Friday, November 28, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
If there are pumpkins and corn stalks on the porches around the Pacific Northwest, there is probably pumpkins and corn stalks floating down the flooding rivers along with driftwood and muddy water. This time of year the river flows can be a real roller coaster ride. Many rivers are blown and take some time to recover. Luckily, the Skykomish River seems to be one the quickest rivers to recover from these rains.
We have been lucky enough to have the rains hitting us just right. Typhoons and blown out rivers in the middle of the week make it a little easier to go to work and pretend to do our real jobs. These mid-week rains have been easing up come Thursday or Friday and the rivers start dropping back into shape by weekend. Hopefully this trend will continue.
The Skykomish River seems to fish best under 7000 CFS this time of year. Eventually normal winter flows will set in and should be flowing around 4000 CFS or so. We were lucky enough to hit it last Saturday at about 6700 CFS as we were launching the boat underneath the bridge in Sultan. To start the day there was about 16” – 18” of visibility with the river clearing up much more throughout the day.
|Skykomish Coho #1|
|Skykomish Coho #2|
Alas, just up river from the “Afternoon Hole” above the Ben Howard boat launch we spotted multiple splashes in the frog water along the shore. It was game on again. With the boat parked up river and a short walk down, it took only two or three casts before it was fish on again!! This time it was a large green dinosaur. The chums have arrived, it must be November. We snapped some pictures and put her back in the river to swim another day. One more fish was hooked but not landed before the river became quiet again. And as quick as that school of chumleys came, they were gone.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
The last few trips have been to a local lake near Snohomish called Panther Lake. It is one of the “three lakes” here in the area. It is a relatively small lake with a decent supply of stock rainbows, bass, and perch. Rainbow trout have been the target as of late and we have managed to hook a few on wooly buggers in about 20 feet of water or so. This is where the long leaders and a chunk of split shot come handy. It’s not the most exciting tactic, but trolling these wooly buggers deep and slow has been most effective.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Last year there was a movement that started on the banks of the Skagit River. Hundreds of steelhead obsessed fisherman put on their waders, dusted off the fly rods they weren’t allowed to use, and made signs to speak their voice to reopen the catch and release fishing season on the Skagit River. This is a group of knowledgeable and experienced steelhead anglers who have put in the time and research to get this movement started. The likes of Dec Hogan and Bob Triggs were there last year and ESPN even pulled their little red tug boat up to the launch to cause a scene. It’s happening again. March 29, 2014 9:00 a.m. at Howard Miller Steelhead Park on the banks of the Skagit. Below is an excerpt from Washingtonflyfishing.com forum written by member _WW_ who has been spear heading this movement:
Last April we gathered at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport to show support for changing the management paradigm for wild Skagit Steelhead. Currently, all of Puget Sound Steelhead are considered by the ESA as one Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and as such are listed by them as threatened to become an endangered species.
The decision can be read here:http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2007-05-11/pdf/E7-9089.pdf
The decision covers all of Puget Sound from the Elwah to the Canadian border, every piece of fresh water between these two points that dumps into the sound is affected by this listing. The health of each individual run is not considered on its own merit, but instead the entire area's steelhead are tainted with the aura of “nearing extinction”. While this may be true of many streams affected by the listing it is not true for all of them – the Skagit in particular continues to return healthy escapement numbers. These numbers can be seen to be fluctuating up and down in what many consider to be it's carrying capacity zone.
Scientists can argue over the numbers, their validity and what they mean but here they are in ten year increments:
1978 – 5,757 (the first year that I can find for WDFW escapement numbers)
1983 - 7,732
1993 - 6,900
2003 - 6,818
2013 – 8,800
The goal of Occupy Skagit is to restore the Catch and Release Steelhead season on the Skagit that used to run for Feb 1 – April 30.
In order for this season to be granted by NOAA and NMFS a basin specific Steelhead Management Plan agreed upon by all parties, WDFW and Tribes, needs to be submitted and approved.
Is it possible?
It was done for Chinook (almost instantaneously I might add) and it can certainly be done for Steelhead.
The event last April garnered the notice that it was intended to. Believe it or not, we were actually recognized and discussed in the halls of bureaucracy. The wheel is starting to turn, but it has yet to gather it's own momentum. It needs another push!
There are two events scheduled with the meeting in Olympia being the single most important thing you could attend. Rockport is fun, but the real deal is in Olympia.
Occupy Skagit - March 29th
Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport
Occupy Skagit Commissioners Meeting - April 12th 8:30 am
Natural Resources Building
1111 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA - First Floor, Room 172"
|OCCUPY SKAGIT 2013 photo by Sozinho Imagery|
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Sea run fishing in the Puget Sound offers easy access, great scenery, and is a fun rapidly growing fishery. The south end of Puget Sound offers some of the better beaches in the area, but the north sound offers some good beaches as well. Places like Picnic Point, Lund’s Gulch, and Mukilteo waterfront offer very easy access to cutties. Just watch your back cast, as there are often beach combing families walking these beaches, and many of them will be curious as to what you are doing and are oblivious to the fact that fly fishing requires a little space.
Sea run cutthroat will feed on whatever and whenever something is available, they are opportunistic feeders. When the water is moving, more things to eat are swirled around; hence you should fish moving tides. When tides are slack, food is not moving, so sit on the beach and drink a beer during slack tide. Big tide swings will offer the best fishing. Just like rivers, look for seams, where slower water meets faster water, this where the fish will find food. Bait fish patterns, shrimp, spiders, and poppers should be the go to flies. Most likely in the 4 – 6 size range.
When it comes to gear, I have invested next to nothing on sea run specific gear. I have an old brandless reel I found in a box at a garage sale for $2 and a cheap 6 wt. rod. No need to get fancy, spend your money on gas to get to the beach to practice your casting rather than fancy gear. Many beach anglers will use a stripping basket, but I don’t use one and haven’t really seen the need for one. Weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest this time of year feed the stereotype, it rains a lot. Be prepared for windy and rainy days. The wind can often pose a challenge on the beach. If you can, try to make to wind work in your favor. I spent a windy morning at Picnic Point yesterday, but was able start at one end of the beach and use the wind gusts to propel my casts and work my way down the beach around the point.
There is not a ton of information on sea run cutthroat in the Puget Sound. There are groups working to learn more about these fish, and to get some sort of idea as to how many fish there are out there. This is a catch and release only, open year round salt water fishery. This is an awesome fishery that is growing in popularity. It’s an easy way to break into fly fishing since there is not much required other than a rod and a few flies. So head to the beach and enjoy.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
One of the greatest advances in fly fishing in recent years is the development of new fly lines. Shooting heads and running line have allowed fisherman everywhere to be able to sling 75 foot casts across rivers with spey and switch rods. But what about single handed rods? My attraction to two handed fly rods was the ability make long cast in tight quarters. In the past, weight forward, floating or sinking lines have been the norm for single handed rods. I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to learn the art of roll casting with traditional single handed fly lines. Most of the time was spent untangling the rat’s nest I turned my long leader, heavy fly, and indicator into. It’s hard to have confidence in your fishing when you can't cast and are constantly fighting your gear. The development of new fly lines such as the Wulff Ambush Triangle Taper have changed the game for single handed fly rods.
I recently purchased the Wullf Ambush TT-7-F for my single handed 9’ 8 weight. The line has a 20’ 265 grain shooting head that transitions smoothly into the running line. Since the line is all one piece, there are no loops or knots between the head and the shooting line, creating smooth casts. I purchased the line with hopes that it would double as a roll casting nymph line for steelhead and as a rocket launcher on the beaches for Coho.
My first outing was a trip the Skykomish River on closing day of the season in mid-February. Using a big thingamabobber, a long leader, and a heavy egg pattern I tied the night before, roll casting has never been so easy for me. The 265 grain head turned over my long leader and heavy fly extremely well. The full floating and smooth running line was very easy to mend. Line control is essential when being a dirty nympher, and the Wulff Ambush made it easy. 90 percent of my time on the river has been spent swinging, but the productivity of nymphing has encouraged me to do it more, and this was fun. The argument between nymphing vs. swinging is a whole other debate, but I like “fishing” so I’m just gonna do both.
Yesterday we hit up Picnic Point Park during high tide in hopes to find some sea run cutthroat. My normal rod of choice for sea runs is a 6 wt., but I thought I’d bring the 8 wt. and my new line along to give it a try. The Ambush line casted decently with normal overhead casting. Casting these lines is much different than standard single handed lines. I found that pulling about the first quarter of the shooting head in past my tip and making as few false casts as possible worked best. Too many false casts with too much line out and you’re going to be asking your fishing partner to use his needle nose pliers to extract a hook from your ear.
My 8 wt. is a 9’ 4 piece that I built for myself a year or so ago. I think a 10’ rod and the 235 grain line would be ideal for this. But even with the shorter rod and heavier head I think it worked pretty well. The best piece of gear to catch fish that a person can buy is gas to put in your car to go fishing with. Experience and time on the water is #1 to being successful, but some of us can’t help but be gear whores sometimes. So overall, the Wulff Ambush line has definitely added to my fishing arsenal and I'm getting excited for salmon season from the beach.