Fishing on Hoh River

Our man in Canada has had a look over the border to see what the Hoh River in America has to offer.

The Hoh River, Washington State, America. An unplanned detour from Canada into the United States has led my fishing companion and I to this big, enticing looking length of water in North America. With Anglers now starting to focus on the summer run of Chinook Salmon and Steelhead, its somewhere we were advised to go, to "gain some experience of big fish". We liked the sound of that, and so didn’t take much persuading.

A short ferry hop across from Vancouver Island, and a couple of driving hours and we arrived at the Hoh River. The "Public Fishing" signs directed us straight to the river, and we were able to park our 4x4 neatly on a huge gravel bar, adjacent to a pool which I would defy any angler to walk past without stopping and staring, we were lucky in that we had fishing rods too!

I set up a fly outfit, again opting for my single handed Shakespeare Expedition 7wt, with a John Norris Evolution Stealth Floater, and fast sink tip. My fly is best described as a beefed up wooly bugger, with a dumbbell bead head and a load more dressing! A passing tourist summed up the way this performed in the air as "like watching someone try to throw some kind'a big, wet ball o' wool on a fishing rod". My fishing partner George went for what was in this case the more delicate approach of flicking a smaller Mepps across the river on my Shakespeare Expedition 5-30g spinning rod.

I fished for about 30 minutes, and saw nothing. Confidence starts to drain fairly rapidly when you're fishing in unfamiliar territory and for all you know, could be doing entirely the wrong thing. This was made worse by fairly bleak reports from other anglers and guides. However, I'd just done a fairly nice square cast, when my fly snagged on the bottom, I tightened up, tried to shift the fly, and the snag promptly swam away downstream. The following 20 minutes was, quite simply, terrifying. Very seldom in my angling life have I wanted to land a fish so badly, and have I felt so woefully outmatched. He was clearly very strong, and didn't even surface until 10 minutes into the fight, revealing himself as a large cock Chinook Salmon, until then I had no idea what had taken the "big ball o' wool".


It was with a surge of relief that we finally beached him, me and the 7wt outfit finally getting as rest! We had no scales, and though we didn't have supper for that night either, I'd already decided he was going to continue his journey, after the brilliant experience he had already provided me. We took some quick snaps, guessed his weight at over 20lbs, and slipped him back. Had he been an Atlantic Salmon he would probably have been around 12-14lbs, but what they lack in length, the Chinook make up in girth and breadth, hence the weight.

Next on the agenda is Steelhead, trying to learn the techniques and practices for catching this, probably the most sought after fish in freshwater out here. Hopefully there will be some more stories like the above to tell soon, until then, tight lines.