Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Olympic Peninsula Spring! Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout and Summer Steelhead


As it should be . . . 5/7/13 Update.

 After a scorching week of bright sun and record-breaking high temperatures here- Seattle was the hottest city in America yesterday! Up here on the Olympic Peninsula, just an hour from Seattle, we enjoy more moderate temperatures. Now we are back to a seasonably "normal' springtime weather cycle- with cool cloudy skies and daytime temperatures in the 60's. This is really perfect trout fishing weather; On the beaches, On the lakes, On the rivers. Personally, I like it like this. For much of the last week I have hidden inside, cowering from the stifling heat, eyeing the knee high weedy yard apprehensively, tying flies and waiting for the heat wave from hell to subside. Now it's time to get out there, and fire up the weed whacker, clear cut the towering grasses, and hit an late afternoon high tide. No doubt the heat wave, and bright light, really stirred things up in some of the lakes and rivers here in western Washington, and judging by all of the aquatic flies I am seeing, smeared all over my windshield, the fishing should be pretty good. Ants are in abundance now, and winged ants as well.  So I will make sure to have a few in my fly box- yes, even in saltwater- Trout love ants!

 Sometimes, especially this time of year, when they are feeding on the surface, sea runs will not like most of the flies you are offering them. They are feeding, right there in front of you, recklessly, in big splashy rises. And no matter what you are presenting, nor how you present it- they won't take it. It is likely that they are feeding on something very, very small. A size 12 to 14,(and even smaller!), black, winged ant fly just might do it. Dead drifted on and in the surface, right over those feeders. Our beaches are covered with vegetation, woody debris etc., all home to ants and other insects. Some of my fry patterns are tied very, very small for this same reason. I tie some Chum Baby flies down to size 12, and sparse, on dry fly hooks, with no bead heads, for just these occasions. (More on the Chum Baby flies can be found by scrolling down through previous postings.)

 We have had so much nice, almost-summer weather here lately, that one could easily forget that we are only entering May, and we still have June-U-Ary to get through! Don't laugh- we got sunburned on the beach one June day, and when I got home that afternoon there was hail in the roof gutters of the cabin. Beach fishing for sea run Cutthroat has begun here, with lots of sun, and  a little wind, and a few nice fish to hand last week. I have always liked May the best, as far as the timing for returning to the beaches here. By May just about all of the Cutthroat that have spawned locally have been out on the saltchuck, for a few weeks to a month or more, feeding heavily on Chum fry and juvenile forage fish, and gaining weight. By May these fish are robust and full of fight again. And it only gets better as they feed their way through spring into summer. Many of these trout are caught at the tides edges, in very shallow water, as the forage species- especially salmon fry- are taking advantage of softer currents, back eddies, and seeking tide pools along their seaward migrations. As juveniles they struggle in some of our strong tidal currents. They work hard to stay in the softer flowing edges of things. Right now I am seeing very tiny Herring in the shallows, and the Chum fry are as small as 1-1/2 inches and as big as two and a half to three inches. This reflects the fact that some of them have been in the salt water longer than others, and that the general trend is toward working their way seaward, from south to north, throughout their juvenile lives. So your fly box should have some very sparse and tiny fry patterns, ( I tie some of mine on size 12 dry fly hooks ), and some medium sized ones, and a few big ones too.

This sea run Cutthroat took a fly within ten feet of the beach, in two feet of slow moving water.

 My Little Stone's Chum Baby has been productive so far, as have some of the other flies we use, like my Beach Baby,( a good sand lance, herring and smelt imitation- size # 10 through # 6 ), and the Rolled Muddler, and Deer Hair Muddler, Knudsen's Spiders, Sculpin, Matukas etc. I always have a few of Leland Miyawaki's Beach Poppers with me too. I was tying some Chum Baby flies down at the beach the other day, in the truck, and it was really windy- enough so to bring out the surfers. Just as they hit the water our local radio station played Brian Wilson's great old classic Beach Boys hit song: "Surfing U.S.A". Enjoy!

Chum Baby Fly Tying Instructions

Little Stone's Chum Baby

 If you want to tie your own Chum Baby flies: Send $5.00 and a self addressed stamped envelope to me, and I will promptly send you back two sample flies, one small and one larger, and a two page instruction sheet to work from. Just don't let your wife catch you tying these things in her Porsche!

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

 The forecast ahead is calling for mild and sunny, warm weather here through the week. We could be enjoying summer conditions again! Last weekend we got hit with some strong winds, big new moon tides, and a pressure front change, and all of that really stirred up the waters through Monday. And the cold air that moved in was refreshing indeed. So, if anything, it has moved the fish and the forage around, and the trout will likely be taking advantage of these milder, much less windy conditions, to hit the shallows again. Around the full moon we had some big tidal exchanges, with very strong current flows, and that too will be calming down by mid week ahead. I like the softer tides around here, just before and after the new moon and the full moon, as this tends to allow the forage fish to hang around more, with less current to carry them away. If they go- the trout go with them. If it gets sunny and bright, which is exactly what we expect, then be prepared for sun exposure. The Olympic Peninsula is one of the few places I have ever fished where you can get hypothermia from the waist down, and sunburned from the waist up, all on the same trip.

A pretty spring sea run to hand!

 If you want to come fly fishing on the Olympic Peninsula waters- Give me a call or an email, and we can work out the details from there. We need to plan it ahead. The beach fishing has just begun, and each month will bring new and different opportunities for saltwater fly anglers. Our summer steelhead fishing on the rivers should be good through June and well into July. We have a substantial snow pack this year, and that will provide cooling flows for the fish to thrive in all mid-summer long. Trout fishing will open in June on most of our waters, but the earlier Game Fish Season opens on the Sold Duc on May 1st. That can be a nice little interval of early trout and summer steelhead fishing in very good and fresh river flows. For a real fly fishing Odyssey: we can fish for Cutthroat in the rivers, and on the beaches, all in one day!

Bright fish on a bright day!

18 inch wild sea run! On a Chum Baby!

 Remember; Fair Chase fly fishing only, Catch & Release, One single barbless hook fly, No bobbers, No floats, No indicators.  

 Fly Casting Instruction- Single-Handed and Two- Handed rods.

 I offer private and group instruction for fly casters of any experience or ability, from beginner to expert. Learn the basic mechanics of fly casting and begin the adventure of a lifetime, or tune up your distance and accuracy casting for your next big trip. I have been teaching fly casting for over 15 years. I have been a Certified Casting Instructor, by the Wulff School of Fly Fishing, in the Joan Wulff Method, by Joan Wulff, since 1999. In the spring of 2000 I was certified under the Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors program, by then Casting Board Of Governors Chair, Dr. Floyd N. Franke. The lesson sessions, of two hours duration, are offered in the Port Townsend area, usually for one or two students. Lesson arrangements are made by prior agreement. 

 Bob Triggs
 Little Stone Flyfisher
 Licensed Washington State Guide
 Certified Casting Instructor
 USCG/BLS/CPR/AED/BBP/HIV/ 1st Aid Certified
              Celebrating over 33 years of singularly distinguished fly fishing adventure!

 Email: littlestoneflyfisher@mail.com

 Telephone: 360-385-9618 / Toll Free: 866-793-3595

 LIKE! www.facebook.com/Little StoneFlyfisher 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Winter's Last Call?

Winter's last call?

Sol Duc River, Winter green. 

Since last Easter Sunday our rivers received a good solid hit of warm spring rain, spread over a few days of time. The flows went straight up quickly. By Saturday and Sunday night, as the storms cleared, and the colder temperatures set up in the Olympic Mountain foothills again, the flows have been dropping precipitously, into a near vertically descending profile of what will, hopefully, become some very good fishing flows ahead. So if this works out it is likely going to be our propitious opportunity to swing those winter flies on the bigger water again, in these last few weeks of wild winter steelhead season. After the 15th of April we will be focused on the Quillayute River System waters- the Bogachiele and Sol Duc rivers in particular. If you want to come out here with me, you had better call in and let the boss know that you are feeling too well to work, and let's get a few days on the water here now. Get your priorities straight here please! Once the end of April comes along you will be wishing you had been a lot less responsible and provident. And you will have  a whole year ahead of you to regret not coming.

Updated 4/18-20

 Warm rains have another spike in flows hitting the rivers right now. But the short term trend is toward colder and drier ahead. We will have to watch this cycle daily now. I am hoping for a decent flow scheme by Saturday and Sunday. Your best bet right now will be the upper Bogachiele River, for better clarity, and the lower Sol Duc River, better opportunity, and even the Quillayute river, between Tribal netting schedules.

Occupy Skagit!

Kush came down from B.C. Please, someone, give this man a cigar.

Some very good people have worked hard on this issue- to reopen the late winter steelhead Catch & Release fishing season on the Skagit River. In an effort to engage the mangers in WDFW and the Federal agencies involved, and to work within the Endangered Species Act requirements, these people have organized to call attention to the issues involved, and to present a case for reopening before the WDFW Commissioners, including public testimony at the next Commission meeting on this coming Saturday. None of this is simple or easy. And of course it involves several layers of regulation and bureaucracy. And as one great veteran of the Skagit River steelhead fishery said: "Without enforcement this will mean nothing". And we do have an enforcement deficit as the budgets cuts have defunded everything from mother's milk to coffin nails now. Last Saturday some of us gathered to support this cause, meeting up at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport for a rally. This was a great turnout with good media support. And a few of the great names in pacific northwest steelheading came to lend their support. It would be great if you would do a little reading up on this here, and please consider lending your support in some form.

Saturday April 13th will be another effort as the Occupy Skagit gang heads down to Olympia for the WDFW Commissioner's meeting. Come, Speak, Support!



As many of you may know, our Olympic Peninsula rivers are being clobbered now, especially on the weekends, as so many hundreds of additional anglers have come out here to focus on these last great wild fish. Through the entire season this adds up to thousands of additional angling hours and days hitting the water. One Friday recently we counted over 50 drift boats and hundreds of anglers on the Hoh river alone. (now you know why I prefer guiding on weekdays here.) A scenario that is becoming all too common. And this has always been a major reason behind my decision  to have avoided using rafts and boats on my trips here. We can walk in and get to some nice water ahead of the boats. And we can relocate to new water at any time, even to another river, often much more quickly than a drift boat can. And we avoid a lot of the snarky behavior that is so commonly displayed now, and not just by the guides. These rivers are not mine, and they are not yours- they are Ours. It is supposed to be fun people!

This is why I am supporting Occupy Skagit: I am sure it will reduce the overwhelming fishing pressure that we are seeing here on the Olympic Peninsula rivers sometimes now. Why the hell WDFW did not plan for this in advance, when they closed the Puget Sound regional rivers to late winter fishing under the ESA listings, is beyond me! How could they not foresee this great influx of fishing pressure here, or not mitigate it at once? Not a few of these people are coming here to continue to kill wild steelhead too. It seems like the managers always wait until it is too late to benefit from more conservative measures. And instead of using Catch and Release as a stable, wild fisheries management tool, they use it as a last ditch effort to keep fishing open, and for keeping the license and sales tax dollars flowing. Catch and Release is not a fisheries recovery tool generally speaking. It is a management tool- when you have stable numbers of fish to begin with. Some very qualified people do feel that the Skagit system steelhead numbers have been stable enough, for some years running, to support  a responsible C&R fishery there again. This would give our rivers and fish a much needed break.

On the ferry to Occupy Skagit!

On the Saltchuck

Evening tide.

P.S. The Chum salmon fry are moving into our area now! I have been letting the cutthroat fatten up on them a little bit for now. But it will be very soon that you will have to haunt the beaches at dawn to find me. Once I see the Salmon Berry blossoms along the steelhead rivers here, and the Hummingbirds buzzing about, and the brief, intermittent  hatches of Blue Winged Olives, Crane flies and Stone flies- I feel this pull inside of me to get salty again too. I am suspended somewhere between winter and spring, steeped in the overwhelming beauty of life and nature, as one season ends and another begins. I wouldn't mind if we had another 60 days of winter, and wild steelhead fishing to revel in. But spring is so exciting, so sudden, that it alarms the senses. And last night I went for a walk at 7:30 and it was still light out. I am so ready for that.

It's Chum Baby Time . . . Again!

More Chum Baby flies are on their way to the Orvis Bellevue Fly Shop! Just in time for your spring Puget Sound Saltchuck fly fishing adventures! This well tested and proven fly pattern has been very productive on our regional sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout. And many other fisheries are seeing success with this fry pattern now; In Alaska, New England and beyond. A great general spring time fry pattern. And not just for trout- Dolly Varden char and  Smallmouth bass fly fishermen are doing well with this fly too. One of the fun aspects of developing a fly pattern is to see how other fly fishermen will use it over time, across the range of possibilities. And to see it work in salt waters and fresh waters, including still waters, is a real kick.

Tie your own!
To receive two of my original Chum Baby fly samples, and my two-page detailed tying instruction sheet:
Send $5 and a self Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Bob Triggs
Box 261
Port Townsend, WA

I will send them right out to you!

I look forward to helping you plan that last winter steelhead trip out here on the Olympic Peninsula with me, or maybe you are as excited about our sea run Cutthroat Trout beach season as I am- mid to late April through November- and we can talk about that too. Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only. Fair-Chase; swung flies, one single barbless hook, No Bobbers, No Indicators.

Bob Triggs

Tel: 360-385-9618 / Toll free: 866-793-3595

Email: littlestoneflyfisher@mail.com

Like! www.facebook.com/LittleStoneFlyfisher