Giving Thanks for Early Winter Steelhead

It was another unforgettable Thanksgiving Day. The day was spent with friends and loved ones and was another reminder that we all have so much to be truly thankful for. Our traditional Thanksgiving morning fishing trip that was underway shortly after day break was followed by a great time with friends and a phenomenal meal with the family. For anglers looking forward to capitalize on an extended holiday weekend there are plenty of options, both close to home and in the remote reaches of our region. From late returning Coho to scrappy Chum Salmon to hatchery Winter Steelhead, there are plenty of places to go and plenty of fish to catch.

Most of our Western Washington rivers and streams will be effected by the weather system moving into the area on Saturday afternoon (November 30, 2014), but keeping an eye on weather conditions and water conditions will give everyone a clear idea of what their options are.

Remember, the smaller steams and rivers clear the fastest. After a large Northwest rainstorm, some of our smallest streams can drop into fishable shape well before our largest rivers even crest. Good luck out there everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are a few of my suggestions for anyone looking to go fishing the week after Thanksgiving.

Skykomish River (Coho, Chum, Early Steelhead)

Sky Country can be a great option for any Seattle area angler in late November to early December. While late Coho fishing has been decent, Chums have been a fun and scrappy incidental catch, excitement is building for a solid two months of Winter Steelhead fishing. River levels will move from low to high pretty quickly after our weekend rains hit, but anglers are already reporting Steelhead catches near the mouth of the Wallace River and upper Skykomish below Reiter Ponds Hatchery. Once we see the river levels rise, Steelhead will migrate quickly and offer great fishing options throughout the system. Best bets for bank anglers: Reiter Ponds, Reiter Highwayside, Cable Hole, Proctor Creek, Cracker Bar.

Skykomish River Fishing Spots

Snoqualmie River (Early Steelhead)

The banks of the Snoqualmie River have been a ghost town for the past several weeks. Aside from a few diehard bobberheads fishing the Big Eddy near Tokul and fly guys practicing their double hand casts off David Powell Road, most anglers are holding off until the bait (and barbed hooks) opener on Sunday December 1. Usually there are a few early Hatchery Steelhead caught on opening day, but this river really lights up after the first rains… which coincidentally are expected to hit on the eve of the opener. If the river is too high to fish, the seam at the mouth of Tokul Creek will be a busy place. Best bets: float fishing Big Eddy and with high water plunking at the Carnation Farms Bridge or Fall City Bridge. If the river rises above 6,000 c.f.s. there will be no good options though for a few days.

Snoqualmie River Fishing Spots

Green River (Chum, Early Steelhead)

For anyone living in King County or Pierce County, the Green River is an easy one to get to and has great bank access. The Green is currently loaded with Chum Salmon, has a few Coho still entering the system, and will offer a few lucky anglers the shot at some Winter Steelhead. Although it doesn’t receive the same gluttonous Steelhead smolt plants that other Puget Sound rivers receive, it is still cherished by many local Steelheaders. Bank Bets: Car Body Hole (Auburn Black Diamond Road & Hwy 18), Flaming Geyser State Park, Old Grady Park.

Bogachiel River (Early Steelhead)

Forks area rivers have all seen a few early returning Winter Steelhead, but the Bogey is the kingpin of early hatchery Steelhead catches. Expect quite a crowd at the Bogachiel near the hatchery, but for good reason: plenty of November/December hatchery Steelhead to catch! Float fishing with small jigs or live sand shrimp can be very effective.

Sooes River (Early Steelhead)

This tiny little tidal creek on the Makah Reservation near Neah Bay has a surprising number of returning Winter Steelhead. With slightly more smolts planted here than in the Bogachiel, this could be a great option if rains push our Forks area rivers to unfishable flows. Tribal fishing license is required.

Humptulips River (Late Coho & Early Steelhead)

A large push of late returning Hatchery Coho just hit the river last week, and with a deluge expected to hit the coast on Sunday, there should be a solid mix of Coho and Steelhead in the system once waters recede.

Satsop River (Late Coho & Chum)

The Satsop has been invaded by a huge glut of Chum Salmon, which are a great option for anyone looking to get out and play Catch & Release. Pulling K13, K14 or K15 Kwikfish in any deep runs is a sure way to wear out your fishing partners, but with a strong return of Late Coho and a few signs of Hatchery Steelhead starting to show, there are plenty of options is this Chehalis River tributary.

Puget Sound from Everett & Edmonds (Blackmouth)

Fishing for Resident Chinook has been pretty good in Puget Sound and while Marine Area 9’s November Season is drawing to a close, Marine Area 8-2 is open for fishing through April. Focus on the lowest 10 feet of the water column, as many of these resident feeder Kings are foraging on Sand Lance (Candlefish). Trolling at slow speeds with 11” Flashers paired with Coho Killer Spoons, 3.5” Kingfisher Spoons, or Needlefish Plastic Squid. For a few prime Blackmouth areas, troll around Sandy Point, South Gedney Island and Racetrack.