Category Archives: Trip Reports

The forks are ON but the rivers are LOW

forks

Middle Fork, South Fork and North Fork cutthroat

Over the last four days I fished the three forks of the Snoqualmie and did well on each of them. Fished the Middle Fork on Thursday afternoon, it was running at 489cfs and definitely was in the best shape of the three water wise.  Since then it has been on a steady decline though down to 439cfs today.   Fished the South Fork on Friday briefly, just an hour, it was running at only about 63cfs that day and was low.  Unfortunately it has dropped down to 53cfs in just two days, that is not much water for May.   I fished the North Fork today, it is sort of in between water wise still running at 113cfs today but also on a  sharp decline flow wise.   On all forks I caught plenty of fish on a #12 GRHE Sakasa Kebari fishing either my Sato or Rhodo.

Just to put our low water into perspective, here are the average flows for today and the current flow on our local rivers.

                      Average   Today
Middle Fork           1800        439
South Fork             550         50
North Fork             700        110
Tolt                   600        192  

So you can see the South Fork is at less than 10% of its normal flow whereas the others aren’t quite that bad.  I don’t think I’ll be fishing the South Fork too much this year because of the low water, just too much stress on the fish.  Hopefully the Middle Fork and Tolt can remain at about 25-30% of normal and remain fishable but I have my doubts that will hold.

Bonus Days

Nice mid-October cutthroat

Nice mid-October cutthroat

Even though you can fish 365 days a year in Washington for trout, for the most part the season in the small Cascade and foothill rivers comes to a close somewhere near the end of September when the rains begin and the rivers fill.    This year I though the season was over at the end of September too, rivers were 10x their summer flows and the cold, wet weather seemed to be here to stay.    Yes, I’ve managed to get over and fish the Yakima a few times in the last few weeks but that doesn’t count, it is on the dry side of the Cascades.

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Tenkara on the Yak

Yakima in Ellensburg

Yakima in Ellensburg

The Yakima River is the premiere blue-ribbon trout river in Washington State and has been one of my favorite places to fish for the last 20 years.   This season I focused so much on the small Cascade and foothill rivers on the west side that I never did the drive over Snoqualmie Pass to fish the Yakima except very early in the season when I was over for a snowshoe race.   The Yakima is a big river,  you can rarely wade across it and it is primarily fished from drift boats.  In the fall the water levels drop and wading is at least not a life threatening experience.  After a season using nothing but tenkara for trout though I just had to see how fishing a big river with tenkara would be so I packed my Amago and Yamame, headed over I-90 and pulled into Ellensburg at 10 a.m. under sunny skies and temps finally climbing into the 40s.   After a quick stop at Worley Bugger Fly Co. I decided to start right in town at Rinehart Park where the water is a bit smaller and less crowded than the fabled canyon waters below town.

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