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Pacific Northwest Fall Fishery


Steelhead

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I wanted to ask anglers who fish in the coastal PNW(Washington, Oregon & northern California) how is the fall bass fishing in your area? I'm located on the southwest coast of B.C., Canada. Last fall was basically my first attempt at fall bass fishing as the previous 30+ years I was flyfishing for Pacific Salmon from September to November. 

 

Late last September as few low fronts came in consecutively and the surface temp dropped fairly quickly to 64F, the major observation was that the fish vacated shallow water. I went out a few more times fishing deeper water with no success with various techniques. One thing I didn't try was deep cranking. 

 

A very good bass fisherman stated the B.C. doesn't have a good fall fishery. Might be true, but not might be. I'm not going on the word of one person. 

 

How is is the fishing in your region in the fall? What  techniques, patterns and locations work for you? The lakes I fish have both Smallies and Largies with the Smallmouth being the prominent specie(so far). The main forage is crawdads, perch and pumpkinseed. One more thing I'll add is that I don't have good electronics. 

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I fish from the shore so I can only speak from that perspective. The closer fall gets to winter, my experience shows it becomes very tough to catch them. I think it’s more of an issue of not being able to get to them because they’re probably not within range to even have a chance. 
 

With a boat, I think that is a different story for the most part, but I’d tend to agree with that good bass angler’s sentiments. 
 

My experience is WA state from the shore is September can be really good but it finishes in October and I can forget it by November.  As I mentioned, this is from the shore and I’ll add the lakes I have access to. 
 

Don’t let this discourage you. For me, it’s usually a sign to target other species like salmon. 

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6 hours ago, islandbass said:

I fish from the shore so I can only speak from that perspective. The closer fall gets to winter, my experience shows it becomes very tough to catch them. I think it’s more of an issue of not being able to get to them because they’re probably not within range to even have a chance. 
 

With a boat, I think that is a different story for the most part, but I’d tend to agree with that good bass angler’s sentiments. 
 

My experience is WA state from the shore is September can be really good but it finishes in October and I can forget it by November.  As I mentioned, this is from the shore and I’ll add the lakes I have access to. 
 

Don’t let this discourage you. For me, it’s usually a sign to target other species like salmon. 

 

Thanks for the feed back. I use  to be an avid flyfisher for Pacific Salmon for 30 years, salt & fresh but the very low numbers of returning fish and a lot more anglers has  made it nearly not as fun. This weekend I would normally be heading up Island for the Pinks . The last few years have been dismal. I digress. 

 

Back to bass. From what I can gather the fall bass fishing is pretty good in the interior of the province(Okanogan, Kootneys) and east of the Cascades where you are. 

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That is sad to hear about the salmon. It is pretty much the same here in WA state. Steelhead is an even sadder case. There’s a joke about fishing for steelhead in the Green River. If you catch one in a five year period, you’re lucky. 
 

Yes, I think the fishing for bass fares better the farther east you go. Wishing you the best. 
 

Hope I get the chance to target chum in November. 

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Fall fishing in Eastern WA hasn't been good the past few years.  I'm not sure why, but it's been pretty slow.  And the bigger fish are few and far between.  It can be a dink-fest though.

 

This year, the lakes and rivers have been overrun with anglers due to COVID (i.e. there's little else to do except head outdoors).  The fishing pressure is unprecedented.  It's busy even during the weekdays.  As a result, the action has diminished.  So I suspect this fall is going to be a very, very tough season.

 

On a side note, why are they still fishing for salmon?  I'm being serious. If they want to "save the salmon", why are they still killing them?  I don't get that.  I must be missing something.

 

Anyway, I don't mean to discourage you.  Just setting expectations.

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Glenn,

 

That is incredible that the east side isn’t so hot for bass either.  
 

You raise a good question. Perhaps too many people are in denial and can’t or refuse to accept the reality of how bad it is. A moratorium on fishing for them for citizens and tribes should be agreed upon and implemented. 
 

I have pretty much given up on targeting kings or silvers and That only leaves for me to battle chum for sport. I reckon their numbers seem higher than the other species perhaps due to their reputation of not being good tablefare. They sure fight hard. One chum actually spooled my curado 201 DHSV. ?

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13 hours ago, islandbass said:

That is sad to hear about the salmon. It is pretty much the same here in WA state. Steelhead is an even sadder case. There’s a joke about fishing for steelhead in the Green River. If you catch one in a five year period, you’re lucky. 
 

Yes, I think the fishing for bass fares better the farther east you go. Wishing you the best. 
 

Hope I get the chance to target chum in November. 

 

I haven't fished for Steelhead in the last 15 years. They've been decimated here on Vancouver Island and some watersheds the populations are almost extinct.

 

 Last year, the first time the Chum returns were dismal. There's a small river 10 miles away from me that had a fantastic Chum fishery with the odd Chinook and Coho. I didn't hit the river last year. The first time in 35 years. The first 15 years there was only a handful of flyfishers(flyfishing only from Sept.1-Oct.31/no retention), but every year since then there has been an increase in anglers. Too many now, IMHO. I agree, Chum are hard fighters. The males fight like Chinook and the females like Coho. This particular river estuary the fish are bright and silver early in the run. Just great fun on a 9wt. fly rod. 

 

My fly fishing days for Pacific Salmon I think are over, sadly. During the winter I would be tying flies and "dreaming" of the upcoming season. It was a passion but I still have a small sliver of hope the numbers will come back. 

 

The sea-run Cutthroat is the only specie I still pursue in the fresh and salt. Still some good populations but I think they're next on the list. It's just a matter of time. There's so many factors against the anadromous fish here in the PNW. 

 

Good talkin with ya. Take care. 

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13 hours ago, Glenn said:

Fall fishing in Eastern WA hasn't been good the past few years.  I'm not sure why, but it's been pretty slow.  And the bigger fish are few and far between.  It can be a dink-fest though.

 

This year, the lakes and rivers have been overrun with anglers due to COVID (i.e. there's little else to do except head outdoors).  The fishing pressure is unprecedented.  It's busy even during the weekdays.  As a result, the action has diminished.  So I suspect this fall is going to be a very, very tough season.

 

On a side note, why are they still fishing for salmon?  I'm being serious. If they want to "save the salmon", why are they still killing them?  I don't get that.  I must be missing something.

 

Anyway, I don't mean to discourage you.  Just setting expectations.

 

I've read that the number of anglers have gone way up in the US. License sales have soared. Good for the industry.

 

Here, however the saltwater fishery has taken a dramatic decrease in participation due the low stocks of all species(salmon, halibut, cod, etc.). Closures and strict regulations with no or little retention over the last number of years has seen the saltwater recreational sport fishing industry take a dramatic decline. It's a good thing for the most part as the governments are trying to conserve the stocks but I think it's too little too late. Like I stated in the previous post there is so many other negative factors at work[ocean survival(low salinity & oxygen levels, high temps), spawning habitat degradation, commercial fishery]. As far as the freshwater fishery is concerned here I haven't seen the numbers but I suspect the numbers have increased. 

 

Bass fishing pressure here hasn't really increased. Maybe a slight tick up. Bass are scorned here in B.C.  Fine by me. Less pressure. I just keep my mouth shut... hahaha. 

 

By no means am I discouraged. This is the reality of the times. Actually, my expections on pretty much everything have been lowered the last number of years but especially since Covid-19 has "taken over".

 

 I like what our provincial health officer says,"be calm, be kind and stay safe."

 

 

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6 hours ago, Steelhead said:

 

I haven't fished for Steelhead in the last 15 years. They've been decimated here on Vancouver Island and some watersheds the populations are almost extinct.

 

 Last year, the first time the Chum returns were dismal. There's a small river 10 miles away from me that had a fantastic Chum fishery with the odd Chinook and Coho. I didn't hit the river last year. The first time in 35 years. The first 15 years there was only a handful of flyfishers(flyfishing only from Sept.1-Oct.31/no retention), but every year since then there has been an increase in anglers. Too many now, IMHO. I agree, Chum are hard fighters. The males fight like Chinook and the females like Coho. This particular river estuary the fish are bright and silver early in the run. Just great fun on a 9wt. fly rod. 

 

My fly fishing days for Pacific Salmon I think are over, sadly. During the winter I would be tying flies and "dreaming" of the upcoming season. It was a passion but I still have a small sliver of hope the numbers will come back. 

 

The sea-run Cutthroat is the only specie I still pursue in the fresh and salt. Still some good populations but I think they're next on the list. It's just a matter of time. There's so many factors against the anadromous fish here in the PNW. 

 

Good talkin with ya. Take care. 

Another pipe dream of mine smashed, lol. That is, of fishing in BC someday because the grass was “greener” up north and that the fishery management was better up there. 

I find it eye opening but perhaps I should not be surprised that just a few miles north of me the condition of the pacific salmon and steelhead fishery is similar. 
 

It has definitely been a pleasure chatting such that I’ll share a fear of mine... Fly fishing. I haven’t tried yet. I’m actually afraid to. Why? Because I fear I might like it so much that my conventional gear might start collecting dust, lol. J/J. I plan to try it soon. 

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20 hours ago, islandbass said:

Another pipe dream of mine smashed, lol. That is, of fishing in BC someday because the grass was “greener” up north and that the fishery management was better up there. 

I find it eye opening but perhaps I should not be surprised that just a few miles north of me the condition of the pacific salmon and steelhead fishery is similar. 
 

It has definitely been a pleasure chatting such that I’ll share a fear of mine... Fly fishing. I haven’t tried yet. I’m actually afraid to. Why? Because I fear I might like it so much that my conventional gear might start collecting dust, lol. J/J. I plan to try it soon. 

 

I hear ya. All stocks from nothern California to Alaska have seen dramatic declines. Years ago, I think heading north for the most part the fishing was better but now I believe that's not the case. Sure, there's a few exceptions. 

 

You can can pick up a cheap fly rod combo to give it a go. The first thing I would recommend is take a casting lesson. The biggest negative factor I have seen is that most people can't cast and the result is catching no fish and they pack it in. I learnt on my own as I started flyfishing when I was 12. Nowadays there is so much info on the Internet but it can be overwhelming, complicated and confusing. I guess that's pretty much applicable to everything these days. Washington Flyfishing Forum is superb. I would suggest checking it out if if your thinking about getting into it. 

 

With all that being said, if you do get passionate about it, it becomes a slippery slope. It can be very expensive. Fly rods generally are more costly and not to mention all the other necessities and accessories. I'm a rod junkie. Man oh man, I spent a fortune... ludicrous. Had to have the flagship premium rods(Loomis, Sage, Scott, etc.) both single hand and double handed rods(Spey & switch). Continuously upgrading when a new flagship rod was introduced(Sage does this every couple of years), experimenting with different brands, actions, wieghts and lengths. At one time I had 18 fly rods. In retrospect, it was insidious... lol. I'm down to more of a reasonable number now but those discontent thoughts still rise up from time to time. 

 

Anyways, I'm rambling on here. I think you would enjoy it. There's time when conventional gear doesn't get bit but a fly will produce in both fresh and salt and vise versa.

 

Good luck. All the best. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 7/31/2020 at 3:33 PM, Glenn said:

Fall fishing in Eastern WA hasn't been good the past few years.  I'm not sure why, but it's been pretty slow.  And the bigger fish are few and far between.  It can be a dink-fest though.

 

This year, the lakes and rivers have been overrun with anglers due to COVID (i.e. there's little else to do except head outdoors).  The fishing pressure is unprecedented.  It's busy even during the weekdays.  As a result, the action has diminished.  So I suspect this fall is going to be a very, very tough season.

 

On a side note, why are they still fishing for salmon?  I'm being serious. If they want to "save the salmon", why are they still killing them?  I don't get that.  I must be missing something.

 

Anyway, I don't mean to discourage you.  Just setting expectations.

That is interesting. I definitely see a lot more pleasure boaters, stand up paddlers, kayakers, etc than previous years here in Portland but I would say that the fishing pressure is just a little higher than normal. The smallmouth bass fishing has been as good as I have ever seen it so far this summer.

 

To the original question, the fall offers some of the best bass fishing here in Portland, OR. I would say that through early to mid October the fishing is usually lights out. The bass bite starts to slow at that point but usually the fish you catch are bigger. Around that time of the year I start to do split days of sturgeon and bass or trout and bass, eventually switching to solely sturgeon fishing through the winter.

 

Location also matters. Most of the year I fish a big river here (Willamette) but I have a hard time finding bass in the late fall (November). I have much better success at my local lake (Hagg) in the late fall. Winter fishing for me is throwing a Carolina rig, drop shot, jig'n'pig or Ned rig at timber that is near the creek channel. I am usually fishing 35-50' deep.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 8/1/2020 at 5:20 AM, Steelhead said:

 

I've read that the number of anglers have gone way up in the US. License sales have soared. Good for the industry.

 

 

 

 

And bad for the fishermen.

 

I know I know, more money equals more innovation. I don't care about innovation, I think we have enough gadgets available. I like less people on the water fishing.

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