Steelhead Odyssey, Episodes III-V


You spend a lot of time staring at the river when the fish aren’t biting.

photo by Eric Strader

[Editor’s Note: This month, three trout guides from Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge have embarked on a steelhead trip through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. They’ll be filing frequent updates on their progress. The anglers—all steelhead novices—are Eric Strader (from Missouri), Robert McCallister (from New Mexico), and Ted Morris (from Pennsylvania).]

Episode III

Ted and I stayed in the camper for Christmas, because Robert went back to New Mexico for Christmas. We found a good campground called 3 Rivers near the Bogachiel and the Calawah rivers. Our plan was that we would be able to walk to three good fishing spots that were fairly close. Well…it rained the entire time Robert was gone, and all the rivers we were close to jumped up a bunch. 


You’ve got to make do when you spend Christmas in a 
trailer on the rainy Olympic Peninsula.

photo by Eric Strader

Christmas morning, Ted and I went to the mouth of the Bogachiel and the Calawah to do some heavy nymphing in the high rivers. We continued to nymph for an hour or so as we got poured on and got no strikes. We returned to the camper and tied flies to put on our wilderness Christmas tree.

We got up early the day after Christmas and hiked up the Calawah to try and find some good runs. All we ended up finding were snags…fishing seems tough at this point with all the rain It feels like its been raining for days now!

Episode IV

Now that Robert is back, we have wheels. It’s time to fish! Ted and I were cooped up for too long without a vehicle. 

We contacted a guide named Mike Z., and he suggested a few options for us on the Sol Duc as well as the Hoko. Mike told us that they get a lot of rain on the Olympic Peninsula, but the rivers come down fast! That gives us a lot of confidence staying in this spot for a while and waiting the weather out.


Numerous public-access sites allow out-of-towners to get 
on the water easily, but crowds can be a problem.

photo by Eric Strader

We head out early in the morning back to Mosquito Creek, trying to get redemption on few lost fish, as well as to catch a few sea-run cutthroats. The day started out smooth, getting the gear and rods loaded. We got to the creek, which it looked clear and beautiful. There was a truck coming down the road as we were looking at the creek, and Robert pulled up to let him by. As Robert was turning the car around, though, the guy locked a gate behind us. So we were locked in, back on a logging road in the middle of nowhere, with no cellphone service! 

Everyone was in shock that the guy driving through would lock us in, but we were there to fish. If we were gonna be locked, in we might as well fish till they opened it back up. 

We fished Mosquito Creek for the rest of the day, and headed back at dark. We got lucky and caught one of the loggers going home. He opened the gate and we were on our way home. We’d caught a few more cutthroats, and we got to see some coho salmon that had finished spawning. 

Another great day exploring and fishing. Hopefully tomorrow we will bring on to the net!

Episode V

Happy New Year! 

On New Year’s Eve, we went down to the Tumbling Rapids access on the Sol Duc River to swing flies and drift nymphs. We started under the bridge and worked our way down early in the morning. There is a really nice run just under the bridge, with a big shelf about 50 feet off the bank. We waded out as far as we could to fish the shelf with about a 4-inch pink chenille worm weighted with two size 00 split shot. We fished with that setup for a couple of hours as we worked our way down stream.

After we nymphed, we rigged up our switch rods and started just under the bridge with pink bunny leeches and worked our way upriver. The water is great up from the bridge—with a lot of riffles and a few big boulders that look as if they should be great holding places for steelhead. Again another fishless day, but we are getting much better at casting our switch rods!


The steelhead aren’t cooperating, but the scenery on the Olympic Peninsula is 
spectacular, as Ted Morris found on the Hoh River.

photo by Eric Strader

The next day—the first of the year—we decided to fish the upper Hoh because the water levels and clarity were looking great. So we headed out to try and catch a New Year’s steelhead. We swung flies all day with heavy sinking tips. We had been told that the steelhead on the Hoh tend to key in on pink because of the glacial run off, so we used pink Intruders as well as pink marabou Spey flies. It was a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures around 40°. We fished about 3 miles of the Hoh today, and still no luck. That’s okay, though: it was a great way to start the new year, swinging flies on the Hoh!

Previously in the series: Steelhead Odyssey, Episode I and Steelhead Odyssey, Episode II.

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