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.

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!

Solving The Problem Of Picky Cutthroat

I think we can all agree that Sea Run Cutthroat Trout are aggressive fish.  Although, following that statement, occasionally they do get picky!  On these days you can see the fish, you can watch them sipping like trout on the Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork.  These are the days that make balding men wish they had hair to pull out.  Sea Run Cutthroat tend to smash baitfish pretty regularly, these are the days they just want something else.

  1. Get Stealthy.  The first thing I do when my clients are getting the rejects is add a couple feet to the tippet.  For most days 6-7′ of 2x Rio Fluoroflex is enough. When the fish are following and it’s just not happening, I like to add a couple extra feet of 3x to that.
  2. STOP!  When we know the fish are there, and we are being sneaky with our leaders, and still not getting the takes.  I like to STOP!!! Stop casting for 5 mins. Drink some coffee, watch the water, take in the sights.  Just freaking leave the fish alone!
  3. DEEPER!!   Play with your depth,  I have had full days where the fish would not eat a fly on anything except floaters.  In that same respect I have had whole days when they would not eat a fly more than a few inches off the bottom.  Try playing with the depth, this is our number one problem solver.
  4. Switch It Up!  Perhaps, while you were leaving the fish alone maybe you noticed the juvenile anchovies swimming around.  Or, you noticed the fish were working the shallow points for sculpin or shrimp.  Remember, these fish WANT to eat, so its our job to feed them what they want.  These fish will even find small creel like Amphipods or Isopods occasionally on the menu. 
  5. Move It!  Some times, you have to own the defeat.  Don’t waste a whole day on a pod of fish that are not willing to eat your offering.  I call this “Finding happy fish,” and I think its an important part of fishing.  You know the fish are there, and you can come back and try again after the tide shifts.

picky trout

When the fish are getting picky, these 5 moves keep us in the fish.  I believe it was Albert Einstein that said; “I am not a rocket surgeon, however, we can’t keep trying the same thing over and over again.” Furthermore, if all else fails, I know where you can find the best tequila on the Hood Canal.

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

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

 

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

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.

Retrieve

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

Kids Fishing Opportunity

For years we had to recommend kids not come out on our trips. Sure we took a few kids out, however for the most part, it was not suitable for kids.  However, with the boat we now have the ability to safely, comfortably, and successfully take kids fishing! Wether the kids want to learn to fly fish, better their fly fishing skills, or just get started throwing light tackle, we can make sure their introduction to fishing be a fun and enjoyable experience!

The best part of taking a kid fishing is pretty simple. For the most part, kids love to fish! Fishing for cutthroat trout is pretty singularly focused for the most part. At the beginning, cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve with some minor interruptions to fight fish or untangle. As long as it is all in good humor both of those SHOULD BE exciting and fun. Cutthroat are a fairly honest fish, so if you can get a kid to do a few things right, the fish reward you. Furthermore, as the kids pick up those little skills we can continue teaching them, because they are used to learning from school and life at a young age!

We love having the opportunity to share our fishery with youngsters. Teaching them about reading water, fighting fish, and appreciating what the water teaches us. We want to ensure that kids know more than a Ipad and tv screen in the future. What better way than show them something they can enjoy for their lifetime! So bring the family along on the next trip, we love taking kids fishing!

 

To Catch A Predator- Stripping A Fly

There is no denying it, Sea Run Cutthroat fishing is becoming popular.  Fortunately, here in Hood Canal there is room for it too! It’s hardly a mystery why this fishery is catching on,  cutthroat fishing is super fun!  Stripping a fly through the cold, clear waters of Puget Sound and Hood Canal is a great way to spend a day!

Since we have concluded that stripping a fly is fun, let’s make it more productive as well.

Much of our success with Sea Run Cutthroat fishing can be attributed to simply getting the fly in front of them.  Therefore, on days when the fish are deep, we need to let our lines and flies sink down to their depths.  “One, two, three, four, strip.”  Counting down let’s our flies do their job at the right depth.

“Point that rod at the fly!” No one likes a lazy stripper, neither do the fish!  Accordingly, need that fly moving under a tight line to your hand. Pointing the rod tip directly at the fly keeps your line tight, your strip set ready, and the fish shaking in their scales!

Stripping A Fly

Play the game! One of the best parts of fishing is watching a fish move to a fly! Once they turn into a predator we need to keep that game going. No zebra stops when being chased by a lion. Just the same, no baitfish is going to pause mid chase from a predatory cutthroat trout. “Strip till you feel that steel punch them!” This is what we are all here for.

Following these rules will keep you hooked up while enjoying our fishery.  Get That fly down to them, keep tight, and play the game. Stripping a fly the right way will help you catch your predator!

Tyler Strip And Jump