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



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