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.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Someone forgot about Mother's Day

Somebody forgot Mother's Day, but at least it wasn't me. The guilty party would happen to be the Mother's Day caddis hatch on the Yakima River, but you know what they say better late than never. Each year for the past eight years I have made the trip to the Yakima River in early May in hopes of catching the hatch just right. The past two years in a row I got the hatch timed right, but run-off kicked in just a bit too early and the river blew out. This year with a lower than usual snow pack in the Cascades, I got lucky and the river levels were low when I planned to hit the river. The lower river levels didn't mean that the caddis were going to show though.

I made my first trip to the river just before after Mother's Day, but a weather front had shut down the hatch and made fishing a battle with the elements. Bad weather and a lack of caddis coming off wasn't going to stop me though, so I set up a couple of nymphs and hit the water.

Wind, rain, thunder and lighting... Perfect time to fish!

I found a piece of water where a side channel met up with the main river forming a great seam and decided that it was as good of a place as any to find a trout. Half way down the seamline my indicator went down and I was tied into a monster. Now I have caught my share of nice trout on the Yakima, including a few over 20" they had nothing on this fish. Once it was hook this fish went straight into my backing with me chasing after it. I recovered my fly line once before it decided that it wasn't having anything do with that and took off again. It was on this run that I could feel my leader bouncing along the rocks and before long my 5x tippet and Lighting Bug dropper gave way, only to leave me scratching my head and wondering what just happened. I can only assume that this was either a monster trout or nice Steelhead, but I will never know. The encounter with this  monster of the deep was enough to keep me on the water for another couple hours, but all that I had to show for it was a couple more hook ups and a 15" trout lost at the net.

Fast forward a week and I was back on the river again for an overnight trip and this time the Caddis decided to show up too. In fact it was the thickest Caddis hatch that I have ever seen on the river with the air looking like a highway of bugs all flying upstream. Not only were the Caddis present, but the weather was beautiful with sunny skies and a gentle 80 degree breeze; the type of fishing I have been dreaming about all winter!

Beautiful weather on the river - note all of the specs in the picture are Caddisflies

Flipping rocks is great by spider's webs are better during the hatch... 16 Grannom Caddis

With the amazing weather I decided to wet wade and rigged up my 4wt with a size 16 Hot Butt Caddis and Lighting Bug dropper. I started by searching the seam that had held the monster last week and while I didn't find it I did find a one of its friends...

Not the monster, but a 19"er isn't bad either

As the hatch progressed and evening started coming on I moved to a stretch of river with a nice deep cut bank and some over hanging brush for cover. For this task I armed myself with my new 6' 1wt Scott Fibertouch rod and before long I was able to sneak up on a very active riser. With the low hanging vegetation along the banks the little 6' rod was the perfect tool and within a few casts I got a cast right into the fish's feeding lane and it rose to my dry. With a 1wt you definitely have to finesse things a little more once you get a fish on, but after a quick battle I was still able to bring the 17" trout to the net.

Caddis time...

A beautiful Yakima Redband

After releasing this fish I decided I had done well enough for one day and head back to camp to relax and reflect on a great day on the river.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Alaskan Adventure: Part 2 Game On

On Wednesday things didn't quite go as planned however ,on Thursday we were able to get on our connecting plane and even though it was delayed by an hour for "technical" issues we finally made it to our destination. We got off the plane at around 1:00pm, got reunited with our waders and flies, got our rental van that would double as our tent for our stay and headed down to the river eager to make up for lost time. On the way to the river we got an Alaskan welcome by a Brown Bear that was working his way across a meadow.

An Alaska greeting...

The river

After the bear sighting, we made our way to the river, rigged up our rods and started hiking in search of some good looking water. After putting a few miles behind us, we spotted a good looking run and made our way down to the river. Upon hitting the water, we immediately spotted a few steelhead holding, definitely a good sign!! Blake got things kicked off for us and within the first half hour landed a beautiful chrome steelhead on a nymph.

Blake with the first steelhead of the trip

After Blake his fish, we hit a bit of a slow spell. The fish were there, but they just weren't overly grabby. However, Chris changed that as he threw on a big Dolly Llama streamer and stated stripping it across the pool. It didn't take long for this to grab the attention of one of the fish, about three strips as a matter of fact, and Chris was tied into a big albeit a little dark steelhead. The fish gave him a run for his money, but Chris won out and brought the buck to hand.

Chris' colored up buck

Although Chris did manage to get a few more fish to chase his fly and Blake hooked up with one other fish, things really slowed down so we decided to head upstream to do a bit of exploring. However, the rest of the day remained much the same, with me hooking and losing one and Chris getting another dark fish. Even with the extended hours of daylighting of the far north, before long we were losing light and it was time to head back to "camp," for dinner and some sleep.

Back on the trail

A great end to a great day... 10:00pm in the Alaskan spring...

With the end of the day upon us, we re-rigged our rods organized our gear and set our alarm for 4 AM to ensure that we would get our pick of spots on the river. As it always does, 4 AM rolled around very quickly and after gearing up we were on the trail again. While I hadn't landed a fish on Thursday, I was hoping that Friday would treat me a better especially being that we were the first ones on the river and there had been a good early morning tide promising fresh fish would be pushing in. After staking out our spot on the river, it didn't take long before Chris hooked into a fish. This fish was an absolute chrome rocket and didn't want anything with being hooked and tossed the hook after a short battle. As Chris recovered from his tussle, I moved into position and after a handful of casts my indicator shot under and I had a fish on! This fish was also a chromer and acted the part displaying all of the aerial acrobatics that these fish are famous for. I luckily got a good hookset and before long my switch rod over powered the fish and I brought my first Alaskan steelhead to hand.

My first  Alaskan chromer!

This same process played out again shortly after releasing this fish, with Chris tying into and losing another fish and me being fortunate enough to hook into another fish and have it stay buttoned long enough to being it in. Things didn't stop here either, as the wave of fresh fish continued to push in we continued to hook up and by 7:00 AM we had already hooked seven fish between us and I had personally brought three in and another right at shore. As the tidal push thinned out, we spread out with Chris moving upstream and getting chromer and another dark buck on the Dolly Llama and earning the nickname the "red dragon" slayer. Blake and I took turns fishing the honey hole for a while and he pulled a nice chrome fish out right before we regrouped for lunch.

Blake's chromer

Lunch was more of an excuse to rest the hole than anything else and of course it paid off with one of us hooking up within a few casts of getting back on the water, but losing the fish. There was a definite mid-day lull in the action and as such Blake and Chris decided to head downstream to try the pool below us. This move was apparently well timed as within a half hour the next albeit small tidal push of fish worked its way in. The numbers may have been smaller for this push, but the size of the fish was not and Chris managed to pull a beautiful 12 lb hen still carrying sea lice out of the hole.

Chris with a slab of a chromer

While I was pretty sure that either Chris or Blake had just gotten a fish, as I could hear all of the commotion, I didn't have enough time to figure out, as I also found myself tied into a fish. Right away I knew that this fish was bigger than others that I had gotten, and it quickly tore through most of my fly line and finally came shooting out of the water. Have just released his fish a couple of minutes prior, Chris came running upstream to help me land mine. When we got it in he had to do a bit of a double take because this fish was very nearly the twin of the fish he had just gotten. We snapped a few pictures of this beauty, then sent her back into the current and to continue her journey to start the next generation.
My big fish - note the sea lice by the anal fin

Although we did hook into a few more fish after this one, this would be the last one landed before we had to hit the trail at 3 PM to make our way back to the airport for our flight home. However, with over 20 fish hooked throughout the day and somewhere around 10 to hand I would have a very hard time complaining!

Alaska did not disappoint!

Our ride home... The salmon thirty salmon!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Alaskan Adventure: Part 1 Juneau

This trip came into being about a month ago, when I got a call out of the blue from my buddy Chris asking if I would be interested in going up to Alaska for a three day steelhead excursion. The answer to that question was a no-brainer and as we got closer to the date Blake also decided to join us for our steelheading adventure. Once it was decided that we were going, we started gathering supplies and for the last month I have spent far more time than I like to admit at my fly vise. However, time always has a way of creeping up on you and before we knew it the trip was right in front of us.

The original plan was to fly out of SeaTac Airport on Wednesday, make a quick stop in Juneau, then continue on to our final destination giving us about two full days of steelheading. The only problem though was that we were flying stand-by and our original flight filled up so we were forced to take a later flight into Juneau and missed our connecting flight to the steelhead stream. This meant that we were stranded in Juneau for a day, which wouldn't be that bad of a thing as there are steelhead there too, except that all of our checked baggage including our waders and most of our flies continued onto to our final destination without us.
Juneau, Alaska

With no waders and only a handful of flies, we decided to head to the local fly shop (Juneau Fly Fishing Goods), to weigh out our options and see if there might be local fishing to be had. They suggested the mouth of a local stream which gets a decent early push of sea-run Dolly Varden feeding on salmon fry that we might have a chance to hook from shore without waders. So we grabbed a few local flies from the shop and headed out to the creek mouth. Here we had a bit of a lucky break. As a last minute impulse move I had tossed about a dozen sea-run cutthroat flies into my carry-on bag including a number of fry imitations. The most important of which was the Chum Baby.

Low tide at the creek mouth

When we arrived at the mouth of the creek, the tide was falling, but the only activity from feeding fish that we saw in the bay was a good distance off shore. To complicate matters the rocks on the beach were super slick and ones near the water tended to be a barnacle covered making casting a chore, due to the line getting stuck. However, the bay wasn't the only place to fish here as there was also a saltmarsh lake that floods with sea water at high tide and we could see schools of Dolly Varden going nuts feeding on salmon fry. The only problem was once again that they were off shore and we had no waders. However, that problem was quickly solved when Blake spotted a canoe at a cabin and we got permission to use it.

Getting ready to launch at the saltmarsh lake

With the combination of the canoe and chum fry patterns it was game time, and once on the water it didn't take long to get into our first Dolly.
A sea-run Dolly Varden

There were plenty of Dollies in the lake, the only problem was that they were very aggressive and we were having a hard time getting solid hooksets. We did manage to catch a few smallish fish, although I did have one on for a while that was likely 20" and even gave my 8wt a run for its money. We fished until the rain started getting a little to steady, then decided to change gears and go do a bit of sight seeing.
The Mendenhall Glacier

After fishing, we headed up to the Mendenhall Glacier to check out the impressive river of ice, then it was dinner, sleep and in the morning our plane was waiting for us! To be continued...

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The Paiute Cutthroat Trout is one of the rarest and most beautiful trout in the world and needs your support! Paiutes are unique in that they are the only North American trout completely lacking body spots. These fish extirpated from all of their native stream habitat, which includes roughly 10 miles of Silver King Creek in California below Llewellyn Falls. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game are proposing to reintroduce them. Last year I had the privilege to fish for these Cutthroat (outside of their native range) and they are truly amazing fish.

A Paiute Cutthroat

For more information on these fish click the following link: Paiute Cutthroat

There is an open public comment period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed restoration of the Paiute cutthroat into Silver King Creek below Llewellyn Falls until May 10th 2010. I strongly encourage all of my readers to write in support of the plan to reintroduce these fish, as this will be the LAST chance to get your voice heard before the final decision comes down! If you consider yourself a conservation minded angler please take the time to write!
Please write your letters in favor of option # 2 which entails eradicating the non-native trout below Llewellyn Falls using rotenone.
For more information and to see the EIS
You can address your comments to:
Robert D. Williams, State Supervisor,
by US mail @
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office
1340 Financial Boulevard
Suite 234
Reno, NV 89502
Or call: (775) 861-6300
Or fax: (775) 861-6301