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Time to get out the Floating lines and Wakers

2128 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  juro
Hey Metalhead Junkies,

Well, my own personal "reminder" for getting on with surface fishing is when the Snoqualmie approaches the magic mark of 2000cfs at Carnation and it's almost there, and suprisingly early this year to boot.

The fish are in the river, so it's up to me to find the time to get after them <g>

Let the Skating Begin!

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A question for the board.

So far this summer I have been fishing the same runs that hold winter fish and using the same methods. I have been lucky enough to find a few fish but as the rivers are now dropping, I know I will need to start focusing on different water and using different setups. My question is, at what point in the summer do you make the switch from primarily fishing "winter" lies to those more traditional summer holds? Is this switch determined for you by water temp., river level, clarity or just intuition? Curious to see what the board has to say.
My experience is that water conditions are the key... when the temperatures, oxygenation, and clarity demand it the fish go into their summer behaviors. Off the cuff, I find summer fish in three kinds of water:

a) holding pools - Horseshoe in Palmer Kanasket on the upper Green. Loaded with summer runs by now, worth a look. Reiter Ponds / Sky. Fortson / Stilly. Lower Calawah. Fifth Bridge / SolDuc.

b) whitewater - riffles, rapids at heads of pools, turbulent tailouts, long bouldery runs, etc. Falls / Snoqualmie. High Bridge / Sky. Palmer above hatchery / Green.

c) classic - rock gardens, trenches, well formed tailouts, runs. Blue Creek / Cowlitz. Apple Orchard tailout / Elwha. Flaming Geyser Bridge pool / Green. Picnic / Stilly. Confluence / Hoh.

Not to mention other types of water that are in-between or a mixture of the above.

Classic water is the most satisfying to fish, kind of like winter water but much more trouty. Not like winter water in that things like stumps, cut banks, and all that structure really matters in summer. I recall a fallen tree where I hooked a ten pound chromer off my end, and Brian rolled a fish on a waking fly twice off the other end. My fish leapt four feet from the water and shook the hook. Brian's fish came up for his fly repeatedly but never connected fully. Talk about frustration!

As water gets depleted of O2 and warm, some fish tend to hang beneath rapids or in the heads of pools where water tumbles from the pool above it. If you hit Reiter each morning at dawn with a muddler style fly, concentrating on the rapids at the heads of pools, you could have a dozen dryline steelhead in no time. If you short-line muddlers in the rocky rapids below Snoqualmie falls for the first two hours of daylight through the summer, you will be in for some explosive summer run action over the summer. I've caught summer fish up to 17 pounds by standing upstream and longlining sinktips surprisingly shallow rapids, or gurgling a fly in the wakes of rocks in the rapids on a dry line.

Holding pools are frustrating in that there are so many fish to see but so few bite. On the other hand, they do bite once in a while and offer a great challenge to tempt. My best luck has been to target them at the earliest possible time of day and in the last hour of daylight with super-stealthy leaders and subtle flies like sparse dark speys or caddis patterns. I enjoy working these fish because of the challenge. There are always a couple of fish in the above two kinds of water in the vicinity of a holding pool as well.

They're all great!
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I've been faithfully running through runs for a first pass with dryline/waker since mid june w/o any action. My wife however, brought 1 to the waker on the evening of 4 July at around 21:40 (water 49deg F). She has had pretty good luck this summer!

Hey all,

I liked Sinktip's observation about water temp - I hadn't thought about it much, but the water temps are usually higher when we start seeing these lower water levels.

I still think that many steelhead *will* rise in 50 degree water, but maybe they haven't settled into their summer lies yet??

I've found that summer-runs in the Puget Sound rivers, when they first arrive in the river, stick close to the main current and cruise up to the area around the hatchery. Then, after they've been in the river awhile, they start to hang in the tailouts, riffles, and other floating line summer/fall lies.

It's probably (guessing here) a combination of the water temp, length of time in the river, and water level that makes for optimal floating line conditions.

Any thoughts on this??
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My thoughts are that aggressive, ansty fish move to the heads of pools every morning as day breaks. Over the years, I have caught so many of my "right off the bat" steelhead in parts of the pool that indicate the fish was anxious... both in terms of their position and their explosive surface takes.

The three fish I hooked on the Sky with you were exactly this type of situation; as was the second cast fish on the Cow with you and Andre. Horseshoe (which we talked about earlier) has the same situation, as does Nishimoto Strawberry farms at the riffle (another second cast fish).

I used to try to tease them out of the belly of the pool for hours in holes like Fortson, Reiter, Horseshoe, Blue Crk, Satsop forks, High bridge, etc - but when I switched to fishing the last two hours of daylight, sleeping in the truck and fishing the first few hours the next morning my catch record went thru the roof.

It's amazing that the river conditions are holding such cool temps in July, that's great news! I hate it when the fish start dying due to lack of oxygen and the deadly organisms that can invade salmon and steelhead lies during warm water.

I can't wait until this fall!
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> I've been faithfully running through runs for a first pass with
> dryline/waker since mid june w/o any action. My wife however, brought 1
> to the waker on the evening of 4 July at around 21:40 (water 49deg F).
> She has had pretty good luck this summer!
> -tgades

Tony -

You are a lucky man! Glad to hear about the July 4th fireworks.

Hope to hook up this fall... unless you're world travelin' again!

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