By Douglas Scott
As the cooler air makes its way down from Alaska and the days grow shorter, most of the Pacific Northwest turns inward, preparing for the winter. Yet, when the signs of fall first become visible in Grays Harbor, the region starts bustling with excitement. As the trees turn colors and and the first cold raindrops fall, the rivers and streams become full once again, bringing life to the once dry waterways. In the water, numerous species of fish congregate, bringing in eagles, bobcat and of course, anglers from around the world. While Grays Harbor has amazing fishing year round, the fall months are when the region’s rivers transform into the fishing mecca of the Pacific Northwest.
Trevor Brearty is a Grays Harbor local, and owner of a new fly fishing company called Seamwater. Seamwater was created with one simple idea in mind: seaming the art of fly fishing together with a splash of quality fly supplies. Offering quality custom hand-tied flies, Seamwater also gives casting lessons and classes, helping everyone become hooked on fishing in the region. For Trevor, this started while he was growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Trevor recalls fall fishing during his youth as a transformative time in becoming who he is today.
“My best fishing memory is when I was about 16 years old, on a family camping trip on the Wynoochee River. Being 16, I had nothing on my mind but girls and fishing. With no girls around, I decided to spend my time fishing,” Trevor recalled. “As I was fishing a remote hole, I gave my line a quick nudge, only to feel the weight of what I thought was a log or snag. I gave it one more quick pull and saw a huge flash in the water. It was a fish, a big fish, and it was on my line! I fought this fish for about 30 minutes, while whooping and hollering for someone to come down to me. A few minutes after yelling ‘Fish On, Baby,’ my uncle comes running down the river to help pull the fish to shore. I had caught an 8 pound, 22 inch rainbow trout.”
Today, Trevor is an avid fly fisherman, making flys that hit on all the rivers of the region. He does so, because for him, it is hard to see a more beautiful place to fly fish than Grays Harbor. Fishing in the region is a way of life and is constantly a challenge of timing and patience; the rivers and creeks are large, the fish are monsters and the weather supports an active explorer and fly fisher. During the fall, Grays Harbor’s rivers, creeks and lakes are vibrant with color and life, making a perfect location to learn how to fish along with becoming successful with catching many different species.
While all you theoretically need to fish is a permit, a hook, some line and a pole, you also need confidence, a positive attitude, and an open mind. The latter three are just as important as the first four. While confidence and a positive attitude can’t be bought in stores, having the right gear can help you with everything. Trevor shared a few suggestions of what gear you need to start out.
“I recommend an 8 foot light to medium action rod for cutthroat and trout and a 10 foot medium to heavy action rod for steelhead and salmon,” Trevor explains. “The line you use also depends on the size of fish you are hoping to to catch. I recommend 4-10 pound monofilament for trout and 15-30 pound monofilament for steelhead and salmon.”
Now, this may be a bit overwhelming to those new to fishing, but Trevor also strongly recommends going to your nearest Dennis Company store. Dennis Company has a fantastic selection of gear and with a staff who are very friendly and helpful, you are sure to be given exactly what you need to have a productive day out on the water. Plus, you get to support a local store right here in Grays Harbor and get the peace of mind that you are being helped by experts.
Grays Harbor has a plethora of fishing destinations to choose from, and while you can fish anywhere that the Washington State Fish and Wildlife allows, there are a few spots that local experts like Trevor recommends. While he wouldn’t share his secret spots, the five locations he shared are perfect for anglers who are looking to explore some of the non-traditional locations.
To start, local experts agree that you should try your luck out at Decker Creek which is located north of Satsop. At Decker Creek, you are likely to catch salmon, steelhead or cutthroat trout, depending on the season. The cutthroat are both resident and sea-run trout, while the steelhead have both a summer and winter run. The salmon that return each year to Decker Creek are chinook, chum and coho.
Wynoochee River, or “The Nooch,” is a world class steelhead river and famous for the size of fish caught. There are many places to fish on The Nooch, but Trevor recommends fishing below the dam, because the fish become much more selective up top. With a winter and summer run of steelhead, as well as sea-run cutthroat and chinook, coho and chum salmon, it is hard to find a better location than the Wynoochee River.
Next, Cloquallum Creek, which is a small creek flowing into the Chehalis, produces both sea-run cutthroat and steelhead. Fall is the best time to catch cutthroat, while the steelhead are best caught in early winter. It is said that this region is great for all styles of fishing: fly, spinning and bait casting. It is rumored that the best fishing on Cloquallum Creek is between 5:00 – 8:00 a.m., so early risers should be pleased fishing here.
The Satsop River is a great river to hook a massive salmon. Coho weighing between 15 and 20 pounds are frequently caught here, though all species of salmon run up this river, along with steelhead and cutthroat. Trevor recommends fishing up near Schaffer State Park to avoid the larger crowds that can appear when the fall salmon fishing is busiest. The east fork of the Satsop is also amazing and can can get crowded.
Finally, Black Creek is another great place to fish in Grays Harbor. Located west of Montesano via Wynoochee Valley Road, Black Creek is often overlooked despite having great fishing options for salmon, steelhead and both rainbow and cutthroat trout. Largemouth bass have also been caught here, making it perfect year round. While Black Creek doesn’t have the reputation of the Satsop or Wynoochee, it is a great place to test your skill against a wider variety of fish.