Olympic Peninsula Steelhead

firehuntfish

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So, I just got home from a week of fly fishing for steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. This was my first trip for steelhead and it was a lot of fun. I was guided by my friend Nate McDonough THENOMADICANGLER@GMAIL.com. I first met Nate out in Missoula, Montana a few years back on one of my annual pilgrimages out west to fly fish. Nate is a Washington native and has been fishing these rivers of the Pacific Northwest since he was a kid. He has been talking up this steelhead thing for years and finally, this year, he convinced me to go out there and see what all the fuss was about.

Well, if you have never chased these big, beautiful, wild fish during their spawning runs, you need to do it once in your lifetime. The scenery is amazing, and the fishery is strong. We were fishing early season. Nate starts chasing the steel in late December and the fish run strong through April. We lost a couple of days to the rivers blowing out due to heavy rain. Yes, it rains sometimes in the Pacific Northwest.... Nevertheless, it's worth the time, the trouble, and enduring some challenging weather conditions for a chance to catch one of these big wild buck steelhead.

The first fish below is my fist big buck of the trip. Full of color, he has been in the river a while...
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One of the bigger hens of our trip. She's still pretty chromed up.
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Another hen that is really chrome. Probably came into the river in the last day or so...
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Here's another big Sol Duc buck with lots of color.
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This buck was probably the most colored up fish of the trip. He was caught way up the river likely already spawned out.
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First big buck steelhead on the upper Bogachiel River.
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Overlooking the Sol Duc River.
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Beach view from the mouth of the Hoh River during the 5 minutes of sun that day.
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Another stunning view of the ominous Pacific coastline.
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The marina and fishing village of the Quinault Reservation at the mouth of the Hoh River.
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PHOENIX PHIL

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Quite the fighters aren't they? Looks like you caught both what we'd call "A" and "B" run. One stays out longer in the ocean before returning to spawn and grow quite large. By the time they made it into west Idaho they crazy beautiful with color.

Glad you got the chance to experience this!
 

BSO Dave

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I hate you Dan....! Lol...!

Seriously, Awesome photos! Nice going on your catches. Cool report. It's on the bucket list...
 

firehuntfish

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Phil,

They all seem to have their own personalities. The brighter the fish, the harder the fight I think, which only makes sense. I guess they get pretty exhausted if they have spent time in the river and spawned out.

Still, an amazing and awesome fish! They are really a unique species and how they spawn is amazing it itself. I can't believe that they travel that far each year to the very spot they were born. Very cool fish! I hope to get to go again next season.
 
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Rob404

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Great Fish and Great Pictures, Thanks
 

BWH

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Friggin awesome man!!!! Makes me want to go back!!!!
 

Scott Slough

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Those are not steelhead ... steelhead are up to 12 inches ... at least when I go fishing :)!
 

gillettehunter

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Nice fish. I'll be on the Clearwater in Id next month. Last yr I fished 3 1/2 days and landed 17 fish. One of my vices. The fish on the Clearwater are usually "B" run fish that have spent 2 yrs in the ocean.they will average 30-36 inches and weigh 10-16 lbs. they enter freshwater in late summer, early fall and spawn in the spring. Lots of fun to catch. Congrats to you. Bruce
 

G Skinner

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Thanks Dan ...now I have the urge to get a rod out and see if I can find some open water here in Ontario .
Glen
 

1dirthawker

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dan,
nicely done. i fished the bogy, the caraway and the solduck when i arew up there in forks. my dad was a fishing guide there for 50+ years, craig hunley. he died recently.

you caught some nice fish, good job! they are sure fun when you get a fresh fish trying to spool ya!
 

cpr0312

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Very nice, thanks for sharing!
 

firehuntfish

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dan,
nicely done. i fished the bogy, the caraway and the solduck when i arew up there in forks. my dad was a fishing guide there for 50+ years, craig hunley. he died recently.

you caught some nice fish, good job! they are sure fun when you get a fresh fish trying to spool ya!

@1dirthawker ,

My condolences for your dad... 50 years is a long time! I can't say that I know many of the guides out of that part of the OP or Forks. The guide I fished with is a Washington native that also guides in Alaska and Montana. I met him in Montana, and he has been trying to get me to go out to the OP and fish for years. I finally took him up on it last year.

I didn't get out there this year, but he said they had a solid year of fishing with minimal blow outs. The OP is a beautiful part of this country, and Forks is a really cool little town, and the folks were all very friendly. You were lucky growing up there. I will get back there eventually... You are correct that those bucks go crazy especially when you hook a chromer that just got into the river.
 

1dirthawker

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dan,

thanks. your guide probably knew my dad if he has guided on the OP for more than 5 years. dad gave it up 3 years ago, quit rowing his boat at age 73. i hope i have some of those genes!

i read my note to you, spell check screwed me, i meant to write the calawah river. the hoh was always a tough one to fish since it was glacier fed and with all the rain is the first to get blown out.

anyway, looks to me like you did pretty good there. florida, a long way to go to catch a steel head, well done!
 

firehuntfish

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Fly or conventional tackle? Great fish! Congrats!

Fly or die....! Although I wouldn't really call what the use a fly... It looks more like a fuzzy button that you would find on a clown's coat!

yarnies2.jpg
 

rinehart0050

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Congrats Dan - some great looking fish!
 

firehuntfish

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My guide buddy just sent me this pic yesterday to make me jealous.... This is one of the better ones they caught this season.

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