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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.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Spring time Coastal Cutthroat

 After what has amounted to one of the coldest Aprils on record here in western Washington, spring or seemingly summer finally arrived and we went from the 40's to 80's within a few days. Along with this nice weather, I also found myself with a couple of hours free in the evening and decided that it was time to dust off my 2WT and go visit the local river to see if I couldn't find some Coastal Cutthroat.

Spring time of the river (the tree across it is a new addition this year)

While this stream often feels more like a big creek to me in the summer, with recent rain and runoff from the mountains, it was running full and sure felt up to its river moniker. The flows were up, but clarity was good and will I initially started with a dry /dropper rig, after not seeing any sign of surface activity and few insects flying around in the first 20 minutes, I decided to switch over to an indicator nymph rig. The next hour I covered all the likely holding water, and while I had one very small fish rise to my indicator in the first few casts, the Cutthroat remained elusive. With the flows up, I couldn't ford the river and it wasn't until I reached the furthest downstream piece of holding water that I finally hooked up. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good hookset and the fish shook loose shortly after I hooked up. 

With nymphing not proving very successful, I decided to head back upstream and reassess the situation. With a couple minutes on the bank, it was easy to see that an evening caddis hatchery had finally kicked in and I started to see a few risers that were hugging a seem on the nearshore bank. As such I switched back to a dry /dropper and found a consistent riser and started targeting it. After a dozen or so casts, the fish finally decided to rise to my dry but unfortunately, after a long winter my timing was off and I missed the take.  However, this Cutthroat had been a bit too greedy and eaten my nymph as well and the dropper saved the day as I connected with the Cutthroat and quickly brought the beautiful 6"-7" native it too the net.

A flawless native Coastal Cutthroat Trout caught on a Lightning Bug nymph

After the first Cutthroat continued working my way upstream and rose one or two small fish but my timing or their aim was still a bit off and I didn't hook up. However, just after a got above the tree across the river, I saw a fish rise on the inside seam in about a foot and a half of water and made my cast. Right as it drifted by where I saw the fish, I was rewarded with a splashy rise and this time I had my timing down and hooked up. As with most small trout, the battle was quick and I brought my first fish on a dry in 2023 to hand.

First fish on the dry of 2023 - note the black spot disease

I quickly snapped a photo of the small Cutthroat and released, noting that it had black spot disease, something that seems to be increasingly common on this river and I am finding in about 50% of the trout that I catch. With that fish released, daylight was beginning to fade in earnest at this point and while I fished my way up to the next bend I didn’t see anymore risers and with the sunsetting I headed back downstream after a great evening on the water.

A great way to end the day!

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