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.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Westslope Cutthroat of the North Cascades

I recently had to make a work trip over to Washington's Methow Valley and managed to find a few hours to do some exploring for native Westslope Cutthroat. While I have caught plenty of Westslope Cutthroat in Washington State, I had never had a chance to fish for them in the northern part the state. My preference has always been to catch native trout from a variety of streams across their native range so I was particularly excited to look for some Cutthroat in the Methow basin.
The upper Methow Valley

The stream I selected, had a barrier in the lower watershed and was supposed to have a healthy population of Cutthroat upstream. Upon arriving at the stream, there were two were two things working against me. The first was that the creek had been caught up in one of the many wildfires that had torn through the Methow basin and much of it had burned. The second was that the cold wet June resulted in a prolonged runoff season and the creek was still high and off color. 
The stream

Given the off color water, I rigged up with a flash body PMX and a Lightning Bug dropper set deep to get the attention of the fish. It turned out that neither the burn nor the off colored water appeared to be hindering the trout and within a few casts a small Cutthroat eagerly rose to my dry fly. The fast water and my 2WT  made the 8” Cutthroat feel more formidable than it should, but it still didn’t take long to bring it to hand. 
A beautiful native Methow Basin Westslope Cutthroat

The Cutthroat in this stream were a stunning beautiful mix of bronze-yellow and vibrant orange with a classic Westslope spotting pattern. Continuing upstream, the fishing was fast paced with most pockets producing a gem of Cutthroat, but I was surprised by a Brook Trout on my dropper as well. While Brook Trout are typically the bane of Westslope Cutthroat, luckily this population seemed to holding its own with about 80% of the fish I caught being Cutthroat. 
A beautiful, but invasive Brook Trout

With the sun slipping behind the peaks, I decided to end my day a a particularly productive pool. I switched out my Lighting Bug for a Blow Torch nymph and the trout couldn’t resist it. After a couple smallish fish, I hooked into a fish that that had a bit more weight behind it. I nearly lost the trout when it tried to dive into some woody debris but I was able to pull the 11” Cutthroat  free and bring it to the net.
The big Cutthroat of the day

After catching the biggest Cutthroat of the outing I decided to call it an evening. Despite how many times I have caught Westslope Cutthroat, the beauty of these fish never ceases to impress. 
The canyon on the way out

Then again the beauty of the places these Cutthroat are found is pretty hard to beat too. While in the area, I was also able to get out for a short hike to an alpine lake and I have to say that the scenery did not disappoint. 
Washington truly is a beautiful state!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice, so much diversity in the Westslope Group.