Fight Talk

From the time I was a kid I was always fascinated with the idea of a good fight. My friends, my music, my movies, the sports I got into. All of it was aggressive, scary, and exciting. I remember my first punk rock concert being the smallest kid in the crowd and being picked up and tossed around the crowd and seeing the mosh pits, and seeing Fletcher of Pennywise throw his middle finger in the air… It was the best thing I had ever seen!


What Do You Mean “What Do I do?”

Just as impactful, I remember the first time I ever had a client hook a good fish. It took a Parachute Adams and screamed down stream! My client in pure panic looked at me, and yelled “What do I do?!” I was not prepared for this response and was in full on adrenaline mode. I fumbled on the words, cursed a lot, and eventually with both of our hearts pounding managed to get the fish in the net. We both laughed, high fives, and I was hooked. To the best of my knowledge he had no clue that I didn’t know what I was doing. I never looked at fishing the same way, how could I? I still to this day find guiding far more exciting than actually catching a fish of my own.

There is a lot of things I noticed immediately once I started guiding. One of the things is that most trout anglers never learn how to fight a fish. Particularly how to fight a fish effectively and efficiently as we should be. This all starts with a good hook set.

Set, Set, Set… Not Like That!

Before we can engage a fish in a fight, we have to make sure they are hooked in the best way possible. It’s sort of like throwing the first punch. If we wait to long, we get punched in the face, and thats no good. But if we jump the gun and just throw a wild haymaker out, we will probably miss and be left looking like an idiot. Setting the hook is all about timing and technique.

Strip Set

When stripping a fly the way we do for cutthroat, the hook set should be low, and it should start with an extra strip. The biggest reason on Sea Run Cutthroat that you want to start with a strip is the fish is a chaser, and when eating the fly is typically heading at an angle towards you. This causes slack in the line and if you yank back on your rod you are just pulling the slack out and “popping” the fly right out of the fishes mouth. So strip the fly into the fishes face, and pull to the side with the rod to get the rod bent.

Get Bent

The angle you pull the rod should keep the rod tip below your eyes, and should pull the hook through the fishes mouth finishing a great hook set. Adding an extra strip should set the hook into the corner of the fishes mouth, hopefully puncturing the flesh and allowing the hook to do it’s job. Yanking the rod low into it’s bent position should ensure that the hook is all the way through, and keep the pressure required to make sure it will not pop out. If you do both of these things you should have a huge head start on the fight.

Fish-Jitsu

Everything from here on out is about efficiency of the bend in your rod and shadowing your fish. If you are being efficient with managing the pressure on your rod, the fish will always succumb to that pressure and you will land your fish the fastest. Consistent pressure is always the best most ethical way to fight a fish.

Manage Your Bend Bro

The way to keep consistent pressure with your rod is by managing your bend. Many fish will pull agains your rod bending it deep into the blank. This is fine and fun! Allow line to feed out to keep your bend where you want it to avoid pulling the hook or breaking off. If the fish runs towards you or starts letting up on his output, bring line back in and keep the bend where you want it to avoid slack line.

Shadow Your Fish

If the fish runs to the left and your rod starts straightening out, change the angle, pull to the right and get the bend back. If the fish starts going right and lightening the load against the rod, pull left and bring that load back into your rod.

Eventually the fish will not be able to fight against the pressure that is consistently being applied. Once the fish wears out, it will be easily lead into the net. The faster this can be done, the less stress we are bringing onto the fish. The less stressed fish are likely to survive being released back into the water .

Prize Fighting

It’s our job as fishermen to be the fighter, the ref, and the doctor of these prized fish. It’s a job that requires doing all of these things at a high level to ensure the safety of the fish so we can come back every day and enjoy them. Fighting them effectively will keep them happy. Being the ref and knowing when to end the fight and put them in the net will keep them healthy. Being the doctor and deciding whether they are healthy enough to get a quick photo will ensure they survive and be there again another day.

Cheers guys, and I hope you enjoyed and I look forward to seeing you on the water!

10/15 October Fishing Report

October Fishing Report

 We have already covered the fact that October is down right amazing.  This week we have been welcomed to the water with beautiful fishing conditions.  Slick water, cool weather, and sunshine that has no end.  Did I mention we have been starting at 8am? Yeah, 8am… Eat it August!  I love October.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being spectacular sea run cutthroat Fishing and 1 being what happens when you try to fish in your bathtub… I’d say fishing is a full on 10.  The cutthroat are gobbling down anything we have tossed at them.

October Fishing

We have been finding most of our fish on intermediate lines pushed up on the shallows.  3-6′ of water has been our main target this week.  Have we found some in the depths? Sure have, but why bother when there are plenty pushed up shallow?  We have been using a wide variety of general baitfish patterns.  Mostly Money Makers in peach and orange or chartreuse and peacock.  As a bonus,  top water fishing has been awesome this October as the fish are pushed into the shallow water and more densely populated.  To round things out,  we have been fishing some worm flies  just to switch things up over the oysters.

To be honest, we have been having a lot of fun trying to see what the fish won’t eat.  They are not exactly picky… More like a vacuum than a traditional trout.

Coming up!

We have some great weather and fishing  the next couple of weeks.  Get your dates, a boat open on the 20th, 21st, 23rd, and 26th.  Let us know and we will get you on the water!

October Fishing Report

Future Dates

If you are going to miss out on October, I have a secret for you!  November is a lot like October… just a little later.  Fishing continues to be great, Cutthroat move closer to their estuaries, and we continue to have more fun than anyone else you know.

November 2nd, 6th, 10th, 13th, 16th and 18th.  Let us know, we would love to share the water with you all and show you why we love the fall out here on Hood Canal and Puget Sound!

October Fishing

Captain Mike’s Guide To Beating The Cold

Captain Mike’s Guide To Beating The Cold

(A brief note from Captain Justin: Captain Mike sent me this a bit ago and I have postponed posting this for when it gets cold. Now as it gets cooler I thought it would be more appropriate.   I don’t think there is a more qualified human being than Mike to do this.  Thanks man!  You are one of the best humans, fishing guides, and writers I know.

Cold

Your Wet You Don’t Have To be Cold

Raise your hand if you like to be cold.

(Brief scuffle ensues.)

Alright, now that the one madman is out of the room, we can have a reasonable conversation.

Reasonable is probably a relative term; I hate being cold. I loathe it. I would rather be waterboarded…

OK, that’s too far. (Also, I imagine any torturer worth their golf-cart battery would use ice-cold water.) But yeah, I really do not like to be cold. That being the truth, I have also spent 40+ years (20+ of those years professionally) pursuing sports which require frequent wettings, often in less than warm conditions. I have swum out of whitewater rafts in November and once guided West Virginia’s New River Gorge on a day when the high was 17°F. Was I chilly? Yes. Did I call off the day because it was cold? No, because I know how to dress so to be relatively comfortable in the wet and cold. OK, yes, also because it was February and I really needed a paycheck after starving through the winter… but that’s beside the point.

We Fish In Cold Water:

Individual bravado aside, here in the Pacific Northwest we fish in cold water, often with more cold water hanging in the air or falling from the sky. Perversely, those latter conditions can make for better fishing than we might find on a bright bluebird day. So we don’t get rained out; when we wake in the morning and see those clouds and wet air rolling in, we smile and our hopes begin to rise.

But then we walk outside and remember: It sucks to be cold.

It’s even worse to be wet and cold. Unfortunately, clambering through wet second-growth to get to a trout stream or chasing cutthroat from a boat in the driving rain means wet, or at least damp, is inevitable.

So, what’s the answer?

Step 1: Stay home on less-than-ideal-conditions days.

Just kidding, just kidding…

The real answer: Accept the inevitable, prepare, and remember that being wet does not mean that you have to be cold.

Eat right and stay hydrated:

(Disclaimer: Few reputable nutritionists would recommend as a daily diet the plan I’m about to lay out.)

Start with breakfast. Hell, start with dinner the night before. Make sure the engine of your metabolism has the fuel it needs to burn warming calories all day. A lot of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Maybe twice what you would eat in a normal meal.

Drink water. Drink water before, during, and after your meal(s) and while you’re on the water. Without this step, all that food is just going to sit. Give your body the fluid volume it needs to carry all those calories and nutrients you’ve consumed.

Dress in layers and NO COTTON:

Old news, I’m aware, but news I see ignored on a daily basis. Cotton absorbs and holds more water than your body can effectively heat. And your goose-down jacket, when it gets wet, is going to lose loft, effectively negating its ability to keep you warm. It is the 21st century, though, so you have a ton of clothing fabric options that will retain heat when wet. Most of these are the newer synthetics, but there are a couple natural fibers that will also serve. Just, again, NO COTTON!

Think of your clothing as a capsule. The idea is to hold warm air in a bubble around your body while limiting the amount of moisture against your skin. If you can do that, even if you’re wet, you will stay warm.

Take a good look at the weather (both current and forecasted). The clothes you pick for that day should require no more than three layers, not counting rain gear. Fewer layers mean fewer options for regulating your temperature. More layers means… We all saw A Christmas Story, right? If you can’t put your arms down, how will you double-haul?

Example 1:

OK, so the forecast for the day is a high of 50°F, rain, no sun, and when you wake up at 4:00AM it’s 40°F with heavy fog. Time to lay out your clothes.

Your three layers consist of base, mid, and outer.

Base:

Your base should be tight to your body and of a material that will wick moisture away from your skin. This is where those natural fibers really shine: I like both Smartwool and silk. They’re both stretchy, very warm, and comfortable against the skin. There are also many synthetic choices of base layer. These have all the best properties of Smartwool and silk, but they also share one serious flaw: They retain, and maybe even magnify, smell. Just something to keep in mind for that end-of-the-day stop at the local eatery. Whichever you choose, make sure to tuck your shirt into your long underwear when you dress. Skipping this step will mean lost heat every time you bend over.

Mid:

The mid-layer should be tight but a little less-form fitting than your base. On the upper half, this is the layer on which I like to have a hood. Also, if the day warms, this is often the layer you end up wearing as the outer-most layer, so consider a fabric with some wind stopping ability.

Outer:

The outer layer is the big warm air reservoir. Patagonia’s Nano jackets and pants come to mind. When you are first trying on this layer at the store, make sure it fits properly over the layers you plan to put underneath. Too tight, you’ll actually squeeze out some of that warm air; too loose and you will get too much air movement, like a drafty house.

Typically, on a day like I’ve described above, I would wear two layers on the bottom (long underwear and my Patagonia Shelled Insulator pants) and three layers on the top (long-sleeve undershirt, medium-weight hoodie, and a synthetic-down jacket). My rain bibs would go under my outer jacket; my rain jacket would top everything. If I was stream fishing, the outer jacket would go inside my waders to avoid it getting soaked if I waded deep. Then my rain Jacket over everything.

Ultimately, what you want is to be able to regulate your temperature by adding or losing layers. With that in mind…

You Do Not Want To Sweat!

Go back and read that line again, it’s important. What is the purpose of sweating? To cool us. If you dress so warmly that you sweat, you will eventually get cold. This is more a concern when stream fishing, where the day often starts with a hike to the river. On these days, you should be almost cold when you start out; you’ll warm as you walk. If you get out of the guide’s truck and feel comfortable standing there at the trailhead, shed a layer or two.

It’s a different story on the boat. Running in an open boat at 35mph creates a 35mph wind. If you are comfortable when the boat is sitting still, the wind chill is going to make you cold once the throttle is wide open. I often find that the best answer to this is just adding my rain jacket over the clothes I’m already wearing. This creates an effective wind block and lets my clothing hold onto the air that my body worked so hard to warm.

As to that raingear… Jacket over bibs or waders. This is the layer that keeps us from getting soaked by cold rain or melting snow. It is also the outer layer of our warm-air bubble. A breathable, waterproof, (Gore-Tex, etc.) fabric keeps the rain off while also letting out the steam made by our working bodies. Nylon and rubberized fabrics do well keeping the water out, but they hold in the steam. Eventually, this will make you wet, which will make you cold.

Forget about staying one hundred percent dry:

I have yet to find any outfit—including a custom-made drysuit—that kept me fully dry. What we want is an outer shell that keeps the great majority of rain or snowmelt out while allowing the bit that does get in to run back out. While the shell is d

oing its job, our inner clothing should wick moisture away from our skin, not hold onto excess water, and fit in a way that allows air to be held and warmed by our metabolism.

It’s The Accessories That Really Make The Outfit:

We’re talking about those little touches here.

Hat. Your head, face, and neck have a large surface area, roughly two square feet, about the same as your back. Would you want to be outside in the cold with your entire back exposed to the elements? No? Then wear a warm hat.

A buff or scarf. In the boat, as I said, you get cold while running. Your neck is a big hole in the top of your upper layer, letting that 35mph wind get in and steal your warm air. A buff or scarf makes an excellent baffle in that hole and can be pulled up over your lower face while running.

Gloves. Can you stand them? If so, wear them. I wear them, but I also buy the best-fitting, fingerless, gloves that I can find. If you’re going to handle a fish, take them off first. The gloves will stay dry, your hands will stay warm, and you won’t pull slime off the fish. This is good for the fish, and for the way your gear bag smells the next time you open it.

Footwear:

Justin was mocking my socks-under-sandals look just the other day.   Side note: My feet, which were in and out of the water all day, were toasty warm. In the winter, I’ll wear rubber boots, but only once it’s miserably cold out and only when guiding. If I’m actually fishing, I’ll still rock the wool socks and sandals, the latter of which will get kicked off once I have a rod in hand. I hate to be cold, but I refuse to bomb a perfect cast only to find I’m standing on my running line. If you do wear rubber boots on the boat, make sure you can kick them off with minimal work. This is a matter of safety. Swimming in rubber boots is, well… let’s just say difficult.

Avoid alcohol:

Alcohol dilates your distal blood vessels, allowing heat loss through your skin. (That being said, once I’m back in the warmth, nothing chases off the inner chill like a glass of Redbreast neat, just in case anyone is thinking of tipping with anything other than cash. Justin, I hear, likes Don Julio.) Leave the beer in the cooler and drink some more water instead. On that note…

Pee When You Feel The Urge:

You’re drinking water, right?  Well then, your kidneys will make pee. If you hold onto it, your body will lose heat into your bladder. Yes, man or (especially, sorry) woman, it is a chilling, difficult, task in cold weather while wearing all that clothing, but after you’re done, you’ll be warmer.

Eat:

Like undressing a little to urinate, eating will actually make you feel colder (This is due to the food being less than body temperature, compounded by your body’s shunting of blood to your digestive tract to deal with this new load of food.)  but you have to keep the engine fueled up.  If you ate enough for breakfast, intermittent snacks will probably get you through.  I like Clif bars.  High energy, portable, and if you keep them in a mid-layer pocket they’ll be warm and gooey, which makes for a nice treat on a cold day.

Hypothermia:

This is what happens when you get too cold.  Despite all our preparations, it can happen, and it can be life-threatening.  Know the signs (clumsiness, confusion, slowed breathing, shivering or, worse, cessation of shivering without being warmed) and be willing to call it a day well before things reach this point.  Fishing is awesome, but it’s not worth dying for.

Parting Wisdom:

River or boat, there are a few things you should add to your cold-day gear list. Mostly these come down to safety. I like to have a way to start a fire (You should beach and get out of the boat first, btw.), extra water, extra food, emergency warming blanket, and one more layer than I think I could possibly need. In the boat, I also suggest wearing an auto-inflating Personal Floatation Device (Mustang makes several excellent options.). I wear one even on warm days, but on a cold day, wearing ten pounds of clothing, with ocean temperatures often in the high 40°F’s, life-expectancy in the water can be measured in minutes. A PFD is, literally, a lifesaver in this situation.

Being prepared for a cold day will not only let you get on the water more days, it will make those days safer and much more enjoyable. Winter brings some truly large fish up out of the depths into fly fishing range. It also chases a lot of people off the water, which results in less pressure on those big fish. And when you’re home, showing people the pictures of the netted monsters, you’ll get that question: “You were out on the water today?”

And you won’t be lying when you say, modestly, “Aww, it really wasn’t that cold.”

Renaming October- Fishtober

Renaming October- Fishtober

October is always a bitter sweet month to be a fishermen in Puget Sound.  The fishing is always pretty good out in Puget Sound, but it does not get better than October.  Sure spring is great, summer is fantastic, and Winter has amazing flats fishing… But October… Oh goodness.  Fishing in October is down right perfect (November is pretty sweet as well).  However,  there are a few down sides…  October marks the end of any hope for flip flops and shorts.  It ends any hope of the occasional bikini hatch at the resorts (I hear the comments from the dirty old guys!). No more swimming when we take a break for a snack. All of that aside, it’s perfect fishing, and I suppose what more could we ask for?

October slob

Get To The Point Will Ya!

What makes October perfect for fishing?  Well, I have asked myself this for about 8 years now.  I think after a ton of contemplation I am finally ready to say… It’s complicated.  Cold weather, less bait, concentrated fish, experience.

Chill Pill

Let’s start with Octobers weather, it’s unpredictably predictable.   October will average air temps in the  50’s.  Which means we will see similar air temperatures to sea run cutthroats favorite water water temperatures.   In conclusion there will not be a die off in the feeding throughout the day.  In contrast, July is wonderful, but once the mercury peaks, we are probably done with the best fishing for the day.

October Bend

Fish Snacks

Moving on from weather, is food sources.  October sees a decrease in baitfish from Septembers endless supply of fatty protein. The fish are still fat and happy, and obviously still well fed.  However,  the pickiness you see in late august/early september is completely void in October.  If you are going to be forced to put shoes on to go fishing for the first time of the year, you might as well fish to happy slob fish.

October Is For Concentration

Continuing on down the list… I always say October is the perfect time of year to fish for Sea Run Cutthroat, this is only true if you find them.  Cutthroat concentrate together way more in October-December.  In the summer we do these endless drifts down shorelines fishing every pocket and piece of structure.  When October hits (the first big cold spell) we notice that the fish concentrate more on certain spots.  Will we catch a single fish once in a while if we drift? Sure! Often though, you will find vacant beaches where we fish in the summer. Those fish have moved onto their cold weather holds. However, if you find the pods of feeders, we tend to double up, or have a dozen fish follow the fly in.  This is the time of year we will have a small fish eaten off the line by a larger cutthroat.

October Doctor

Time Served

Last is experience.  When we first started fishing for cutthroat we were stuck to the beach.  We fished the public (and often private) beaches that we knew we could pull a few fish.  The cold weather would come and some of these beaches would be best suited for contemplating life, and others would all of a sudden make you feel like a fishing god.  As we started exploring more, spending more time on the water, and getting off the beach, it became clear how these fish behave, and we started growing opinions on why.   This is a great time of year to pay attention to the successes and failures on the water.  October changes things out there more than any other time of the year.

October is here, we are stoked. To be completely honest, all of the cold months are pretty wonderful.  We will give you the tips on how to take advantage of it soon.

Coastal Cutthroat Giveaway

#guidelife

We are back!

Sorry for the delay in posting.  We’ve been… Not Posting.  But, we are back!  To celebrate it being October, being able to breathe after a busy season, also to celebrate the fishiest time of the year. We are donating big to the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition giveaway.  They are auctioning off our package!

Rules!

To enter here’s what it takes; Head on over to the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition Parasite Watch page.  Report what you catch in the month of October.  The more days you fish and report, the more times you are entered to win the giveaway!

Give Away Prize!

1.) Rio Coastal Quickshooter Fly Line-  We understand that the majority of cutthroat fishing is done from the beach.  We want to outfit you with the best beach line on earth. Bam!

2.) Yeti Rambler 20oz Tumber–  Look, It’s October!  Coffee needs to stay hot, and after fishing cocktails need to stay cold.  No one does it better than Yeti.

3.)Sage Hat and Buff- While you are stopping at that barista in the morning you want to look fly right?  No one looks better listening to Kool And The Gang like a fly fisher in a Sage Trucker.

4.)Flood Tide Co. Koozies– Look, I’ll be honest.  I bought koozies, shirts, hats…. I decided I looked way less ugly in the shirt, and Brita looks really good in the hat.  It’s October, keep your fall IPA cold and quit complaining.

5.) A half dozen flies tied by yours truely.  Old School Money Makers, Disco Shrimp, CutiePie Sculpin, Flashy Flatwing, and a shimp I played with.

6.) Stickers, a few Flood Tide, All-Waters, Sage Fly Fish… Possibly a Rio Products one…

Look, we have more fun than anyone. No one loves this fishery more than us. So let’s share the love!  Go fish, report and get the giveaway!

I hope you all had a great summer! Now that the madness has slowed down a bit, we are back to our usual schedule!

Bright Days

Bright Days

Bright Days

School Of Chum Fry On A Summer Morning

Occasionally, we like to fish in good weather.  You know, shorts, bare feet on the casting deck, sunglasses for more than protecting against bad cast.   It’s starting to look like summer out there on the water.   I see a lot of people saying,  “Now that the suns out, the best of the fishing is behind us.”  This my friends, is simply not the case.   There is however different techniques in the summer to make sure that the bright days are not spent fishless.  Sea Run Cutthroat are predators, here are some tips to make sure your fly remains prey on the brighter days of summer.

Wake Up

If you want to fish a floating line in the summer, you will have to wake up early.  You can fish with a floating line and still get some fish in the mid day sun… You just won’t catch as many fish.  It’s that simple.  The shallow water is going to warm with the high sun and push the fish off into deeper water.  Nighttime allows the shorelines to cool off and the bait and Cutthroat to move back into the shallows.  Fish the low light and get your shallow water fishing fix in before the suns super high and beating down on the flats.  There are plenty of opportunity to get the floating lines out and stock the shallows in the summer if you wake up on time.  Check your tide charts and find a good tide early in the morning.

Bright Days

Fish The Riffle Water

Don’t get it twisted though, that high sun does not turn the fishing into a tanning session.  Find that main tidal current.  Those riffles through the structure are like a sun umbrella on your patio table.  Sea Run Cutthroat like to use that riffle to break up the sun while they are hunting.  Breaking up the light helps hide the fish from predators like birds while they are behaving the predators and munching the last of the chum fry or small herring.

Bright Days

Go Deeper

There are lots of little tricks to getting your fishing in when the sun is high.  However, when the sun is high and consistent, none is more obvious than you need to get deeper.  Finding the shorelines with access to deep water is a huge key to our success.  Casting into 3′ of water when the fish are holding at 13′ feet is not going to result in much success.  We like to make a handful of passes through these spots.  We will start by fishing that 10′-20′ deep range with type 3 sinking lines and fishing our flies down deeper and slower.  Then fish that same stretch from 5-15′ a little faster.  Finally, fish that 3′-10′ section even quicker.  This assures us that our flies have fished through all of the best structure and allows us to feel confident that we did not miss any of our fish.

Bright Days

There are a lot of problems to solve in a days fishing.  That is what separates a successful day on the water from a fishless and frustrating one.  I hope this helps you solve a few of those problems on the bright days of summer.

April Fly Selection

April Fly Selection 

Sea Run Cutthroat have a unique menu this time of year.  Swarms of Chum fry in the shallows, Herring hanging on drop offs, and small sandlance on the Eel grass. It gives an angler a few extra things to explore as they are out looking for Sea Run Cutthroat.  When picking/tying your April Fly Selection we have a few considerations to think about.

Chum Fry

Chum fry of coarse has to be the main focus due to the shallow water sight fishing that they encourage.  Cutthroat porpoising like they are sipping caddis flies on the Missouri river in Montana… Chum fry are an absolute blast.  Check out some thoughts on Fly Selection.

Chum Fry Flies

When the schools are small, we like to fish a real accurate chum fry profile like the “Chumbodies Baby”.  I like the red egg sack head because it makes my small fly stand out a bit.  I also fish this fly steady, but slowly.  Keep tight with the fly, but don’t make it run to fast.

April Fly Selection

Chumbodies Baby

If I see thick schools of chum fry,  I like to fish epoxy minnows, and really tear through the schools with fast strips and flashy chum fry profiles, if the bait is an inch, I would go a bit bigger, 2-2 1/2″. Why? It just seems to work. I like to pull the fly quite a bit quicker in these situations and try to find the feeding fish.  When we have thick schools of bait and not a lot of crashing fish, I tend to think the fish are gorged or just not around, and we need to find them quickly.  A good ol’ Epoxy minnow is a great searching pattern.

April Fly selection

Epoxy Minnows

Now if I see cutthroat crashing chum fry and slurping them down like crazy… The “Frisky Fry” gets tied on the floating line.  The small gurgler like head will keep the fly floating and skipping on the surface, but allow the bulk of the fly to skim just under the surface.  If the Chumbodies Baby is the technical assault weapon, the Frisky Fry is the Whoopy Cushion “gotcha” of the group.  I like to strip this fly just fast enough to make a commotion on the water and wait to see the bucket swirls of fish coming to the surface.

April Fly Selection

Frisky Fry

Sandlance

Sandlance are my favorite baitfish for sea run cutthroat.  If sandlance was a people food it would be the nacho. Every cutthroat loves a sandlance.  April is when we start seeing fish key in on them. Sandlance tend to spend most of their time in April schooled up along the edges of Eel Grass beds, and where a steep beach starts to flatten out.  So If you have a steep drop off at the edge of your beach, its probably not the best place to find schools of sandlance.  Sandlance are quick swimmers who dive when being chased and like to hide down in the eel grass. Cutthroat gobble these things up like candy bars and fat folks.

Sandlance Flies

Sandlance can actually grow to be a pretty large baitfish.  However, in April I tend to flirt with the 2 1/2″ epoxy minnow, or the 3″ Money Maker for most of my sandlance patterns. The epoxy minnows serve me double for when the chum fry are pushed off the shallow water and are hanging on the edges of Eel grass. The Money Maker is my go to fly for 99% of my Sandlance imitations.  The baitfish profile cast easy and has a ton of movement in the water.  This “Flat Wing” style fly uses a illusion of bulk without creating actual bulk and becoming buoyant.  Design along with the tungsten bead allows the fly get right to business fishing from the first strip.

April Fly Selection

Money Maker

I hide a tungsten bead in almost all of my sandlance patterns, and like to give a three second pause before I start to strip.  This gives the fly time to dive like a fleeing baitfish before the retrieve it.  Our retrieve stays pretty much the same for these all year long.  Short strips, start slow and end fast, don’t pause.  If you have been on the casting deck of my boat before you have seen the fish chase them in, and if you have made the mistake of pausing you have seen the fish veer off of your fly and disappear into the depths of Puget Sound.

April Fly Selection

Money Maker/Sandlance/Flatwing

Herring

Herring is a overlooked bait source for Sea Run Cutthroat.  I think much of this stems from the folks who write the books on Sea Run Cutthroat tend to be beach anglers.  Herring hang on the dropoffs and ledges in Puget Sound, making them hard to reach for most beach anglers on all but the lowest of tides.  Cutthroat will target herring when they venture into the shallower bays and when the herring are in big numbers.  Typically when we are fishing with Herring flies we are targeting bigger Sea Run Cutthroat trout.

Herring Flies

When we are tying Herring flies we need to remember a couple of things.  One, these are not narrow baitfish, so we need to provide bulk for the material.  Two, these are larger flies, so we need to pick the right hook.  Number one you can learn at a fly tying class, and number two I have some pretty strong opinions on.  The two hooks I like to tie my Herring flies on are the Tiemco 800s size 6, and the Ahrex NS110 size 4 or 6.  The heavy gauge wire will keel the hook well with a bigger profile fly, and the larger gape in the hook will make sure your hookups are well placed in the corner of the mouth.

April Fly Selection

Herring Money Makers

My herring flies are typically variations of the Money Maker, or traditional Flatwing.  Both of these patterns are sparse while keeping a larger profile in the water.  April is a great time of year to fish Herring patterns as they ball up near the shorelines.  The large cutthroat will leave small chum fry to target the larger nutrient rich Herring.  When retrieving the fly, you should be steady with short strips as the bait is pretty tightly balled up.  If you pull the fly in quickly you will tend to foul hook bait, or pull the fly out from under the bait balls where the cutthroat are hunting.

April’s A Transition

Overall April is a transition month.  The Cutthroat are spreading out from their winter holds.  The eelgrass beds are growing back to their summer thickness, and baitfish are moving back into their summer shelter.  Your April Fly Selection is all about being prepared for summer style bait balls, or spring chum fry…

April is also all about the All-Waters Spring Clean Up on April 29th! BBQ, Beaches, Fishing, and making Puget Sound great again.

Casting Lessons

Alderbrook casting LessonsCasting Lessons

We have mentioned it for a while, and we are finally ready! Free Weekly Casting Lessons! Finally, we got it done and worked out! Now, all we need is you guys to come out and celebrate with us!  From April through September we will have free casting lessons down at Alderbrook Resort every Thursday afternoon!. We want the first one, April 5th, to be a big event to show them that fly fishermen like to have a good time! We love Fly Fishing, and we thought this would be a great way to share it with everyone!

Alderbrook Resort

Alderbrook Casting Lessons

We wanted to use Alderbrook for the location for a lot of reasons and it took some extra time to set it up.  One,  If your family is not into casting fly rods (yet) there is plenty of other activities such as; Paddle Boarding, Restaurant, Heated Pool, Spa, and Hiking Trails… Really, there is a ton to do (even a full game room for those who hate outside).  Also, there is great fishing near by for those who are wanting to stop in, get a lesson, and ask us for some advise on where to go next.  Last, we wanted a fun atmosphere, That’s what Alderbrook is to us, you can’t walk through the door without having fun.  So, In theory, its a perfect match!

You do not need to be a guest of the lodge to attend these classes, however if you are, we will give you a discount on the free class.

Lessons

Alderbrook Casting Lessons

Every Thursday of the summer we will have casting lessons down at Alderbrook Resort starting April 5th.  We recognize that there are a lot of different levels of casters out there. If you are an expert that needs no help… Come on down, grab a cocktail and shoot hero cast across Hood Canal! Following that, you might be a average caster looking to pick up a few tips?  We can get you on your way to being awesome!  Maybe you want to add to that double haul,  and pick up some line speed, we can help you there.  Or maybe you are a down right beginner?   I can not think of a better way to smoothly transition to the sport! Come down and learn a thing or two about properly casting a fly rod! This is a great opportunity to get dialed in before a trip anywhere in the world.

We will have some structure to our classes on a case by case basis.  It will start off catering to beginners and move into one on one lessons.  The classes will be held at 4’O Clock every Thursday, but I encourage you to make it out on the 5th for the kickoff!

See You Then

Let us know if you can make it, and we look forward to tossing some line out there with you!  We can get you all set with a beach to visit afterwords too! Or enjoy a cocktail at the full bar? Oh… Did I mention their will be bar service to these classes? You know, because we have more fun than anyone!

Alderbrook Casting Lessons

 

Chum Fry Fishing Report 3/13

Chum Fry Fish Skin

Chum Fry Fishing Report 3/13

Man-O-Man where to start?! Chum Fry is the keyword for this March Fishing Report and they are damn near everywhere! This week we have had Cold/Comfortable/Warm/Perfect/Wet weather.  It has been down right confusing trying to layer up in the morning for a day on the water.  However, the chum fry is out in full force! Sight fishing for big cutthroat along the flats has been down right amazing! Schools of chum fry getting caught up on the shoreline current has been our main keys to success.  However tossing big baitfish off the dropoffs on slack tides has lead to some great success on the slower parts of the tides.

Fly Fishing this time of year is as good as it gets.  If you stay in the chum fry the fishing has been great, and if you get out of the chum fry the fishing has been unpredictable, however not to shabby either.

Chum Fry Big Papa

Listen up!  I’m going to give you the trick of the season. Slow down and just do some searching.  We just slowly cruise the shorelines, waiting to see fish heads and bait boiling, then make your cast at feeding fish.  “Alright there he is make your cast… slow, strip, STRIP,  speed up… STRIP, STRIP!”  Then start laughing and playing your fish!  Come on now, how could it get any better?  Chum Fry season has delivered in an absolute spectacular way this year!

Chum Fry Fish ButtHere was the conversation at the dock yesterday;

“Hey Justin, I just realized the guys who recommended you said you tell a lot of jokes, we didn’t hear any today!”

“…Shoot man, I don’t know why I didn’t tell them.”

His wife then said, “I know why, you were to busy netting fish and laughing at the fishing!”

 

A few keys to success:

  • Stay out of the run off!  As the winter turns to spring the snowmelt can shut the fishing down.  Stay away from the creeks that are kicking out the snow melt.  Allow me to elaborate on this. First, snow melt will often lower the water temperature and clarity, making it difficult for fish to hunt. Furthermore the snowmelt carries lots of minerals that can lower the oxygen levels and often makes for lethargic fish.
  • Stay with your game plan! If you are fishing somewhere with a lot of chum fry, stay fishing in the bait.  Your go to spot probably is not going to fish the same if all the bait is south of you still.  Cutthroat will move to the bait.
  • Work out from the source! Start by, finding the creeks that are dumping the bait, and move out to the good water north of it.  Also, this is a great way to find new water for the whole year and great fishing now!
  • Slow down!  Sometimes your eyes are better for searching than your brain. Take some time to just stare at your situation.  Looking down the beach is often the best way to find a starting point.  It might seem counterintuitive to stop casting, however that is often the best place to start when things are not going as planned.

UPCOMING WEATHER

This coming week we have some cloudy overcast weather in the mid-high 50s… But what the hell do those weather men know anyway?  I’ll take that mid 50 degree weather any day after the past month of cold.  If you look at the forecast it looks like “Fishing Weather”!

Dates!

Chum Fry Big Fish In Net

We don’t have many for the next few weeks.  We moved some stuff around today and opened up the 19th, 25th, 27th, 31st.  I can’t say this enough, Thank you so much for all of you who came out this month. I am humbled to be able to share the memories with all of you!

April Dates:  3rd, 10th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, 29th.  We are filling up pretty quickly and looking forward to another great month with all of you!  Chum fry will still be emerging from the rivers all through April and we will stay ahead of them all month.  I am fired up and looking forward to continuing the roll we are on!

Chum Fry Cutthroat Swim Away

Captain’s Clean Up

We will announce soon the Inaugural Captain’s Clean Up for April.  Keep an eye open for it later this week!  We are super excited to party with you all and spend the day cleaning up Puget Sound.

Spring Is Started- Fishing Report

Spring Has Started – Fishing Report

Holy smokes,  This weekend was a blast! Spring Has Started! Thanks to those who came out and joined in on the fun!  Last week we had great fishing, and found most of our fish on Shrimp and Sculpin patterns, we were going strong… Then it started to go down hill…

Spring Has Started

The Scramble

First, we had a last minute cancelation of our entire weekend! Not an awesome move.  However, occasionally things happen, and we have a super awesome client base that was able to help me out and fill in the dates! Thanks so much for your support guys!

Next, on Thursday, we went to wash down the motor and our water pump went down… Again, our weekend was in shambles!  We called around, got the parts and were back up and running for Saturday morning.  We unfortunately had to cancel our Friday and move some things around.  But we managed to salvage the weekend!  Timing could not of been better!

Spring Has Started

The Flood Gates Are Open- Spring Has Started!

Saturday morning we headed into one of our favorite spots.  The weather couldn’t of been more pleasant.   However, our typical spring spots were just feeling empty.  We hunted for a bit, and eventually caught on to what was happening.  The fish were super podded up on small schools of chum fry.  Once we found the small pods of bait, the fish were absolutely frenzied and quick.  We managed a really good day, with lulls and then fast moments of brilliance.

Spring Has Started

All day Saturday we just felt like it was ALMOST perfect fishing conditions… We were absolutely right. Sunday morning we rewarded for our game plan… Chum Fry were kicking up and we stayed in the bait and the fish all day.  At high tide we pushed real close to the creek mouths and we could see the bait being pushed out by the current of the outgoing tide.  Right onto a buffet line of savagely feeding cutthroat trout.  Forget about professionalism for a minute.  When you drop three fish on one retrieve and still land one… The fishing is god damn bananas.

Check out our Tips and Tricks post to see some tricks to taking advantage of the Chum Fry hatch!

We started early, and stayed late, jumping from one spot to another hunting chum fry. The spots we didn’t find them we could tell the fish were pushed into the creek mouths.  In some instances up in the flats of the estuary that we couldn’t get to with the tide, we could see fish hammering chum fry in the deep pools.

If I were to describe the fishing in one word…

Spring has started and we are stoked!  Lets Get some fishing in!

Weather Report

The weather report has some clouds and light rain in the next 10 days, however the temps will stay in the 50s and be pretty typical early spring weather.  Spring has started!  I can’t imagine starting the spring off any other way!

Spring Has Started

Dates! We have some Dates!

Come on out tomorrow March 6th, I am open to a half day! From there we have Friday March 9th, 11th, 13th, 16th, and 18th open.  We look forward to sharing the water with you! Chum fry traditionally last  till May, however the most exciting time to find them is as they are first dumping out of the creeks!  It’s like a treasure hunt, and you can potentially strike it rich!

Spring Has Started