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.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Support Needed for the Restoration of the Paiute Cutthroat

The Paiute Cutthroat are a subspecies of Cutthroat Trout only native to one small watershed in the Sierra Nevada of California, and they need your help. These fish were extirpated from their native stream - Silver King Creek, after non-native Rainbow and Brown Trout were stocked there. Paiute Cutthroat were only saved from extinction due to a chance stocking by a Shepard who carried a coffee can of these trout above Llewellyn Falls, isolating them from the invasive species below. Now the California Fish and Wildlife Department is seeking to restore them to their native waters below Llewellyn Falls in what could be the first project to fully restore a subspecies of Cutthroat to their entire native range.
The Paiute cutthroat, often called the rarest trout in North America: Photo Credits (USFS 2005)

The California Fish and Wildlife Department is asking for public support in favor of this project. As seen in the message from the department's threatened trout coordinator; David Lentz below:
I would like to request that Sac-Sierra TU write a letter of support for the Paiute cutthroat restoration project on Silver King Creek. This would entail endorsing the alternative number 2, eradicating non-native trout below Llewellyn Falls using rotenone, from the draft EIS/EIR that is in comment period now. Here are links to information about the restoration project. First, DFG's website which has the NEPA/CEQA documents(600+pgs, about 9MB). Comment letters can be snail mailed to DFG in Rancho Cordova or emailed, as well. Comment Deadline is May 4.-- www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/WildTrout/..._PaiuteCutRestor.asp Also, a link to Ted Williams, Conservation writer for Fly Rod and Reel Magazine that has a lot of background on the Paiute cutthroat project and other western native trout restoration issues: www.flyrodreel.com/node/11698 Letters from individuals (in addition to a chapter letter) that support restoring the Paiute cutthroat would be greatly appreciated--this may turn out to be "numbers game", supporters v. opponents, in certain of the approval arenas that the project must pass. There are several permitting steps that are vulnerable to opposition. Supporters should favor Alternative 2 in the EIS/EIR and support returning the Paiute to its native home. So, this would be asking a favor of you individually, as well to write. Letters to: Stafford Lehr, Calif. DFG, 1701 Nimbus Rd., Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 or email letters: SilverKingPublicComment@dfg.ca.gov let me know if you need more info. Have a great board meeting and keep up the good work!! thanks, Dave Lentz David Lentz Threatened Trout Coordinator California Department of Fish and Game Fisheries Branch 830 S Street Sacramento, CA 95811
I urge my readers to write in support of this project, so that in the future when people discuss the Paiute Cutthroat it will be about the success story of how this trout was completely restored to it's native range and not about how it was allowed to slip into extinction when there was every opportunity to save it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Last Chance - Winter Steelhead

This last week I decided to make one more go at catching a winter Steelhead on the fly. However, on Sunday heavy rains pummeled western Washington blowing virtually all of the rivers out of shape. With the high flows I had to delay my trip a bit, but by Tuesday the rivers started to fall back into shape, so I made my way out to the Olympic Peninsula again. I pulled into Forks, WA on Tuesday afternoon and headed up one of the Quileute system rivers to try my luck. 

I found myself some good looking water and rigged up with a nymph setup. I fished a few pockets before coming to a section of white water with slower seams on either side. After a couple of casts I got a good drift going and my indicator shot under the surface. Instinctively I raised the rod tip, even if I was only expecting to feel the typical tension from my fly being caught on a rock. That was not the case though, and instead I felt the throb of a powerful headshake of a Steelhead. This was repeated two more times and then there was nothing as my line went slack. This seems to be how my luck has been going this season, but any outing with a take from a Steelhead is success in my book.

The spot where the steelhead was holding; right below the white water
After hooking into the fish and covering the remaining water in the area, I headed downstream and tried out a stretch where a small tributary flowed in. There was some decent looking water here, but after a couple hours of fishing there was no sign of fish, so I headed back upstream to check out another section of the river. This spot had even better looking holding water, but yielded the same results as the last spot, with no sign of fish and I decided to call it a day as it was getting late at this point.

The upper section of the river

The next day I headed down to one of the rain forest rivers to catch the last day of the season. The weather was beautiful and scenery along the river was hard to beat, with moss laden old growth trees, the Olympic Mountains and even a few Roosevelt Elk.
Old growth forest

A herd of Roosevelt Elk not far from the river

A beautiful little spring feed tributary stream - a perfect nursery for juvenile Salmon and Steelhead

After my "success" the previous day, I decided to got with a nymph rig again - using an attractor nymph trailed by a glue egg. Once on the water I began covering all of the likely looking spots thoroughly, without coming up with so much as a take down. Even with the crystal clear water I didn't see any sign of fish.

The river

After covering a couple of miles of river without any sign of fish, I finally spotted a school of smaller fish holding near a log jam. I couldn't tell what they were so threw my fly in with them and before long hooked into one. Once I connected with the fish it dawned on me what it was and when I got the fish in I could see that I was right and it was just what I thought it was - a Mountain Whitefish. I decided to give this spot a few more casts and came up with another Whitefish before moving on.

One of the Mountain Whitefish

Shortly after getting into the Whitefish, I made my way back to my car to go check out a couple of other spots lower down on the river. However, I found the visibility on the lower river was nothing like up above and I was barely able to see my boots in knee deep water. To make matters worse, the wind was howling in from the Pacific and after a wayward cast hit me so hard that it snapped my 15lb tippet, at which point I decided that I couldn't take anymore.

The lower river

I may have been done fishing, but I wasn't quite ready to head home yet, so I headed down to the Olympic National Park coast strip for a quick hike down to the Pacific. It felt great to just get out and do a little hiking and after putting a couple of miles of leg work behind me I decided that it was finally time to wrap this trip up.

The forest in the Olympic National Park coast strip

The mighty Pacific

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opposite ends of the spectrum

On Monday the weather was beautiful and I had about an hour to spare before work, so I grabbed my 2wt and headed off to a local Cutthroat pond. Upon arriving, the first real hatch of the season (a few Caddis, Midges and lots of Callibaetis Mayflies) were coming off and the fish were on to them. The first cast came up empty, but the next two were quite rewarding and provided me with two Coastal Cutthroat on the opposite ends of the spectrum, one silver and one gold.

The first fish, a golden-bronze buck in full spawning regalia

One picture doesn't do this fish justice, so here is another shot.

The second fish, a chrome bright fish that had likely recently tasted saltwater.

I ended up landing three fish total and missing another four, so all in all it wasn't a bad trip for a quickie.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First outing with the new Scott S4

After getting off work at the Fly Shop on Sunday, Blake called me up and said that he needed me to come over to his place. I said no problem and headed over. When I got there he showed me a brand new Scott S4 9'6" 6 weight fly rod, a perfect rod for the Puget Sound. I asked him if he had gotten himself a new rod and he said "no it's yours," as thanks for the help getting the new fly shop up and running. I don't think words can even express how shocked and excited I was and all that I can say is THANKS Blake!!! 

I when I got home, I headed straight out to the front yard to test the rod out and was in awe at how light it was and the fact that I could cast my fly line to the backing! My original plans for Monday morning had been to tie flies, but with this new rod I knew that I had to get out fishing and test it out. I called up my friend Luke who runs Blackwater fish replicas, and we made plans to head out to a local estuary in the morning. When I got up on Monday, the weather was windy and didn't look too fly friendly, but that wasn't going to stop us, so Luke and I made our way out to the estuary. The tide was high, but the beach ended up being sheltered from the wind, so we got to fishing. On the first cast using a Chum fry pattern I missed a good hit and on the third cast I got another bite. This time I got a solid hook up and had a nice fish on. The fish made a number of runs, cart wheeling leaps, and underwater spins in standard Coho fashion, but it was no match for my new rod and after the short battle I brought it to the net.
Not bad for the first fish on the new rod!!

For the next half hour the action was extremely fast paced, with Luke and I each hooking up every few casts with some fat feisty Coho that were gorging on out-migrating Chum fry.

Another nice Coho

However, as is typical, the good fishing was not going to last as a stiff North wind finally caught up with us numbing our fingers and making casting dangerous. Dangerous as in I caught a nice cone head fly with the back of my head... I got another fish and missed a few more before the relentless wind finally drove us from the beach.

The new rod...

I ended up bringing six Coho to hand and lost several others with Luke getting similar results, and even with the wind the new rod casted like a dream, so it was a great day in my book!