By Todd Daniels | 06/27/2013
I’ve been on the Skykomish for almost a month now and I’m happy to see building numbers of salmon and a fair number of summer steelhead. The river has begun to stabilize. We aren’t getting the high highs and low lows like we did after the snowmelt. The river levels have been more consistent.
Generally, as the month of June rolls on we get more fish in the system and that’s what is happening now. The best king fishing is ahead of us, but I believe we are fairly close to the peak of the steelhead. Historically, the peak of the king run is right after the 4th of July. We seem to be on track for that.
You should expect kings and steelhead through the month of July. However, as you get further into July, I’d say there will be more kings than steelhead in the system.
Compared to last summer, I believe there is as many kings in the river, but perhaps not quiet as many steelhead. Unfortunately, the fish are trickier to catch this year. I’m guessing this has to do with having clearer water and higher boat pressure than in the past. This fish are more spooked this summer and it’s forcing us to work harder to catch them.
There’s a few things you can do to increase your odds. First off, get on the water early and stay off the fish with the boat, meaning keep your boat a good distance away from the holes and cast into the holes.
Another thing I do when fishing gets tough is lengthen leaders and go lighter. I know some guys will go down to 6-pound leader, even when kings are in the system. Meanwhile, with the leaders you might want to go up to five-and-six-foot leaders. The longer leader will get you more of a natural presentation. I prefer Izore Line, but Maxima Ultra Green is very good, too.
Another thing I can recommend is to try fishing the deeper holes as the sun hits the water. The fish will head deeper and are more apt to bite in the deeper holes where they have more cover.
My salmon and steelhead are coming on Pautzke cured eggs fished as part of a cocktail. I’m still fishing a wet, gooey egg that’s a fairly large size, at least as big as a quarter. Consequently, when fishing a wet egg you end up going through more bait as it falls off easily. However, these fish really like to chew on that gooey, milky egg. Primarily you are targeting scent-oriented kings and those gouty eggs are putting a lot of scent of the water. The gooiest egg I run by a mile is on the Sky, but that’s what they like.
While I’ve experimented in the past my cure has been fairly consistent this summer. My cure is primarily Fire Brine. These are steelhead eggs from fish I caught over the winter. Right now, though, I’m using red Fire Brine, but some of my eggs are made in pink Fire Cure. And both of those I spice up with extra sugar.
I’m still fishing cocktails; primarily shrimp, but sometimes scallops, both cured in Fire Brine. And, why not? It makes total sense. Sure, scallops are expensive, but they work. Keep in mind, these fish have seen a lot of bait and sometimes something different does the trick. Scallops aren’t my preferred go-to bait, but it’s a trick I have in the hat for sure.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro Todd Daniels of Tall Tails Guide Service offers summer steelhead and king salmon trips on Washington’s Skykomish River. For more info on his trips please visit talltailsguideservice.com.