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Cascade Season Winding down...

3575 Views 17 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Todd Ripley
With this being the last steelhead weekend before closures in Washington's Cascade River systems, I would imagine at 6:35 am PST most of not all are prying the nooks and crannies of every decent run right about now.

As far as all reports would indicate, it seems like it's been a heck of a late winter push and if there were any rain or water to speak of there would probably be a tremendous number of big nates in the rivers right now. Makes one wonder if the run predictions were on target, but that's another story. As many have said, it won't hurt to give the fish a break either.

I hope the PNW gang has a stellar weekend, enjoying the river with good friends, finding that magic connection to wild steelhead on a fly - nothing like it! I'm sure some will find some time during the week to say goodbye to what started out as a hot spring fishery. I know those would be three days I'd take off.

On the bright side, maybe I'll get those steelhead swap flies now <VBG>. Have a great closer, maybe I'll see you out on the OP next month.
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The Upper Skagit and Sauk were FILLED with anglers in every pool today. There wasn't one run I wanted to fish that didn't have at least 1 angler already in it. Looking for new water, I headed downstream to find the Grandy Creek run.

You can imagine my suprise when I reached the Baker River in Concrete and found that, far from being blocked off as PugetPower had threatened, it was pumping large amounts of white mud into the Skagit - enought to completely blow it out downstream.

I continued south, deciding at the last minute to head to the Sky to see if anyone was in my favorite low water run. Nobody was there, but the weather was a stark contrast from that in the Skagit valley - bluebird weather instead of broken clouds and showers. Deciding to fish anyway, I spent a pleasant couple hours swinging an assortment of flies through the riffle.

It was a perfect afternoon for pictures, so I shot a bunch with the new water-resistant digital I'd bought and they turned out well (wallpaper for work <g>). Talked to a few boaters - 1 plugpuller had lost a fish, but the rest had drawn blanks.

Now for the Peninsula - all I've heard have been Outstanding Reports from over there! Guys have been getting fish in the Hoh, Duc, and Bogie. Sounds like one of the best returns in recent years, so I'll be happy to point my rig west ASAP.

Juro - get out here if you can - those fish are seriously snarfing flies over there!
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After all my grumbling about the winter the season is already promising to be action packed. I will either do the OP in March or go with Smitty to the Great lakes. Same amount of time, the issue is airfare or gas.

April - late April I hope to visit the Florida Keys, but that may go into May. May 12th-ish is the spring kick-off clave on Cape Cod, and the meister Jeff Roop informs me that I must stay with the boyz even if my family is down the cape for that weekend. I'm in deep doodoo.

Late May is Luis Nasim's visit to the salty side of the FF universe, hopefully I will convince Steve Moore that this canuck needs to be intiated in the ways of the brine on Slamdance.

As soon as the fish make the bathtub in the Monomoy "archipelago" I am flats bound. If you can make it out in June, I'd do it. There will be snarfin' going on here too. Either that or fall. Your July visit last year was OK but June and September are on a whole different level.

It's looking like a Housatonic river trip is in the cards, and if all goes well I would like this to be the year I see the Gaspe.

Anyway, my point is I need to distribute my brownie points carefully thru the season but a jump to the OP is not out of the question in March. The Hoh, Sol Duc, upper Bogey, calls!

Whatever happens, I will not miss the fall trip in the northwest. I liked what Tyler was suggesting last time we spoke.
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Well Juro my spring break begins around the 15th of March. If I can get away, you know where I will be. :)

I want to spend half the time on the Upper Hoko fishing a river I have wanted to fish for years. The next half will be spent on the Queets and the Clearwater. Hopefully I will get some fishies, learn some new water and have one hell of a spring break. The typical college kid get drunk and party 24/7 just does not sound very appealing to me. :)

Hope to see this March, maybe we can fish a day or two?
Fished the Skagit hard both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday we put in at Hamilton and fished the middle section for about 8 hours. River was very silty from the Baker. Heard of one fish taken.

Sunday, put in at Concrete and fished the river from Sauk bar down to S&L. Nothing. Baker river pouring more crap into the Skagit making the middle and lower river unfishable. Three of us pounded the river for over 10 hours. Both arms are sore today.

The end of a good year. I caught the biggest steelhead of my life this year. No complaints.

Heading north to BC. First, the Vedder. Then?

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Thank God for the Vedder.

A shorter drive then the Coast and God knows I am not heading over to Forks without a gun and really big buddy after one certain little incident. :)

I know that incident. I really don't think you have anything to worry about. Some have to much time on thier hands. You probably read my last post........"nobody cares". I would head over to the pen with you at any time. And if you would feel safer I know a guy that goes about 6'5", around 240 and is slightly crazy if you know what I mean. He lives life large and is a good fly fisherman.

Did I hear Vedder? The Vedder?!!! Be serious please. If you want to find bubbas and mouth-breathers - Canadian style - go for it. While there are lots of fish, including large "1st generation" hatchery fish the number of gear fishing bozos is mind boggling. While there are a number of ethical classy gear guys up here in Canada even THEY do not like to fish the Vedder. Hordes of hip-booted speed bumps line the runs, they do not move and think that 10 feet of space on either side of a fly guy is plenty of room. As well, the mouth breathers have learned to transfer knowledge (yes as unlikley as it seems) from the the Fraser River sockeye-flossing gong show and large sectors of the Vedder are repleat with these "sportsmen" flossing for steelhead! This is not my idea of a quality experience.

Having said this, maybe the run-off will not be bad and the river will remain fishable during the May fly-only season! We will just have to wait.

Tight lines - tyler.
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The Vedder sounds like the BC version of the Cowlitz!

So, I went looking around to read about this "incident" and couldn't find it - care to fill me in please? My curiosity's got me on this one.
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Hey Kush,

The Vedder is only about a hour and a half drive from home. I have never been there. A good friend and I thought, for the short drive, it might be worth a shot. From what I hear you say we should stay home until the fly season starts. This true?


Ryan can explain "The Incident" to you. I find it somewhat humorous. He might not.

Ahh yes, "The Incident."

At the infamous BB, frequently visited by Jim Mansfield and Guy Ruble, two bonk 'em, fillet 'em, all the better if they are natives type guides. In fact Jim Mansfield writes a column for and promotes his guide service off the site.

Anyways, someone posted that he had spend some time in jail for robbery, whether this is true or not, I dont know.

I was named as the poster because the IP was traced to the UW, where I attend.

Jim then posted many times that he was going to send all his lawyers after me and that I had better apologize, etc. etc. etc. He also said that the next time I visit Forks, "we need to sit down for coffee." Jim is a big grumpy mean born and raised Forks local yocal.

I was described as a young punk kid and well there are not many young punk kids that fish. My recently bleached hair does not help me either. :)

So now you can see why I am a little nervous about making a trip out to Forks. Jimmy has a following out there and Im sure they all know the name "Ryan S. Petzold" by now. God knows I am bringing alot of cash on my trip out there.

Things are looking up as of tonight, though. A couple of good customers of ours at Teds fish with Jimmy all the time. They promised me that when they fish with him in two weeks they would tell him "Im not a bad guy" and that I would never do anything like that.

I can not wait for Spring Break and if anyone would like to do some exploring of the Upper Hoko, you are free to join me. :)

...and I did not hit any fish yesterday on the North Fork. The lower river is as clear as I have ever seen it, including summer, but it will be closed. :(
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Hey Ryan,

There are a lot of hot tempers on the OP - make judgements first and ask questions later!! A well-known fly guide (no longer on the OP from what Bob tells me) used to pack a 45 automatic on his hip while on the river.

Anyway, it sounds like your friends have the right idea - once they talk to him your car/truck's projected lifespan will increase considerably!

Good luck on the Hoko - if I can get a few days off, you might just run into me up there.
Don't count me out yet either.

Ryan - I'm no bodyguard but maybe I can yell a few karate words (about all I'm good for) while we figure out a hasty exit!

Too bad about the way people flame up like that. If Syd was still around in Forks, he'd tell us kids to shake hands!
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Is it worth it to try the Vedder? A tough question in some ways. There is a fair amount of good fly water and there are definitely lots of fish, however as I previously pointed out the quality of the experience is definitely suspect! While I know some fly guys who regularly fish the Vedder through the winter they tend to live fairly close to the river and normally limit their fishing to short prime time excursions to pet holes ( as well, I don't think any self respecting fisherman could take a WHOLE day at that zoo!). While I only live 15 minutes closer to the river than you do I did grow up fishing the Vedder, but I now average about 3 hours a year fishing it - I just can't stand the "new" ethic that exists there.

As for the Fly-Only season in May, this often sounds better than it really is. This is due primarily to the common run-off pattern that sees the river go out very early in May often negating the so-called 2nd season. In those years that the vagarities of run-off leave the river fishable it can be wonderful, the pressure is low, there are significant numbers of fish and it is a beautiful river. So like I said, I will just wait and see. If YOU can't wait, by all means come on up and experience some Canadian hospitality - "Vedder-style" - though fist-fights have been known to happen at least you won't see or need guns!

Tight lines - tyler.
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Thanks Kush,

Because of the short distance and travel time we will likely give the Vedder a try. The promise of no gun play is definitely a bonus. I have never seen a weapon produced while fishing. I do know that at least a few boats on the Skagit are armed and likely a few of the bank anglers too.

We have a small river close by that has a decent king run in late summer. One of the last places to fish for kings, this small river attracts a less than desirable crowd. I have found ways to fish that removes me from the masses although I visit this river less and less each year. Perhaps for the same reasons you have for spending less time at the Vedder. At the very least it is sometimes entertaining to watch what I term combat fishing. And yes true combat does occur on the rare occasion. The real sadness comes when the crowds leave and leave their mess also. In time the river will be closed to fishing because of the mess and the unethical techniques employed to catch fish. I fail to understand the mentality that has to catch fish at any cost.

Thanks again,

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Het Kerry, can you spell estuary! With a burger break at the Edison Tavern thrown in.

You can go above the chaos and find some nice cutts also. That burger does sound good.
Ryan-why don't you take your lawyer out to OP with you? I'm certainly not planning on doing much out of the boat this spring out there, I get enough bumper cars at the Seattle Center and on I-5. I'll be fishing the little gems.

See you next Wednesday at the meeting.

Todd Ripley
Legal Advisor
Wild Steelhead Coalition
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