Guide John Whitlatch, of Reel Adventures, started guiding in Alaska at the age of 17. He now calls Washington home, living in the Snoqualmie Valley guiding on the Skagit, Skykomish and Snohomish watersheds as well as the Columbia River and its tributaries including the Cowlitz. John was born with a tiller motor in his hand. He also guides on the Klickitat in the fall and the OP during winter months. His knowledge of salmon and steelhead is unparalleled. A day on the water with him is quite an experience, with nearly 30 years of professional guiding under his belt there's an endless list of stories that unfold. One of John's proudest moments was guiding his client and friend Joel, into a world-record catch and release chinook salmon on the mighty Kenai River.
Without a doubt, there is no place with more diversity of anadromous fish than the Olympic Peninsula. The OP is a fly fisherman's paradise from sea-run cutthroat and chinook salmon to amazing winter and spring steelhead action. The Olympic Peninsula also boasts one of the healthiest populations of wild coho in the Northwest.
Olympic National Park protects over 75 miles of Pacific Coast, 600 lakes, and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams that support some of the most extensive runs of wild steelhead, salmon, trout, and char remaining in the Pacific Northwest.
We actively guide the Olympic Peninsula and other Washington watersheds 12 months a year for anadromous fish.
Winter steelhead: November-April
Summer steelhead: June-October
Spring chinook: April-July
Summer chinook: June-August
Fall chinook: September-October
Summer coho: July-September
Fall coho: October-December
Winter/Spring: Steelhead, summer steelhead, rainbow and sea-run, cutthroat trout
Spring: Chinook salmon
Summer: Sockeye salmon, char
Summer/Fall: Coho salmon
Fall: Chinook salmon
Washington's North Coast of the Olympic Peninsula, about 3 hours from the greater Seattle area and 4 hours from Portland. Its rivers are varied, from small, boulder-strewn rivers like the Sol Duc, Calawah, and Clearwater to larger gravel bar rivers such as the Bogachiel, Hoh, Queets, and Quinault. You can fish for weeks and never float the same piece of water on the OP. Trips are up to two anglers per boat, fishing from a drift boat or fly-fishing raft. We also guide a few lakes in Olympic National Park including Lake Crescent. Most of our fishing destinations are within 15-45 minutes of Forks, WA, and a few are no more than 90 minutes away.
Additionally, we guide in Washington's Central Columbia River Gorge on the Klickitat River, primarily in September and October, between Goldendale, WA, and Hood River, OR. Trips are up to two anglers per boat, fishing from a drift boat or fly fishing raft. This is central Washington's high desert, a steep, basalt canyon gorge...much different than the rainforests of the OP.
Winter: December-February, 30's to 50's with rain/snow.
Spring: March-May, 40's to 60's with rain.
Summer: June-August, 60's to 80's, dry and beautiful.
Fall: September-November, 40's to 70's, cool mornings with fog.
Rates start from:
Single angler, $350 plus tax
Two anglers, $500 plus tax
You can find all pricing information at: www.chromechasersflyfishing.com/guided-rates.html
Float trips are 8+ hours, in and around Olympic National Park. Lunch, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages are included. All rods, tackle and flies are provided. Feel free to bring along a favorite rod of yours and we will assist with rigging.
Summer steelhead: 9-10' 7-wt. rods for nymphing with long-belly floating line, i.e. Orvis Nymphing
Winter/spring steelhead: 9-10' 8-wt. rods for nymphing with long-belly floating line, i.e. Orvis Nymphing
Coho salmon: 9' 7-8-wt. rods with streamer line, i.e. Orvis Bankshot or Clear Tip Intermediate
Chinook salmon: 9' 9-10-wt. rods with streamer line, i.e. Orvis Bankshot or Clear Tip Intermediate
Trout: 9' 4-6-wt. rods with streamer line or dry fly line
Good hiking boots, packable rain gear, a quality camera'there are some amazing views around the park'knee-high waterproof boots for beach hikes.
We have summer and winter run steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula. Summer steelhead starts in June and runs thru October with the better months being when the weather is cooler. June, September, and October are typically best for hatchery and native fish, depending on the river. Winter steelhead season kicks off around the end of November for hatchery fish and runs into the new year. On a normal year, we begin to see native winter run fish beginning to show in good numbers by early January, some years sooner, and continue through April. This time frame can be very weather-dependent, as a large portion of our precipitation occurs in November, December, and January. Native winter runs in January and February tend to be the largest size on average with more numbers of fish showing up in March and April.
What's the weather like? Wet! We get on average 18+ inches of rain in winter months. Temps typically will be 30s and 40s this time of year as well. Spring months can be cool also but will usually be in the 40s and 50s. Summer is beautiful with temps in the 60-80 degree range.
How should I dress for winter months on the OP? Layering works best. Synthetic or wool base layers with a fleece or down mid-layer or even two mid-layers if you tend to run cold. A high-quality rain coat and waders are a must. We have heaters available for the drift boats upon request.
What methods of fly fishing will we be doing? Steelhead and salmon will be a combination of indicator fishing flies and beads, stripping streamers, and swinging flies with switch and spey rods. Late spring and summer will have us doing some single-handed spey casting as river flows drop, as well as dry fly action for Steelhead. Cutthroat fishing is wading and swinging dries with trout switch rods and streamer or dry-fly fishing from the boat.
What are the rivers like on the OP? There's a lot of variety here from spring fed boulder strewn rivers to large, glacier-fed alluvial rivers. We have three rivers that run around the town of Forks, WA. The Sol Duc and Calawah both have a lot of technical water to navigate, not for the inexperienced oarsmen, and the Bogachiel which is very popular. All three of these rivers combine a few miles from the ocean to form the Quillayute. South of town, we have the Hoh, Clearwater, Queets and Quinault rivers. Three of these are large glacier-fed systems that constantly change during the winter months. Each passing storm moves around gravel bars and log jams. These rivers can be challenging to fish but they turn out some of the largest Steelhead and Salmon every year. All of the rivers originate from the heart of Olympic Nation Park which helps to maintain the escapement of wild fish to spawn year after year.
Not everyone is interested in fishing and we get that! The view from our office is pretty darn good though and very few people get to see it the way we do. If your interests lean more to the exploration/sightseeing side then we offer day float trips on the Queets and Hoh Rivers in and around Olympic National Park. Few park visitors ever get the opportunity to see much of what the rivers have to offer for scenery, bird watching and the occasional herd of elk crossing. Trips are available May through August.
The Olympic Peninsula has an endless array of hiking opportunities as well, including backcountry trips and coastal hikes. We are happy to provide information by request.