Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rites Of Spring

Rites Of Spring

   I took a row in the dory along the beaches on Monday afternoon. I was scouting for feeding Cutthroat. It was a sunny afternoon, but cool and breezy at about 10 to 15 knots. And as luck sometimes works out, the wind was against me most of the way out, for about two miles. There was a soft one foot chop to the water. Many days these winds blow out by sundown. And for a short trip along the shore I wasn't too worried about it anyway. Most of the time I could walk and wade in the same places that I am rowing. There was enough of a wind riffle on the water to  make it difficult to see any surface action from the small fry schools. I did however see plenty of juveniles making their way down the sheltered, tea colored creek, most at under two inches, in densely grouped "schools." Of course the Kingfishers and Herons are already getting in on this annual bonanza of food. These Summer Chum will come back in a few years, many of them well over ten pounds by then. The habitat restoration work of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition has been steadily improving this watershed for over 20 years. For many years this salmon run was extirpated. For the first time in over 15,000 years of human interactions there were no salmon in some of these places. Now they are coming home to spawn every fall. And any time that you improve salmon habitat, the Cutthroat trout will be close by. The next time you are sea run fishing on the north Olympic Peninsula, anywhere from the Hood Canal Bridge to the Sooes River in Neah Bay, remember that many dedicated volunteers and professionals have been working very hard for decades to improve these coastal watersheds. Maybe you'll support them too.

It's all about the habitat!

    It is generally not too soon for sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout fly fishing on Puget Sound regional waters right now. And I know plenty of people who fish for them all winter long. But we do know that many of these fish are spawning during the spring, and March seems to be the big month for this. So by the end of March these post spawn fish might be underweight, and lacking the kind of power and zeal that make them such a good game fish for fly fishermen. It can not be good for these fish to be hooked and played and handled in this condition. It won't hurt to give them a few weeks to recover, bulk up feeding on the fry, and regain their former status as scrappy, hard hitting, Welterweight trout. This March has been unusually wet, and the extra rainfall has given most of our streams and rivers a big boost in flows. And there has also been lower temperatures earlier in the month. So the streams have run cold and high for weeks. And it is believed that this can slow down spawning in the Cutthroat, and perhaps also briefly delay the Chum fry in their emergence from their gravel redds in the rivers.

Yearling sea run Cutthroat take the Chum Baby fly!
    Mid to late April is the beginning of the better spring fishing for sea runs around here on the north Olympic Peninsula. And down in the South Sound area it seems to get going a few weeks earlier. We are at the cusp of some of the best fishing of the year. Right now I am tying my spring flies, chiefly my Little Stone's Chum Baby and Little Stone's Beach Baby, and since it is a Pink Salmon fry year here again, I am tying my Little Stone's Pinkie Baby fly too. These patterns will work throughout the spring. I tie them small and sparse in the early weeks. But by mid to later May they are well over two inches long. It is not that this is the only fly that will work right now. But imitating the available forage is going to be the best strategy. And right now there a a gazillion Pink salmon and Chum salmon fry out there, all making their way into the salt waters and migrating north with the spring. There are many other marine and terrestrial forage species of significance to our sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout fishing here. And I will be detailing some of those in future blogs this spring and early summer.

Fly Fishing Author and Guide Richard Stoll met up with this hefty sea run Cutthroat,
using my Chum Baby fly on an early season scouting trip. )

Fly Casting Tune-Up!
    Spring is a good time for a tune-up of your fly casting skills. Fly casting is the very heart and soul of this game. If you can't cast well enough, your fishing is not going to go all that well either. This is one sport that you can improve at throughout your lifetime. By the time that you get back into fishing this season you won't have much time for practice. I teach all levels of fly casting, from beginner to expert. So if you want to learn from the basics on up, or you just need a little help with getting that extra bit of distance or accuracy, let me help you. I have many years of teaching experience and I hold several Casting Instructor Certifications.

Fly Fishing Instruction and Guided Trips
   By the end of April I will be back on the Olympic Peninsula waters, teaching the arts of fly fishing and fly casting, and guiding fly fishers for catch & release only, freshwater and saltwater. Trout, Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout & Summer Steelhead. Please write or call for details.

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





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