Afternoon Delight- After hours Trips

After hours Trips!

After Hours

Last week just flew by and I know a lot of you didn’t find the time to get out!  Fortunately this week, really the next 10 days, has awesome After Hours opportunities!  We are geared up and ready to get out for the 5pm-dark After Hours trips all week and looking forward to it!  With enough light to stay out late we can start as late as 6pm and run till 9:30.  The tides are shaped up awesome, the fishing has been amazing, and we have been taking advantage of it ourselves!

After Hours

Looking forward to another great week of fishing!  Early mornings and late afternoons are going to hold the best fishing of the day!

This does not mean that mid day fishing has been slouching either.  We have had awesome fishing in the mid day sun keeping our flies in the cold clear water.  We’ve had to make some adjustments to deal with the warmer brighter weather but we have had a great time!

Bringing the kids out has been popular the last few years and with this warm weather comes warm water in the lower reaches of hood canal!  Meaning Swim Season is here!  If the kids want to swim around lunch time this is a great time of year to bring them out as well!

Connections

Connections

The connections I have made over the last decade have made me feel unbelievably fortunate. To elaborate a bit, I have been able to share the water with folks who have done all sorts of great things.  Climb Kilimanjaro, fish Tiger Fish in Africa, Played in the NFL, US Special Forces, business owners of all kinds… Business, Travel, Summits, Sport, Entertainment, you name it.  I have been able to connect with some of the worlds most interesting people on the water.  It’s one of the things I love about my job.  I get to share it with all of you.  Also, I get a brief glimpse into the life,  careers, families, and passions. While you may be the one on the trip, I am a brief tourist in your lives as well.

Other than the connections I make on the water, tying your tippet to the leader, I am fortunate to continue that relationship off the water. I get calls from clients at least once a week “I want to catch a tarpon, can you help me out?” “I’m headed to Belize for permit, what do I need to bring?”

Where to go, who to book, and how to prepare.  Whether it be casting lessons prior to the trip, or how to outfit yourself for success. But most of all, how to put it all together. How does your backing connect to the spool? How do you connect your backing to the fly line? Leader to line? Line to tippet? Tippet to fly? How the hell does all this work together in order to hold onto a 100+lb fish?

Connections are the name of the game in Fly Fishing. Without the right connections, your fish will swim away with your fly, leader, line, or just break everything and swim away with half your rod.

So lets start this thing off!  We will start with the backing to reel and work our way right down to the fly.

Arbor Knot

Connecting Backing To The Reel

This is a pretty beyond simple knot… In fact it is so simple that when Mike Lawson first showed me I didn’t really get it.  There are a few ways to make this connection, however, this is the most straight forward connection available.

If you notice, Simons accent makes this knot come together beautifully.

Loop To Loop

This is the fast, strong and simple way to get two loops to join into one. Backing to fly line, line to leader, and leader to leader making a solid connection.

Simon was the coolest guy I have ever talked to… Right up until he called Dancing Queen a “great hit”…

 

Albright Knot

“I don’t have a loop in the back of my fly line! What do I do?!  I don’t have tools, or line welding knowledge!”  First, don’t panic.  The Albright Knot will take care of you.  This is a great knot for most backing to fly line applications.  Particularly for anything involving trout, salmon, steelhead…  Back to you Simon.

Jeez man, That Simon has us covered today!

Tie Fast Nail Knot

“Justin, the fly shop sold me this crazy tool because I broke the loop off my favorite floating line battling barnacles at Purdy Spit.  I went to the one with bad customer service so they didn’t show me how to use it!”   No worries my fluff chucking friend.  Zack has you covered here…  I will say this before we get to the video.  I do not think this is the BEST way to attach a leader to a new fly line.  Use the loop to loop connection in that case.  They are strong, quick, and I really like them.  However, if you are battling kangaroos in the outback and they bite the loop off your fly line, this will keep you in the game.  Go buy one of these tools, learn how to use it, and toss it in your pack.

Loop Knots

There are a lot of reasons to know loop knots.  One, you can skip the last few knots we learned (you should know them anyways) if you know how to tie them up and how to use them.  The first loop we will learn is the Perfection Loop.  This is the handy loop in the end of every prepackaged Rio Leader.  This is a great loop to know for doing a “loop to loop” connection to your fly line.

The next loop we will learn is the Double Surgeons knot. This knot can be used for the same thing as the perfection knot, attaching leader to fly line, or backing to fly line.  This is not as strong as the Perfection Loop or the Bimini Loop, however its quick and easy if that break strength is not as important.

Leader To Tippet

I am going to go ahead and say it right off the bat.  There is two knots I use almost 100% of the time for trout, salmon and steelhead.  First,The Blood Knot, 98% of the time. This is the best knot for attaching MOST leader to tippet situations. If you suck at the Blood Knot and you are going to tie a crummy one.  The Double Surgeon is a good alternative.  I will occasionally use a Double Surgeons Knot if I can not see (fishing at night) or in the freezing rain (hands are not working).  However, thats fairly rare.

  Additionally,  I use the Improved Blood Knot for tying two pieces of tippet with a big jump in size.  Zack actually was the one who showed me that knot, and I have appreciated it greatly over “I hope that stays.”  This knot works great for in a pinch when you hit the end of your spool of tippet.

We are going to give Simon a break and let Zack knock this one out of the park… Remember how Simon was classy and used Chap stick?  Now, watch as Zack chooses to drool all over the screen.

Fly To Tippet

Finally! How do we put our stabbers on the fishing string?  Well, there are obviously 4,000 different knots for this.  I am going to go over my two favorite ways. First, the Non Slip Mono Loop.  This is our go too for Sea Run Cutthroat, and most weighted or baitfish flies.  I want to get the most out of my fly, and this allows it to swim naturally and move freely in the water.

Back to you Simon!

Now,  When we are up in the mountains and using dries and nymphs mostly we need a knot that is small, strong and secure to the hook. That’s where the Improved Clinch Knot comes into our arsenal.  Here’s Zack to finish this thing out!

 

Let’s Wrap This Up

Fly Fishing is all about the connections we make.  With the environment, the fish, the guides, and even the equipment.  If we miss our connections we can spend all the money in the world on booking world class trips, $1000 fly rods, and the best accommodations the world has to offer.  But we will miss the opportunity to truly be in the game.

Thanks Simon and Zack for unknowingly being our star actors for this fish story.  Thank you Rio Products for your wonderful library of You Tube videos as well!

 

Fishing Report 6/11

Fishing Report 6/11

Whew! This past week/weekend had some unstable weather that kept the fishing ranging from Great to Pretty Good… We had some pretty epic days out there with big fish, great laughs, and wet weather.  Then we had some pretty good days of dodging weather, and finding some fish in between points to break the wind!

Despite having to work a bit harder on the “pretty good” days, we stayed in the action throughout the day.  Not to mention we were rewarded with some pretty awesome fish!  Thats one of the best parts of summer time fishing, the fish will reward your efforts as long as you put it in!

Salt Water

The keys to success with the saltwater fishing has been staying in the feeding zones.  There has been a lot of bait in the water these past few weeks and the bait is sticking around for the summer.  Finding the areas the fish are feeding has been the biggest key to success.  The edges of the kelp lines and over the eel grass beds has been our best prospects.   Most of our fish have been coming on Sandlance and Herring patterns.

Mountain Streams

We headed up into the mountains the other day to scope them out for the season.  We must admit, we ended up… Well fishing… and did not do a great job of getting photos and exploring as much as we intended to.  However, we did get a decent amount of info for you.  The small streams are dropping WAY faster than in years past, and the bulk of the fish came out of the deep slower pockets.  They will be up in the riffles as the water levels off for the summer.   We found a few fish in the 8-12″ range plunging the deep pools.  Quite a few in the 3-6″ range were willing to play on dry flies.  We will be back up to explore later this week.

Weather

With overcast mild weather setting in for a while, we have some great expectations for the next week! The cloud cover will keep the bait high and the cutthroat up hunting on the eel grass flats and off the drop offs. We have a lot to look forward to as the summer rolls along!

DATES!

We have 1 cancelation date this week that is Friday 15th that is $100 off of a full day or $75 off a half day!  Other than that we have 14th, 17th (fathers day) open!

Next week we have 18th, 20th, 22nd, and 24th open!

Captain Mike and myself want to thank you all for coming out and keeping us busy this summer!

Slack Tide

Slack Tide Jumpin'

Slack Tide

Every week people are shocked that we will catch fish through slack tide.  “I read that fishing stops for the hour before,during, and after slack tide!” I get that all the time on the boat.  “This guy told me that he wrote ‘the book’ on fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat, and he asked if I wanted his autograph.”  I get that once in a while too…

“Well… We caught fish for the last 3 hours!  You can probably find in writing someone calling a wooly bugger a squid too!”

The truth is, if fishing stops for 2-3 hours every time the tide changes I would have very little time to actually do my job!  Before we get into to much, I will say this.   When the tide actually comes to a complete stop, if you have a lunch, eat it… But if there is ANY movement at all, you should probably be out there checking it out for some fish!

Slack Tide Release

Get To The Point

There are some tricks to getting the most out of a slacking tide.  As the tide comes to a peak low, or peak high it must come to a stop in order to change directions. This is what we all refer to as “Slack Tide”.

Often folks think Slack Tide is a total waste of time.  The thing is, on most situations, you can time this out to get the most out of a tide.  As the tide slows down, the most water movement will be over the points of land.  The more significant the point, the more the water will be moving.  Sea Run Cutthroat will almost always follow the moving water.  As the tide does slack out (or stop moving) the fish will typically hang on the point because they know that is where the current will pick up the fastest.  As long as we can drop our flies right in front of them, we hardly notice a slow down in the fishing.

While we are in our boat, we can run south as the tide is slowing down, and find more moving water, then move north as it slows down and it will have already switched.  We don’t ever really need to stop fishing.  This is a huge advantage on slower tide changes where the tides seem to take for ever to start moving again after they slack out.  On Hood Canal the body of water is narrow, so it takes very little to get a current along the shorelines, however, having this trick up our sleeves has helped out on many different occasions.

Slack Tide Netted

Fighting The Salad

Our last Slack Tide trick we are going to share is how to fight the salad.  Many times after a low slack tide the tide water rushes in and fills the area up with floating eel grass, kelp, and other less than desirable catches.  First off, this sucks, no way around it, it just plane sucks. However!  There are a few tricks to make the best of it.

Starting off, find the current seam.  Most of the time, if we look hard enough there is a tidal current that will act as a aquatic dust pan.  This will at least lower the amount of weeds on one side of it.  If you can find the tidal current, you can find some fishable water 9 times out of 10.

 If you are having a hard time finding the tidal current, we have a little trick for you too… Find a point of land.  Often, one side of a point of land will collect a ton of weeds.  Also it creates a tidal current that will clear the down current side of weeds.  Not all beaches have these two options.  So my last suggestion… Go to a beach that has one of those options.  Move your ass on to a beach that you can fish.  So many times I hear “ah the weeds kicked up so I stuck around and caught frustration.”  My time, which is inevitably my clients time, is to valuable to be stuck in the frustration station.

June 1st Fishing Report

June Fishing Report

June Fishing Report

Whew!  It’s been a blur of great fishing and great weather these last few weeks.  As we are moving from spring into summer fishing a few things are starting to change out on the water! Before we get into the June Fishing Report I just want to thank all the folks who have come out and shared the water with me these last few weeks, it’s been a ton of fun sharing stories, fish, and making some killer memories!  We have hit some seriously beautiful fish, and had some pretty amazing weather to enjoy it in!

We are pretty well into the full summer swing of things now, and the fishing is starting to stable out and be predictable. The fish have moved onto their summer hunting grounds where they will be for the remainder of the warm season.  Also the summer bait has been flooding into the Hood Canal in football field sized schools. Herring and Sandlance are pushing onto the eelgrass and the fish are fattening up as a result.  Although most of the chum fry has left the lower reaches of Hood Canal, we are still seeing smaller schools up north.

June Fishing Report

Most of our fish these last couple weeks have come out of the fast water.  We have been focusing on water that is moving quick enough to barely be able to sight the fish in.  The high sun and low mid day tides have pushed the fish out to the deepest, sharpest points they can find.  If you can find the fast water on steep points you should have great success throughout the day!  With these big tides coming up, finding fast water should not be a big issue.  Most of our fish have come on type 3 sinking lines, sight fished over 4-10′ of water.

 

Weather Report

The 10 day forecast looks pretty great for fishing, not to hot, not cold,  cloud cover for at least part of the day to keep the water temps cool along the shorelines!  It’s pretty well fishing season!

 

DATES DATES DATES

Last minute opening for this Sunday! $100 off the day due to cancelation!

June Fishing Report

We are filling up fast for most of the month of June! I  (Captain Justin Waters) have Thursday June 7th, 10th, 13th, 15th,  and just opened up the 17th which is Fathers Day!  I look forward to sharing the water with you guys!

Captain Mike has 13th, 15th 19th, 22nd and 27th!

June Fishing Report

Coming Up!

We are up in the mountains checking out the creeks starting this week!  Checking for changes and exploring what rivers and streams are still being effected by run off!  Let us know if you are interested in checking out some small streams coming up here soon!

Party At Waters West

Party At Waters West!

WooooWeee!  We have a good one coming up ladies and gentleman!

Saturday the 19th of May up in Port Angeles!  We have a ton of fun coming your way! Here is a great link for the event!

Casting Lessons,  BBQ,  Fly Tying,  Story Time,  and a good ol’ fashion seminar on how to fish for Sea Run Cutthroat on Hood Canal.

This is a great time to get to know the new owners of Waters West.  A couple of good ol’ fashion fishy folks with a ton of knowledge and passion for our sport.   Waters West is arguably the best fly shop in the world.  Do you need Panda Bear eyelashes for your favorite Barumundi Fly?  I bet they can get it.  If you need to track down a rare or exotic feather for a certain pattern? Give them a call!

Bright Days

Come on out and enjoy the party!

Casting Is Fun

Casting Is Fun

As a fishing guide I get to see a lot of people fling a fly rod.  A LOT of people.  Everyday, there is something that always stands out to me.  It’s that no matter the skill level, if you make your best cast, everyone smiles.  It’s pretty obvious that casting is fun!  If you are new to fly fishing and you toss a loop that lays out straight at 40′, I’ll bet you will have a grin on your face.  If you are a seasoned veteran like Zack Dalton from Sage Fly Rods, and you bomb out a 90′ lightning bolt of a cast and the line snaps tight the fly flips out right on the target…  Don’t kid yourself, it feels damn good.  The pursuit to have more fun than anyone always started off with teaching folks how to cast a fly rod.

That’s why we love fly fishing.  The pursuit is almost always just as fun as the objective.  Of coarse we all love to hold that trophy fish and watch it slip out of our fingers back to the holding water it came from.  However, simply flinging some fishing string out there on a nice day brings a ton of joy into our lives.  It’s the difference between Fly Fishing and trolling.  Trolling is fun, but no one says, “putting a down rigger out is as fun as casting a fly rod.” It’s simply not the same thing.  Casting a fly rod is just technical enough to get your mind into it.  It’s also simple enough to not feel like you are wearing yourself out.  Fly fishing is a perfect blend of thoughtful mindlessness.

 

Thursday Casting Lessons

This brings us to why we decided to do the Thursday casting lessons down at Alderbrook Resort.  I LOVE to teach folks to cast a fly rod.  I love getting to know new people and showing them the joys that fly fishing can bring to their lives.  The other thing I love, is hanging out in beautiful places like the Hood Canal seeing the mountains and water, and the joy it brings into everyone that gets to experience it.  Combine the two, and we have Thursday Casting lessons… Plus great food and drinks,  a pool for the kids,  paddle boards for the non fishy folks.  It’s one of the few casting lessons that you can bring the whole family out for!

Come on out and join in on the fun!

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.

Fishing Report 5/7/2018

Fishing Report 5/7/2018

Starting Off,  we have been a bit sidetracked with, well… Fishing!  We missed a couple of… Okay, we missed a month of updating the Fishing Reports and Fish Stories.  So, I am going to do my best to keep up this summer!  Between a guiding, speaking engagements, our beach clean up, and Thursday casting lessons, I truthfully just spaced keeping up with it.  I will do better.

Fishing Report

Fishing has been no less than amazing this month.  Now,  the weather is getting more steady it’s been super predictable as well.  The key to success has been flipping back and forth between herring and chum fry.   Hood Canal has been crawling with chum fry, and they have been our main focus early in the morning.   As the sun creeps high in the sky we have been switching to smaller herring patterns and fishing that 6-10′ of water.

This transition into warm weather has been a blast. The fish are spreading onto their summer holds and finding the main tidal currents to get shelter from the bright sun.  Sight fishing has been fantastic with the bright days and calm water this week, and summer feels like its right around the corner!

Weather Update:

Weather is looking good,  Wednesday and Thursday have a bit of wind, however the weekend looks amazing!

Next week is looking like summer weather and awesome tides!

Open Dates!

This Friday and Sunday are open! Next week we have Monday and Friday open!

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.