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.


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