Monthly Archives: December 2010

Cold day, but the fishing wasn’t hot, but lukewarm: 12/26/2010

My buddy Thao wanted to get out with me to visit the spring creek that Jeff and I fished last week.  There was snow in the forecast and cold temps of a high 39 today, but as fisherman, we are defined by our appetite for the tug.  We decided to venture down again and visit our favorite little spring creek for some more winter trout fun on the Chironomid.

With a falling barometer and colder temps it was likely the fishing was going to be slow, and it was compared to last week. I still ended up with a very good day by any standard, landing double digit numbers of fish, but this time the trout were noticeably smaller and less bigger ones were landed.  Even though there was a fairly similar midge and chironomid hatch, there wasn’t as much midging activity and porpoising of the trout and they definitely slowed.

I started out stripping a green and black woolley worm and caught three fish in fairly close succession, Thao was having a little harder time engaging.  I think all his work and no fishing caused his fishing ‘touch’ to turn to mush. Even with his chironomid set up, he was missing strikes and take downs. It was definitely a match the hatch kind of day and the fish were really keen on size 18 rusty nails, chromies and ambers.  They ignored my blood worms and most fish were taken with the indicator at 4-5′ down.

Even though the fishing was slower, we managed to enjoy the glorious sunshine and play a few fish on our 5 wt. rods.

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Even though it might be winter, we’re thinking Spring… Creek that is…

Winter is a great time to go steelhead fishing, but lately, I’ve been schooled on several outings, so had Thao.  I decided to take an invitation to fish ‘the farm’.  Located in the south sound, Jeff and I had the opportunity to fish a meandering spring creek loaded with big eager well fed trout and steelhead.  I wasn’t able to get out the door until noon, but the drive down was pleasant and the weather held out, with sunny skies, upper 40 degree temps, low wind, and did I mention the willing fish?

Most everything worked on these hungry fish: Chironomids, and leeches being our favoring methods of fishing.  We both had two rods strung up and ready for action. One was a 6 wt. GLX 10′ with full clear intermediate line and the other was a 10′ 5 wt. GLX set up for indicator fishing and suspended chironomids. All the fishing is done from the banks similar to Rocky Ford and the creek is skinny enough to put a well thrown double haul near the opposite bank.

The fish were all very healthy, with some real bruisers: 5+ lbs and one that might have pushed 8/9 lbs. Upon stomach sampling one nice trout, #18 and 20 chironomids in the chrome, amber, grey classification were found.  There were also some mayfly larvae and snails!  I even caught a salamander, never caught one of those before on the fly rod.  I guess thats why these fish grow so large: constant temperature water, muddy bottom that is condusive for massive Chironomid life, and other terrestrials and aquatic biomass that fattens these trout and steelhead.

The fight of these fish can easily be compared to that of a Kamploops fish, with several runs, jumps, and dodging, these fish were no comparision to the sublime fish that the WDFW puts into our lakes, ponds and rivers.

The great thing about our spring creek is that there is little pressure, so Jeff and I had the whole place to ourselves and had a blast fishing for a few hours and landing some big pigs!

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Winter runs: 12/20/2010

I had some time to check out my local fisheries and still waiting for some signs of winter fish.  There are some nice summer run fish in the tributaries and while I’ve had the opportunity to test out my new gear on the steelhead smolt and the whitefish, its not the quarry that Im looking for. Oh well… practice makes perfect! One day all the practice will pay off!

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Rivers are blown, don’t go fishing! Dec. 10th, 2010

Thats what the fishing boards were saying and the weatherman was reporting, but I saw it as an opportunity to explore some new water and practice my spey casting and swinging technique. I decided to heed the advice of a member from the board and head up to check out some water which was supposedly tougher to blow out and might hold some early winter run fish.

What I found was a nice change of pace, fishing alone, the solitude, no other fisherman, no runs to crowd, no gear guys elbow to elbow, no tempers flaring, no trash littered all over the place.  I can’t recall the last time I truly enjoyed being outside, yes, that happens when I go out, but today I had a different mindset.  To enjoy God’s wilderness and spend some time in reflection and to explore some new water.

The rivers all locally were looking pretty bad, with flows nearing 7000 CFS, it was alot like chocolate milk on the lower Snohomish, and the Snoqualmie was reaching that bad flush from a big dinner of Chili syndrome.

I had some work to finish up this morning as I had to cancel on going to Rocky Ford with Klint D and Marc C., so I wrapped up around 10, and decided to hightail it up for a few hours of fishing.

At least all my gear was now a little more seasoned, so the new equipment jinx wouldn’t be a factor.  Rather than lay out the report, it might be best served through the videos and photos that I took.  Although, I didn’t find steel, I did get into a beautiful Dolly that went for my pink chenille worm pattern that was swung through a particular fishy piece of classic steelhead water.  If there was a steelhead around, I would have caught it.  I bushwhacked through the forest through snow, ice and mud puddles to find the location which I wanted to start my path.

Nice thing about fishing alone is the solitude, not so nice is the solitude… and nobody to take your photo if you catch a fish.  I tried to fumble with my iPhone which trying to land that little beast, it worked ok, but would have rather had someone else capturing the moment.

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Put the Peddle to the Metal! 12/8/2010

Winter is here and the fish are pushing up into the river systems.  Today appeared to be an epic day, flows up, rain coming in, fish… perhaps. I need to get out and test out the new Airflo Skagit Compact 360 and the Ridge 20lb running line and decided to head up to the Sky for some fresh air and some steelhead.

Winter is a good time to catch up on some fly tying, sorting out the gear, conditioning the flylines, and prepping the boats for stillwater around the corner.  The day prior, I wanted to water test the newest member into the fleet: 8′ Modulus pram.  I’d been looking for a rotomolded pram for a while, but they aren’t the run of the mill boat as you can usually find a few Springcreek Prams, wood dinghies, and some aluminum Jon boats.  This was the 2nd boat that I’d seen for sale in the last few years and I decided it would make a good stillwater boat and boat to haul into non-conventional places such as hard to launch locales such as the Duwamish slough, Magnolia launch, Dash Point State Park, and 1st Avenue bridge. See where I am going with this one? Anyhow, I found a couple of extra Fish on mounts, bolted them on with stainless hardware and also found a Thomas Pocket Puller and Extension arm from a couple of board members on the WFF (Washington Fly Fishing) forum.

All I needed was a seat, which Jeff supplied after taco’ing the one from last springs outing to Lenice.  The white pram was ready to go, or perhaps not.  I should have checked the weather report before heading out to Rattlesnake lake for some afternoon stillwater fishing.  When I arrived the wind was blowing so hard that the mist from the whitecaps wasn’t even landing back onto the lake!

After a little test row, the pram needed some extra tweeks: oar risers and better balancing of the boat itself.  The rowers seat is fixed, and it ends up rowing a little bow heavy.  I think since its rated for a 2 HP motor, they took into account that someone would likely be using it for a tender on their sailboat and with a kicker would balance out ok.

Now that I have bored you with stillwaters if you’re a steelheader here is my report:

I arrived under rainy skies decent temps, was in the mid 40’s when I parked and suited up for the river.  I probably jinxed myself with the ‘new’ gear, but we all need a little jinxing to get the kinks out and when it counts can put the hurt on those lips. I decided to check out some new water to me and walked up river about 300 yards to try out some new sections of water.

I also had a centerpin reel that I’d purchased last season at a bargain price, so wanted to test that out with the TFO switch rod and I quickly learned the pros and cons of this set up.  I can see that its going to be mostly pros, and I might delve into the world of centerpin float fishing as the length of drifts are incredible, with 50-60 yard drag free drifts.  There is a time and place for everything, and I wouldn’t convert completely, but its just another tool to have in the arsenal.

I could see it being a very deadly trout fishing set up as well as for steelhead. I plan to tie up some pre-tied rigs for nymphing that can be swapped out on the go.

Last week I was interested in building welded loops and shooting heads out of DT 10/11 wt. spey lines.  it would be difficult to find what the grain weights were with these cut up heads so the search for a inexpensive digital scale came into play.  I knew something like this would exist at Harbor Freight Tools and sure enough, for $15 you can purchase a scale that does it all and even comes with the cover which doubles as a tray to hold your shooting heads.  To test out the scale I weighed the Airflo and Rio 360, 475 grain heads and what do you know, it came out very close with a high degree of accuracy!   Im just getting waaay too into this stuff, and its crazy what one thinks up next!

I came, I swung, float fished, nymphed and came up with nothing. I know there were steelhead around as the gear guys were doing well with about 20 fish being plucked from a particular run.  Andy W. had also reported good results with clear water and the middle of the day fishing for steelhead, his dad Chaz picked up two fish, one non-marked and one keeper. Pretty sweet!

It was a good day to test out gear, but a bad day for catching for Felt Seoul. Now that I have christened the gear, I’ll have to catch a fish the next time out!  On the way home, I stopped by the fly shop, picked up some material, had a few tacos at my favorite truck, and checked out the Snoqualmie.  It looked a little colored, but it wasn’t unfishable.  Hmmmm…. might have to head out for a few hours at the crack of dawn tomorrow 😉

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Last day of the year… November 30th, 2010

Today marked the last day of fly fishing on the Stillaguamish river before it moves to gear fishing.  I wasn’t planning on fishing today, but watching the USGS graph creep up got my adrenaline pumping and on the move to the water in search of steel.  I’d need more practice with the switch rod, so thought perhaps I could brush off the skunk from Sundays outing.  It proved to be fruitless for the fishing, but the solitude and the being out on the water was a nice bonus.

When I arrived at the parking spot, I noticed a sign posted by the WDFW on a tree.  The fishing would close period, as of Dec. 1st until the end of January 2011 to allow harvest of steelhead eggs as they had not reached their quota at the Whitehorse hatchery.  I guess this is a good thing, hopefully, and I at least gave it my best shot both; nymphing, and swinging the fly.

With the Stilly closed, I’ll have to spend more time on my local waters exploring some steelhead options in my backyard on the Snoqualmie.  David Powell, here I come!

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Sky is the limit: 11/28/2010

Since our family spent a few days visiting relatives in Portland I was anxious to get some time on the water and turned out that Sunday was a good day to go fishing. Thao was heading out with a couple of his friends who are novice flyfisherman and I wanted to tag along to see some new water.  I ended up driving separately as I had to get back earlier.  Made the journey to the Skykomish River and was greeted with a cold crisp winter morning and some gorgeous looking water.

It was a bit of an exploratory trip for me as I’d never fished that section of river around Index and probably put some fish down due to alot of ‘new’ equipment. I was experimenting with a new TFO Professional Switch rod that I purchased on closeout.  I like the idea of a switch as it has some versatility with being able to swing flies along with nymphing just like a trout rod. What I don’t care for with the spey rods are the long lengths, generally 13-15′ and the need for spendy lines and big capacity reels.

This TFO is 11′ 5 wt. and comes with a choice of two different butt sections.  One is a lower handle just like a spey rod and it screws off to put the fighting butt as seen in rods in the 6 wt.+ category for salt water. I plan to use this rod on the beach for Pink salmon fishing along with deep water Chironomid fishing and deep water nymphing as I can get alot of line out and get a big fly down quicker due to the added length of the rod and ability to reach or stack mend the fly line.

It might become my more go to rod as its farely lightweight and compact, coming in 4 pieces. with sock and case.  I made some custom shooting heads experimenting with a heat gun that vulcanizes the fly line so it essentially welds itself.  The result is a non hinging loop that is super strong and by using a handshake loop, I can attach leader, running line, or sink tips in a jiffy.

I used a 10 and an 11 wt. DT spey line and cut the line in hand making four shooting heads.  Im not sure how it weighs out in terms of grains, but experimenting with different lengths, I found that 20-22′ is ideal for this rod and with a simple single spey cast can launch 60-70′ of line fairly easily. 

While catching a steelhead would have been nice, I wanted to practice my casting, mending, swinging and overall technique to better hone for the real thing.  All in all, it was a beautiful day to be out, I had two nice runs to myself and some great scenery and fresh crisp mountain air.

Im sure the winter steelhead will arrive and I’ll be ready for them! Until then, heres a short video of Luca and some steelhead or perhaps Rainbow trout at the Cabelas in Lacey.  We had to stop for a feeding and diaper change and got to tour around a little bit on our way back from Portland.

At least he got to come face to face with a steelhead when I didn’t see any today.

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