Brita’s Fly Tying Classes:
Brita has a couple of fly tying classes coming up in February! We don’t do as many of these as we wish we did, so we decided to pick it up a notch.
First, her intermediate saltwater fly tying class will be on February 10th. This class will cover Chum Fry, Poppers, worms, and baitfish. This will be a 4 hour class from 3-7pm in the Bremerton/Silverdale area. Call or email for more details.
Also, she will be holding a class on Flat-wing flies on February 24th. This will also be a 4 hour class from 3-7pm in the Bremerton/Silverdale area. I can not think of anyone more qualified to teach a class on these dynamic, beautiful, and effective flies. Call or email for more details.
For both of these classes we will supply all materials, instruction, and some refreshments, The cost of the classes will be $150. Please bring your own vises and basic fly tying tools or let us know so we can supply them. We announced the classes yesterday on social media, and have 3 spots left for Intermediate Fly Tying, and 2 spots left for the Flat Wing Flies. For all the materials or tools you would like to bring check out The Avid Angler to grab what you need!
Stay tuned for more up coming classes!
Chum Fry: A Kick Off To Sea Run Season
It’s not really a kick off of Hood Canals fishing season, let’s be honest here. Hood Canal is pretty freaking good 12 months out of the year. We don’t have an off season anymore, that ended when we stopped playing with those plastic floaty things.
However, if you were to plan a kick off for the 2018 fishing season, I’d say the out migrating summer chum fry “hatch” would be it. We see that the Wild Fish Conservancy is already finding summer chum fry in the rivers. Although, We have seen them as early as the first week in February. I would not say the hatch traditionally starts until the 3rd week or 4th week in February.
We have announced our fly tying contest for the weekend of February 17th & 18th. The reason we chose this date was traditionally this is the week we kick off our Chum Fry season. Spinning up Chum Patterns is an easy task, but interesting chum fry flies will be fun to see!
Thousands of these little fish french fries come pouring into the Hood Canal causing feeding frenzies up and down the shorelines. These little awkward swimming guys school up into the shoreline structure in big clouds. When searching for these bait fish we look for dark clouds on the water, or little “rain drops” or “dimples” on the shore lines. Most of the time when we find these big schools we find them in the slack water along the faster currents.
One of my favorite spring time fishing tactics is running the shoreline quickly looking for the schools of bait. These “Run and gun” days burn a little gas, but we have real fast action throughout the whole day. March and April as the weather turns from wet and cloudy to sunshine this is our tactics!
Chum fry season is the fastest time of year for our calendars to fill up. Make sure to get your dates while you still can!
Post Weekend, Weekend Fishing Report 1/22
Whoa, I don’t know if you have been following the weather for the past weekend, but whoa! Most of the weekend was pouring rain and heavy winds, so naturally we were fishing. That said, we avoided the worst of the wind, but man did we laugh at how wet we got. However, we were heavily rewarded for the effort with heavy trout! Most of the fish we caught were fat, chrome, and super fast takes. We had a ton of fun and met some new friends along the way! Thanks for being tough out there guys (and gals)!
Look, we might as well not bother with the “good”, “great”, or “bad”. We fish for Sea Run Cutthroat, and the fishing is always pretty dang good. Of coarse, there are humbling days, but, cutthroat always eat if we put it in their face.
So, right now, the fishing is fantastic. We fished tight to the estuaries and found most of our fish in the first few drop offs as we got up on the flats. Most of our fish were eating Sculpin and Shrimp as they were last week, as a matter of fact all we really tossed to them were Sculpin and shrimp. When I say the fish are fat right now, I don’t mean healthy trout. I mean they are gorging on shrimp and sculpin until they puke when hooked. For example, when we hooked the biggest fish of the week, little fat sculpin and sand shrimp fall out of his face as he plumply jump out of the water.
The weather report this week is not improving much, 2” of rain tomorrow will push a lot of water out of the streams, however the big tides should keep the Canal pretty clean by Thursday and Friday. Those would be my go to days for being on the water. So, let’s grab your favorite rain gear and lets get going!
Brita’s Flatwing Spey
I grew up fishing for Redfish and Sea Trout on the Gulf Coast of Florida. When we choose to fish with bait we used shrimp bought at McRae’s Bait House at McRae’s Marina. This gem of a bait shop is in Good Ol’ Homosassa Florida. It just so happened when we fished shrimp we caught tons of bi-catch. Redfish, snook, snapper, grouper, ladyfish…. You get the point.
When I moved to Bellingham I started fishing on the famed “S” Rivers with a Spey rod. I was (stupidly) shocked to hear that a popular bait for Steelhead was Shrimp! Turns out, if it swims in saltwater, it eats shrimp.
As I gained a little skill at the vise and a little more knowledge of swinging for steelhead my favorite flies became the General Practitioner variations and other “Shrimpy” Spey Flies. As most Steelhead flies represented “something moving to gain the fishes attention” I always liked my flies to, in theory, look like food.
Sea Run Cutthroat also are a Anadromous Trout, that spends most of it’s life running the shorelines of Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Furthermore, Sand shrimp spend most of their life in these regions, yet, fly fishermen seldom tie flies that represent these soft tasty morsels. Sand Shrimp flies are a go to for me in the winter months when the bait fish are a little more scarce and the tides are big. Also, Sand Shrimp tend to be a great fast current pattern.
No bait source is more overlooked when it comes to Sea Run Cutthroat than the Shrimp. Shrimp Flies are fun to tie, effective, and extremely underutilized. As a matter of fact, I would guess that the Delia Squid or the Cone Head Wooly Bugger are both eaten often as shrimp. I’ve never seen schools of 2″ long squid swimming around. However, I have seen cutthroat throw up mouth fulls of sand shrimp into the net.
Here are some tying tips when it comes to your shrimp flies:
- Add weight in just behind the eye to get the diving motion.
- You can make your own shrimp eyes with Loon Thick and some mono
- Buying EP eyes is way faster than making shrimp eyes with Loon Thick and Mono
- Less is more with the body. Creating the Illusion of bulk without a bulky body will allow the fly to swim naturally.
- Cutthroat are not bonefish, don’t tie a fly made to sit on the bottom, our bottoms don’t give flies back.
- Rubber Legs… Trust me on this one.
- Ahrex makes a GREAT shrimp hook
Here are some tips on fishing shrimp flies:
- Shrimp are not baitfish, Strip-Strip-Pause is a better retrieve.
- Shrimp get washed into the current, don’t be afraid to swing them or high stick them in the fast tidal rips.
- Remember the slower retrieve will let your fly sink, when at all possible the floating line helps keep it off the bottom.
- Cast or drift the flies into the buckets of the creek mouths, thats where these flies really shine.
New Year Fishing Report:
I am aware that I say this every season. However, nice days in the winter are one of my favorite times of year to get out on the water. The fish are VERY active and willing to move to the fly. Also, the big fish are up on the shallows from their usual summer deep hiding spots. The big seasonal high tides bring in a totally new factor to the fishing. So, without boring you to death lets get this fishing report out to you!
We’ve been spending time on both Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Colvos Passage has been fishing great this past week as well as ALL of Hood Canal. We have launched from Gig Harbor, Manchester, Alderbrook, and Salisbury in the last week and found big fat happy fish from each area.
Our fishing is different this time of year. We have to search the massive high tides, so don’t expect anything to come without a little work. We have been following a strict game plan throughout the day which has been covering a lot of water, and fishing very methodically once we find the fish. A lot of our regular structure has been vacated due to the high tides and fish moving closer to the streams. So the search game has been started and once it is figured out the fish have been pretty schooled up and happy.
First, check the structure right outside of the estuaries. This tight to the creek fishing has been VERY good. We have just looked for the holes in the structure. Estuaries tend to be quite shallow and have “dips” which have been holding the fish. Our usual summer spots have been holding fish still, they have just moved from the drop offs onto the flats. Making those type 6 lines unnecessary.
The fish this week have been amazing. With the big fish coming up onto the shallower water we are seeing many days straight of catching outrageously large fish. If you follow us on Instagram you saw a short full of profanity video of a monster Sea Run Cutthroat. I will say that this is the best time of year giants, and if you fish this season correctly you will likely have a shot at the biggest fish of the season!
Saturday is going to be “niceish” and after that… The future forecast looks quite dismal. With the river systems on the rise, likely to flood stage, and the cutthroat fishing so good we will be fishing. We will have a post coming soon on making the best of a rainy week on the water chasing Cutthroat.
However… How many empty spots are in that fly box? We will also have some more step by step fly post coming in the next week as well.
Winter Is For Giants.
If Fly Fishing is all about the experience. Winter Fly Fishing is all about enduring parts of the experience and enhancing others. Sea Run Cutthroat move around this time of year, making part of that experience all about the hunt. We have been on the water most of the winter and let me tell you, the hunt has been rewarded!
This time of year makes the summer look easy. It almost makes me feel guilty for how much fun we had this summer. We can always find a few fish to harass, don’t get me wrong. But if you are going to be on the water, when the high for the day is in the low 40’s, you should hunt for the giants. The winter is for giants, and the giants will humble you.
There are a few things you need to know before heading out the door. If you are cold on your walk to the truck, the boat ride… Don’t schedule a trip in January and not dress for the occasion. Furthermore, If you plan on catching giants, don’t look in the school yard. We can catch lots of fish throughout the day, putting in the work for the big ones will have lots of fish. But they might not come on the first cast… The first hour… The first stop even. But once the fly lands in the kitchen, and the oven turns on. We are going too cook up a beast.
The hunt is what this is all about, we are starting in the normal spots we would in the fall, then start searching. Tides are seasonally at their highs, there is more water than in the summer to move to… and its cold. The powerful winter tides are rushing in and out to change the landscape. The big fish no longer need to be down deep, or off the tidal zone to find the cold clear water. They are moved onto the skinnier water chowing down to get fat and healthy. The fish may have even moved closer to their spawning creeks and off the old reliable summer structure.
The hunt makes everything more fun. Working together with our clients this time of year is a ton of fun, and having the amazing success has been even better. I don’t think I have ever had this much fun in the winter. We have stalked trout all over Hood Canal in the past few weeks and truthfully in places I have not fished much. We have started on a shoreline we have fished 100 times and ended up catching fish for miles in a different direction that we started. Keep an open mind in the winter, and be prepared to learn some new tricks of the craft.
So, here are a few tips to get your big fish of the winter!
- Search for deep pockets on shallow flats. We have found fish schooled up on the deep pockets of a flat on outgoing tide.
- Try big flies on the deeper shorelines. We have had multiple smaller cutthroat stollen by larger cutthroat in the last few weeks. I promise, a 4-5″ baitfish is not to big to be gobbled down by a 18-24″ cutthroat.
- Your normal beach is dead? It’s time to look on a map and fish your way toward the closest likely spawning creek. It’s that time of year where the fish are getting ready to head to the bedroom. They are eating any bait they find on the way there. I know, romantic how they go to dinner before they… you know.
- Dress for success! Do not underdress to get out fishing. It’s simple really, you are not going to fish intelligently if the entire time you are worried about how cold you are. We carry a goodwill store of fleece just to make sure people are warm and comfortable on the water.
- Let the fish tell you they are there. We are not catching one fish this time of year. If you find a single fish, there is going to be a dozen more where it came from. Winter fish stick together! If you make a handful of cast and don’t find anything, keep moving until you find them. Then once you found fish, methodically pick through the piece of water to find the rest.
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….”
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Happy New Year to you all! I can’t wait to see what it will bring!
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
“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!
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Brits Baby BullHead
- 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