Each year the end of October marks the end of small stream fishing for trout in Washington State. With the long wait until the June opener, I always try to make at least one last trip at the end of the month before the closure. For the last couple of years I have kept my end of the season trip close to home and this year was no exception. As with the past two years I headed down to a small sea-run cutthroat stream just a few miles from my house to give my 2wt one last work out before the winter. The small stream in question is exceptionally brushy so it is not the world's most friendly fly water, but it does hold some decent fish. During this time of the year the lower portion near the tidal influence is always best as the cutthroat will follow salmon upstream on each tide looking for an easy meal of salmon eggs.
In the first run that I came to there were about eight 6-10lb coho holding and as usual there were several decent cutthroat holding just behind them. The only problem with this situation was that the coho seemed just as interested in my glo bug as what the cutts did and I kept having to pull my fly away from them, since the combo of large salmon, skinny snag ridden water and a 2 wt does not work out so well. I ended up getting a couple of hook ups with the cutts and a couple of very close calls with the coho, before I decided that I better not push my luck and headed downstream. It didn't take to long to get into some cutthroat and in a small pocket just behind a snag I caught my first fish of the day.
A small yet beautiful native coastal cutthroat
I kept working my way downstream catching a couple of cutthroat here and there, but nothing too sizable. When I came to one of my favorite holes I did hook up with a decent about 12" cutthroat, which gave me one good jump before tossing the hook; a situation that seems to play out far to often for me... After this hookup I covered the rest of the pool, but couldn't dredge up anything else, so it was time to get on the move again.
Some great cutthroat holding water
Fishing was unusually slow through the remainder of the stretch that I was working until I came to the last hole. In this spot the creek gets slightly skinnier, but the depth goes from the usual 1 foot deep to around waste deep. On my first cast, my indicator shot under, but when I set the hook there was nothing there. Something told me that this had to be a fish and not bottom, so I continued to make cast after cast until finally the indicator went down again and this time my hookset was answered with a nice head shake from a decent cuttie. The cutthroat put up a good fight and almost pulled me into a snag a few times, but before long my little 2wt over powered him and I was able to bring the nice 12" fish to hand. I felt that this was a good of a time as any to call it quites for the day and season as streams go.
My end of the season cutthroat
With small streams closed, it is time to start thinking about the salt water and steelhead. However with the coastal rivers being blown out more often than not right now and work greatly restricting how far I can travel steelheading hasn't been an option for me yet, so chum salmon in the saltwater are the next best thing. This past week I called up my buddy Bob to go looking for some chum, as they are usually holding off some of the looking estuaries in good numbers by this time of the year. Of course Bob was in, so we headed out to the Hood Canal to check things out. The first spot that we went to was a bust, with only a couple of pods of fish moving through and definitely not enough chum in to justify hanging around for very long. We headed down to another spot that has treated me well in the past, only to find some brand new no trespassing signs had been posted. I guess I can check that one off of my list of fishing spots... However the third try was the charm and upon pulling up at this spot, chum could be seen jumping and boiling all around.
Luckily we had all of our gear rigged up still from our first two failed attempts and we were casting within a couple of minutes. Within a couple more minutes that casting turned to catching and we were in business! I had my first hookup about ten casts in, but fish made one quick run and then tossed the hook. However after that fish spit my fly I only had to strip it back in a couple of times before another chum grabbed. This fish also managed to elude me, but on the next cast I got another grab and this time got a good hookset. As soon as I hooked into this fish it was heading for my backing and putting up a pretty good display of acrobatics while it was at it. When I had the fish about half way in I looked over and saw Bob hook into a nice fish as well and we had a double going. I managed to land my fish while Bob was fighting his fish and quickly released the ~8lb chrome female fish before going to help Bob get his fish in.
Bob's fish ended up being a being a nice ~10lb male and ran him all of the way into his backing a couple of more times before he could get it back in close enough for me to tail it for him.
For the next hour and a half the fishing was off the hook, with us doubling up three more times and each of us get about 6 or 7 chum, with a few around 15lbs. After that the fish didn't seem to be quite as grabby, but were still able to hook into a few more fish before the lack of daylight told us that it was time to head back home.
A perfect end to a great day of fishing
- note that those ripples on the left side of the picture are from chum...