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.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Summer in the Olympics: Part 2

 After our last trip scouting for some new water on the Olympic Peninsula, Chris and I did some additional research a found another promising stream to check out. This one was a bit more off the beaten path and would require some serious leg work, but looked very promising. Per the norm in the Olympics, the morning we headed out dawned gray with a fresh marine layer rolling in off the Pacific. We started up the trail through towering old growth, but when we caught our first glimpse of the river, it was too much to resist and we decided to just start fishing right there. As it would turn out, this paid off and a few casts in, Chris caught a nice wild Spring Chinook jack. With our first taste of success on the river, we decide we would just use the river as our trail for the day and started our way upstream. From here things didn't slow down and the river was absolutely gorgeous and each hole and run seemed to have something in it.

Hooked into a fish

A beautiful native Coastal Cutthroat

A beautiful Bull Trout

Working a good seam

A little after lunch, Chris was working on other best runs of the day, when he hooked into something big. The fish turned out to be a bright summer run of about 7-8lbs and was not having any of it. Chris fought it for about 10 minutes until finally he was able to get it in netting range. However, the fish decided it wanted to do one more run, and unfortunately after a tail-wagging leap it spit the hook. We worked the hole a bit longer, but nothing else wanted to bite and with our excitement high, we continued upstream.

Chris working the summer run hole

Very fresh prints from a bear we could hear running off

As the day wore on, we found ourselves at the best hole we had seen all day. We got pretty focused on fishing and each hooked a couple of fish in the hole, when we started to notice that the sun was starting to get low in the sky. It was at this point that we realized that we hadn't stopped moving almost all day and had covered a bit more ground than we had expected and needed to find the trail and start heading back. Unfortunately, this was more easily said than done and ended up being a rough 1/2 hour of bush whacking until we finally found the trail. The hike out made it quite apparent just how far we had gone, with us dragging by the time we reached the trailhead at dusk after what we end up figuring out was a 14 mile day trip.

A beautiful stretch of the river

A giant spruce tree on the way out.

My next adventure was to a couple of my favorite Olympic streams with one of my neighbor Dyllon. As summer was wearing on at this point, I was hoping that the native Rainbows would be starting to think about spawning salmon and the eggs that would be right around the corner. With luck this same thing and a recent rain would also draw a few sea-run Cutthroat in from the salt water as well. The first stream of the day we hit, is usually more productive, albeit with slightly smaller fish. However, today fishing proved very slow and after covering a mile of water and only getting one small Cutthroat we decided to try the other river. 

The first few holes we fished on the next river were just as slow as the last river, but when we got down to one of the "salmon tanks" on the lower river, that changed. I had a large streamer imitating a lamprey on and started with a short perhaps 20' roll cast just to get some line out. However, I watched as a big Cutthroat quickly shot out from behind a log and charged my streamer. The fish seemed to hesitate, so I gave it a couple quick twitches before letting my fly fall and the Cutthroat crushed the fly. The fight was pretty quick as the Cutthroat was close to shore already and I really wanted to avoid spoking the hole. The fish was beautiful and looked as though it had only been out of the saltwater for a day or two at most. 

My big Cutthroat

I gave my Dyllon the next shot at the hole and after floating a few feet, his indicator went down and he hooked into a big Rainbow. This fish was hooked right in the heart of the hole and put up quite a battle before coming in, effective spooking the rest of the hole.

The Rainbow

We figured we had one more hole we could hit before the end of the day and this one also looked promising, as I could see a big Cutthroat sitting in the tail out when we approached. However, before we could get more than a couple casts in a flotilla of inner tubers came floating down the river and spooked the hole and with that we decided that since we had already gotten a couple nice fish and it was time to head back.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Summer in the Olympics: Part 1

With the challenges that 2020 presented, I remained local over the summer and decided to explore some of my old favorite spots as well as some streams in the Olympics that I had not had a chance to check out yet. One of the old spots that I visited for the season is one of my favorite rivers in the Northwest and without a doubt the stream that I have spent the most time on as I did much of my research for my Masters Thesis on it.  The upper river is full of great pocket water and lots of small native Coastal Rainbows that eagerly rise to any dry fly. 

An overcast day in the Olympics

A small native rainbow

As usual the spot didn't disappoint and a couple hours yielded over a dozen 6-12" spunky native Coastal Rainbow Trout.

Since I moved to Olympia a little over a year ago, I have been trying to learn some of the local beaches a bit better. One of these is only 5 minutes from my house, so I was able get out to it a few times in July when the tides we favorable and found a few sea-run Cutthroat that were feeding on polychaete worms.

The beach

A decent sea-run Coastal Cutthroat

The next trip out, I wanted check out a river in Olympic National Park that I suspected might have a good Rainbow Trout fishery and potentially some summer Steelhead. With that my buddy Chris joined me and we made the drive out to the Peninsula. Just before we arrived at the trailhead, a black bear darted across the road, as if to indicate that we had entered the wilderness. Based on our scouring over maps, there was a promising stretch of river through a small canyon about four miles up the trail so we got our waders on and hit the trail. The day had started of gray as so many on the Peninsula do and the hike through the old growth forest was a pleasant one, especially with a the bumper crop of huckleberries that this summer had presented. 

 A beautiful stretch of water deep in the Olympic 

When we got to the river, we geared up with big nymphs and streamers, the favored flies for big Rainbows and summer runs in the Olympics in my experience. One of the first holes that we came to, Chris spotted what looked like a nice summer run sitting the tail out. We first tried our nymphs to no avail, however a swung streamer resulted in a ferocious take for Chris. Pretty quickly by the way the fish was fighting it became apparent that it was not a summer run but a big Bull Trout, which Chris quickly landed and we sent it on its way again.

Chris' big Bull Trout

From this point on, we got a take in almost every hole, but didn't find the big Rainbows or summer runs we were looking for. Instead it seemed that Bull Trout and Whitefish were the predominant fish in the stretch of river. Once we were out of the canyon, the fishing pretty much died on us, so we hit the trail and headed back with thoughts of our next outing already on our minds.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

After work outing

With things settling down a bit here in Washington after a crazy spring, I have had a bit more time to get out for some after work outings. One thing that has been nice with moving to Olympia besides being much closer to work, is that I am also much closer to a number of fishing spots ranging from beaches to mountain and coastal streams. Yesterday I had the opportunity to fish a nearby stream after work. I had a dry dropper set up to try, but there just wasn't any surface activity going on so I decided to prospect with a small streamer that has worked well for Coastal Cutthroat in the past. While I did have a few hits with the streamer while working through some likely runs, it wasn't until I got to the last hole of the day that it actually produced with a solid take. The fish has some serious power behind it, putting a good bend in my fly rod and staying deep right until the very end. Once the fish came up to the net I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a nice Bull Trout coming in at about 17". Not bad for a quick evening outing.

A nice evening Bull Trout

Friday, June 12, 2020

Fishing the New Home Stream

Last year my family moved to be closer to our jobs and after a busy first year getting settled and all of the craziness with the pandemic this spring I have finally had some time to start exploring one of my new home streams a bit more. Prior to moving I had fished this stream a few times over the years and it supports a robust native population of stream resident Coastal Cutthroat. However, now I am able to spend a bit more time exploring it and took a couple of hours in the evening to ply its waters with my 2wt and a trusty Royal PMX and Lightning Bug dropper rig.
The stream

The stream is largely rain driven, meaning that it comes into shape much sooner than most other watersheds in the area. When I arrived there were a few caddis and PMD spinners around, but based on my past experience the fish here have not been to picky and attractors usually do the job. This time was no different it didn't take long to find some nice little Cutthroat. The first one I got was a little female with a spawning scar tail and was a bit greedy taking both the dry and the dropper. 
A greedy little female Coastal Cutthroat

Not to far upstream I landed my fish of the evening a nice chunky 12" native Coastal Cutthroat on the PMX. 

This of the evening

All and all I worked about a 2/3 of mile of the stream and caught plenty of 6-8" Cutthroat the one at 12" and lost one that was slightly better than that right at the net. Definitely a great evening on the new home stream and I am looking forward to many more.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Pre-shutdown Olympic Steelhead

My buddy Greg and I had been planning an outing to the Washington Coast for Steelhead for over a year, but as we got closer to the date it seemed that problems were coming our way. First was that I heard through the grapevine that the Washington Coast south of the Olympic Peninsula was going to be closing on the day that our trip was set to start. This was likely to really limit options and increase crowds on the few rivers that were open. Also with this being the first week of March 2020, rumblings of the pandemic were also making plans uncertain.

However, when the start of our trip arrived, conditions on the Olympic Peninsula looked relatively favorable and after picking Greg up from the airport we hit the road. Our first day we would only have a few hours to fish before dark so we checked out a small stream that I had fished years ago. However, after covering a good mile or two of the stream and after seeing no sign of fish we headed into town to get ready for a full day on the river the next day.

The next morning dawned gray and drizzly and given the number of folks that were in Forks at the moment, Greg and I opted for a hike in river. Based on our desire to get away from the crowds, this proved to be a good choice as there was no one else in the parking lot when we pulled up, so it looked like we would have the river to ourselves. The spot we were heading had a few nice runs several miles upstream, so we geared up and hit the muddy trail. 

Time to hit the trail

For the most part the hike was a nice flat trip through old growth Sitka Spruce. However, part of the way up to our first run, the river had taken out the trail resulting in a tough scramble over a hill and down a salmonberry and devils club choked ravine to meet back up with the trail. After that minor set back, it wasn't long before we finally reached our spot and got to fishing. We planned on swinging flies most of the day and I started our with a purple and blue intruder. I started out at the top of the run, while Greg started just below me and we got into position and started swinging flies. Just a couple casts later, I had a good tug on the end of my line and was into a fish. After a good initial take, I could tell that this fish was not that large and when I brought it to hand it turned out to be a beautiful native Coastal Cutthroat.

A native Olympic Peninsula Coastal Cutthroat

The swinging run

We worked the run for a few hours and did have a couple more takes, with Greg having one strong take that we highly suspected was a Steelhead, but unfortunately nothing stuck. After feeling satisfied with our coverage of the run, we hiked into another one, which treated us very similarly. Again, no steelhead, but one smallish Coastal Cutthroat, this time on a bead. Throughout the day it had barely stopped raining and as we had a pretty good hike ahead of us we started our way back to the trailhead with high hopes for the next day.

Again we decided to focus on a piece of water that required a bit of leg work to get to and hopefully would have some Steelhead. The morning started out fairly clear and after a nice walk through the virgin temperate rainforest we found ourselves on a beautiful stretch of water. 

The river

The first stretch of water did not look very conducive to swinging so we opted to nymph it. As Greg still hadn't gotten a fish, he took first water. It didn't take too long for Greg to get a cast into the sweet spot of the pool and hook into a nice fish. This was definitely a Steelhead and by the look of how it was pulling a heck of a nice one. The fish really made Greg work for it, but before too long he was able to get it into the shallows were I was able to tail it for him.

Greg hooked into his first steelhead


The beautiful native Olympic Peninsula Steelhead

The fish was an absolutely beautiful native buck in its spawning colors, with a deep red band and orange belly. One heck of a fish for Greg's first steelhead! After getting his steelhead, Greg took a little break and I worked the pool for a bit and briefly had a Steelhead on but lost it.  However, in it the next pool down, I got a good take and this time connected with a Steelhead. However, this fish was not quite like Greg's which had really made him work for it and within a couple minutes I had what turned out to be a little hatchery steelhead to shore. 

My hatchery steelhead

Given that this hatchery fish had WAY overshot the hatchery and was hanging out with wild fish it was destined for the smoker. After I got my fish, Greg took a shot at the hole and had a brief hookup, but unfortunately it came off. Given our success here, we had high hopes for the rest of the day, but as it would turn out this appeared to be an isolated occurrence and after covering another mile or two of river we didn't see any other signs of fish. To add to things a front had moved in and the river started to rise and by the time we stopped fishing around dusk, we were a bit worried about flows for our final day.

On our last day we only had a half day to fish before Greg had to head south to meet up with another friend in Oregon. As such, and given that the rain had really added some extra flow and color to the rivers around Forks, I picked a river that I knew was likely to hold its color and would be somewhat on the way for us. Where the weather the rest of the trip had been gray and wet, this day was beautiful and sunny and while the river was definitely cranking, it had held its color pretty well and we set to fishing. 

Our final river

A Mountain Whitefish

With the water up and wading difficult, fishing required long casts, which really made getting good drifts difficult. I did manage to get a few take down nymph, but everyone one of them ended up being Mountain Whitefish and after covering a couple of holes the river wading proved too challenging to proceed downstream so we decided it was time to call it. Within a couple weeks of the end of our trip, the pandemic had set in and turned life upside down, making me all that much more grateful for a great outing finding a few fish on some beautiful rivers with a great friend.