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roballen 07-28-2002 01:03 AM

The hatchery fish puzzle???
OK. I am firmly a believer that hatchery fish even in prime conditions do not respond nearly as well to a swung fly as wild fish do. In terms of the river I have been fishing lately these hatchery fish are such weak responders as to make fly fishing for them a complete waste of time.
However they respond very well to lures like blue fox spinners and hot shots so it's not that they are lock lawed dour fish.
I absolutely will not fish weighted flies or nymphs for them....!!!!

I want to know what do you think would bring these fish to a swung fly???

Should I try something with a lot of flash like a spinner? Should I try something VERY large and invasive? Or should i try something small and natural looking???

here is what I have tries to date.
Skunks and other traditional steelhead flies fished on sink tips and floating line.

Muddlers in all colors and sizes fished floating and on tips

1/0 Marabou patterns on sink tips

Spey flies on floaters and on tips

I know I could get them on stone nymphs or glo bugs dead drifting but I will not fish that way.

what do you guys think??
By the way on an average day I probably cover 50-150 fish with my flies and only got one fish which was of course wild.

NrthFrk16 07-28-2002 01:20 AM

Small & Buggy
Tie up some standard Spades on a size 6...that could be the ticket as that is one of my favorite low-water dour fish fly wether they are hatchery or wild.

Also tie up some small Wolley Worms, Carey Specials and Six Packs...may sound sort of odd but trust me, they work.

If those dont work...2 turns of marabou (one side stripped) in either brown, black, pink, white, red with some differnt combo's but keep them SPARSE!! I tie em as sparse as I can and then when I go to fish them, pull off some marabou so they are even sparser. Like I said, don't be afraid to play around with browns, olives, greens...

Last but not least swing a GRHE, Prince, Sparkle Caddis and other basic trout nymphs on a sinktip.

Smalma 07-28-2002 08:45 AM

Taking fish on a fly (more so than other gear) requires understanding the fish. As I see it the major difference in fishing for hatchery and wild fish is run timing and where they hold. The hatchery fish are generally earlier than wild, migrate quickly upstream and stage in areas readily accessible to anglers. The wild fish return over a longer time period (often later), are headed further upstream, and stage in more varied areas. The result is generally wild fish are easier becasue they either moving or being less pressured .

Appreciate your frustration. To consistently take hatchery fish here is what I have found : 1) fish on moving fish if at all possible. Much rather fish on 1 or 2 moving fish than 100 holding. 2) On holding fish I always tired something different (curiosity factor); if most fishers are fishing small and dark fish big and guady, if they are fishing a swung fly try dead drift, etc., 3) try pick periods when conditions have changed; first fishable day after a river rise is the best. Or 4) do as I do now and fish for something else; in a couple weeks I'll be focusing on sea-run cutts.

Tight lines

andre 07-28-2002 10:03 AM


This may sound freaky.

I think I know which river you are floating. I've had a couple of reports and they said the only thing they are getting fish on was red GP's 1/0 -3/0. I know sounds freaky weird but worth a shot. I would guess you are putting in at the dam and taking out at the g... ......... (as you didn't mention the river it I won't, I know I get tick when people talk about the big one north). What are the water temps? I would personally try something small with movement and flash (very little).

best of luck and let us know

roballen 07-28-2002 02:14 PM

Andre. Thanks for not mentioning the river but it's not needed I'd have no problem shareing the river with more fly anglers as i appear to be the only one. yes I have been floating from the Dam to the GC. there are literally hundreds of fish in this streach maybe even thousands and there is some excellent fly water. Water temps are absolutely prime for steelhead activity 53.5 degrees. Next time I go I am going to take some 5/0 gp's and marabou patterns and some tiny size 8 peacock hiltons. What doesn't make sence to me is that these fish (i believe they are skamanias) will slam spinners, corkies and all the other traditional steelhead gear they just don't seem at all interested in flies.
Also as I said before these are absolutely fresh chrome bright fish they are not at all dour. They will chase down spinners 20 feet away they just wont move a few inches for a fly...

andre 07-29-2002 12:02 AM


I think you might just have to show me those fish and we can see if two minds can figure it out.


flytyer 07-29-2002 12:25 AM


You might give some traditional feather wing low water flies tied on size 4 or 6 low water hooks a try. Remember that these are only tied so that the whole fly incluing the tail covers no more than 1/2 the shank of the hook. I would try the silver blue, claret adler, or kelson's sun fly.

Also, I have found that small, size 8 or samller flies tied in the style of the Irish shrimp flies flies work reasonably well. I'm speaking of flies like the moise grub, Headley's secret weapon, etc. Another thing that works in the faster water is a small Ally's Shrimp (size 8 to 12) or black Ally's Shrimp. You can also simply use a small hook (8 to 10) and tie on pearl flashabou for a tail, a tinsel body, and a magenta, blue, or purple hackle. The hooks I refer to are all up eye salmon irons.

Ryan's suggestion of a spade is also a good one. I prefer to fish it in a smaller size when the fish don't seem to want to move for a fly and others are getting fish with spinners, etc.

NrthFrk16 07-29-2002 12:46 AM

I have spoken to a couple other fisherman who have already brought some sea-run cutts to hand out of the Flat Water below Deer Creek. :)

Amazing to think how fast this summer is flying by as August is around the corner. :whoa:

roballen 07-29-2002 03:53 PM

Andre what are you doing Saturday???

I think i have it narrowed down to either something tiny and natural looking( which I have tried a little) Or something HUGE and flashy

andre 07-30-2002 12:55 PM

let me check with the wife.


New Spey 08-04-2002 01:38 PM

Santiam and Mckenzie Hatchery fish
I am having the same frustration with hatchery fish.
I spent last night fishing over a lot of fish in the South Santiam. I couldn't move a thing. Every little bit I could see and hear the gear guys hooting about having fish on. The only fly fisher I saw with a fish was using a dumbel eyed egg pattern.
It sometimes seems like I am the only one on the river fishing a traditional swing and I hardly ever see anyone doing so with a dry line.
I do best with an egg sucking leach on my dry line, but I am trying to use it less, as it feels like cheating. The one thing I do like about using the weighted fly, is that when I want to go back to a traditional wet, is a very quick change.

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