Winter Steelheading around Seattle
Well, the only reason I see for the Happy Face icon is that there are a few early natives roaming around our Puget Sound rivers!!
I just talked to a friend who actually landed one in the lower Skykomish this last weekend on a blue/black maribou spider. Not large (about 8lbs), but the first I've heard of this year. Gives those of us who have yet to connect this year that magic ingredient so necessary to winter steelheaders - HOPE!
The good news is that all the Skykomish has already gone to Catch & Release for wild steelhead this year. Nobody knows why (as rotten hatchery returns don't seem to serve as reliable indication of the strength of the native return), but I'm sure not hearing many complaints. That also means that there will be much less pressure on the early wild fish that return to the upper Sky and tribs in late January and February since the fishermen will decrease with the dwindling numbers of hatchery fish. Sounds like a good time to go give those spey casting muscles a little work!
This years floods have reshaped many of our rivers in Washington, but two have received drastic alterations - the Hoh and Sauk. I haven't seen it yet, but good friends who've floated the lower Sauk and used to brag to me that it contained some of the best fly water on either system (Sauk or Skagit) are telling me that those pools have been Wiped Out. As with the Hoh, fishermen will have to re-learn these rivers (and their holding lies) all over again. Personally, I think this is GREAT! Gives those who are good at reading water a chance to find a new "secret" spots not obvious to the casual fisherman.
Lets get some trip reports on here!! I'll be posting periodic updates on the status of steelheading on the Snoqualmie and Skykomish (my home rivers)as the season progresses and will try to get a trip report or two up as well when I get the chance to escape to the Olympic Peninsula (one of my favorite destinations).
See you on the River and
Doublespey (AKA Brian Lencho)