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, September 28, 2021

End of August Adventure

A couple of years ago, while reading up on the Redband Trout of the Northern Great Basin, I found a genetics study that indicated that beyond the Great Basin Redbands, there was also an ancestral form of Redband Trout found in a tributary of the Deschutes River, that is unique enough to warrant being considered a distinct subspecies. These fish are the White River Redband Trout and have been isolated upstream of a barrier falls for thousands of years. Due to this isolation, they have more in common with Fort Rock Redbands than what the do with the Redbands in the Deschutes River. While I was able to make a trip to the White River a couple years ago, I was limited on time and only managed to catch a couple of Redbands on that first trip. Due to this I have had plans to make it back to the White River watershed ever since. After discussing the White River Redband with one of my friends and fellow native trout enthusiast Steve, it looked like our schedules would line up at the end of August, so we made plans for a trip. In addition to White River Redbands, Steve had yet to catch an anadromous Coastal Cutthroat so we also hoped to check that off his list as well.

Friday August 27th 2021: Steve flew in the previous night and I was up bright and early and picked Steve up at his hotel at 5:30AM bound for a small stream in the White River watershed. It was a gray and drizzly drive through the western Cascade Mountains, but as soon as we crossed the crest of the mountains, the sun came out, the clouds broke and we were greeted with a breath taking view of Mount Hood.
Clear skies over Mt. Hood - bare of snow after a dry summer

The quickest route to the stream was off a forest service road off the slopes of Mt. Hood, however after following the road for several miles we were greeted with a barricade blocking our way due to a wildfire. This came as a pretty big surprise to me as I had checked the forest service's webpage for current conditions and there had been no mention road closures in the area. With our first route in blocked, we set out to find a way around, unfortunately the next two forest service roads were also closed and we ended up having to drive an extra hour around to get to the stream. Luckily the fire had no impact the creek we were going to all and upon arriving the creek looked perfect. 
The Creek

I rigged up with my 1wt and a dry - dropper combo, while Steve went with a dry fly on a tenkara rod. While I had struggled to find fish on my last trip to the watershed, this time my research hit the mark and within a few casts we had both risen fish. I started out downstream, while Steve went upstream and after working downstream a ways had caught a half dozen 6-8" Redbands, primarily on the dropper. While the fish that I had gotten on my previous trip were rather pale, these fish had darker tones, with a much more pronounced redband. Given quick fishing, I checked in with Steve, who had also managed to get some decent Redbands. 
A small White River Redband

Steve was still working a good stretch of water, so I hiked a bit further upstream until I found a promising stretch of the stream. As I was a bit further from the road here, the size of the fish seemed to have gone up a few inches and the fish also started rising to dry flies a bit more consistently. After fishing for while, I found a larger pool that had good cover, from an over hanging tree. I managed to get a bow and arrow cast up and under the branches and was rewarded with a nice rise and a solid hookup. This fish was a bit bigger than the others I had hooked and really made my 1wt work, but after a short while a landed a close to 12" Redband. A monster for this stream.

My big fish of the day a beautifully colored Redband.

After getting this big fish, I worked my way upstream until I connected with the trail and headed back down to where Steve was. Steve had also managed to get some nice Redbands, and as we had a 3.5 hour drive back wanted to try for some sea-run Cutthroat we hit the road again. 

After getting back to the Olympia area, we headed for a local beach where we hopped to catch the end of the tide. Unfortunately, the wind was up and after and after an hour of fishing the good tide was running out and we still hadn't seen any sign of fish so we decided to call it a day and regroup in the morning.

Saturday August 28th 2021: After a success for day fishing for Redbands, we hoped that today we would be able to find a few Coastal Cutthroat and Coastal Rainbow Trout on one of my favorite rivers. The plan was to fish a combination of egg imitations and streamers and hopefully find a few fish that were starting to think about spawning salmon. Like the previous day we got an early start and upon reaching the river, it seemed that there may be a complication. Odd years in Washington are Pink Salmon run years. Most of the time this doesn't have too much of an impact on trout fishing, but apparently this river was experiencing a particularly strong Pink Salmon run this year. 
Lots of pinks (every dark shape is a salmon)

Typically during conditions like this, I find the trout concentrated in the faster riffles, but this time with how thick the pinks were, even nymphing primarily produced Pinks, although I did get one smaller Rainbow to grab an egg imitation. This did end up working in Steve's favor however, as he had not caught a Pink prior to this and given the conditions one could not help but catch a Pink checking yet another species off his list. The only sea-run Cutthroat that we saw was holding in a tailout behind several thousand Pinks, which we too aggressive to allow us to successfully get a cast to it. Given that Steve still hadn't caught his Cutthroat, we headed to my back up stream for the day, a small creek on our way home. 
A Pink Salmon caught nymphing

A small but native Coastal Rainbow Trout

The stretch of stream were going to try was only a few hundred yards upstream of the saltwater and sea-run Coastal Cutthroat will commonly dip into these lower reaches during high tide so I figured it was as good of a bet as anything. As Steve was the one looking for the fish, I let him do the fishing and sure enough at our first hole we spotted some Cutthroat and on his first cast he landed a bright fish fresh out of the saltwater. We fished for another 30 minutes or so and Steve got one larger fish and had a couple other grabs before it was time to call it a day. We managed to check three fish off of Steve's list while seeing some beautiful water, not a bad way to spend a couple of days!