Just a couple of questions....

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by fish-on, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Hi guys, Just a couple of questions for you all.

    I have been having a discussion with a few anglers about a particular regulation question.. The question is: On rivers that you are allowed to fish for salmon and steelhead, if you have reached your limit of salmon, are you still allowed to fish for steelhead? I have repeatedly checked the regs and could not find the part where it says that you are required to stop. The closest rule that I know of is; If you catch your limit of adult salmon first, even if the rule states that you can keep jacks, you may not continue fishing. However there is none that states you can't proceed to fish if you're fishing for another specie. I have called the WDFW hotline and asked the question and I was told you are allowed to continue to fish. I relayed this to the folks I have been in discussion with and they say they have received a different answer when they called the same number years back. What say you?

    Second question:

    Been fishing a particular river lately and have been doing incredibly good with the cohos. Caught a bright 6 lb hen and I was surprised how large its stomach was and how much eggs this hen was carrying. When I opened her up, she was full of eggs alright but not just her own. She had immature eggs of her own, but her stomach was so full of swallowed/eaten singular eggs. It was so full that her stomach looked like a third egg skein. In all my years of fishing, and volunteering at multiple hatcheries years back, I have observed fish take in, crush, then spit eggs. As others would say, for the preservation of their species or due to competition. But this is a first for me. This I know is more a characteristic of dollies, rainbow trout and SRCs as they feed on salmon eggs. Has anyone ever seen this before? Or anyone know the explanation for it.

    Thanks in advance for the response..

    Tight lines

  2. The first question is one of ethics/morality as much as it is of the law. A couple of years ago they opened a Coho season on a river that also had a steelhead season. The Coho were few and far between but the steelheading was good. So you catch your two hatchery brats and then technically you could keep fishing for the Coho (I talked with two different wardens about this) but the likelihood was small that you would catch one. I caught my two steelhead and then walked up to the car and assumed I was done but when told by a warden that I could keep fishing for Coho as long as I said that that is what I was fishing for I had to take pause before marching back down to the river and catching more steelhead. I wouldn't have if the guy across from me hadn't landed a Coho just minutes before I had caught my second steelie. The key difference is you have to identify what you are fishing for if a game warden asks. You can even switch it between casts.
    fish-on likes this.
  3. Irafly,

    Thanks for the response. I agree, I have seen anglers claim fishing for trout with salmon outfits. The river in question has both steelhead and salmon albeit the steelhead run is just starting to get pretty good. When I fish on such rivers, I even change setup and presentation to up my odds of getting the targeted species. So far it has been working pretty well. Just curious as to the legality of it.

    Tight lines

  4. If you are fishing with bait you have to stop after you have caught your limit. If you are fishing with artificial's(Flies, Spinners, Spoons) you can fish all day. As long as it's catch and release.
  5. Thanks OMJ,

    It's good to know you are doing well over there in God's country.. It's been a while since I have corresponded with you. Hedburner is also one that I have not seen or heard from in a while....

    Yup. Strictly artificials.

    Tight lines,

  6. I think this is incorrect, or maybe just unclear. It is my understanding that regardless of tackle/technique, once you retain your limit, you're done (fishing for that species for the day). If you're just CnRing with artificials, and haven't kept fish, then sure, fish away.
  7. If you are fishing in lakes your done when you catch your limit using bait. Should be the same in Skinny Water. You are not supposed to keep fishing if your using bait. You can fish all day if your using flies and not keeping any.

    This is what I said the first time. You all have to learn what I said.

    Edit: This is just about as clear as your Regs are.
  8. OMJ is correct about the lakes, wrong about skinny water and using bait. That reg doesn't apply to the salt either.
    In lakes, if fishing bait your first five fish count towards your limit whether you keep them or not.
    If using bait, you can keep fishing and releasing fish in streams and the salt until you've retained your limit.
  9. The whole thread is about as clear as mud now. I understand though I think. Part of it was the distinction between caught and kept but whatever. I tried to clarify things for everyone's benefit but I think I made it worse.
  10. I used to keep fish when my dad was alive. He's been gone now for over 10 years so my keeping fish is a thing of the past. I don't fish in Washington any more, but I try to keep up on the regs.
  11. SF, OMJ, MB,

    Thanks for the responses. It's still clear for me so no worries there.

    Tight lines


    Wondering if Smalma or Salmo G has any take on the 2nd question though.
  12. Yes, it is clear as mud and the same goes for the Oregon regs.

    At one point in time, you could continue to fish for a species when you had your limit as long as you switched to C&R. Then someone figured out if you're using bait C&R doesn't work all that great.

    In Oregon, if you catch your limit of hatchery steelhead, you can continue to fish for SRC or salmon -- assuming both are present in the fishery. You can not target steelhead.

    This is not a problem if you are using fly gear. The OSP outdoor officers are not as concerned with fly anglers as they are bait anglers.
    Obviously you can C&R a species you catch that you are not allowed to keep with a fly much easier than with bait.

    Thing is, you can use the same gear to fish for coho, steelhead and salmon so gear choice doesn't indicate much of anything to enforcement.

    All they can do is watch you to see how you react if you catch a species you are not allowed to keep. If you've caught your limit for that species and hook another, it's usually a good idea to snip off the leader so you don't touch the fish in the least.

    This is a nightmare for law enforcement when the rivers are full of multiple species of fish with different bag limits.

    At least in Oregon, you can continue to fish but not for any species that you've reached your limit. I assume the same holds true in Washington. I don't know how they can stop you from fishing for SRC or Salmon just because you caught your limit of steelhead.
  13. Fish-on -
    Looks like the first of you questions have been dealt with in detailed.

    The second is more interesting. I have to say that I have never seen or heard of a salmon in freshwater that had a stomach that was stuffed with loose eggs. This past month with the huge numbers of active pink salmon spawning in our Puget Sound rivers there should be lots of loose eggs drifting in the river and a variety of species will be taking advantage of that food windfall.

    Do you happen to have a picture of the fish that consumed those eggs? While almost anything is possible in the world of fish include a coho feeding on loose eggs it seems unlikely to me. I don't know much about your experience with PNW anadromous salmonids and the appearance the various species may take on at various stages of their life but it is possible that the fish was not a coho. I would interested in discussing in more detail that fish if you are interested.


  14. Gat,

    Thanks for the reply.

    You're right on the part where you can catch fish on the same flies you use for steelhead and salmon. In situations like this I try to change my presentation. I erratically strip more for cohos but swing and nymph more for steelhead. There are times though that it really doesn't matter what you do cause you catch both species. However, it seems like my success percentage increases considerably in targeting the fish I want when I change the way I present my flies.

    Tight lines,


  15. Curt,

    Thanks for chiming in. I figured when it comes to fish ID and behavior your input is always something worth noting.

    You're correct about the pink eggs. I caught the fish below spawning pinks. At first I thought that the eggs were also coho, but after giving it more thought, it dawned on me that it had to be pinks since this particular river primarily has hatchery cohos and I assume they hardly spawn on their own.

    As far as PNW experience is concerned, I have been living and fishing in WA for about 20 years now although not continuously due to deployments. Every outing is a learning experience for me though, and I admit there is still a lot of that for me to do.
    Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the fish. In hindsight, I should have taken a picture of it and the stomach that was just engorged with eggs. I didn't realize how curious/intrigued I was going to be. However a guy who works full time for the hatchery on that river was right next to me and he concurred that it was a female coho. He agrees about survival of the species but he is also puzzled about this particular fish's behavior. I'm guessing there is always one that just breaks the norm and does what it wants to do??

    Tight lines

    Irafly likes this.
  16. If you look at page page 17 in the statewide freshwater species rules, the bait fishing rule that has been previously mentioned, only applies to trout. Steelhead are excluded.
  17. Fish-on
    An interesting fish indeed.

    While our fish as a whole are fairly predictable and tend to fit in nice neat "boxes" when it comes to their behaviors there always are those individuals that resist being put in those neat "boxes". Like baseball while fishing one is apt to encounter something unexpected and perhaps something you have never seen behavior. It is those surprises and unexpected turns that add spice to our fishing experiences.

    fish-on likes this.
  18. I hired an attorney to help me understand WA fishing regulations. He soon refunded the retainer fee, shook my hand, and said "good luck" ;)
  19. LOL. Yup. You can ask three different ODF&W folks and OSP outdoor officers and get three different answers when it comes to the regs in Oregon... evidently, the same applies to Washington.

    The reason is quite simple -- we have many different species of fish in the rivers at the same time and they don't all fall under the same regulations. AND, at least in Oregon, the different species will take the same patterns using the same presentations.

    The fish don't care if you are targeting them or not. They could care less what rod size you're using.

    Case in point. I fish the Siletz quite often for SRC and steelhead. Many, many times, I'll be targeting steelhead and catch SRC... they take the same patterns presented in the same manner. The reverse holds true.

    A ton of years ago I was using a five weight system and fishing for SRC downstream from spawning salmon. I was with a friend, Tom, who recently moved to Oregon from Montana. I was using nothing more than a dry line, a split shot and an egg pattern. The technique was very effective for catching SRC. So much so, I wrote an article on the technique...like I said, this was a loooonnnng time ago.

    Something took the egg pattern and I knew immediately it wasn't a cutt.

    "That's a steelhead!" I announced to Tom.

    A few seconds later a steelhead jumped because it didn't look the taste of a hook attached to its mouth.

    Tom went as nuts as the steelhead. He'd never seen a steelie caught with fly gear.

    I landed the steelhead with the five weight system. It wasn't really that difficult. But it did take time. So from that day forward, I started using a seven weight system when fishing for SRC... just in case.

    The reverse holds true. Originally, I used a sink-tip and an across and down presentation (it is now called "swinging") for steelhead. One of the largest cutts I've ever caught was while targeting steelhead and using a Freight Train pattern. I've also caught jack salmon while "swinging".

    So... at least in my experience... you can not go by the gear or the technique you are using to determine what you are targeting.

    BTW: Tom was so impressed by that first steelhead he witnessed caught with fly gear that he went on to become an ACE steelhead fly angler and the best one I've ever known. Eventually, he bought a spey rod and never uses anything other than a dry line with weight on the leader and usually, his version of a Winters Hope.
    fish-on likes this.
  20. Here in Montana, there aren't any fly only water's. You don't have to even pinch your barbs. But I do. I had to pull a fly out of the webbing between my finger's the other day. You can fish with what ever your little heart desires here. But I only fly fish and throw them all back.

    Our fishing Pamphlet is small and easy to read.

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