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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.


Monday, August 15, 2022

After work Coastal Cutthroat

Every now and again I find myself with an odd hour or two that would be the perfect time to sneak a little fishing in. When I lived in Gig Harbor, I had a handful of solid spots for native Coastal Cutthroat that were perfect for such outings. However, since moving a few years ago I have had a hard time finding a spot in my local area that has really fit the bill for the quick after work outing. Sure there are a couple beaches not to far away, but they have been inconsistent producers at best and dependence on the tides always makes fishing in the salt water less than straight forward. The other local waters I have found are just far enough from my place that they require a slightly longer block of time. What I have been really looking for is a quality small stream or pond and on my last outing with 2 hours to burn I found the stream I was looking for.

This actually was not my first time to this stream, as last year I had taken my buddy Steve here and he caught his first sea-run Coastal Cutthroat in the creek right at a road crossing. However, I played guide on that outing and this trip was my first time really exploring the creek with a fly rod in my hand.

I arrived at the creek at 5:30PM, with just enough time to explore the 1/4 mile stretch I had been meaning to check out. As I wasn't quite sure what to expect, I came equipped with my 1WT with a dry/dropper step up and my 2WT with a rust colored aggravator nymph, a fly that fishes well both dead drifted or twitched as a streamer. The first hole that I came to was several feet deep, with little flow so I opted for the streamer. After letting my aggravator nymph sink in next to a log, a bright 10" Cutthroat shot out and chased the fly but refused to grab. Subsequent casts failed to get even the slightest response from the trout, so I decided to continue downstream, at least feeling good that there were some sea-runs in the creek already.

The Creek

The next couple of bends of the creek were shallow and show no sign of life, but as I neared a deeper pool I spooked another 10" Cutthroat in 8" of water and halted my progress to see if there were any other fish about. It turned out that yes, there were several more fish about as I spotted five large Cutthroat in the 14" to 18" range sitting on the edge of the drop off into the hole. With little current or cover, I knew I was only going to get one shot at these fish, so I carefully lined up my cast and made a presentation. My aim was true and the cast landed just over the drop off, slightly upstream of the fish. Immediately a previously unseen fish came out of the depths and grabbed the fly, but failed to hook up. Luckily this did not spook the rest of the fish and with the fly still in play I was able to strip it right in front of the group of Cutthroat and sure enough one of the fish darted out and viciously attacked the fly. For a moment I thought that the stars had aligned as it felt like the hook had taken, but one big headshake later and my fly popped loose and the school completely spooked.
Hard to spot at first, but there are five Cutthroat holding right in front of the drop off.

In the hole just downstream, I spotted several more Cutthroat of a similar size, but just like the group upstream I only got one shot at each of them and despite several solid grabs, I just couldn't get a firm hookset on any of them. However, another bend downstream I was finally able to get the attention of a Cutthroat and this time got a solid hookset. This fish was fresh from the saltwater and full of spunk and quickly found its way into a logjam, but I was lucky enough to get my net under the logjam and come up with the the 12" Cutthroat. The fish was chrome bright. with no visible cutthroat markings and after snapping a few quick photos shot back into the depths. 
A beautiful bright sea-run Coastal Cutthroat

At this point I worked my way back upstream, but it appeared that either the fish I had encountered on the way downstream were still hunkered down or had moved on and I didn't have any additional luck. However, with a new close to home stream to fish and having caught a beautiful sea-run it was a great evening on the water.

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