Friday, August 22, 2014

Go With The Flow



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

To Go With The Flow


Friday August 22nd through Thursday August 28th.
It's still summer out there! And the tides are setting up nicely too.
    
Labor Day is creeping up on us again. And for most people this signals the beginning of the end to their summer days. But for we fly fishers in the Pacific Northwest, we know that this is just the beginning of a whole new cycle of opportunity, adventure and exploration. The nights are getting just a bit longer now, and even on the hottest days we get refreshing cool evenings. By now the late summer hatches of termites, ants, hoppers, moths etc., are in full blossom, and dry fly fishing is just getting better with each passing week- if you have the water for it. The Olympic Peninsula rivers are at typically low, late summer flows now. We need rain. A lot of rain. Most of us are fishing in the saltchuck now, and we will be for some weeks to come. That's where the flows are, and that's where the fish are.

   

 

   For the beach fishers, in search of the sea run Cutthroat trout, this is a time of expectancy, frustration and reward. In some places the Cutthroat will remain in the salt waters until later fall, as late as November, and in other places they will already be inching back up into the streams. Riddling out where and when is the game. In our area the best sea run Cutthroat fishing of the year is going to be in September and October on the beaches. And when November has not been too blustery we have had great fishing through Thanksgiving. For now though, despite the bright sun, and sunny clear skies, and hot day time temperatures, we will catch many of these wild trout within just a few feet of water, at the edges of the beach, in tidal current. The secret is the flows. You can use a sink tip or sinking line, like a clear intermediate line, when it gets so sunny and bright, thinking that the fish may be holding in deeper, colder and darker waters, and they may be at times. But there is nothing like skating a big fluffy Muddler or Popper on the surface, and getting those feisty trout to smash at the fly as it "V" wakes across the surface on the swing. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"! You need flow for that, current, moving water. And our tidewaters are famous for providing river-like flows on almost every tide. We're heading back toward a new moon cycle, so the tides through the end of the month and into early September are looking good. It is nice when we can get dawn or dusk high tides. Even better when we can have both sometimes.



Sea run Cutthroat taken on a 4 inch bait fish style Clouser fly.


   "Big flies, big fish" This would be the time of year to test this theory. The forage fish have gotten bigger by now. Herring can be well over 8 inches long. So do not be afraid to tie some bigger herring looking Clousers, long, flatwing Sandlance etc. Just keep the hooks smaller, like not over #4 or #6, medium to short in shank length. I use streamers as long as four to six inches this time of year, even for Cutthroat in saltwater. They still take these prey by the head. If you have ever seen Leland Miyawaki's Beach Poppers, after a few fish have attacked them, you will see that the foam popper heads are well torn up by the trout's sharp teeth. These fish ain't nibbling at things like some kind of anal retentive brown trout. Here too, the combination of moving water and a swung fly can be the trigger for aggressive takes by these wild trout. Let the fly work though. Don't be stripping it in so fast that you lose half of the presentation by taking it away from them too soon. Many of the best fish that we have caught were at the very end of the swing. Let the currents work your fly. If you are fishing on the swing you can impart action to the fly in a number of ways. Pulsing the rod tip, which gives the fly an upstream darting action, allowing the tension to set up in the line again as it swings, and pulsing it again etc. This Is just one of many ways to use the full swing, without stripping in the fly, and giving your presentation some life. Your fly will be fishing longer this way.



Fish Stories.

  The salmon are coming home! And everything seems poised toward this migration. On some tides we see bait fish everywhere, teeming schools of sandlance and herring, breaking out of the roiling currents, with the salmon, cutthroat, seals, otters and birds chasing them, and feasting on the bounty. And with the fattest, meanest cutthroat trout of the year chasing our flies, all of our attention is on the saltchuck now. Soon enough though, we will be getting a little rain in the mountains, usually at night, and the river flows will begin to revive. By late September we will see the beginnings of the October Caddis hatch, which will usually last through the first hard frost. And as the rivers freshen with the autumn rains there will be some of the best cutthroat trout and summer steelhead dry fly fishing on our coastal rivers and streams. This is truly a season of new beginnings.

   To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula fly fishing call or write for more details. I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula adventure.


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, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for rowboat picnics, Tide Pool and river trail 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, August 15, 2014

Autumn In August!


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

Autumn In August!


''To everything there is a season . . ."

    Western Washington fishing has been delightfully enjoyable this week, as we have been getting cool cloudy days, a little rain, and some freshets in the rivers. This has really stimulated some things around the Olympic Peninsula. And with warm dry weather in the forecast ahead, I expect to see even more of these cycles continue. There are more bugs hatching now, lots more. And we are not even into the fall weather yet. Last night I went out in the dory for a row around the bay. I pulled down along the waterfront, and I met some friends down at the pub for a pint as the sun was setting. It was cool and cloudy, with a heavy wet mist settling in upon us as the night came on and the stars began to twinkle through. Rowing back up town toward the ramp, the sky was filled with swirling mist and fog, and low lying wisps of clouds. 


"Night rowing." 
photo credit Crystal Craig photography
    I ended up staying out late, rowing along, several seals following me, drifting on the tides in the darkness. The water was a soft black, velvety flat plain.The air was so refreshingly cool that I almost stayed out all night. When I got back to the ramp it was midnight. I then found myself rowing through countless thousands of sandlance, swarming in mass along the beach in the shallows, writhing and cavorting in an impossible jumble of undulating bright flashes and darting leaps. Rowing along several hundred feet of beach, I could feel them bouncing wildly off of my oar blades, they were impossible to avoid. I don't recall ever seeing this happen so early in the year. And so I am wondering if fall will come early this year. At any rate, we needed the rain. And that freshening influence in the rivers might help to move some summer steelhead out of their usual low water malaise. That's a lucky thing for August on the Olympic Peninsula.


Summer Steelhead fishing.

    The beach fishing has been running just about as hot and cold as the weather around here lately.  Most of the salmon fishermen on the beaches are only now beginning to report a smattering of coho catches on each tide. They have always done better around here in September and October. Sea run Cutthroat are our primary game, as we walk and wade, fly fishing from the beaches, and they have not been disappointing. And we will still have at least several good months of this saltwater fly fishing ahead of us. We always look forward to our autumn fishing. By now the sea-run Cutthroat trout that we are catching are much stronger and more robust, fatter, and aggressive. What a difference a few months of feeding in the saltwater since spring makes for them. I just wish we could have a few cool and cloudy, softly misting rainy days every week of summer. I was surprised to learn that our little corner of the country gets less rain than anywhere else for these months each year.

"Evening tide"
    One thing that fly fishing can do is to help you to cultivate a sense of gratitude. It's pretty hard to hang onto your ordinary daily stresses and concerns when you are enveloped in the alchemy of bright waters and open air. Breathing in the heavy, sweet scent of salt and tide, and hanging all of your hopes on one cast at a time. Sometimes we forget ourselves, worldly goals and comparisons become meaningless, and our ordinary lives grow dim in our awareness as we open ourselves to the rhythm and pulse of the waters. At some point we are engrossed in the tempo of the cast, the swing of the line across the water, the wind and flows and dappling light will enchant us. Time disappears. One cast at a time we "practice to be quiet."  It is no wonder that we get home late sometimes.


To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula fly fishing call or write for more details. I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula adventure.


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. And we catch and release salmon on the beaches. 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, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for rowboat picnics, Tide Pool and river trail 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







Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Waxing Gibbous Moon



Your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing Guide,
Catch & release, Fly fishing only!

The Waxing Gibbous Moon


Beach Dory

  We are smack-dab in the middle of another beautiful, sunny summer beach season.  And the conditions here have been perfect for our sea-run Cutthroat trout fishing. The days have been sunny, with a refreshing ocean breeze, and the nights have been cooling us off. There have been some significant numbers of moths showing up lately too. And aside form the cornucopia of bait and other critters that the trout feed on, they will take moths, termites, winged ants, bees and beetles etc., anytime that they can. Yes, even in saltwater. And there has been a huge moth "hatch" going on here too. So now you can use big fluffy dry flies like Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulators, Steelhead Caddis, Muddlers etc. There's a lot of bugs on the water. 



Gypsy Moth (photo ecy.wa.gov)

    I especially like dry fly and surface fishing on the saltwater beaches. Sometimes when there are cutthroat around, and they are obviously feeding, but they are not taking our streamers and bait fish patterns, I will switch over to something that will imitate the bug life. Ants, winged ants, and termites can be very effective sometimes. Even hoppers will work now. 



My Steelhead Caddis


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . ." Emerson.

So I am offering you this observation: Sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout will eat all of the same bugs in saltwater that they do in freshwater. And it does not have to be perfectly matched to the time of a hatch to work. But sometimes that will help. And we are in a time of year now when it could make your day. So don't be afraid to try this.

Plying the moon tides . . .
Most dry fly trout fishermen will have developed a drag free drift on the fly before they come here. And they are always a little surprised when I encourage them to splat the fly down onto the water hard, and let it drag on the swing, drowning it at times, and shaking and twitching it on the retrieve, rudely disturbing the water all of the way. These fish want to eat something that looks alive!

Andy fools another one!
   But once again you have to remember that some trout can be kind of picky sometimes. So when they are actively feeding, and you have switched to dry flies, and you are skating them around out there in front of their noses for all that you are worth, and they are not falling for it- then you just might have to remember how to get a drag free drift again. I have caught a lot of sea runs this way, on a #12 Royal Wulff. I know, it isn't very "salty", but it often works. Bronze wire dry fly and trout hooks stand up to saltwater just fine. Just rinse them well after use and let them dry before putting them back into your fly box. You should do that with all of your saltwater flies and tackle anyway.

Dry fly sea run Cutthroat!
    
   It's salmon season around here again!

My neighbor Frank's hatchery coho for dinner!

  And here on Admiralty Inlet it has been a slow start. I don't know why people are surprised at this. We are in an El Nino cycle again, with huge amounts of bait congregating in the warm currents that are now very close to the coast, and we are in one of the warmest summers on record, and the rivers are very low too. Why would a salmon come back to a river here right now? Well, okay, a few kings and coho have slipped by here already. But ordinarily we wouldn't expect to see the coho run in earnest right here until mid August anyway. So with this new full moon coming on August 10th, another "Super Moon" at that, we will be having some very strong and deep tides. And I am willing to bet that we will see some good salmon fishing as this moon waxes in, and even as it wanes, over the next two weeks. Sometimes a full moon like that can make all of the difference.There has been a lot of bait around here lately, sea run Cutthroat, birds, seals, porpoises and otters all getting in on the feast. And yes, a few salmon chasing away at them too. It is time to hit the beaches. Now.

To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula fly fishing call or write for more details. I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula adventure.

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. And we catch and release salmon on the beaches. 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, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for rowboat picnics, and tide pool and river trail 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



















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