Well, just finished up the 2013 spring steelhead season in Washington. I was lucky enough to make one more trip to forks to fish for big wild fish, and was happily greeted with lots of chrome fresh April natives. It's amazing how much better the hoh fishes after the tribal nets were pulled at the end of March.
I decided to launch up in the Olympic national Park, higher than I had ever fished the hoh before. The water was definitely a lot skinnier than I am used to on the hoh. I was a little nervous about not knowing the river thar high up, but everything worked out. There was one sweeper across the entire river we had to make it over to the side pretty quickly and a few sets of rapids that were pretty fast but other than that it wasn't too bad. We made the drift from Park-line to the launch above Oxbow.
We did not touch a fish for the first 45 minutes or so, there really wasn't much water up that high to fish. Finally, about an hour in we found a deep deep hole and anchored. My buddy hooked a beautiful 10 pound chrome buck on his third cast, landed it, released and quickly got back out to catch a small spawned out hen before leaving the hole. 2/2 so far.
About a half a mile of water we drifted through, and I anchored above a nice seam on the right side of the river. I let my Float go way down which wasn't smart because I was so far away from my gear, but at the very end of my drift got picked up by a big fish. Unfortunately, there was a log pile in the river between me and the fish. I tried to have my buddy pull anchor and get down to the fish, but it was too late. By the time we got to the fish it was in the sticks. I got him off the pile once just to find that he had ran into another part of the pile. He broke off and we never saw it.
We then drifted through the hoh's upper Canyon. At the head of the canyon, a large sweeper had blown across the entire river. I had to quickly navigate a Rockgarden and get to the left to make it through a tiny slot. The canyon itself is pretty tough, lots of big swirls boulders and stuff to hit. I had to walk my boat around the head of one rapid set because of so many rocks in the river.
With that behind us we came to a split in the river. I almost went right but I decided to go left. At the end of the left split there is a nice little seam on the left, where my buddy Casted and hooked a nice six or seven Pound buck that we caught and released. 3/4 at this point.
We then came to Barlow's launch, the middle launch on the upper hoh. Just below the launch, there is one of my favorite holes on the hoh. My buddy casted and missed a great take on the first cast, so I followed with my cast and hooked a beautiful midteens chrome hen. After a good fight we got her in the net, took a few pictures and released her. 4/5 now!
Next we came to the hoh's logjam, where you must get out of your boat and push it down a tiny tiny side Creek about 100 yards around an impassable logjam.
About a quarter-mile below the logjam, my buddy cast into a small pocket on the right side, that didn't look like it would hold a fish. The bobber immediately goes down but since it's so shallow we think it's a snag so my buddy pulled up twice to release the snag. It doesn't come loose. He holds the rod tight for a second to feel a fish chewing on the yarnball. Finally knowing it's a fish, he sets the hook to see a colored but large steelhead jump out of the water. This fish is 20+. Everything is chaotic, we know we have a giant fish there's rapids below and the fish is taking off. We chased the fish down the rapids and get out on shore only to have it come very close twice, avoid the net and make another huge run forcing us to get back in the boat and chase it more. We get out on the next gravel bar and fight the fish some more. Finally, getting tired, the large buck comes up on shore. My buddy quickly gets the tape out and measures the fishes length. It is just shy of 40 inches. At this point, the fish starts to go crazy. The choices were, Push the fish up on shore and potentially hurt it badly while it flops on the rocks, or keep it in the water and risk losing it. Well, we didnt want to hurt him so he got back in the river as i just could not hold on to a very angry fish with a tail so large that it was virtually un-holdable. So... We came out of the situation with no picture of the steelhead, but we got a tape on it. Being 40 inches, thats a benchmark for 20 lbs. however it was pretty colored and had lost some body mass. So being a little skinny due to this fact, i would say at this point the fish is probably about 19 pounds. However he was well over 20 as a fresh fish. We are now 5/6!
Nearing the take out, we fished a nice hole on the left and hook what seems to be a pretty heavy fish, but lose it after only a few seconds of very large head shakes, 6/7.
We are literally one corner from the launch, and my buddy makes one last cast into a little swirly hole where the bobber slowly swirls under a tree. Immediately the float goes down and we are into our last fish right before the launch. A nice bright 8 pound wild hen comes to the net at the launch and our day is finished. 7/8 on the day.
We finished yarnballs Bobber dogged all day long. This was the day before last, so i will post a report for the last day we fished as well!River Chrome Guide Service
River Chrome Guide Service specializes in Salmon and Steelhead fishing,guided fishing trips and instructional fishing trips on many rivers within close driving distance of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, including the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish and many of their smaller yet very productive tributaries.
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