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, May 27, 2009

High tide to High tide

This last week the Puget Sound had a series of extreme low tides. These tides, coupled with a string of nice weather that we have been experiencing made for some interesting fishing conditions. On Wednesday I was able to get out on the water to try both sides of the tide. In the morning I headed up to one of my favorite Cutthroat beaches with my friend Luke to try our luck on the outgoing tide. 

The tide was going from a 12 foot high to a minus 3.5 foot low tide, so we knew that the water was really going to be moving. We got on the water by 7:30 AM as the tide was just starting to ebb so there still wasn't much back cast room. However, there were already some Cutthroat working a school of baitfish off of a point, so Luke and I both put on baitfish imitations and got to work. The action was fast, but unfortunately it was mostly smolts that wanted to bite so we kept working our way down the beach in search of larger fish. Luke and I both managed to get a few nice takes, but didn't get any solid hookups so we decided to head back to the point and try another pass through. 

When we arrived back at the point, I changed to an experimental pattern and all of a sudden started getting hits almost every cast but no clean hook sets. Finally I got a nice tug, which was followed with the feeling of a head shank and I knew that I had a solid hook set. The Cutthroat fought hard, but within a minute or so I had a nice 15" Cutthroat in the net. The fish was chrome bright with a hint of yellow on its flanks. However, this fish this fish had its mind made up that it didn't want its photo taken and made a successful bid for freedom.

Next Luke and I decided that would try another stretch of this beach that is generally fairly productive for Cutthroat and Coho. This was the typical Puget Sound cast & take two steps type of beach, where fish may be spread out anywhere along the shoreline and you have to cover the water if you want to catch anything. We had covered a little over half of this stretch of beach with me only picking up a couple more smolts when Luke finally got a decent resident Coho at about 14". Right at the end of the stretch that we were covering, the beach goes out to a point and that was where I finally hooked up again. This fish had followed the fly almost all of the way up to the rod tip and as such it didn't have much line to play with so, after a very quick battle I brought it to the net.

My second decent Cutthroat of the day

It was close to 11:00 AM at this point and as I had to be to work at the fly shop at noon and the tide was getting a bit low it was time to call it quits.

I hadn't been planning on fishing the evening incoming tide, but I got a text from Zach saying that he needed to get out and fish and seeing as I had all of my gear on me, I decided - why not? I told him to meet me when I got off work and we went out to one of the many Gig Harbor area beaches. However, when we got to the beach we found the water completely covered with seaweed. I wasn't overly surprised as with the extremely low tides and nice weather seaweed gets exposed at low tide, dried out by the sun, then floats off on the incoming tide. Nevertheless, it made for much less than idea conditions. The fishing was nearly as productive as on the morning tide either and after an hour the only fish that I had caught as a small Cutthroat smolt. However, when the tide was nearly up we spotted some decent sized fish and worked them for a while, with me only getting one hard take before we were forced to move on to a beach that could be fished at high tide.

Zach working a cove where we could see a lot of baitfish activity

Fishing at this next beach wasn't much of an improvement, with the exception that there was no seaweed to be seen anywhere. We did spot one very large Cutthroat, lots of bait and Zach had a good take so this spot does show promise. Beyond that it was a great way to a end the day with the sun setting and the tide at the same height that I had found it in the morning. For my next outing I am off to Oregon to try my luck for some Redbands.

A great end to a great day

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Terrible Trifecta

Yesterday we finally had some good weather, which change my plans from staying home to tie flies, to heading out to a local beach to try my luck instead. When I arrived at the beach the tide was low and just starting to move in, but there was no sign of fish. I began at a point that typically holds a fair number of Cutthroat, but all I found was seaweed on every cast. From here I headed down to a little Eel Grass cove where I finally spotted some fish down the beach. When I got the area where I saw the fish all that I found were a few schools of Chum fry and covered a few hundred yards of beach with only one bump before moving on to another point.

Low tide at the Eel Grass cove

Upon arriving at the point a school of 4" long Sand Lance shot past me and a 3-4lb fish broke the water scattering another big bait ball. This definitely looked like the right spot. I started out using a baitfish imitation and was getting a lot of shot strikes but no solid hook ups, so I switched to a Sea-run Bugger. On the first cast with this fly it got hammered and a minute or so later I brought a healthy 18" Coho to hand. After this I got one more really good tug before I started to only get a few short strikes here or there again prompting me switch to a Marabou Clouser Minnow. Sure enough this change up got the attention of the fish and on the first cast I caught another slightly smaller Coho (see below).

Species #1: Coho salmon

The cast after getting the Coho, my fly got crushed again but this time the fish shook itself loose. After a few fishless minutes I hooked up with another fish, which ended up being a small Coastal Cutthroat. At about this point I was surprised to see Clint and Jake show up in Clint's boat and when they pulled up it was like somebody flipped a light switch and the Coho and Cutthroat vanished.

Species #2: Coastal Cutthroat Trout

However, with the Cutthroat and Coho gone some roving Chinook decided to move in and not long before deciding to call it quits I managed to complete a task that I have only done a handful of times and got the Puget Sound Trifecta: a Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Coho Salmon, and Chinook Salmon. Clint and Jake were kind enough to give me a lift back to my car, but it seems that a good day can turn bad in a heart beat.

Species #3: Chinook Salmon

When I got back to my car I was in for a rude awakening as the first thing that caught my eye was a shattered front driver's side window. It was clear that somebody had riffled through my car even though I had nothing of value in sight. Unfortunately they also went through my trunk where they made off like bandits, stealing some spare waders, a gear bag, the tube for my new Scott rod a fly box full my lake patterns, which had over 200 flies in it. I had spent countless hours at the vise tying these flies and this was a sickening loss. To add insult to injury whoever broke into my car also siphoned over half of my gas while they were at it. The fishing may have been good on this outing, but it is one time that I really wish I would have just stayed home to tie flies instead.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Crazy Washington weather

Over the past few days, I managed to get out fishing on the Puget Sound several times, albeit with some mixed results. On the first outing, a friend of mine Zach joined me on what turned out to be more of an exploration/ scouting trip than anything. We started out at a local beach that we hadn't tried before, with a fast incoming tide and current that was moving faster than some rivers that I have been on. As such our approach was to cast out at a 45 degree angle and allow the fly to swing across to the current stripping it a few times here or there for some added action. There was plenty of bait around, but after a half an hour there was no sign of fish so we decided to move on. 

Next we headed to a couple of spots just to take a look and check out beach access before finally picking another new spot to toss some flies at. This beach was defined by a lot of cobble inter-spaced with some large boulders - perfect habitat for sea-run Cutthroat. Within the first twenty minutes we saw a decent about 16" fish jump and after Zach placed a cast in the vicinity I got a good tug, but no hookup. I saw one more fish jump, but after that there was no sign of fish for the next hour so we moved on once again. We ended the night at one of my favorite beaches, but appeared to have arrived a little to late in the tide as we only spotted a couple of jumpers and I only a had one tug. 

Zach casting as the sun falls below the horizon

On Sunday night I didn't have much time but conditions looked good so I headed down to a local estuary. Unfortunately, when I got there I noticed that I had somehow managed to walk out of the house without my rod. I was glad that I had picked this beach as it took me less then 10 minutes to correct this situation and finally get on the water. Once on the water it was hard not to take note of the amount of Chum fry in the shallows and before long I spotted some jumpers down the beach. This prompted me to move down the beach and into range to cast to them. However, by the time I got to where they were, they had already moved so I started covering the water with an olive Sea Run Bugger, which does a good job of imitating juvenile staghorn sculpin; a Cutthroat favorite. 

After a while some fish finally showed themselves slashing at a school of Chum fry, so I put on a Chum Baby and made a few casts to them. The only problem was that there was so many Chum fry around that the fish seemed to be almost overwhelmed and my little initiation's odds of being seen among the countless naturals seemed to be far to low for my liking. In hopes that something different would catch the attention of the fish I switched marabou Clouser Minnow. This was the ticket and before long I hooked into a nice Coho, which I brought in after a quick battle.

A underwater shot of the wild Coho's face

Shortly after landing the Coho, a seal decided to move in a harass the Coho, effectively shutting things off. The evening ended with a great sunset and thousands of Chum fry rising on the surface in what looked like a rainstorms' worth of dimples.

On Monday a rainstorm engulfed western Washington, but I had an itch to get out again so I called Clint up, grabbed some rain gear and headed out to the beach. There was a lot of bait around where the trail hit the beach, but nothing really feeding on it so Clint and I headed down the beach to a point that has been fishing well lately. On the first cast, I hooked into a decent Cutthroat and landed it a few minutes later.

A rainy day baitfish eating Cutthroat

As I was releasing the Cutthroat Clint spotted a good sized jumper and on the next cast hooked up with nice Coho.

Clint hooked up during the middle of a downpour

Clint's rainstorm Coho

These two fish would end up being the only two for us the rest of the day, as after another hour of fishing in the pouring rain we decided that we had taken enough punishment and called it a day.