Sandy River Salmon/Steelhead Questions

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MicahCarrick

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Jul 9, 2008
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Hello again guys. I'm very new river fishing but am eager to learn so that I can fish in the mornings for a couple hours year round. Since I live in Portland, I decided Salmon/Steelhead on the Sandy was the way to go (I don't have a boat).

I've been out to Dabney for a couple hours 3 mornings now (don't want to deal with angry crowds at Cedar Creek since I'm just learning). The first time, I had all the wrong gear (my experience is with lakes and small streams). I went up yesterday and today with the intention of learning how to use my new baitcast reel and while I did spend much of my time fixing tangles from backlash, I feel like I'm getting the hang of it now.

So, now that I'm getting ready to actually try to pay attention to when and what I'm fishing for, I have a few questions.

When reading books and articles, authors use river fishing terms that I'm not quite familiar with (tailouts, holding water, etc.) Does anyone know of a good book or online article which talks about this river fishing lingo?

For example. this morning I watched dozens and dozens of salmon swim up the ripples created by water from a slower pool flowing over these rocks (picture below) and then they would stay right up on top facing up stream. What is this called?

[IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"http:\/\/www.micahcarrick.com\/tmp\/downstream-ripples.jpg"}[/IMG2]

The salmon I was seeing EVERYWHERE (picture below) had lots of white spots and whitish tails--frankly they looked "sickly". A couple of them were thrashing around on the other bank, but most were just sitting there facing upstream. I'm assuming these are spawning or have already spawned and are not the fish we want to catch... is that correct? People talk about color a lot and it seems like the silver or "brighter" red ones are ideal? Do these spots indicate a salmon that has spawned and is dying?

[IMG2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"http:\/\/www.micahcarrick.com\/tmp\/spotty-salmon.jpg"}[/IMG2]

It was pretty amazing to be standing in a river watching salmon swim past me just a couple feet away. I'm excited about the prospects of actually catching one of these someday.

For fall steelhead and/or Coho, we're waiting for rain to bring them up... right?

Sorry for the barrage of questions. There is a lot to learn.
 
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M

MicahCarrick

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PS. I forgot about a few other questions I had:

Am I right in my understanding that Salmon fishing on the Sandy is closed after 10/31 and only steelhead fishing is open?

What is typical ettiquite when there are other fishermen around as far as where I should fish... should I go upstream or downstream and how far away is acceptable?

Are there any other bank fishing spots other than Dabney, Oxbow, Cedar Creek, and Lewis & Clark?
 
Irishrover

Irishrover

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Micah,
Great photos! A good book for you to get your hands on is Steelhead Drift fishing by Bill Herzog. Published by Fank Amato in Portland. It has all the answers you are looking for and a lot more. The first photo you have up is a tail out. It is the portion of the river comming out of a pool that begings to shallow up.

The second photo show a "dark" fish. You are correct these fish are best left in the river. Yes the white area and dark color indicate that the fish is in the later stages of it's life cycle. Salmon start this process when they re-enter fresh water and make the swim back to their home river to spawn. Chrome bright fish are the ideal. If you fish closer to the coast a chrome bright fish with sea lice is even better.

The fish that you mentioned that were thrashing may have been spawing or building reeds (nest to lay their eggs). There are some spawing beds right in that area.

There are other areas to bank fish close to where you are fishing. One is Dodge Park and the othere is a place called the garbage hole. It is right up the road from Dodge park. Go past the Portland Water Bureau shop (east) up the paved dead end road. There is a mud gravel parking lot there just a short distance up the road.

Generally speaking the fish will move after a good rain. They need to be in the area first. Winter steelhead traditionally starts in November and build from there, "if the fish are there"

As far as etiquette goes I have my own personel rules. I am retired and have lots of time to fish. So I woun't fish a hole that is occuppied. I'll look for another place either up stream or down stream but out of the other fellows way. This can be impractical if you fish weekend on the Sandy. In a crowed stituation I'd head closer to the tailout and away from the holding water. Let the guy who was there first fish the holding water.

Just a suggestion if you happen to get a chance to hook up with a guide on the Sandy or Clackamas jump at it. Fishing with a guide at least once or twice can speed up your salmon /steelhead fishing education by leaps and bounds.

Good luck and great questions. (Disclaimer I'm no expert not by a long shot just an older guy who fishes) ;) Irishrover
 
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ArcticAmoeba

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The term "Tailout" in booksand articles is most commonly referring to the very end of a drift, or riffle. The term "Holding Water" is decietful at best. It is simply referring to where the fish hold in the river. Holding waters all appear to look and operate differently, so there is no reallly good way to describe one, other than to say most Steelhead, as this is what you should think about targeting on the Sandy now, hold in the "Heads" or very beginning of riffles. Riffles are just when water gets lower, and faster moving over rocks usually, or when water gets channeled through a narrower chute or around a bend, that will create riffles as well. IF you didn't already know, an "Eddy/ie" is the section of slower water at the end of a riffles tailout for example. I know a lot of books use the term to describe where to fish, but try to fish in faster water for those Steelhead.
 
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bir48die

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Sandy River

Sandy River

The Sandy is closed for Salmon starting Sept 1st. I was up there this morning. For the second time in a week have had a 30+ pound chinook on for over 45 minutes. I am fishing some holding water and using treble hook lures that are just not setting well in their mouths. However, I'm sure both were natives so would have just had to release anyway. One on 8lb and one on 10lb test. Oh well. The river needs some rain as these fish have been trapped for too long.

I have had the dark fish literally swimming in between my legs. They are beat up and have no appetite. They will die and become part of the ecosystem. Pretty cool deal if you think about it.

Good Luck!
 
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luv2fish

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did you get to see the fish...i mean how do u know it was native....don take me wrong but on 8# and 10#..???????????? not that you can't reel it in but fought for 45 minutes...it milks the fish..its probably gonna die...
 
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bir48die

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Yes I fought on light test. I have caught numerous cohos on that and brought them right in. I just happened to hook into a couple big ones. Am I supposed to feel guilty about that?
 
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luv2fish

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hey man....no...not at all..come on its fish....lol...i just asked cuz you wrote in a way.....anyways...tight lines...
 
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bir48die

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No worries. ;) With clear water and no rain I don't feel like I could go up in test. It has been a fun few weeks and found a great hole that I will enjoy for years. Looking to start fishing the Wilson in the next few weeks after this rain.
 

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