Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Springish



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



Chum salmon fry. A harbinger of spring.


It's Chum Baby Time!
    Winter has been slow to release its grip on us here on the north Olympic Peninsula. Rain, snow, rain, snow, freeze, thaw, drip, drip, drip . . .

But every few days since the spring solstice we are getting a bit milder weather, more sunshine. The days are longer, everything is green and blooming, the herring have spawned. And the salmon fry are out and about in the shallow water along our beaches. There's still bound to be some few cutthroat spawning in our area creeks too. Especially with all of this rain lately. But there's also quite a few nice robust trout out and about, and feeding on the fry. 




Sandlance are an important forage for the sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. 



These flatwing style flies will do nicely to imitate the sandlance.
Tied on #6 hooks.




We take the weather one day at a time now.
      It's time to get out there on the beaches and try to remember how to cast. For the next few months you will find that the trout are feeding heavily on salmon fry, and other forage. Some of your flies should be quite small. Fry patterns can be useful from barely an inch to over 1-1/2 inches right now. By May they can be two inches or longer. Around here the herring will be quite small in May, and they seem to hug the shorelines, as does much of the prey species this early in the year. They will tell you that "a big fly will catch a big fish." But we do catch a lot of nice, bigger, sea-runs on size 12 dry flies and smaller shrimp, krill, and other patterns. A #12 to #10 Scud fly, in olive, tan or grey, can be fatal at times. Use these to imitate the "beach hoppers" that are all over the beaches and in the shallows. especially on a cloudy or overcast day. The hoppers like low light conditions. Trout will feed at the edges, in impossibly shallow water for them sometimes.

   

    A few thoughts on spring sea-run cutthroat fishing.  Depending upon your fishing location, and time of year, especially ranging from southern Puget Sound to the North Olympic Peninsula waters, or northern Puget Sound, or southern Hood Canal vs northern Hood Canal, or the Pacific coastal rivers, you can have widely varying experiences of the sea-run cutthroat trout that you encounter. I have heard it said, by qualified, science- minded people, that our sea-run coastal cutthroat trout spawn in March and April. And I have heard it said that they spawn from February through May. And I have witnessed cutthroat trout spawning in a small north Olympic Peninsula coastal stream around Thanksgiving. But generally we expect them to spawn a bit earlier in the South Sound, and  bit later in the North sound and North Olympic Coastal waters. From around mid April we see increasing numbers of sea runs in our local Olympic Peninsula waters, and by now they are chasing the fry around in the saltchuck like crazy! 

    The more that I learn about these fish, the more I realize how little we really know. But one thing I believe, to a degree, is that "it's all true." The divergent nature of information about the life history of sea-run coastal cutthroat trout is not really in disagreement. It's just that the information comes from different areas, at different times, from different sources. And any one of them can be completely correct for one region, and also be off by weeks, or months, for another, more distant area. We have no reason to doubt anyone's words on this.

    And the more that you fish for them, in any particular area, the more you will learn- about those fish in that area. They are free to roam. And many of them do roam widely. But the majority of them stay pretty close to their natal streams. This is known as "site fidelity." In some places, I think most places, this can make them vulnerable to over fishing. This is something that the research of the last few years has brought to light. And it certainly explains why they get more selective in their feeding, and more careful about flies and other lures, as the season progresses.

    Much of the diversity of the coastal cutthroat trout life history reflects the evolutionary strategies that they have been forced into by geologic events over the millenia, and also by human encroachments on their habitats over the last 200 +- years. Simply fishing for them can change their behavior in the short-term, we see that ourselves as the fish begin to feed more selectively, and turn down what was once your favorite fly or lure. But it's not hard to see that decades of fishing stresses would eventually cause genetic changes, in response to those stresses, that would change their behavior completely. In some ways, the human race has had the greatest negative impact in the shortest period of time. That's how over 90% of the salmon, steelhead and trout habitat has been lost in the Pacific Northwest in the last 100-200 years. They have survived unimaginable stresses.

     So what works to catch these fish today, be it a technique or fly, etc., might work today, but not tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week. Once you think you have them all figured out, they will humble you. Most of the best, truly outstanding sea-run cutthroat fishing that I have ever experienced was almost purely an accident. You can plan everything perfectly, and never touch a fish. And you can stumble into a day, and a place, when you catch the fish of a lifetime. And you couldn't have planned for it better if you tried. That's a good thick slice of humble pie. The only sure thing about these fish is that they keep moving.

     Yes, of course, go fishing in the saltchuck any time of year. If you're catching robust, strong sea-run cutthroat, that's a good thing. But, if they seem weak, underweight, still in deep spawning colors, and showing abrasion on their lower bodies and fins, lower tails etc., maybe it's time to give that location, and those fish a break.  As the late conservationist  angler and writer Les Johnson said, in his great book: "Fishermen have a way of ruining estuaries."

    There are some really good, qualified fisheries people working on seriously researching these wonderful, unique wild trout in our region. And as long as we're going to be chasing them around with hooks, the more that we can learn about them, from the perspective of true biological science, and their life history, habitats, forage species, diseases etc., the better we can manage them, and our fishing, for the future. I hope you'll consider supporting this effort. Here's the link: http://www.coastalcutthroatcoalition.com 

   We will be back on the water this spring! Just in time for the beginning of another beautiful season of wild sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing on the saltwaters and rivers of the Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Drop me a note or give me a call for details. All trips, casting instruction sessions, public and fly fishing club presentations, and rowboat picnics, must be booked in advance.

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

      I  guide 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  run steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction.  I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventures, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide, Rowboat picnics, Tide Pool and  River trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April through October. Please plan ahead! 

     
This is the way to go fly fishing for sea-run Cutthroat!
SSShhh!!!  Listen to the quiet . . .
                                 
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
W.S.U. Water Watchers and Beach Watchers Graduate
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618






Monday, March 12, 2018

It's In The Air!


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


It's Chum Baby time!
Now available at the Orvis Bellevue, WA fly shop!

Counting  Chum Salmon fry in a smolt trap. 
North Olympic Peninsula small stream.
In a good year they will count over one million.


Spring Romance!

Here's a brief video from the Coastal Cutthroat Trout Coalition
They are doing important research on our sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. The data that they have been gathering has helped us to understand more about what these trout need, and how we should be managing them for a sustainable fishery in the future. Please support them!



       We are having some stellar, spring-like weather here right now. And if I wasn't so busy being busy this week, I would be out on a beach, casting a fly, and getting a sunburn. But March has always been kind of slow for sea-runs around here. Not that you can't get a solid surprise now though.  But it will be more likely that your fishing will pay off if you head down south on the Hood Canal beaches, or to the southern half of Puget Sound, for the next few weeks. I am hearing good things about the resident coho fishing down there now too. Those areas are typically ahead of us by a few weeks, as far as trout hitting the saltchuck sooner, and chum and pink salmon fry entering the estuaries earlier. By the end of March things will be picking up closer to home. And by Mid April we will be seeing plenty of chum fry along our beaches, and the cutthroat will be close behind. And these warmer days will really help. Most of the resident coho that I have caught up here have been in May and June. They just show up, passing through here. And they will grab a trout fly and fight like hell! Fun stuff.
        
       On my beach walks lately I have not seen much baitfish action, but there's plenty of sea birds feeding in the currents. For the most part I see that they are eating sandlance. Not surprisingly, as these seem to be the most prevalent of forage fish here.  Ask anyone who has been fishing for salmon in the summer and fall around here, (Washington Marine Area # 9) , and you will hear stories about the sandlance spilling out of the salmon, and all over the decks, when they land them in the boats. Some of the fisheries researchers have said to me that the bait balls we see on the surface of the bay, and on Admiralty Inlet area, with fish chasing them, and birds wheeling and diving over the teeming froth, are mostly comprised of sandlance now. I like tying flatwing flies to imitate these long slim forage fish. Fished on a slow swing, they can be deadly.

      It's uncanny how quiet the beaches can seem to be, at times, with very little to indicate that there's any fish around. But comes the day when there are, overnight, millions of sculpin swarming around that the edges of the tides, bait busting all over, birds galore, and the trout are right there and crashing the bait. Those sculpin and stickleback are just about everywhere in Puget Sound. Try a Matuka fly for that. I tie them weighted and unweighted, in mottled, earthy tones of grey, black, brown and green. The trout eat them. Don't forget to tie some Muddlers too. Or you can be cheap, like me, and buy them in a plastic blister pack, at the hardware store, 2 for a buck-fifty. For some reason, the cheaper you get those flies, the better they seem to work. 


     I finally got the dory painted. I'm still tying flies. It's going to blow like hell here tonight, And there's been ice in the boat every morning. So it goes. It's not spring yet. But it's getting there. In another week or so we will be past the time of year when a deep frost can kill your garden. And there will be more bugs and other food becoming available to the fish. I hear that the Skwalas are showing up on some rivers now too. For instance, if I were interested in Yakima River trout fishing right now, and through the early spring season, (Big Stoneflies!), I would be looking at fishing with my guide friend Derek Young. He fishes all over the western states. Catch him if you can.
      
 

     We will be back on the water this spring! Just in time for the beginning of another beautiful season of wild sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing on the saltwaters and rivers of the Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Drop me a note or give me a call for details. All trips, casting instruction sessions, public and fly fishing club presentations, and rowboat picnics, must be booked in advance.

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

      I  guide 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  run steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction.  I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventures, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide, Rowboat picnics, Tide Pool and  River trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April through October! 

     
This is the way to go fly fishing for sea-run Cutthroat!
SSShhh!!!  Listen to the quiet . . .
                                 
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
W.S.U. Water Watchers and Beach Watchers Graduate
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618

           

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It's that time of year.



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

A well used beach dory gets a much deserved bit of annual restoration in the boat shop. By the time that I get done, I will have to burn my work clothes. Spring sea-run coastal cutthroat trout fly fishing is coming!

Scrape, scrape, scrape, spend $, patch, sand, patch, spend $, sand, sand, sand, spend $, paint, sand, paint, spend $ sand, paint, and a little bit of varnish . . .  
Until your fingers bleed. Then, put some band aids on your bloody fingers and and let the paint dry.

Photo credit gratitude to Kaci Cronkite

https://www.kacicronkhite.com/





 It's Chum Baby Time!


The whole point! 
Photo credit U.S.F.W.S.
  
     March on the north Olympic Peninsula coastal rivers is peak spring spawning time for most of our sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout. So it's no surprise that we don't see very many of them on the beaches right now. With the milder winter we have had this year it is likely that many of them have already spawned, and some are well on their way to the salt. Maybe this explains why we see some robust, fat cutthroat in the saltchuck now too. But by mid to later April they will be showing up in greater numbers up here, chasing the juvenile Chum salmon all over the place, and fattening up. And it doesn't hurt a bit that we have had some very strong runs of these salmon returning to our watersheds to spawn. For the next few months or more, the regional fisheries biologists and technicians, using smolt traps, will be counting the out-migrating fry as they move out of the gravel redds and down to the estuaries. This will continue for many weeks to come here. And just about the time that the post spawning Cutthroat, and some of their younger brethren, have dropped out of the rivers and streams, and down to the estuaries and shorelines, the Chum salmon juveniles will be well distributed in the same places. And soon the Cutthroat will be feeding with reckless zeal.

    These fish, both predator and prey alike, have evolved through this dance over many tens of thousands of years here. As fly fishers it behooves us to learn about these things. Now is the time! The Chum Baby fly is also doing well up in Alaska, on the early season Lake Iliamna tributaries and Katmai National Park region Rainbows and Char, Grayling etc., that are feeding on fry and smolt in the rivers. And now some of my whacko smallmouth bass fishing buddies are cleaning up with the Chum Baby fly on the rivers and lakes too. So we are discovering that this fly has some application beyond the shores of Puget Sound country. You should be using this fly anywhere that the big fish eat the little fish!
    
    This fly has become a very well known, popular and successful pattern for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing on Puget Sound regional waters and beyond.  
I worked this fly up over several seasons of trial and error on my local beaches. After catching many sea runs on it from late winter through early summer, from the north Olympic Peninsula and Admiralty Inlet to the Hood Canal beaches, I knew it was a winner. I originally intended the Chum Baby as an imitation of our out migrating juvenile Chum salmon, which are plentiful here along the shallow and warmer near shore areas, pocket lagoons and estuaries in early spring, and the trout eat them aggressively.

     What has come as a happy surprise is how well this fly can work at other times of year here, even when there are no Chum salmon fry around. And I use it in our rivers and streams too. Even in the fall. Some people are using this fly on the Skagit system for Dolly Varden / Bull Trout in the spring  And now many of my fly angling friends and fellow guides are using this as an all-around fry pattern; in Alaska for Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Char and Grayling, and on the Atlantic Coast for "Coaster" Brook Trout and Striped Bass. We are also using them on Snook, Redfish and Sea trout down south. This has been a very fun thing to watch evolving. And sometimes we need to remember that this whole fly fishing thing is supposed to be fun.

 The Chum Baby fly can be presented using a wet fly swing, dead drift, cast and strip, fast, slow, shallow or deep- as needed. One thing that you will notice about it is that the wing really lights up under water with even a small amount of sunlight. And the sparser you tie them the better this works. Juvenile salmon and other forage fish are not opaque underwater, they are semi transparent. The distinct dark peacock herl collar on this fly is meant to emulate the eye of  a chum fry. The glittering tinsel body is to imitate the gut and the two crystal flash strips represent the lateral line. The barring of the natural Fox Squirrel tail wing seems to work very well, even though most of the Chum salmon fry and older juveniles you see will be subtler in color, spotted, and usually more on the green, olive brown side. The peacock herl topping is simply because I am old fashioned, and I try to include some of the more traditional features of old world patterns in my flies. All in an impressionistic effort. Strictly speaking we can call this fly an "attractor" pattern.

 I tie them sparsely in the early spring, March and April, at under two inches long overall. By May and June I tie them much longer, and with a larger bead. They can be tied with a smaller hook, size # 8 or #10, and with a much smaller wing etc. But if I am tying it larger I do not increase the hook size above #6 as we are trying to avoid injury to these precious wild trout. I like these medium shank length hooks as we tend to get good hook ups, with only very rarely any deep hooking or tongue injuries this way.

    
Invasion!

    Dozens of Chum Baby flies are once again migrating across Puget Sound, over the I-405 Bridge, and all of the way upstream to the Orvis Bellevue Fly Shop!


If you are in the Seattle area, drop in to the Belevue Orvis Shop!

   
Tie your own Chum Baby flies!

   If you would like to tie your own Chum Baby flies, from my original pattern and written instructions, I will be happy to provide two sample tying model flies, tied by myself, with the written instructions. 

   Just send $5.00 and a self addressed legal sized return envelope to:

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


       We will be back on the water this spring! Just in time for the beginning of another beautiful season of wild sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing on the saltwaters and rivers of the Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Drop me a note or give me a call for details. All trips, casting instruction sessions, public and fly fishing club presentations, and rowboat picnics, must be booked in advance.

Your 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. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly  casting instruction for beginners.  I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventure, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide, Rowboat picnics, Tide Pool and  River trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April, May, and beyond! 

     
This is the way to go fly fishing for sea-run Cutthroat!
SSShhh!!!  Listen to the quiet . . .
                                 
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
W.S.U. Water Watchers and Beach Watchers Graduate
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618



Monday, December 4, 2017

A Gift From The Gods!*


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


A Gift From The Gods!*


Image may contain: sky, night and cloud
Last moon of the year- "The Cold Moon"
Photo credit: Chuck Rondeau

(*The weather gods, that is.)  

    Last Friday, Pacific Northwest weather Guru Cliff Mass posted this astonishing forecast for the week or more ahead:


    And on Sunday he followed up with this even more inscrutably good forecast:



     After all of the wind and high dirty water the beaches, estuaries and rivers have been getting over the last month, and after too many fishless days, this weather.com forecast looks like some kind of Karmic reward for doing something really good in a past life: 

(Trust me here, Nothing that I have ever done in this lifetime has ever warranted this kind of payout. And who knows how many lifetimes it is going to take to ever get this close to Bliss again!?)


Note the wind forecasts! 
If you want to fish for sea-run coastal cutthroat trout on the Puget sound regional beaches, this will be the sweetest winter news you've ever seen!
        
     The west-end Olympic Peninsula river flows too are falling into sweet walking, wading and fly swinging shape, just in time for the winter-run hatchery steelhead slugfest. 

Also, WDFW sent us an early holiday present, with this brief extension on the hatchery coho fishing in the Sol Duc River: 


Have flies, will travel!

     So, I am looking forward to getting out on the saltchuck in the dory this week. Maybe even for the next few weeks! With all of that dirty runoff water the local streams have been getting, many of the cutthroat have moved back out on the beaches to feed. And there's plenty of bait around now too. With the wind forecasts looking so good, I can row just about anywhere. Oh sweet!  Catch me if you can! 

    Winter sea-run cutthroat fishing tip: Use squid flies!!! 



This is a classic wooden Swampscott Dory. Fully restored. We row the beaches, casting for sea-runs. This is the most traditional, salty and relaxing way to fly fish for sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. One angler only. Call or write for details.

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

    I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, or row along the shorelines in the dory, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in the saltwater, and in the rivers for Cutthroat trout and summer steelhead. This is all strictly catch and release, traditional, barbless single hook, fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction for beginners through advanced casters. I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventure, for all levels of ability, beginner to expert. Public presentations, Naturalist Guide, rowboat picnics, tide pool and  river trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April through October and beyond. 

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
2006 W.S.U.Beach Watcher / Water Watcher graduate
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ya Snooze, Ya Lose!


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

    I will keep this one short and sweet. It's not like I didn't try to warn you. You have had ample time and notice to stop cleaning your gutters, stop washing your windows, stop waxing your cars, and get your selves out on the water now.  We almost never see weather and fishing conditions this good this late in the year, on the western Washington rivers, and on the Puget Sound saltchuck.  All I can say is that if you don't get it, and you aren't fishing now, you can't be helped. In a few days, everything is going to change. Here's the upcoming weather "radical change" forecast: 



Dude, Kill your lawn mower!


P.S. You are on your own. I am unavailable until further notice. 

 
This is some of the best sea-run cutthroat trout fishing on the Olympic Peninsula- the summer "tourons" are gone, and the fish are on the feed.




This is a classic wooden Swampscott Dory. Fully restored. We row the beaches, casting for sea-runs. This is the most traditional, salty and relaxing way to fly fish for sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. 
One angler only.  Call or write for details.

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

    I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, or row along the shorelines in the dory, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in the saltwater, and in the rivers for Cutthroat trout and summer steelhead. This is all strictly catch and release, traditional, barbless single hook, fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction for beginners through advanced casters. I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventure, for all levels of ability, beginner to expert. Public presentations, Naturalist Guide, rowboat picnics, tide pool and  river trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April through October and beyond. 


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
2006 W.S.U.Beach Watcher / Water Watcher graduate
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618