Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pacific Jet Stream Blues

Jet Stream Blues

 After these recent few weeks of dry mild weather here we are finally getting some much needed rain. Over the next few days we could see something like 2-5 inches of rain, accumulating several feet of snow in the higher elevations of the Olympic Mountains. These later winter storms help to build up our snow pack, and this creates an extended summer Steelhead fishing season for us later, with good flows well through June and into July in good water years. Thankfully, the freezing levels are holding in lower elevations, at 1500-2500 feet. So there is a good chance that the rivers will get plenty of water without really blowing out. And if they do get high they likely will not stay that way for long. Be aware that the roads can freeze here when it gets that cold. Friday looks like it might be an especially nasty day, with strong sustained winds and gusts predicted. So making plans for our weekend Steelhead fishing has become difficult as we watch and wait, and hope. Why can't it rain like this on Tuesdays? Forecasting in the winter is a tenuous dance here sometimes. I do know that our rivers, and our fish, need this rain. Gratitude and humility go hand in hand. My friends out in Forks call these "Conservation Days".

Update as of Saturday February 23 rd mid day: The rivers on the west end all increased in flows, but nowhere near flood levels. And so far they are dropping in flows quickly. The cold mountain temperatures are helping. More rain on the way tonight and tomorrow, so we will be waiting and watching for now. Things need to calm down a bit before we can expect the kinds of flows that provide the best opportunity for swinging flies for winter steelhead here. Now is a good time to be tying up those spring sea run Cutthroat flies! In a few weeks the Chum fry will be out on our local shorelines.

"It's a beautiful day!" Winter Steelhead Spey fishing on the Hoh River

 Looking ahead this winter, this storm bodes well for the upcoming few weeks of fishing plans, as  the new fresh flows will encourage Steelhead to move upriver, and new fish will return to the rivers on these higher flows too. And it won't hurt that we are under a waxing 80% Gibbous Moon right now, which always moves more tidal current and height. It is also getting to be the time of year that I expect to see my first "Springer", King Salmon, of the year, tail walking up the river, silver flanks flashing brightly. Always a thrill to see. This is the essence of wilderness- Cherish it, conserve it, support it. ( Note that I am not a salmon guide. ) These longer sunlit hours of late winter always bring a feeling of hope and renewal for me. All of the little signs of spring are subtly  inching their way into our days now. Before you know it we will be complaining about all of the boring sunny, warm dry weather we have been having... Ho Hum...

 Small stream Cutthroat fishing in June 

 On the beaches we are hearing some good reports of early sea run Coastal Cutthroat Trout being caught, especially down South Sound way. This will only improve as we have had a very mild winter, all over Puget Sound country, with good flows in the rivers, and the Chum Fry should be hitting the local saltchuck beaches up here in a few weeks, by the Bajillions! These feisty wild trout are going to be on the feed after spawning in our local streams, and they will be looking for those Chum Fry. Herring spawn here in the springtime too, and their juveniles will be in the near shore forage fish mix, along with Sandlance, Surf Smelt, Sculpin, Stickleback etc. It will help to tie your flies on the sparse side, and under an inch to an inch and a half for now. Even by May some of the Herring that we see here are quite small, at well under two inches. I will be writing up a few of my favorite beach flies for Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout and Salmon over the next few blog entries or so. Be patient, it is still seriously Winter Steelhead season around here!

Juvenile Salmon sampled during Spring Forage Fish Surveys (May) 

 I am guiding for winter Steelhead all winter here on the west-end Olympic Peninsula coastal rivers. We do walk and wade, fair chase, catch & release, fly fishing only trips. This is traditional fly fishing, with single-handed or two-handed rods, wet fly swing. We aren't in a hurry, it is supposed to be fun. We have a good time and we see some beautiful water, and we work some nice runs in a day, often on more than one river. And we do catch a few sometimes. I am happy to provide this opportunity. Drop me a note or a phone call if you would like to discuss coming out to fish with me. Make sure to leave a return number on the recording.

Bob Triggs
Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide
Steelhead, Trout, Sea Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout
Fly fishing and fly casting Instruction- single-handed and two-handed rods. 
Over 30 years of fly fishing experience

Phone: 360-385-9618 / toll free: 866-793-3595



Monday, February 18, 2013

Good Conditions- Cold, Cloudy and Wet!

Cold, Cloudy and Wet!

The week ahead looks good: Rain on and off through the week, with mixed clouds and sun breaks, and very low altitude freezing levels in the mountains. The rivers have gained a little in flows recently but are in very good shape, and they should remain so all week ahead. I like it when we have these conditions over an extended time. Looking forward to my trips this week, tying some new flies, checking my knots. MMmmm...
Winter at it's best. We have had a very mild, unusually dry season so far. And yet we have about 150% snow pack in the Olympic Mountains now anyway. This week the rain and freezing levels will build up more of that snow, which our juvenile salmon and steelhead will need all summer ahead. It is all about the flows. And right now we have got the river flows that fly fishermen, and migrating wild winter steelhead need. If you want to swing flies for steelhead here with me, now is the time! 

Be Here Now

Dress warmly, in layers, and put on your raingear and Be Here Now!

Bob Triggs
Olympic Peninsula Fly fishing Guide
Fair Chase, Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only 
Fly Fishing and Fly Casting Instruction, (single-handed and two-handed)
Over 30 years of fly fishing experience
Winter Run Steelhead / Summer Run Steelhead, Trout, Sea-Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout.


Phone: 360-385-9618 Always leave a message and return number verbally on the recording!

email:  Checked daily.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Heart Of The Run

The Heart Of The Run 

Between the raindrops we have managed to get some good periods of  winter steelhead fishing out here on the Olympic Peninsula coastal rivers. Last week we had enough rain and warm air to push the rivers up for a few days, far less than what had been forecast, but enough to move the fish and revive the flows everywhere. This always moves some fish upriver. And now we are getting another eastern Pacific ocean high atmospheric pressure "front" settling in, much as we had experienced the one earlier last month. The computer forecast models show that it will be mostly mild and dry here for well over another week or more ahead. And the rivers are now coming into sweet shape indeed for swinging flies on wild winter steelhead..

 With these milder conditions we can expect that we will be using lighter sink tips, and even floating lines or tips sometimes, and using lighter presentations, and sometimes a smaller fly. In a previous posting here I talked about low water steelhead fishing in the winter. Here we go again. For now. Winter can be full of surprises here, but the longer that we get milder weather the less likely it is that we will suffer a major event. So let us enjoy this time for what it is- another mid winter respite in one of the weirdest winter seasons I have witnessed here so far. Do be careful driving out here as we expect overcast and fog, and freezing temperatures at ground level part of the time ahead, enough to be forewarned of black ice conditions on the roads, especially at night and early morning. See my previous posts for links to weather forecasting tools and travel links.

Hoh River Morning

 February and March are our prime months for winter steelhead here. We call this "The Heart Of The Run". As popular as the earlier winter runs of hatchery steelhead are to meat hunting fishermen, and even though the November through January stretch carries home more fish here most years, this is our most popular time. Fishermen come here from all over the world. Everyone wants to catch a wild winter steelhead on a fly rod. Well, among fly fishers anyway. And our focus is always on fair chase, catch & release, fly fishing only. All of my steelhead fishing is done with traditional, swung fly presentations, with single barbless hook flies. These are very pleasant walk and shallow wade trips. We avoid the boats and the chaos. Most of my guests are using spey rods these days. Once I got into using two-handed rods, and spey and Skagit casting, it was hard to go back to the single handed rod. It is simpler and more effective. I feel that all of this is an appropriate approach to these precious wild fish. And this choice reflects my personal commitment to conservation and restoration.

 There are easier and faster ways to catch these fish. But that is the whole problem here now, and with many other aspects of our society as well- people want a quick, cheap result. It is all about the score. And in too many places today our wild fish resources are severely impacted by this aggressive attitude. I take fly fishing as an art, not a contact sport. This is a practice of skills, a refinement of craft, and a creative expression of an ancient past time. Fly fishing has roots that go over 1000 years back in human history. Our wild fish are a finite resource that we must not abuse or take for granted. And especially now, as we focus on these wild winter run steelhead, we must remember that even catch and release fishing has detrimental impacts when done without care.

  The ancient Olympic Peninsula temperate rainforest is especially beautiful now, with the deep shades of green; the dusky marl and jade and emerald greens of the icy waters, the wild green jumble of plant life, ferns, vines and towering trees, the moss covered stumps and rocks, the long beards of moss dripping from the tall, sun glittering maples, firs and alders. It is amazing to me to see plants growing in the tree forest canopy, as much as a hundred feet overhead. This is one of the densest and most diverse ecological communities on earth. For tens of thousands upon thousands of years these wild fish have survived and adapted to the steep, brawling flows of the Olympic Mountain rivers. Threading their way across time, through cataclysmic volcanic changes, glaciations, ice ages, floods, landslides and countless predators. It is really miraculous when you consider all that they have had to endure and adapt to in order to exist today in any number.

 Not to mention what it takes for one egg to become fertilized, successfully hatch to produce a fry, then develop to the smolt stage, then to migrate downriver to become a sea run fish, that may travel many thousands of miles at sea before returning to spawn years later. Another reason for conservative choices in angling techniques and land use planning. We owe them that much. And now they are coming home, returning to their ancestral waters, their natal streams and rivers, carrying the genes that have passed across the millenniums, through countless generations. Perhaps it is their enduring qualities that we revere, a symbol of freedom and simple strength. Maybe we see in them something of what we have lost ourselves, still shining brightly. Wildness can only remain so if we protect it. Despite everything that these fish have overcome, man is turning out to be the greatest threat, and their last hope.

Rainforest Green

 On the saltchuck, my friends down in south Puget Sound are having some good sea run Coastal Cutthroat Trout fishing days during these milder spells of nearly windless days. They will expect to begin to see the Chum Salmon and Pink Salmon fry in the estuaries,  in mid to late February, a few weeks to a month earlier than we will see ours up here on the northern waters. And the Cutthroat will be all over them. And even up here, and down on Hood Canal, they are having some good multiple fish days on Cutthroat this winter, often some good sized ones too. We do not see many small fish this time of year out there. So during this lucky milder weather break you might do well to go visit a beach with your five weight and a hand full of smaller- 1"-1-1/2" - streamers and fry patterns. I resume guiding on the the beaches here by mid April up here. If you want to come, plan well ahead as April through June are busy sometimes. And with this being another Pink Salmon run year here, we will expect to see the earliest Pinks showing up around the fourth of July. We usually catch them while we are sea run  fishing. Big fun on a five weight! We release them too.

Sunset on the winter Saltchuck

 I will be guiding for winter steelhead out here all winter- right through The Heart of The Run. Come join me on the Hoh, the Bogachiele, and the Sol Duc rivers. Each has their own unique character of flows, reaches and runs, and all are set amid stunning and unique beauty. You will never tire of fishing here. And you will have an opportunity to catch the wild fish of a lifetime. If you do want to come fly fishing with me you will need to plan well ahead. Feel free to call or email anytime. I am happy to help you make your plans to fish out here. I usually return messages within a day or two at most, as long as you leave your return number.

Bob Triggs

Phone: 360-385-9618

Toll Free: 866-793-3595



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