Scott with a Chrome Bright Coho
The best three hours of silver fishing I have ever seen!
Scott and I floated the one of the local rivers. It had rained the day before and the flow was close to 1000 cfs with brown colored water with 24Ē of visibility at the most. It was foggy and the temperature was 30 degrees at the start of the float. Given the conditions, I was not optimistic about the possibilities of catching fish.
We started the morning fishing the deeper holes with a 15ft type 6 sink tip, a 6 ft leader tapered to 8lb maxima ultragreen, and a mini-heavy black bart. The first promising spot was at a tight bend in the river. There was a spot on river right where the bank stuck out in to the river, and the bank was cut out behind this point. The water was not moving much at all, making it easy to get a good drift of the fly line. Scott was casting the line across the current, letting the fly sink, and using the strip-pause-strip retrieve. After 15 minutes of working this spot, Scott hooked a good fish in the 10lb range. We landed and released a silver that was just starting to get into its crimson spawning colors.
We headed down to our hot spot from the Saturday before. Scott had switched to a floating line, 11 ft long leader tapered to 3X fluorocarbon, and the same fly. As soon as we approached to top of the muddy bank, Scott hooked a small chrome bright silver in the 5lb range. We netted it, quickly released it, and kept fishing. A few minutes later, he hooked another small bright silver. The next fish was a big buck in the 10lb range. This fish fought hard all the way to the boat, then once netted, almost destroyed the net before finally settling down. We snapped a couple pictures then headed to the middle of the river an ate lunch from the boat.
After lunch, we continued working the right bank and hooked a few more fish before things slowed down. After a couple drifts through the run with no takes, I decided it was time to switch flies. We started with a articulated purple leach with plated brass eyes that Scott picked up on a guided steelhead trip in Oregon. This fly didnít sink very fast, so we switched to a black bunny strip with XL plated lead eyes. Scott hooked another small chrome bright silver on the first cast. We continued down after releasing it, and he hooked another really big silver within feet of the bank that just exploded in the surface on the hook-up. This fish managed to wrap the leader around his nose a couple of times during the fight and he gave up the fight early. This fish was in the 10+ lb range also.
By the time we decided to stop fishing this spot in order to get off the river on time, Scott had hooked 9 silvers between 5 and 10+ lb and landed 8 of themÖ.what a day!
This day of silver fishing was unique to me, because in most cases, the silvers were not rolling in the surface. In fact, in the spot where Scott hooked all of his fish, we never saw a single fish roll.
Scott and I spent the day on one of the local rivers. The flow was holding steady at around 830 cfs on Saturday. The skies were overcast, the water had a slight green color, and the visibility was around 4 ft. Scott has a number of hook-ups as we were floating down and casting to the bank, but the only landed fish in the morning was a small cutthroat which took a swung orange egg pattern that was the size of a pink salmon egg.
The most promising hook-up of the morning happened when Scott was casting a floating line, 11ft long leader, and a mini-heavy black bart toward the middle of the river. We were in a shallow spot where the water was only a couple feet deep. Scott started stripping fast to cast to the opposite side of the boat and a salmon grabbed the fly. It instantly threw the hook.
We fished a number of runs as we worked down the river, but there were quite a few guys on the water fishing from the bank and we had competition for most of the deep holes.
Scott continued to cast toward the bank and finally got a hook-up in a totally straight section of the river with no apparent structure to indicate holding water and no rolling fish. This fish was a chrome bright silver in the 5 lb range. Since I forgot to bring my net, I had to row upstream to a spot where we could beach the boat in order to land the fish. After releasing Scottís first fish, we headed back out and he started casting again. After only a couple casts, Scott hooked into another bright silver. I rowed back to the bank and he landed a released this one also.
At the same time I got the boat positioned back in the run, another drift boat was coming down the river from a hole above us. The guys in the other boat did not see us catching fish and stayed on the opposite side of the river. Being the selfish guide that I am, I didnít want them to start fishing our water, so I told Scott to cast out of the opposite side of the boat to the middle of the river, strip as fast as he could, donít let the fly sink, and donít hook anything. About 30 seconds later, he yells, ďHey, I got one!Ē He was trying to get the fish on the reel and I was whispering to him to put his rod tip in the water so the guys in the other boat didnít see what was going on. He didnít have a clue about what I was telling him, but luckily the fish came off, and the other guys in the boat didnít see anything.
When the other boat was far enough downstream, Scott starting casting to the bank again and he hooked a monster silver. This pig was well over 10 lb and Scott somehow managed to keep in on the line as I was rowing back upstream to get back to a spot where I could land the boat. We snapped a couple pictures, released the fish, and decided to take a break for lunch.
As we ate, we watched a couple other boats hook a few fish in a run upstream of where we were fishing. We were also very happy to watch them float right by our spot as they drifted down the river. After lunch, we headed right back to the same spot and hooked another fish on the first cast. Scott hooked fish casting toward the bank and also casting toward the middle of the river. He was having a field day.
By the time we decided to call it a day, Scott had 6 confirmed hook-ups with silvers, a half dozen grabs where we didnít know what was on the other end, and 4 silvers to hand. All were chrome, and all were between 5 and 15 lbs.
Roger, his wife, Kris, and I floated the Skykomish River from Lewis Street in Monroe down to Hwy 522 on the Snohomish River. The river was flowing at 640 cfs and the visibility was around 6 ft. Normally the visibility is much higher this time of year.
I was very surprised at how few fish were in the river and that there were zero spawning fish. Clearly the run is either really late or really small. We hit our first school of pinks on the straight section of river above the take-out on Taulco Road. I hooked the first fish and handed the rod to Kris and let her reel the fish in. Roger hooked a couple more fish shortly after.
We continued downstream and worked through the Nordstrom run the best we could with five other boats anchored in the run. (The pink run was really late and the fish were only stacked up in the Nordstrom run and no where else in the river.)
We stopped for lunch on the gravel bar along the Nordstrom run. While I was preparing lunch, I had Roger fish the water that drops down into the Nordstrom run. After giving him some pointers, he hooked a fish right away.
After lunch the Nordstrom run was still full of boats, but the Indian Hole was empty. I pulled the drift boat back upstream and I had Roger cast into the Indian Hole with a type 6 sink tip line and a heavy fly. He managed to hook and land one fish.
As we were headed downstream, I had Roger cast the floating line with a long leader and heavy fly toward the middle of the run as we were passing through the riffled water that drops into the Nordstrom run (The same water he was fishing during lunch.). He hooked a hot chrome bright fish that jumped on the hook-up and broke the line. I pulled the boat back to the top of this little run, and I had Roger do the same thing. He hooked another chrome bright fish, but this time he managed to land it. We did this a couple more times, and each time he hooked a hot fish.
Around 2:00 PM we headed down to the Snohomish River and took my boat out at Douglas Bar.
Tracy, Phil, Andy, Andyís daughter, and I floated the Skykomish River from Lewis Street in Monroe down to Hwy 522 on the Snohomish River. Tracy and Phil used two of my pontoon boats and Andy, his daughter Nellie, and I were in the drift boat. The river was flowing at 580 cfs and the visibility was around 6 ft. Normally the visibility is much higher this time of year.
I was very surprised at how few fish were in the river and that there were zero spawning fish. Clearly the run is either really late or really small. In fact, we didnít find any fish until we got down to the Nordstrom Farm.
Andy managed to hook into a half dozen fish while casting out of the front of the boat. Most of the fish were taken on my blue marabou salmon fly with medium brass eyes. He was using floating line and a long, 11ft leader. The catching was by no means easy, and with Nellie struggling with her casting, she didnít manage to hook any fish on her own. She did, however, get to reel in a couple fish that her dad hooked.
After lunch I took Phil for a float on the Nordstrom run in my drift boat and he hooked and landed a nice buck that he and Tracy took home for dinner. Andy spent the rest of the time in the front of the boat and continued hooking fish the rest of the time we were on the water.
Around 2:00 PM we headed down to the Snohomish River to load the pontoon boats up in the truck. I continued downstream and took my boat out at Douglas Bar.
Well worth the wait!
I haven't updated my reports page for a while because I haven't had much to report. I have been on the water almost every week, but the summer steelhead run has been so poor that I have not been guiding. Now that the salmon are starting to show in the local waters I finally have something to write about.
I spent the morning and early afternoon on some of my favorite pink salmon water. There are not a lot of fish in just yet, but the few fish that are around are chrome bright. I surprised myself by hooking into my first fish on my first cast. The second fish didn't come as easy. I had to change fly colors a few time before I figured out what the were taking.
I have spent enough time over pink salmon to learn how to not foul hook them. I have also hooked enough salmon that I know the difference between a fish hooked in the mouth and one hooked somewhere else. However, I have also never had a pink salmon take me into the backing.
I was working my way down the run and I hooked into what I though was another hot little pink. It was doing its usual head shake thing right after the hook-up and then all of a sudden my 8wt rod bent in half and the tip went straight down into the water. The next thing I know, the line is smoking off of my reel and I was only a couple feet from my backing. I have never had a fair hooked pink do this so I decided I must have hooked it in the tail. I put the brakes on my reel and the fly broke off.
I headed back to the run where I had left off and I hooked into what I thought was another pink. It was the right size, but when I brought it into the shallows, I quickly noticed the body color and spotting was all wrong. This was a jack chinook. This is when I started to wonder if the fish I just broke off was also a chinook.
I went back into the run and hooked another fish within a matter of minutes. I got the head shakes once again, I reeled a little line in, and then the line started going the other way really fast once again. It kept going the other way until I was about 10 feet into my backing. This time instead of breaking the line I worked it back in. Sure enough, within a couple minutes I saw what was much bigger than a pink on the end of the line. I pulled the chinook into the shallows, removed the hook, and sent the fish on its way.
I spent the next hour catching more chrome bright pink salmon and didn't see another chinook.
Based on the numbers, the pink run appears to be about a week and a half later than normal. The run should be in full swing by next weekend and the fish should still be in decent shape. The rains that are predicted for early in the week may add color to the water which will most likely influence fly color for the next few days that follow.
The evening hatchÖ.
Pass Lake has been fishing unusually well in the evenings for rainbows and browns. The outside temps have been cool enough that the local lakes have remained extremely fishable. I was surprised to find that the usual Pass Lake tricks have not been working well this year. We spent a couple hours on two different trips casting streamers at the bank and stripping the fly backÖ.really fast. This only produce one strike.
There have been a few caddis on the surface. Usually when I see this, I can drag a hareís ear nymph on a full sinking line and produce a number of hook-ups. This is not the case this year.
The hot ticket seems to be a damsel fly nymph on a full sinking lineÖ..my number one producer of rainbows in lakes. Depth doesnít seem to be really important as the fish seem to be holding through out the water column for now. A number 10 olive woolly bugger tied with new age chenille and slow trolled or cast and retrieved at a moderate speed on a type 2 full sinking line works really well.
The fishing has not been consistent throughout the day. The evenings are the best and the most action seems to be between 4 PM and 9 PM. If you are thinking about dragging leaches around under the moonlight, donít waste your time at Pass. First, the park closes at dusk. Second, the night leaching is not productive as Pass for some reason. Shortly after the bats come out, the fishing slows down drastically.
I have heard reports that Lone Lake is still fishing very well also. The same fly will do the trick at Lone Lake also.
If you are thinking about doing some trout fishing in your local lakes, do it soon. As soon at the days heat up and the water temps reach the low to mid 70ís, the rainbows will stop eating for most of the day and head for and cool water they can find.
A decent number of steelhead over 10# finally decided to make a showing over the last week. With the clear days, bright sun, and fairly clear water, a lot of the steelhead choose to hold in the deeper water. However, if you were lucky enough to fish a run under the right conditions, you might have found a chrome bright beauty.
These fish were spread out pretty well throughout the open sections of the Sauk and Skagit. There were steelhead caught around the mouth of the baker, which was fishing well this year when the Baker dam was not releasing water. There were fish caught above and below Jackman Creek which is upstream of the Baker on the Skagit. There were fish caught at Fly Bar when the conditions were just right. There were fish caught from the Darrington Mill on the Sauk all the way down to where the Sauk meets up with the Skagit. There were also some beautiful steelhead in the 20# range caught in the Skagit above the Sauk.
With all the high and dirty water we had this year, there was an unusual number of wild steelhead that chose to go into the upper reaches of the Skagit above the Sauk. This is something to keep in mind in future years when we have high water in March and April.
The lakes have been fishing well due to the warmer weather. Pass Lake and Lone Lake are two very good choices in April and early May with larger than average fish in both lakes. If you are new to fly fishing in the lakes, Lone Lake is the better bet as the fish are not as picky as the well educated Pass Lake fish.
As June rolls around, look for good steelhead fishing on the Skykomish River as the river drops from the winter run-off.
I spent the morning and early afternoon scouting out water on the Skagit and Sauk. The Skagit and Sauk are both running off color. The Sauk had about 6 inches of visibiltiy with a lot of suspended silt and was not fishable. The Skagit has decent conditions above the Sauk with about three foot of visibility. The water temp is hovering right around 40 degrees. The Skagit has about 6 inches of visiblilty below the Sauk on the Sauk side of the river (Left Bank). The Skagit has about 2 feet of visibility below the Sauk on the North side of the river (Right Bank). The Skagit has about 1 foot of visibility below the Mixer. Most of the anglers were fishing the Skagit above the Sauk in the Marblemout to Rockport section. No one was fishing the Skagit below the mixer.
Unless you just have to get out on the water, it would be best to wait a week or two for the Sauk and Skagit to clear. With the temperatures warming, now is also a great time to check out your favorite local lakes.
Fishing the slow deep water was the name of the game.
Scott and I spent the day fishing runs in the Hamilton area. The first run we fished starts out with a steep drop and some very fast water, but it quickly slows down. He was fishing the run with a fast sinking line and a lightly weighted fly. He worked through the faster water without a bump. As we moved into the slower water, he was stripping the line with a long slow pull to keep it from haging up on the bottom. Just as we were about to move on to the next run, he got a good grab, but the fish didn't stay on. It was most likely a dolly.
A couple hours later we were fishing through a very long run. Once again, it has fast water at the top of the run and slows down pretty good towards the bottom. We were standing in waist deep water and fishing water that was 6 to 8 feet deep. Scott worked the run with a type 6 sink tip and a heavy marabou streamer with large brass eyes....not the easiest to cast, but he was doing a great job. We were nearing the end of the run and the fly was swinging through some water that just looked right. I was standing next to Scott and I say, "Bam". A couple seconds later, his rod goes down and his fish comes up. It came to the surface, turned broadside so we could see the red on its side, pulled some line off the reel, turned broadside the other direction, pulled some more line off the reel, gave a couple head shakes, and it was gone. Damn!
That turned out to be the only steelhead he hooked over the weekend.
The conditions on both the Skagit and the Sauk are great! Well, except that the water temperature is only 38 degrees. Both rivers have fishable flows with visibility in the 2 to 6 foot range, depending on where you are at on the river. There are good numbers of steelhead in certain areas, but there were not a lot of them holding in the classic fly water. If you work hard, you might just find your fish.
Doug, Dave and I floated the middle section of the Sky on Monday Morning. There was a little rain the night before the float which gave the river a winter green/brown color with about 2.5 ft of visibility. The river was flowing at 3600 cfs when we started in the morning and it was dropping slowly throughout the day.
We fished a number of very promising looking runs in the morning but came up empty handed...not even a bump.
We continued on after lunch and shortly after the sun came out, I tied into a downstream hatchery hen in the 6# range. It was a good fish, but it showed signs of a battle with a net or eagle and it didn't put up much of a fight. In fact, I thought for sure I had hooked a dolly until I brought the fish into the shallows. The fly of choice for this fish was a black/chartreuse marabou streamer with bead chain eyes.
As it turned out, this was the only fish of the day for us, and we didn't run into anyone else on the sky that landed anything either.
Deene and I spent the day on the middle Skagit so I could to prepare for an upcoming guide trip. I was on that section of the river so many times last year, I almost knew it like the back of my hand. However, the Skagit got hit hard by the floods in November and I wanted to figure out which runs had changed. I was very surprised to see all the runs I fished last year were still intact. Some had changed a little and some gravel had shifted around a bit, but there is still a ton of fishable water in my favorite section of the Skagit.
We fished through the morning without touching a fish, and I was starting to get discouraged, but I knew there were natives in the river. Shortly after lunch I walked into the top of a run where I hooked a beauty of a native the previous season. I haven't fished this run since then and I was happy to see it hadn't changed a bit. I tied on my trusty purple/black marabou pattern and started high in the run. I worked down the run and as my line was swinging across I was thinking this was the exact spot where I hooked my fish last year. Just then I got that familiar tug. I lifted to set the hook and I felt two long pulls from a big fish moving its head from side to side, then the hook pulled free. Damn!
I continued working down the run and got another hook-up. This one was a small dolly. A few minutes later I hooked a third fish. This was another big fish. When I swung it into the shallows, I found it was a very healthy dolly in the 20" range. I started working down the run again and I hooked another fish, then another. I finally stopped and let Deene continue down ahead of me. I moved over to another part of the run and after a dozen or so casts I hooked another fish.
When Deene and I finally finished fishing this run we had each hooked an lost a big fish, and we hooked up with 9 fish between the two of us.
We just wrapped up the 2007 Second Annual Youngs Bar Spey Casting Class, and it went great! Deene Almvig and I put the class together, and there were around a dozen guys that showed up. The casting experience of the participants was across the board. Some had no experience, some had tried casting a couple times but never had any instruction, and some had instruction in the past and just came to learn some new techniques.
We started by having everyone cast for around a half hour just to see where each caster was at. Deene and I watched the casters and gave tips to correct casting errors. Then we met and Deene went over the basics of a spey cast including: placing the anchor, forming the D-loop, and making the forward cast. Finally, we sent everyone out to practice the basics. By the end of the three hour class, all of the casters were completing the basic steps of the cast and getting the line out in front of them.
The hatchery steelhead run is winding down on the local rivers and the wild steelhead are showing up in both the Skagit and the Sky. It looks like it will be a good year for wild winter steelhead. If you have not been out yet, now is a good time to start planning for you winter steelhead fishing.
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