The Rivers We Fish
When I first started to chase steelhead over twenty years ago, I would follow the crowds to the local hotspots or to whichever river the weekly reports in the newspaper said was hot at the time. Not knowing any better, I would drive all across western Washington to the current hot river. Usually the trips ended without any fish and many comments such as "...you should have been here last week". I think I spent more time driving than fishing back then. My list of rivers that I now fish has shrunk considerably from the twenty or so that I fished then.
Instead of following the crowds, I have taken the time to thoroughly learn a handful of rivers within one or two hours drive from my home. The results are that I spend far less time searching for fish, and feel confident that if the fish are present I will hook them. I still enjoy learning new rivers and making the four hour drive to the Olympic Peninsula, but my success rate is far higher on the rivers I fish frequently. By spending time on a few rivers instead of many, you will find holding spots that fish will be in year after year. You will also know the timing of different runs in each river system, thereby increasing your chances of fish being present on your outings to each river.
Another advantage of fishing rivers close to your home is the ability to hit them for a couple of hours after work, or before you start your weekend honey-do's. Some of my best trips this past winter were outings of three hours or less with multiple hookups. These trips were successful because I knew where the fish would be holding under different river conditions. These spots were discovered early in the season and remained productive throughout the winter. By concentrating your efforts in productive areas, you will increase your chances of finding a hookup, instead of pounding water that is void of fish. This can only be learned by multiple trips to a river during the season. Below are a few of my favorite Steelhead streams.
Sol Duc River
Toutle River(South Fork)