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.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rain, rain go away!

Plain and simple the last few weeks in Western Washington have been down right nasty. Since the beginning of the new year the pineapple express has moved in and we have had far more rain than we know what to do with. In fact certain areas of the Olympic Peninsula received in excess of 15" of rain just between the 10th and 16th. As would be expected this has put a bit of a damper on fishing for Steelhead lately and has resulted in several canceled trips for me. However, my friend Jonathan and I had been planning a trip for the last month and a half and decided that despite the conditions we were going to go ahead with it. Unfortunately, we could not have had worst timing if the sole purpose of this trip was fishing, as the day before we left the Peninsula received a whopping 3.5" of rain and most of the rivers rose to flood stage. We decided to shift focus to scouting and also brought a bunch of fly tying gear so we could still get something out of the experience.

Flood stage on an Olympic Peninsula River

Over the course of the day we visited most of the area's major rivers and a fair few small drainages and found the same situation just about everywhere. Swollen muddy streams doing their best to escape the confines of their banks. However, by mid-day the rains had stopped and it looked like we might have at least one or two options the following day.

Blue skies over the angry Pacific and the Olympic coastline

With the streams still high in the morning, we met up with Jim Kerr who is one of the more knowledgeable guides on the peninsula. We spent the morning talking about fishing and some of the conservation  issues facing wild steelhead on Olympic Peninsula and ways that the issue might best be addressed. After the meeting, Jonathan and I decided that we might as well go take another look a some of the places we had scouted out on Friday. While it was very clear that the rivers would be out of the question, we were able to find a smaller stream to try out. The stream was still a bit high and off color, but it could be forded in a number of locations and had some great looking water.

Jonathan working over a fishy looking pool

Fishing was slow, but the stream was among the most beautiful that I have fished and in the last pool that the flows would allow us to reach I finally got a grab. I had just tossed my fly in a piece of frog water to set up for a cast into some better water when the fish struck. I set the hook and small Cutthroat came flying out of the water, an apparent sucker for egg imitations.

A small Coastal Cutthroat- at least enough to keep the skunk away!

After covering this section of the stream we decided to head on to see if another local piece of water had dropped into shape yet. The other stream was still high but fishable, but as we did not have a whole lot of daylight left we only got about a half hour in here before it was time to head back to town and start tying flies for the next day.

With a couple dozen more flies in my arsenal, we headed back out on the water for another try at some ever elusive Steelhead. Although it wasn't raining when we got to the stream, there was a 90% chance of rain on the day and we wanted to get to fishing before we had to worry about the stream blowing out. With the high flows we figured that we would head up a little higher to see if any fish had pushed up. After a good mile of walking it was time to hit the water and I started out with my same rig from the day before. Even though the rains had now started, the stream was still dropping and looked to be close to a foot lower than the day before. We covered a couple of decent looking runs, when we came one of the fishier pools that I have seen. The river had dredged out a nice deep slot as it rounded a bend before a rapid, and to make thing better a sizable tributary also dumped in right in the middle of the pool.

One of those spots that is too good not to hold a fish

This spot just screamed fish, and after dredging every part of the pool with my steelhead rig without a single hit, I wasn't satisfied with my results. I figured that even if there weren't any steelhead around then there at least should be a Cutthroat or two. This prompted me to change tactics and go digging through my boxes for a good Cutthroat pattern. I settled on a Rolled Muddler as the best chance I had. On my first cast into a frog water part of the pool I had a couple of taps but did hook up, so I just keep at it. I made about five casts, getting hits on each one before the fish finally committed to it and I was able to get a solid hook up. The fight was nothing to write home about with this fish and once I got it into the net it quickly became apparent why...

A beautiful but very skinny native Coastal Cutthroat

I think that the picture says it all on this one, as this Cutthroat was among the skinniest that I have ever seen and was clearly a post spawn fish. After getting a quick photo I watched fish cruise back into to the depths, switched back to my steelhead rig and we continued downstream.

A streamside old growth Sitka Spruce

The remainder of the stream was excessively beautiful, but with the exception of one more small Cutthroat, it didn't seem to want to give up any more fish. However, there are some places where just being there more important than actually catching anything and this was one of those spots. I could quite truthfully have cared less if I actually caught anything on this stream and consider it among the most beautiful places that I have ever stumbled across.

One of the most beautiful places that I have ever been

After reaching a point were stream got too deep and fast to continue downstream, Jonathan and I decided to head back to the car for a quick lunch and to figure out the rest of the day. For some reason I really had the urge to go check out one more stream and Jonathan was quick to agree with that plan, so we headed down the road for one more stop.

Some tea stained skinny water

The water on the next stream still had a lot of color, but since we were already there we figured that we might as well give it a shot. We covered a few good holes without so much as a tug and after an hour and with the weather deteriorating we decided to cut our losses and hit the road again. While we couldn't find any Steelhead the combo of Cutthroat and fishing some new water more than made up for it

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!! I got out on the Puget Sound yesterday for my first outing of 2010, to test out a new marabou prawn imitation that I came up with. It was an incoming tide, so I headed to a local estuary that has been fishing well lately. Upon arriving at the beach the wind was howling straight on shore, but that wasn't going to stop me so I went for it anyways. As it turned out, after about fifteen minutes on the water the wind started to die down so I was in business.

The beach

With the tide already well on its way in, the current was really moving so I started covering the water as I would swinging flies for steelhead, making a cast then continuing a couple of paces down the beach before casting again. I had covered about 100 yards doing this when I got to the edge of a tide rip and things started to happen. First I got a couple of missed strikes, then a couple of casts later I got a good solid hook up. The fish didn't do too much jumping, but instead thrashed on the surface a bit and pulled much harder than can be expected for its size. Classic sea-run Cutthroat... After a short battle, I brought the beautiful 15" Cutthroat to my net, took a couple of photos and then watched as my first fish of 2010 swam back into the depths.

A healthy ghostly chrome 15" Cutthroat

After the Cutthroat I got a couple more hits, but the rip started pushing out of range as the tide rose and made it so I couldn't get to the fish. With that I headed down to another productive stretch of the beach were I had another good hook up, but lost the fish and had a few more hits. With the light failing me at this point it was time to call it a day on my first outing of the new year.

Sunset on the Puget Sound