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In reading the posts, a lot of writers use the Thompson River as the standard for "big water". Not having visited this River and having the shared experience, it is difficult to understand others people's perspectives.

I live in Eastern Canada, and have fished a number of rivers in the general area (different provinces / states).

I have reviewed what information I can find. That being said it would be helpful to see a bit more information to help me understand :the general size of this river where many people fish (Spencer Bridges / other) , how far do you have to cast, what size are the average fish you are most likely to hook, etc.

Perhaps most importantly, what is similiar size river from the East ( Restigouche, Penobscot, Ct, etc). Perhaps a flow number (CFS) and a width.

Thanks in advance-
 

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Highlander, the Thompson is a very, very large river. If you lay out 140' of line, it still looks like it's at your feet. It is also a fast flowing river, much of which, can't be effectively fish with the fly.
Do a Goggle image search and you will see several shots that put the river into perspective.
 

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Pullin' Thread
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The Thompson is the size of the mainstem Delaware below Port Jervis, NJ, or the Hudson in the vicinity of West Point. It is a large river.
 

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It's big!

It's big enough that the fish lies are usually 10 to 20 feet beyond where you can cast and you continuously wish that you had a bigger rod.
 

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Yeah it's a big piece of water like everyone says, but it's my favorite. I don't know what it is about this river but she keeps calling me back. I try to make 5 or 6 trips a year to the Thompson. The average size of the fish is around 15 lbs. with some monsters being landed each year that hit the 30lb mark. If you can find a back issue of Wild Stealhead & Salmon , Volume 5 Number 1 Autumn 1998 there is a great article by Ehor Boyanowsky titled River of Giants, (very fitting).
 

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Fly Chucker,
I am really sorry-please do not take offence but I have to call you on this one. The fish do not average 15 pounds nor are there many caught pushing 30 lbs. There are some that reach 30lbs but I have never seen one or even a picture, though I have heard my share of fish stories. That said there are a lot of folks out there who like to exaggerate so I suggest you always refer back to inches. I go by a simple rule 40" =20lbs. In fact when you pull the tape out and put it on that monster fish that has just rocked your world you find out that most large Thompson fish measure around 35-37". I know this is dissapointing for most folks who like to quote various formulas and call 36inchers twentys but these fish really are rare. I would say that an honest Thompson average would be somewhere around 11 pounds(@32") which by the way is a heck of a nice Steelhead on any river. There are many truly badass 12-14 pound fish that get lost and magically grow to "I don't want to say guys but I'm sure it was a twenty" in the pub. I'm sure some will disagree but here is an offer for board members on the T:- come and see me at the shop and if you are in doubt I will give you a free tape measure.
Be Bop and Nevada:
It is true that some fish will hold a long way out there. Most of the fish I've caught were a lot closer to shore than you are thinking(seriously 60') There is noting like following a long belly guy through a run as he/she rips the water to froth trying to get that farthest cast to a fish way the heck out there. With a suttle approach you will find that Thompson fish-like most Steelhead prefer the water a little closer to shore than you are trying to cast. There are definately exceptions to this and the dudes that make the long casts and get the fish way out there do it in some really specific places after ya'll have pushed them out there with your deep wading and line ripping. I suggest you refer to the Musto thread-140' cast is a REALLY long cast(kind of hard to fish with all that backing out)-perhaps I should save you a bigger tape measure?
keepin' it real
Brian Niska
 

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Thank Brian!

I needed a good laugh this morning.

I agree - carry a tape measure.

Sadly, I don't think they've developed an objective measure of one's ego and associated need for compensation in fish size, casting distance, etc.

The Thompson is truely a grand and majestic place, and it brings out these qualities like no other river I've ever fished! :hehe:

Keep your tip up!

DS
 

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This place is a true challenge. It may not have a wilderness experience and there are bait fisherman to contend with (though they all seem to have superb etiquette). The numbers of fish are low, the water big and the wading is awful, but these things all add up to a great challenge and it is the challenge to me makes it all so special. It is addicting like no other steelheading I know of.

Oh, and then there are the fish...

pescaphile
 

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fish and weight

Whistler brings up a good point about a 40" fish being around 20 pounds. Is this true from river to river? For instance, would a 40" Thompson fish be the same weight as a 40" Skagit fish or a 40" fish from a Columbia tributary? Also, what is the formula that is commonly accepted as accurate for figuring weight of a fish? I've seen several, but I'm not sure which one to use. But I generally agree--fish do tend to magically shrink when a tape measure is used!

BFR
 

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Cast, step, swing...
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Summer-runs hold more weight across the head,shoulders and in the belly wall than winters or spring fish, therefore weigh more...A thompson fish entering the Fraser river from the saltwater certainly weighs more than it does 200 miles up river and three weeks later. Winter fish rarely travel that far so weight loss isn't a factor.
 

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Coednakedspey
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Summer Steelhead in general tend to have a higher fat content than their Winter run counterparts in most cases.

For example, some years ago a study was conducted to see if Summer Steelhead juveniles and Winter Steelhead juveniles, after being ID'd genetically to confirm their race, could be ID'd using parr mark #'s, gill raker #'s, anal fin rays, and a few other physically identifying features to differentiate them outright instead of having to go to DNA. The results were that they couldn't differentiate between juveniles, but that the only way to tell aside from DNA was that even at the juvenile stage Summer run Steelhead had a higher fat content.

I personally think that the shape and size of a fish has more to do with it's race and required life history survival strategies than whether it is simply a Summer fish or a Winter fish. For instance back when I handled Steelhead broodstock for one river as a hatchery technician, I noticed as a general observation, although not always true but at least for this river it was, these Summer Steelhead I found tended to be a bit longer and slimmer than their Winter/Spring run counterparts which were generally shorter and stalkier and tended to have more blackish tinge on them in the males spawning colours to that of the greener Summer run males. I attribute the length of the Summer runs, which I also notice with many other Summer run races I've seen, to a more efficient swimming adaption to navigating more powerful currents, and jumping falls which is why they return in the Summer.

The Thompson is a true test of a Steelheaders character. It is a large intimidating river (some places it is 600 feet accross easy!) that has a very special race of Steelhead that brings people from around the world to see if they can find one. If you do not consider yourself amongst the hardcore of the hardcore of Steelheaders, I suggest you spend your time elsewhere in all honesty. There are no guarantees on this river either. In a past years creel survey (1998), fly fishersAVERAGED, 1 fish approximately every 6.5 days. And this was on a year with a pretty good run if you judge it relative to other years runs.
 

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Sturdy's Formula for Large B.C. Steelhead

Sturdy's formula is for large BC steelhead, and is in common use.


Sturdy's Formula: Weight(pounds) = Girth*Girth*Length / 750
(Girth & Length in inches)

For example:
A 38 inch fish with 19 inch girth
19*19*38/750 = 18.3 pounds

PM me with your email address and I'll forward an Excel spread sheet with fish weights from 11 to 41 pounds[!]. Girth and Length vs. weight are calculated in half inch increments. Girth from 16.0 to 26.0; Length from 34.0 to 46.0.

Bob
 

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Bob,

On Rynda, where the early June fish are exceptionally heavily set we sometimes has to go as low as 680 to get the Sturdy right.

(This is based on those few fish we have to kill due to excessive bleeding.)

Can you be kind and mail me that sheet, as well ?

"Tight lines!"

Per
 

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I think it is the same formula but I have always used

4/3*length*girth * girth/1000

For Puget Sound hatchery fish (the only ones I have ever bonked and weighed) it comes with in a quarter pound.
 

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Per, oh my God!

Do those Rynda fish take prisoners?

Sturdy spread sheet emailed to you. I'll unlock it so you can change denominators.

Do you have a photo of a Rynda pig?

Bob
 

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Thanks a lot Bob!

I think I have posted this one before. A 31 pounder of last year that had to go as the huge tubefly was well down it's throat. (When they are fresh in from the sea one wonders if they sometimes forget that they are supposed to be on starvation - maybe it is like when I put myself on a strict diet and loose my head over that one chokolate bar......???? :tsk_tsk: )

Per
 

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Whistler,
No offence taken, but if you would of carefully read my post I said "some fish are landed that hit 30 lbs", not many. As for the average size I took this information from said article, ie River of Giants. Thank you for the "free tape" offer but I allready carry one, and use it on all my landed fish. Tight Lines.
 

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Close First

Whistler,

Whether is is short line or long, especially in the morning, we should start wadding shallow and casting short to pick up the fish that move in close overnight.

I have seen gear guys mess this up, as well as those with heads and short lines. Go for distance, after you know they are not in close.

Messing up the water is a mindset, perhaps more common on the Thompson and Snake, because they are such big rivers and the tendency is to think, "Just a little further".

I hope to check out the Thompson this fall.
 

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somewhere in this mess I call my office I have a copy of Ian McGregor's Master's Thesis in which he studied Thompson steelhead, but Trey Combs quotes from it in Steelhead Fly Fishing. McGregor weighed 934 fish over 3 years (2 consecutive years and a third year nearly a decade later) and found the average weight to range between 11.66 lbs and 17.82 lbs depending on the sex of the fish and the time of year the fish were weighed (in the fall when they first entered the river or in the spring during spawning). During the fall the average weight of female T-fish was 13.86 lbs; males averaged 17.38 lbs.

Looking over my own records of fish landed over 9 years on the river reveals that I have landed few fish under 30 inches and few over 38 inches, with most ranging between 32/33 inches and 36 inches-- in fact, I'd say most of the fish that I've landed are 34-36 inches in length. The smallest fish I've landed was 27 inches, the largest 42 inches. Hardly scientific stuff, but a record that would seem to support what McGregor found in his study.

1/2 the fun of big rivers for me is the casting, and the Thompson is no exception. Because I like the casting part a lot, I tend to fish the runs where I know I'll need to cast long to cover the water well. This means that much of my fishing is limited to 3 or 4 runs (and no, I'm not going to tell you which ones :p). But even if I'm making really long casts I still find that most of my hookups happen within 50ft of the beach. I can actually remember every fish I've hooked shortly after the fly hit the water on a really long cast because these things happen so rarely that they are indeed memorable. But the fact that most of my hookups occur closer to shore than I'm originally casting doesn't mean that the ability to cast 50ft consistently is all it takes on the Thompson. Certainly there are spots where 20ft is all you need, but those spots are as rare as the ones where you need 120ft consistently. One of the best Thompson fly anglers that I know catches many fish with moderate length casts (70ft or so) but on the big pools he too winds up and fires it out there as far as he can.

The ability to consistently cover any fishing distance is only one of the Thompson's many challenges. It is dangerous, there are few fish, and the pressure is really getting intense. The last few years it has gotten very busy, and people like me and Ehor and Trey and others are probably largely to blame for that since we write about it. I can tolerate the crowds only because I know that many anglers means the river will have many friends when she and her fish are in trouble.
 
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