Olympic Peninsula Steelhead Numbers Down, But Size Up Heading Into Peak Season

By Bob Kratzer | 03/06/2014

There’s no doubt about it here on the Olympic Peninsula it’s been a slow season so far. There’s way less fish than normal. Our hatchery steelhead season in December and January was dismal at best. Fortunately, our wild fish season, which we are in now, is better. We are able to go out and get five to six on towards eight and nine steelhead a day. And, that’s just been the last few weeks.


We are finally getting in the peak of our wild steelhead season. And, while our early season was slow I don’t think we are going to have a significant shift of late steelhead that comes a full month late. I just think it’s a slower year. But, to me it’s still good.


Lately, we are seeing some nice size fish. There’s been quite a few big steelhead this year. There’s been a lot of high teen, low 20s and mid twenties size fish around. We might not get a lot of fish, but when we’ve been getting them they’ve been dandies. We’ve been getting fish into the high teens about everyday.


We still have a good solid five weeks of wild steelhead left. By the second week of April most of the rivers start tapering down, except for the Hoh River. However, the Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc will wind down in mid April. Until then there’s a lot of great steelhead fishing ahead of us.


We’ve had low water here forever. However, the last two weeks we’ve had lots of rain and big water. We have higher water right now and we are probably going to have them for a while. It looks like we are having a late winter. It’s been low, clear and dry for so long, but now we are getting pounded.


Lately I’ve been bobber-dogging. I’ve been using yarnies with a Mad River egg on the front of it and dipping it in Pautzke Nectar mixed with Liquid Krill and a little bit of anise. Anyone who’s fished in my boat knows how vital this stuff is to getting steelhead bites around here. When we use yarnies I put two containers in the front of my boat (filled with the above mentioned stuff) and have my guys dip them in there almost every cast.


We use yarn and eggs daily. Today they wanted eggs. For my cured eggs I’ve been doing a BorX O Fire and Fire Cure mix. I’m mixing Natural BorX O Fire and either Pink or Orange FireCure. When mixing with pink I’m getting like a radiant, soft pink, almost like a glowing in the water pink. It’s giving me an egg that’s durable, milks really good and then holds its color for a long time. I use the pink when it’s a little dirty.


I use the Orange Fire Cure (mixed with the BorX O Fire) for the clearer water. I’m using about three quarters BorX O Fire to about a quarter of the Fire Cure. These are steelhead so using more BorX O Fire is suggested. The more Fire Cure you use the hotter the egg you’ll have in terms of color. The less Fire Cure you use the softer the color.


Each day I side drift and bobber dog. When I’m side drifting I’ll use a lot more bait. When I’m bobber dogging I’m using 30-pound Maxima Braid with 8 or 10 pound Maxima Ultragreen leader. And, when I’m side drifting I use 10-pound Maxima High Vis and 8-pound Ultragreen leader. I always use a No. 2 Vision octopus hook.


Editor’s Note: Bob Kratzer operates Anglers Guide Service. For more info on his Olympic Peninsula steelhead trips please visit http://www.anglersguideservice.com/.