With a day off and some favorable weather for a change, I decided to make my annual pilgrimage to my favorite Cascade Mountain westslope cutthroat stream with a friend of mine Colton. I knew that with the unseasonably wet cool weather that Washington has been experiencing, the creek would be high, but then again it also usually fishes well that way anyways. Arriving at the creek it was definitely higher than what wanted to see, but it was fairly wadeable and the clarity was awesome.
With the extra water most of the pockets that I am used to fishing were frothy torrents and the fish were holding in completely different areas than what I am typically used to. The fish in this creek have always been notorious for being keyed in on dries and with some large caddis and fly ants in the air, I decided to start out with the old stand by the royal pmx. Dead drifting the dry through the first pool didn't produce anything, but as soon as I tried skating it, it was fish on. Most of the pockets would hold a cutthroat or two and the dry seemed to be producing good results, but not quite as well as I am used too. Finally I came to a slower run, where the fish started to flat out refuse the dry, so I tried some small and more precise patterns, but the fish didn't like those either. Finally I fell back to my old standby of a royal pmx (smaller size this time) and black copper john dropper. First cast, bam fish!
I pulled a few more trout out of this spot before Colton came down and told me I better get up to the next pool because he could see some nice fish in it. Sure enough when I got up there I could see two or three trout hanging out in the tailout, but I was curious to see how many more were there...
The scene above the water
What was under the surface....
A couple of these fish proved to be willing including one of the more beautiful westslopes that I have ever laid eyes on.
What truly keeps me coming back!
Being around lunch time now we decided to hike back out and check out another stream a little further east that was rumored to hold some relatively pure redbands and more cutthroat in the upper reaches. The map that I had showed a road heading up the creek valley, but what it didn't show was the gate that barred access to that road. However when you are served lemons you make lemonade, so we decided to put in a little bit of leg work and check out the lower creek.
The hike into the creek.
Upon arriving at the water it was clear hat this stream was flowing much faster than would be ideal, but with a little searching we quickly wound up on some good looking holding water. We quickly picked up a few small redbands, before being surprised by a small brook trout.
As we got up the valley a little ways, pine trees became a bit more common and a thick hatch of mahogany mayflies keeped in, keeping the fish's eyes on the surface. The creek kept a good ratio of about 3 redbands to 1 brook trout. So it appeared that while the brookies were established here, the redbands were still the dominating force in the stream.
Up the valley
We fished the creek for quite a while, but as we got further up the valley the combination of the high flows and rugged terrain made it impossible to continue upstream so we were forced to head back down. We covered one more side channel that we had passed up on the way down and picked up a few more fish before completing the hike back about.
What I came for!
While conditions have been tough lately, things are setting up nicely for a great late season fishery this year.