My second leg of my work trip put me on the other side of the Peninsula and limited my fishing options by a fair bit. While the flows on the west-end streams had ranged from ideal to low, the stream in this part of the Peninsula were still swollen with snow and some major spring run-off. However the draw of the mountains was to great for me to ignore and even though I figured I would probably just be going on a hiking trip I made for one of my favorite streams. The flows on the stream were double what they should be this time of the year, even with run-off but sometimes nymphing the soft spots can produce a fish or two even in these conditions.
The snow swollen river
I rigged up my rod at the trailhead with a heavy soft hackled stonefly and a sink tip and started my search for fishable water. The river was definitely higher than I had ever seen it was carrying a heavy load of silt, however I found a couple nice pockets at the first spot that I came to. Dead drifting didn't seem to get a lot of results, however as soon as I tried swinging my fly I got some results. The fish hit hard and with the aid of the current put up a hard fight, although it seemed quite unwilling to jump. When I got it in I saw that I had a char and not trout on my fly, in fact likely the rarest of char in the lower 48 a stream resident Southern Dolly Varden.
No bull about it, a beautiful native Dolly Varden
From fisheries reports I know that this stream holds Dolly Varden and no bull trout due to a barrier fall, external differences do make it possible to discern the two similar species. The Dollies heads tend to be less predatory looking and their mouths are much smaller for instance.
I let my next cast drift downstream into another good pocket and surprisingly enough my my fly was nabbed by another dolly. With the gray hew to the silty water it these little char seem perfectly adapted to this stream, the way that native trout often seem to perfectly blend into their surroundings.
Another beautiful dolly
With my early success, I decided to hit the trail and head downstream in search of some more water. However after covering a solid mile and a half of river and fishing every slow spot I could find, there was no sign of fish anywhere. However the fish I got right off the bat were more than I expected in the first place and the fresh mountain air and a good hike were as good as fishing.
The woods of the Olympic Mountains
The forest in the part of the Peninsula are much less luxuriant than those of the coastal rainforests, however that they are still very beautiful. Add the the blooming rhododendron, salmonberries and trillium and views of the mountains and it is a great place for an evening hike.
While it was peaceful wandering to woods and searching the river for slow pockets, daylight only lasts so long and light fades fast in the forest so I found myself racing back to the trailhead before I would have. Catching a few rare native char and hiking a few miles in some of the finest forest after work is about as good of a way to spend an evening as I can imagine. Although I didn't manage to sneak out again during the week, the two char and the stunning views of the mountains on the drive out were enough to keep me happy till next time.
Sunset over the Olympic Mountains