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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Starting things off right

It is that time of the year again, when the first winter storms start rolling in off of the Pacific and the nearly gravitational pull of winter steelhead finally becomes to strong to ignore. With those rains come the steelhead, but also higher flows on the streams and this typically means that any idea of planning a trip ahead of time is going to lead to disappointment. However high flows on the big famous waters often mean ideal conditions for the smaller and more out of the way streams. With that in mind and despite the fact several inches of rain had put just about all of the rivers along the coast of Washington out of shape, Chris and I headed out for our first winter steelheading trip of the new season.

With the rain still falling and rivers still on the rise, we made plans to check out a few streams on the way out, but with water looking more like chocolate milk we knew we would have our work cut out for us. With most options not available, we headed out to one of my favorite spots, a little cedar stain stream that is usually the last to blow out and the first to come back into shape. This is where the curve ball from left field hit us. With just a few miles to go to reach the water we ran into a brand new logging company gate and a lovely sign indicating that unauthorized motorized vehicles were no longer permitted. The only glimmer of hope for the day was running into a logging company security worker that apparently felt our pain with losing a favorite fishing spot and gave us a spot to go and check out.

With a new bit of intel, we headed back out on the road to do a bit of exploring. With a little help from out friendly gazetteer, we started our quest for steelhead over again on a small piece of water that this time did not have a gate blocking the road. With the other streams out of shape, we were worried that this one might be too, but upon arriving there seemed to be a good two feet of visibility and before even setting foot in the water we spotted a few coho and some cutthroat hanging out behind them.

As if that was a sign over the next few hours we proceeded to have one of the best days of stream fishing for sea-run cutthroat that I have experienced. The fish weren't huge, averaging 12-14", but they were feisty and plentiful making for fast paced action.
An average sea-run cutthroat

This isn't to say that we didn't run into any other fish either as in the first second hole upstream, Chris got a good hook up. However the fish whether salmon or steelhead pulled right into a log jam and broke him off. This hole also was home to a handful of steelhead smolts and cutthroat, but before long the water upstream was calling our names.

As we worked upstream the river became a tangled mess of log jams and side channels, making the going slow, but it was perfect cutthroat habitat all the same. Every likely looking spot seemed to have some sort of fish in it and in a nice dredged out corner hole I had a brief encounter with a nice about 17" cutthroat that jumped a couple of time before tossing the hook. However the best spot we ran into was a little side channel no more than 10 feet across, where on my first cast five cutthroat charged my fly and even after one managed to nab the yarnie I was fishing the rest of the group continued to try to eat the dropper as I fought him.

While at first it seemed like it was just cutthroat holding in this spot, before long we spotted a few coho and something the looked a lot like a steelhead. Both the coho and the steelhead also seemed interested in what we were offering, with Chris and I each hooking a couple coho a piece and Chris briefly hooked the steelhead before the fish seemed to be on to us.
Chris with a healthy sea-run cutthroat

Fishing remained good on the way downstream and we managed to pick up a few more cutthroat before before deciding it was time to head to another spot.

Our next stop, going off of the tip that we had received, was a tributary to one of the larger rivers in the area and right where the two met there were definitely some fish and fishing was good enough to keep us interested until the light started to fade and we had to hike back out.

The next morning with flows dropping, we regrouped and made the hike into one of my favorite spots. The water had a perfect steelhead green tone to it and a couple of feet of visibility, so we figured things might be good. However with the flows so much higher then when I have fished it before it seemed like I was relearning the water all day and many of the typical spots were moving to fast to hold to many fish.
The river

The first few spots we tried didn't seem to have anyone home, however before long we got our sign of where the fish were. With steelhead being such difficult fish to catch, some people tend to get superstitious about things and I would be included in that bunch. This mostly came after Chris revealed the power of redbull to me last year as a steelhead attracting tool and since I have seen an uncanny increase in my catch rate under the influence of this beverage. So when I see a random redbull can laying next to a random trail to the river, lets just say that I have to check things out.

The water at this spot didn't look ideal as the river was moving a little fast, but it was one a corner and seemed to have some depth so it was definitely worth trying. Chris started off downstream a little ways on a little more likely looking seam along a log jam, while I took the corner. We will just say the corner was the place to be. After enough drifts to figure out where the snags on the bottom where, my indicator shot down, I set and a silver bullet steelhead came shooting out of the water. The steelhead wasn't huge, maybe running five or six pounds, but none the less he was a powerful fish and put up quite a battle. However I got a good set and before long I eased him into the shallows. The buck steelhead was a beautiful early component native that was just starting to show signs of his rainbow trout colors. In the wake of hatchery plantings, these early natives have become quite rare in Washington rivers and while this most definitely wasn't my largest steelhead I would rank it as one of the coolest I have caught.
A true wonder of nature a native winter-run steelhead.

Another look at the fish just before release

As I had just got a fish, I turned the spot over to Chris and within just a few minutes he hooked into a nice steelhead as well. The fish gave in a few good runs and jumps and he had it on just long enough for us to see it was another native before it spit the hook. We fished through the "redbull hole" as it was now dubbed for a while and got a few more grabs but weren't able to get anymore solid hook ups.

Continuing downstream we checked out one last corner hole that my buddy Johanthan had hooked a good steelhead out of last year. We weren't able to find any steelhead, but I did have a short encounter with my ninth hooked and lost (in a row) coho of the year. This was a big fish going 15lbs or bigger that gave me several good jumps and effectively spooked the hole before throwing the hook and saying adiĆ³s. Without a lot of good fishable water below us, we decided that we might as well move on down the road again and check out another spot. This next spot also required a bit of a hike to get into, if you could call it that, as it really was more of an effort to thrash our way through the bushes to the water.

This was new water to us but the first hole looked pretty good, so we figured that we would start there. It didn't take long to start things off either as on my third cast a nice 7 or 8lb hatchery steelhead grabbed my fly and took off downstream. The fish put up a good fight, but before long he admitted defeat and accepted his fate as my honored guest for an upcoming bbq.
Doing my part to keep hatchery fish out of the gene pool

The next hole down looked just about as good as the first one, so I gave Chris first water again and the events of the "redbull hole" repeated themselves. After only of couple casts he hooked another steelhead, but this fish ran downstream into a boulder garden and pulled the fly loose after a few minutes of heated battle.
Chris working a good hole on the river

However in the very next hole down it was finally Chris' turn to land one and after just a few casts he got a beautiful little chrome hen.
Chris' fish

With three holes fished and three fish hooked, we decided to push our luck a little further headed to to next good looking pool downstream before we lost what was left of the daylight. This pool proved to be most useful in removing the block that I have been fighting all year when it comes to coho. Towards the tailout, my indicator went down and for the fourth time in the day my fly called the "UVA Bomber" proved its value as a big coho started tearing up the water below me. This was a powerful fish and he put up a great fight before finally coming to hand.
10th time's the charm!
My estimated 15lb native coho

By the time that I got the coho in, it was already nearly dark and there didn't seem to be enough light left to continue our streak to five holes in a role. So with that we called it a very successful day and first trip for winter steelhead. I can only hope that this is sign of a good season ahead of us and that all of my last year's exploring is going to start paying off. However at this point it looks like the biggest factor for the season may be the rain. Especially since as of writing this all of the rivers and even the smaller ones are far to high to fish and will be for the foreseeable future.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fall Chumin'

Fall is a great time to fish in Washington, especially if you are not too averse to fishing in inclement weather. The biggest problem is that there are too many options, however one my favorites is chasing after chum salmon that flood into the countless small streams draining to the Puget Sound. While chum salmon are often looked down upon by many anglers due to their poorer quality as table fair, they certainly offer everything that one could ask for out of a game fish and more than some of the more respected species can claim. These salmon are brutish battlers, being the both the second largest and second most abundant Pacific salmon. Chum arrive in good numbers and go nuts when hooked. They are great jumpers with my personal record being one that jumped 9 times before coming to hand. As if their jumping ability wasn't enough, these fish can peel some serious line off of a reel and as the fastest swimming of the Pacific salmon seeing backing is a regular occurrence. So while some continue to hold prejudices against these amazing fish, I like to enjoy what I view as a world class fishery in my back yard. (Literally... a chum stream flows through the woods behind my house!)
Chum time

This year has been a bit of strange chum year, with an unusually high number of torrential rain storms throughout October, the fish have been early and in many cases have not paused long enough to be targeted in the estuaries. However with countless streams hosting these fish there is always somewhere to look.
Spot A... No chum...

My first few trips for chum where a bit of false starts, with several hook ups and even a brief run in with coho number 7 (7th hooked and lost this year...) but nothing landed. This is even with the factor of covering some serious ground, from my home streams to the Olympic Peninsula.
Spot B... No chum.... Breath taking views....
Spot C... Chum in the creeks (find the chum; hint under the tree) Big boy hooked and lost and coho lost ... Nothing to hand

However these false starts have since not been an indicator of success as the season goes and by directing my attention to the later timed runs a little closer to home things started working out a bit better. Chum will respond to a variety of tactics from stripping flies to dead drifted indicator fishing and it is always fun to sample a variety of tactics throughout the season. So the other day while fishing with Colton and Jonathan did a bit of everything, although the dead drift seemed to be the favorite on the high tide. In fact within the first half hour it resulted in two fish landed for me and two more lost.
Chum #1 a beautiful hen

Stripping flies is a bit more complicated though, as like other salmon species chum do not eat out of hunger once they get near fresh water, but instead it is more about aggression. With certain colors triggering that response better than others some times the stars just have to align right for a fish that doesn't want to eat any to get up and chase down and eat a fly. Chartreuse, blue, purple, cerise and other bright tones all seem to work well, but when one fails to get a response you can't be afraid to change things up. In the morning apparently blue was the ticket...
A release for me (#2) and a jumping chum for Jonathan (a bit of blurring to protect a sensitive run)

Chum #3 of the day for me...

Blue may have been the ticket, but chum being the battlers that they are thinned out our fly boxes a bit quicker than planned after a few break offs and several backing runs and it was back to the drawing board. When I did finally find the fly again, a chartreuse and orange prawn fished with a slow retrieve it resulted in two loooong-distance releases within 10 casts before a third fish finally broke it off.

However stripped flies have their place and once the chum pack into an area to thick, accidentally snagging fish become a serious consideration and a dead drifted fly is a better choice. As the tide started to drop again, the chum packed in and both Jonathan and I went back to indicators and for him the stars aligned and his first fly caught chum became a reality!

Jonathan's first chum!

With another three weeks on the season in the salt water it is definitely looking like its gonna be a fun fishery this year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Great Eastside Escape

November is a great time to fish my home waters of the Puget Sound. Chum salmon come back in droves and sea-run cutthroat are right on their tails add the to that fact that fishing for resident salmon is just kicking into gear and there are a lot of great options. However November as marks the start of the nearly endless rainy season and with wet and wintry weather already setting in over the region an escape to the rainshadow region east of the Cascade Mountains is always nice. With that in mind my buddies Chris, Jonathan and I made the trek over to the dry side of the mountains to search of some ever elusive redband steelhead.

Coming over the Cascades there was a fresh coat of snow and a 26 degree temperature making it evident that winter is definitely on its way. However on the river there was much more a fall feel in the air, which was further accented by the golden tints on the hills and the salmon spawning in the riffles. With a great looking right were we started the day, it was hard not to at least break out the switch rod for a few minutes and swing some flies. However when Chris walked up to where I was fishing and in the matter of a few casts picked a small steelhead on an egg imitation behind some spawning kings, I figured that matching the "hatch" might be a better choice.
Chris starting the day out right!

After that first fish we started our float down the river and within short order were finding fish, just not the fish we were necessarily looking for.
Jonathan with a nice whitefish

For all of the smack that people talk about whitefish, I certainly can't understand what the complaints are about. They may not have quite the looks and fighting ability of trout, but they are native, aggressively eat flies and really don't fight that bad. Granted they aren't steelhead, but when you start getting to whitefish that are pushing 20" it makes for some fun fishing and breaks up a slow day of steelheading.

A little whitey for me

However we were here for steelhead and not far from where we started out drift we came upon a stretch of water that absolutely screamed steelhead. The deep slot between a couple of rapids also had a number of spawning kings holding in it and sure enough before long I hooked into a good steelhead amongst the salmon. It was a good sized fish and although I seemed like I had a good hook set on it after a five minute tussle the hook popped out and the fish victorious drifted back down into the depths.
Tight line just before a long distance release

With the score now a 1 to 1, we covered the water a bit more but it seemed like the thrashing had put the other fish down, so we continued downstream again. However we didn't get far before I hooked into another fish. At the first sight of a big white belly flashing I was thinking it was a big whitefish, but once the fish started peeling line off of the reel I had a feeling that I had been wrong about that assumption. This fish broke the water a few times, then it was straight into the backing before he decided to change gears and charge back upstream. However I had a good hook set on this one and after several more minutes of heated battle and several last minute runs, I finally was able to bring him into the shallows and land him.
Success!

The fish was a beautiful 6 or 7lb native buck that was still strong despite the approximately 500 mile journey he had made from the ocean. A true wonder of nature!

After watching the fish kick off and bolt back into the river, it was back to fishing. After just a few casts, what would you know another fish grabbed my fly. This fish was smaller and although it put up a great fight, it still didn't quite have the spunk that the previous fish had and we had a bit of an easier time landing it.
A beautiful wild redbanded buck.

After releasing this fish, the steelhead didn't seem to interested in biting, although the whitefish still managed the keep things interesting. Although it didn't seem like it either, with the short days before long the light started to fade away, however Jonathan was still due for a fish and it almost seemed like the steelhead knew it.
Jonathan hooked up, while Chris stands by with the net

Jonathan's fish put up a great battle, but was hooked well and before long he won out and slid the fish into the net. Once again it was another beautiful wild fish, this time a hen on her way upstream to her spawning grounds.
Jonathan with his fish just before release

Jonathan's fish meant the last action of the day, as the sun was setting and with winter right around the corner the temperature was dropping like a rock. However with four steelhead landed, one lost and countless whitefish it was an amazing day. For now it is back to the saltwater for me, although winter steelhead will be just around the corner now!

A Chinook wearing its "fur" coat in preparation for winter

A great end to great day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Till next season

The are a couple of things that I have learned while fly fishing, the first thing I have learned is that October in Washington is a very special time to be fishing. The biggest problem is settling on the options, salmon in the rivers, salmon in the saltwater, last blast of lake fishing, dries for trout in the rivers, sea-runs in the Sound... The list goes on and on, to complicate matters, just about everyone of these fisheries is at its prime during this "golden" month. So when that month starts winding down and the fall colors are in full swing, what do I do? I look to one of the least popular of these options, which takes me to my second revelation.

This would be that I am an absolute sucker for small streams. I probably spend more time fishing the vast expanses of the Puget Sound, but the little out of the way waters that nobody wants to trouble with always seem to draw me back and that I is where I wind up fishing when there are too many options available to wrap my head around. Generally speaking small streams aren't going to gain you much of any bragging rights when it comes to big fish, but I have never been one to get held up on big fish as it is. Plus the smallish trout that do typically inhabit these waters also tend to be some of the more gorgeous fish around anyways.
The creek

So with an unusually beautiful end of October afternoon and several free hours on my hands out of the blue, I made the spurt of the moment decision to head to my usual end of the stream season haunt. Timing is everything on little streams like this and with my outing occurring the day after a good rain and right at I high tide, there was at least a decent chance that some sea-run cutthroat would be following the salmon into the creek. So I got a hold of my buddy Colton and we met up at the creek to do some Alaska style egg/ bead fishing, just on a smaller scale. Due to the brush nature of the stream, my 6' 1wt was my weapon of choice, while Colton opted for a little heavier 2wt.

As always with this particular stream the effort to reward ratio was pretty evenly matched, with just enough fish around to keep us from thinking about complaining about the tight brush and tangled log jam messes to climb over and lose flies in. However with my first drift along a great looking undercut bank, the rewards spoke for themselves and in terms of beauty some of these fish are hard to beat.
A native juvenile steel-throat hybrid (naturally occurring steelhead x sea run cutthroat)

This first fish that I caught for the day really caught me off guard as it had cutthroat slashes and spotting, but many of its other traits suggested rainbow trout, especially the smoking gun orange tip on the dorsal fin. Apparently this creek's native steelhead run still hasn't quite gone the way of the Do-Do. I would have said that this was a fluke, but my next three fish were also hybrids providing me with a few explanations on some cutthroat that I had caught over that past few years at the nearest beach that just didn't look right. After that some of the stream's more pure strained cutthroat finally made there presence known and these fish apparently had a health obsession with salmon eggs.

As if I needed more proof that there were a few steelhead calling these waters home, on my last cast of the day I caught a fish that I never expected to encounter, a beautiful 10" rainbow, likely a steelhead smolt that will be heading out to sea before long.
My catch of the day a beautiful rainbow

However I didn't have long to marvel at this fish as Colton on his first cast into the hole hooked into a fish as well and that fish had a bit more size to. The 2wt rod was easily out matched by this fish which decided to run down stream nearly into the backing before turning around and heading back up the other way. Colton got lucky because there were plenty of snags for it to choose from to dislodge the hook, but instead it head more to the main channel and after a few minutes we finally led it into the net. All I have to say is that Colton picked a heck of a fish to end the day and stream season with!
Colton's sea-run
Another look at the 17" cutthroat fresh out of the saltwater

With the stream trout season closed again till next year, it is time to turn my focus back to the salt water and before long winter run steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Got worms?

Polychaete Worms from Chris Ringlee on Vimeo.

A video that my buddy Chris put together after a recent excursion out on the Puget Sound...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Issac's Ranch

I love fishing for native salmonids and living in Washington State I am lucky to have some many waters nearby were native fish still manage to maintain a hold. However the flat out truth of the matter is not everywhere you fish is going to have native trout and some of the most phenomenal fisheries hold nonnatives. On such place is a group of private lakes in Eastern Washington called Issac's Ranch the fish are stocked in these lakes, but might as well be wild as they are put in small and absolutely thrive in the fertile waters. In fact these lakes are so fertile that I swear the trout need to be there just in order to control the excess levels of scuds and other aquatic organisms in the lakes. Between bouts of steelheading, Blake and I led a group of anglers on an expedition to these lakes and we will just say it was amazing!!!

Got scuds??? Yes those are all scuds....


The upper lake

While weed growth presented a bit of an obstacle, the fish were feisty, well fed, yet eager to eat more. With the abundance of scuds that would coat anyone's legs that waded in to the lake, it wasn't surprising that the fish were pretty well keyed into the little critters. However buggers worked wonders throughout the day. I think these photos will say everything....

Me with an average to smallish sized rainbow to get things going

My big fish at 24"

A fat 23" bow the fell for my bugger

Blake with a rainstorm rainbow...

Ryan with the big fish of the day at 26"

Although as with any day of fishing there were the slow periods here or there during the day, for the most part the action was fast and our smallest fish landed was a respectable 17"er with the biggest landed being a fat 26"er. Not to mention the 30" torpedo of a fish that Keith hooked into and did battle with for several minutes before being broken off.

Yes I love native trout, but everyone now and again there is something about just going fishing and especially something to getting that big fish fix!

High Desert Steel

Over the last few decades the decline of anadromous fish throughout the Columbia River drainage has been a major cause for concern. Some stocks are doing better than others, but no doubt all have experienced declines. While the 1990's saw many of these stocks at their breaking point, today some have started to recover and in some instances even stabilize. Over the past weekend Blake and I made our way east of the Cascade Mountains to visit one such high desert fishery.

We made our way out of town on Thursday, but got a bit of a later start than we were hoping for, yet still managed to make it to the river with an hour to spare before dark. So naturally we strung up the rods and hit the water as soon as possible. We decided that with time running short on the day we would just swing flies, so I put on an October Caddis pattern and started fishing. After about 20 minutes of casting and swinging flies my peaceful evening was interrupted by a strong tug on the end of my line nearly ripping my rod out of my hand. I instinctively set on the resistance and was fast into a strong fish. The fish gave me a bit of a dogged fight, doing a bit of the thrashing on the surface, but mostly holding to deeper water and doing its best to test the drag on my reel. However this strategy didn't payoff for this fish and within a few minutes I was sliding her up into the shallows.
My first redband steelhead and my first landed steelhead on the swing

October Caddis.... Yummy...

For the rest of the night we didn't have as much as another bump, but with a steelhead under my belt already things were off to a good start and any pressure there was to catch a fish was long gone.

The next morning we were on the water just as the sun was breaking over the horizon and figured that with conditions right for swinging flies we would start with that. However after a couple of hours of swinging with only a few subtle taps, we decided to switch gears and go with some dead drifted nymphs. Blake went with his switch rod while I went with my 9'6" 6wt and a double stonefly set up.

It didn't take to long for Blake to break the morning skunk, with a little Chinook salmon the decided a small stone fly was looking mighty tasty.
Blake's little Chinook

My turn was next, but this time it was a steelhead on the end of my line. On thing with indicator nymph fishing is that you never quite know what you are going to hook into and I just remember that my first thought upon seeing this 10+lb bruiser jump was "oh great what am I going to do with this!" The fish was more than happy to give me a run for my money too, spending as much time tail walking as in the water and heading straight into my backing. However he also led me straight into Blake's line quicker than he could get it out of the water and using that as ammo broke both of us off. However it was a heck of a ride while it lasted....

After re-rigging I went back up to where I had hooked into the fish, a subtle little seam several feet off of a boulder and within a few casts I had another take and got a solid hook set and it was game on again! When this fish shot out of the water I could have sworn it was the first one's twin and once again I was in for a battle. 10 minutes later and several hundred feet down the bank I finally got the better of the brute, which ended up being a beautiful double redband 30" 10lb hatchery buck.
A good fish to start the day with!

After this fish, Blake decided to head upstream and within a few minutes it was his turn first with another smaller jack Chinook salmon, finally a steelhead found its way to his fly. With the advantage of the switch rod, his battle was much quicker and within a few minutes he brought a beautiful wild buck that was just a hair smaller than my hatchery fish to shore.
Blake's wild fish


We had a good long lull in the fishing after Blake got his fish, but with fish pushing up stream a productive lie isn't going to stay vacant for long, my seam proved its worth again when another steelhead decided my stonefly nymph passed inspection and came rocketing out of the water. This fish was a bit smaller than the first few and my six weight was a bit more evenly match so after a quick battle a bought a beautiful little wild steelhead into the shallows.
My first true wild native Columbia Basin redband steelhead
Shortly after this Blake had a good take and miss, which was followed by good fishless hour leading us to decide it was time for a lunch break and a look at some new water. After a great lunch at a local bakery, we decided that we should see what the water upstream had in store and headed up to a spot that had treated Blake well in the past.
The river

It didn't take long for us to find a fish at this spot and within about 20 minutes Blake, who was twitching a flesh fly across a run good a good grab and a couple minutes later brought a beautiful bull trout to shore. I don't know what it is about bull trout; their rarity, aggressive nature, unique appearance or all of the above, but they have to one of my favorite salmonids and it was an a treat to see Blake catch one of these beautiful char.

Blake's bull

With a bull trout in the neighborhood, we had high hopes for this stretch of river, but after covering nearly a mile of river without as much as a bump it was once again time to move on. With the knowledge that the lower part of the river had been producing in the morning, we head back downstream where we met up with a Mike, a customer from the fly shop that would be doing some lake fishing with us on Saturday. Mike was completely new to steelheading, so we started him out with swinging and showed him the ropes before breaking hitting the water. Blake and Mike took the run where I had gotten the fish on Thursday, while I went upstream where Blake got his wild buck in the morning. For the next 45 minutes things were crazy for me as this spot was apparently thick with fish but after five good hook ups I still hadn't landed a single on. I was also preoccupied with trying to get Blake and Mikes attention so we could try to get him into a fish since they were definitely in here but I also didn't want to give the spot up since there was some anglers upstream eyeballing it very closely. After the fifth failed hookup the finally noticed and Mike made his way to the spot. I started to work my way back to shore to me him, dragging my line behind me when fish number 6 decided to grab. This fish set the hook on itself and I traded Mike spots as I chased the fish downstream. A few minutes later I brought the gorgeous 30" wild hen into the shallows and tailed it.
My flawless bright wild hen steelie

As the day wound down, I got myself one more beautiful wild fish, but unfortunately Mike would have to wait to tangle with his first steelie....

Saturday was to be an epic day of lake fishing and a story for another day (post coming soon!), however Sunday we were back on the river once again.

This time we had a bit more company as three of our customers from the shop, Mike, Devin and Ryan joined us on the water for their first steelhead experiences. After a bit of a crash course on steelheading tactics, everyone hit the water and I got things going with another wild steelhead right of the bat on a small stonefly nymph. Ryan ended up having the hot stick for the day and hooked into 6, but as steelhead are all of them ended up getting the better of him... After that first fish I had three others within feet of shore when they popped off, before I finally had one that decided to stick with me. However this fish had a bit of a different fighting style than a typical steelhead and when I got it into the shallows it turned out that the reason was that it was a Chinook. I was easily as excited to catch the hen Chinook as I was a steelhead at that point and to make things better just as I slid it into the shallows I saw Mike land his first steelhead on the fly 100 yards downstream of me.
My Chinook salmon in her somber spawning tones
An underwater shot of the Chinook

With a long drive home and things slowing down not to long after my Chinook experience, we decided that it would best to get on the road after an amazing few days on the river.