Monday, July 21, 2014

Fly Fishing On The Edges


Your Olympic Peninsula Fly fishing Guide-
Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only!



Fly Fishing On The Edges

 Out on the edges of things, along the boundaries and borders, in the little in-between spaces, and in the least likely of waters, sometimes life's best lessons come as a surprise. 

Perhaps we are simply fishing for our own lost innocence.

 Most of us started out our fishing lives with the idea that we had to get right to the center of it all, in the honey hole, the jackpot hole. We had to know where the fish were. And we fished aggressively and hard. We had to catch all of the fish that we possibly could. And some of us did. Especially on bait. Once we moved on to fly fishing, things changed. Along with decades of over fishing, pollution toxicity, development and loss of wild fish habitats, many of the best, good old places had lost much of their charm, and most of their wild fish runs. In many once prolific waters the wild runs are gone now. Replaced, in varying degrees of success and failure with hatchery fish. But that was all that we had to fish for, so we went straight to the center of that game, just downstream of the hatchery, and fished hard. If all we cared about was catching fish, we were happy.

 But some of us grew weary of the hatchery mentality- the cheap and easy quick fix for lost wild fish runs, that ended up costing us too much in lost wild fish genes, and the wasted dollars on diminishing returns of obviously inferior fish. Now with hatchery reforms being enacted in many regions, and wild fish being protected and supported in spawning, there is a smattering of hope, here and there, for the restoration of our wild fish runs. Some fishermen are accepting the decreases in hatchery production, and the lost fishing opportunity, as a necessary investment in improving conditions for wild fish, to retain their genetic integrity, and to improve survival of more wild juvenile fish. And there are others who remain focused on catching maximum numbers of fish, no matter where they come from, and they don't want to see any reductions in hatchery fish production. In fact they are demanding more. And occasionally things have gotten nasty between anglers with differing values in this regard.


Waging The Fish Wars.
 A new kind of Fish War has emerged today- one between the warring factions of fishermen, all kinds of fishermen, as each angry divisive phalanx lines up to engage the others in heated debates over fishing methods, fishing rights, the value of wild vs hatchery strain fish, the need for or arguments against wild fish harvest, etc. It can be kind of wearying. And the distraction of fisheries politics can take a lot away from your fishing enjoyment. It can even ruin it if you allow it to do so.


For our sanity . . .

 Maybe the best thing to do is to move off to the edges of things. This is not to say that we must give up the good fight of protecting our wild places and watersheds, and the wild fish. But to retreat and regroup, and to stay sane, we have to keep things in perspective. So occasionally it helps to get away from the center, off to the smaller places, and work along the fringes, fishing the eddy lines and drop offs, hunting in the slow water drifts, and under the foamy, shallow, white pocket water, and in between the slippery rocks and big boulders. When I begin to feel jaded by all of the hate and phony statistics from the biostitutes and hacks, and the harsh judgments that spew from hateful minds- I go looking for the little quiet places, the hidden peaceful spots, the places no one else seems to go. And they are everywhere. I no longer worry about finding other people fishing in my favorite fishing locations. I am counting on the little places to reveal a gem. We have caught big, bright wild steelhead in the kinds of places you would expect to catch a tiny brook trout. And we have caught dozens of smaller wild trout on dry flies, within a few feet of the same drifts. And we have spent days fishing tide water with surface flies, catching wild sea run Cutthroat, with no one else in sight. But not always- And yet still we felt renewed.

A wild sea-run Cutthroat in autumn.

 Sometimes we did not catch any fish. And yet we felt better for it anyway, redeemed in some way, simply for being there. Aside from thinking of sizes and numbers of fish, there is simply the joy and freedom of ambling along a stream or beach, wading and casting a fly amid the dappling light, and the dripping beauty of a mountain forest canopy, or basking in the azure light, fishing the saltchuck flats of a summer beach, angling for sea run Cutthroat and Coho, watching the soft red glow of a sunset encroaching. We let it all unfold. 



  I think perhaps that all we are really fishing for is our own lost innocence. And like any kind of fishing, in the beginning, we look for it in all of the wrong places. But if we stick with it, and we get off of the beaten path a little, and we fish someplace new, trusting our efforts are not  in vain, we just might make the catch of  a lifetime. It always comes as a surprise. This kind of fishing is always it's own reward. 

Sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout.

 To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula fly fishing, call or write for details. 


Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.
  

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA
98368

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618







Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Heat and a Full Buck Moon


Your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide.
Catch & release, fly fishing only!

The Full Buck Moon


Dory by moonlight.
  The Full Buck Moon falls on Saturday the 12th of July this year. The summer solstice just turned a few weeks ago, and with it we are seeing some seriously warm weather now. This is in line with the weather predictions that forecast an unusually warm Pacific northwest summer. Just about everything around here is in a clamorous, screaming full bloom. And the black-tailed deer bucks are indeed "in velvet" as their antlers are growing fast.  Here's one fine example, whom we see in the neighbor's yard sometimes, usually with his harem. Taken from about 40 feet away. He's in rut in this picture, evidenced by his enlarged neck and clean, mature antler tines. So this is an autumn picture.

Black-tailed deer Buck.

Summer heat and a full moon tide. 

   This Saturday's full moon is also called a "Super Moon" because the moon is in perigee- the closest it will be to the earth during this lunar cycle. This will also create very deep and strong tidal flows. We will see an overall flood tide, sustained over nearly nine hours, of 11 feet or more here. When it is this hot and sunny these big tides provide some much needed cooling waters to the warmer shallows. Once the water gets to the mid 60 degree range, and it becomes less oxygenated, we really should not be fishing for trout then. The heat stress alone is too hard on them. So we need to be careful when fishing this time of year. A thermometer can be handy. But we can expect that slower moving waters, back eddies and flats or shallows, tidal lagoons and mud flat areas, will be significantly warming under the hot sun. And it is also true that sun baked gravel and sand beaches will gain heat once exposed, and that flooding tide waters will warm up as they pass across these surfaces for many hours. Two things that will really slow down and even stop trout from feeding- water that is too cold, or water that is too warm and low in oxygen. We can easily avoid the warmer water by being aware of local conditions, and by fishing in the fresh cold flows of the flooding tide. The larger and more exposed, open points of land will be best for salmon fishing now. That's where most of the active forage species, and feeding fish, are going to be anyway. Including sea run Cutthroat. And wearing a good sun hat, sun shirt and polarized sunglasses and sunscreen are mandatory!



Think Deep! The ubiquitous Bait Fish Clouser.

   Think Deep! No matter where you fish now, you need to be in the colder water. And sometimes this means fishing deeper. You needn't be dogmatic about this though, as each situation presents different conditions, flows etc. And by fishing deeper, we may mean this by only a few feet of difference sometimes. You might opt for using your floating line and a nine foot leader, slowing down your swing or drift to get deeper. or you may use a sinking line or sink-tip, a heavily weighted fly, and really dredge. One of the more popular lines for this is the clear intermediate sinking line. And some people will use a sinking "Poly" leader, in conjunction with this line, (or even with just a dry line). One limitation to using sinking line systems might be that during these deeper tidal exchanges, around the time of the new and and full moon, the stronger flood tide currents will lift a lot of weedy materials up off of the beaches, especially if there is any wind and wave action involved. So a sinking head or line, and your leader, can become festooned with all manner of vegetation on every swing at times. We can avoid some of this by using a floating line and a surface fly, like a Miyawaki Beach Popper or a big fluffy greased Muddler, or a surface bait fish pattern, etc. Contradiction? Not really. In a day of fishing you could be using several different approaches, with a variety of deeper presentations, or beneath the surface presentations, and even surface skating etc. The tides create a dynamic situation that is constantly evolving, minute to minute. Part of the intrigue to this fishing is in the riddling out of it all. One tip for you to survive all of this hot weather right now- go fishing very early in the morning for a few hours, then take a siesta break for the hottest part of the day, and then go back for a few hours before sunset. 

Disclaimer: With this heat and bright sun, I don't have much to say about summer steelhead and trout fishing in the Olympic Peninsula rivers right now. It 's not impossible, but the pickings can be slim in these conditions. That will be a dawn and dusk game for now. Even though it is early in the season, I am so excited about summer and fall Cutthroat and Coho fishing on the beaches that I wont think about the rivers until the October caddis flies begin to hatch out on the Sol Duc in late September. 


To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula region sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing, call or write for details. 

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.
  

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA
98368

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618





Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Solstice and some beach flies.



Your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide.
Catch & Release, fly fishing only.

Summer Solstice and some beach flies.

 
The wild Sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout is an aggressive feeder.
 This June has been one of the better ones for milder, warmer weather, with less rain and wind. We have had some beautiful days of beach fishing through this spring season. And the catching has been quite good too. As usual the Chum Baby fly has counted for many of the Cutthroat trout that we have caught here. With the banner year of Chum salmon fry that we saw this spring, coming out of so many rivers and streams across the region, it is no wonder that the sea-run Cutthroat so readily take this fly. And we have good success with this fly later in the year as well. But by now there are some other prey species of significance to our fishing, and many of them are getting rather big. And so some of our flies should be getting bigger too.

 Pacific Herring, Surf Smelt and Sandlance

Pacific Herring / photo U.S.G.S
 Pacific Herring spawn here in the early spring. Rearing in the ell grass beds and shallow near shore zone, they feed chiefly on planktons and they grow rapidly. From juveniles of two to three inches, up to adults well over 8 inches in length, the sea run Cutthroat will feed on these fish year round. Right now they are plentiful, and many of the juveniles are closer to shore still. It is not unusual to catch a Cutthroat with the tail of a partially digested large Herring hanging out of its mouth. This says something for how aggressive these wild trout are at times. 

Surf Smelt / photo W.D.F.W.

 Surf Smelt spawn on many of our sand and gravel beaches here. In fact we have some of the more productive Surf Smelt beaches in the region. Adults may be as much as six to eight inches in length. Our wild sea-run Cutthroat trout, other predatory fish and birds, seals and otters etc., will eat these smelt at every opportunity. 

Sandlance burrowing / photo N.O.A.A.
 Sandlance or "Candlefish" are finely slender forage fish, and the trout eat them much of the time. These fish spawn in the very shallowest margins of high tides, in the sand on the beaches. Their eggs incubate beneath the surface of the sand, high and dry, for several weeks before the next monthly high tide cycle returns to set the juveniles free in the waves.We have numerous beaches that host these fish when they spawn. In the days after they have spawned you can find some of them dead on the edges of the high tide line, where they became stranded the night before. They also have a habit if plunging into sandy bottom areas to hide. We can observe sea birds and ducks and trout feeding on these small fish at the same places and times. Remember this the next time that you see the birds holding in the current just off shore, feeding on small fish. Sandlance look like a wet noodle draped in the bird's mouths. Adults can be over 4 inches long.

Sandlance and Surf Smelt for comparison / photo U.S.G.S.
 There are many other forage species that sea-run Cutthroat trout feed on all year- Sardines, Sculpin, Stickleback, Lamprey, Marine annelids, crustaceans beetles, ants, termites etc., and so much more. I just shared a few ideas here to get you interested. When you are tying your flies for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing, once the summer solstice comes along- tie them a little bigger than you did in the spring. It should be obvious that some of the fish that these trout are feeding on are pretty big themselves by now. I tie mine in the 3 to 4 inch range. But I always have some smaller flies, some spring-time patterns, and a few much longer. One of my own favorite flies for this fishing, from the Summer Solstice through the autumn, is my "Little Stone's Beach Baby." A good general imitation for our Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound forage fish.

"Little Stone's Beach Baby"
A good general forage fish imitation for Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound beaches.

My good friend Leland Miyawaki always fishes the beaches with his big and bold "Miyawaki Beach Popper," and his fly box proves it!

Leland Miyawaki's famous "Miyawaki Beach Poppers"

 I would say that the Clouser Minnow, in all of it's bait fish variations around the world, is probably the most ubiquitous of saltwater flies. Here are but some of mine, tied sparse and fine, for sea-run Cutthroat and Salmon fishing on the beaches. One of these flies took the biggest sea-run Cutthroat that I have ever seen here, last September.

"Bait Fish Clousers"
Tied for Coho salmon and Sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout.
 My artist angler friend Jack Devlin ties some beautiful flat wing flies to imitate our Sandlance and other Puget Sound bait fish. This is a tying style that Roderick Haig-Brown talked about in his writings. More recently you would have seen this style featured in Kenney Abrahms book "The Perfect Fish." And the late author and angler Doug Rose wrote about these flies in his blog as well.

Jack Devlin's beautiful flat wing bait fish flies for sea-run cutthroat fly fishing.

 The first day of summer is here! And some of the best fishing of the year lies ahead. We will be sea-run Cutthroat fishing through autumn on the Olympic Peninsula beaches. And salmon season is opening here in just over a week. Get those bait fish flies going!

To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula region sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing, call or write for details. 

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide, Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.
  

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA
98368

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618





Friday, May 30, 2014

Chasing Down The Prince Of Tides . . .



Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide
Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only.


Chasing Down The Prince Of Tides . . .


Andy Hill, Gentleman Fly Angler
On the hunt for sea-run Cutthroat.
   My fishing buddy Andy Hill wrote a nice essay for the #16 June 2014 issue of The Flyfisher Magazine about his years of sea-run Cutthroat fishing here. Andy is one of the most passionate fly fishermen I know. Well, "rabid" might be a better word for him really. He travels all over the world chasing trout, and sea run trout, in some pretty exotic locations, Africa, England, Ireland, The Falklands etc., and even right here in Puget Sound country. We manage to get a few days on the water together every year. Last year he came in the fall and the conditions were perfect, the fishing was superb. We got a late start each morning,(after breakfast at our fishing trip headquarters in Chimacum- Farm's Reach Cafe), and finished in the evenings most days. And on some days we used my beach dory, which I only use for friends. Andy wears felt soled boots, no cleats, and he's good company. We have enough fun with the fishing that the memories last all year. We probably gain a few pounds too.


Fishing a flooding bar on Puget Sound.

CHASING DOWN THE PRINCE OF TIDES IN NORTHWEST USA.

By Andy Hill

   We had been cruising around in Bob Triggs’ pea-green dory all morning, him at the oars, me at my rod.  The fish had been very cooperative. “Let’s drop in on that beach while I make us some lunch,” said Bob, and we pulled his lovingly restored boat up the pebbles, made it secure and unloaded the cold box for a lunch of humus and olives, pickles and cheese, flat bread, blue corn Doritos, aged Italian salami and fresh strawberries. We don’t stint on lunch. It shows. We look less like an owl and a pussycat than overweight Hell's Angels in waders these days.

   “You might like to go up the shore a bit and cast into that rip,” said Bob, a guide whom I now count as a friend and guru in all maters to do with flies and fishing with them. He might have meant; “piss off up the bank a bit. I’ve had you all morning,” but it was unlikely. Bob knows these waters like the back up his pickup truck. He is as keen for you to catch fish as you are.

   So I wandered up and found a spot where the incoming tide was pressing against slack water over a shallow, stony flat, and put my fly into the water. It was a Clouser Minnow dressed with blue streaks. It hit the water and swung with the tide – no retrieve needed - and then there was a sharp, no-nonsense “gimmee” grab, and a fish was on. Less than five minutes later it was at my feet, unwittingly posing for this magazine. A sea-run cutthroat or cutt, or SRC if you like. Its official name is Oncorhynchus clarki clarki.  Whatever. It was about 12” long, and as wild as the wind, a golden marbled back, its side covered in black pepper spots and its jaws bearing the red slash that gives the species its name.

One of many bright sea-run Cutthroat that Andy caught last fall here.

   We watched it swim away, fully recovered, until its shape merged with the gemstone shop bottom and we could see it no longer. I looked down the beach towards our boat. A baby seal was watching us, an osprey was hovering high above, there was not another soul for miles of tree-lined beachfront, and barely a cloud in the sky.

  Where else in the world can you fish for wild trout year-round for the price of a £50.00 State permit, and stand a good chance of taking a salmon too? Where else can you wander for miles and not see another angler? It’s a question I have asked myself every year for the past four years, and the answer remains the same. Probably nowhere. Which is why I return to Puget Sound in pursuit of cutts and coho and other salmon.

  There’s 2,500 miles of shoreline around Puget Sound and you can be fishing and catching a few hours after touch down in Seattle, especially if you fire up with a little of the coffee for which the city is famous.

Andy Hill, taking a break, surveys 2500 miles of shoreline, sea-run style.

   And this is fishing from the shore, as opposed to saltwater fly-fishing. You don’t need a skiff, shorts, shirts in Day-Glo colours, and a headband to anchor your wraparound mirrored Polaroids or a rod with a fighting butt. A boat is fun, and Bob’s is a treat, but there is nothing like playing a feisty cutt from the shore or thigh-high in the ocean, and then wandering down the beach to another spot. There are endless spots in this network of fjords, countless National and State parks where you can leave your car and stroll down to the salt.  There is water everywhere you look in this part of the world, and almost all of it is fishable.

   All you need is a good eight or nine foot trout rod twinned with a #5 or #6 floating line, tapered leaders down to about 3x, waders and boots, a hat (preferably one that won’t blow off) and polaroid glasses.

   You don’t actually need special flies because a Woolly Bugger will take the cutts and so will muddlers and conventional flies, even dry ones. But it does help if you have a few of the local patterns in your box, and these are readily available at any tackle shop around the Sound.

   Bob’s rightly famous for his Chum Baby imitation, a sparse brownish fly that imitates the chum salmon fry on which cutts and salmon gorge in the early part of the year. But it’s a good fly year-round too.

  But before you go doing your bit to boost the Washington State economy, you’ll need a licence. I get mine from a hardware store and they are easy to come by. You can get a three-day permit or a year-round one and they cost less than a new line. You can’t get them online. 

    Then I’d advise a guide for a couple of days so you can get into the swing of things, swing being the operative word. You can just go right down to the nearest stony beach, cast and maybe catch, but a little bit of expert wisdom goes a long way and helps you avoid duff techniques and locations.  If you’ve got time there are good books and I’ve listed a couple plus some websites that are heavy on practical rather than lyrical.

   You don’t need to cast a long way but you do need to drop a fly in active water or a “rip” where the tide is bruising against slow water or an uneven bottom, obstruction or rock pile. Low slack water is generally considered to be the least rewarding water, although fish are caught that way, especially over a sandy bottom when eels are in abundance. Eelgrass is another good sign of a potential cutt lair. Tides do matter and if you do find local anglers they are probably out three hours before and three hours after a good tide, probing the places like oyster beds and clam beaches where crustaceans, sand lances and other food are thrown up by the turmoil. Cutts feed on this stuff, but so do baitfish, and there are some great imitations of herring and salmon fry available.


Releasing a wild sea-run Cutthroat.

    Cutts are born in the river systems around Puget Sound.  Some migrate to the sea for months at a time, generally between spring and autumn. Some live in the ocean year-round but the truth is we don’t know an awful lot about them, except that they have recovered in numbers thanks to an angler-led conservation effort started in the 1970s which has led to them being awarded official protected status in 1988. It’s catch and release, and barbless hooks only.

   What we do know is that they move, sometimes up to 20 miles a day. A beach that produced a bagful yesterday might be a blank today. The fish move with the tides to scour out the food that makes them such tough specimens. They rarely grow above 20” in the ocean, although bigger ones have been caught, but a fish of that size on a light rod in moving water is an experience that stays with you.

Andy's kit is ready.

   There are no “hot spots” as such but a guide or fly shop will put you on a stretch of beach somewhere around the Sound with a chance of taking.  The telltale signs of a good spot are pebbles, stones, barnacles, nearby trees and submerged obstructions. Eelgrass is a good sign too, Anywhere near where a creek or river runs out or where big pools drain back into the sea is also a likely cutt restaurant.

   I’ve found the occasional angler I meet on the beach truly helpful. There is a Band of Brothers feel about cutt fishing and many people I have met have given me flies and advice. I tend to stay in one place on the Olympic Peninsula for a base and there is lots of fishing on the beaches there, but I have a large map that is slowly deteriorating with salt water fingering, and I am happy to try a new place any day. You can fish in National Parks near Seattle – Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Carkeek, and on the South Sound there are Parks like Fort Flagler, an epic stretch of sand and stone,  and along the Hood Canal.

   One of the Band of Brothers and an inspiration is Leland Miyawaki, who turned his back on the advertising industry to manage the Orvis store in Seattle and is now their Fishing Manager. He gives tuition to would-be cutt and coho anglers and is a regular sight around the beaches. His enthusiasm for cutt fishing would be tribute enough but he has also invented a fly that has devotees up and down the Pacific seaboard. His “Popper” dressed in a variety of colours (pink for coho) brings fish up for a look. “I love dry fly fishing, it’s so visual, and I came up with the Popper for the beaches. Fish might mistake it for an injured baitfish or something, but whatever the reason they see the wake and come up for a look. Using a Popper will usually determine whether there are fish there or not, and it’s visually exciting. You don’t need a manic retrieve, just let it swing and bring it in slowly and keep your eyes open. You blink, you miss.”


Leland Miyawaki taking a break.

   Between August and the end of September there is a run of coho and humpback (Pink) salmon along the beaches; you can see them doing aerial ballet and also watch the ironmongers throwing their buzz-bomb lures and sunk herrings at them. 

   But there is generally space nearby for the fly angler and I took one coho and one humpback on Clousers this year, both very close to the shore of a sandy, windy beach where fish were moving. If salmon are your main target then you need a guide to help you locate where they are. Leland fishes his usual nine-foot six-weight for them, but this year I tried out an 11-ft #8 Orvis Access Switch rod that shot out line like a harpoon and calmed my nerves when the salmon started running in the general direction of Alaska. Rules about when you can fish for salmon, and which variety, vary from year to year so check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Autumn run Puget Sound Coho or Silver salmon.

   The permit allows you to take fish for the pan and regulations change every year and need checking,  but with so much good salmon in so many good supermarkets, why would you? Mine recovered quickly in the wash and disappeared into the ocean in a flash. It was one of those moments when fishing again immediately would have been disrespectful to the species and the sport. Leland has the answer to such moments. He naps. He is famous for napping on just about every beach he fishes and it is customary to find him with trademark cigar a few moments before he dozes off. I didn’t get it, at first. How can you sleep with all that water and those fish in front of you? But I am starting to get it. There’s a moment after taking a good fish when all seems right in the world.

 Moments like this are perfect for lunch too.

We never miss a meal.
  The tide was pushing the dory up the shore as we rounded out our feast with freshly brewed coffee, watched an eagle, saw porpoises gambol and seals bob in the current. The snow-capped peak of Mount Rainer stood out on the skyline. We just sat back and looked. “I wonder what the poor people are doing,” said Bob.

Andy Hill, plying the night tides.

To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula region sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing, call or write for details. 

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.
  

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA
98368

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618








  


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Of Sea-Run Cutthroat Flies and Men



Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide
Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only!


Of Sea-Run Cutthroat Flies and Men

Fly Fish or cut bait.

   This is the time of year when it is hard to imagine that there are any hungry sea run cutthroat trout out there. No matter where you look there are nearly countless numbers of juvenile salmon of several species, feeding and growing in the estuaries, traveling in schools, making their way up Puget Sound toward the Pacific Ocean. When we do count them in some places, we are counting them in the hundreds of thousands, and even millions at a time, in some very small streams. It is no surprise that we fly fishermen will get focused on using smaller salmon fry and smolt flies this time of year. Flies like my Chum Baby, Doug Rose's Keta Rose, and many others, will be found in nearly everyone's sea-run Cutthroat fly box in the spring. These flies should be tied small and sparse in the early season, March and April and May. But there are many more options for fly selection, and for catching sea-run Coastal Cutthroat in the summer, than the usual salmon fry and smolt fly patterns that we so often think of as our first go-to choice. 

This late spring sea-run Cutthroat took a skated Steelhead Caddis fly.

Steelhead Caddis. Ordinarily an summer and autumn run Steelhead fly pattern.
The sea-run Cutthroat love them!

By now you may be noticing that many of these wild trout are getting hard to catch. And this is not at all unusual. For one thing, they have plenty to eat. The don't really need to eat your fly. For another thing- they have seen your fly out there, for several months now, and they may even have been caught on it- and they are avoiding it. So maybe you need to change flies. When they get picky about it I use smaller flies. For instance, there is a huge crop of baby herring out there now. Those flies can be as small as an inch or so. And Cutthroat are river fish after all, so why not try some ordinary trout flies like the Stimulator, Steelhead Caddis, Wooley Booger, Matuka, Sculpin, Mickey Finn, Gray Ghost, Hornberg, Muddler, Adams, Royal Wulff etc. If you have not yet tried dry fly fishing for sea-run Cutthroat on the beaches, you are missing out on some serious fun. When they get hard to catch, I change flies often. And Move! Maybe it is time to try a different location, miles away. Those wild trout are free to roam, and they do so all of the time. They don't "live" on any one beach.


Sea-run Cutthroat fly fisherman and artisan fly tier
Jack Devlin carries a wide selection of flies.
 So should you.

Master Veteran Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.
  

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA
98368

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618












Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Trout!


Your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide
Catch & Release, Fly fishing only

Spring Trout!

   Tomorrow is the big, statewide trout lake fishing season Opening Day, and I won't be there.


Releasing a springtime wild sea-run Coastal Cutthroat Trout
photo credit Richard Stoll  www.westsoundangler.com
   
    It's not that I don't like lake fishing- I do. I have enjoyed lake fishing from the day that I caught my first trout in an Adirondack Mountain lake when I was two years old. And I have been fishing lakes ever since then. As a boy I fished with worms and minnows, and eventually with spinners and plugs and spoons, in every suburban New York City lake and pond that I could get to on my bike. Some of these lakes were public. Many were not. And most of them were clearly posted. No one can stop a 12 year old with a fishing rod, and there were too many good fishing lakes to ignore, and so many different kinds of fish to catch. There were trout in some places, but there were also crappie, sunfish, bluegills, perch, walleye, pike, and bass. Largemouth bass. Once I discovered Largemouth bass my life began to take a definite course- Always towards water. By the time I was in my second year of the fifth grade I knew most of the best bass fishing lakes withing striking distance of school. So if you twist my arm, we just might go lake fishing for trout out here too.

The Black Bass
Photo: N.Y.S.D.E.C.

    Of all the things that I have wanted to do in fishing, it has always been about the wild fish, wilderness, and solitude for me. That's why I fish these beaches for sea-runs. We just don't see the kinds of crowds here that you might on some other trout waters. Especially Washington's trout lakes on Opening Day. And by now the Cutthroat have had time to get fat already, gorging on plentiful forage, as we have seen huge counts on juvenile chum salmon at some of the smolt counting locations out here. One tiny stream here generated over one million chum fry this spring! And we are seeing big numbers of Pink salmon fry moving out into the saltwater this spring as well. There are some very robust trout around now. And they don't need much convincing to take your fly. As the weather is warming up, and we are getting more sunny days, this is only going to get better. Don't forget that the juvenile Herring and Sandlance are growing every day too. Right now I will be using very small patterns, down to an inch or less in length, very sparse, on #8 and #10 hooks. Over the next month my bait fish patterns will be getting a little longer each week.

    These are pleasant days spent on broad, fairly flat and firm, gravel and sand beaches. We take a few breaks along the way, and we have a nice picnic lunch too. If it's damp and chilly we might make some hot tea or coffee. On the clear days you will see Mt Ranier, Mt Baker and the Olympic Mountain peaks. We are surrounded by beauty. We see many species of sea and shore birds, eagles and osprey, otters and seals, and sometimes even whales. All with simple walk and wade access. We don't wade more than knee deep, and the fish are usually in close in the shallows. Trout fishermen will understand this game. Our unique tidal currents here create river like flows. That's where the trout are, most of the time. We use a broad range of flies, some being well-known trout patterns, and others are regional favorites for saltwater. (There's more about these flies on some of my previous postings here.) Local knowledge of the trout and their prey, and their habitats and behavior, is key to success. That's what I have been doing out here for the last fourteen years- Haunting these beaches, reading the water, learning the signs, chasing these wild trout. And we do catch a few.

A salty sea-run Cutthroat. That's what I'm talking about!

   So if you want to avoid the crowds, and meet up with some of the wildest, brightest sparkling jewels of the Puget Sound waters, come up and fish with me on the Olympic Peninsula beaches. Call or write for details. Beginners to expert- all are welcome. Certified  Fly casting and Fly Fishing Instruction. I am in my 34th year of fly fishing.

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, Wa
98368

360-385-9618
littlestoneflyfisher@mail.com
www.facebook.com/LittleStoneFlyfisher
www.washingtonflyfishing.com/guides/littlestone
http://olympicpeninsulaflyfishing.blogspot.com