Are You Catching a steelhead on the west coast? - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-29-2020, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Silverton Or
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Are You Catching a steelhead on the west coast?

I have been out every other day here in Oregon on the coast fly fishing well with the spey rod
I have done everything I have learned and then some hunting for steelhead !
just to watch gear junky fisherman run through the paces I just swung through hook and land steelhead !

just wondering is it me or are others out here dedicated to just swinging flies seeing the same thing??
I have at times thought about just leaving the fly rods home and go back to gear fishing !

four weeks ago I spent some time watching the nestucca river fly fishing and counting drift boats
mid week one day 53 drift boats some were drifting through twice but 53 total and all but one boat
were drifting fly rods !

I have had fun practicing my spey casting but when I asked the drift boats the same question I was asked
the average fish caught and landed were 3 steelhead per boat some more some less

so is anyone else in Oregon or Washington or northern Cal getting skunked or seeing the same thing??
gear heads catching fish and not many fly fisherman out there??
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-29-2020, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Merlin View Post
I have at times thought about just leaving the fly rods home and go back to gear fishing !
There is a lot of pressure on the resource, for sure. One thing that I know is that you wonít learn to catch them on a fly if you switch back and forth to gear. Leave it at home!

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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-29-2020, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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ya I know stick with one thing ?
my son and I went out on the salmon river last Friday
I went up river and worked my way down he went down river and worked his way up
my son luvs lures and he catches fish 4 of them so far since mid January when we met he went up and I went down
and the little **** caught a hatchery steelhead 200 feet from where I was and I just hit that spot
I use to do that till I got stuck on this spey stuff
I'm proud he is catching fish it keeps him going back out to fish
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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-29-2020, 10:44 PM
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I was on the North Umpqua on Wednesday,
It was a beautiful day with a high of 60.
The water was in terrific shape with good flow and clarity.
I didn't have a touch.
I did get a very nice winter fish last March 29th.
Memories such as that keep me going.
It's not easy in winter. It's a labor of love for sure.
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-29-2020, 11:43 PM
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Iíve talked with local fly shops in my region and they report that fly fishing is declining in popularity, especially with the younger generations. Hunting, on the other hand, is rising in popularity. There are a thousand different reasons a person could give for this.
With fewer Salmon and Steelhead in the river that means less fish willing to move to the fly. With fewer fish, if a person is all about catching, they will use gear. Keep swinging and fish the way you want. Remember, you may not catch as many fish but itís special every time you do.

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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 01:33 AM
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No, all my local rivers are closed.

Tight lines! B K Paige
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Wishin I was fishin the Sauk!!!
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Ya I know Keep at it but it is hard swinging flies while you watch others using gear catch fish!

I should not say this as it is a sore spot here
but I stopped at the hatchery on the north fork Alsea river last week with my son and we talked to the Manager there
his budget is 1 million bucks every two years they do a lot of the trout stocking for the lakes and rivers around there
also the hatchery steelhead and brood stock for the Alsea river
that place was built in the 1930's
My son asked him if they were going to have to shut down the hatchery and he said he really did not think so yet but if they keep
suing to shot down the hatchery in Oregon they have had there round table discussion about this the fisheries dept. and those in Salem and the Reps. from the Feds
and when that day come then all recreational fishing in Oregon will be closed to all angling Kyle asked even catch and release and the guy said yes
He said when the day comes that the revenue from licenses and tags and all the taxes collected from anything fishing in the state of Oregon when that revenue
turns into the red ink column and suing to close Oregon's hatchery's that is when fishing will be closed to all in Oregon
he said as it is now the hatchery programs are the only thing letting people take fish home to eat and when that is gone the state will have no choice but to close all angling
to save what is let of the native fish!
Kyle said that is a bleak picture you just painted and the guy just said we see the true numbers of the native fish population and it is declining faster then anyone can deal with! it is not the number odf says we think number we will have returning!

I can relate to that a few years back odf said the Molalla River should have 50,000 chinook returning and got less the 200 the next year they said 35,000 and had no count at all
now they don't say a word about salmon on the Molalla River
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 08:12 AM
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Before getting back into fly fishing and the spey game in particular I play around with center pinning for a couple seasons. Bored out of my mind! It's actually what finally pushed me to the fly. Do the pinners get more fish? I'm sure they do. I watch them standing right inside a run shoulder to shoulder dredging an area where the fish get corralled due to obstructions or dams etc. It's not for me. I concentrate on my casting and presentation, if a fish shows up to play, bonus!

I was driving past a popular pinning run yesterday and there was on guy standing at the head of it. This river is CLOSED! I thought about stopping to confront him but decided against it. He was also standing inside the downstream zone of a dam. Here you need to be 75ft from a dam or spillway. This is the type of attitude a lot of the pinners(not all) have and I have just come to avoid them as best as I can.


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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 08:41 AM
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A very well known spey angler and guide once asked me, "You realize you've chosen the least effective method to catch the most elusive fish, right?"

I wouldn't have it any other way.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 09:19 AM
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Unfortunately, PNW in general, is dominated by less aggressive hatchery fish.
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 09:57 AM
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It's called "fishing", not "catching" ... though I do not fish the PNW, I've gone an entire year and a half without touching a fish in the past. I kept swinging and refining my techniques.
I do it for the love of the casting, swinging goofy flies and the serenity of the river. No pressure, no agenda, just peaceful relaxing arm motions and a step by step walk down the river - how great is that

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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 10:27 AM
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Merlin, I found that one of the most important skills to learn in the Spey game is the ability to swallow my pride. I spent a bunch of time watching gear and nymph fishermen who barely knew which end of the rod to hold fish circles around me, and that wasnít easy. But there will be days - not many - where you are the only one hooking up, and the more aggressive fish that come to the swung fly make it worth the slow times. It also puts more value on every one you do connect with.

To answer your initial question, the season came really late this year. A big storm 3 weeks ago put fish into the CA coastal rivers, finally, and there are numbers now, but itís been a short, late, slow season. Theyíve been about 4-5 weeks late into my home river in the Central Valley as well, and the numbers seem to be low. This may not be the best year to judge your Spey success.

"Only the mediocre are always at their best" - Andy Capp
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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 10:32 AM
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Over the past five years steelhead populations on the West Coast have plummeted, both wild and hatchery. I have no doubt that drifting pink worms, jigs, and beads is more effective than swinging flies, but I still prefer to swing. Recently, I have noted a lot of gear guys going fishless too, so it is tough any way you go. Go swing some lures if you must, we won't judge.
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 12:02 PM
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I think the least attractive part of dipping into this forum is reading that any method of angling which not spey style fly fishing is inferior, being as 'lower class' as those who seem practice it.

Fishing a variety of methods not only makes for better anglers but can be equally, if not more, sporting and enjoyable when practiced within the spirit of angling.

To spend 40+ hours making a bamboo rod, fly or otherwise, then further hours tying flies, reading and researching, collecting older vintage reels, maintaining a boat and various watercraft etc. waiting and hoping, only to depart thinking that catching a fish is not important, nor that I care, defeats the purpose.

Then again, if the fishy gods don't smile on me that particular day, I don't mind it was good to be out there.

Having written this here before, centre-pin float fishing ('pinning' being derogatory) can be one of the most skillful, 'artistic' and pleasant methods of angling, as can fishing artificial lures, with single barbless hooks of course..

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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2020, 12:25 PM
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Keep fishing! Weíre finding them here and there on the swing. Been a strange water year, lotso water to start and then not so much. When it comes it will be a beautiful thing! Anything else will feel less. .2cents....
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