About this blog

This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page nativetroutflyfishing.com.

Gary

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow day coho

For the past couple of weeks western Washington has gotten slammed by a winter storm. This has resulted in me getting plenty of fly tying done, but no fishing. Blake and I decided that we both needed to get out to change this. The evening tide looked good so I met Blake and his friend Sam at the the top of my icy road and we made our way to a local beach.

A cold start - ice on the sound

When we arrived at the beach there was ice on some of the calmer water, but we were dressed plenty warm enough so we got to fishing. I didn't take us long to find a school of jumping resident coho and we all started getting into fish. Fishing for jumping coho is always a blast as the fish give away the location and it is simply a matter of putting a fly in front of their nose. When these fish decide that they want a fly it seems to be their goal to destroy it. I was using a new pink and red color variation of the snot dart that came up with and it drove the fish crazy.

There were plenty of fish around

Sam got some too

Unfortunately this amazing fishing could not last and as several seals moved in on the area and the school of coho broke up slowing the fishing way down. Although there would be an occasional jumper it became more of game of blindly casting and hoping that a fish would cross the path of your fly. Each of us picked up a couple more coho, but Blake got the best fish of the day, a fat 16" male cutthroat that was beginning to show its spawning colors. Unfortunately this fish did not want to have its picture taken and slipped out of Blake's grasp as I was getting my camera ready.

Blake working the beach

By the time that the sun went down the fishing had completely died off and we all had numb fingers so it was time to call it quits and make the icy drive home.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Olympic Peninsula again

Blake and I decided to make another go at some steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula today. We picked a river that we had fished a couple of weeks ago and seen some fish in, and planned on leaving bright and early. Blake was at my house by 4:45AM and we were at the river about the time the sun was up. We stopped at the lower part of the river were a local gear fisherman tried to tell us that there were no steelhead in the river and the chum never showed up this year. As we had just fished this river and knew from the last outing that there were indeed steelhead in the river and that there were a good number of chum we didn't buy this load of crap and knew it was just an attempt to drive the "new guys" away. However it looked like the lower parts of the river were going to be busy during the day so we decided that we would hike upstream above where we had fished on our last outing and check out some new water.

The upper river was similar to the water that we had sampled downstream in November, but with a little more gradiant to it. Once again we each brought a swinging and nymphing rig and while Blake started out tossing his nymph rig, I went for the swing.

Blake working his nymph rig through a good looking run

The first couple holes and runs were unproductive, but the next run downstream was full of chum salmon. It was here that Blake caught a nice fairly bright female chum that grabbed his pink and purple stonefly nymph. We were hoping that there would be some steelhead or cutthroat behind these fish looking for eggs, but had no such luck.

Blake with a female chum caught on a hotwire stonefly nymph

Chum vs. Bear... I Guess the bear won...

Below the chum hole, we found a large pool in front of a logjam that had a hand full of coho sitting in it. We worked through this hole hard and I had a small cutthroat come up the surface and attack my indicator while Blake a had a take from one of the coho but we got no hookups. Unfortunately things did not improve after this but got worse. While we had hiked a good distance upstream, apparently the gear fisherman from earlier had abandoned the lower river and hiked in just below us effectively cutting us off. The rest of the time on the river ended up being a fruitless search for water that we could have to ourselves and by mid-day we found ourselves out of good water and decided to throw in the towel at this spot.

After leaving the river we decided to scout out the tidewater of a nearby creek, which was said to have a run of steelhead and some decent sea-run cutthroat fishing. We hadn't had a chance to check the tides before leaving home, and when we got to this spot the water was down a couple of feet below what would have been ideal for fishing.
Blake working the tidewater on the creek

The Olympic Coast at low tide

We tried a few casts but the water was shallow and there was no sign of any fish. This creek definitely looked promising, especially for cutthroat in the fall, so we added it to our "Spots to fish" list for another outing under more ideal conditions. After leaving the creek, we made the long trek back to Gig Harbor.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Clean Angling Pledge

When fishing for native trout the implications of the introduction of non-native and invasive species is hard to overlook. The topic that generally receives the most attention is the introduction of non-native fish, such as rainbow and brown and brook trout that compete and hybridize with native cutthroat or the affects of hatchery salmon and steelhead on wild stocks. However the impacts of other invasive species often gets overlooked, even though they can cause just as much if not more harm to a fishery.

Recently whirling disease has spread to the waters of Yellowstone Lake, this comes to a huge blow to the protection of one of the greatest cutthroat populations in the world, which is already threatened by the illegal introduction lake trout. According to the national park service (2007) 11 of 41 yellowstone cutthroat sampled at mouth of Clear Creek in Yellowstone Lake tested positive for the disease. This disease is caused by a microscopic parasite and attacks the cartilage of the infected fish. While the diseases may not directly kill these fish, it affects their swimming ability and may lead to infected fish starving to death. Unfortunately for the cutthroat, the disease does not seem to affect lake trout.
Rainbow trout in Oregon with whirling disease: note the blackened tails (Photo Credits: Stephen Atkinson - Montana University System Water Center)

Another threat to a number of popular fisheries, such as the Madison River, Firehole River and South Fork of the Snake River is the New Zealand Mud Snail. This invasive snail compromises the food web by out competing aquatic insects and thus leads to declines in fish populations. Today the Mud Snail is found in fisheries across the western United States, in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and California and is having impacts on populations of Pacific salmon, cutthroat, redband, rainbow and bull trout.

New Zealand Mud Snail (Photo Credits: R. Draheim - Portland State University)

These are just a couple of the many invasive species that are having impacts on our native trout and cold water fisheries in general, and what do they have in common?? They can be spread by anglers not cleaning their gear before traveling between fisheries. This may include boats, rods, reels, waders and boots. These are not the only invasive species that are spread this way either. Milfoil, zebra muscles and didymo are a few others that are spread this way.

In order to prevent the further spread of these invaders, it is up to each and every angler to be responsible and inspect, clean and dry their gear before traveling between fisheries. This is as simple as looking for anything attached to any of your gear, removing it and washing everything off before traveling to another stream or lake. To help remind anglers of the importance of these steps, the folks at the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species have developed the Clean Angling Pledge, which states that you will inspect, clean and dry your gear before traveling to another fishery.

According to Bill Wiltshire the director of the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species:

The Pledge is being widely supported by organizations, agencies and the fishing industry. Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers both encourage their members to take the pledge. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has adopted the pledge as their primary means of getting individual anglers involved. We are working with Simms, Patagonia, Corkers, Dan Baileys and other wader manufacturers to incorporate the pledge into their marketing and communication efforts and many others in the fly fishing industry are promoting the pledge to their employees and customers.
For more information aquatic invasive species and the pledge, please visit the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species website at www.cleanangling.org

Want to take the pledge now??
I pledge to

Inspect, Clean & Dry


my equipment to the best of my ability after every on-water use.

* required


*


*

*




Sunday, November 23, 2008

Searching for Olympic Steel

Blake and I decided to make a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula on Friday and Saturday to search for some early winter steelhead. During the previous week, the pineapple express came through western Washington and put just about every river in flood stage. In the aftermath, the rivers began to drop and clear a bit so conditions for the trip looked promising. Most years the winter steelheading gets kicking around Thanksgiving, so we were jumping the gun on things a little, but we figured that a few less fish and a lot less people was probably a lot better the battling the Thanksgiving crowds.

Day 1: Friday November 21st 2008: Blake met me at my house well before the sun was up and we hit the road. We arrived at the first stream a little after day light and scrambled down the bank to the river. The river was a little high and off color but looked very fishy, with some great looking holes and pocket water. We worked our way upstream, stopping to nymph and swing flies through every likely looking spot, but only ran into a few smolts. About a 1/2 mile upstream of the road, we came upon a nice pool, and it was here that the river showed a little bit of life.

Me nymphing the first stream

Blake was fishing downstream of me when he yelled for me to come down to check out a fish that was holding in a riffle in front of him. The fish ended up being a nearly spent coho, but as Blake was pointing at it with his rod tip, a chrome bright steelhead darted upstream between us and the coho in less than a foot of water and into the hole that I had just been fishing.

I raced back upstream to the hole and started working it with my nymph set up and within five casts watched as my line stopped and my indicator shot below the surface. Right away I thought Steelhead!! Only when the fish on the end of my line started careening downstream like a bat out of hell, it wasn't the grey ghost silhouette of the steelhead that I had been hoping for but instead the unmistakable green back of a chum salmon. The chum had grabbed my glo bug and darted past a root wad, then turned back upstream and headed straight into the tangled mess of the root wad. Luck was on my side though, as the fish decided to go though the largest opening in the snag and the only spot where my line wouldn't get caught. However my luck didn't hold and the fish made one jump along the far bank and threw my fly.

Blake swinging a fly through the chum hole

After the hook up and with the knowledge that somewhere in the depths in front of us there was a chrome bright steelhead, we worked every inch of the hole both swinging and nymphing. However the other only fish that the pool would give up was an 8" smolt that once again went for my glo bug. With us being pretty certain that the fish in this pool were not going to bite, we decided to work our way back downstream to another nice run that we had skipped over. Blake started out swinging at the head of the run, while I nymphed the mid section. Downstream of where I fishing, and in about a foot and a half of water I saw a flash. I put my next cast in this spot, and a 15" cutthroat grabbed my fly but popped off after a couple of seconds. When Blake got down to this stretch, he too had a hit from a cutthroat but didn't hook up. After covering this pool, we worked our way back to the car and got on the road to try out another piece of water.

The second river

The next river was even smaller than the first one and I had couple of nice strikes and Blake hooked into a nice cutthroat in the frog water along the bank but the fish shook loose. Waded downstream to a pool that we couldn't get around, then headed back to the car just as it started to rain.

After this we headed to one more river that we wanted to check out to fish for a couple of hours before dark. This river would end up being our favorite for trip and was full of classic runs, pools and pockets and was enough to make any steelheader drool!! It was raining when we got to the river, and we began swinging our flies through every piece of likely looking water. A few runs downstream from the car we saw a couple steelhead jump on their way upstream, but these fish were on a mission to spawn and didn't touch our flies.

By the time that we got off the river, us and all of our gear were soaked and were very thankful that we had gotten a hotel run instead of camping.

Day 2: Saturday November 22nd 2008: It rained all night but with the first light of morning, the showers began to dissipate. We decided to head back to the third river and even though we got there early it wasn't early enough as the weekend warriors were out in force. Even with the extra people though once were got a couple runs down to where we had seen the fish jump the night before we had the place to ourselves. With the rains during the night the river was up about four inches from the night before and the visibility was a little low, but conditions looked good enough. Blake and I covered this pool several times before we decided to move downstream to the next stretch.

I was working a deep slot behind a log jam at the head of the next pool with my nymph rig, when my indicator shot under the surface and slightly upstream. I set the hook, and the steelhead that had grabbed my fly took off upstream as fast as it could. The whole ordeal only lasted a matter of ten seconds before the steelhead swam into the log jam and broke me off leaving me completely speechless at what had just happened.

Blake working a run on the third river

We spent the better part of the morning working this area but as the day wore on the anglers from upstream began crowding us a bit so we decided to go check out another section of the river further downstream. A few miles below where we had been fishing the river cuts itself into a deep canyon and we figured that we would probably be the only ones crazy enough to fish this stretch so we scrambled down the hill to the river. We started out covering the water downstream, but after a few fishless hours decided to check out the area upstream of where we had come down.

Me covering some water in the canyon

A water fall in the canyon

The upper part of the canyon consisted of shear cliffs, deep pools and boulder gardens and was breath takingly beautiful. We scrambled along the cliffs as far upstream as we could go but still couldn't find any fish.

Blake working a nice looking pocket

Some pocket water in the canyon

The upper part of the canyon

After feeling confident that we had covered the water good enough that there were either no fish or no fish that were going to bite, it was time to hike out. We decided to take a different route out of the canyon, which ended up being one of the most punishing exercises that I think either of us has ever done. Things never seem to look as steep from down below, and this end up being a near vertical hands and knees climb where we were looking for anything to grab onto; ferns, branches, roots, etc... After 45 long minutes we finally made our way back to the truck and made the long drive back home.

The trip ended with no fish landed, but Blake and I both agreed that this was the most fun that we had ever had getting skunked!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Resident Coho Time

It is that time of the year, when the streams and lakes here in Washington are closing down for the season but fortunately the Puget Sound remains open. The end of the trout season heralds in the beginning of the winter's resident coho season. These coho opt out of the long oceanic journey that their migratory brethren under take and instead remain in the estuarine waters of the Puget Sound throughout their life cycle. For local fly fisherman, this means that they are available throughout much of the year.

For the last several weeks I had to cut back on my fishing time a bit in order to study for the GRE, so that I can hopefully get into grad school. I got the test out of the way last week and have been itching to get back out to chase some fish around. Monday the weather was typical for western Washington, cloudy and rainy but with only a light breeze, and there was a good outgoing tide that slacked off right around dark... Perfect conditions for fly fishing. I headed out to an old standby beach for resident coho to try my luck.

When I arrived at the beach, I found that I had it to myself like usual, so I started walking down toward a point were the fish usually hang out. On the way down to the point I saw a fish jump a few hundred feet down the beach, than another and another. As resident coho generally don't stay in one spot for very long, I knew that if I wanted to have any chance of catching any of these fish I had to get to them fast, so I did the only reasonable thing and ran for it. The fish were still jumping when I got to the spot so I placed myself slightly in front of their path and started casting like a mad man. One the first cast a fish slammed my marabou clouser and I quickly brought it in, turned it loose and started casting again. Next cast my fly barely had time to hit the water and another coho attacked it. In regular coho form, the second that the fish felt the hook he was straight out of the water and doing his best to throw my fly, but it was not to be so and after a short fight I brought him in.

A typical resident coho
The beach

After this fish, it was over and the school had moved on either in search of food or more likely due to a group of seals that were lurking about in the area. With the fish gone from this spot I move over to the point and covered the water there, hooking up with another slightly larger resident coho that was kind enough to spit my fly out before I could bring him in. After this the fishing completely died, so I decided head down to another spot that they seem to like to frequent and keep my eyes open for jumpers along the way.

I didn't find any jumpers like I was hoping along the way but when I got to the spot I did catch a small Chinook salmon. At this point the tide was slacking off, and it seemed that the resident coho had moved on, but instead of throwing in the towel I decided I hiked down the beach about a mile to another point that gets the current moving even when the tide has died down. I spent about a half an hour here and did hook up with one resident but LDR'd him. It was starting to get dark, so I figured I better head toward the trail, but one the way I finally spotted some more jumping fish and it was game on again. Once again, first cast I caught another fish and on the next cast I missed second one, but these fish were on the move so the third cast came up empty. Jumping fish kept giving away the school's position, so I took off down the beach in pursuit. I tried to get in front of the school before stopping to fish again and would get a few casts in at each spot that I stopped before the school moved past me and I had to relocate again. I picked up another fish this way and lost several others, before I finally lost the school again.

It seemed that the fishing was going to stay good for some time but the light was failing so I put on the head lamp that I keep in my vest and changed my fly out for a glow in the dark one and got back to fishing. The sun was completely down, when the resident coho returned and liked what they saw with my glow in the dark fly and I pulled one out of the group before they vanished into the darkness. With the resident coho gone, I started fishing my way down the beach hoping to find them again, but instead found another small Chinook before the weather convinced me that it was finally time to call it a night.

When I called Blake up and gave him a report of how I had done, his reply was "what are you doing tomorrow," and my reply was "fishing you in?"

Of course he was, but when Tuesday rolled around the wind was absolutely howling and we almost opted to just tie some flies instead, but somehow convinced ourselves that our spot would be sheltered from the wind. It wasn't. Me, Blake and his friend Mark arrived at the beach to find the sound looking more like the ocean with whitecaps, rollers and a crashing surf. However the fish were still there so we got to it.

Blake and Mark working the beach

Within a couple of minutes Blake had caught his first fish, and I stationed myself off of the point a saw a fish jump in between a couple of waves and made a "cast" to it. It is probably stretching it a bit to call it casting under these conditions, I had to face shore and make a short forward cast and than a high back cast and let the wind do what it would with my line. This was definitely not the most elegant cast that I have ever made, but the fish didn't care and smashed my fly. I quickly released this fish and lobbed my fly back out and immediately had another fish on. This was a much larger resident at around 17" and put on a fine show of acrobatics before I finally landed it. What struck me about this fish wasn't it's length but its girth, the pig of a fish was proportioned like a football and must have been a good 5 or 6" from the back to the belly. After releasing the fish, I watched the rest of the school jumping towards Blake amid the waves. Just like clockwork once they got to him, he caught two fish than they were gone.

An average resident coho

After this I got one more resident, and missed another before the wind got even stronger and it became risky to wade much deeper than my knees as a huge sneaker wave would come in an soak anyone who wasn't paying enough attention. With the sound looking like it was more suited for surfing than fly fishing, it was time to head home.
Me casting amid the surf

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to the saltwater

It had been sometime since I had fished the saltwater, so when my friend Blake called me up wanting to go out to a couple of our favorite spots there was no way that turn him down. Right now is prime time for salmon, which are returning to spawn in streams throughout the Puget Sound area and as such our first spot to hit was a local estuary, which receives a healthy run of coho and chum salmon.

We arrived at the estuary a couple of hours after the tide began to flood and started fishing. The thing that I have always loved about this place is that it has been left in a fairly natural state, and even though it is close to home it gives the feeling of a wilderness experience.
The estuary at high tide

When we first started fishing the water had poor visibility, but we found a school of coho almost right away and each got several good takes but no solid hook ups. However as the tide began to rise the water cleared and fish showed less and less interest in our offerings. Even so as I was working a school of fish I heard Blake howler that he needed the net, so I ran upstream to find him tied into a heavy fish. When he finally brought the fish to the net, it wasn't a salmon but instead one of the biggest cutthroat that I have seen. This stream certainly has the potential to produce some large cutthroat and this fish was a prime example, measuring right around 20" and weighing over 3lbs.
Blake's big cutthroat

Another shot of the big cutthroat

After Blake got the big cutthroat, fishing for salmon didn't show any signs of improvement and so we gave it another hour than decided to move on to our second spot. This beach is located within close proximity to several estuaries, and usually holds good numbers of salmon this time of the year. We got there at slack tide and fishing started out slow with a few fish jumping but not much biting. However once the tide started moving again the fish started biting and the fishing improved. Most the fish here were chum salmon averaging 8 to 12lbs, but there were also some coho hanging around as well. Numbers were not the problem either, but finding the right fly and retrieve was slightly more difficult. Once we figured that out though and found some willing fish we started hooking up with fish every few casts. These fish were no push overs either and thought nothing of taking us well into our backing and putting our gear to the edge of its limits. When all was said and done, Blake and I caught and released about five salmon apiece including several chrome chum, before the weather finally gave out on us and we were blown off the water.

Me hooked up with a big chum salmon
A bright female chum salmon just beginning to show its spawning colors
Blake with a big male chum in its spawning colors

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finishing up the Cutt Slam

About a month ago my sister invited me to join her on a trip to eastern Idaho to visit her husband's family. This area just happens to be on of my favorite parts of the to world, so of course I jumped at the opportunity. The trip also prompted me to decided to finish up the Wyoming Cutt Slam, in which anglers have to catch four of Wyoming's native cutthroat in their native streams. Back in 2006 I had fished in Wyoming and caught three types of it's native cutthroat, so I just needed one more to finish it up. That last fish was the Colorado River cutthroat, which is native to the Green River drainage in central Wyoming and that was only going to be a few hours from where we were staying.

Day 1: Saturday September 27th 2008: The entire day was spent making the 13 hour drive to Driggs Idaho. Not much exciting happened except for some issues with our hotel reservation, which ended up being at a place that expedia forgot to mention on their website isn't open during the fall. Once we got things cleared up with expedia, we ended up at the Best Western which worked out alright.

Sunday September September 28th 2008: My sister and I took the day to check out the area (and fishing), which is located just on the slightly less famous western side of the Teton Mountains. We started out getting some lunch at a small grocery store in Victor, ID, which happened to have some of the best Potato soup that I have ever had. After this we ran down to the Teton River where I tried my luck fishing for a little bit.

The Teton River

Esentially the Teton River in the Driggs area is a huge spring creek with a strong population of Yellowstone cutthroat and a few brook trout and whitefish. The only problem is that the river gets pounded by other fisherman, so needless to say that fish were extremely picky and I didn't have much luck.

The next place that we went to check out was the Grand Targhee Ski Resort, which is just outside of town. Even though it was way to early to think about snowboarding this place looked like it would be a fun slope, and the fall colors in the Tetons were awesome.
The fall colors at Grand Targhee

From here I went to try a little fishing at a local stream. When I first walked up to the creek I spooked a trout, but this was also the only fish that I saw. Even though the fishing wasn't any good, the scenery was great so I had a good time.
The creek

Day 3: Monday September 29th 2008: Today was a day that I had for fishing, so I headed up to a small stream in the Tetons to see if I could find any Yellowstone cutthroat. I arrived at the trail to the creek little after 9am and started hiking.
The wilderness area boundary

I reached the creek about a 1/4 mile up the trail, and rigged up my rod with a size 12 royal pmx and copper john dropper. The creek was a classical medium gradiant mountain stream, consisting of riffles, runs and a few pools and pieces of pocket water once and a while. I started systematically covering the water and working my way upstream, but after a half an hour I still hadn't had any hits. I finally came to a small pool where a few fish were holding, but when I got closer wasn't to happy to notice that they were all brook trout. Outside their native range brook trout generally outcompete other trout, so they have been a big problem to the continued existance of many populations of native trout. Even so I was here so I might as well fish for them, and just upstream of the pool I rose one but lost it. I continued working my way upstream, without any further hits until I came to a small piece of pocketwater where I saw a fish rise. I made my cast and it eagerly ate my dry fly, than began fighting in typical brook trout fashion, going deep and doing a bit of thrashing around but little else.
Even though they aren't native to the west, brook trout are an extremely beautiful fish
The creek

After this I started noticing a few more brookies here and there, but they are all extremely spooky so I had to be very careful not to scare them when I approached some promising looking water. This often meant that I had to hide behind something or make an extremely long cast to get a response from the fish. The sneaky approach tactic worked great though, and I started hooking up and catching brook trout left and right, but still no cutthroat.
A spawning pair of brook trout

About a mile upstream from where I started fishing the creek began to change in character, having a much steeper gradient and consisting of more pools and pocket water. It was just at the begining of this high gradient section that I hooked a fish that didn't act like the typical brook trout. Instead it shot strait out of they water, than followed up with several more jumps and when I brought it to the net it ended up being a beautiful little native cutthroat.
My first Yellowstone cutthroat from the stream

After this the amount of cutthroat drastically increased, although the brook trout still seemed to outnumber them about 3:1. If I had to choose a favorite type of water to fish for trout it would probably small pocket water streams, so I felt like I was in my element here. Just about every pool that I came held at least on fish, and as I progressed further upstream, the Tetons began to come into view, really adding to the experience. After a while I came to a perfect looking pool with a small water fall at its head that just screamed trout. I hid behind a large blouder and made a short cast upstream, only to watch a "monster" cutthroat materialize from the depths, and slowly but confidently rise to the surface to enhale my dry fly. The fish turned, and I set the hook and it was fish on. Even though the cutthroat put up a valiant effort and a good bend in my fly rod, it really didn't have anywhere to go and I brought it to the net after a short fight. Against the basket of my net I figure that the fish was about 14", which was extremely impressive for the surroundings that he was living in.
My big cutthroat
The pool where the cutthroat came from

A few pools above where I got the big cutthroat I got a slightly smaller but still impressive sized brook trout. Not to far above where I caught this big brookie, the stream began to level off again and I decided that I had probably fished enough for one day so I made my way back to the trail and hiked back out to the car.
The big brook trout
Looking upstream toward the Tetons

That evening after fishing my sister and I joined her husband's cousin on a horseback ride to a small lake in the mountains, which was a lot of fun and a new experience for me.

Day 4: Tuesday September 30th 2008: I spent the day with my sister going to meet her husband's family. No fishing, but we got some killer Indian Tacos at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation for with her relatives for lunch. After visiting the family we left Idaho behind us and headed over to Jackson, WY for the next couple of days.

Day 5: Wednesday October 1st 2008: This was my day to see if I could finish up the Wyoming Cutt Slam by catching some Colorado River cutthroat. Prior to leaving Dave had pointed me in the right direction for a decent stream, so I got up early to make the long drive over to the Green River drainage. Even though it had been nice every day, the mornings showed signs that fall was in progress, and the temperature was 25 degrees when I left Jackson in the morning. Once in the Green River valley, it became pretty evident that that pronghorn antelope were making their annual migration to their overwintering grounds, as every open field had 10-20 antelope in it. About 8:00am I turned off on the road to the creek and covered the 30 miles of dirt road to finally reach my destination.
The creek valley

One couldn't ask for a more perfect little stream, and besides a few hunters driving up and down the valley, I had the place to myself. This was a steriotypical little meadow stream, that lazily flowed through the valley doing a series of perfect U turns with a few beaver ponds thrown in here and there. I hit the water using my ever dependable royal PMX and copper dropper set up and caught a fish almost right away.
A Colorado River cutthroat
However after this initial fish the fishing unfortunately slowed down a bit and even though a put my fly in every likely looking spot, I didn't find anymore fish for about a 1/4 mile upstream. It seemed as though the combination of the cold morning air and the fish moving to more suitable over-wintering water may have been working against me. I finally found some fish at a where riffle came into a deep pool as the creek turned a corner. The first fish I got was a cutthroat, but the second was something unexpected; a Mountain Whitefish. While whitefish don't have the best reputation with fly fisherman and the one that I caught was tiny, I was pretty happy about my catch as it was a first for me.
The little whitefish
A beaver pond on the creek
After this the fishing continued to improve and I caught several more cutthroat. After covering about a mile of the stream, I put a wooley bugger and began working my way back downstream. none pool that I came to I caught a small brook trout while stripping the wooly bugger in, which was an unwelcomed sight in this beautiful little cutthroat stream. Since this was the only brook trout that I saw, it can only be hoped that they will not establish themselves in this creek. On the next cast I got one of my better cutthroat from the creek, then made way back to the car wishing that I had more time to spend in the area.
A Colorado Cutthroat caught on a wooley bugger

I got back to Jackson around 3:00pm and my sister and I wandered around town for a while check out the shops and sights. Next we ran up to Teton National Park and drove around for a bit doing some wildlife viewing and sight seeing. While there, we saw our first moose, which was exciting even though our view was pretty obstructed by some willows that it was laying behind. After going up to the Tetons, went back to Jackson where we got some Sushi for dinner at a little restruant called Nekai. The Rocky Mountains and good sushi do not seem like something that would go together, but this place was excellent and I would highly suggest it to anyone.
Teton National Park
Day 6: Thursday October 2nd 2008: Today we would begin working our way back home. My sister had never been to Yellowstone, so we decided to drive though park on the way back. While driving through the Tetons, we saw four more moose, which was really cool. It is kind of crazy though that I have been to the Yellowstone area seven other times and this was the first trip that I had seen any moose on and I end up seeing five of them...
A moose from across the river
October is a great time to visit Yellowstone, as the crowds have died down, the animals are out and the trees are in their fall colors. The first stop was at Old Faithful, and our timing couldn't have been better as the geyser went off right as we got to the viewing area.
Old Faithful

From here we went up to a hotspring area along the Firehole River and walked around for a bit, than drove up to Mammoth and out of the park.


The Firehole River in the hotsprings area
A bison in Yellowstone

The entire day was spent crossing Montana, and we ended up staying in Coeur d' Alene Idaho for the night.

Day 7: Friday October 3rd 2008: We spent a little bit of time in Coeur d' Alene, then headed back home to Washington.

Overall it was an awesome trip, and felt great to just get away for a while. Beyond that the fishing was great and I managed to catch three native salmonids including one that I hadn't caught before, plus I finished of the Wyoming Cutt Slam.