One thing that can be said about living in Western Washington is that the weather can be a bit trying. We really don't get the extremes like other places, but the wet and dreary winter weather often refuses to give up its grip even when "summer" arrives. While it hasn't been all that rainy this summer, it has been cool and cloudy and there comes a point when some warmer weather starts to sound really good. With that being said a camp out on the drier side of the state was long over due for me.
The stream that I chose to camp on drains the Cascades a bit further east than most of the other nearby watersheds and as such tends to be a bit more productive than most of its neighboring streams. Another plus is that this drainage is also inhabited primarily with native species, including redbands, westslope cutthroat, bull trout, as well as anadromous species such as Chinook and coho salmon and diversity like that is always welcomed. It didn't take long for the creek to prove that it is more productive than most of the other nearby streams either, as just about every spot that looked fishy would hold several trout. As with my previous visits to this creek my catch was made up completely of the native redbands. Most of these fish weren't overly large but they had a real thing for dry flies and were scrappy fighters on a 1wt. With one of these fish in particular I thought I would lose hims as he charged straight at a boulder, however instead of trying to use it to shake loose he decided to just jump over it and surprisingly enough he did just that.
A spunky little redband
As evening came on I decided to try my luck a bit further downstream then where I have been before and finally found some of the cutthroat. It seemed that while the redbands preferred the faster water toward to upper parts of the runs, the cutthroat were hanging out in the slower water from mid-run down to the tailouts. Still the ratio of redbands to cutthroat remained about 15 to 1, but with how fast the action was I still started seeing a good few cutties.
A beautiful cutthroat
It aways does amaze me with the diversity of the westslope cutthroat in Washington. The fish in this drainage all were fairly silvery with spotting typical of what you would expect in Montana or Idaho, where as in the higher altitude streams they tend to be more brilliantly colored and more heavily spot. Likely this variation is a product of their environment and isolation, with this drainage being larger and more open to migration and most of the higher streams being small and fragmented.
As the light began to fade I headed back upstream fishing the best water on the way and picking up a few more trout with each stop. I also got a little surprise on my way up when a wild and native Chinook salmon parr grabbed my fly. It was good to see this chunky little guy as Chinook have suffered major declines throughout the Columbia Basin.
A healthy little salmon
A great way to end the day
It was a great day on the water, with a healthy dose of summer weather thrown in and plenty of fish to be had, however it is aways nice to get back to camp in the evening to just relax, reflect on the day and enjoy nature.