I finally made it back from England, and after a month without being on the water, I had to get out. I spent a couple hours on the upper and middle sections of the Skagit. There are still a number of chum in the river and I was surprised to see that some were bright.
I arrived at the river late in the morning, so I didn't get the prime water. However, I did manage to hook into a couple dolly varden, and even a couple salmon. The technique that was working for me was casting a egg sucking white streamer patterns downstream in the soft water, letting the line and fly sink, and stripping the fly back. Another techniqe that is very effective for dolly varden this time of year is to drift chum egg patterns over the chum redds. I wasn't able try this one out as the other guys in the run were standing right were I would need to drift the fly.
The flow on the Skagit was really low as we haven't seen much rain in the last week. The low water made finding productive water a bit tough. However, rain is predicted later this week and I expect to be on the water shortly after.
I am off to England once again. I will not have any reports to post for a couple weeks, but will be back in town before Christmas. The chum salmon run should be tailing off by then, and the dolly varden should be in the river in good numbers, with a few hatchery steelhead mixed in. Expect more reports to follow shortly after I return.
If you ever wanted to catch a chum salmon on a fly rod, now is the time to do it. I spent this week on the Skagit and it is just loaded with chum. Colors and presentation are important. One day all they want is fuchsia or purple over fuchsia. Then next day everything seems to work, but only for a little while.
Monday I took out my neighbor Bill, and friend Phil. Bill had never been fly fishing for salmon before, and had only fly fished for trout once before, with me. But he always manages to catch fish! He managed to hook into a number of chum, but had trouble keeping them on long enough to land them. He even managed to hook a chum on a fly that I had only used for silvers in the past. However, he was most excited when his casting stroke came together and he was able to lay down a nice long cast. He was hooking fish with sink tips and floating lines, and finally, at the end of the day, he landed a nice buck fishing a heavy fuchsia fly on a floater.
Ryan and Jim had fly fished for trout for years, but had never gone after salmon. Shortly after arriving to the first run they were both into their first salmon. Sink tips were most effective in the first run, especially in the fast water, but they hooked up with a few fish on a floating line also. After fishing the run for chum salmon for a couple hours, we headed for the slow water in the tail out to fish for dollies. I switched their lines to a type 4 sink tip and a egg sucking white marabou streamer with an orange egg on the front. I had them cast downstream, let the fly and line sink for five seconds, the strip the fly back with an eratic retrieve. To my surprise, big chum salmon were crushing the fly on the retrieve, pulling off line, and breaking the 10# tippet at the leader. After loosing a couple big fish, Ryan managed to land a big buck in the 15 to 20# range.
We even went after silvers further downstream in a slow deep pool. We were using floating lines, long leaders, and very heavy bunny strip flies. The chum salmon were taking these flies too, and Jim landed a very bright hen after a long fight. This fish took the fly a couple feet from shore in a deep hole, but just didn't want to come in. Eventually Jim won, I tailed her, and got a good picture of Jim with his first chum salmon!
Phil and I spent most of Sunday on the Skagit, then stopped by the Sauk on the way home. There were a ton of fish rolling in the run we fished on the Skagit. The rain was dumping on us when when we walked into the run around 7:00 and that kept the crowds down for a couple hours. Things started out slow, then picked up around 8:00 as the light was on the water. We spent most of the morning fishing 15ft, type 6 sink tips lines, 6 ft leaders, and fuchsia flies with bead chain eyes. Around 9:00 we switched to purple over fuchsia and the chum were crushing the fly on the strip. We went through all but my last one of these flies in an hour. Some of the chum were massive and my 8lb Maxima tippet was definitely too light. We broke off over a dozen flies in five hours. We ended the morning using the same set-up but with fuchsia flies with small lead eyes. The takes on these were very aggressive also.
Bob Gulley walked into the run around 10:00 with a friend. He made a couple casts and hooded up right away. This was his first chum, and he was phyched! There were a couple guys I took out to a lake in the spring to fly fish for the first time. Bob was one of them, and he was convince he wasn't going to catch anything, because he never does. Well, he hooked into a number of fish, and even landed a couple of them. Bob's chum broke off taking the entire leader with it, but he was still excited, and thanked me for getting him into fly fishing. I was happy to see him there, and was surprised to hear that he had tied his own flies. I didn't think our day on the lake did much for him.....I guess it did!
Highlight of the dayÖÖmy last fish nailed the fly about 50ft downstream of me, right in front of my friend Bob, went screaming upstream with my fly line tearing through the water behind it, as it passed me, my fly line ended up behind me as I was trying to keep the line tight. It continued upstream and I got tension on the line again, then did a back flip 50 ft upstream, right in front of Phil. It threw the hook on the back flip and my line and fly came right back at me. I ducked to miss the fly that was closing in on my head.
Before leaving our run on the Skagit, I sent Phil to the tail out with a 15ft type 4 sink tip and an egg sucking streamer. He nail a nice dolly after about 5 minutes.
We also stopped to fish a small run on the Sauk on the way home. The water was off color with about 4 ft of visibility. I stuck a small dolly in the shallows with a floating line and weighted fly, but it threw the hook. Phil stuck another nice dolly fishing the current seam in the tail out with the same set-up as on the Skagit. This fish was around 20Ē.
Phil and I did a short float the upper Skagit. The flow is was at 2200 cfs, well below the normal flow of 5000 cfs, but the fish didnít seem to care! While on the water we saw a little bit of everything. Lots of coho and chum, a couple steelhead, and a couple dolly varden. Actually, we only saw the dollies that Phil hooked up with. As usual, the water was crystal clear above the Sauk and a little off color below. There were even a good number of eagles on the river already, although that wasnít very surprising as they follow the chum up the river. The deer were also out in force as the rains died down.
Phil spent the morning with a 15ft type 6 sink tip, 6ft leader tapered to 8lb tippet, and an egg sucking black woolly bugger with an orange egg. He started off in a run that has great holding water for steelhead and dollies. He was a half dozen casts into the run and his rod went down. He swam the fish into the shallows and a big chum swims by him and throws the hook. A half hour later he was at the tail end of the run. He made his last cast, let it swing, gave the line a strip, and his rod goes down again. This time it was a big 22+ inch dolly. Philís first dolly, he was phyched!
We only had time for two more short stops before we had to leave. The second run didnít produce, but he was able to hook-up in the third. Once again, he hooked his fish after only a half dozen casts, but this one was able to throw the hook shortly after the hook-up. Most likely another dolly.
Saul and Mark walked into a couple runs on the Sky on Saturday and found a lot of chum salmon. They each hooked into a number of fish including one that Saul stuck that was in the 20# range. This big fish ran 100+ yards into his backing before he was able to land it. The surprising thing is that some of the fish even had sea lice on them .... and they were in the upper Sky!
The rains have finally come .... and the fish are in! Watch the flows and hit the river when it starts to drop. If you are fishing for salmon, look for rolling fish. If you donít find them in the first run, move on to the next. If you donít make it out now, you might regret it!
Iíve split my time over the last week between the tidewater and the upper rivers. If you hit the right spot at the right time, the fishing can be the best you will ever see! If that isnít enough to get you going, check this out....we have been catching a little bit of everything....chum salmon averaging 10#, silvers, dollies, SRC up to 20Ē, and even an atlantic salmon! Not sure where the atlantic came from but Jack sure had fun with it!
If you fish the tidewater, watch the tides and fish them from high to low. Morning or evening doesnít matter as long as you get an outgoing tide. Also, if you donít find fish on your first stop, keep looking. They are in thick, but they are moving. If a hole gets a lot of pressure, they will move upstream.
The water visibility is very high, so go with long and light leaders. I am using floating lines with 9ft leaders and 6# Maxima tippet, but am seriously considering switching over to 10# fluorocarbon. Iíll check it out and see how I like it.
You also need to come prepared with a good selection of flies. One day they want orange/black, they next day they want fuchia. Then, be prepared to change it up when you loose their attention. I have also moved down to very small patterns. Most of the fish we are landing are taking flies tied on #10 hooks. The consistent producer seems to be the flies tied on TMC 5263 #10 hooks.
Scott and I are walking into the first hole and he can't believe the number of big fish rolling in front of him. Five minutes later he hooks his first fish and is really excited. He had it on for a couple minutes before it throws the hook. He is pissed and asks what he did wrong. I tell him it usually takes clients about five hook-ups before they land one. An hour later he has his fourth fish on and he is pulling it into the shallows. I get ready to tail it when it turns and throws the hook in two feet of water. It sits there for a half second before it takes off. Scott can't believe it. Now he is really mad at himself. Sure enough, he lands number 5 and is totally jazzed. He got the picture he was dreaming of for months!
Funny thing....Scott and I were at a deep hole on the Stilly in the afternoon. I tell Scott to make one more cast, then we will head out. Scott strips in his line and is about to reel up when a hot chum nails his fly. This is a big fish and it just tears up the pool. He has it on for a couple minutes before it heads for a log and breaks the tippet at the leader. It is typical that the hot fish break the line at the leader, then are totally pissed that they have a piece of leader in their mouth. After breaking off, they continue tearing up the pool, jumping four or five times. About every five minutes this fish starts jumping again. Scott isnít ready to leave just yet! He hooks a couple more fish that throw the hook pretty quick. 15 minutes later I tell Scott it is really time to leave if he wants to catch his plane. Make one more cast, then we need to leave. Sure enough....he hooks another fish.....not a bad way to end a trip!
The chum salmon are in thick and many have made it to the upper rivers already including the Skagit, Stilly, and Sky. Once again, the water visibility is very high so go with long and light leaders. If you are used to fishing with 10# Maxima and are not hooking fish, step down a couple tippet sizes.
Chum salmon are showing in big numbers in all the local rivers now. They are all the way up to Start-up on the Sky, Fortson on the Stilly NF, and there are even a few at Government Bridge on the Sauk. With the low flows and eight to ten foot of visibility, the catching can be tough. However, it you work at it a little and improvise, you can definitely tie into one of there brutes. Sink tip lines are not very effective in most runs right now as the water isnít moving fast enough to swing them. However, a weighted fly combined with a floating line, long leader (to match the visibility), and the right technique can be deadly! There are a number of flies that will do the job and the color really depends on the mood of the fish. Chartreuse is the color of choice for many, and is the old stand-by, but I have found it to be most effective on bright days. Other colors to try are cherise (bright pink), fuchia (another shade of bright pink), purple, purple/fuchia, black/purple, chartreuse/black, chartreuse/purple, orange/black/purple.
I stopped by the Stilly on Tuesday on my way into work and fished a run that was full of chum. The surprising thing was that I had the run all to myself. I tied into a 31Ē buck on my last cast and quickly remember why I donít like using my 6wt rod on chum salmon. This fish just kicked my butt running downstream, then up. After a couple minutes of this, I had enough, grabbed the real and just backed it into shore. You have to get these suckers into the shallows so they canít use their power! The winning fly...an egg sucking woolly bugger with large lead eyes, an orange egg, black body and tail, and purple hackle.
The fish are in and they are showing in good numbers, but donít expect to use the same old techniques when you walk into your favorite runs. When the rivers are flowing at half to a quarter of their normal flows, the runs just donít fish the same and the fish are not holding in their normal spots.
I did a half day trip on the Sky on Sunday. There are a lot of silvers at the mouth of the Wallace, but most are dark and none were in a biting mood. I was definitely surprised to see we were the only ones on the water as the sun came up, but shortly figured out why. Saul and a friend were a little further up on the Sky and they managed to hook-up with a steelhead and a chum in the soft water in a fairly shallow run. Saulís ability to read water really paid off!
I made it out to the Skagit above Rockport and managed to tie into a couple nice dollies in the 18Ē range. In this case I was using a heavy sink tip in a deep run. At the head of the run I had to strip the line shortly after the cast as the water just wasnít moving fast enough. A hen took a woolly bugger patter on the strip. As I moved to the tail out, the water was moving faster and I managed to hook into a buck while swinging the same fly. This fish seemed much stronger, but the effect of the current probably helped him out a little. I didnít see any chum above Rockport, but it is definitely early for them to be showing that far up.
I stopped by a couple runs in the Hamilton area and saw a number of chum rolling in the slow water in one run and a couple salmon jumping just above the riffle in the other run. It's time to get out there and get fishing!
Norm was in town on vacation and wanted to fish our local rivers for steelhead. We headed to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish river in hopes of tying into some steelhead and SRC.
The rivers are really low right now so you really have to pick your pools. There are a number of fish in the rivers, including steelhead, SRC, silver, and chum salmon. However, the water is so low and clear, that the fish spook very easy. Donít waste a lot of time casting to fish you can see as they can see you and are not going to be very eager to take a fly. A fishes number one goal is security. If you spook them, they are going to be more concerned with hiding than eating what is in front of their face.
The first run we stopped at normally has two great pools and a great run above and below the second pool for swinging sink tips. However, with the river flowing at 250CFS, there is really only one fishable pool and it isnít very deep. I made a cast into this first pool to show Norm the floating line technique and a SRC took the fly. Oops! I handed the rod to Norm but it threw the hook.
The best run on the river with the very low flows is a deep hole with a lot of water still dumping into it. There were a number of fish jumping in this hole including SRC, silvers, and chum. Norm made a dozen or so casts using his floating line with no success. I had him cross the river and cast a heavy sink tip into the slower water. Norm really wanted to cast into the moving water and the line wasnít sinking. He handed me the rod for a demo, I cast the line into the slower water, let it sink, gave the line a short strip, let it sink again, and give it another strip and hooked into something big. Oops! (I have never hook a fish doing a demo on the technique, but today, for some reason, I hooked two fish on three demo casts.) I handed the rod to Norm and this time the fish stayed on! After a couple minutes Norm brought a nice silver to the surface. We released it, Norm made another dozen casts with no success, so he switched back to a floating line with a dry fly. After the change of tactics, Norm was able bring a couple fish up and finally hooked into a nice little SRC. He was jazzed!
We worked a coupe more runs and found a number of steelhead, but once again, the river is very low and very clear. They could see everything we were doing and just werenít interested in our offerings.
I will be spending next week on the Sky and Skagit in hopes of finding some deeper runs where I can use a variety of techniques. In the mean time, I will be praying for rain!
I took Gina and Brian to Lone Lake to introduce them to fly fishing. It is a great lake for beginners because you donít have to know how to cast a fly line in order to catch fish. First I show them how easy it can be to catch fish on a fly, then, when I have sparked their interest, I give them some basic casting lessons. Now, I am not a casting instructor, and donít claim to be, but this is one way to get friends into fly fishing.
Things started out slow, but the conditions were great. The water temp at the surface was at 54 degrees, and we had overcast skies. They got a few hits early on, but no good hook-ups until around 9:30. From then on, the action just got better. Gina had the hot rod for the day and landed a half dozen fish before lunch. Brian spent a lot of time watching Gina land fish until I switched him over to the same olive woolly bugger she was using. The best hook-up of the day happened right after Brian release his second fish. He had about 20 feet of line out and a huge rainbow crushed his fly, leaped in the air, threw the hook, and crashed back on the surface. I looked up to see the aftermath of the splash and Brianís rod sticking up in the air with a totally slack line coming off the rod. ďThatch ya doin, Brian?Ē
This was a half day trip so we packed up and headed out after lunch. This was tough for me to do as I know how good the fishing can be in the afternoon, but I also had things to do.
I finally made it back from my trip to Cambridge England last week. I saw a lot of amazing architecture, experienced some great beer, and worked with a great group of people. Strange country though....seems they like to do everything a little different.
Back to fishing....I met up with Art and Keith and we headed up to the North Fork of the Stilly to chase some steelhead and SRC. My plan was to work a number of runs were we could fish floating lines for SRC and sink tips for steelhead.
I started Art at the top of the run with a sink tip and took Keith to the middle of the run to work a floating line. The sink tip water didn't last long and Art quickly switched over to a floating line. By the time Art reached the place where I started Keith off, he managed to tie into a nice 18" SRC. This was Art's first SRC, and a nice one at that. He was jazzzed!
We found a lot of fish holding in the next run. (You could easily see all the fish as the water was crystal clear!) This spot has easy access from the road. As a result, it gets a lot of pressure. The fish weren't interested in our offerings, so we didn't stay long.
On our way out of the next run, we saw a nice fish in the fast water. I had Art work the head the water with a floating line and weighted fly. He hooked up with another SRC after four or five casts, but it quickly threw the hook. That was it for that run.
At our last stop, I set Art up over a deep hole with a type 6 sink tip and heavily weighted nymph. I had him stand on the rocks at the head of the pool, cast into the pool, let the line sink, then give it a couple strips. After a dozen casts, Art hooked into something big. Line started peeling off the reel, then the rod slammed down, more line peeled off the reel, then it was off, all before Art knew what had happend, and that was it for the day.
There are a lot of fish showing in the rivers, including steelhead, dolly varden, chum salmon, silver salmon, and SRC. However, since it really hasn't rained much in the last....lets see....four months, there just isn't much water in the rivers. If you find the deep holes, you will find the fish, but don't expect them to jump on the first fly you drop in front of them. Show them something small, and if you don't find any takers after a couple different presentations, move on to the next hole.
I am out of town for a couple weeks and will be taking a break from guiding until mid October. I will also start updating my reports again in mid October. If you need to contact me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I met up with Jonathan, his Dad, Jim, and his Mom, Karen for a half day sightseeing/fly fishing trip on the Skagit. The morning started out a bit cloudy, but by the time we met at the bank of the river, the skies had cleared. We had a beautiful view of the snow capped mountains when looking upriver and the water above the Sauk was crystal clear.
This was a short float and was mostly a sightseeing trip, so we only fished two runs. We were targeting dolly varden in the soft water. Jonathan wanted his dad to get into some fish, so I started Jim out in the good holding water. Jim doesn't do much fly fishing and had never fished a sink tip line. I gave Jim the low down on fishing a sink tip line and he was making great casts within five minutes. Sure enough, 3/4 of the way through the first run, Jim's rod goes down and a large fish rolled in the surface. At first I thought it was a steelhead as I saw a lot of white and silver when it rolled. A few minutes later, Jim pulled a bright 24" female chinook toward the bank. Once again, I was surprised to see a bright strong chinook taking a fly in the soft water. We quickly revived and released it.
We stopped at one more short run toward the end of the float. The water looked great, but we only found small fish which would nip at the end of the fly. No hook-ups here. However, you couldn't ask for better conditions for a float!
I did a short test run float on the upper Skagit to prepare of an upcoming sightseeing/fly fishing trip. Above the Sauk the water is beautiful with about 10 feet of visibility....really tough fishing conditions. Below the Sauk, which is puking glacial silt, the water looks like crap with about a foot or maybe two of visibility....really good dolly water.
I was geared up with a 8wt rod, a 15 ft type 4 sink tip, a 6 foot leader tapered to 8 lb test tippet, and one of my favorite dolly streamer patterns. Third cast on my first soft water run and I hooked up with a big fish. I saw a flash of orange when it rolled right after the hook-up and thought for sure it was a steelhead. A couple minutes later I landed ...... a 24" chinook! Not sure hat fish was doing in the soft water, but I quickly revived and released it.
Next soft water run and I managed to hook-up with another nice fish after a half dozen casts using the same set-up. Apparently I didn't drive the hook home very well as this fish managed to throw the hook, even with a good deal of pressure on the line. However, I did managed to get a good look at this fish as it turned broadside right after the hook-set. This fish looked to be a big dolly in the 24" range.
The dollies are following the big runs of chinook into the rivers. If you fish the soft water behind the schools of chinook, mostly the throats and tail outs of the good steelhead runs, you will have a good chance at tying into a nice dolly. My favorite patterns are white marabou streamers with or without an orange new age chenile egg tied behind the eye of the hook.
I met Mark and Shelly at Pass Lake for an afternoon of fishing for big rainbows and browns. It was a slow afternoon by my standards, but Mark and Shelly each landed a couple nice fish. Once again, the fishing on Pass was tough and every fish we hooked took a different fly. Mark got his biggest fish, a very thick 20" brown, on his first cast with a minnow pattern in the area I like to call Brown Trout Alley. Later, Shelly got her biggest fish, a rainbow, on a black string leach slow trolled on a full sinking line just outside the weed line on the far end of the lake. Other patterns that worked were #14 nymphs and flashback hare's ears slow trolled on a full sinking line. After the sun when down, a #12 black woolly bugger trolled on a floating line with an occasional twitch also did the job.
Bob and I met up with Earl in Neah Bay on Friday night. On Saturday AM we headed out past Tatoosh Island (Not a good idea in the rental boats!) armed with new GPS coordinates. We were on the water around 7:00 and were at the hot spot around 8:00. We started bucktailing, but the fish either weren't there or were not interested. Around 9:00 we stopped bucktailing and started casting our sinking lines. Earl didnít think his fly was getting down fast enough, so he tied on a #2 pink over white clouser tied with XL lead eyes. We spent about a half hour casting with of no takers, so we decided to troll the sinking lines. After a half hour we started seeing dorsal fins all around us in the surface. It was like trout rising to a mayfly hatch on ChopakaÖ..the number of fish around us was amazing! About 30 seconds after seeing the dorsal fins, Earlís rod went down but he lost his fish right away. Then Bob hooked-up and lost his fish, the I hooked-up and lost mine. Eventually we all switched to clousers with lead eyes. Earl was using pink over white, Bob had yellow over white, and I had chartreuse over white. For the next four hours we were hooking fish every few minutes. It was awesome! Most fish threw the hook shortly after the hook-up. We got about half of the fish up to the boat, and about 75% of these fish had adipose fins and were released.
Around 1:00 things really slowed down, so we started trolling back toward Tatoosh Island. I thought it would be a good idea to change things up a bit and tied a Butoric Flashfly on Bobís leader. Sure enough, we stared nailing fish, one after the other, once again. We probably hooked into over 20 fish in the last hour. Earl even tied into one screamer that was into the backing in about 5 seconds. He tried palming his reel to slow it down and the leader parted at the fly. We never got a look at it.
Bob had the biggest silver up to the boat which was in the 10 to 15 lb range. We didnít get a picture of this fish as they were just too strong and hard to control when they were out of the water and we wanted to release this fish unharmed.
The clouds rolled in on Sunday night and the rains started. We originally planned to fish on Sunday, but we were all dead tired from Saturday and didnít want to deal with the weather in our little rental boat.
I met up with Bob and we headed out to Neah Bay to fly fish for silver salmon that were coming in fresh from the ocean. Bob and I went out on Friday and really struggled. We were on the water around 8:00 and bucktailed for about an hour without so much as a hit. Then, I decided to get serious and dropped the downrigger ball, attached to 10 feet of rope, off the back of the boat with a flasher attached about 20 ft behind the ball. I also added a popper head in front of my fly. We bucktailed for another hour with the same resultÖ.nothing! Out of frustration, we moved into the kelp beds and started casting sinking lines and letting them drop down. I managed to hang up on the bottom one time and had a couple small salmon follow my fly in one time, but that was it. Around 2:00 PM we finally gave up and headed in. We didnít see many other boats around and we didnít see anyone catching fish. That night, we talked to Rick and Rorry who were camped next to us. Apparently the run was two weeks later that it was last year and the fish hadnít come around the corner into the Straights just yet. The hot spot was in the ocean just past Tatoosh Island.
Sorry for the lack of reports over the last couple weeks. I took a week off after having LASIK surgery. I wasn't sure how my vision was going to be after the surgery and getting stuck in the middle of the river without being able to see didn't sound like a good idea. Enough about me....
I floated the upper Sky with Saul and Phil. This float starts out with a class 2 rapid section that is just a blast in a pontoon boat! Be ready to get wet though, because the water goes right over the top of you and your boat. It is a fairly safe float if your pontoon is made for the rivers....but, like always, you do have to be careful in the corners!
The upper Sky is a beautiful drift with a number of excellent steelhead runs from top to bottom. Saul had the hot rod and managed to land not one, but two steelhead on this float! Both were taken on marabou streamers using a short type 3 sink tip. First fish was a 12# native that he found about 3/4 of the way through the float. The second Saul managed to find just after Phil and I sat down for lunch. We decided that watching the master at work would make for some good lunch time entertainment. Third cast and his rod goes down and a huge steelhead broke the surface. This one was a 20# hatchery buck! Beautiful fish! Look for pictures in a couple weeks.
The temps are up in the local lakes, but the catching is still decent. The surface temp at Pass Lake is up to 68 degrees, but the fish are still eating. The hot fly is a white baitfish pattern cast toward the bank an stripped out as fast as possible. Work the fly all the way to the boat as they can hit it at any time. One the other hand, if you want to try something that is a little less work, slow troll a flash back hare's ear on a intermediate or type 2 full sinking line. Pay attention, because the takes are subtle!
The surface temp at Lone Lake is up to 71 degrees, but the catching is still good. The hot fly at Lone is still a #12 olive woolly bugger. If you get out to a lake in the warmer weather, play the fish fast and keep them in the water when you are releasing them. The warm temps are hard on the fish!
I'm off to Neah Bay to chase some silvers in the salt. There is nothing more fun than watching a 10# chrome bright silver hoar up behind your fly and chomp down!
The local lakes are still fishing well, especially in the evenings. There is usually a very good chironomid hatch that starts between 8:00 and 9:00 PM. During this time, the fish go on a feeding frenzy. Try trolling #12 black or olive woolly buggers, or #14 scuds or nymphs off the bottom with a type II full sinking line. As the sun goes down, switch to a floating line and either cast a dry fly chironomid emerger and let it sit for 60 seconds, or troll a woolly bugger in the surface with a twitch every 30 seconds. I'll warn you now, the bats will pick up a dry fly. If you catch one, let me know how to release it without touching it!
If you need to get out on the water during the day. Chironomids or damsel nymphs are the ticket. Look for chironomid shucks, emerging chironomids, and swallows actively feeding on the surface of the water. Pick your fly to match what is coming off and fish the chironomids a foot off the bottom with a floating line, strike indicator, and a long leader. If this isn't your bag, then troll a #12 olive woolly bugger or damsel nymph with a type II full sinking line in 12 to 15 feet of water.
I made it out to Pass Lake once again in the evening. The catching was a lot of fun, but this time I had to work for almost every fish. I caught big rainbows from 16" to 19" and one 19" brown. A number of flies worked, including #14 clear scud, #14 lt pink scud, #14 nymph, #12 olive woolly buggers and black woolly buggers all fished on the bottom with a full sinking line. Some were fished with a slow troll, and some with a troll and retrieve. I also had to change flies after almost every fish in order to find the next taker.
The rivers have finally dropped back into shape which means it is time for me to change gears and head for the big water to tie into some early summer steelhead.
I hooked up with Phil and Ken for some evening fishing on what is becoming my favorite fly fishing only lake in the area. Things started out slow. Ken picked up a fat rainbow right away slow trolling a type II full sinking line, 9 foot leader with a #14 pink scud. A half hour later Phil landed a small rainbow using the same set-up with a #14 nymph. Both of these fish were hooked in the bay near the launch, but when we stopped getting takes, we headed across the lake. I landed a nice 16" rainbow working an intermediate line with a #12 olive woolly bugger just outside the weed line. That was it for that spot.
Next stop, what I like the call Brown Trout Alley. This section of the lake is about 20 feet deep, so I strip out a lot of line. I got my first grab just trolling my intermediate line. The next one came while I was stripping in line with 1 foot pulls. (I was actually checking my fly for salad.) The last grab came while casting and stripping line. For some reason, none of these fish got the hook, and all three takes were very soft.
We ended the night at the Honey Hole where we started. Around 8:00 PM the hot ticket was a #14 nymph slow trolled behind a type I or II full sinking line with a 9 ft leader. The Honey Hole is actually a section of shoreline with a lot of trees on the bank, and a good number in the water also. Every time we made a pass along this section of bank we would get a number of hits and two or three hook-ups. Phil tied into a pig of a 18" brown. Beautiful fish! Ken landed a 19" rainbow as he was headed in for the night. The biggest fish I landed were a couple of 17" rainbows. However, I hooked into a monster that would take five feet of line for every two feet I pulled in. This lasted for a couple minutes until it found something on the bottom to wrap the line around and free the hook. I even managed to hook this fish two times! The first time I hooked it, I was heading away from the launch and I got my fly back. The second hook-up was just a few minutes later when I was heading back toward the launch. Same place, same story, but the second time it wrapped my line around something on the bottom and broke me off.
Evenings are probably your best bet for lake fishing this time of year as the water temperature in the low land lakes is in the high sixties to low seventies durning the day. This temp is a bit warm for trout. As the lakes cool off a few degrees in the evening, the fishing really heats up!
Met up with Todd again in the afternoon for some evening fishing on Pass Lake. It was warm and sunny all day and there was a light breeze on the water. The water temp at the surface was between 63 and 66 degrees. I was fishing a type II full sinking line and a #14 scud pattern. Todd was using an intermediate line with a #14 scud pattern. We both hooked-up right away trolling the bank near the launch and continued hooking two or three fish every time we made a pass along a short section of the bank. We were having a blast hooking into fat rainbows in the 14" to 18" range! Now here is the strange part. Of the half dozen people on the lake, we were the only ones catching fish. Went someone would ask what we were using, we would tell them, and they would give us a funny look and continue on their way. The reason for this was the fly color. You would never try this color even if you had it in your box.
Around 9:00 PM the action on the scud slowed down so we went around the corner to a place where I normally find some big browns and switched over to #12 woolly buggers. The technique we found to be most effective was to cast out as much sinking line as possible, let the fly sink for a couple seconds, and strip it back with moderate speed one foot pulls. We managed to hook into four hard pulling fish over twenty minutes and I landed one fat 18" brown and a screamer 16" rainbow.
When the light finally left the water, we switched to floating lines and black woolly buggers and headed toward the launch. I had a hit right away, but the fish missed the hook. Ten minutes later I hooked into another screamer that pulled out 20+ feet of line before slowing down. This turned out to be another 16" bow, but you wouldn't guess it from the hard run it made. We each got a couple more hits on the way in, but I expected to hook into a lot more fish after the sun went down.
The rivers are still really high as a result of the warm weather and seasonal run-off. I will continue to hit the local lakes until the weather cools and the rivers drop back down to a fishable level.
Todd flew up from Houston for a business trip in the Bellingham area. We met up for a day on a very productive selective fishery lake in the area. We were on the water by 8:00 and it was bright and sunny with no wind. I thought for sure it was going to be a tough day as this lake is not deep and doesnít usually fish well on bright days. We started out trolling the weed line with #12 olive damsels and woolly buggers. Both of these flies were effective and we tied into a number of fish in the first half hour. After circling the lake, we pulled into a spot that I have found to be very productive. Todd managed to tie into a couple fat bows in the 16Ē range while casting a sinking line parallel to the weed line and stripping the fly back in.
A #16 brown bodied chironomid with a white bead head and red rib as also very effective when fished with a floating line and strike indicator. This technique produced a couple fish in the late morning and a half dozen in the afternoon. This was Todd's first time fishing chironomids and he was jazzed when he tied into his first fish. He was even more excited when he tied into a fish in the 18" + range that took off screaming after feeling the hook and just didn't want to come near the boat. In fact, he hooked up with three fish in the 18 inch range in a very short period of time while fishing chironomids.
After lunch there were a a lot of damsel nymphs wiggling in the surface and a number or damsel adults flying around the weedy areas. There were even a few fish taking the nymphs on the surface, but damsel dries and nymphs fished on the surface just didn't pan out. I am guessing the fish were hesitant to come up as the eagle and ospreys were working the surface all day. As it turned out, the consistent producer was definately the #12 damsel nymphs and woolly buggers on a full sinking line. Chironomid fishing was very good, but went it slowed down, you could count on more fish with the damsel nymphs. We even picked up a couple fish during the short trip back to the launch. All in all, a very productive day with some thick, nice size rainbows to hand!
Took my father-in-law to a lake just down the road from my house of his first time fly fishing in 30 years. (If I remember his words correctly.) This lake has a bunch of your standard size perch and also the stocked 10" rainbows. There are not many hold over fish in this lake and the planted fish don't grow very fast as there is little vegetation. As a result, there is very little food. However, this makes the fish fairly easy to catch. We were on the water for three hours before the lake opened for water-skiing. During that time we managed to tie into a bunch of fish. This included about a dozen rainbows (We didn't land them all.), a couple 8" perch, and the smallest bass I have ever seen. We finished up a productive morning of fishing with a couple 12" rainbows and were off the water by 10:30 in time to enjoy the sun for the rest of the day.
Made it out for a long weekend at one of my favorite fly fishing only lakes in North Eastern Washington for the famous mayfly hatch. As it turns out, there were three things you could count on every day: The sun would be out all day long, the hatch would happen from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, and the wind would blow for most of the day, and generally harder during the hatch. The consistent producer during the day was a #12 olive woolly bugger slow trolled on a type II full sinking line with an occasional twitch. This worked in the morning before the mayfly hatch started, and it worked in the afternoon after the hatch was over.
The mayfly hatch a bit strange and didn't last long due to the sunny weather. I picked a different spot to fish every day and did a little better each day. On the first day I couldn't buy a take on the surface. I managed to hook up with three fish while casting a skip nymph into the shallows and stripping it out with six inch pulls. The first fish was big and broke my 4X tippet on the hook set taking my only #12 nymph. The second was also very healthy and fell for a #14 nymph. The third was a 12" bass which was a bit disappointing as it wasn't even big enough to cook up for dinner.
On day two I picked a spot on the other side of the lake as the wind had changed directions from the day before. This time I managed to hook a couple fish on an adams and a couple on a parachute, but they only seemed to be interested in the adams with the split tail for some reason. Once again I managed to break off a couple big fish during the hatch and only managed to land two.
On day three I found yet another spot and seemed to get things dialed in. I tied into three fish before the hatch started, two on a Chopaka emerger and one on a parachute adams. Once again, the first fish was a pig and after a short battle I brought it to my boat only to have it tear off into the deep water and throw my hook. Over the next hour I managed to land five more fish during the hatch, some on the emerger, and some on the parachute.
For some reason, the chironomid fishing was really good on day two. There was a group of us fishing chironomids on the flats and someone seemed to be landing a fish every couple minutes. I managed to hook a fish on the first pull of my first retrieve, and then another one about every ten minutes. Over an hours time a landed three fish in the 18" range and lost another three. After dinner we came back out for more chironomiding before the night time leaching and it was still good. This time I lost all my fish, but Earl landed three of four in addition to the couple that threw the hook.
I also did some fishing with scuds in the shallow rocky areas on the mornings when the wind wasn't blowing. Casting a scud into the shallows with a floating line and long leader and stripping it out with six inch pulls was effective. However, the fish I hooked doing this were all pigs and managed to break off on the hook-set even with a fairly soft 4wt rod.
Night time leaching was also effective, although not as productive as usual. I am guessing this is because there was no moon during the time we were there. Full floating line and a long leader with #6 black woolly bugger or 3"strip leach was the ticket. We tied into some really nice fish in the 20" range at night. I even had one fish peel off about 40 feet of line just before it swam around a pile of weeds and broke the tippet. It wasn't like this fish just swan into the reeds either. When I went back to try to untangle the fish, I found my line was tangled in a weed that was ten feet down. When I pulled it up, there was no fish and no fly, just a pile of weeds hooked on the knot between the leader and tippet.
I'm back on the local lakes this week so look for a report on that in the next week. The Sky should be dropping to a fishable level in the next couple weeks so look for some good reports coming from that system also!
I took last week off in an attempt to get my ducks in a row for an upcoming fly fishing trip to North Eastern Washington. I will be out of town from May 29th through June 1st. I'll be back on June 2nd to answer emails.
Made it to one of my favorite selective fishery lakes once again to tie into some fat rainbows. Saul was on the water by 7:00 and managed to land a dozen fish by the time Earl and I joined him at 8:00. Saul left around 10:00 and managed to land about 20 rainbows in the 10" to 16" range before he decided to head for home. Earl and I stayed on the water and continued to hook and land nice fish on #12 olive damsel nymphs, #8 black woolly buggers tied with a little crystal flash, and # 10 olive woolly buggers tied with an olive body and an olive/orange marabou tail. By the time we got off the water around 1:00, we each landed about a dozen fish in the 10" to 17" range. The fish were still feeding, but I had things to do and decided to leave them for another day.
Funny thing happened on the far side of the lake from the launch. I thought I hooked a litte fish as I was getting those little fish head shakes. I was reeling in as fast as I could to keep tension on the line and about ten feet from the boat, the line just stopped. I got a couple hard head shakes, the long slow ones you get from a big fish, then the fly pulled free and came flying back at me. I have no idea what happened.
Earl was having so much fun catching big rainbows that headed back out and couldn't manage to force himself off the water until 4:30. He ended up landing at least 20 fish, all were on the black wooly bugger. He had one 19 inch fish that was a handful. He also had several fish that came unhooked right at the boat, but before he could get a hand on them. He also had one brut that was in the 18-22 inch range that actually took line off the reel after the hookset. This fish bolted straight for the surface, then shot out of the water and traveled about 6 feet. He immediately returned to the air doing a tailwalk, successfully dislodging Earl's fly. Now that's a hot fish!
Now is a good time to mention that the Sky should be fishing really well for a mix of incoming hatchery and wild steelhead during June and July. If you are interested, drop me an email. We will be fishing during the higher flows of the winter run-off, so you may have to be a bit flexible with your timing, but the catching can be really good!
Headed to the East side once again, this time with Peter and Seth. We got a late start as the action on the lake we were heading to doesn't usually pick up until the lake warms. We wheeled the pontoon boats into the lake and were on the water around noon. There were very few fish rising so I had each of them start out with a mayfly nymph on a floating line. This didn't produce much and eventually Peter switched to a chironomid with a strike indicator. He managed to hook into a nice brown in the 20" range while casting to rising fish in the shallows. He continued casting to the occasional rising fish and eventually switched back to the nymph. Peter managed to hook into another nice fish, but this on broke off shortly after a knot in his fly line hung up on a guide as the fish made a fast run. Bummer! I took Seth to the main part of the lake to work on casting and his chironomid technique. After a couple hours, he managed to hook into a nice rainbow using a chironomid with a strike indicator, but his fish managed to break off also after a short run. Unfortunately this was it for the two of them as the lake warmed up to the low 60's and the fishing really slowed. There were a few fish taken on chironomids in the afternoon, and I managed to hook-up a couple times while experimenting with different patterns, but Peter and Seth were done. I think it is time for me to leave the Quality Lakes alone for the summer and spend some more time on the lowland and mountain lakes in Western Washington. That is, until the steelhead rivers open next month! At that time I will be hitting the rivers hard once again.
They call it the "Magic Hour".
On the East side of the mountains, the first hour after the sun goes down can be an increadibly effective time to fish leaches just under the surface with a floating line. I wanted to try this on this side of the mountains, so Earl and I headed out to one of my favorite selective fishery lakes to give it a try. We were on the water by 5:00 and there were swallows everywhere. This generally means there is a huge hatch in progress, chironomids in this case. There was a light rain, but eventually the rain stopped and the wind died down to nothing.
We started with chironomid patterns, first with a full sinking line, then with a floating line and strike indicator. We couldn't fine any interested fish, and were surprised to see only a couple fish coming to the surface. Earl switched to a #10 olive woolly bugger and started getting hits right away. Eventually I switched to a woolly bugger and got a couple hits, but a #12 olive damsel did the ticket for me. Eventually we got things dialed in and managed to land over a dozen fish between the two of us before we stopped for a little dinner break. We eased back into the water just as the light was coming off the water and the chironomid hatch exploded and fish were rising everywhere. It was awesome! We both had leach patterns on and were getting hits, but not hooking up. I couldn't resist and switched to a chironomid emerger. There was not enought light on the water to see it after casting it out, but I kept the line tight waiting for the slightest pull. It sat unmollested for 30 seconds while a couple fish rose in the general area. Within a minute the line was ripped out of my hands by a hot 15" rainbow. When I finally landed and released it the rises had slowed so I switched back to a #12 black woolly bugger. Over the next half hour we managed to land another half dozen fish between the two of us. Wow! Not that was fun!
Made it over to the Quality Lakes chain in Eastern Washington with Earl and Bob to hook-up with some bruiser trout. The original plan was to fish Lenice, but when we arrived at the parking area, we were amazed at the number of cars. We counted 30 cars, trucks, and campers. Time for plan B! We headed back down the road and picked another lake. We were on the water around 10:30 and there was very little surface activity. As the morning went on, the rains stopped, the sun popped out occasionally, and a few mayflies appeared on the surface.
We started out with chironomid patterns, but they didn't produce much. We did manage to tie into a couple really thick rainbows in the 16 t0 18 inch range while stripping a #12 mayfly nympn through the shallows. When the clouds finally burned off around 2:00, the mayflies started popping up everywhere, and the trout were taking them on the surface and just under. Trouble was, they wouldn't look at anything other than the naturals on the surface. One fish rolled under my cripple, and another under a parachute with a trailing chuch, but that was it. In a move mostly out of frustration, we finally switched back to chironomid patterns in the shallows and we started hooking-up once again. In the early evening, we hooked into a bunch of fish on #12 gray bodied chironomids with a white bead head. We landed a couple fish, a bunch came unpinned, and a couple managed to break 4X tippet shortly after the hook-set. Man do those fish move when they feel the hook!
Met up with Peter, and his son, Seth, on Saturday, for a guided trip to one of my favorite selective fishery lakes. We geared up and were on the water by 8:00. There were not many other boats on the water when we got there, but within a couple hours, it was a zoo! Rumor has it, one of the local newspapers published a report about this lake and the triploid rainbows that were planted in it. I guess it doesn't really matter as there were plenty of fish to go around and everything seemed to work. The morning started out with perfect conditions! Overcast skies, a light wind, and a water surface temperature of 53 degrees.
I set Seth up with a type II full sinking line, 9 foot leader tapered to 3X, and a #12 olive damsel nymph. Peter had the same set-up with a #10 grey chironomid. I was using a floating line, a 14 ft leader tapered to 4X, and a #14 brown chironomid with a red butt. We left the launch and I was showing them the technique for trolling damsel nymphs and woolly buggers. Shortly after leaving the launch Seth hooked-up, then Peter hooked-up, then I hooked-up (Oops, that wasn't supposed to happen!) The olive damsel on the sinking line worked great all morning, as did the grey chironomid on the sinking line as well as the traditional chironomid approach with a floating line, strike indicator, and the fly a foot off the bottom.
After lunch, we were even able to get a couple fish on the surface with a floating line and dry fly emerger pattern. The first fish just crushed the surface with huge splash, but missed the fly when I was looking for takers. The second fish wasn't so lucky as Peter managed to hook this one, but it threw the hook when Peter got it close to the boat.
Later in the afternoon, leach patterns were the hot ticket. Four inch black string leaches worked great as did #6 black woolly buggers. By the end of the day, Seth and Peter each landed almost a dozen fish ranging in size from 10 to 18 inches, and even got a work-out kicking the boats around, which is a bonus that I'm not sure they were expecting.
Made it out to Lake Goodwin for an evening on the water. It was a beautiful night and there were only a couple other boats out! I needed to check out my fish finder as I kept forgetting to take it on past trips and wasn't sure it was working right last year. Spent an hour on the water and managed to tie into a very hot 15 inch rainbow, and little 10 inch bow, and got a hard tug from something that was lucky enough to miss the hook. All fish were hooked using a type II full sinking line, nine foot leader tapered to 3X, and a #12 olive damsel nymph. The right depth seemed to be between 13 and 15 feet. The surface temp was 52 degrees, so the deeper water where the fish are holding should warm up to 52 degrees, the optimum feeding temperature for trout, within the next couple of weeks!
And let there be rain!
Right when the weekend came, so did the rain. The Sauk went from low and crystal clear on Thursday to high and dirty by Saturday. I was on the lower Sauk on Sunday and the water color wasn't as bad as all the crap that kept floating down the river and hitting me while I was checking out a couple runs.
The Sauk finally started to drop on Sunday afternoon and was fishable by Monday. Good thing! I met up with Lee on Tuesday morning and we floated the lower Sauk into the Skagit. Lee had never fished for steelhead before, but had the gear and wanted to learn how to use it. The casting was a bit dicey at first, but he got the hang of throwing sink tips in a short amount of time. He even managed to tie into a beautiful hen on the second run we fished. It did everything a respectable steelhead should do including a run into the backing, more than once, and even jumped a couple times. Couldn't ask for a better way to break in some new gear! Couldn't ask for better conditions in the morning either....overcast skies and a light rain.....but as the day progressed, the rain increased and the river started to rise once again. Lee worked hard for a second fish, but it wasn't in the cards. He really enjoyed the pontoon boats, and by the end of the day, he was putting together some greats casts, which is really what he was out for in the first place.
Picked up Noel and Bob and headed to Lone Lake to hook into some fat rainbows. Neither Noel nor Bob have much casting experience or spent much time fly fishing, but both were eager to lean. Lone is a great place for beginners because you can catch a lot of fish just trolling flies. You can even troll chironomids on a sinking line a catch fish at Lone.
Bob had a fish that hit his chironomid really hard shortly after we left the launch but it managed to free itself quickly. It takes a few hook-ups for people that are new to fly fishing lakes to figure out how to keep the line tight which keeps the fish on. A few minutes later, Noel also hooked-up using an olive damsel nymph, but he lost his fish when he ended up with slack line also. Eventually they both switched to olive damsel nymphs and after figuring out how to keep the line tight after the hook-up, they both started landing fish. We found a number of flies and techniques to be effective. If you are good at casting and fishing chironomids with a floating line and strike indicator, then that technique was productive all day long. Trolling olive damsel nymphs off the bottom was effective in the morning and mid afternoon. After lunch, Earl, who met us at the lake in the morning, found stripping string leaches in the shallows to be extremely effective for some really big bows in their spawning colors. Casting damsel nymphs toward the reeds and stripping them through the shallows was also effective. After some lunch time casting lessons, this technique paid off for Noel and he managed to land a couple nice bows. At the same time, fish were also taking chironomid emergers in the shallows and this paid off for me.
Flows permitting, I hope to be back on the Sauk over the next couple weeks. Also, look for pictures of big bows caught on the last couple lake fishing trips. I should have them on the site in a couple weeks also.
The lakes are warming, and the snow is melting! Now is a great time to get out!
Finally made over to Nunnally Lake in the Vantage area of Eastern Washington. I was amazed at the number of cars at the main parking area on Saturday, and didn't want any part of that so we headed to the East end of Nunally. Once again, a lot of cars, but surprisingly very few people at the East end of the lake. Chironomids there the ticket all day long. In the morning, the hot fly was a #12 blood worm. For this pattern I like to use a body tied with red holographic flashabou and a white bead head. Ken had never fish with chironomids before, so I showed him how to set the depth with a strike indictor so the fly is about a foot off the bottom, then I told him how to retrieve the fly. He retrieved the line maybe five inches when his indicator went down and he was tied into a pig of a rainbow. After a few minutes, he landed a fat rainbow that was over 20". He told me this was probably the biggest fish he had ever caught!
The blood worm was consistent producer until about 12:30 when a hatch of #18 olive chironomids started up. I tied into a pig on my first retrieve with #18 olive chironomid. This fish had a huge head with bright red cheeks and came rocketing out of the water when I set the hook. Unfortunately, my tiny fly came unpinned when I got the fish within leader length of the boat.
Later in the afternoon the fish were on top taking emergers. The flies that were producing were #16 yellow or olive or black elk hair emergers. This was a blast as we were sight casting to cruising fish.
For the most part, the fishing was slow most of the day, especailly between 1:00 and 2:00. However, the trip was well worth it as the fish in that lake are REALLY BIG and very hot!
Was on the lower Sauk on Sunday. The sun was bright, the water was crystal clear and damn cold, and the fishing was....well, tought to say the least. One guide floated by us in the early morning as said he had already picked up three steelies. He was pulling what looked to be wiggle warts through the deep slots. You don't really get that luxury with a fly rod, and besides, I wouldn't get much satisfaction out of picking up a fish that way either. There is something about tieing into fish on a fly rod that I really love. A lot of people think I'm crazy for freezing my butt off every morning I got out...maybe it's true.
We worked hard all morning, and fished some beautiful runs, but were only able to find one run on the Sauk that produced. It was great holding water with a fast current and a heavy ripple. I knew there was at least one fish holding in there. It wasn't until we worked through the second time, casting far and letting the fly sink deep that we were able to drag a nice dolly out of the pocket.
Later we floated into the Skagit and were able to get a good grab while working a long grave bar with some soft water. Once again, crystal clear and very cold. However, the fish missed the hook. Never got a chance to find out what it was.
If you are thinking about floating the lower Sauk, be warned. Some genius decided to drop some one foot diameter trees all over the place at the launch, totally blocking the access. If you can't lift and carry your boat about six feet high and a couple hundred feet to the river, then pick a different float.
The lake fishing in Western Washington is starting to pick up, although the recent cold weather hasn't helped much, nor has the heavy winds. However, if you can find a break in the weater, try Pass or Lone Lake for some of the best rainbow fishing in Western Washington. Size 12 chironomids tied on a Tiemco 2457 hook seem to be producing well. My favorite chironomid pattern for this time of year has a holographic red flashabou body with a white bead head. Another gread chironomid pattern is called the collaborator and can be found in Fly Patterns for Stillwater by Philip Rowley. Fish these flies on the flats with a floating line, strike indicator, and long leader. Make sure you straighten you line and leader before you start, and use a slow retrieve. I pinch the line between my thumb and index finger and pull it toward me in one inch pulls.
Another good producer in the spring is a black or olive woolly bugger tied on a #10 Tiemco 5263 3X long hook. Fish this fly off the bottom with a full sinking line and give the fly a twitch every 30 seconds or so. My favorite sinking line is a Cortland 444 Type II Steady Sink Rocket Taper.
Weather and flows permitting, I will be back on the Sauk next week for more dolly varden and steelhead action.
My time on the water last week was spent on the lower Sauk. The Sauk dropped back into fishable shape around mid week after last weeks high water and is fishing well for dolly varden with the steelhead just starting to show. The visibility is very good, maybe even a little too good for my liking, but this just means you have to work a little harder to find the fish. Look for soft water, deep slots, rippled surface, and good bottom structure. If you find all these, you will be a happy camper. Pay attention to the line for the soft takes and hold on for the hard takes! Those big dollies can really catch you off guard! Marabou streamer patterns are working very well especially white or orange, or combinations of both.
I plan to hit the lakes next week for a change of pace. Will be fishing damsel nymphs and a variety of chironomid patterns. See last weeks report for more info on chironomid patterns.
Towards the middle of the week, the skies opened up and just dumped on the North Puget Sound rivers. As a result, the rivers were blown, and I didn't get out this week. It's probably better as I was able to spend some much needed time tying flies. I am tying white marabou streamer patterns that represent whitefish, orange, purple, and blue marabou attractor patterns, and black and purple leach patterns.
Now is also a great time to start tying patterns for local lakes. The lakes that are open year around will start fishing well in the next couple weeks. The primary food source in the spring is chironomids, with a sprinkling of damsel nymphs. If you want some good patters, there area couple excellent books that are readily available at the local fly shops. My all time favorite book is Fly Patterns for Stillwaters by Phillip Rowley. Go with the larger chironomid patters in the spring such as #8, #10, and #12 tied on a TMC2457 hook. My favorite colors are chrome with a white or pearl bead, holographic read with a white bead, and bronze with a black nickle bead. Another great source for chironomid fishing info is Dennis at Kaufman's in Bellevue.
In case you haven't alread read the latest reg changes, the Skagit will close at the end of the month from the mouth upstream to Concrete. Back in January the WDFW announced that the entire Snohomish and Stillaguamish systems will also close at the end of the month. As a result, I will be spending a lot of time over the next couple months on the lower Sauk and upper Skagit, as well as the local and Eastern Washington lakes.
Wasn't able to make it out on the water last week due to an annual skiing vacation in Canada. As usual, we had a blast with lots of skiing, lots of snow, and even a little sun.
Finally hit the Skagit on Sunday for a float on the lower river with Earl. Had a little trouble finding fish on the first couple runs as the water was crystal clear. By the third run, we found some off color water and were into dollies right away. Didn't find the huge fish we were catching a couple weeks ago, but when I got the run dialed in with a floating line and heavy fly, I was getting grabs every couple casts. From that point on, we did well for the rest of the day. I ended up landing five dollies and Earl landed four. We each lost as many fish as we caught. The biggest fish of the day measured in at 18" and four out of the five fish I landed were taken on a floating line! We didn't see any steelhead caught, but they are still coming in and the numbers will be increasing as the month progresses.
The Skagit is still fishing really well for dolly varden, in fact, Earl and I tied in to almost a half dozen a piece. We found dollies on every run we fished, and each landed one over 20". The native steelhead are also starting to show. I managed to hook up with a chrome bright hen on the last run of the day. I'd like to say I landed it, and almost did. However, after a couple great aerials and a run downstream that had me into my backing in seconds, I managed to ease the hen into the shallows. After a second run back into the river, I eased her into the shollows a second time just to see the hook pop out of the corner of her mouth. She was a beautiful fish and was the best fighter I've hooked into yet. Dolly varden are a lot of fun, but they just aren't the same as a big winter steelhead!
I'll be out of town this week to do a little skiing in Canada, but I'll be back next week to answer any emails.
The water on the Skagit is still really high due to the increase in freezing level and corresponding increased river flows that put the rivers above flood stage earlier in the week. The visibility in the lower river was very poor, but should clear over the next couple days as the river drops and the tributaries clear. The fishing for big dolly varden in the upper Skagit is great if you can find the runs that are fishable at high water. Once again, we tied into a half dozen fish, the biggest was a 23" hog. Leach patterns and big marabou streamers are the ticket. Look for pictures of some big dollys coming soon!
Met up with Earl and headed to the Skagit system. We spent the morning fishing steelhead and dolly varden. The guy who beat us to first water at the first run got nice hatchery steelhead around 5 lb. We managed to tie into a number of dollys in both runs we fished. Between the two of us, we hooked and lost over a dozen fish, and managed to land a half dozen! Water was up, visibility was down, and fishing was great!