winter steelhead

Winter Steelhead in Full Swing

I think it’s safe to say we’re in the heart of winter steelhead! It was a pretty rough start this year for most of Washington with the exception of a few rivers. It’s still pretty slow for the most part but the fish that are around, are quality fish. I’ve been busy, busy, busy with exams, the Washington State Sportsman Show, taxes (I actually like those), and still trying to heal my body while building some strength. Lots of goals and accomplishments, but sometimes the journey is exhausting.

I knew I was only going to be able to fish one day this weekend and it ended up being everything I needed. Our buddy Andrew is almost always able to cheer me up and make me laugh non stop and it was just Jeff, Andrew, and I. We got on a couple of native fish in the morning and the rain came pouring down! I really need some new wading gear and I ended up soaking through 2 wading jackets. Something I’ll never deny is that I HATE being wet. I learned quickly how much more I can enjoy fishing when I’m not soaking wet and I must have forgotten for a while how nasty it can be when it pours all day.

I whined quite a bit and I certainly didn’t deserve anymore fish, but the man upstairs must have knew that I needed a little more to cheer me up! This guy hit and fought harder than all of my other fish this year. I’m quite alright with catch and release on wild steelhead all day long, but Jeff really likes to see fish in the boat so he was also pleasantly surprised to see a hatchery fish.

A great day on the water despite being soaked but this was exactly what I needed to head back into the work week!

Finally, Some Steel!

Alas! We ran into some chrome bullets!

Saturday we ended up with 2 hatchery fish and 1 beautiful native hen that we released:

We had to wait for the temps to warm up again on Sunday, but like clockwork, once the sun hit the water, it was fish on! We had 2 fresh native fish which we also failed to get pics of….because we figured we’d have plenty of hatchery fish the rest of the day! Well…..We ran into a little bit of trouble. Turns out when you hit a good size rock the boat keys are liable to fly right our of the ignition and sink to the bottom of the river. I wish we were just up the creek without a paddle, but instead we were downriver miles above the nearest take out with no main motor and only 3 hours left of daylight. While the guys tried to Jimmy-Rig some stuff, we warmed up Elk burgers!

Thankfully, our intelligent mechanic buddy also was fishing that day and he came to our rescue and got us up and running! We didn’t hook into anymore fish, but we spent a couple hours trying to figure out how we were going to get back to our truck with the boat out of the water. Those keys also happened to have the trailer keys so now, until we cut the lock, this is how we unhook the trailer so I can drive to work LOL.

I have another exam in just a few days so I’ll be studying away but hopefully can spare a few hours this weekend to get out again! I’ll be at the Sportsman show on Sunday so come say Hello at the G Loomis/Shimano booth!

No fish in the rivers!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, huh? That’s mostly because there are no fish in Washington! Well, that’s kind of a fib, but it’s sure been slow the last month!

I do have to update that I finally passed my first CPA exam and I have 3 left. This means I’m that much closer to getting to fish more :)

I also harvested my first deer on Christmas eve!

Now, back to fishing…..I’ve been out here and there mostly to the Wynoochee, Satsop, and Kalama and have to say that I’ve been skunked everywhere! And not just me, we’ve had some of our buddies pick up a total of 2 fish in the past month between 4 different rivers, but certainly nothing to blog about…..Now, to piggy back off my post in November about the steelhead forecasts.

The Skykomish system has not been showing good returns. In fact, so few to the hatchery that they closed many areas for fishing at this fishery is primarily an early run (Dec/Jan). The Wynoochee has a decrease in smolt plant so I’m definitely contributing that to the lack of fish. The state stopped planting the early run on the Cowlitz and this is the first year we’re seeing that impact. All that being said, there are some other coastal rivers that have shown a bit of promise for the early season but most of these rivers hit their peak in February. It’s slow everywhere but if you’re really wanting to get into fish, head to the coast for now.

That’s a bit too far for me to travel for a bit of a gamble being that it’s a little early so I’ll continue to fish the closer rivers in hopes for some early stragglers.

My next exam is Jan 28th so I may or may not be able to attend the Puyallup Sportsman show, but if you spot me, be sure to say hi! I always love meeting people in person and I’m not that great at recognizing people, so stop me! :)

Here’s a few fun pics from the last few weeks

Steelhead Limits!

With my studying, I’m having a hard time getting to fish both weekend days so I get very happy when we have a good day if we’re only fishing 1 day a week.

We headed back out with our new friend Steve and old friend Jerry in hopes to get a couple nice fish like we did last weekend. Aside from an hour of freezing rain (at least it felt like it was freezing), we had a phenomenal day on Sunday!

Going 9 for 14, we ended up with 8 fish in the box and 5 of them happened to be nice, big, bright hens!

We’re definitely more skilled at bobberdoggin but we’re fishing a river with shorter, deeper pockets so it’s a little bit more work to get our gear down quickly with the bobbers on. We were pleasantly surprised this weekend to have done so well side drifting. And as with bobberdoggin, we always try to have a mix of baits and artificial lures so that we can really key in on what the fish like that day. We try to treat every week as if it’s brand new with new water conditions, boat/angler pressure, different fish, different weather, and Jeff worked hard to make it pay off this Sunday!

Let’s hope this weather holds up so we can fish at least one day this weekend too!