SUMMER STEELHEAD FLY FISHING As an angler of all fishes my true love are steelhead, everything about them fits my persona and lifestyle follows suit. In the 80's they were common place on the rivers of the Puget Sound namely the Green river flowing through Auburn and we fished in the Gorge. Although, according to WDFW Biologists they was never a wild run in the green, it sure seemed like a riverine habitat that would of supported them. Now with the hatchery systems falling from grace even non-wild rivers go unplanted to a large degree. We commonly fished the run all summer with the cooler times being best as water temps rose above 60 during heat waves. Many of my days would be played out hiking the George and fishing skaters/wakers and dry lines in tail outs then riffles and then any shade as the day progressed. In those days location was key, and secrecy a must. I admit having some coveted private access into the Gorge was helpful. Those runs as with many Puget Sound summer runs will only return to fishable levels with the resurgence of hatchery plants. Programs that have been deemed the devil by some special interest groups. I get lucky once and a while dogs are a fishing must have Loving the summertime Its been since the early 90's that I have pursued the summer run steelhead in actual summer. I have whittled the season down to concentrate in the fall when the Columbia river tribs would be open and fishable numbers existed. Last summer I started fishing a few times a month on the Cowlitz, and again this year quite a bit more. The resurgence of fresh run summer steelhead is addicting and the hard fighting fish are running strong in most of the Columbia tribs and even in the northern Puget Sound tribs are seeing some return of hatchery and wild steelhead. I have dropped the trout rods and picked up the 6wt spey far
Fly Fishing Reports
As we progress or gain experience in reality we learn things that are only discovered with LOTS of time on the water. Some in business call it the 10,000 hour thresh hold. There comes a point in experience that many thing become second nature. In the fishermen guiding field its as simple as effortlessly dodging rocks on a rapid, seeing and fishing current seams un noticed by most others or when to dip the net and when not to. All these things take time and understanding. Many go unshared or even un noticed by others. The other and most important aspect in experience is Responsibility. We as guides are responsible for the safety our guests, there enjoyment on the water and sometimes there effectiveness in catching the quarry. Perfect hook point, upward and to the corner. But what I feel the need to SHARE with you is the responsibility we have as guides and all anglers alike the care of our sought after prize. It used to be that just the style of angling was often considered and effective tool in lowering our effect OF angling on Salmon Trout and Steelhead. I choose these as there in the hot bed of topic and also what I know about the most. We as anglers really don't know how effective other styles are unless we have done that or experienced that. Many guides have never swung a fly for steelhead, many others have never floated jigs or hung bait under floats or experienced plunking. But we find it so common for the general fishing public to assume what is happening in a day on the water with alternate methods. At this juncture we can say the most common problem with the management of our iconic species is KILLING them. Plain and simple, we don't want to kill the ones that are least in volume or the ones we cherish the most. This post wont be about tribal issues or WDFW management
Its official, there is real good steelhead fishing to be had at the right place at the right time... This being Labor day week end fishing pressure was pretty substantial to say the least, with a little elusive timing and split floating mixed in with long ass fishing days we are managing double digit success with regularity. Seeing quite a few wild steel along with the smoking type; their fin challenged hatchery cousins. Cooler temps and a little rain has helped immensely, even finding few fall chinook I the mix. The Chinook run is looking epic and their size range is over the top, un-land able at this point! super clear water for the Klickitat has brought on some troubles for the private crowd Andy and I have been doing well on the normal techniques with a low water adjustment.. Been getting some goods grabs at the fringe hours right in front of the house here on dry lines and wakers or sub surface, yet to complete the task but its only a matter of time.. UPDATE: The BS road mining project is finally over so we wont be seeing any out of the normal blow out from the past two seasons. On the positive side the digging has made a very good dry fly skating run... Some good dates available, call us in the evening at the house here in Klickitat @ 509-369-1018 Email jeff@Brazdasflyfishing.com Thanks for subscribing, Steelhead fishing reports, Jeff
As recently as the last few season the Yakima tribe and WDFW has been planting Sockeye for return into the lakes at the upper reaches of the Yakima river. With just a little research of this I found that the adults have been transported above Roza dam forgoing any migration through the upper Yakima as Adults. Although I am sure some make the journey on the own as with every thing in the wilds total containment is impossible when it comes to mother nature. That may prove to unfortunate as more salmon in a river full of trout is often good for the food source. The conundrum is the fry are dropped into the river to migrate down through the upper Yakima swimming where there parents were not allowed. With this being a low water season this year they are tending to hang around, much to chagrin of the dry fly fishermen. This is posing and option: #1 try and stay away from the multitude of these little bastards. #2 Use Em as BAIT,,,, well,,, really use a fly, but you get the idea.. When I was guiding in Montana we often fished a method called "draggin hair" or nymphing a Zonker however politically correct you want to be. Some days this WAS the best technique and often resulted in the biggest trout of the day or week for that matter. Often paired with a caddis pupa or soft hackle as a alternate choice. We have been doing this method for a few years on the Yakima since the salmon hatcheries have upped there production. But with the smaller size of the Sockeye fry its readily accessible to more trout. We use the Zonker because of the keel shape of the fly allowing a longer leader for correct down stream swimming path of the presentation, and it wont snag so easily, a bonus in itself. Rig a leader with either a double blood knot tippet w/
Most of this post has been a long time coming and my good friend Joe Willauer posted on his blog about steelhead popularity, a great read and a fantastic person to follow. This prompted me to speak up with OLD MAN experiences even though I am but 51, I hope that's not old. Some of this post will be a little of memory lane, for those of us that were steelhead fishing in the 70-80's, younger generations may not believe it.. Please bare with the history lesson, I'll get to the point eventually.. Fishing pressure as we see it now is NOT what it used to be, it used to be much more. In the 7o's the rivers were lined with hip boot wearing egg tossing old men and there boys. It was commonly a very sociable occasion, everyone talking on the river bank and enjoying company in the outdoors. I remember many days on the Puyallup or Green river hanging out with grandpa and his fishing friends, often around a campfire on the beach. One fond memory at Antones Bar on the Puyallup River: About fifteen bank anglers were at upper Antones, ( lower bar had at least 30) only five or so guys were fishing and rest of us were at the fire, telling lies of course, the angler at the tail out hooks a fish, the next guy up hooks a fish and by the time a third was hooked up we all had ran out to the river bank casting for our catch, no cussing , no evil eye, no attitude just sociable angling. At the time I thought that was the lesson in how steelhead move, but it was a lesson in how it did not matter weather you were first or last it only mattered that you were there when it happened. Back then gear guys would post up just as now, but only because of so many people, not because of being stubborn or un-respectful to
Shortly after winter spring steelhead season I wander off to do some fun fishing in the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California Sur, or simply East cape as the Rooster aficionado angler calls it. The Yucatan trip to Ascension bay was plagued with high winds and not so enthusiastic tarpon. I did manage a few fish and presented to a couple willing Permit but beyond that our good fortune was limited to the fantastic service at La Pescadora Lodge in Punta Allen. Jose the head guide is the next level individual that understands more about the area's Permits than the Permits do themselves! I will just have to call a do over on this one, already have my dates on the calendar! East Cape fished very well for us with the Dorado bite on pretty much daily. The Roosters were far and few in between and really only seen a couple for the short work we offered on them. I fell off the high horse and went trolling a day and did pretty damn well with a few Wahoo, a Marlin that followed us for a mile and Dorado that came running from a hundred yards to crash our baits. Its the damdest thing we could see them leaping from the left or right and attack our trolled offering. It is something that is as exciting as skating a dry over the sweet spot. Our friend the 10 foot shark I learned more this season than the last five, some real fish catching experience that will be useful for the years to come. Basically why I love going to new places, the learning curve is fundamentally the game. Back to reality and the trout fishing world on the Yakima River...that will be in the next posting, Yakima River Drakes, the time is now! Fathers Day special 15% off trips booked by June 15, used anytime! EM jeff@Brazdasflyfishing.com and add "Fathers Day" in subject line... Gift certs available. Thanks for following!
40 plus incher! My good friend and guest at the Bogy House this last week caught an impressive sized buck from our local waters. Bruce has been a steelhead angler for over 50 years and a commercial troller in Alaska just as long. Needless to say he knows how to fish and has caught more salmon and steelhead than most of the sports fishermen in Washington combined. A fish like this brings hope to our small world of steelhead enthusiasts, knowing that it is still alive and passing the Genetics on to future generations of monster winter steelhead. We often see these beasts but seldom touch them. I was lucky to have been there when he captured this beauty as his biggest steelhead ever anywhere he has fished. I cant tell you how wonderful it is to even be involved with such an event. This is the second largest steelhead I have ever seen personally. We chose this pic as it is NOT enhanced by wide angle it is NOT long armed it is purely a quality specimen for a quality group of guys. Thanks for the times Bruce and Tony...Jeff
Nate on a Queets day in early season.. The low water of January was just a game of mother nature, now its catch up time. Going through the fast track pace of rain flood freeze and drop in three day intervals is enough to cause a fishing guide to loose it...No forecasts are good enough for the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula. We have a unique situation that allows huge amounts of rainfall just to keep pace with good flows for fishing, along with a steep mountain range that is constantly receiving snow fall and snow melt compounding the flow into the river. Its a constant on again off again affair with these darn Steelhead! My high school buddy Henry with one of his dandy steelhead on the OP this Saturday. Having success with high water takes a lot of luck and persistently doing the right thing! Thanks for subscribing Jeff Brazda... New April dates available on a cancellation; Arriving April Wed. April 9 fishing 10,11,12 and departing Sunday the 13th...Call for pricing. Thanks Jeff..
Where to begin... *Spring Steelhead: The Olympic Peninsula started with a bang in January with good to great fishing on odd weeks. The coveted big fish weeks in February have too low of water and results were mixed with super numbers or moderate results. March has a few days of blow out and good fishing on two and three salt steelhead with plenty of jumbos in the mix. Dr Aronian with a good one! The first part of April fishing on the Hoh was non existent, coming off a good freshet in late March, the Hoh tribe who's self imposed season ended April 1st, pulled the ceremonial card on a dropping river the very next day and fished five days straight with drift nets and jet boats on the lower Hoh to stop short the escapement goals for the third season in a row. WDFW, WSC, CCA all of them "SILENT" until this Fall when the escapement figures came out. (Maybe think about that when your at the restaurant and you see steelhead offerings, or when these organizations want your donation to increase regulation on sportsmen or worse yet close the rivers). Thankfully we are blessed with 4 other rivers on the Peninsula at this time, which fished well into April, the Hoh never did pick up again before closing the 15th. my first ever Rooster... Rooster fishing in Baja: Fishing is better than expected, the bait showed up, the dusty Mexican Baja is still dusty. This trip is through Jay Murkowski who manages through tough logistics to get you into the zone of good fishing. However we did not expect to have the window time, but the fishing made up for it.. The only Mafia we seen was the bait mafia and they appeared harmless but did know the value of the sardine. We landed 12 different species this trip worth the price!... Hosted trip in May 2014.. Jesse and I on the Kitimat Fun fishing in BC: Did the 20 plus hour drive to the Skeena for the first time to find it not quite ready.
Chinooky for Can-o-Nasty Jerry was on fire to day four Chinook and two steelhead..by 10AM.. Well all good things change. The steelhead game is improving with leaps and bounds and these bronzed battlers are turning into the zombie apocalypse. In a few weeks the spawning grounds will be infested, in a good way, with the stench of spawning salmon.. The WDFW has announced the opening of the upper Columbia tributaries, primarily the Methow and Wenatchee. With the flows we have it will be a swing game on decent numbers of (federal) wild steelhead. Knowing how the Methow reacts the first month will be a blast especially with the water flow. I think is flowing around 1000 cfs although the graph that is funded by the feds shows differently (no surprise there). My game will be the dry or the I line right out of the gate with nymphing on the run to keep things wet.. Cant wait to throw one of these: The Peccary Spangler The whole reason for life as a steelhead fisher is fulfilled every fall when these Icons of the NW will rise again to the dry fly... Dates open this fall..