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Thread: ON THE FINS OF WHITEFISH - Whip finish - Nov 21, 2011

  1. #1
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    Default ON THE FINS OF WHITEFISH - Whip finish - Nov 21, 2011

    ON THE FINS OF WHITEFISH


    I pulled the Jeep into the small Gravel parking area below the Skookumchuck Reservoir and shut off the engine. It was an odd weekday off so at this point it appeared I had the river to myself. A crisp clear late February morning which was heavily frosted. The field adjacent to the stream was blanketed with a 10 foot high layer of fog that was rising from the frost covered ground as the morning's sun began to warm the air.

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    Too often, my day has been saved by whitefish. My take on these wonderful sportfish is that when they are present the stream is in pretty good shape. Whitefish seem to be a barometer for healthy habitat and I'm always glad to catch a few.

    Thanks for the fine article.

    Kelly.
    Tight Lines,

    Kelly.

    "There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home."

    Roderick Haig-Brown, "Fisherman's Spring"

  3. #3

    Lightbulb This quote from the article ...

    ..."I had really thought it to be a Cutthroat when first hooked" reminded me of an experience on the South Fork of the Snake in March '08.

    I was fishing a medium depth riffle with a tandem of rubber legs stonefly nymphs which had accounted for a half dozen or so pretty much routine mountain whitefish. The indicator went down, the rod tip went up, and there was a really strong pull.

    "Big brown" I thought. "But it's acting like a whitefish." "Got to be a big brown." "No, must be a whitefish." So went the internal dialogue until I finally got it to the surface - a big whitefish. Big as in 23".

    Mountain whitefish are a worthy target species in their own right, and, as Kelly noted, a good indicator of the health of the system. These fish are heavier than trout of the same length and often occupy difficult water that a lot of trout can't handle. They tend to pod up, and catching one is a pretty sure sign that you are in for a good time. Though they don't have the fighting endurance of trout, they pull hard as long as they can. They deserve more respect than they get from a lot of fly anglers.

    John

    P.S. Thanks for the good read, Ralph, and with apologies to Ron Eagle Elk.
    The fish are always right.

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    Great article and kudos for highlighting a great, albeit slimey, fish. As Kelly said, the presence of whitefish is a great indicator of the health of the waters.

    John, I was expecting something like that.
    Happiness is wading boots that never have a chance to dry out.

  5. #5

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    Ron -

    My wading boots have almost dried out for the first time since late January.

    John
    The fish are always right.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the great read. I enjoy reading about fishing in my native NW.

    One of the funniest things I ever witnessed while fly fishing involved whitefish. Did you know they will take a dry quite willingly? I have a friend who owns a few acres on the Methow River in eastern Washington. One hot summer afternoon I noticed my friend had dragged a lawn chair into the river so that he was sitting down up to his belly button in the water. The funny part was he was fishing with an elk hair caddis and catching one whitefish after another. Every time he hooked one he would start giggling. We still laugh about it to this day.
    "The reason you have a good vision is you're standing on the shoulders of giants." ~ Andy Batcho

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    Good story, like of wished we had some whitefish in the Hooch. It did remind me of fishing with my ole last friend, Pete White, on the Tennessee River. We have gone up river to a good spot for smallmouth bass, chunking plugs around the base of the high-tension power line tower west of Joe Wheeler Dam. Pete got a strike and knew instantly it was a good fish. He started yelling "Get the net, get the net." Which I did. The fish strained against the Ambassadeur reel spooled with 12 or 14 lb. line. Pete had lost his ring finger on his left hand to a German bullet around June 6, 1944 (BAR man, 82nd Airborne), so compensate for the lack of strength in this hand, he pushed the rod butt in his stomach. Pete speculated out loud, "I bet it's one of those big stripers." After 10 minutes or more it came to the side of the boat. It was a buffalo fish, 12 - 15 lb. range. I slid the net under it and started to lift it into the boat. Pete yelled "Don't put that thing in my boat!" He got his needlenose pliers and yanked the treble hook from the lip and the fish swam slowly off.

    Please forgive the long story, it's a good memory, Pete didn't survive surgery on his heart a few years ago. I put up a shadowbox and framed 3 of my best fishing buddies in it this year. I wish I had one of Pete to include in it.
    It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. Mark Twain

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Stratton View Post
    ...Did you know they will take a dry quite willingly? ....
    My experience is somewhat different, Kerry. Small whitefish on the South Fork will take dries most any time, and the one time I fished the Teton east of St. Anthony ID I had pretty good whitefish action on an elk hair caddis.

    But generally, the bigger ones on the South Fork, the Henry's Fork, and around here in Western Montana have a distinct preference for flies where they live - down on the bottom.

    John
    The fish are always right.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnScott View Post
    My experience is somewhat different, Kerry. Small whitefish on the South Fork will take dries most any time, and the one time I fished the Teton east of St. Anthony ID I had pretty good whitefish action on an elk hair caddis.

    But generally, the bigger ones on the South Fork, the Henry's Fork, and around here in Western Montana have a distinct preference for flies where they live - down on the bottom.

    John
    I certainly don't disagree with you John. It was the scene of my friend sitting in the river catching whitefish on a dry that had my interest. Still brings a chuckle when I think of it.
    "The reason you have a good vision is you're standing on the shoulders of giants." ~ Andy Batcho

  10. #10

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    Last time I caught a Whitefish was 1998...and it was on purpose. We made a trip to the Yakima in the winter for them, and I caught about 2 dozen of them. All on a single #16 Serendipity with a black thread body and bleached elk hair wingcase. Fished it greased in the film, and they were all over it. Had filled my elk tag so decided to go fishing. That was my last visit to the river before moving back east.

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