That means summer run steelhead are in full swing on a few of our local rivers. The Skykomish opened up on the first of the month and with it being at a fishable level for the majority of anglers in the state, they all showed up en mass. For as crowded the river was there should have been more fish caught. Which tells me that the low water levels we have had for the last month or so has yet to bring in the bulk of the run.
Do not fret though this warm weather weekend should help jump start the run. As it stands now the Sky is running at about 11,600 cfs a large jump from the 7,500 cfs on the opener. With that size she is carrying quite a bit of color and hopefully in the coming days quite a bit of fish.
As for the fishing the first three days as said it was slow, a very late start on the opener avoiding the heavy early morning traffic yielded us one fish only to be lost as the fight drew near to the end. After a senior moment at the take out with a pair of my rods it left me day two with really only one option of fish finder for the river. It worked as it found two but they didn’t want to stick around for a picture and just as they were there they were gone, but hey that’s fishing. That day was cut short due to driving rains and the fact that some honest people who found two of my rods found a way to get them back to me. A big thumbs up and thank you to all the guys on piscatorial pursuits for helping me find those things.
After having to go back to work on Friday I was forced to an afternoon on the river. With the proper tools in hand and only a few hours of fishing to be done off to the river for round three. With the rain and the warmer weather the river was up almost 2K cfs from the opener. Getting a little closer to perfect for these bright sunny days. Hit the first spot which has yielded 2 fish so far this year with great optimism even though it was 69 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky.
It took about 15 casts into this spot to feel the slight tap of a fish. Giving pause waiting for it to come back a brief moment later a large heavy presence was felt on the other end of the line. The 9wt fish finder had done its job now it was my turn. Little did I know at the time it was to be a battle of brawn and little wit. Only being able to make out a shadow in the murky water after 10 min I was beginning to think that I had found a summer king that had wandered up river. After about 20 min I was able to get it close enough to see the rosy red cheek and the stripe down the side indicating the presence of a big winter steelhead. For a fish this late in season it had remarkable strength and stamina. Unlike many of the winter runs that I have hooked in June this one had not spawned at this time. To give you a better indication of the size of this fish. My right hand was unable to grasp the wrist of the fish the picture gives a nice illusion but my fingers are not on the bottom of the fish. As for the girth my left hand has a much of the fish as it can handle. For those who don’t know me in person who read this 6‘4” and able to barely palm a basket ball makes me wish I found this fish in April when it was a full, plump, fresh weight. I would have easily taken over largest steelhead of my life but for now its a tie for second. Why may you ask are we talking about a dark winter run in June, because it was a toad, thats why. And its the reason why I fish 8,9, and 10wts in early June as opposed to 6 and 7wts, along with 12 to 15lb test leaders. Shortly after releasing the fish and on the phone while fishing of course I got a similar but more agressive bump of the fly and giving brief pause again felt the line start to slide off the reel and get heavy and just like the day before, but just like the day before came back to nothing but the tension of the current. Bummer . So as the month progresses the fishing will only get better as long as we keep some decent flows in the river to continue to entice the chrome summer runs back to their home streams.
Don’t miss out on a great fishery because the water volumes are intimidating come in to the shop or book a trip to learn how to fish these things this time of year.
Tight Lines, Joe Ewing PFF, Northwest Steelheading