Saturday, December 5, 2015

Winter Steelhead Fishing in Washington State 2016 - Smolt Counts

We've already seen some 2016 hatchery steelhead showing up in the coastal and Cowlitz Rivers in November/December 2015.   We've received draft smolt plants from 2014 which is the number of steelhead released from hatcheries for expected return in the 2015/16 winter season.

First Winter Steelhead of the Year Caught on the Humptulips River with Fishing Guide Casey 
We are very happy to see that the high number of hatchery steelhead smolts released into our favorite winter fisheries are comparable to previous years!!

Wynoochee River 2014 Smolts Released for 2015 Returning Winter Season: 171,730
Cowlitz River 2014 Smolts Released for 2015 Returning Winter Season:  747,185
Humptulips River "        "   :  130,000
Satsop River:  "         "  :  57,200

We are very excited to get you out and help you catch these steelhead that were released into the rivers to return fresh from the ocean for YOU to catch!

The Wynoochee and Humptulips rivers are best December-March and there are always winter run caught as early as November with summer run also being caugh in November on the Wynoochee.

The Cowlitz is best for Winter Steelhead December-April.  In the past the bulk of the first run was in December and the bulk of the second run started in February - with easy limits being caught through April and into May.

For the Wynoochee River we are going to meet at the Chevron in Montesano or the Black Creek Boat Launch.  For the Cowlitz we usually meet at the Blue Creek Boat Launch.

It's going to be another great season with a skilled team of guides to lead you to fish!  Come fish with the Waters West Team - Legendary Sport Fishing at it's Best!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Grays Harbor Fall Salmon Season 2015 Reflections

We have been on a bit of a wild ride this season.  Our fall salmon season usually consists of targeting Coho and King Salmon, but this year the Coho Salmon returns were much lower than expected.  Due to unfavorable ocean conditions and possibly other factors the actual returns of coho salmon were much lower than average this year as you can see from the best available source the Bonneville Dam Fish Counts.  The red line shows that this years' returns were much lower than last years' blue line and well below the 10 year average represented by the green line.

The Grays Harbor rivers including the Chehalis, Satsop, Wynoochee and Humptulips are our home rivers.  We can usually plan on staying close to home and catching lots of King and Coho salmon in September-December each year.  The local fisheries are co-managed by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Quinault Tribe.  The Quinault Tribe has treaty rights to use gill nets to fish the same rivers we guide all of you on using hook, rod and reel and many locals fish year after year to provide additional food and recreational opportunities for their families.

Chehalis River October 9th, 2015

October 26th, 2015 the state was forced by the Quinault Tribe to close all Grays Harbor River to all species of salmon retention.  At this point the rivers were still open for the retention of game fish aka steelhead.  We were very happy that we were at least able to target steelhead because there are always steelhead in the Wynoochee and we have lots of customers who like to fish our favorite river.  During the days before and after October 26th we saw helicopters flying over us as we fished from our tiny boats with hook, rod and reel.  Were they looking for spawning salmon from helicopters or trying to patrol sport fisherman?  We don't really know but it was sure intimidating.  Then on October 30th the WDFW closed all Grays Harbor Rivers to ALL fishing.  Again they said they were forced to do this by the Quinault Tribal Fisheries Managers.

Chehalis River September 30th, 2015

On November 7th two small stretches of the Humptulips and Satsop Rivers re-opened for sport fishing for hatchery coho and steelhead.  The Wynoochee, lower Humptulips and Chehalis remained closed which are staples for the sport fishing community.

Humptulips River November 26th, 2015

Right now the Chehalis River is open for commercial gill netting by the Quinault Tribe.  They are allowed to used gill nets to catch fish in the Chehalis River just downstream of the Wynoochee River.  All of the Coho Salmon and Steelhead returning to the upper Chehalis, Satsop and Wynoochee have to pass the Quinault Tribes gill nets.  Sport fisherman are not allowed to fish the upper Chehalis, Satsop or Wynoochee Rivers.

As of December 3rd the rumors are that the WDFW will re-open these rivers on December 16th for hatchery coho and/or steelhead for sport fishing.

Humptulips River December 2nd, 2015

In closing we are a team of guides with families to support so we don't have the luxury of doing anything other than providing guided fishing trips where the tribe and WDFW allow us to fish.  We only have to catch 2 fish per person on most days and that is pretty easy to accomplish even with very low returning coho salmon.  We've had a banner coho salmon season and are grateful for everyone who has come out 1, 2 or 3 times this season and are also grateful that we have at least two small stretches of river to fish that just happen to be loaded with fall salmon.  If anyone reading this has the power or authority to affect change please do.  We will all be voting for those who support sport fishing.  We thank you all again for your support this season and look forward to seeing you all soon!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Grays Harbor Fall Salmon Fishing 2015

The Grays Harbor area rivers include the Humptulips, Wishkah, Wynoochee, Satsop are dominated by the Chehalis River with it's huge drainage that stretches all the way from Lewis County in SW Washington to the Grays Harbor Estuary which flows into the Pacific Ocean between Westport and Ocean Shores, Washington.

We employ sport fishing techniques including using spinners and twitching jigs on the Chehalis River above the Mary's River Boat Ramp in Montesano all the way to Centralia's Fort Borst Park Launch.  There are many launches between these two points so we keep meeting times and places fluid for these trips to be able to best target the hottest locations throughout the season or catching the most fish.

Chehalis River Coho Salmon November 2014
The Chehalis River 2015 Season is set for a 3 coho salmon limit again this year.  The best time to fish the Chehalis for the highest chance of catching limits of fish will be November and December.  See outline of catch limits in the chart below:

Regulations always subject to change please check fishing regulations before heading to the River

The Humptulips River 2015 Season is set for a 2 King limit through September and then 1 King and 1 Coho through November 16th followed by 2 Coho through November and 1 hatchery coho in December.  We have had great success fishing the Humptulips all the way through December in the past but will probably focus our efforts on other local rivers this December.

Humptulips River 2014 had a 3 fish per person limit and our knowledgeable guides know how to fill Limits
The Satsop River is also a very popular local river for fall Salmon.  The 2015 Satsop River Fall Season is set for the retention of 3 salmon including 1 hatchery King Salmon.  The Satsop River is closest to I-5 for the smaller rivers which lends itself to crowded conditions.  If you can find a good day during the week to fish here you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery and lots of nice fish.

The Satsop and Chehalis Rivers get especially large Coho Salmon as you can see from this 2014 early October Photo
The Wynoochee River is left fairly untouched in the hustle of the Fall Fishing Season around Grays Harbor.  The author of this blog was born and raised on the Wynoochee and looks out the front window every day to see this beautiful river flowing quietly to the Chehalis River.  Needless to say this river is our favorite and there is definitely opportunities to fish this river each fall as well.  The 2015 Salmon Season for the Wynoochee River is set for 2 hatchery or native Coho Salmon!  My grandparents tell stories of the salmon runs being so large on this river that they could practically catch the returning salmon with their hands while wading in the waters.  If only they had go pro back then - would love to see grandma out there trying to catch salmon.

That concludes our overview of the Wynoochee, Satsop, Chehalis and Humptulips Rivers for the Fall 2015 Salmon Seasons.  If you're interested in a fishing trip check out our online calendars and booking app or text email anytime.  253.389.0359  ONLINE CALENDARS AND BOOKING INFO

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall Salmon Fishing on the Washington Coast

Time to Unwind

Fall Salmon Fishing on the Washington Coast

Fall King and Coho Salmon on the Coast are the perfect excuse to get away from the daily grind and take a break in the cool renewing air of the Olympic National Park and Rain Forest.  A short drive from Seattle/Tacoma/Portland and you're all alone in the forest.  Just you, your best fishing buddy and your guide - on a remote creek, such as the Queets or Humptulips, with lines in the water waiting for a take down.  

For the elite few who've made the trek to fish with Aaron in the Olympic National Park the rewards have been trophy king, coho and steelhead along with bear, deer, elk and bald eagle sighting all while drifting down a remote stream fed by waters trickling off the rain forest floor.  

Every fall it's a ritual to welcome the extended darkness of night and refreshing fall rains with a trip to the Lake Quinault LodgeResort or Lochaerie Cabins.  Spend a day or two fishing on the nearby Queets, Clearwater or Humptulips, enjoy a perfect meal and excellent service at the Lake Quinault Lodge's 5 star restaurant overlooking the lake surrounded by forests, paddle a canoe out into the middle of the sacred Lake Quinault at dusk or dawn.  Take a drive from North to Southshore Roads to check on the Roosevelt Elk.  Make the annual pilgrimages to the giant spruce and cedar trees just short hikes from the road.  

Yup.  It's that time of year again.  Hit the refresh button on your commitment to your deep inner love for raw nature and adventure with a couple days on the coast - harvesting fall salmon and treating yourself and a guest or two to the perfect Pacific NW get away.

Fair Availability Now Through November >>  Click Here to See Available Dates  Text 253.389.0359

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 Buoy 10 Salmon Season

Buoy 10 King Salmon Season 2015

Every August we flock to the Oregon Coast and settle in for some of the best fishing of the year.  With our Oregon Charter Boat License in hand we're ready to navigate the waters of the lower Columbia River around the Astoria Megler Bridge.  Washington State has had a moratorium on issuing new charter boat licenses since the 1970s which is why we launch from the Oregon side of the Columbia River for this fishery.

Father and Sons with August Salmon near Astoria, Oregon

On a good day there will be 3,000+ Sport Fishing Boats trolling up and down the waterways between Buoy 10, inside the mouth of the Columbia and Tongue Point, just above the bridge.  We will be there every day with you on board catching chrome bright salmon and living up to the expectations we've set after many years of providing you high quality fishing trips.

Courtesy:  Fishing and Hunting News

Fishing for King and Coho Salmon at Astoria is very productive because the Columbia River and it's tributaries provide 73,000 square miles of available streams to the returning salmon.  This large footprint which includes the Kootenei, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Okanagon, Methow, Umatilla, John Day, Deschutes, White Salmon, Wind, Sandy, Willamette, Lewis and Cowlitz Rivers, mean that literally millions upon millions of fish pass under the Astoria Megler Bridge each year making the Columbia River the NW's Salmon Superhighway.

Bill & Co. with Some Nice King and Coho Salmon

The 2015 Columbia River Returns for Fall Fish include 940,000 King or Chinook Salmon and 525,000 Coho or Silver Salmon.  These fish are expected to enter the river between July 15th and September 30th, 2015.  And we will be at the gate waiting for them.

BOOK YOUR 2015 BUOY 10 KING & COHO SALMON TRIP ONLINE HERE or Call/txt 253-389-0359

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer in the Pacific NW

Summer Vacations and Fishing in the NW

King Salmon Fishing the Upper Cowlitz This Week

It's hard to believe the beauty that awaits to the SE of Olympia and Tacoma in the hills of the Cascade Mountains.  The remote spot just west of White Pass between Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens provides the perfect starting or ending point for the most scenic salmon fishing we've ever offered.  Fish Lake Scanewa where the Cowlitz and Cispus River converge surrounded by evergreen forests and fishing the most beautiful blue green water.  Packwood is an amazing little town with herds of Elk making local residence and many shops and restaraunts in the shadow of the Cascades.

Eastern Washington for Sun and Salmon

Some of the highest action fishing with 20-30+ hookups per day happens just 2 hours east of Seattle near Vantage on the Columbia River.  Catching 6 fish limits of Sockeye, aka 'Reds', is the perfect activity for the entire family.  Enjoy a day on the water in the warm sun surrounded by amazing the amazing geological landscape of Eastern Washington's Columbia River Basin.  Later in July this fishery moves upstream to Brewster which is a stone's throw away from Lake Chelan which is an amazing vacation destination.

GET THERE:  Wanapum is only 2 hours east of Seattle on I-90.  For Brewster take 90 or 2 east and head north past Lake Chelan.

IN ADDITION TO FISHING:  Take in a concert a summer concert at the Gorge.  Visit Moses Lake or the nearby Potholes Reservoir.  Stay at Lake Chelan - we highly recommend taking a boat or plane ride to the remote town of Stehekin if you've never been.  Take HWY 2 to visit the Bavarian town of Leavenworth for some beer and brats.  Or take the North Cascades highway - a must if you've never taking this amazing scenic route will really make you appreciate the beauty Washington State has to offer.   Treat yourself to a visit to Sun Mountain Lodge and take a fly fishing lesson at the lodge.

August and September at the Coast

Our amazing summer of fishing culminates at the Coast when we greet the years run of King and Coho salmon at the mouth of the Columbia River.  This fishery is aptly named Buoy 10 for the red buoy that memorializes the red hot fishing that takes place here every summer.  These are perfect trips for friends, family, customers and vendors.  Clean and professional boats and guides take you out from the dock in the morning and you can have your fish bagged right at the dock.

GET THERE:  Astoria, Oregon is the base camp for this amazing fishery.  Head west at Portland or Olympia and take 101 down to Astoria.

IN ADDITION TO FISHING:  Astoria Oregon is a right between Seaside, Oregon and Long Beach, Washington.  All three towns are set up for a multitude of tourist activities.  Astoria hosts the Columbia River Maritime Museum and there are also Trolley Tours with knowledgeable tour guides of the area.  Seaside, Oregon has miles of beaches, shopping and restaurants.  One highlight is feeding the seals at the Seaside Aquarium.  Long Beach, Washington is also a great vacation spot and boasts museums, tours and carnival rides.  This stretch along the Pacific Coast is rich in history as the location of the first settlements by Lewis and Clark.

Our family has enjoyed these fishing trips and family vacations for many years and are happy to give share our experiences to help make the most of your summer fishing trips.

Call text or email us anytime at or 253-389-0359

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Our Hearts Beat: Wyn - ooch - ee

Fishing with Casey of Waters West Guide Service
When you fish with us you're not just in another guide boat on the river.  We're not just another guide service headed to the Wynoochee because it's January and the fish are in.  When you're in Casey's boat - you know there's not a better seat on the river.  Not only because he always runs new and up to date drift boats, or because he knows every nook and cranny, every bend every log every underwater rock ledge where the fish hold.  If you're looking for the best of the best for a particular fishery - you've found it.  The long days season after season Casey has spent perfecting his game plan to catch you fish on this river cannot be matched.  He doesn't follow the latest trends and fads in gear or rely on online forums for information.  He knows what works and what has worked for guiding customers to fish for over a decade.  He continues to improve on his own gear set up every season to sharpen his edge for catching you more and more fish.

Tidbit: (* did you know that Casey met, proposed to and married his wife all on the bank of the Wynoochee River?) Wyn - ooch - ee!!

When you decide that you want to fish in January, February or March for Winter Steelhead - maybe you googled fishing the Wynoochee River or a friend referred you to us, maybe you saw an ad on  Facebook.  Or maybe you met us at a Sportsman's Show or follow the reports on Steelhead University.  Whatever it was that got you to call we're grateful for.

Tip Top Customer Service 
When you do contact us - Jessica is always waiting ready to make sure your reservation is complete and accurate.  If you call at 8pm on a Sunday you're going to get an answer.  You can also book online 24/7 - if you call at 3am we probably won't answer :)  We hope our professionalism in scheduling your trips is always evident.  Our customers are very important to us and we never want you to feel any other way.

So you found us, you called or booked online.  You have a confirmation email with reminder emails a week before the trip.  Every day when Casey checks in he gives the daily report to Jessica and confirms whether he needs to meet at a new time.  For this winter season most start times have been 6:15am - meeting at the Chevron in Montesano where Casey has been meeting many of you for over 13 years.  We always recommend staying at the Monte Square Motel which is at this same location.  Very convenient to wake up and meet Casey right in the same parking lot.  ( Monte Square Motel 360-249-4424)

Meeting the Morning of the Trip
At the peak of the season there are trucks and boats everywhere - guides and friends meeting up to fish the famed Wynoochee River.  You spot Casey's black truck and head over to meet him.  Everyone has their coffee and cold weather gear you head up to the take out spot.  You will follow Casey to one of several take out spots on the Wynoochee River.  Twin Bridges, Black Creek, Grandma and Grandpas (private launch), the Culvert, Cross Over or White Bridge.  You leave your vehicle at the take out spot.  Grab all your gear and hop into Casey's truck.  Another point we strive for is your comfort on the ride to the upper launch.  We always have a large 4 door truck or SUV so you'll know when you bring wives or customers that they will be comfortable (as first class as steelhead fishing can be) all the way.

You head up the Valley in the warmth and comfort of the truck.  If this is your first time fishing with Casey you make small talk - you might have lots of questions about the river, the fish, the valley.  Casey may not know that the fish stock for this river last year was 170,300 or that the ancient ancestor of modern salmon and steelhead was the Onorynchus Rastrosus, but he does know how to help you catch the Onorynchus Mykiss (steelhead) currently in the system.  You get to the upper launch - any launch above Twin Bridges (the lowest launch) including the 7400 line bridge or the private launch at Sutherby's.  From the comfort and warmth of the truck you wait while Casey launches and secures the boat.  Then you park put your waders or other warm gear on.  You walk down to the boat launch to the river.  You place your pack in the front of the boat and get in - sit down in those brand new padded seats.  Then Casey hops in and you're off.

Finally on the Water
Bright rays of sun coming up over
the edge of the Wynoochee Valley
It's still dark when you launch so you can barely make out the tree line and where the bank meets the water.  The morning fog is hovering over the water waiting for sunrise and warmth to evaporate.  The morning moonlight is often visible.  And all you can hear are the paddles from the boat lightly splashing as Casey rows you down the river to the first fishing hole.

As you're rowing downriver in the darkness you're wondering when you will get that rod in your hands.  The rods are all neatly lined up behind you - all pre-tied ready to fish.  Maybe you're a bit nervous because it's been so many years since you last caught a lake trout or maybe your excited because you caught a 20lb steelhead last season and you're hoping to see another beautiful monster today.

Suddenly the water flow picks up - small rapids hurry you round the bend and you can see rays of sunlight stretching up over a high cliff overlooking the river valley.  That first bright burst of light reminds you you've been up for hours in the darkness and it's about to pay off.

Time to Catch some Fish

You hear the anchor rope softly dropping and then the thud of the anchor hitting the river bottom.  It's time to fish.  Casey grabs a rod and hands it to you.  He explains that you will be pulling bait divers in this first spot and slides some rod holders closer to your fishing station.  You pull the line out 20 times per Casey's instruction then place your rod in the rod holder.  You sit down and start watching the line and tip of the rod dancing.  The dancing of the rod tip indicates that the plug or diver at the end of your line deep in the cool water is wiggling perfectly - mimicking the action of a small bait fish.

There are likely fish in the slot of water you're fishing right now.  The hatchery steelhead you're targeting were released about 10-12 months previously.  They are returning from several months - sometimes years in the ocean.  They've been out their feeding on the feast of small sea creatures that we rely on to grow our salmon and steelhead.  These fish are biologically programmed to return to the river they were either hatched or released into as fry.  The fast cool water at this spot is perfect for steelhead to sit in as the faster water carries with it more oxygen which efficiently travels through the steelhead's gills and oxygenates their blood.  That is why we know they are likely to be in this spot.  The fish are either there or traveling to this spot up river as you sit and wait.

You take a deep breathe in.  There's nothing like the cool winter air which hovers close to the surface of the Wynoochee River.  The stark white trunks of the alder trees, bare of their spring green leaves, are most visible in the morning light.  The evergreen forests on the surrounding hillsides protect the small creeks and streams keeping them cool as they flow into the Wynoochee.
Perfect Winter Steelhead
Wynoochee January 2014

QUICK.  You're brought back to reality when Casey yells 'you're hit wait for it.'  You wait just a minute for the fish to take the bait.  Once he's hooked you grab your rod out of the holder and set and hook.  Your fishing partner also reels in their line to keep it out of the way of the traveling steelhead attached to the end of your line.  Then the game begins. Casey is excited instructing you to keep your rod tip up in the air.  If you point the rod at the fish it will come off.  Keep your rod tip up.  As you reel the line in you do lower the tip of the rod - but never so low that it points at the water.  Reel reel reel down, pull up.  Reel reel reel down, pull up.  After several plays the fish is in sight still in the cool water, IT JUMPS!  The jump is to distract you - and the fish runs back down river - pulling your line with it.  Keep that rod tip up!!  The drag of the reel stops the fish and you reel reel reel down and pull up.  Reel reel reel down, pull up.  The fish is tired, you're winning this game.  When it comes into view this time you reel it close enough to the boat to see it's chrome bright skin and bright fins.  Before you know what happened there's a net in the water and your fish is caught.  Casey brings the fish in net on board.  SUCCESS!  You caught the first steelhead of the day.  Casey removes the hook from your freshly caught steelhead and instructs you to mark it on your catch record card.  The catch record code for the Wynoochee River is 337.  You fumble in your pocket or bag for your license and a pen.  You find the area of the catch record card designated for marking hatchery steelhead.  You enter the code for the Wynoochee of 337 under the catch area code and then the Day and Month.  You're allowed 2 hatchery fish per day on this river so you have more work to do.

The first fish is in the fish box.  You're ready for round 2.  Casey checks your lines and replaces any bait or gear as needed.  Then you let the line out again.  That familiar dance begins again as the tip of the rod dashes quickly up and down then bounces gently.

If you don't catch another fish in this spot soon - Casey instructs you to reel 'em up.  Rods tucked away safely inside the boat - you head down river.  You pass another boat or two in the morning light.  Other excited fisherman and women out here in nature.  Maybe they nod or wave or congratulate you on the fish they saw you reel in up above.  You thank them and continue down to the next fishing spot.

A wide stretch of river appears which is perfectly suited for 'free drifting.'  You anchor up and Casey prepares some specialized rods with leaders and bait.  Unless you've fished with Casey or one of his close fishing partners you've probably not seen this kind of bait before.  We won't spoil the surprise here.  We'll just tell you this bait is perfectly suited for bouncing along the bottom of the river and catching the notice of unsuspecting steelhead.

Limits of Steelhead January 2015
You take turns casting upstream.  You cast upstream and let the current of the river bring your gear downriver.  You can feel the gear bouncing off the large river rocks on the riverbed.  Bounce bounce bounce.  Once you're gear has drifting down and is nearly parallel with the nose of the boat you reel in and cast back up stream.  The gear is specifically weighted and sized so that the bait is floating mid stream where the steelhead are holding in tight to the small channel.  It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the feel of your gear bouncing on the river bottom and the soft bite of a steelhead.  But once you recognize the bite you set the hook and start playing that fish.  The others in the boat reel in their lines so they don't tangle with yours.  After some jumps and runs you've wore the fish out and it's netted and boated.  Another fish for the card.

As your day on the water draws to and end you start wondering where the take out is.  You see the river stretching out ahead of you and it's hard to see where the boat launch is from upriver.  All good things must come to and end.   Casey rows the boat up to the launch and drops the anchor.  You're vehicle is waiting at the top of the launch.  You gather your things and take them to your vehicle while Casey cleans your fish.  You bring your cooler down and the fillets go in.

Your sense of accomplishment isn't only about the fresh bright red fillets in your cooler but about taking the time to get out on the water and spend time with a valued friend, family member or customer and your favorite new guide, Casey.