New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year, winding down to the New Year’s Resolution.  This is the time of year we hear folks talk about gym memberships, better eating habits, cutting back on the Tequila (not my resolution, just for the record)… Guess what folks?   Around here, we care about your fish stories…  We care about your fly tying…  We care about your casting.  Yeah, in reality we hope you and your family has a great and happy 2018.  But that is not making this New Year’s Resolution list.

Here is a few ideas that should hit your 2018 New Years Fishing Resolutions:

“In 2018 I am going to….”

  1.  Get out and fish more!  Has 2017 sailed by as quick as it has for us?  Man, I just couldn’t believe it when I had to throw on all the extra layer’s for the first time this winter.  Did you wake up in December and realize “Shit, I only got out 5-6 times this year!”  Let’s change that!  Call your favorite fishing guides and book up a few dates ahead of time for this year.  Blacking out the time on your calendar is the only way this kind of thing happens.  If you don’t set aside the time, you are not going to fish any extra for this year.
  2.  Finally learn how to double haul!  Now, I have been doing this for quite some time.  One thing I am surprised at is how often I get a new client and they have been fishing since 1902, and don’t really like learning to be a better caster.   Learning new things is fun, it’s exciting, and it can make your days on the water a hell of a lot more enjoyable.  In 2018, tell your guides you want to work on becoming a better caster!
  3.  Take my kid fishing!  Look,  I get it, there is only so much time in a year.  We get busy, the kids have school, sports, and facebook.  HOWEVER!  Don’t look back and wish you did more of it.  Get your kid on the boat and lets teach them how to cast, or how to reel in a fish.   Let’s pull out the spinning gear and have a first fish moment.  You won’t regret it.
  4.  Start a new tradition.  Once a year, we are going to stay at the resort, do some hiking, fish, see the Olympics, and get away from the city.
  5. Take the time to learn how to tie flies.  Anyone can do it.  I swear, I know plenty of folks less coordinated,  awkward, and goofier than you are.  It’s time to book a class, and learn how to tie flies.

These are 5 ideas that are going to bring some great satisfaction to your 2018.  All of them are easy to do, and will make 2018 much more fulfilling.

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year to you all! I can’t wait to see what it will bring!

Mike’s Fishing Report 12/19/2017

Our good friend Mike Hanford sent in a fishing report from 12/19/2017. I have been on the water the last few days and couldn’t get it up until now! So without further delay, heres Mike’s Fishing Report.

Mike's Fishing Report

Mike’s Fishing Report

“December 19, 2017
There were gale-force winds today. Luckily, in the Sound, there’s always somewhere to get out of the wind…
Despite knowing that, I still wasted my first ninety minutes out on Carr Inlet taking a beating in my small boat. As soon as I launched, I turned away from the shallow oyster bed (which was on a lee shore and where I knew the fish probably were) and bashed into the wind and waves to round the long point to the south, where I fished deep water while navigating foot-tall whitecaps. I spent most of a fishless hour-and- a-half with my fly line wrapped around various boat hardware. Eventually I came to my senses and gave up on that foolishness, letting the wind and tide blow me back around the point and carry me down to the oyster bed.
This particular oyster bed is short, perhaps a hundred yards long, but it does end on a soft point coming off a wide shallow mud flat. There’s a nice long rip current, lots of boulders, all those oyster shells; a cutthroat paradise. It’s just so damn short! The fact that you can float the whole thing in fifteen minutes is probably why I ignored it in the first place.
I spent the rest of the day—only another ninety minutes, unfortunately—floating downwind until I passed the point, then motoring back up to start my drift again. I fished a weighted bucktail flatwing and hooked at least one fish on every drift, including one heady period when I hooked up three casts in a row, although the third time was not on a fish but on a low-flying little grey duck. It was a moment of
pure coincidence; as my cast unrolled, the duck flew in from the right and passed directly beneath my falling fly. Luckily, the hook did not set in skin, but it did end up covered with feathers that I hadn’t added when I tied it the night before. The duck itself gave a single indignant Squawk! When the fly first landed between its shoulder blades but at last sight was still flying, steady and low, speeding off into the
I netted eight or nine fish—a few of those in the “Damn, nice fish,” category—and even the short ones were fat and chunky, well fed. The black sky, wind chop on the surface, and scattered rain had bolstered their confidence. They ate close enough to shore that I’m sure I would have done just as well had I been fishing from the beach. One of them ate in water shallow enough that when it first felt the hook and bolted, its tale sent up a wake of whitewater spray.
It was dark by the time I got back to the ramp. Despite the cold high wind, the rough conditions, the unfortunate duck, and the rain, it was a great evening of fishing.”

Mike is a great writer and one of the best fishermen I know.  Also the only person other than Brita I have ever let run my boat.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Staghorn Sculpin – The Party Goblin

Staghorn Sculpins, Party Goblin, Bull Head, Son of a… Are just a few names for this adventurous little guy.  We need to pay some respect to the “Party Goblin.”

Savage Sculpin

These little jerks ambush bait all over Puget Sound.  They prefer sandy bottoms, but we accidentally hook the larger Party Goblins over all sorts of bottom structure.  Typically, When picking up a sculpin or two, you should think about picking up the pace.  Sculpin are not slow or lazy, but their an ambush predator not a sprinter like a trout.  Sculpins are plentiful and diverse in size all over Puget Sound, making them great prey for Sea Run Cutthroat.

As far as bait goes, I believe sculpin are not Cutthroat trouts favorite. This could be because of their spiny heads, or the fact that they are hard to find in the rocks. However, in the winter, when the bait is scarce and the pickings are slim… The Party Goblin becomes a savory treat for the big Cutthroat trout that need the calories.

Britas Sculpin

Brits Baby BullHead

Tiers Tips:

  • Burry your weight behind the big fat heads
  • Show off those white bellies and big fins
  • Profile is all that matters (be creative)
  • 2″ is about all you need
  • Check out the Fly Men Fishing Company Sculpin Helmet

Bad Picture But Shows The Profile

Fishing Report

We have been spending a lot of time out on the water this winter.  Winter Trips have been pretty epic so far this year and in between we have been exploring some new water we found (more on that coming soon).  After many discussions and tons of feedback I decided we are going to commit to 1 fishing report a week.  Simple, Short, and to the point.  Hopefully we will be able to do 6-8 a month, but I am committing to 1 a week and that should get you the information you need for your upcoming trips, and fishing.

So here you go!

Puget Sound Fishing Report:

Fishing Report Jumper

With the great weather we have had recently the fish have been looking towards the surface.  Most of the week was spent with the floating line and smaller baitfish imitations getting hit just under the surface.  We had awesome action on fast moving Polychete worms for the first part of last week.  However, As the week carried on we found them more focused on Sculpin and Smelt patterns.  The Majority of the fish are hitting in the shallows and flats  (1-5′ of water).  I suspect a lot of the surface action we had throughout the week was due to the fish keying in on small shrimp buzzing the shallows, but we were able to nab them on baitfish and never switched over to the shrimp patterns.  The fish we are catching were aggressive, fat, happy, and covered in sea lice still!

Couple Smelt Flies

Up Coming Forecast:

After Tomorrow’s (Tuesday) Mega Wind we should be “Mostly Sunny” through Christmas!  With Great weather on the forecast and solid fishing I think we should close out 2017 with some great trips!

If you have any feed back for us about the fishing reports let us know in the comments or email us

Winter is here! Take advantage of the Floater!

Like it or not Winter is here in the Pacific Northwest! Days are shorter and wetter, and steelhead are trickling into the rivers.  Chum salmon are all but wrapped up and everything seems to have a squishy texture to it.  Well, that means fly tying and half day season is upon us.

winter topwater

Feeling cabin fever already?! That’s because we live in Washington, and you are not supposed to be cooped up inside.  It’s time to get out the floating line and take advantage of some great top water sea run cutthroat! It’s not worth trying to cram another fly in that sadly full fly box of yours!  With the beautiful views and the great fishing, it’s a shame to waste the winter inside!

This is the best time of year for the floating line!  We can pull out the gurglers and  traditional baitfish patterns this time of year and really do some of the most enjoyable cutthroat fishing of the season! Cruising the shorelines  tossing the floating line this time of year is a blast.  The water is nice and calm, and with a jacket and some active fishing it is a pleasant time of year to catch fish!

Washington State has a ton to offer the year-round fly fishermen, between the winter steelhead and the sea run cutthroat we do not really get a lull in the fishing! If the rivers blow out and your steelhead guide has to cancel, you can just run over to the Hood Canal and never leave the Olympic Peninsula and still get great fishing!  Here are some tips to keep you hooked up this time of year!

  • Current seams- The bait is scarce this time of year, so the current seams are critical to cutthroats hunting plan.
  • Fish The Floating Line! We have great topwater fishing this time of year. When the fish will not commit to coming to the surface, move just below on the same floater!
  •  Make a disturbance. If your fly is moving quick and making a commotion, the fish will find it this time of year. We have the advantage of the fish being aggressive this time of year, so lets have as much fun with that as we can!
  • Keep moving, as you work a stretch of water just keep moving on down, when you find the fish they will let you know!
  • No bad days! Fish hard, keep at it, and make a day of it. This time of year calls for hot coffee, great fishing, followed by a cold beverage to reward your efforts!

Just The Tip- Tipping Your Fishing Guide

I have dreaded writing this out for a while. Tipping your fishing guide keeps coming up in the past 6 months. I assume this is because of a post I made on Washington Fly Fishing.  Here is MY as non bias as possible opinion.

Should you  be tipping your fishing guide?  Well, of coarse this is a complicated answer;  Do you tip your waitress when he/she does a great job?  Did your guide work his butt off for you.  Do you feel like your guide showed you a great time?  Why did the subject even come up?

Look, I will be the first to admit, being a professional fishing guide is the best job in the world! I love every second I spend on the water with you guys. We catch awesome fish and we tell dirty jokes. We often share life stories, and we have a kick ass time every day! What more could I ask for?  Being the best fishing guide possible has been my life’s ambition for as long as I can remember. Hiring guides is a huge bonus for me.  Those two things give me a unique insight on the subject.

First, most of us were not around when the tradition of tipping your guides started.  I have looked on dozens of websites in preparation for writing this, and could not find how the tradition got started.  Research did show that most fishing guides when not tipped, feel they did something to offend their clients.  I can relate to that both an independent guide and a guide who has worked out of a few different lodges and shops.

Tipping your fishing guide should feel good at the end of the day.  If it does not, I personally would prefer you did not do it.  I personally do not factor my tips into my budget for the week, I look at it like a bonus.  I pride myself on my clients coming back to fish with me every year.  Tips are often a way to cover overhead like fuel, lunch, and services for the boat.  If I come in under budget for the week, that is a huge bonus for us, if not that is okay. I would say that 95% of clients do tip, and of the 3% that do not, they rebook on the day of the trip.

Here is how tipping your fishing guide typically goes;  There are three different types of clients when it comes to tipping.  One who talks about the tip from the first step onto the boat,  the other than hands you cash, and then the credit card tipper.  As a guide, we appreciate them all.  The first however makes all fishing guides feel awkward. We are not working for that tip!  Save it for the end of the day. The next guy pays his bill, hands you $50-$100 and tells you “Thank you, I hope to do it again.” This is how all guides like to leave it. The last is the Credit Card tip. This is the main way people pay.  If this is how you tip, make sure you tell your guide before you pay your bill.  The last two ways are the best ways to handle this.

This is the biggest thing with tips.  The best guides in the world can not avoid this. The dreaded skunk day.  Fortunately our fishery here in Puget Sound/Hood Canal does not have many of these… But we have had it, and as a fishing guide, it is the worst.  I would honestly rather be in the clients shoes than in the guides spot on those days, I remember the first time ever, I felt sick, sad, depressed, and rethought my entire life’s ambition.  It is the worst feeling you can possibly be in, and it is way worse to be the guide than the client. I’ve been skunked on $5,000 tarpon trips, $500 trout trips, and yes, here in Hood Canal it’s happened. The fish sometimes win, and as long as your guide puts in the effort, this should not reflect on the guide.  It just happens.

Look, tipping your guide should feel good, or don’t do it.  Just know that it is a tradition, and if you are not going to, let the guide know how you felt about the day. Give a review on their social media page, book another date, and all around be grateful.  Most fishing guides are living their dream on the water, and made serious sacrifices to do their dream job, just knowing their clients appreciate their hard work means a lot.

For The Guide:

Be honest, this is a career famous for lazy, late, unprofessional people. If you are any of the three, you do not deserve your clients bonus at the end of the day. A tip is not required or even expected, it is a act of appreciation for your extra effort.

Here are a few things you can do for your fishing guide as a client:

  • Show up on time! You are only doing yourself wrong by not showing up on time. Weather, Tide, and daylight all factor into the fishing you are about to go on.
  • Be patient with yourself and your guide.  They will judge your skill level as the day gets going and adjust accordingly.
  •  Be polite.  Don’t trash their boat and don’t get trashed on their boat!
  • Write reviews: These matter more and more to fishing guides these days. Word of mouth is still the best way for a guide to get known!
  • Tell people: Tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, I know alot of guide who are starting out and could use the extra help.  If you notice the guide is fishing one particular company, let that company know what a great time they had with them.
  • DINNER AND A DRINK IS FOR DATES, NOT FISHING GUIDES.  Obviously there are exceptions to all rules. However, by the time they get their boat ready, put it in the water, fish, pulled out, washed down, and ready it for the morning. Thats 10-12 hours. I rarely have a cocktail with my clients anymore, not because I don’t love my clients, but because my kids wont remember my name if I do!



Fall Fishing Is Here!!

Fall fishing has set in this last week!  Crisp mornings have kept the big fish on the shallows waiting for a meal!  The big tides have the bait fish scattered throughout the shorelines like a buffet!  The afternoon winds have the fish looking up for a chance at easy pickings from the surface. October has started off with a series of big hard fighting cutthroat!  Our guess is this fishing will last through the rest of fall!

Fall Swim Up

I can not say enough about the topwater fishing this fall! Gurglers have been our most productive patterns for the last week, landing big fish, with violent takes.  casted into the shallows and dragged off the drop offs we have seen some of the biggest top water fish to date. If you like fast action, super visual takes, and exciting jumps, I’d suggest trying this method out. Our best techniques have been to cast out and pause. Start slow and quickly speed up to a fast retrieve. Make sure you fish these all the way to the boat, because you don’t want to miss a fish on the pick up!

Big Fall Fish

Fishing the baitfish, Our most productive colors right now are out silver, white and teal. or silver white and peacock. Short and strong strips. The name of the game this year is to let the fish know you are there. Make a commotion with the fly. These fish are fattening up as the baitfish is dispersing. Short, violent strips, and make sure you leave that rod tip down and pointed at the fly. Finally, speed up as the fish are chasing, and strip before you set that hook! Flashy flies seem to have the most action this time of year, so when in question, add flash. Chartreuse, Teal, Silver, White, Olive, and Blue all seem to be good highlights right now. November we traditionally add a lot of orange and peach to the mix!

Michael Folded

Come get yourself some action, we have a handful of dates from now till november!

Captain Justin Waters

Sea Run Cutthroat Termite Fishing

I know it does not quite feel like it lately, but summer is winding down into fall.  Fall is a favorite of mine out here on the Hood Canal! Chilly mornings and evenings, strong bi-catch of Coho, and big happy Sea Run Cutthroat make for some exciting days! So, it should be no surprise that I for one, look forward to these days! What marks the true fall season for me is the Termites.

Termite Morning

The purist view of our sport is the image of a trout sipping a bug off the water. In our saltwater environment this is our only great chance to be a traditionalist. To see these vicious predators turn into delicate trout… Or see these vicious predators come up and violently crush a dry fly off the surface. Termite fishing is down right fun!

Termite Fishing

Here are some of the best methods we have found to target this “Hatch”. It important to find the termites in the air, from the water the best areas to search are bays down wind of a wooded point.  Late afternoons seem to be the best time for this, however we have had full days in the past where the fish seem to be looking straight up for these bugs. What makes termite fishing even more fun is that these bugs struggle in the surface film, so twitching them and slowly stripping them works really well. They like movement, therefore adding rubber legs and foam to your flies makes them even more effective.

Termite Fishing

Termite fishing is pure fun, it’s easy, and we love the surface attacks. Furthermore it is a chance to do something completely different with your time on Washington’s saltwater! Tag us in photos of your favorite termite patterns and we will pick a favorite and send you some of ours! @flyfishingjustinwaters or @seafly907 on Instagram.

Captain Justin Waters

Making A Better Hood Canal


Hood Canal is already an amazing place to get outdoors.  Crystal clear waters, solitude, and, oh yeah… The fishing is pretty spectacular.  However, as a healthy marine resource, Hood Canal could use a hand.

That is where Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) comes in.  HCSEG has been apart of making Hood Canal a better place since 1990!  HCSEG has partnered in the Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Project, Summer Chum Restoration, and the Hood Canal Steelhead Project! Not only have they worked on these projects, they have been in the community as well!  HCSEG has K-12 camps, citizen science programs, and provide great volunteer and internship opportunities for folks looking to get their hands dirty. PLUS they operate a sustainable farm you can visit in Belfair WA at the Salmon Center!

Hood Canal Summer Chum

Hood Canal Summer Chum is a threatened species.  Since 2000 HCSEG has been working to bring the Union River stocks up to a healthy populations. We directly can see the results of this in the early spring time as the chum fry dumps back into the Hood Canal. HCSEG is looking for volunteer help with this project now if you are interested in lending a hand.

Hood Canal Science

Steelhead…  Simply the most magnificently eerie reminder of what  could happen if we do not protect our waters. HCSEG not only is doing a 16 year restoration project. Furthermore, they are also studying the best ways to do restoration projects on steelhead streams!  In conclusion of these projects HCSEG might be able to restore 3 steelhead streams, and have the scientific recipe on how to restore small steelhead streams across the northwest. Volunteers are the cornerstone to all non-profit groups of this nature. Consider donating your time please!

Last week, Mendy and the crew at the Salmon Center invited me down to talk about how to partner in their efforts.  Future guest will have a chance to sign up for their news letters, and have membership sign ups right from the boat. Furthermore, this fall we are going to throw a little party, details for that will come soon!  In the mean time, take the family down to the Salmon Center and see what they have going on, and how you can help make Hood Canal a healthier environment for everyone!

Open Season For Open Water

Our summer is finally here in Western Washington!  We could not be more deserving of great weather and better fishing!  With this push of heat we need to change our focus from the hidden bays and back waters to the open water.  Sure there will still be fish hanging in the protected structure, but the big fish…  They know the bait likes that cold push of current! Here are a few things to consider to find the big fish!

Open Water Doubles

Sincerely, there are very few things that get me as stoked as “Let’s chase the big fish today.”  With the exception of blonde women who tie flies, tequila after I get off the water, and plane tickets to the tarpon grounds, my favorite things come down to chasing big Sea Run Cutthroat in the summer.  Fortunately, the season is here for chasing the big ones.  From now till mid September, we will find the biggest fish of the season. Here are the things you need to know!

Open Water

For the most part, until the water starts to warm, we find our biggest fish in the bays and back waters of Hood Canal and Puget Sound.  Rocky shore lines protected from the winds, hidden from most of the world, with steep shorelines that stay cool until the warmest part of the year.  As the waters warm, the baitfish and oxygen levels decrease in these areas, and the fish move to the open water and main current channels.  The fishing itself is still very similar,  however the locations tend to be a little less friendly to wading.  The currents are a little stronger making you think about how to present your cast in these open currents.   Furthermore the hunt is much faster and our mobility with the boat is much more important.  We run to our locations, make our cast and look for signs of fish and bait, then we run to the next spot.  We might cover a quite a few miles of water before finding the perfect location.


Our fishing is pretty similar, Cast, Strip, Cast, Strip….  Those acts are very much the same for the most part.  However, the fish seem to prefer a speed of retrieve this time of year…  Problem is, it changes throughout the day, with light, temps, and tidal flow.  I tell my clients; “Start slow, and speed up till you end fast.”  As we fish through this method you will see at a certain point in the retrieve we catch the most fish.  It might start off the fish want the retrieve fast when the water temps are 61 F and the light is really low on the water.  As it warms to 64 F the fish might like the slow retrieve and a deeper sunk fly with the high light.

Fly Selection

This is a preference…  I know a ton of different flies catch Sea Run Cutthroat.  However I do think there are a few things to consider as the weather warms and the sun is high in the sky.  Add Weight.  This can be an old school Clouser pattern, a cone head, or hidden tungsten beads/Loon Powder.  The flies that get down quick tend to catch more fish this time of year.  Maintain a big profile with a subtle foot print. When a Sea Run Cutthroat expends the energy to chase your fly, it is also exposing itself to predators, and typically moving a long ways for it.  Make the fish think it is worth it by keeping a big profile.  Herring, Anchovies, and Sandlance are all in good numbers and all have larger profiles right now.

Summer is the hidden gem of the north west!  We have endless options of outdoor entertainment.  Fishing for big Sea Run Cutthroat should be at the top of your list!  I hope this allows you to find more success!  Tight Lines and we hope to see you on the water!

Captain Justin Waters