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, August 31, 2010

In the shadow of glaciers

This past week I had sometime off and took a little bit of a mini-vacation so my cousin Derek to the Rockies. Officially this trip was more of a vacation/ camping trip than fishing trip, but really what fly fisherman can stand traveling to Montana and not wetting a line. On the third day of the trip we decided to make a little jaunt into Glacier National Park to do a bit of sight seeing, hiking and of course fishing. What we didn't plan on was that this would also be a day with free admission to the park, resulting in the masses descending upon this alpine wonderland. With plenty of company in tow, we made the winding drive up the Going to the Sun Road first and did the hike into Hidden Lake at the top of Logan Pass. Like usual there was plenty of company on the trail, but not all of them were people...

Some high country locals enjoying the meadows

As with the previous time I made the trip to Glacier, I didn't bring fly with me on the hike to Hidden Lake and ended up kicking myself all of the way back down the trail.

Hidden Lake... Maybe I will fish it next time.

On the way back out of the park we found a nice stretch of a stream that holds native Westslope Cutthroat and figured that it was as good of a place as any to do a bit of fishing. We rigged up with some bushy attractor dry flies and once on the water we were almost instantly into fish. Most of these fish were on the smallish size, but all of them were beautiful and lots of fun on the little 1wt that I have become accustomed to fishing in such places.

A small but native Westslope Cutthroat

Of course this was one of those places were the fishing was less about catching fish and more just about being on the water in one of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet. Needless to say the it was hard to keep my eyes on my dry fly at all times as this was one of those places where you can't forget to look up from the water once and a while and just marvel at your surroundings. This meant more than a few missed fish...

Breath taking comes to mind...

Still there were plenty of fish around including a few nice, albeit photo-shy ones...

A beautiful but not so photogenic Cutthroat...

After a few hours on the water and with the light fading it was time to cruise on out of the park and continue traveling across "big sky" country.

One last look at the rugged Northern Rockies of Montana

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The drier side of things

One thing that can be said about living in Western Washington is that the weather can be a bit trying. We really don't get the extremes like other places, but the wet and dreary winter weather often refuses to give up its grip even when "summer" arrives. While it hasn't been all that rainy this summer, it has been cool and cloudy and there comes a point when some warmer weather starts to sound really good. With that being said, a campout on the drier side of the state was long over due for me.

The stream

The stream that I chose to camp on drains the Cascades a bit further east than most of the other nearby watersheds and as such tends to be a bit more productive. Another plus is that this drainage is that it is inhabited primarily with native species, including Redbands, Westslope Cutthroat, Bull Trout, as well as anadromous species such as Chinook and Coho Salmon and diversity like that is always welcomed. It didn't take long for the creek to prove that it is more productive than most of the other nearby streams either, as just about every spot that looked fishy would hold several trout. As with my previous visits to this creek my catch was made up completely of the native Redbands. Most of these fish weren't overly large, but they had a real thing for dry flies and were scrappy fighters on a 1wt. With one of these fish in particular I thought I would lose it as it charged straight at a boulder, however instead of trying to use it to shake loose it decided to just jump right over it.

A spunky little Redband

As evening came on I decided to try my luck a bit further downstream then where I have been before and finally found some of the Cutthroat. It seemed that while the Redbands preferred the faster water toward to upper parts of the runs, the Cutthroat were hanging out in the slower water from mid-run down to the tail outs. Still the ratio of Redbands to Cutthroat remained about 15 to 1, but with how fast the action was I still started seeing a good few Westslopes.

A beautiful Westslope Cutthroat

The diversity of the Westslope Cutthroat in Washington always does amaze me. The fish in this drainage were all fairly silvery with spotting typical of what you would expect in Montana or Idaho, where as in the higher altitude streams they tend to be more brilliantly colored and more heavily spot. Likely this variation is a product of their environment, life histories and isolation, with this drainage being larger and more open to migration and most of the higher streams being small and fragmented.
As the light began to fade, I headed back upstream fishing the best water on the way and picking up a few more trout with each stop. I also got a little surprise on my way up when a wild and native Chinook Salmon parr grabbed my fly. It was good to see this chunky little guy, as Chinook have suffered major declines throughout the Columbia Basin.

A healthy little Chinook Salmon

A great way to end the day

It was a great day on the water, with a healthy dose of summer weather thrown in and plenty of fish to be had. However, it is always nice to get back to camp in the evening to just relax, reflect on the day and enjoy nature.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Winging it

I am always on the lookout for that perfect mountain stream. No matter how nice of a stream I find in know that there has to be another one out there waiting for me. A few days ago I made the run up to the Cascades with the full intention of checking out a stream that had been on my ever growing "to fish" list. However, as has been known to happen with me I over shot my destination by a few miles and ended up somewhere entirely different. My first thought was to just turn around go with the original plan, but it just happened that my first opportunity to turn around was at a creek crossing. Of course I had to take a look at this random creek before turning around and I really liked what I saw! With that I had a new plan and grabbed my 1wt and headed down to the water.

The creek

It seems that about 50-75% of the creeks in the Washington Cascades that look good and have such easy access end up being hardly worth the effort. This was not one of those. On my first cast the shadow of a trout rose from the depths of the small pool and slammed my dry. Being my first cast and with me doubting the fishiness of the creek, this rise caught me totally off guard and I missed the fish. However, on the next cast I was a bit more prepared and ended up bringing a beautiful little Rainbow to hand. This pool produced five or six more smallish trout, before I decided that it was time to go investigate some of the upstream pools.

That ended up being a much more difficult prospect than I originally thought, as the creek got hemmed in by a canyon pretty quickly. However, with a bit of cliff climbing I found a beautiful deep pool that screamed trout. My first few casts came up blank, before I noticed a nice sized trout working a foam line along the cliff a few feet in front of me. It took a couple of casts, but I finally caught its attention and the trout came up and gulped my dry. This trout had a lot of spirit and put up a good battle on the 1wt before finally coming to hand.

A beautifully colored Rainbow Trout

The coloration of this fish immediately struck me as compared to native Coastal Rainbow Trout that I am used to, this fish was much more vibrantly colored and looked much more like McCloud River Redband, making me wonder about the stocking history of the watershed. Additionally, ever now and again I would encounter a very clear Cuttbow hybrid. After the Redband like fish, I managed to get one more similarly size fish out of the same spot, this time on my dropper, but that was all that this hole would give up so I decided to move on. The terrain made in impossible to head upstream, so instead I went back down and found another very fishy pool.

The pool

Where I had to work for the fish in the pool upstream, this pool was packed with willing trout and provided me with a good half an hour of fun before the bite went off. The vast majority of these fish were Rainbows, although a handful of the appeared to be Coastal Cutthroat or hybrids.

A Cuttbow with an appetite for a Royal PMX

After covering this pool I decided to go with a change of pace and headed to a nearby larger piece of water. This river is one of the few Washington Cascade streams that still has a full fledged old growth forest along its banks and is truly wild still. No dams, no development, no clear cuts, everything is just as it is supposed to be. However, even with this being the case this river in not known for particularly strong trout populations and is touted as a tough fishery. In the hour and a half that I fish this stream, it proved that point as one silver bullet of a Coastal Rainbow was all that I could manage to find.

One wild Washington river

A typical silvery native Coastal Rainbow Trout

On the way home from the trip I decided to make a quick visit to one of Washington's more notable landmarks for a quick stroll in the high country before finishing my drive.

Mighty Mt. Rainier