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.

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.

Tips and Tricks: Chum Fry Hatch

Tips and Tricks: Chum Fry Hatch

Chum Fry Hatch Fish-Bram

The local legion of Puget Sound “hatches” is the chum fry.  Folks flock to Puget Sound from all over the state.  They are coming here for a chance to experience some of the most exciting trout fishing around.  Bait balls getting slashed at by predatory Sea Run Cutthroat trout, fish clearing the water spewing small bait fish into the air, and eating flies with no hesitation.

If Puget Sound’s most famous “hatch” is the Chum fry migration then the Hood Canal is the holy grail of it.  Hood Canal famously has huge runs of chum salmon in a relatively narrow and healthy body of water. Moreover adding the littering of small spawning creeks and a summer run of chum, you have yourself the best fishery around for this event!

Chum Fry Hatch Kype

Here are a few things to know before heading out:

 First, be as close to the stream that they are coming out of as you can, exactly when they are coming out. Then find the schools of chum fry, and keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Finally, if at all possible, be on the down current side of the school. This allows your fly to be the first chum fry to get to the cutthroat.  Done! You have all of my tricks (that I am willing to share with you here). Let’s Elaborate a bit!

Starting off with being close to the streams.  The big balance of fishing the chum fry hatch is being there as they are dumping out of the creeks. You want to be close so you are getting fish that are just turning onto the bait.  The first bite of cake is always the sweetest. However, we don’t want to be there before the school has emerged and the fish are not turned on. So it’s really a balancing act. 

The next step to finding success with the chum fry hatch is this. “Keeping your baitfish in the water!”  There is a lot of bait to choose from! Getting a “eat” is a matter of having your fly in the water when the fish crashes through the school.  Typically these fish are eating 5-10 baitfish at a time at the begging of the hatch, you can’t be one of them if your fly is being casted.  Use SUPER short, fast, strips that barely move your fly. The object is to keep it fluttering and slack free but try not to pull it out of the school of bait.

The last step is probably the most difficult from the beach, however simple in theory. Stay ahead of the school. You want to be the first few baitfish that get hit.  If you had a choice to run from a hungry T-Rex or a uncomfortably full T-Rex I think you would choose the latter.  Positioning yourself ahead of the school works three fold as well;

  • First, it allows you to be the first baitfish on the buffet line, instigating the most aggressive takes.
  • Next, staying ahead of the school allows your slow retrieve to stay in the bait for a bit longer.
  • Last, it allows you to reach the bait without repositioning yourself for the longest amount of time. The fish have to swim to you, then past you.

Chum Fry Hatch Fish

If you put these thoughts into consideration you should have a fairly successful Chum Fry Season. The next post we are going to do is how to rig your set up for the most success during Chum Fry Season.

Fly Fishing Show/ Fly Tying Competition

Alright Folks!  We are headed to the Lynnwood Fly Fishing Show on February 17-18 in Lynnwood Washington.  We have also talked about having a fly tying contest and have been trying to think of the best way to do such a thing. So, What do we do? Combine them!

For the first Fly Tying Competition we are going to do a “Match The Hatch -“Chum Fry”.

Here’s the scoop:  We love fly tying. When we are not chasing kids or fish, we are tying flies here in the fluff factory.

So, We want to see flies that are not “a cone and some squirrel”.   We want to see creativity.  It’s chum fry, it’s iconic in the PNW.  Let’s do these little things some justice and see what you can do at the vise.

Scoring:

  • Creativity
  • Perceived Effectiveness (does it look fishy)
  • Presentation (well tied and well loved)
  • Unique – We understand there are only so many ways to tie a chum fry… However, there were only square rocks before the wheel right?

Bonus Points:

  • Take a photo of your fly in the booth and tag us on social media
  • Leave your best joke with the fly
  • Deliver your fly with coffee in the booth

Chum Fry - Fly Tying Competition

You must drop off your best “Match The Hatch- Chum Fry” at our booth at the Lynnwood Fly Fishing Show.  Or Email us for an address (Justin@all-waters.com).

Winner will get a 1/2 day guided fishing trip on Hood Canal during chum fry season, a New Fly Box with all of the entries,  plus a few bonus flies from us.  Furthermore we will make sure you get off the boat with plenty of good swag from some of the best companies in Fly Fishing/Tying.

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
twilight.
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
Sculpin

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 Justin@all-waters.com

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!

Stella&Cam

 

Fly Choice

Every day on the water the subject comes up;  “Gosh Captain, You are all that is man!”  After a short discussion on wrestling grizzlies, saving small children from fires, and how to street fight an army of ninjas, we pick up and go back to fishing.  However, the other subject that gets brought up often is fly choice.  “What made you pick this fly for this spot.” I tend to have a quite a few different reasons for the flies I choose. So next time you open your fly box, think about these three things.

grey flatwing

Fly Profile:

The number one thing I consider when choosing a fly, is profile.  The profile of the fly as it travels through the water is the first thing cutthroat see.  The way is holds a silhouette, pushes water, and moves all go into this factor.  For the most part, I want the profile to fit multiple baitfish to add versatility.  To do this, I try to fit it somewhere between a herring and a sandlance in size and shape.  I like the fly to move freely in the water like a baitfish as well, so we tie all of our baitfish with a loop knot.

fly choice flatwing

Weight:

Fly choice also comes back to having the right amount of weight.  I almost never choose a baitfish that is unweighted.  Not that I always add a ton of weight, I want just enough that if my clients are slow retrieving the line, the fly will dive between strips a bit. But rarely enough that it will effect the casting of the fly.  I do this with either soft weight added to the shank, or a bead tied into the fly.  When I do add more weight, it is usually in a larger bead hidden in the fly to get the fly to drop a bit more in the summer time.   Clouser style flies are rarely in my arsenal, I don’t care for the profile, and typically the weight factor is not an issue.  

Color:

There are a few things to consider when thinking about color.  If it is super bright we  can go a bit darker and not worry about losing the fly to the light. As the light goes down (early spring, late fall, winter) I tend to fish brighter flies.  In the summer I fish a lot of dark olives, dark grey, and greens.  On the shoulder seasons and winter I fish a lot of chartreuse, light olives, teal, peach and yellows.  The next thing to think about is what all of the baitfish have in common in Puget Sound. All of our baitfish for the most part have a white belly, darker back and silver highlights.  The other details we can add is that most of our baitfish have eyes that stand out. So adding some sort of eye to your fly will finish them off pretty darn well.

These are just a few factors when considering what fly to use when fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat. Our fishery is impossibly diverse and consistently changing every day, so there are tons of other opinions and “right” choices to make. I hope this will help you next time you are thinking about fly choice on puget sound.