WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
December 6, 2013
Contact: Contact: Jeff Korth, (Ephrata), (509) 754-4624, ext. 224
Travis Maitland, (Wenatchee), (509) 665-3337
Fishing for steelhead to close Dec. 8 on three rivers in the Upper Columbia Basin
OLYMPIA – Steelhead fisheries will close one hour after sunset on Dec. 8 on the upper Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam and on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.
Fishing for whitefish will also close on the Wenatchee River one hour after sunset on Dec. 8.
The closures will not, however, affect steelhead and whitefish fishing seasons on the Okanogan River, Similkameen River, Methow River, and mainstem Columbia River from Wells Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.
Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“This year’s run is smaller than in recent years and contains a relatively high proportion of wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Because of that, we saw an increase in the rate of encounters with natural-origin fish in some fishing areas.”
Although anglers must release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in area fisheries, some of those fish do not survive and are counted toward ESA impact limits.
The federal permit authorizing the steelhead fisheries sets a maximum allowable mortality of natural-origin steelhead to accommodate variations in run strength and angling effort on specific waters. WDFW closely monitors the fisheries and enforces fishing rules to protect wild steelhead.
The primary reason the upper Columbia steelhead fisheries are permitted is to remove excess hatchery fish from spawning grounds, said Korth, noting that those fisheries provide popular recreational fishing opportunities and economic benefits for rural communities throughout the region.
WDFW fisheries managers are analyzing fishery impacts to date, and will produce a steelhead run update next month, Korth said. Some areas could be reopened at a later date for additional fishing opportunities, and anglers should keep a close eye on the WDFW website for these possibilities.
Specific waters that will close to fishing for steelhead an hour after sunset Dec.8 include:
Areas closing to whitefish angling an hour after sunset Dec. 8 include:
Areas that remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead include:
When these fisheries are open, anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead, which can be identified by a clipped adipose fin, they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. Once anglers have retained two fish, they must stop fishing for steelhead.
Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect for all areas where steelhead seasons remain open. However, bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
All anglers must possess a valid Washington fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons in the Columbia River system, including fishery enforcement and monitoring. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million per year to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
For more information, see the fishing rule change on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1381
The weather in central Washington cooled down this week after a start to November that we haven’t had in a long time! It seems like last November we were chipping ice out of our guides every morning and this year we haven’t hardly seen any ice up until the past 24 hours. To us however cold weather means one of two things. Either you get some extra layers or you grab your shotgun but we don’t stay inside! hahahaha
Here are 5 good tips for fishing in cold weather and having fun.
1. Get GOOD fishing gloves. Don’t go cheap here. Get good foldover Mitts. Those loose fitting old wool gloves you have work fine on snowballs and for scraping your windshield but when it comes to handling a fine instrument like a fly rod get some gloves man! You gotta grip line, tie flies, untangle stuff once in a while, and get the job done! Here is a link to one of the best fishing gloves made. The way the mitten portion folds back in keeps it totally out of the way, you’ll love ‘em. Fishing gloves for cold weather. http://www.redsflyfishing.com/Redington-Hybrid-Glove-p/redington-mitt-glove.htm
2. Small Nymphs. Right now the Zebra Midge is a great choice. Sweeeeet fly. Get some. Not fancy but that silver bead seems to “get ‘em”.
Caddis Larvae next to the Olive Zebra Midge – it imitates many things other than just Midge!
3. Just do it. Plain and simple, time to fish. You won’t regret it, once you are there you’ll be glad!
4. Streamer fish. Its not just for big trout, it is effective. Get a good sink tip line system for cold water, I personally like the Wulff Ambush Fly Line and a 15′ 7.0 ips Versileader. This shooting head system is versatile and a good investment because you can use that line and sink tip system for a variety of applications. You can get various sinking leaders and use it on lakes, at the beach, single spey nymph fishing, and lots of other stuff.
5. Get a Switch Rod for your streamer fishing. This one is of course optional but you will fish more water, have more fun, and even when you are not catching fish you’ll be having a blast while casting a 5 weight switch rod. It is a very enjoyable way to throw streamer patterns a long ways into the biggest, widest runs that trout love so much in cold water.
5 Weight Switch Rods for Trout
Switch Chucker Line for Streamer Fishing on Switch Rods
Rio Spey Versileaders (sinking leaders for streamer fishing – get a variety of rates) – 10′ Casts Better – 15′ Fishes Better
Stretch of River: Red’s to Slab
Anglers: Joe, Steve, and Mark
Results: 10+ Trout Landed
Hunger Level: 8 out of 10
It was a nice change of pace yesterday going from Steelhead on the Klickitat to the Yakima. Trading in the 8 weights and spey rods in exchange for a nice crisp 5 weight rod was a nice change up. Fall fishing was at its best on the Yakima River yesterday. Other than the absence of dry fly fishing the bite doesn’t get much better. This warm weather that we are having seems to be hanging around and things are looking very good through this weekend. The above average temperatures have the trout feeding heavily and putting on their “winter weight”.
We fished nymphs in the morning right out of the gate and about as soon as I got us rigged up we had fish on! The trout favored the Olive Zebra Midge slightly over other bugs but it is a wise move to switch flies after you fish a spot. You are likely to miss quite a few fish on such small flies and a simple “bait and switch” with a new fly might tempt them into biting again. The trout have moved into the distinct holes and buckets so you will want to target the “honey holes” where you can visibly see drop offs and ledges.
After we caught a handful of fish on nymphs we switched it up and decided to swing streamers on our switch rods. We had both the 5 and 6 weight Sage ONE switch rods on board. We loaded one of them up with a Skagit Max Short style head and the other with a Switch Chucker. The 5 weight loved the Switch Chucker and since it is a one piece line it is great for retrieving streamers as well as swinging. Our M.O. yesterday though was to get some spey casting in so that we could fine tune our techniques while sticking some dandy trout on swung flies. It was an absolute blast! We wade fished some of the bigger runs and used 15′ 7.0 ips Polyleader as a sink tip and the fish was great. Some of the fish were absolutely crushing that fly in a tight swing. It is super fun and prepares you to spey fish for Steelhead. We presented the fly all sorts of various angles but it seemed like the dead swing (no jigging with the rod tip) was the most productive and casting at about a 90 degree angle to set up the swing was the most effective presentation. I’ll post another article and likely a video this next week on how to do this. It is too much fun not to be a part of!
And… at the end of the day we had dinner and a brew back at Canyon River Grill
Here we are. The fringe season of fall which marks the onset of the “small bug fishing” on our home waters. After a busy summer of casting big foam dry flies and heavy nymph setups both angler and trout are seeking a change of pace. We had some great fishing yesterday on small bugs and it prompted me to share some advice with you. With the low clear water than accompanies the “freeze up” each fall the demands on fly selection become far greater. During the warm water season of June through September the trout were at the mercy of their appetite and with all the yummy terrestrials hopping around their will power to pass up the angler’s offerings is weak. They see that Chubby Chernobyl floating by and they have to have it! Kind of like those last couple slices of pizza. You know you shouldn’t but… can’t let it go to waste.
Summer trout are pretty vulnerable and therefore they react pretty aggressively overall and respond to larger offerings. As the water temps dip down into the low 40′s and 30′s in the fall, these same fish can afford to be a little more selective. And the available food sources change as well of course. During this transition from a summer to fall the fish build a feeding rhythm that they can trust and doesn’t get them into trout. Typically they feed on very small bugs that don’t have a risk factor associated with them. This risk might be a hook, inefficient return on their efforts, or even a flight risk like a bug flying away, hiding in the rocks, or swimming evasively and creating more work than it was worth.
While larger nymphs will work and winter fish will still continue to forage on Stonefly Nymphs, the ol’ “Pat’s Stone wth a Holo Prince Dropper” isn’t going to get the job done. The larger fish will have way too much time to analyze the presentation and you will be left standing there only snagging the occasional Ytfish. Fly selections in the size #16 – #20 range tend to yield more fish in cold water. Fish what you are confident in but we encourage you to try our advice on your next outing.
Cold water trout want highly predictable food. Typically, smaller food is more predictable. The focus of this blog is to give you some sound advice on fishing small bugs in cold water so without further ado: The tips.
1. Use Midge Patterns – Midge are not only active in cold water on most streams but they levitate in a very predictable fashioned. They won’t swim, crawl away, or fly away the second they hit the surface. Most Midge patterns can also imitate juvenille nymphs or larvae from Mayflies or Caddis.
2. Fish “known water” – There are great times to explore on a river but if there is ice in your guides this is not one of them! Fish the predictable spots and look for walking speed water or slower.
3. Look for “slicks” – If you are fishing in faster water broken by boulders look for “slicks”. This describes the area downstream of a boulder that is slick and flat water – not choppy like the water surrounding the rocks.
4. Yarn Indicators – Try using Yarndicators. They float more naturally with small bugs, are more sensitive, land softer, react quicker on the strikes, and you get better drifts because you can see if they are leaning one way or another. This is VERY CRITICAL. I use all caps because you must understand. Small bugs require perfect drifts.
5. 5X is big tippet… 6X is about right… if you are desperate go to the dreaded 7X tippet – Any questions? Well you might not have asked but I will ramble anyway. If your nymphs are heavy like a Tungsten bead or wrapped with wire like a Brassie you can use 5X, if they are lightweight or have no bead then use 7X. Bring your cheater glasses!
6. Fluorocarbon only.
7. Adjust your depth. Each pool seams to have a “sweet spot” that has the right water temp and the fish will pod up. Start by fishing high in the column, say for instance if is 6′ deep then fish about 4′ off the bottom when you start. That way you KNOW for certain any take on the indicator was a fish. Locate the pod by reading the strikes (you will miss A LOT of fish on small bugs) then deepen up and start to dissect the pod once located. There are some holes in my local river that I will row all over until I get a take then it is anchors away and I’ll fish for 45 minutes in one small area once I identified where the fish are grouped up. This is especially helpful once the water is sub 40 degrees.
8. Believe the indicator. If it goes down and you can’t see the bottom, without being a spaz believe that it is a fish. This makes all the difference in the world. We guide all sorts and the “glass is half full” types always catch more fish. It is a fact. When fishing little itty bitty stuff this is critical.
9. Fish one fly. You don’t hear this often, but fish one fly on your nymph line. Clear water and light tippet? Two bugs and a chunk of shot looks like a yard sale coming down the lane!
10. Tangle less. This sounds trite but we see it all the time. Anglers aren’t careful and don’t build good nymph casting fundamentals. Get the right rod for the job (don’t use that ol’ spongy fiberglass rod in your garage). Get a minimum of a quality 9′ fast action 5 weight or 6 weight. It will make your life easier! Learn to cast on the proper side of your body, for instance if the fly setup is on your left and in the water – come into your back cast over your left shoulder. Take your time, minimize false casts, and get that fly in the water. With small tippet in cold water it is waaaayyyy too easy to spend all, your time retying instead of fishing.
Fly Suggestions for Low, Clear, and Cold Water:
Strike Indicator Selection for Small Flies and Clear Water:
Notes on other strike indicators:
Most anglers like Thingamabobbers. I do too. They are awesome and cast well and float like a champ. Plus if you rig them up on adjustable leader they are deadly. BUT, they don’t twitch like a Yarn indicator and you can’t read the drift in technical currents very well. IF you are the angler that likes to dredge bottom and bounce your nymphs along the rocks (I am personally not) then Thingamabobbers are for you. I personally like to fish small patterns slightly suspended off the bottom Just my style so take it for what its worth.
Hey folks, fishing is always fun but it is even better when the sky is blue and the weather is nice. The forecast right now has about 10 days of clear blue sky in Eastern Washington. River conditions on ALL streams are absolutely ideal with no rain in the forecast to stir it up. Whether you have just a single day to drive over and fish the Yakima for trout, or an overnight to the Wenatchee or Methow (which recently opened for Steelhead on Wednesday!), or a few days on the Klickitat GET OUT HERE! If you don’t plan for a day right now you won’t make it.
On the Yakima, we’re seeing some BWO’s mid-day with a few rising fish in the afternoon but they are pretty spooky so approach with caution. Fish small flies, like a ZEBRA MIDGE haha, this is a great fly. Simple with a good hook gape.
On the Wenatchee and Methow – mix up the fishing. Swing flies early and late and fish Stone fly nymphs and eggs mid-day. While the river is only open for hatchery steelhead officially, you will find some very nice trout as an ancillary catch. Big Cuttbows are busy eating eggs behind the spawning Chinook up there!
The Klickitat is full of Kings right now. Some are getting a bit dark but the “Fall Upriver Brights” are still in great shape and eating a swung fly pretty well! We are fairly well booked up but we have a few dates still open at our place down here:
Klickitat River Overnight Dates Available:
October 22/23rd (6 anglers)
October 30th – November 2nd (6 anglers)
November 9 – 12th (4 anglers)
Good fishing yesterday on the Methow River, we put a guide on for the opener and the guests were able to land several Steelhead (both hatchery and wild fish) along with a medley of Cutthroat and other species. The river is in perfect shape with enough water to use a raft or a pontoon boat.
Some basic tips/strategies for the Methow:
1. Swing on light tips or a floating line and long leader early in the morning and late at night. Here is a good fly for skating dry flies: October Caddis Skating Fly for Steelhead
2. Swing an unweighted fly on a sink tip (Type 3 is about right or a 5′ MOW tip) . Here is a great choice for mid day swing fishing. Hoh Bo Spey Fly For Steelhead
3. Nymph fish mid day when the fish are in “holding” water. Meaning deep pools, deep riffles with choppy surface currents, and anything that is deep green colored and moving walking speed. Here is a nymph that we do well on up there on the Methow: Morrish WMD Black Stonefly Nymph for Steelhead
4. Fish 1X Fluorocarbon for swinging flies (the water is very clear!), fish 2X for your top nymph, and 3X for your dropper or egg pattern. Rio Flourocarbon Tippet. Buy the Fluoroflex PLUS for Steelhead! Totally worth it.
5. Focus on CLEAN drifts and swings. Don’t mend too much, don’t hang up on bottom too much. This water is clear and the pools are wide open so the fish will see the fly coming from a distance.
There is lots of lodging in the Methow Valley but we find the Lake Pateros Motor Inn to be super convenient, affordable, and clean. Super value, eat at the Mexican Restaurant in Pateros. It is awesome, don’t be afraid to let them know we sent ya! http://lakepaterosmotorinn.com/
Toll Free 866-444-1985
115 S Lake Shore Dr
Pateros, WA 98846
Below is the official news release from WDFW, this is great news! The Wenatchee and Methow Rivers are two of the best dry line swinging rivers in the PNW!
WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
October 11, 2013
Contact: Jeff Korth, (509) 754-4624 ext. 224
Upper Columbia River, tributaries to open
for hatchery steelhead fishing
OLYMPIA – Starting Wednesday (Oct. 16), fishing will open for hatchery steelhead on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Methow and Okanogan rivers until further notice.
In addition, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.
Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for WDFW, said approximately 14,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year – enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries.
Korth noted, however, that fishing will be more tightly regulated than last year because fewer hatchery steelhead are projected to return this year and wild steelhead are expected to make up a higher proportion of the run.
“Careful management is required to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Korth said. “While these fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, we may have to close fishing early due to the higher number of encounters with wild steelhead expected this year.”
Korth said anglers should check WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) throughout the season for possible changes in the fishing regulations.
On all rivers, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead, marked with clipped adipose fins and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Anglers are required to immediately release any steelhead with an intact adipose fin without removing the fish from the water. All steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin must also be released.
Anglers fishing tributaries to the upper Columbia River are also required to retain any legal-size hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit of two fish is reached. Once they have retained two fish, anglers must stop fishing for steelhead.
Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open, although bait may be used on the mainstem Columbia River. All anglers are required to follow selective gear rules and restrictions described in WDFW’s Sport Fishing Rules, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .
Anglers should also be aware that motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.
Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Oct. 16 until further notice include:
Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 include:
Three areas of the Columbia River – Vernita, Priest Rapids and Wanapum – will not open for steelhead fishing this fall to preserve fishing opportunities on upper-river tributaries, Korth said.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries.
The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
One our readers found a handy little workaround, on OUR site that I didn’t realize still worked. It appears to be accurate at least for now! This will give you streamflow stats on the entire Upper Yakima River System.
There have been some changes to the USGS websites lately so in addition to some fishing intell here is the current link to flow conditions at Umtanum. Yakima River Flows at Umtanum I can’t seem to find that handy little map of the Yakima Basin that we use to use! There are MANY critical gauging stations that are not working. This is terrible, now we can’t all sit at our desks and check the river flows every 45 minutes at various stations! ugggg! What are we supposed to do? Ok, maybe its not that bad. Here are a couple of news flashes from the USGS.
This news bulletien can be seen on most of the remote locations:
The issues with our government have trickled all the way down to simply seeing the flippin’ river flows. I still can’t believe this. If you hope to check the Yakima River Flows in Cle Elum, good luck. Here is what they posted on all the other stations that I have been looking for:
1. Yakima River – Call Red’s at 509.933.2300 – we have eyes on the river right from our cash register!
2. Klickitat River – Call the Canyon Market 509.369.4400
3. Naches River – Call Jerome at 509.985.1001
The Yakima is currently in great shape, the reservoirs caught most of the mountain rain. Use October Caddis in the evenings, nymph fish during the day and watch for fish feeding on BWO’s mid-day. The Naches is still pretty muddy, maybe next week. The Klickitat should be in shape by Sunday.
Klickitat River Flows as of 1 pm 9/30/13
Follow this link for current flow conditions: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis?program=uv&site_no=14113000&agency_cd=USGS
There is always some risk involved on your best days of Steelhead fishing! The river fished GREAT as it went out of shape on Saturday afternoon. Currently it is high and muddy, we’re planning on it coming back into shape on Friday…. cross your fingers! The fishing should be very good on the rebound as these steelhead move into the system and alter their holding lies into more vulnerable positions. On the rebound be sure to fish the tailouts and give the flat water and inside corners extra attention.
We hate to see the river get high and dirty but you have to take the good with the bad!
9/24/13 Good week on the Klickitat. As most of you might know, it is an EPIC EPIC EPIC year for Chinook Salmon. While we don’t target Kings while guiding for Steelhead many fly anglers on the river are reporting numerous hook-ups with big hot angry Kings! We do fish Kings when we’re on a day off, and we do incidentally hook some Chinook while guiding for Steelhead and they are tough customers! Also we want to let you know before you schedule anything with us, anyone that catches a King on our guided trips must release it immediately. No retention of Kings on our guided trips. Hatchery steelhead however are fair game! We had a client shatter an 8 weight rod last week trying to tame one of these beasts. It has been a week filled with bent hooks, broken tippet, and busted rods! Spey fisherman should consider getting a rod specifically for fighting and fishing these Kings, check out the package below if you plan to head that way without us. If you are going to swing flies for Kings, get up EARLY and fish the tailouts while the fish are on the move. The fish seem to start moving about 3 pm in the afternoon again as well. Target those times of days.
If you are ever going to go after Salmon on a fly rod, this is the year. At Bonneville Dam (as of today) – the “10 Year Average” for Kings is 340,110 and the current 2013 count is 818,581. Unreal. Try this outfit if you are a DIY King fisherman, we have a package that is all pre-built. It is an Echo 9130-4, complete package for $549!!! Echo King Spey Rod and Reel Package.
The Steelhead fishing has been “average to good” with a couple of hookups a day for anglers that have been here before and can handle a rod. The fishing program with Red’s goes VERY smooth. We have a place on the river with great food, very comfortable accommodations, and guides that fish their brains out! The Klick team is doing a killer job. If you don’t have a trip planned yet please choose from the following dates and let’s get something going!