March 25, 1999
Most Quinault guides have excellent reputations


More than two dozen tribal members are licensed by the Quinault Indian Nation as fishing guides on the waters of the tribe's reservation, and they include some excellent anglers and interesting characters.

At the risk of leaving some out, top guides include:

Tandy Charley threw a 90-mph fastball as a teenager and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. He worked out in rookie camp with Doc Gooden and Cal Ripken, but injuries prevented him from ever pitching in the Bigs. He is said, however, to be able to pitch a hunk of salmon eggs precisely into the pocket water that holds large steelhead. Clayton Butler, who not only guides anglers, but also works as a criminal investigator for the federal Department of the Interior in Olympic National Park. Butler lives at Kalaloch and fishes not only the Quinault but is considered one of the better guides on the reservation waters of the Queets and Salmon rivers. Robin Rhodes, a former Seattle detective and tribal member who lives on the Lower Quinault just downstream of the U.S. Route 101 bridge, is considered one of the smartest anglers on the river.

Call tribal headquarters in Taholah for a complete list of guides, 360-276-8211.

The Quinault can be a turbulent river where safety is a concern. Not all tribal guides carry liability insurance; check before your trip if that is a worry. To ensure a safe trip, ask questions such as how much experience they have guiding on the river, whether they have a full complement of life jackets and a first-aid kit.

Winter steelhead season usually begins in late November and runs into April. The best overall success rates come in December and January during the peak of the hatchery run; the best chance at a big native steelhead is from late February into early April.

The daily limit is three steelhead, although Quinault guides report many anglers these days release the wild steelhead they catch in the interest of conservation. Anglers must hire a tribal guide to fish reservation waters or be a guest of a tribal member, but a state fishing license is not required.

The Quinault also offers superb fly-fishing for sea-run cutthroat, along with limited numbers of summer-run steelhead, from July into October.

In September, chinook enter the Quinault and Queets, peaking in October or early November, depending on water levels. Coho usually start entering the Quinault in late September, peaking in late October to mid-November.

Chum salmon complement catches in November.

Daily limits for salmon vary year to year, depending on the strength of the runs. Last year it was two chinook, one coho and two chum.

"I've sent clients home with 100 pounds of salmon filets in November," said Larry Ralston, another of the river's top guides.

There are tradeoffs, however; the later in the season you go, for example, the darker and less desirable condition the fish will be.

Anyway, most anglers do not consider the Quinault a meat fishery, but rather the place to fish for large, quality steelhead, chinook and coho.

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