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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Last Chance - Winter Steelhead

This last week I decided to make one more go at catching a winter steelhead on the fly, however on Sunday heavy rains pummeled Western Washington blowing virtually all of the rivers out of shape. With the high flows I had to delay my trip a bit but by Tuesday the rivers started to fall back into shape, so I made my way out to the Olympic Peninsula again. I pulled into Forks, WA on Tuesday afternoon and headed up one of the Quillayute system rivers to try my luck. I found myself some good looking water and rigged up with a nymph setup.

I fished a few pockets before coming to a section of white water with slower seams on either side. After a couple of casts I got a good drift going and my indicator shot under the surface. Instinctively I raised the rod tip, even if I was only expecting to feel the typical tension from my fly being caught on a rock. That was not the case though, and instead I felt the throb of a powerful head shake of a steelhead. This was repeated two more times and then there was nothing as my line went slack. This seems to be how my luck has been going this season, but I guess getting a take from a steelhead is better than nothing.

The spot where the steelhead was holding; right below the white water

After hooking into the fish and covering the remaining water in the area, I headed downstream and tried out a stretch of the river where a small tributary flowed in. The was some decent looking water here but after a couple hours of fishing there was no sign of fish so I headed back upstream to check out another section of the river. This spot had even better looking holding water, but yielded the same results as the last spot with no sign of fish and I decided to call it a day as it was getting late at this point.

The upper section of the river

The next day I headed down to one of the rain forest rivers to catch the last day of the season. The weather was beautiful and scenery along the river was hard to beat, with moss laden old growth trees, the Olympic Mountains and even a few Roosevelt Elk.

Old growth forest

Some elk lounging around not far from the river

A beautiful little tributary stream and nursery for juvenile salmon and steelhead

Seeing my "success" the previous day, I decided to got with a nymph setup again, using an attractor nymph trailed by a glue egg. Once on the water I began covering all of the likely looking spots thoroughly, without coming up with so much as a tug. Even with the crystal clear water I didn't see any sign of fish.

The river

After covering a couple of miles of river without any sign of fish, I finally spotted a school of smaller fish holding near a log jam. I couldn't tell what they were so threw my fly in with them and before long hooked into one. Once I connected with the fish it dawned on me what it was and when I got the fish in I could see that I was right and it was just what I thought it was - a mountain whitefish. I decided to give this spot a few more casts and came up with another whitefish before moving on.

One of the whitefish

Shortly after getting into the whitefish I made my way back to my car to go check out a couple of other spots lower down on the river. However I found the visibility on the lower river was nothing like up above, with me barely able to see my boots in knee deep water. To make matters worst the wind was howling in from the Pacific and after a wayward cast hit me so hard that it snapped my 15lb tippet I decided that I couldn't take anymore.
The lower river

I may have been done fishing, but I wasn't quite ready to head home yet so I headed down to the Olympic National Park coast strip for a quick hike down to the Pacific. It felt great to just get out and do a little hiking and after putting a couple of miles of leg work behind me I decided that it was finally time to wrap this trip up.

The forest in the Olympic National Park coast strip

The mighty Pacific

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