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.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Annual Trip to the Creek

With a day off and some favorable weather for a change, I decided to make my annual pilgrimage to my favorite Cascade Mountain Westslope Cutthroat stream with Colton. I knew that with the unseasonably wet cool weather Washington has been experiencing, the creek would be high, but then again it also usually fishes well that way. Arriving at the creek it was definitely higher than what wanted to see, but it was fairly wadeable and the clarity was awesome.

A beautiful day on the creek

With the extra water most of the pockets that I am used to fishing were frothy torrents and the fish were holding in completely different areas than I am used to. The fish in this creek have always been notorious for being keyed in on dries and with some large caddis and flying ants in the air, I decided to start out with the old stand by the Royal PMX. Dead drifting the dry through the first pool didn't produce anything, but as soon as I tried skating it, it was fish on. Most of the pockets would hold a Cutthroat or two and the dry seemed to be producing good results, but not quite as well as I am used too. Finally I came to a slower run, where the fish started to flat out refuse the dry, so I tried some small and more precise match the hatch patterns, but the fish didn't like those either. Finally I fell back to a dry-dropper combo of a Royal PMX (smaller size this time) and black Copper John. First cast, bam fish!

Copper John...Yummy!

I pulled a few more trout out of this spot before Colton came down and told me I better get up to the next pool because he could see some nice fish in it. Sure enough when I got up there I could see two or three trout hanging out in the tail out, but I was curious to see how many more were there...

The scene above the water

What was under the surface....

A couple of these fish proved to be willing, including one of the more beautiful Westslopes that I have ever laid eyes on.

What truly keeps me coming back!

Being around lunch time now, we decided to hike out and check out another stream a little further east that was rumored to hold a relatively pure population of Columbia Basin Redbands and Westslope Cutthroat in the upper reaches. The map that I had showed a road heading up the creek valley, but what it didn't show was the gate that barred access to that road. However, when you are served lemons you make lemonade, so we decided to put in a little bit of leg work and check out the lower creek.

The hike into the creek.

Upon arriving at the water it was clear that this stream was flowing much higher than would be ideal, but with a little searching we wound up on some good looking holding water. We quickly picked up a few small Redbands, before being surprised by a small Brook Trout.

My buddy Colton with a beautiful, but nonnative Brook Trout

As we made our way up the valley a ways, pine trees became more common and a thick hatch of mahogany mayflies crept in, keeping the fish's eyes on the surface. The creek kept a good ratio of about 3 Redbands to 1 Brook Trout. So it appeared that while the Brookies were established here, the Redbands were still the dominating force in the stream.

Up the valley

We fished the creek for quite a while, but as we got further up the valley the combination of the high flows, thick brush and rugged terrain made it impossible to continue upstream, so we were forced to head back down. We covered one more side channel that we had passed up on the way down and picked up a few more fish before completing the hike back out.

What I came for!

While conditions have been tough lately, things are setting up nicely for a great late season fishery this year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Paiute Cutthroat update - The Good and the Bad

Last month I posted about the plight of the Paiute Cutthroat, which is a rare trout only native to one small stream in the Sierras of California. The original post (here) was to rally support of the restoration of these fish to their entire native range and there is some good news on that front. A couple weeks ago the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that they have decided to go ahead with their plan to restore the Paiute to their native range. For the full announcement click here.

A California Paiute Cutthroat

The bad news is that the same environmentalist groups that stopped project in the 11th hour last time have filled a lawsuit in an attempt to complete stop the project. This is even in light of the Environmental Impact Statement put together by the USFWS showing that any impacts would be minimal and that the benefits to ecosystem from eliminating the nonnative trout would by far outweigh any potential impacts. With any luck the courts will see through the baseless lawsuit and let the facts speak for themselves.

For the news article on the lawsuit click the link below

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too much water...

The past two months in western Washington have seen some of the worst weather that I can remember for May and June, with only a handful of days without rain and not a single day with temperatures reaching 80 yet. This has led to very prolonged spring runoff and streams much higher than usual for this time of the year. A few days ago I made my way up to the Olympics and tried my luck on one of the smaller drainages in hopes that things would be a bit more manageable there.

Lots of water...

What I found was a stream that was fishable, but I don't know if I would call it manageable by any means. Clarity was as good as I could hope for, but the stream was about a foot and a half higher than I normally expect, meaning that wading was down right difficult and fording the stream which is required to be successful was near impossible. However, when fishing in an old growth forest in the midst of some of the most beautiful and rugged peaks in the lower 48 states any fish are just a bonus.

As is normal with early season Olympic Mountain trout, I started out with a deep tandem nymph rig, consisting of a golden stone imitation up top and a smaller yellow sally imitation below. I found a likely looking slower pocket behind a rock and tossed my rig in. I allowed everything to sink in and as soon as my flies started to swing at the end of the drift, one of the many small native Coastal Rainbows in the stream materialized from the frothy current and grabbed my fly. Although the fish weren't large, with most being 6" to 10" they were beautiful showing abnormally pale sides for Rainbows with an extremely prominent red band along the lateral line.

A small but flawless native Coastal Rainbow Trout

Each sizable pocket would invariably give up two or three fish, with most grabbing the nymphs on the swing or even on the retrieve at the end of the drift. After a while I decided to try some dries out, but the fish stubbornly refused to rise to anything and that type of fishing will have to wait for later in the season when the flows drop and summer finally settles in. I fished the stream until the shadows began to lengthen, signaling that it was time to get on the road again. Although it wasn't an ideal day on the water due to the stream conditions, anytime I can wet a line on the Peninsula is a good day!

Small stream fishing in an old growth forest, life doesn't get much better