Saturday, October 27, 2012

When The Rains Of November Come Early


 Statistically speaking we know that November is our wettest month of the year out here. And while it is not uncommon for us to get some rain in mid October, usually a welcome relief to the summer's long drought, it is uncommon for us to have rain for fully half of October running into November. We got lucky for most of the past few weeks of precipitation here, as a big cold front pushed down from Arctic Alaska, and along with all of that moisture we got freezing temperatures as low as 2000-2500 feet in the Olympic Mountains, and some good snow accumulation, which reduced the impacts of the rain on the rivers, and provided many days of good fishing flows. Summer run Steelhead, fall Salmon and Cutthroat are being caught all over the Peninsula. and the saltwater beaches have been fishing well for fall Coho Salmon, the Chum are showing up now, and Cutthroat too are at their best this time of year. In fact the hardest thing has been deciding which direction to head off in on a fishing trip lately.

Here Comes The Bear!

  Now this weekend we are seeing a warm front move across the Olympic Peninsula, with some significant winds in the forecast, and the rivers are just beginning to react with a spike in flows. Depending upon how warm it gets at lower altitudes, and how much rain we get, will set the stage for the coming weeks of fishing opportunity. So for those already on the rivers at dawn today might be a good day, at least for the first half of the day, as far as flows and fishing goes, especially on the bigger waters. And by carefully checking around, you might find a few niches of respectable fly water left on some smaller rivers as well. Unless we have a catastrophic huge area wide storm event, that hits all at once, one can always find a little fishable water. Especially early in the game of weather changes.

 I was booked for a sea run Cutthroat trip today, and I often get up very early before a trip if the conditions are unstable, just to confirm the possibilities for the day. Sometimes we change the meeting location based on local impacts of wind, waves, tides etc. This can often buy us hours of time. At dawn this morning my favorite beach was as calm as a Hindu Cow: quiet water, no appreciable wind, no waves, light misting rain and overcast. One would think this would be a perfect day to fish that beach.

 I sat in the dark, sipping hot coffee in the truck, using the phone to check the coming day; the winds on Puget Sound via the Washington Ferry Service weather pages, the new NOAA coastal radar views, the west end and southwest coastal rivers gauges, the freezing levels in the Olympic Mountains and the marine synopsis and forecasts. Everything pointed to things going to hell in a hand basket- as far as beach fishing was concerned- by about 11:00 a.m. to Noon. I got out of the truck as the morning light began to gather in a pale white haze, and stood in the light rain, watching the visibility utterly disappear.

 The winds were forecast for a Small Craft Warning on Admiralty Inlet, with 2-4 foot wind waves by early afternoon. The NOAA coastal radar showed a huge rain pattern, already making landfall, coming from the west-southwest and moving  across the Olympic Peninsula. The Hoko and Sooes rivers gauges were showing significant spiking, and The Hoh and Queets were beginning to react, and it was still very early in the rainfall. The Olympic Mountains freezing / snow levels  were rising from 2000-2500 feet to well above 7000 feet,(in a very short span of time). So I made the call and rescheduled the trip.

      "Sometimes you get the bear, 
         Sometimes the bear gets you."                                   

 The forecasts have held true so far, and the bay is now romping along with some nifty winds, and the waves are easily at the predicted 2-4 feet, blowing white foam and marl colored. And the rivers will continue to rise. So I am sorting my winter gear; organizing shooting / sinking lines, Skagit heads, running lines, backing- all knots and connections, leader butts and standing loops etc., and organizing and tying my Winter Steelhead flies. For now. Keeping an eye on things. Waiting out The Bear.

"You should have been here yesterday."

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