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Ocean Flyfishing for Salmon Perhaps the most under-rated fishery in the world

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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-03-2001 11:23 PM
NrthFrk16 Leland-
After reading Steve Raymond's Steelhead Country, my goal...No, my dream was to take a saltwater steelie on the fly. His stories of shallow water estuary steelhead and sight fishing became etched in my mind and I became determined to catch a saltwater steelie on the fly.

But I became discouraged and quickly lost confidence in any type of fishery like this still existing as so many of our small streams that produced this estuary steelhead fishing from a pram seemed to be developed, degraded, uninhabitable or even non-existant now.

Beach fishing for steelhead, for me atleast, is incredibly boring! I've done it with the hoochies and it was mindless. Cast and retreive, cast and retrieve. There was no variation between cast...

If only I could find an estuary that is condusive to the saltwater steelheading as described by Raymond. It sounds very comparable to bonefishing except steelhead jump.
12-03-2001 06:29 PM
Leland Miyawaki A long time ago, I was listening to a call-in fishing show on KIRO and the host was talking to the two guys who owned the boat launch and store at Bush Point. They talked about casting gear to winter steelhead off the beach using orange or pink hootchies. I didn't know what a hootchie was so I went to Warshal's, a Seattle sporting goods store, to see. I saw one and thought I could tie a fly that looked like a hootchie using marabou.

I tied orange and white, pink and white, orange and yellow, and yellow and white flies with chennile and marabou on #2 Mustad 3407's with lead eyes and headed on over to Bush.

I talked to some old-timers who told me that you didn't have to wade because the steelhead followed the hootchies in to shore. I since learned that the fish didn't follow the lure in, it's just that that is where they were hooked. The gear guys had to retrieve fast because they needed to keep from hanging up on the bottom and were simply intercepting traveling fish. The flyfisher, on the other hand, has a distinct advantage here. I found that if you fished an intermediate, or slime line (stillwater) and quartered a cast downtide and retrieved very slowly, your fly was in the traveling lanes of the steelhead longer. They are not out very far.

I also learned that the best time to do this was on an incoming tide and while the rivers were in spate and flooding as they poured out their homing scent into the Sound.

The winter fish also seemed to be on the feed and one thing for sure. . . they were mint bright!

12-03-2001 03:56 PM
juro Yes, definitely and if you get an ocean steelhead on a fly from shore I will consider you immortal!

I've seen plenty caught, I've seen them cruise along the shore between Bush Pt resort and the tip in December, but I've never caught an ocean steelhead in the salt. I consider it the pinnacle of achievement with a fly.
12-03-2001 03:49 PM
Leland Miyawaki
Salmon Only?

Are we including flyfishing for steelhead (relatively new and unexplored) and searun cutthroat in the salt (fairly mature in the Northwest)?

I fish for all three at various times.

12-03-2001 12:10 PM
Doublespey SaltRon - not to worry, the Canadian crowd is definitely welcome!

Fortunately, Seiku and Neah are pretty accessible from both sides of the border.

And hey . . . if you want to host a Clave at that little bay across the border with the outstanding Coho fishing I think you'd have an enthusiastic response from all us Southerners!

As for discussion topics, Topwater targeted the big three. Flies/Equipment, Techniques, and Habitat are central. And places like Neah or Seiku that require a boat and certain well-known beaches would seem to be suitable for public posts.

Sadly, even guarded spots are routinely being exploited by the local flyshops for their beach-fishing classes. I'm not saying that we should follow this trend, just reinforcing Juro's suggestion that "If you have a spot that you would be upset if others learned about, Don't Discuss IT Online"

I'm looking forward to the growth of this board and getting to know y'all, as I seem to be spending more and more time each year stalking the beaches.


12-02-2001 01:32 PM
juro Chris -

I agree per the spots, details about spots are best left for conclaves. Some are ok to share, no brainers like Hoodsport. But for those near-and-dear spots only the characteristics about the spots that contribute to the enhanced general knowledge are safely discussed in detail on line. That's pretty much what we've learned after having experienced lurker exploitation of goldmine spots in the last two years. The Nor'easters have some experience with this. We still discover spots that are white-hot and share them, but not in the form of public posts. We have all kinds of bells and whistles that will allow insider discussions for such specifics like exact spot info. Most use email lists today, but we will have a much better approach to that here believe me (more to come on that).

Get-togethers on the other hand are the ultimate way of sharing knowledge and spot info. The Nor'easters are great at holding these memorable events and they really do make the season something to remember.

I hope the cohofly gang posts "meet at the Chevron near Poulsbo at 4:30am" and that's all that needs to be public. And I'll be there if there's any way to pull it off too!

Originally posted by juro
I have some ideas for a fly pattern database and we should get some info on locations, tides, seasons, etc - excluding the 'secret' spots of course. Having general information on Neah Bay & Sekiu for instance would be very helpful for those who can make a few trips a year out there... watch out for Slip Point rips, run west not south from the light if you get socked in with fog, compass headings, gps waypoints, etc.
12-01-2001 12:40 PM
topwater juro,

just my two cents in order of priority.

d)species and habits
a)flies (i'm a clouser whore, but always looking for something better.... and the only fly i've seen work as well in the open ocean is a sea snake... which is a rabbit strip and hackle)

you'll note that i left out b) spots. while i have no problem discussing spots in the open ocean (i don't think there's gonna be a rush of flyanglers out there) i think those who fish from shore might be a little miffed if any website got too specific... and imo the bulletin board itself is perfect for discussing spots (like the exchange between ryan, leland, and myself previous on this thread). of course, general spot information like neah bay, sekiu, whidbey island (without mapping it out <G>). i guess it really depends on whether saltwater fishing for coho gets big, or if it will remain less popular among flyanglers... in which case crowding will be less of an issue, and talking about spots will remain a little less secretive than steelhead fishing.

but i think an emphasis on learning about the habits and water types of salmon plus the equipment (rods, lines) will give those who are just starting the saltwater salmon scene a much better shot at connecting with fish on their own. because honestly, i do think discovering your own spots brings much more joy when you finally start hooking fish.

also, since much of the flyfishing is for coho, hopefully we can find some (maybe in bc) that have been having some success with feeding kings (even though success in that might seem poor compared to winter steelhead).

12-01-2001 07:52 AM
juro BTW -

No promises but once I get the layout done it would help to have your ideas for content.

What topics would you like to see in this new site?

a) fly patterns
b) information on spots
c) equipment
d) species and habits in saltwater

12-01-2001 07:48 AM
juro AWESOME! Sean and I will be putting together the new pages and dedicated forum, fishing reports and tips/technique pages, images, etc. I think we have a solid foundation to get started.

I have some ideas for a fly pattern database and we should get some info on locations, tides, seasons, etc - excluding the 'secret' spots of course. Having general information on Neah Bay & Sekiu for instance would be very helpful for those who can make a few trips a year out there... watch out for Slip Point rips, run west not south from the light if you get socked in with fog, compass headings, gps waypoints, etc.

Plus there is also Whidbey / South Sound / Hood Canal / Grays Harbor / Willapa / Deception Pass / etc, etc.

We will have full use of a publishing software called EMEDIA that let's contributing editors create webpages in the new site almost as easy as posting one of these messages. This will let people from any location write columns.

Looking forward to getting this going!
12-01-2001 12:04 AM
saltRon Hey Doublespey---- Dont foreget about the CANADIAN group that appear to be just lurking at this point. We should see some more recruits when we get PACIFIC SALMON IN THE SALT UP AND TOTALLY RUNNING.

11-30-2001 11:00 PM
topwater juro,

al seda is no longer running big salmon... last season was his last, and as far as i know the tribe has given the lease to a makah commercial fisherman... so the status of big salmon at this point is up in the air and even though it's not a fly shop, the importance of having one of the best, if not the best, selection of bottomfish and salmon tackle on the peninsula (if not the state), plus booking lots of charters, was an important part of keeping neah bay as one of the top spots (the fishing doesn't hurt, but look at la push). hopefully the new ownership can run it as well, although my hope is that the new ownership will at least stay open until the end of salmon season.... i need gas<G>.

ya, swiftsure is something else. i lived there this summer and the concentrations of fish are worth the lumpy ride out (especially bad with an ebb current). i did find that neap tides (and days prior and after) were most productive. the strong currents blow the krill off the bank... and the krill start up the chain reaction of feeding out there. there were days where the salmon were literally too easy to catch (great for guiding, but on my own i get bored) and not only was the fishing great, but the huge number of birds and the grey whales make it such a great experience. the mackerel showed up when i returned from the dean river (aug 13th)... which made things interesting (after a month of catching 20 to a buttload of mackerel a day, i hate those slimy bastards). the funnest was when you would find the leading edge of the mackerel boiling on the krill. you'd make a short cast, and immediately pull up on the rod getting the clouser to move fast a couple inches under the surface and watching coho rush up among all the mackerel to smash the fly. the coolest though was the calm spots among the mackerel and salmon boiling on the krill... you'd look closer and see tail fins throughout the calm spots and watch the dogfish just slowly cruising through the krill with their mouths open. i love watching sharks (and yes, dogfish are a pain in the ass... we once had to move because we couldn't stop catching them on flies). also, swiftsure is the only place out there that i've had the porpoises come and play in my boat's bow wake.

we did see some large schools of horse herring, but i never saw them being chased... they were just grazing on the krill on the surface. next summer i'm planning on doing some serious dredging (800 grain heads with level salmon trolling line as a running line) with big flies to see about hooking some of the chinook out there (and who knows, maybe some of those monster coho... most of our big fish ranged from 10-12 lbs... with one wild pig at 17... but most fish were the typical 4-7 lbs.)

if i'm not at swiftsure, i'm probably fishing the monster rips that form north of tatoosh around the whistle buoy... the faster and stronger the current, the better the fishing... although the choppy water near the bottom end is also excellent coho water. hell, it's only the beginning of winter (and the excellent steelhead fishing) and i want to fast-forward to july.

ryan, thanks for the info. i'll definetely check it out next october. if you see a chubby (ok... fat<G>) guy flyfishing with chartreuse flashtail clousers.... that'd be me.

if you guys want to spend a day claving at neah, let me know well in advance and i'll reserve a day... just don't forget the dramamine (3 people max)

11-30-2001 10:55 PM
Doublespey Nice Pic, Sparky!! Now try to imagine that 'nook on your 7wt

Leland - we'll definitely have to get a pic of your popper up on the Archives. I'll grab my digital and shoot some pics, then you can get the text for tying and we'll be good to go.

Sounds like we have a lot of hard-core salmon anglers on the Forum - definitely the makings of a Clave next year at Neah or Seiku!! It would be fun to compare techniques.

Juro - so you're coming out next fall, eh???


11-30-2001 10:05 PM
NrthFrk16 Topwater-
Larger fish are caught by the bobber fisherman. The biggest I caught this past year was about 8#'s but freinds of mine hit fish to 12#'s.

I think the small showing of larger fish to the beach is not because of a lack of fish but because the smaller fish are so prolific and agressive. When the tide is swinging hard it is literally a fish a cast and during the peak swing you will have 2-3 coho chasing after your herring.

Once the tide dies the show, the fishing just dies. It is amazing!!!

Large kings and chums are incendental catches on the beach which can add to the fun and excitement. Here is a pic of a 20#+ king caught off Casey.

11-30-2001 07:26 PM
juro Chris -

I really hope I hook up with you next summer at Neah Bay. We used to stay at Big Salmon, is Al Seda still running it? Of course his daugthers were sure great to talk to. Something about a gal with hoochie earrings that could man the gaff as well as any man could on a Swiftshure halibut charter.

Anyway, we'd usually hit Greenbank, Duncan Rock, around Wadah if we weren't heading across. Eventually it we'd just head straight across to Swiftshure.

One day on the Bonilla/Tatoosh line the Canadian purse seiners were hard at it and there was a hard incoming tide running. We saw the birds going absolutely crazy about 100-300 yards west of the boundary so headed over to investigate. The seiner's "wall of death" had caused the salmon hordes riding the tide to back up like a downtown traffic jam and it was the biggest concentration of salmon I have ever seen and I am sure that I will ever see again. Just as we never seem to know what the back-ups caused by up ahead, the salmon didn't know either but were in a frenzy of feeding as bait also got pushed by the tide into this mass of emerald and silver bodies being held up by the carnage ahead. These concentrated salmon were boiling the water as they fed and the fishing was so intense we actually moved on to find more challenging water after several coho each, one weighing in the 16-17 # class. As we motored away, the thought of carnage that so many (dozens if not hundreds it seemed) purse seiners barricading the strait lingered in my mind. The irony of the salmon in a feeding frenzy as their brethren are meeting their end by the masses just ahead.

The might and magnitude of the ocean only makes me respect the coho more. The pacific northwest seas are truly amazing. The toughness of these salmon and steelhead as they venture fearlessly into the great blue beyond blows my mind.
11-30-2001 06:39 PM
topwater ryan,

when you were bobber fishing the rip, were you finding any decent sized silvers? like i mentioned, i was surprised with how small the silvers i saw being landed in mid-october, and was wondering if that was normal or just coincidence on the day i happened to be there.

maybe next october after i get the boat put away i'll run over there for a few days and see about catching a few more silvers, especially if there's legitamate shots at some fish over 8 lbs.

i can just picture how swinging a popper across those heavy currents would work.

it was also interesting to me when one of the guys cleaning the salmon showed me some tiny little sticklebacks the coho were eating (at least that's what i thought they were... because they definetely weren't herring or sand lances). gonna have to downsize my clousers from the long ones i usually fish at neah bay.

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