Bogachiel Winter Steelhead Fishing 2022-2023

Steelhead square pic

When it comes to early returning hatchery winter steelhead fishing, you won’t find another river in the state that provides quite the opportunity that the Bogachiel provides.

The river often referred to as “the bogie” can be a great place to target salmon and steelhead throughout the year, but the early winter steelhead season is must experience attraction that brings anglers from all over to line the banks near the hatchery or hire guides to float down the river.

Originating deep within the western flanks of the Olympic mountains, the Bogachiel winds its way westwards towards the city of Forks until it eventually dumps into the Quillayute River very near where the Sol Duc also joins. From there it’s a few miles to the pacific ocean near the town of La Push.

While rivers around the state of Washington have struggled with maintaining strong wild returns returns and providing ample fishing opportunity on their hatchery runs, the Bogachiel has been able to balance both objectives quite well.

Of course one of the main concerns quickly becomes the impact to the bogie that a massive shift of steelhead angling effort could cause, but hopefully we will be more spread out than that in the 2022-2023 winter steelhead season.

Let’s take a look at a couple of new features I’ve got up on the blog to help you understand run timing and how many steelhead are returning at the hatcheries

  1. Automatically updating graph of the Escapement Report for the Bogachiel River
  2. Historical run timing graph providing a visual of when steelhead normally return to the Bogachiel River

Updated Status of returning hatchery Winter Steelhead on the Bogachiel River

Once steelhead start returning to the hatchery and get reported by WDFW, this graph will automatically update, typically on Thursdays.

Historical Run Timing of hatchery Winter Steelhead on the Bogachiel River

Steelhead will absolutely be encountered around Thanksgiving timeframe in most years, but the peak of the run is typically mid December.

Fishing Regulations for the Bogachiel River 2022

Note: Per the 2022-2023 steelhead regulations announced on Dec 1st, 2022 by WDFW, there will be a modified winter steelhead season on the Bogachiel.

from mouth to Hwy. 101 Bridge CRC (398)
All speciesInternal combustion motors prohibited. Only 1 single-point barbless hook allowed.
Feb. 16-Apr. 30Bait prohibited.
Sat. before Memorial Day-Aug. 31Bait prohibited.
TroutSat. before Memorial Day-Apr. 30Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release wild rainbow trout. Cutthroat trout min. size 14”.
Steelhead (hatchery)Mar. 1-Apr. 30Statewide min. size/daily limit.
Sat. before Memorial Day-Oct. 31Statewide min. size/daily limit.
Nov. 1-Last Day of Feb.Min. size 20”. Daily limit 3.
Other game fishSat. before Memorial Day-Apr. 30Statewide min. size/daily limit.
SalmonJuly 1-Aug. 31Min. size 12”. Daily limit 4. Up to 2 adults may be retained. Release wild adult Chinook and wild adult coho.
Sept. 1-Sept. 15Min. size 12”. Daily limit 3. Up to 1 adult may be retained. Release wild adult coho and sockeye.
Sept. 16-Dec. 15Min. size 12”. Daily limit 3. Up to 1 adult may be retained. Release sockeye.
from Hwy. 101 Bridge to Olympic National Park boundary CRC (398)
All speciesBait prohibited. Only 1 single-point barbless hook allowed. Internal combustion motors prohibited.
TroutSat. before Memorial Day-Apr. 30Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release wild rainbow trout. Cutthroat trout min. size 14”.
Other game fishSat. before Memorial Day-Apr. 30Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Emergency Fishing Regulations for the Bogachiel River

Please refer to WDFW’s emergency rules page for a full list that are in effect until I can get the e-rules automation working fully again.

It’s your responsibility as the recreational angler to know ALL of these rules, not just what is discussed here on the blog.

Forecast for 2022 Bogachiel River Winter Steelhead

Hatchery winter steelhead smolt plants for the Bogachiel River 2015-2021

Note: Smolts planted in the 2021 year will predominantly return as 3 year fish in the 2022-2023 winter steelhead season or in the case of summer steelhead, the 2023 summer steelhead season.

Smolt plants have remained largely consistent in recent years, but let’s take a look at the escapement history trend:

Hatchery winter steelhead returns from 2013-2022

While there were for sure a difficult stretch of years return wise due to ocean conditions and other factors, 2022 represented a significant bounce back, which also likely points to the more restrictive fishing regulations in the 2021-2022 winter steelhead season.

So what can we expect for 2022-2023?

Hatchery steelhead forecast 2022-2023
Hatchery steelhead forecast 2022-2023

Forecasts seem to indicate one of the best hatchery returns in years for winter steelhead on the Bogachiel! Sign me up for this!

But will we get to target these fish? Let’s look at the wild stock situation:

Steelhead forecast 2022-2023
Wild Steelhead forecast 2022-2023

While the situation is extremely positive for the wild steelhead situation on the Bogachiel (note: captured as “Quillayute”), WDFW will surely be managing the situation carefully to ensure the Bogie doesn’t go the way of other coastal rivers which have seen sharp declines in wild steelhead returns.

So far WDFW has been within 5-10% accuracy on these predictions based on the 2021-2022 evaluation.

Let’s look at what WDFW has presented in terms of season options:

Steelhead season analysis of options 2022-2023
Steelhead season analysis of options 2022-2023

Note the concern about effort shifting and potential for change based on the tributary factors…which as I understand the wild run on the Sol Duc is extremely healthy compared to the wild return on the Bogachiel which may change these sport impact limits when things get decided.

I’m hopeful that this is one of the coastal river systems anglers can absolutely bank on fishing for hatchery steelhead in the winter 2022-2023 season.

How to fish for Winter Steelhead on the Bogachiel River

I strongly recommend starting out by visiting our comprehensive how to on fishing for winter steelhead. The article covers techniques, gear and a whole lot more.

What’s unique about the Bogachiel River though? The bogie often runs at manageable level during the winter time and both float fishing with jigs / beads or drift fishing yarnies / eggs can all produce limits of chrome bright steelhead.

I would really recommend a guided drift boat trip approach as well given bank access to the best spots is somewhat limited outside of the hatchery terminal areas that draw significant numbers of anglers.

As the river drops during colder less rainy periods, you may even be able to cross the river in some spots to access additional steelhead holding water, but this can also be challenging for someone without knowledge of the river.

Gearing up to fish for Winter Steelhead on the Bogachiel River

You have to start with a conversation about the best fishing rod for winter steelhead fishing on the Bogachiel River…Now of course this will largely depend on the technique and what part of the river you are fishing, but when it comes to targeting steelhead with deadly techniques like float and jig or soft beads, or even drifting some yarnies or eggs, the following rod is a solid place to start:

Much could be written on selecting the best rod for steelhead fishing, and outside of matching rod to fishing technique and river size, a lot of rod selection comes down to considering the kinds of casts you will make and the hook sizes you will use.

A rod needs to be able to drive the hook deep enough into a fish so that it won’t come off easily, but also have enough give (slow action) for feisty fish to not come off.

I’ve written quite a bit about hook sizes, rods and reels in these linked articles, so I suggest you give them a read if you’re looking for more, but here’s what I like about the Okuma Guide Select Pro 9’9:

  • I run a lot of Okuma rods and they make a high quality low->mid range fishing rod that’s suitable for most anglers.
  • I like the 9’9 length for techniques like float fishing where you constantly have to mend your line to keep it off the water.
  • I prefer spinning to casting due to the flexibility to make casts from many angles around cover.
  • I love the medium->light rating. That tells me it’s going to have enough give to handle a spazzing steelhead, but allow me to drive a smaller hook, that is common with my steelhead fishing gear.
  • Lure weighting up to 1/2 oz will handle my 1/2 oz float setup or 1/2 oz drift weight or even size 3-4 spinner I may use. You can also go with a size 5 spinner on the Bogie as water temperatures really drop later in the season.

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