Monday, June 8, 2015

Low water and high expectations

Your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide.
Catch & release, Fly Fishing only!

Low water and high expectations.

Truth in advertising.
   With the lack of snow pack in the Olympic Mountains this year, many of our streams are down to mid-summer low flows already. And the forecast is beginning to look more like July than June. Our rivers are on average shorter and steeper than most of the rest of the western North American region. So they drain quickly. In a normal "water year", one when we would have 100% or more of expected snow pack, and one with about twice the water in our rivers as we do right now, we would be encouraged to fly fish for summer run steelhead in our rivers all summer. Ordinarily, in May and June, and even through early July sometimes, there is enough water to really cover some serious ground. But by mid to later July it gets a bit more challenging. That is an early morning and later afternoon game, with dusk and dawn being my favorite times to fish for them. We pick a river and start hiking. 

Summer-run steelhead fly fishing.

   It's not like we can't do that now. There's still some good water, and a few bright and willing fish out there. But by July, and into later summer, I am pretty sure that it won't be so good for that. Unless we get some rain. You can expect summer steelhead to be parked in deeper cooler flows now, and tucked into the pocket water, holding under the foliage, between rocks, under the foam etc. If you see a steelhead out in the open, lying in the tail-outs below a pool, in these conditions it will likely be at first light. In shallow water you will often be able to see them more clearly. But they will also be able to see you more clearly. It will take stealth, lighter presentations, and smaller flies, down to size 8 and 10 at times. And a little hiking. Bring your six weight and a dry line. 

Morning on the bay.

   Fortunately for us trout nuts, the sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout are out in the saltwaters in good numbers around here now.  We can fish for them from dawn to dusk, and throughout the sunny summer days. We have miles of public access beaches, and with the dory we can go places that you can't get to on foot. The incoming tides are cool and refreshing, and always a little too cold for wet-wading here. But that's just right for sea-run trout fishing. They are always on the feed, somewhere. It's still spring here, as far as this fishing goes. And so we're using some of the smaller spring flies, like small herring, sandlance, smelt etc. Up to a few inches long at most. I try to keep some smaller flies in my box now too, like shrimp, rolled muddlers, scuds, euphasids, krill etc., down to size 12 and 14. I will have a few larger flies as well, over two inches long, but still tied on size # 6 hooks. Big long hooks are bad for Cutthroat. 

I tie the Clouser Minnow sparsly, in more natural colors usually, with just a little fine flash. 
On size #6 and #8 hooks for Cutthroat. 

The sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout have spread out farther from the creeks by now. And their focus is not so much on smaller salmon fry as it was over the past few months. So I encourage you to try a wider range of flies, including beach poppers, big fluffy dry flies, ants, hoppers etc. Try to get your fly to drop on the water under some overhanging foliage, at the top of the tide. I just let it sit there quietly, for a few seconds, before I give it a good twitch! This kind of dry fly fishing will ruin you for a drag free drift ethic. Sometimes you have to fish outside of the box. Sea-run Cutthroat are not interested in a prey that is not lively looking.
A nice way to get around for sea-run Cutthroat fishing.
If this ride doesn't reduce your blood pressure, nothing will.
I restored this classic Swampscott Dory myself.
Photo credit to my friend Roger Mosley.

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

     I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for Cutthroat trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. I also offer personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction for beginners.  I would be happy to help you plan your Olympic Peninsula fly fishing adventure, for beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist Guide, rowboat picnics, tide pool and  river trail day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details. Now booking for April through October and beyond. Please call or write for details.

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

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
W.S.U.Beach Watcher
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618

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