Friday, March 22, 2013

Cold Is Good!

Cold Is Good!
 By this first week of spring every year most of us are praying for warmer, sunnier weather. After so many weeks of scattered storms and warm rain events, and losing fishing days to high water, we are finally getting a serious cold snap that has the river gauges plummeting into reasonable numbers that represent some days of good fishing conditions ahead. It is snowing here as I write this, on the third day of spring. And the Sol Duc is turning that deep, jade green color again now too. Very little precipitation ahead in the short term forecast, and freezing levels at or below 1000 feet. After the last spike in flows this is one of those times when you want to be there- for the pregnant possibility of ocean bright wild fish that have taken the express ride up the rivers, unfettered by boats and nets in the higher flows. So we'll bundle up, stay warm, and go steelhead fishing.

Counting Spawning Coho (late December)

 Here is Dr Cliff Mass recent blog on this cold event:

 Dr Cliff Mass Pacific Northwest Weather Blog  This is a good page to be aware of as he posts interesting stuff on our regional weather, and he tries to keep up with significant events as they occur.

 The later we get these cold weather periods in spring time the better our snow pack will be in the mountains all summer. We get some prolonged dry weather here, often the driest place in the country each summer. It is kind of ironic considering that the Olympics get some 140-180 inches of precipitation every year. This new snow and ice in the higher elevations is vital to spring spawners, cutthroat and steelhead and salmon redds, and just about everything else. Adding energy and life to river flows well into late summer.

 There has been some light insect hatching activity observed on occasion, blue winged olives mostly, some smaller stone flies, and quite a few crane flies at times. And even out here on the Olympic Peninsula we see some skwalas each spring. It wont be long before we see the cutthroat chasing them, once it warms up again that is. But I can wait for that day. We have fully a month of winter steelhead season ahead of us here now, and I can wait for cutthroat fishing until late April anyway. By then we'll be chasing them on the beaches again, as they converge to feed  on the chum salmon fry in the shallows. Right now I have that urgency of mind over the last weeks of winter steelhead season, which always comes too soon. Some winters are like that.

The Cutthroat are spawning here now.

 The water is cold here now, so your fly needs to be moving deep and slow. Line handling skills and reading the water will be the key. Sometimes you might need to mend your cast to slow down the fly. Other times you might need to keep a fairly tight line to the fly throughout the swing. It all depends upon the flows that you are in at the moment. And around here each run has many changes in depth, speed, etc. You really do have to pay attention to depth and speed all day. Let that be the best part of the work. And it will be far more helpful, and enjoyable, if you allow yourself to cast comfortably, whatever range of distance you can handle, rather than stressing out over a perceived need to cast across the river on every presentation. Covering thoroughly, whatever water that you can, is by far the best strategy. You would be amazed at how much wasted time all of those extra casts and strokes can take up in a day.  And your fly needs to be in the water working, not zipping back and forth in the air all day.

 I do carry some of the big, ugly winter flies in my fly box, ones that have become so popular at this time of year here. But it does not hurt to have a few smaller flies too, down to size 6 and even size 8. You might hit a soft spot that will allow you a very light presentation, even before the flows have dropped significantly below the averages. I like the soft hackled flies and hair wing patterns for this. This time of year I am using #12 to #16 tippet as we do see some bruiser big fish in late winter. Sure, we could land a big fish on 10 pound test. But we do not want to over play or over stress these wild winter steelhead. We want to release them without avoidable injury, and allow them to spawn successfully. Learning how to play and land big fish on a fly rod takes time and experience. Be patient. Fly fishing is a life game, a practice, not a lottery payout. Still: " You can't win if you don't play."

Easter on the Sol Duc.

If you want to come, give me a call or an email. We need to plan it ahead of time. I will usually get back to you within a day. I am happy to help you make your plans for Olympic Peninsula winter steelhead fly fishing. We walk and wade on a few nice locations in a day, fishing them well and enjoying it thoroughly. We might fish on more than one river depending upon conditions. This is very easy to accomplish as we simply drive to a new location, often within minutes. Most of our rivers do have roads nearby. We fish on the swing, traditional fair chase fly fishing only; Catch & Release, Single Barbless Hook Fly, No indicators, No Bobbers, No added weights etc. If you want to make the commitment, I am willing to help you. Spey fishermen are especially welcome. Full support assured in any case, with over 33 years of fly fishing experience.

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


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