This trip got on the books last November when I was doing research for a paper for college and inadvertently discovered that a stream that was no less than two hours from home had a healthy population of Southern Dolly Varden in it. This fish is exceedingly rare in Washington state being restricted to a few streams above barrier falls that prevented hybridization /competition with the later invading Bull Trout.
I had been wanting to fish this stream for its native coastal rainbow trout for sometime as well, so I figured that I would strap on my hiking boots and head up there as soon as the flows dropped into the fishable range and I might get a Dolly while I was at it. After some extra research on trail / fishing conditions I had a free day last week so I called Clint up and we went for it.
The stream flows through a virgin forest in one of the Wilderness areas surrounding Olympic National Park, and my research had indicated that fishing was best about 3.5 miles up the trail.
Due to its location this is one of the first streams in the Olympics to drop into fishable shape but the flows were still up as we are at about 130% of our annual snow pack so wading was difficult. To complicate matters the bridge over the river was out so we had to search out a decent spot to ford it (This was easier said than done)
The Olympics from the meadow.
We hiked up to a series of meadows along the river and started fishing using dry and dropper step ups, however the river was much more of a creek in this section and over hanging brush made casting difficult. After about an hour of fruitless fishing, we decided to move down stream and change tactics a bit. We hiked down to the lowest meadow where we found a nice pool and switched to nymphs on sink tip lines. This ended up being the ticket and we got our first of many dolly varden while swinging and stripping a stone fly nymph back in.
An underwater shot of a Dolly after being released...
With the flows up the fish were pushed into the pools and slower pockets along shore and it was a good distance between decent holding water so we decided to hike downstream a fish all of the best water as we went. About 1.5 miles down from the bridge we came to a nice pool where I caught the 'big' dolly of the day at about 10".
As we went down we also began to see a transition to more rainbow trout. In one particular pool that we came to we spotted a couple of good sized fish sitting on the bottom. The pool was deep so we each put a little extra weight on to get our flies down... On my first cast the big guy darted out and attacked my rubber legged copper john, but I missed him... I thought that I had blew it and then he hit again and shook the hook, usually the third time is the charm but in this case he threw the hook another time and a I got his smaller neighbor. After another about 15 minutes of casting to him, we thought the jig was up and decided to call it, but I threw my fly back in the water one last time anyways and this did the trick...It ended up being a beautiful 12" rainbow that must have been either extremely hungry or dumb... By this time it was getting late as we had already fished downstream about 2.5 miles so we hit the trail again and called it a day...