OLYMPIC PENINSULA

The western slope of Washington’s Olympic National Park is home to one of three temperate rainforests in the world.  Giant old growth conifer trees exceeding 10ft in diameter tower above the rainforest canopy, casting a shadow across a moss draped landscape that best resembles a scene out of a fairytale novel.  The geomorphology of these rainforest rivers is truly unique and during months of Jan – April they’re home to one of the greatest wild steelhead fisheries on Planet Earth.

With every cast there’s a chance you might hook into the steelhead of a lifetime.  Still to this day, I don’t believe there’s a more majestic moment for an angler than after a hard-fought battle you find yourself kneeling in the river looking down at a 20lb steelhead resting in front of you.  There are so many factors that have to align perfectly in your favor for that instance to occur.  When you finally release that fish back to the wild, it is one of the most accomplishing and elevated experiences an angler can have in all of fishing.

THE FISH

Even when I’m out of the country trying to film an adventure fly fishing documentary about some gnarly fish in some exotic location, I never stop thinking about chasing Olympic Peninsula Steelhead.  Truth be told that during the entire filming of Fish or Die, I was literally counting down the days until I could chase wild steelhead on the OP.  In my opinion, from January through April there isn’t a cooler or more gratifying fishing experience to pursue in the lower 48 than wild steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.

When OP Steelhead enter the river systems, they’re chrome, they’re mean and they’re built like a brick sh!t house.  They aggressively take flies and can have you into your backing in a matter of seconds.  West Coast steelheading isn’t a numbers game.  Each day we’ll be trying to hunt down a handful of fish.  You never know what might grab hold…it could be a 6lb, 16lb or 26lb steelhead.  These fish can be soul crushers if you lose the big one.  If that happens…neither of us will sleep well that night.

TECHNIQUE

Spey Fishing:  

Whether you’re experienced at spey fishing or wanting to learn, the Olympic Peninsula is a swinging paradise.  If I had to choose one fishing method to pursue these great fish it would be with a spey rod in hand.  We use 12-13 foot 8-weight two-handed spey rods, Skagit lines and various density sink tips.  The flies we swing are tubes and intruder-style flies (black, blue, purple, pink, orange, etc.).  Put the fly in front of their face and they will hammer it. 

Nymph Fishing:  

If spey fishing isn’t your thing, then you can always choose to nymph fish.  It’s highly productive and under the right water conditions can be just as effective as using conventional gear.  Nymphing for steelhead is very similar to nymphing for trout.  Instead of using 9ft 5wt’s we use 10ft 7-8wts with an indicator and weight, followed by a bead or yarnie.

EQUIPMENT

Equipment: 

If you don’t have all the rods, reels and lines needed to catch steelhead…NO PROBLEM!  I’ve got you 100% covered.  I have state of art rods and reels by LOOP Tackle and new lines from Scientific Anglers.  I even have all the flies you need…trust me they all work.  

Clothing: 

The rivers we fish flow through a temperate rainforest so don’t forget to pack quality rain gear. Insulating mid & base layers (puff ball jacket, long underwear, etc.) are a must, along with fishing gloves, wool socks and a stocking hat.  It can get nasty on the OP but the weather can also be incredibly nice.  All you need to do is show up with rain gear and insulating layers.

RUN TIMING

From January to April wild steelhead will make their presence in OP rivers.  January is a good time to visit the OP if you don’t like running into crowds.  The weather can be a little dicey at times but there’s some good fishing on the North Peninsula rivers in Jan.  February is another great time to target wild fish on the OP.  There are solid numbers of fish arriving during this month and a handful are absolute beasts.  Mid-March is the peak of the wild fish returns on the OP and there’s plenty of fish around during this time.  The weather patterns however are all over the map.  It can go from freezing temps to t-shirt weather in the same week.  During April we typically see some great weather along with some solid fishing.  Everything is turning green; the glaciers are contributing a lot of run off and the chrome fish continue to push in off tides.  Some of these fresh April fish are absolute giants.

LODGING

North Peninsula Rivers Jan – Feb 15th

Late winter early spring I’ll be operating on the North Peninsula rivers out of Forks WA.   There’s great fishing and great accommodations here.  Downtown Forks has restaurants, grocery stores, 6 motels and numerous Airbnb’s.  I’ll provide the shuttles, guided trip and boat lunches.  Rivers that we’ll be targeting steelhead in are the Sol Duc, Calawah, Bogachiel, Quillayute and Hoh River systems.       

Central Peninsula Rivers Feb 16th – April 15th

After mid-February the journey heads South to the small town of Lake Quinault.  There’s far less accommodations in the Central Peninsula area compared to the North.  Lodging for my trips are run through The Evening Hatch.  They have a great lodge on Lake Quinault with a spectacular view.  Lodging, meals, drinks and guiding are all inclusive.  You just have to get here and everything else is taken care of.  The rivers that I primarily guide on the central coast are the Queets, Quinault, Clearwater and Humptulips.

For nearly 20 years Chris has traveled around world making adventure fly fishing films.  Along the way Chris and the founding members of AEG Media started the Fly Fishing Film Tour which now reaches out to well over 100 venues across the US annually.  In 2010 Brian Jill, Thad Robison, Jay Johnson and Chris started MOTIV FISHING.  Their first big film project was called GEOFISH, which documented a two-year overland expedition from Portland Oregon to the bottom of South America in a vegetable oil powered truck.   

After GEOFISH they started a new adventure series on YouTube called GEOBASS, where they’d spend the next 4 years traveling the globe pursuing any fish with the last name bass.  In 2019 Chris and the MOTIV crew were the first people to bring adventure fly fishing entertainment to mainstream television with their new series Fish or Die, which is currently airing on Animal Planet.  Fish or Die followed the crew on an 8-month journey through 10 different countries to document world’s last great undiscovered places to fish. 

When the wild steelhead runs on the Olympic Peninsula subside, you’ll either find him chasing trout in Montana or large permit in Mexico.  Rest assured, if there’s one thing that you can count on if you’re in Chris’ boat, is that he’ll always have a few good stories to tell.   

FLY FISHING RATES

NORTH RIVERS (Jan – Feb)

2 Anglers – $525  /  1 Angler   – $400

 

CENTRAL COAST RIVERS (Feb – April)

The Evening Hatch Quinault Lake Shore Cabin. 

Overnight fishing packages $545 per person based on double occupancy – per day/night

Includes lodging, meals and guiding.   Great for bigger groups.

Contact me for more info and to set up your trip.

 

TRIP DEPOSIT

A 50% deposit is requested for all days booked.  Cancelations by the guide for weather/water conditions will be refunded in full.   Please contact me prior to paying a deposit so I can schedule you in.  (Accepted payments: PayPal, Visa/Mastercard, Check)

Deposits can be sent to chris@motivfishing.com or with the link below.  Select the quantity for the number of days you are booking. 

INFO

TRAVEL

If you’re flying in from out of state, no problem.   Fly into Seattle (SeaTac), rent a vehicle and drive 3 hours to the Westside of the Peninsula and you’re here!  You will need to arrive at SeaTac the day before and then plan on driving out and overnighting on the West side of the Peninsula.  This is recommended so we can get on the river ASAP.  Also, if you do plan on flying in from out of state, I highly recommend booking 2-3days of fishing because of the proximity of the river, travel time and the possibility of bad weather blowing the rivers out for a day.  

WHERE TO MEET

Jan-Feb 15 on the north rivers I will meet you at your motel in Forks.

Feb 15 – April 15 I will pick you up at the Evening Hatch on Lake Quinault unless other reservations are made.   

INCLUDED IN YOUR TRIP

Boat (drift boat or raft), cooler, drinks, boat lunch, Loop fly rods and reels, flies, camera for digital photos, fly casting instruction, life vests, all USGC approved safety equipment.

WHAT TO BRING

Be prepared for all weather conditions.  Sunscreen, hat (brimmed hat, stocking cap) fingerless fishing gloves, quality rain jacket, chest waders, wading boot (if you’re bringing felt spiked boots make sure to bring a 2nd felt only pair for potential raft trips), long underwear (medium and heavy weight), wool socks (4pair), top base layer insulation (merino preferred), puff ball (vest, jacket, and pants of you have them), wading belt, wading stick, sunglasses (2pairs), tissues-baby wipes.    

GROUP TRIPS

Fishing trips with three or more anglers are available with advance notice and require additional guides and boats. 

GRATUITIES

Accepted if you enjoy your trip!