break out the spey rods for some more.:smokin: That spiral/circle/snake or whatever is really cool. The boy didn't think I could get it so quick but agrees that it looks like the stuff from the clave. I now feel somewhat better about him catching all the trout of late.:o


07-25-2002, 12:50 AM
Ok, now Ive been an actual JIG fishermen for well over a decade. Unless you have spotted a fish, drifted a jig, and purposely pulled up on the jig as you see it approach underneath a fish, then maybe you'd snag into one. But to say a fly guy tying barbell eyes on a jig hook is snagging (someone said that) is barbaric. I've yet to snag a fish, and I mean as in I HAVE NOT AT ALL, snagged a fish jig fishing. Method is much similar. I cast my line out, mend some line, get a nice drift with my float, and keep jig working nicely. You can see the take quite well. Usually when it comes to snagging, it's much easier putting lead eyes on a standard fly hook so you have the hook driving down. Much easier to spot a fish, drag across fish, and set hook.

I would say that it's a choice to use a jig hook with barbell eyes (been making summerrun jigs like this for years) would be definitely be more into the conventional realm, then fly fishing. When I flyfish, I use fly hooks. Jig fishing, I use jig hooks. Drift fishing, I use Octopus hooks.

Onto weights. Per most regs (and I haven't solidly studied regs this year) states in WA that in fly fishing only waters, hooks cannot be weighted except eyes may be used as part of the design. Not sure if that's exact, but used to state that pretty much. Would be easy for someone to say "it's part of the design.". I'd really love to see these guys using a 1/2 ounce barbell eyes. Mannnnnnnnnnnnn. I use at MAX 1/4 ounce barbells on my jig hooks. THEY ARE HUGE. Could not imagine using a 1/2 ounce on a fly hook. I know it's hard enough with a 7/32 ounce. Probably why I usually use bead link eyes, virtually no weight and still have the eye profile. Tried using those weighted eyes on a few flies, but found nearly impossible to cast with anything under a 9wt.

07-25-2002, 02:14 AM

What you describe as the snagging technique is exactly what I and several others who fish the Stilly have seen in practice. And many of these guys are using lead-headed jigs of up to 1/2 oz. Yes, that's right, factory made lead-head jig hooks in 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 oz with marabou tied on behind the lead-head. In fact, most of the time I see factory made marabou lead-headed jigs in use, which they are calling weighted nymphs. This is why the WDFW biologist is getting fed up with the practice.

There are also a group of guys over here on the Stilly using the largest lead barbell eyes to which they add a bunch of marabou or a bunny strip. They call this fly fishing. As you said, this is jig fishing. This is why I've stated I get riled up by this practice. And they have the nerve to call it 'weighted nymph fishing with an indicator!'

If they were truly using a numph and an indicator I wouldn't care, and would have no probem with it. Unfortunately, that is not what is going on. They are simply using a fly rod to jig fish because the regs say fly fishing only from mid April to the end of November.

07-25-2002, 02:33 AM

Troubled by what is written in the Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet for Washington State and wishing for some clarification I called the WDFW enforcement division where I was referred to their legal counsel, Mr. Evan Jacoby. I e-mailed Mr. Jacoby asking for this clarification and this is what he wrote, in part:

...regarding fly fishing only waters. The rule prohibits, "Weight attached to the leader or line," and regarding a "fly" states, "Metallic colored tape, tinsel, mylar, or beadeyes may be used as an intregal part of the design of the fly pattern." I would interpret this to mean that the fly can be tied with additional weight, but that no weight could be added to the already tied fly (hence, taking a perfectly good wet fly and adding a few split shot may buy a ticket; they are not "an intregal part of the design of the fly pattern").

He went on to say that he couldn't second guess how an Officer in the field would interpret WAC 220-56-210. So you see hooks can indeed be weighted if the addition of the weight is a fundamental part of the flies design and not added as an afterthought. Note, also, that there appears to be no restriction on how much weight one could incorporate into the flies design. Likewise there is no restriction on barbells and the like.