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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A little salty

Between my bouts on the mountain streams around Washington, I have also been getting out on the Puget Sound a fair bit trying to chase down some coho salmon. This past week the coho finally started to really push into the Sound and with the early morning marine layer a good number of salmon have been up around the surface slashing on bait. However seeing fish and catch fish are two very different things. Coho are notorious for making anglers wish that they could coax a few more feet out of their casting, no matter how far the angler is cast. I was throwing a good 75 to 85 feet of line, but in their typical fashion most of the coho were feeding 100 to 120 feet off shore. As such after a couple early mornings on the water, three hook ups and zero coho landed was all that I had to show for my time.

So what do I do when the coho bite is off, especially once that marine layer burns off? Hunt down some sea-run cutthroat of course!

Sea-runs are kind of the odd ball of the anadromous world. First they are homebodies, instead of travelling thousands of miles out to sea like steelhead or salmon , they are quite content to remain within 5 or 6 miles of their home stream. Cutthroat in the salt water tend to seek out places that remind them of a river, highly diverse structure and a walking pace current and you are typically looking at good cutthroat habitat. They are also rather near shore oriented, generally cruising in two foot to twelve foot deep water. All of these factors make them a perfect target for fly anglers.

Fishing some ideal cutthroat habitat

So the other morning with a all too rare blue bird morning in on the sound and with the salmon off the bite, me and a couple of friends decided to go try and hunt some of these elusive cutthroat down. Cutthroat fishing on the Sound is always a bit of a cat and mouse game and as things go, there wasn't any sign of a cutthroat at the first spot that we tried. However we continued to search and at the next spot that we went to, we finally found them. I was fishing an attractor pattern called that sea-run bugger, that really doesn't look like anything that a right minded cutthroat would want to eat, but yet just about every cutthroat seems hell bent on trying to destroy. Within a handful of casts a beefy 17" cutthroat came across it and tried to do just that. As soon as I set the hook on this fish he was out of the water and in short unison repeated the process three more times. I thought that I finally had him on the ropes after the last jump, but right as I went to bring him to the net the hook popped out, saving me the trouble of taking it out myself.

On my very next cast I only had a chance to make a couple of strips before another cutthroat pummeled my fly. I apparently had a better hookset on this one and after quick but spirited fight I brought the beautiful 15" cutthroat to hand.
Beautiful native sea-run cutthroat in prime condition

Just another look at the fish...

While I we didn't find fish on every cast after that, fishing did stay good for the next hour or so with each of us picking up a could of smaller cutthroat in 10 to 13" range. Then as is typical got the optimum tide window closed and the fish vanished signaling that it was time to call it a day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back to the Creek Again

I don't know exactly what it is about small streams and the trout that inhabit them, but once you catch the bug it is hard not to keep coming back for more. Sure there is always a bigger more famous river or stream down th road and sure the trout are likely to be larger as well, but when I have a day free I find myself heading for the smaller waters. Part of the appeal of these waters is simply the fact that they aren't famous, meaning that once on the water you are unlikely to see another angler. Then there is also the fact that many of these waters flow through some of the most stunning country around. The trout, while generally small, tend to be willing, wild, often times even native and almost always about as beautiful as their surroundings. Simply put things on these smaller waters tend to be just as they are supposed to be and it is this that keeps me coming back.

All of the reasons listed above are what led me back to my favorite little mountain creek a few days ago. This time my buddy Gus joined me and with a little more summer-like weather flows had dropped considerably, putting the creek in prime condition.

Gotta love the smaller things in life...

In fact within about fifty feet of where we started I had landed six fish and risen several others, within a hundred feet I had just flat out lost track already, making for a good start to what would be a very good day.

Native and willing... What more can you ask for?

Just about all of the likely looking pools and pockets produced a few fish, all native westslope cutthroat. In the standard cutthroat fashion, the fish in the creek had eyes for the sky and a sweet tooth for bigger attractor dries and flying ant patterns.

Gus admiring a beautiful little cutthroat

As is typical with these types of streams, as we worked high up into the drainage and further from the "easy" to get to spots, the size of the fish began to increase on average. In the very last section of the creek that we hit, I got my fish of the day a beautiful 12" cutthroat, which put my 2wt to work before finally coming to the net.

A great fish to end the day with

With that fish and our flies tattered from the relentless attacks of the rising cutthroat there was really no reason to continue fishing so we made our way back down stream, refreshed and ready for the next outing.