At one time the Wynoochee River was my favorite river, for both winter and summer steelhead. When I first floated this river in the mid eighties, I could not believe that more people were not fishing this beautiful river. But every year saw more and more steelhead anglers buying drift boats and finding the Wynoochee. This has created severe overcrowding on the weekends, and unless I can break away during the week I will not fish the Wynoochee in the winter.
The Wynoochee is probably most famous for its large native winter runs that return every February and March. I have seen more twenty pound plus fish here than on any other river I have fished. On one February day in 1987 we boated three fish over twenty pounds, including the biggest hen I have ever seen. A chrome bright female that pushed an even twenty-one pounds.
Until recentley, the WDFW still allowed the retention of wild steelhead here, and many of these huge slabs were killed by anglers that did not understand their importance. If this was to continue, it would be only a matter of time before this native run was decimated, as many other Chehalis tributaries have been.
I seldom fish here for winter runs anymore, as I prefer to find a little more solitude than the Wynoochee now offers. I do however, make an occasional trip to the upper Wynoochee in late summer, for hatchery summer runs. By late August the crowds have diminished, and with a little legwork you can still find secluded fishing in some of the loveliest scenery the Olympics have to offer.
A steelhead angler has a very real chance to hook into a twenty pound steelhead on the Wynoochee, but please practice catch and release for these fish. With the heavy pressure this river receives each winter, it is up to every angler that fishes it to protect this resource, or we will lose it.