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Rock Creek Message Board => Trip Reports from Elsewhere => Topic started by: eastcoastlurker on August 01, 2013, 08:32:09 PM

Title: Snoqualmie River forks, WA
Post by: eastcoastlurker on August 01, 2013, 08:32:09 PM
Hello again.

My travels this summer did not take me to California but this past week I had some business in Seattle so had a chance to do some fishing in the Cascades.  The state of Washington has done something interesting—many years ago they almost completely halted planting of trout in rivers.  In coastal waters this was obviously to reduce interference with salmon and steelhead, but in the mountains the idea was to let rivers return to natural carrying capacity, assisted in many cases by special regulations and low limits.  If you want dinner, you go to a lake. 

An interesting side effect is that despite its wussy reputation in the face of hatchery rainbows and introduced brookies, the native coastal cutthroat has regained its former dominance in many areas.  This is attributed to the fact that unlike cutthroat subspecies in the Rockies, the coastal cutthroat co-evolved with native rainbows and has a better defined ecological niche.

I fished the south and middle forks of the Snoqualmie River upriver from the city of North Bend, WA.  North Bend is most famous as the exterior setting for the briefly popular 90s cult TV series “Twin Peaks.”  Sadly, the town still trades quite a bit on this.
Title: Re: Snoqualmie River forks, WA
Post by: eastcoastlurker on August 01, 2013, 08:35:00 PM
I fished the South Fork close to town, along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.  This is a somewhat urban experience as there is private property on both sides, so once you get down to the river you have to stay there.  It is dominated by boulders and large rocks; wading conditions were OK, but I’m told snowmelt does not usually clear until late July and this has been an unusually dry summer in this area.  The South Fork is a special-regulation water (which Washington defines as barbless single-hook artificial lures only) with a two-fish limit.  The river was jammed full of feisty cutthroat and cuttbow hybrids 6-11 inches, of which I have few pictures because with my terrible barbless hook-fu they did not hang around long enough for me to get the cellphone out.  However, I had never before caught a cutthroat, so I got to cross one off the list.

Pictured:  1. Snoqualmie Valley Trail bridge a couple of miles east of North Bend
2.  South Fork Snoqualmie River
3.  My second cutthroat.
Title: Re: Snoqualmie River forks, WA
Post by: eastcoastlurker on August 01, 2013, 08:41:25 PM
The Middle Fork was an entirely different experience, 12 miles up a gravel logging road (a good wide one, passenger cars would have no trouble) in a deep valley to a well-developed parking area at the trailhead for the Middle Fork Trail (there are fees, check the USFS website).  The Middle Fork has benefitted recently from concentrated attention from the USFS and a fanatical group of volunteers, and the trail itself is in great shape, with many improvements including graded trailbeds over wet areas.  The funniest one, of which I failed to take a picture, was a stretch over a rockslide area in which the trail was tiled scree mortared with sand, like a DIY patio.  You know THAT was a large trail crew with a lot of spare time.  If you do this trail and prefer to fish upstream, be advised that the trail near the trailhead is on the steep side of the riverbed and then angles far away from the river for over an hour.  If you do not want to that hike like I unintentionally did, I would suggest not crossing the bridge and just go straight to the river on the trailhead side.

Pictured:  1.  Brought to you by the USFS Department of Tautology
2.  Bridge at Middle Fork Trail trailhead
3.  Bridge from the trail
4.  Middle Fork Trail
Title: Re: Snoqualmie River forks, WA
Post by: eastcoastlurker on August 01, 2013, 08:53:01 PM
The trail returns to river a couple of miles above the bridge in a low-gradient area dominated by riffle-and-run with few deep pools.  Rainbows seem to be prevalent here, but the fishing was pretty poor.  The river was gin-clear and the wading was very easy as there was little algae on the rocks—it appeared infertile, frankly.  I did hook a fairly large one that I lost because barbless hooks Shut Up.  The views along the trail and river are spectacular, to me anyway although maybe not as much compared to what you guys are used to in the Eastern Sierra.

That’s all, folks!

Pictured:  1.  River view
2.  Middle Fork rainbow
3.  This is where I had lunch