North Fork Trask


Author’s note: This is a belated post. The North Fork Trask closes March 31. Be sure to check your regs!

The Trask quickly became my favorite river of 2017. I’ve seen, hooked, and landed more steelhead on this river in the past four months than ever before. It’s a much quieter stream than the nearby Wilson, and doesn’t take much more time to get to. While out in early March, I happened across a codger who yakked my ear off for a good 15 minutes, but told me about the North Fork. I was mistakenly under the impression that the north fork of the river was closed to fishing, but he assured me it wasn’t, and it received even less pressure than the Trask. After verifying the map and regs, I headed up to check it out.

The North Fork follows an active logging road, and the deadline at Bark Shanty Creek is only about 4 1/2 miles from the confluence with the main stem, but there are few anglers on it, and unlike much of the Trask, it is very accessible.


There are plenty of pull outs, and lots of nice little runs and pools.


In one wide pool I got to learn that steelhead love spoons!


2/5 oz brass and orange P-line

Although the river has a hatchery, there are lots of wild fish on the Trask. This little guy happened to be a hatchery stray who made his way pretty far upstream. He was no lunker and only came in around 22″, but I was still happy to have him—and so was the family.

In Scott Haugen’s Bank Fishing for Steelhead and Salmon, he spends some time covering different spots steelhead lie in the stream, and ends up saying they could be anywhere: In the frog water, on the seam, in the current, at the head of the pool, at the tail of the pool, in the tailout, in the stream, in choppy water, in the chute… and basically says they can be just about anywhere but on shore or in the trees overhead. I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about reading water by now, and was surprised because I had been casting to the opposite shore to hit the edge of the current, and on the retrieve he came up out of the middle of the pool to grab the spoon. I’d post a picture for better effect, but wouldn’t want to give away a good hole for free; you’ll just have to find it yourself!

If you’re looking for a quieter spot that’s a little out of the way, doesn’t get a ton of pressure, and apparently has fish in it, be sure to give the North Fork Trask a shot, but only between December and March.


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