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.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

New Mexico Getaway

With the pandemic finally becoming more manageable, my wife Alexis and I were able to plan a little getaway. After doing a little research, we decided to head to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had been to Santa Fe way back in 2009 (here), when I went after Gila Trout and Rio Grande Cutthroat in New Mexico, however on that trip I was only there for one evening and had always wanted to go back. As we made plans we decided that we would visit Bandelier National Monument, check out the Santa Fe Plaza and the museums. and while this trip was a vacation first a foremost, it looked like I could fit in one morning to pull away for a little fishing as well.

After over a year of limited interaction with crowds, the airport was an overwhelming experience, but luckily we had a smooth flight arrived in Albuquerque safely and made the drive out to Santa Fe. The next morning we woke up early and headed out to Bandelier National Monument. I am a bit of a history nut, so this was one of those spots that really interested me and the ancient Puebloan ruins were amazing. The walk through the canyon at Bandelier was also beautiful and with the sights and smells of the valley I couldn't help but remanence on my hike into the Gila Wilderness Area all those years ago.

Bandelier National Monument

Cliff dwellings

We were in Santa Fe all of the next day, which proved to be a rather stormy one. However, between the thunderstorms we were still able to check out the awesome Farmers Market, the High Desert Angler Fly Shop (great little shop!), some museums and the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

Santa Fe Plaza between rainstorms

The next morning I was up early to head for the upper Pecos watershed in search of Rio Grande Cutthroat. The drive out to the stream was great as the weather was beautiful and the storm of the day before appeared to have cleared out any crowds from the valley. I had fished this stream almost 12 years ago and this time I decided to fish a bit lower down to see some new water. 

The stream

As with last time I was here, the stream was rather small and fairly brushy so most casting was going to be primarily bow and arrow style. The other thing I recalled from the previous trip was that these trout were extremely spooky and required a great deal of stealth. It seemed this was still the case, as in the first likely spot I came too I was a bit careless and spooked two small trout. The next hole that I came too, I was much more prepared and made a quick bow and arrow cast into the seam and as my dry dropper set up reached the tail out, I watched a Cutthroat dart over and grab the nymph. After a quick battle, I brought a beautiful little Rio Grande Cutthroat to hand.

A beautiful Rio Grande Cutthroat

It amazed me just how many trout were in the creek this time. Every likely spot held at the least one fish and typically more. Last time that I was here I had noted that these Cutthroat really seemed to favor the tail outs instead of the deeper water of the pools that I usually expect to find trout in, which was still the case. This added to the need for stealth as the trout we able to see me approaching from a long distance in the calmer tail outs and had plenty of time to inspect flies before taking them. Often the fish would put their noses right on the dry only to refuse it after a couple of seconds of careful inspection. However, sneaking up to water on hands and knees I was able to find some fly patterns that the trout found acceptable and would pick up a decent Cutthroat in most pools that I came too.

Spring bloom along the creek

A Rio Grande Cutthroat and the Royal PMX it fell for

Another Rio Grande Cutthroat

One of the things that I love about seeking out native trout is the beautiful locations that they are typically found in. The Sangre de Cristo Mountain range is one of those special beautiful spots and this time of the year extra special, as the trees were just putting on their new growth and the first spring flowers were beginning to bloom. All to soon, my allotted time was up and I had to start heading back to the car. The trek back was a bit illuminating as after running into the third group of other anglers on my way downstream it was pretty clear why the trout in this tiny creek were so spooky and selective. 

Time to head downstream

All and all, this was an amazing little getaway and with just a couple of weeks until my next outing to hopefully catch some Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout, the trout season is off to a great start.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

2021 Steelhead Season

The 2021 steelhead season in Washington proved to be a very challenging one. Runs across the coast are in decline and Washington had to adopt my more restrictive regulations along the coast this year to deal with it. This ended up limiting what gear could be used, meant no fishing out of a boat and led to a number of rivers closing early. However, I still managed to get out a number of times and found few fish in the long run.

By January I was itching to get out and I was able to pull off a quick morning outing with my buddy Chris. Our timing was definitely not ideal as flows were still up after a recent rain and while this outing did not result in any fish, it did allow me to dust off some casting and presentation cobwebs.

High water and no fish

The next trip out I joined my neighbor Dyllon on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula for a predominately swinging trip. The day was beautiful, but like the last trip, the river was still running high and made wading and fishing a bit more challenging than expected. Dyllon managed to pick up a couple of Whitefish nymphing, but other than that it was a long but pleasant day on the water with very little attention from the fish.

A beautiful day on the water - even with no fish

After this slow start to the season, the remainder of it was spent doing genetic sampling to help establish a genetic baseline to inform population dynamics and hatchery impacts on several coastal steelhead populations. This entailed taking a small fin clip for genetics as well as collecting scales from each fish to determine their age. Additionally, as there is limited genetic data for Coastal Cutthroat from the coast we were also going to collect any samples we could if we got any. Compared to past years that I have been on these rivers, this year certainly was harder to find fish. However, with a handful of outings it ended up being a relatively successful year.

A native Coastal Cutthroat

A bright hen

A big male steelhead

Another bright fish

Definitely hoping that next year will be a better year for steelhead along the coast as they have been in a rough spot for the last few seasons.