Entering Prime Time: Sol Duc River Seeing Fewer, But Larger Fish

Bob Kratzer | 03/15/2013

It’s been a slower than normal year in terms of numbers on Washington’s Sol Duc River. However, one nice thing to note is the steelhead are larger this year. And, we still have a month and a half left of the season, which should fish well. By no means is our season over. We are in prime time right now.


I’m not sure exactly why our numbers are down. There’s not a lot of two-salt fish this year, but that’s not just here, that’s all the way down to northern Oregon. I haven’t heard what’s going on in Oregon. As to why the two-salt fish are less numerous, I’m not sure.


On the other hand there’s a lot of bigger three-salt fish. This season I’m up to nine over 20 pounds and three of those are greater than 25 pounds. That’s a lot of really nice fish. We are expecting more. I’ve been looking at seven to 10 fish per day and the majority of them have been 12-14 pounds. The last day I fished was Sunday, though. We landed 11.


From March through April it’s a split. You’ll see everything from chrome bright sea lice fish to resident fish and some spawned out fish. But, this month hasn’t been normal. We’ve had more than seven inches of rain in two days this week. Everything is blown out.

I’m sitting home waiting for it to back down. Fortunately, it will only take a few days for the river to come back to shape. Some of the fish will spawn because higher water, but it’s going to bring a pile of fresh fish in, too. I expect next week to be good with a lot of big, fresh fish in. The last good rain we had did the same thing. Right after that was epic fishing. We had numbers of fish in the teens everyday with some really big fish.


While I don’t always use bait, Pautzke products are apart of my fishing everyday during steelhead season. When I’m not using bait, my guys are fishing jigs. And, those jigs are always dipped in Pautzke Nectar, literally every few casts.

What I’ve done is made Tupperware dipping jars. I take the lids off and put a cup holder station on each side of my boat. My clients dip into the Nectar whether they are fishing yarn, worms, jigs or eggs. When tossing BorX O Fire eggs the guys are dipping them every time they cast. It’s amazing how well it’s working. Dipping it right before you cast adds a nice scent trail.


Even when I’m using rubber Mad River eggs I soak them in Nectar for two weeks prior to fishing them. The Mad River eggs are pre-scented with shrimp, but they’ll continue to absorb the Nectar. When soaking Mad River eggs they’ll absorb all the Nectar, sucking all of it out of the Tupperware.


As much as I use worms, jigs and yarn, there’s always bait on the boat when targeting big steelhead. I mix colors; normally using ¾ natural and a ¼ pink BorX O Fire, which gives me a soft pink colored egg. What mixing colors does is gives me a really cool color. I don’t want to call it UV, but it has a glow to it. The natural gives me the cure I want and the pink gives me the pink hue I’m looking for. It’s not a hard pink. It’s a soft pink. It’s a really pretty egg. Steelhead love it.


With the high water we are going to have the steelhead are going to be in riffles and pockets. Meanwhile, they’ll be in the soft side too. When the water drops, however, they’ll be some in the holes, but don’t forget to also fish all the rocks and the pockets. Look for pockets the size of a VW Bug. I’ll spend as much time as I do there as I do in holes. There’s a lot of fish in pockets because they feel secure in there.


For more info on Kratzer’s guided Olympic Peninsula steelhead trips please visit anglersguideservice.com