Before I tell you about the river, I have to tell you the story about the awesome fish in the picture above. She was landed just before the 2010 steelhead season ended, taken in a run between Twisp and Carlton by my friend Sue. We knew we had a winner so we forwarded pictures of the fish to the WDFW Regional Biologist, Bob Jateff, and ask him to have the Department's biologists operating the steelhead trap on the Twisp River keep an eye out for her. Several weeks later, I stopped by Bob's office to talk with him a bit. It was then that he told me that they had trapped her just days before and that he had some "cool" information to share about her. Keith Roe, one of Bob's Creel Census Techs, was with me at the time and Keith was also present when I helped Sue land the fish. Both of us were all ears. Bob proceeded to tell us that the biologists were able to positively identify her from the pictures. Come to find out, they trapped this same fish the year before. At that time, they put her to sleep, inserted a pit tag in her head so they could track her on their scanner system, and took a scale sample. After doing DNA testing, they determined that she was a resident Methow River Cutthroat, nine years old when first trapped, making her 10 years old when Sue caught her. And now the rest of the story: the Methow River was regulated as a "Catch & Release" river beginning in 2000. You got it. She was a juvenile the year the Methow went catch & release. Believe me, she had the hook scars to prove it. In fact, she was wearing a big heavy pink jig piercing when we landed her. What an awesome testimony for "CATCH & RELEASE FISHING."
2011 Update: Sue's fish was trapped again this year! She is now 11 years old and we're keeping our finger's crossed that she'll return again in 2012....
The Methow River is an absolutely beautiful, pristine, freestone river flowing out of the North Cascades into the Columbia River at the town of Pateros, Washington. It flows through the Methow Valley and passes through the towns of Winthrop, Twisp, Carlton, and Methow on its way to the Columbia. This river produces some of the largest Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout in the State of Washington. It is also one of, if not the best, dry fly rivers in the northwest. The trout season is from June 1 through the end of September. The best dry fly fishing is mid-July after the flows drop and stabilize through the closing in late September. We normally float the river and fish from the boat, but also spend some time stopping and wading good spots. Unlike the Yakima, this river also has a returning run of Upper Columbia River summer steelhead. It is managed as an Endangered Species Act (ESA) management fishery so it does have some unique regulations. For the last several years, it has been open from mid- October through February or March for the harvesting of hatchery steelhead. The months of October, November, mid to late February, and March are the best steelhead fishing. As an ESA managed fishery, wild steelhead can not be targeted or kept and hatchery fish must
be kept. This river only opens for steelhead when the ratio of hatchery fish to wild fish is right and the run is large enough to support the fishery. Our steelhead fishing is done both wading and using a boat; it depends on the conditions and pressure on the river. This is a river that can be swung or nymphed. We fish sections from Winthrop to the closure boundary, however, our main focus is centered around the town of Carlton and below. This river is worthy of the few extra miles that it takes to get here. The drive over the North Cascade Highway in the summer is awesome. The scenic value of this entire region rivals anywhere in the lower fourty-eight.
Methow Flow @ Winthrop: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis/uv/?site_no=12448500&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065
Methow Flow@ Pateros: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis/uv/?site_no=12449950&PARAmeter_cd=00060,00065