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Every year, during the middle of fall salmon season, an angler is surprised by the strange appearance of an unexpected salmonid at the end of the line ... although it looks similar to a Coho, or silver salmon, it turns out to be our first hatchery steelhead of the year.

Washington steelhead fishing guides ... Hoh River hatchery steelhead fishing

Olympic Peninsula Hatchery Steelhead

Hatchery steelhead are distinguished from their wild counterparts by a clipped adipose fin. Typically running smaller than the wild fish, generally 5-8 pounds, with some fish into the low teens, they entertain anglers with their leaps and runs in the cold waters of the Olympic Peninsula Rivers.

Most years, hatchery steelhead fishing is up and running by Thanksgiving Day and runs strong through early January.

The early run of steelhead can often provide big numbers of hook-ups with a pair of anglers sometimes getting a crack at hooking 25 to 30+ fish a day.

As the best returns of these anadromous trout return to the Bogachiel and Calawah Rivers, we usually concentrate our early season efforts on these streams. The hatchery run peaks in these rivers in mid-December and usually provides good fishing into early to mid-January.

Bogachiel River Hatchery Steelhead

The Hoh peaks in January for the hatchery fish, with fresh hatchery fish caught into March most years from its grey-tinted, clay-laden waters.

The Hoh hatchery steelhead run a little larger than those steelhead returning to the Bogachiel and Calawah, although the river's temperament for discoloring badly after a rain limits the number of days we can fish it in the early season.

Although best known for the large wild fish that return to its waters, the Sol Duc River receives a smaller plant of hatchery fish; and it too receives a return of hatchery fish in December into January. Check our Olympic Peninsula fishing schedule for more detailed information.

While it is our company policy to carefully let go all of the wild steelhead we catch, many of the hatchery-origin steelhead we encounter face a different fate: a date with the barbeque!

Hoh River Hatchery Steelhead

A tasty meal to many, harvesting a hatchery fish does Mother Nature no harm ... you might even help the wild fish by removing the hatchery fish from the waters in which it might possibly cross-breed with a wild fish, lessening the genetic integrity of the 'wild' progeny.

 

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