DIY PNW Swing Trip - Feb/March - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2020, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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DIY PNW Swing Trip - Feb/March

Any suggestions for rivers to find some good walk/wade two-handed swing water in the PNW? I obviously respect that specifics may not be given, and totally understand.

I live in Colorado and have only ever flown into Portland and floated the Sandy with a guide this time of year. Trying to put together a DIY trip trip this year and looking for some general direction on where to start. I know there's a ton of water that is usually floated, but I won't have access to a boat.

Thanks a ton for any information you can help out with.
Chris
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-05-2020, 07:56 PM
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Well, you could fly into Portland, rent a car & motel room for a week or so, drive to Oxbow park area & walk & wade the Sandy. But then again, so can all the locals & they not only know the area, they know what they are doing! Money better spent would be a guided trip in a more remote area not accessible to the city dwellers. Perhaps the OP?

I fish because the voices inside my head tell me to.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-05-2020, 09:08 PM
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Make a pilmragage to the NF Umpqua river, the fishing may suck as bad as the rest of the PNW but you will be in the Holy water!

Tight lines! B K Paige
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Wishin I was fishin the Sauk!!!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks very much for the suggestions.

Chris
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 01:35 PM
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Small correction: Please don't be fooled into thinking the OP doesn't have city dwellers or piles of anglers. I live here, the pressure is crazy. Still, beautiful place to visit, but don't think for a minute you would have solitude.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 03:16 PM
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Fly into Lewiston, ID and fish the CW, Snake, and Grande Ronde. End of the season, and March might be getting into rising flows, but it's an option.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2020, 11:42 PM
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Hey Chris if you get up to Forks on the OP give me a shout and I will show you around. Maybe do a couple of drifts in the boat.
John
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-13-2020, 10:53 AM
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Sorry to hijack the thread, but...

I'm heading out to the OP this spring, I've got a couple of guide days booked and the rest of the time I plan to just walk and wade/bumble about by myself.

I'm planning to stay in Forks - which reminds me that I need to book a place to stay. I intend to fish the usual rivers one might fish around there with no preconceived notions to speak of. I have a decent looking map and a few pointers so I should be okay, and I like exploring anyway. This will be my first go at winter/spring steelhead and I'm looking forward to it a lot.

If anyone fancies a beer one evening or sharing some swing water beforehand I'll be around for the last few days of March and a few early days of April.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-13-2020, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Hippy Speedball View Post
Fly into Lewiston, ID and fish the CW, Snake, and Grande Ronde. End of the season, and March might be getting into rising flows, but it's an option.
Seems like it might be time to get the fish a break by then? Especially during the worst return on record, and given that the river probably should have stayed closed... or at least maybe not encourage folks to come from out of town for it.

Just a thought.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 12:41 AM
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Seems like it might be time to get the fish a break by then? Especially during the worst return on record, and given that the river probably should have stayed closed... or at least maybe not encourage folks to come from out of town for it.

Just a thought.
Have the fish that are swimming past Heller Bar in late Feb. been in the system longer than the ones that swam past back in November? Or did they enter the system later? Honest question. I've always been unsure on that issue.
Also, I've never seen fewer anglers on the GR than I have this fall and winter, even with the CW closed. And the people who did fish over that time were collectively catching very few fish. I understand the fish need a break, but if someone is looking for a quiet place to camp and swing a fly... how is one or two dudes fishing alone in February during a lousy year worse than one or two more dudes combat fishing shoulder-to-shoulder in a "decent" year?
If I'm off base here, I'll take my licks, learn something, and shut up.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 10:02 AM
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Have the fish that are swimming past Heller Bar in late Feb. been in the system longer than the ones that swam past back in November? Or did they enter the system later? Honest question. I've always been unsure on that issue.
Also, I've never seen fewer anglers on the GR than I have this fall and winter, even with the CW closed. And the people who did fish over that time were collectively catching very few fish. I understand the fish need a break, but if someone is looking for a quiet place to camp and swing a fly... how is one or two dudes fishing alone in February during a lousy year worse than one or two more dudes combat fishing shoulder-to-shoulder in a "decent" year?
If I'm off base here, I'll take my licks, learn something, and shut up.
Your timeline is accurate. But these fish have now been in the freshwater likely since June. They have lost most of their fat reserves and need all the energy they have to successfully spawn.

It is the about the collective group as a whole. Everyone using the one or two won't matter argument adds up. If steelhead are going to have any chance we need to stop thinking about merely ourselves and start thinking about our impacts as a group. Where do we draw the line? Are we willing to make some sacrifices to give our children and grandchildren a chance to see these fish? So far, it looks like the answer is no.

And it is the worst year on record.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 07:38 PM
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One could always fish hookless if the tug is indeed the drug.
Try V.I. the fish aren't doing any better, you're just as likely to get skunked but at least you'll have some privacy and a good exchange rate!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Hippy Speedball View Post
Have the fish that are swimming past Heller Bar in late Feb. been in the system longer than the ones that swam past back in November? Or did they enter the system later? Honest question. I've always been unsure on that issue.
Also, I've never seen fewer anglers on the GR than I have this fall and winter, even with the CW closed. And the people who did fish over that time were collectively catching very few fish. I understand the fish need a break, but if someone is looking for a quiet place to camp and swing a fly... how is one or two dudes fishing alone in February during a lousy year worse than one or two more dudes combat fishing shoulder-to-shoulder in a "decent" year?
If I'm off base here, I'll take my licks, learn something, and shut up.
I think you have a reasonable point there to make, and your question is fair. I think Attack answered that question well for me with the distinction about making the suggestion to out of towners on an online forum. Itís one thing to make a decision between you and a buddy to go fish there (using your own moral/ethical decisions about how and where to fish), but I do think itís a whole other thing to suggest it online to others (which by default extends far beyond the ďtarget audienceĒ).

FWIW, I donít think you were out of line really. You made a reasonable and friendly suggestion to some fellow Spey anglers, who one should hope would use exceptionally ethical angling practices. I think Attack was spot on to raise the point that maybe we need to really re-think how we promote steelhead angling in times like this. In all honesty, I think that goes for a lot of other steelhead streams too. Itís a fine line to walk: I like to offer friendly advice for the most part, but Iíve been increasingly hesitant to put much out in the main forum out of concern for the vulnerability of some of streams. I usually share much more via PM, though I did have a pretty bad experience from that once a few years back too. I made a few recommendations for a trout fishing stream to a seemingly nice guy online, and my wife and I happened to end up pulling into the same camp just as he and his buddies were leaving: found they have left a ton of trash in the fire ring! Super lame!
JB
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 02:50 PM
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I'm not sure what your flight plans are but if you are like me you have to pick a weekend well ahead of time. If thats the case I'd suggest setting up a rental car and not much else. The weather can be anything that time of year and that really should determine where you go. If you are lucky and we get some but not too much rain the week before Coastal Oregon or the OP would keep you plenty busy. If we get a ton of rain then I'd hang close to Portland and fish the Sandy or the Clack. There is enough walk and wade water on those two and the Clack is usually the last one to blow out.

There's plenty of info on all these places online already so just do some research and then let Ma nature tell you which option is best.

Here is a great website with river flows and the predictions for the entire area. The little triangles are the mean so you can tell if it'll be high or low.

https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/rfc/
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