Beating a Dead Horse - The Skookumchuck

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by astrofisher, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. astrofisher

    astrofisher Clear Skies

    The Skookumchuck River is a beautiful little stream not far from my house. I can be on the river up by the dam in about 10 minutes - downstream by Bucoda in about 5 minutes. The problem is that I'm a trout fisherman and this is a salmon/steelhead river. However, there are cutthroat in this stream as well, but getting through all the juvenile salmon is dam near impossible. I don't like harassing these little guys, which is why I normally fish the Little D.

    I went to the Skook a couple of times this summer, while teaching my brother how to fly fish. I figured it was good spot to get his line wet and also show him why I don't fish this river; any dry fly you put on will get molested by juvenile salmon. While watching him one day, I got to thinking that maybe if I only fished deep, I could catch a cutt with a fly - when I was a kid we used to pull cutts out with spinners and spoons. I put on an olive woolley bugger and tossed into the big pool by the rock and hooked a 10" cutthroat. I also connected with a 12" rainbow (juvenile steelhead?) dead drifting through a slot. I also caught a couple of larger juvenile salmon - oh well. I told myself I would come back in the fall to try a fall caddis, as there are a lot fall caddis larvae in this river.

    I went there about a month ago to take a look and sure enough, there were quite a number of fall caddis in the air. There was also a lot a small (winter) stoneflies and BWO's about - more insect activity then I saw last summer. Quite a few beat up kings and guys still fishing for them. While sipping a Mirror Pond Pale Ale and watching the caddis flitter about above the water, I saw a trout come clear out of the water to grab it. Hmmm, I went back the next day a tried tossing a fall caddis imitation to that spot. There are a couple of fallen trees laying parallel to the river, one above the water and one below. No luck, as I can't reach that spot. My double haul has went to hell. I tried other spots but nothing but a few juveniles trying push my fly out of the water. I should probably just give up.

    A couple of days ago, an old friend (gear fisher) stopped by my house on his way back from fishing Silvers up by the dam. He told me he caught a couple of smokers and a trout. He said he was going back the next day and wanted to know if I wanted to go. What the heck, I figured I'll give it another try.

    I saw several trout. One took something off the surface on the far side, but there was no room for me to back-cast. Saw another try to take an orange bobber that had gotten snagged on a stick. I was able to cast there and yep, I got snagged on the same stick. I saw a couple of trout sitting just below some spawning salmon and I thought about running an egg pattern through that spot but talked myself out of it. I went upstream to the big pool with very large boulders in it. This the kind of spot I always throw streamers in while fishing the Little D. I stuck on a large orange stimulator just to see if it would be attacked by some juvenile salmon. Ah Ha, I saw a fairly large fish come up from the bottom take a look and head back down. Ok, I tie on a woolley bugger cast upstream of the boulder, flip my line downstream of the boulder, wait, wait, and strip. Bang! Got him, feels too big to be a juvenile salmon - has to be a cutthroat.

    The following pic is my final reward. An effort in futility? Maybe... skooksal1.jpg
     
    John Hicks and Joe Goodfellow like this.
  2. John Hicks

    John Hicks Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits

    Very nice report. Even though I grew up in Yelm and currently live in Olympia, I have only fished the Skook once. Looks like a nice little stream.
     
  3. Greg Price

    Greg Price Love da little fishies

    I keep hearing about the skookumchuck from fellow anglers i meet on the puyallup system. I have to try it now that I live in Puyallup.
     
  4. John Weston

    John Weston Member

    Jim, nice report. WB always work. well most of the time. never fished the skook. might be fun. is there anything above the dam or no fishing allowed. I live in Olympia so it's an easy drive. I have gone by it many times and wonder.
    JW
     
  5. Scott Salzer

    Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Fished the Skook back in the early 70's. Nice piece of water. Can be difficult to cast a fly with all the overhanging trees. Thanks for the report and the memories.
     
    astrofisher likes this.
  6. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    I believe that 12" trout you caught was a resident RB, Steelhead don't stay in the parent stream that long. They usually head out at about 4 to 6 inches long.

    Maybe you should give a few nymphs a try
     
  7. rory

    rory Go Outside

    "I thought about running an egg pattern through that spot but talked myself out of it."
    Love it.
     
  8. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    I think the trout fishing might be better upstream of the dam, but I think Weyerhauser keeps the gates locked most of the time these days. Maybe try mountain biking to reach it?

    Sg
     
  9. astrofisher

    astrofisher Clear Skies

    I have done some nymphing, but probably gave up too quick.
     
  10. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

    Unless they residualize to the stream. That would be about the only way to explain the 14-18" clipped bows I've caught on streams that receive steelhead plants. Maybe they are jacks but I can't say for sure. They sure act and look like they've lived in the streams since they were planted.
    SF
     
  11. astrofisher

    astrofisher Clear Skies


    The upper Skookumchuck and reservoir are open from the 1st Saturday in June to October 31st. Easiest access would be off the Vail Loop rd and then the Gordon rd. It's none motorized vehicles only from there. After August 1st (I think), you need a special permit from Weyerhauser to access the roads up there, but you can use motorized vehicles if you buy the permit.

    There should be both Rainbows and Cutthroats in the upper river, but I don't know about the reservoir. I haven't been up there in over 30 years, and as remember there was a pretty steep set of rapids just upstream of the mouth of the reservoir which might prevent migration out of the reservoir. Back then you could access the reservoir from several different locations - went swimming and canoeing, but never fished it. Of course back then, there were no gates and you could use logging roads to drive all the way to Morton.
     
  12. John Weston

    John Weston Member

    thanks Jim. I'll do some search on this.
    JW
     
  13. Peyton00

    Peyton00 Active Member

    Astro

    I also fly fish the skookumchuk. I have had the same issues with juvenile salmon. I have worked over the water from the reservoir down past Johnson Creek rd and farther down stream. I do better for trout the lower i go in the river, or at least i dont pick up as many salmon smolt. I did find a stretch that held many RB in the 9-13" range and i usually hike into that area when hunting trout. I like the area and the twisting river is a scenic pleasure. Get away from the reservoir area the river banks cleans up nicely and i dont usually see another soul or trash etc.
     
    james.jimenez and brittinj like this.
  14. astrofisher

    astrofisher Clear Skies

    I did fish it quite a bit further downstream this year, and did notice that there wasn't nearly as many juveniles present. I didn't catch anything but I did see where somebody had caught a 12" rainbow using worms. The container of worms was still there, and the fish that they caught had been gutted and left in a plastic bag by the side of the stream.:confused:
     
  15. Greg Price

    Greg Price Love da little fishies

    I fished the skookumchuck for the fist time today. i utilized fly and gear rods. Caught and released a nice 16 inch cuttie on a spinner. A 4 wt would have been more lively.

    This is a very grabby river due to numerous wood debris in the river. Managed to break my 6 wt sage fli rod in half. Bummer. Did not catch any fish on the fly rod.

    There were quite a few smaller fish rising right at dusk. Not sure what kind of fish they were or what they were rising to, but they were smaller than adult salmon. It may be fun to try a few small dry flies at dusk.

    Very beautiful drive on the way in to the dam.
    Well worth the trip just for the scenery.