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!