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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-18-2016, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
Patrick Clearey
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Location: West Canada Creek
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Olympic Peninsula

I have always wanted to fish Steel in the west. Tired of my home waters. Been doing a lot of Saltwater lately and need to spend some time with the Spey in cold water.

I know there has been closures on the Olympic Peninsula, but appears there is still winter fishing. I was thinking February, just based on reading. What I am looking for is references for a guide to fish this area. One that is affordable. I was thinking about the Deschutes also but hear it is so crowed, I get enough of that at home.

I know that there are multi-day float options in the area. None of my fishing buddies are retired yet like me so would be interested to hear from anyone that would like to do a multi-day float. I believe you need at least 4 bodies for most of these trips. Very open to suggestions and alternate timing (since I don't work for a living anymore). Late November is the earliest I could get away (Bow Season).

Leaving for a Boundary Waters adventure in Minnesota shortly, so I may not see replies for a few days.

Thanks in advance


Last edited by pmcleare; 06-18-2016 at 07:41 PM. Reason: add info
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2016, 01:28 PM
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Only name I am familiar with is Jim Kerr out of Forks. I've communicated with him just a couple times and I know he does offer two handed trips. I'm assuming they are drift boat / raft trips and stopping to fish a run...but I'd confirm that. As for affordable I think you're going to drop $500 any way you look at it with a guided trip. I'm cheap enough I tend to DIY it and hope for the best. A guided trip will most certainly give you better chances of success. I was out there a week ago on a non fishing trip (but fished a bit) and the shop in Port Angeles (great shop) listed two handed trips on their menu of guided options. The fellow I spoke with at the shop was very knowledgeable and helped me with a few gear decisions.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-19-2016, 07:54 PM
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February and March are good choices for winter steelhead fishing on the OP. That is common knowledge, so that is when everyone is there. You'll have plenty of company pretty much everywhere there. Jim Kerr and J.D. Love are well known and well thought of fly fishing guides on the coast. I fish on my own, so haven't fished with either of them. Multi-day floats are possible, but not common because there is road access to launch and retrieval points every 6 to 8 miles or so. We usually do our chosen float for the day and then adjourn to a drier and more comfortable campsite than is possible to take when floating. Then we repeat or do a different float the next day.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 12:35 PM
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Hi Pat,

There is a ton of good info here on fishing the OP if you dig a bit. The area gets more than its fair share of crowds as well, so if getting away from people is a major criteria for you, keep that in mind.

As far as guides go there are quite a few options and it seems like there were a dozen new spey guides this year that just materialized out of thin air. If it were me I'd spend my money hiring someone who has been around a while and lives in the area. Gray Struznik of OP Fly Fishing, Jim Kerr of Rain Coast guides, and Trevor Covich of OPST are in my opinion the top notch spey guides in the Forks area.

Peak season on the Deschutes is September-October, but you could probably still find descent fishing in late November if the weather holds, and it probably won't be too crowded.


Mark Shamburg

Confluence Rod Company - Maker of Single and Double handed Bamboo Fly Rods and Traditional Click-Pawl Reels

Confluence Guide Service - Providing Swing-Only guided trips for Wild Winter Steelhead on Washington's Olympic Peninsula

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 02:57 PM
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John Hicks at Sea Run Pursuits can get you onto some "less crowded" water

I fished with John for a day this past season, great guy
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 03:38 PM
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Based on their reputation I would second Mark's last two. As for Gray, great guy and he would be my first choice.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-21-2016, 12:01 PM
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I have only fished the OP once (4 day trip) so there are people with way more experience than I do. A couple of things to consider:

1. Weather can be crazy so planning a trip far in advance is a crapshoot. When I was there I didn't see a cloud for 4 days (March) and it definitely impacted the fishing. Before my trip I was worried about the rain as all I had read was that the rivers can frequently be blown out for days at a time and that you could very well go out there and not be able to fish.

2. There will be more people there than you would suspect. They are beautiful rivers in a special place, but it is not a wilderness experience. There will be decent numbers of people there, but it will not be crowded. There are places that you can get away from the "crowds" if you are willing to walk. though. On a day I was on my own I probably covered 3 miles and didn't see another angler.

There are probably more people on the Deschutes but there is so much water easily accessible. I wouldn't choose the OP over it because of crowds. Two totally different experiences though so choose depending on what you are looking for and the time of year.

I fished with a guide who I would not recommend. He wasn't terrible, just not great. If I make it back out to the OP I will try to fish with John Hicks. I met him at a gas station on my way out and he chatted with me for a good 15 minutes about my trip. I wish I would have met him at the start of my trip as I learned more about the river I had just fished in those 15 minutes then I did all day with the guide I went with. Anyway, a guy who is willing to chat with a stranger outside of a gas station when I'm sure most people would have just wanted to get home is the type of guide who would work hard for his clients.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-01-2016, 12:14 PM
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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now....

Just to add my .02 on this.

I have fished the OP in March the last two years - and fishing was very tough. in five guided days total i hooked one small jack and landed a really nice Dolly. i also did a number of half days DIY.

Water conditions were perfect both times, though the Bogachiel was blown out effectively by silt from a slide.

while i was there, fish were mainly landed by guys in boats drifting eggs/roe or egg flies and pressure was heavy on the Sol Duc and Calawah. the creel survey shows those guys catch 1 fish for 10 hours of angler effort - thats in a boat with eggs, for some perspective....

As a wading fishery i found it tough going - apart from the Hoh, its mainly short runs and/or a lot of walking through heavy brush or over broken rocky ground. With the Hoh and upper bogy, distances between holding water and the next spot can be quite long so runs close to the car were better so I could 'pool hop'.

floating the rivers was a real wildnerness experience for a surburban boy like me, and i learned a ton about steelie holding water, traveling lanes etc , presentation, casting, lines and heads, and even fly tying.

but. no fish. and that was the case for many other travelling fly anglers, especially swingers like me.

so this causes me to re-assess my trip for 2017 - should i believe that '3rd time is the charm' or should i try elsewhere ?

Talking to Trevor Covich at OPST, he feels you are about 5-6 times more likely to get wild winter steel on the Skagit and Sauk than on the OP. But we don't yet know when or even if a C&R wild winter season will open at all in 2017 on the Skagit.

If it does open, a lot of out of town guides and their punters currently fishing on the OP each spring will head up there.

So that could be a zoo too.

Which leads me to think of southern BC - 3 hours by car from SeaTac gets me to the Squamish/Cheakamus or the Vedder/Chilliwack and with the Canadian Dollar at $1.30 right now, a day guided is around US $340 and hotels about $60 a night.

Both runs are slightly later and I read that until March 30th when the Vedder goes C&R it can be a complete zoo, so that puts me into mid april i think.

The Vedder has the stronger run, but the Squamish has less crowds so its a dilemma.

I'll make a final decision sometime in August or September, but at the moment i'm leaning towards the Vedder and have been recommended searun fly and April Vokey's crew, flygals. for the squamish i've been told that Chromer are the top rods in my price range.

I loved the OP and will likely go back oneday soon, but it is a tough place for visitors to fish, and the fish are difficult to catch even compared to wild atlantic salmon, and as the guy in Waters West in Port Angeles told me " don't beat yourself up, hardly anyone catches anything their first year or couple of years'....

so maybe i'll just go elsewhere and catch some fish and come back when the fish there are less pressured ?


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-02-2016, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
Patrick Clearey
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Location: West Canada Creek
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I want to thank all of you for your generous replies. I also received some great PM's. Very "giving" crowd here. Hope to cross paths with some of you in the future. I will heed your advice, digest the offerings, and plan accordingly. Wish I had a retied bud that was into two handers as much as me. Unfortunately they are all still at the grind. But I'm sure I can get one or two to spend their precious vacation time on such an adventure.

I was canoeing in Minnesota thus the late reply.

Pat Clearey
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