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Doublespey 08-04-2002 10:50 PM

Wild Summer Steelhead
Wild summer fish are a true prize. I don't fish the NF Stilly much, so I haven't had the pleasure of more than a couple encounters with the Deer Creek Natives.

There have also been a couple fortunate encounters in the headwaters of the Olympic Peninsula rivers, but for the most part the west-side (Washington) summer steelhead w/adipose that I'm luck enough to catch usually look identical to their hatchery counterparts and i usually assume they're either progeny of stream-bred hatchery fish or just lucky individuals that avoided the knife as smolt.

I took Friday afternoon off to head to the upper Skykomish (and hopefully above the gear-fishing crowds that hang around the Reiter hatchery) for a little late afternoon solitude and a chance to do some fishing with my good friend and steelhead magnet Leland.

After killing an extra hour or so stuck behind a very bad accident on hwy 522, we finally met up at a favorite burger joint for a quick bite for the road and headed to one of my favorite runs.

Unfortunately, 2 gear guys (they must have gotten lost:devil: ) were fishing in the tailout of the favorite run. Instead of fishing secondary water as I normally would have done,, Leland and I decided to go to the head of the run and fish down behind them.

They were cordial and one mentioned that "there were fish in here" as he'd just lost a big one that took him down into the rapids and broke him off. We wished each other well and headed off to the upper water.

Being a gentleman, Leland offered to wait while I started at the head of the pool. Knowing we only had a couple hours to fish at most, I suggested he just find a place that looked good below me and jump in. Big Mistake! :devil:

Three casts later, I look downriver and see his rod bent. Then I hear the Hardy start to howl. The fish makes his runs, tires out and I tail him. A small fish of about 4 pounds, he's just beginning to get his rainbow colors. He still has his adipose and looks totally different from the Skamania hatchery fish I've caught from this river. He's unhooked and is on his way.

After congratulations and a bit of Scotch, Leland retires for a little cigar smoking while I head back to my waiting rod in the upper run. After a few minutes of casting, I'm approaching the "gut" of the pool. As we're talking, my line comes tight in the fast water and another steelhead climbs on. This one's a jumper - it tailwalks across the run, jumps about 10 times and quickly tires itself out. It's a slightly smaller and brighter version of Leland's fish - a hen that also has her adipose.

We get a few more pulls, but no more solid hookups before dark. We see a few splashes - possibly chasing the PMDs that were hatching.

Wild fish in a wild setting are what it's about for me - like Sean, I've fished the terminal areas of most of the local rivers and caught many fish there. But there's nothing quite like standing on a fine run after catching and releasing a native steelhead, looking at the amazing scenery around you, hearing the sounds and soaking in the complete experience.

And I have a newfound appreciation for my home river. I've spent many hours fishing it's runs throughout the year. But the knowledge that there's a population of native summer steelhead that still return here makes it that much more special for me.

Tight Lines y'all!


NrthFrk16 08-04-2002 11:08 PM

Woohoo!!! Excellent to hear!!! Any pictures????

Makes me want to leave the Stilly and her crowds for 'up there.' :devil:

watersprite 08-04-2002 11:12 PM


Well written; I felt I was with you. Thanks for the inspiration, my skunk is more tolerable now.:)


pmflyfisher 08-05-2002 06:38 AM


Good story, now thats my type of steelhead fly fishing ! :smokin:


juro 08-05-2002 07:35 AM

I'll be right there :devil:

Leland Miyawaki 08-05-2002 08:54 AM

I would say that the excitement and joy of catching a wild fish in the Sky was almost matched by Brian's reaction. He was even more effusive than he is normally. Then, when he caught his fish, well there was no shutting him up. I'm sure it was his craziness that caused the two gear guys to leave the lower river mumbling to themselves.

What a hoot!


juro 08-05-2002 09:13 AM

:chuckle: :hehe: :devil:

sean 08-05-2002 07:01 PM

Good to hear Brian. I still have yet to fish that far up on the sky. Now if the upcoming wedding was not so time comsuming I could check it out...

pmflyfisher 08-05-2002 07:25 PM


FYI, I did not tell my new bride about my fly fishing addictions until AFTER we were married 25 years ago. Then took her with me the first summer we were married up to the hallowed holy waters of the NY Catskills Beaverkill & Willowemuc, etc.

She went and sat on the rocks sun bathing in the bikini until the water snake went swimming buy her sunning rock. As I remember I had a good day with the browns and the wife only went with me a few times after that. Knowing that when I was was going fishing, I was really going fishing and their was nothing to worry about me pursuing other prurient interests. Everything has been fine for the last 25 years.


flytyer 08-05-2002 08:33 PM


The upper Sky, shhhhh...... or it will be overun with fly flingers and feather throwers.

Actually I'm glad to hear you discovered its secret, wild summer runs. The fishing gets better as you get into September and October. It is a gem of a river to fish. Although the last few years I've noticed there are more gear and spin fishers present, I've had the same experience as you with very cordial and courteous fishers regardless of the types of equipment being used.

Doublespey 08-05-2002 09:06 PM

I hear ya, Sean!
Boy, do I hear ya. I'm down to a fraction of my normal fishing time, and have yet to get a round of golf in this year.

The sooner that date gets here and gone, the better!!:devil:

We'll have to have a "Doomed Bachelors" afternoon up there just to gather our sanity.

When's the date??


sean 08-05-2002 09:15 PM

The date is september 7th unless I throw myself over snoqualmie falls from too much stress. Isn't that pretty close to yours?

We should get together for one last bachelor steelhead. Let me know when you get some free time:rolleyes:


Doublespey 08-06-2002 01:09 PM


Have had the pleasure before and hope I can continue to enjoy those waters up high. I think i'm becoming more and more willing to "go the extra mile" (hiking or driving) to find the fishing conditions I enjoy. Think we may have met some years back on the Mixer - do you fish a 16' T&T??

Sean - mine's August 25. We'll definitely have to give it a go before then.

To the rest of you . . . Effusive??? You want effusive, just wait till I head north later in the year! :devil: :devil:

flytyer 08-06-2002 08:57 PM


Yes, I fish a 16 foot T&T from November through April. I love the bigger, heavier rods and wish T&T, Scott, or G. Loomis would make a 17 or 18 footer for an 11 line. My next 2-hander is going to be a 1509 T&T (15 foot for an 8/9 line) for use on the Sky below the forks, Hoh, Bogey, Wenatchee (if we ever get to fish it again) and perhaps the Thompson (although I do like the 16 footer on the Thompson).

And we probably did meet on the Mixer since it is one of my favorite runs.

old man 08-06-2002 10:50 PM

Flytyer. How far up the upper Sky do you fish. Do you go above the forks or do you stay below them.

I used to fish the N/Fork all the time until they closed off all of the sweet water. Now it seems that I just can't seem to make it up there anymore. I must be to old.

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