By: TJ Hester
A Reach is defined as a continuous extent of land or water, particularly a stretch of river between two bends. The 63 free-flowing miles of the Columbia River here in Eastern Washington, known as the Hanford Reach, is no exception and it’s one of my favorite places in the Northwest to steelhead fish. Meanwhile, this vast amount of water doubles as our greatest enemy when it comes to winter steelhead fishing.
Thus far, weather patterns have brought a lower average flow from Priest Rapids Dam, yet an average swing in elevation, churning daily from roughly 70,000-140,000 CFS. For anglers from smaller river systems this can be intimidating, dramatic and seemingly unfishable. On the other hand, navigating fluctuation brings normalcy in the greater Tri Cities area.
We are faced with a unique situation. The Ringold Hatchery, unlike Western Washington’s Blue Creek on the Cowlitz River, doesn’t get fresh steelhead daily. Because we have so much water that harbors steelhead anglers have to work hard to find them at times.