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.