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

Add it to your list!

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This summer feels like it has taken a decade to get here.  We have had an outrageously wet winter, a crazy unpredictable spring, and it’s finally arrived!  Summer time in Western Washington.  I know we have a ton of plans for the summer, get the yard finished up, go camping in the Olympics, head to the coast for some beach fun, and plenty of fishing in between.  However most of our plans involve fishing here at home on the Hood Canal for Sea Run Cutthroat!

Here are the top 10 reasons to target Sea Run Cutthroat this summer:

1.) Great fishing- Not to sound like a hater, but the river fishing in Washington doesn’t hold a candle to our sea trout fishery on the Hood Canal.  We go out time and time again and prove this is the best trout fishery in the state.  On it’s best days I would put it neck and neck with the Missouri in Montanta.  On it’s worst, I’d put it neck and neck with the worst days I’ve had on the Mo in Montana.  The big advantage Hood Canal has? You don’t have the crowds and the fish are true wild native trout!

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2.) Accessibility -Where else can you get miles of public access to great fishing water? Most of which is drive up access – you don’t even need to hike to catch fish on a good percentage?  Oh yeah, and with a boat you can fish almost every inch of the water without argument?  We have it good here in the Western Washington salt.

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3.) Solitude- Oh man, the crowds are killing me…  I thought I saw a boat about 2 hours ago off in the distance.  These damn eagles, porpoises, herons, and whales sure are crowding up the places though.

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4.) Beautiful- If it was not for these wild shorelines, snow topped mountains, and amazing sunrises coming straight out of the Hood Canal it sure would be a beautiful place…  Not to mention the fish breathtaking as well!

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5.) Relaxing- Being barefoot up on the casting deck hooked up to a big hook nosed trout sure is stressing me out.  I am pretty glad you have that cold one frosting in the Yeti for after the battle…  Those sandy points are a pretty nice places to take lunch and kick back too!

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6.) Technical- You mean I can learn and enjoy what I’m learning at the same time?  Every time I go I will learn new technical skills that will improve my success rate?  Who wants to catch more fish anyways?

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7.) Bi-Catch- It would be a bummer to accidentally catch a 15lb chinook today…  It doesnt happen every day, however for a good chunk of the year I get surprised by salmon pretty regularly. I even have a photo kicking around somewhere of a client with a Greenling…  Yeah I know, what the hell is a greenling?  (Stop emailing me, I know what a greenling is.)  The truth of the matter is while we fish water that is most conducive to Sea Run Cutthroat trout, occasionally especially when there is a ton of bait around, we are surprised by other fish!

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8.) Cool Factor- There really is not much cooler than fishing the saltwater.  Every day feels like an adventure.  Conditions are forever changing with the tide levels. Plus, pulling out fish that can’t really be caught in these conditions anywhere else in the world, and on flies and light tackle is pretty damn cool!

Hooked up!

9.) Wild- These are wild fish in wild places.  I know, cell phone reception is a little spotty in some places on Hood Canal, however I have been working on adding a tower to my boat…  I’ll solve that pesky back cast problem eventually.

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10.) Peoples Fish- I have been saying it for years!  The best part of fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat is that these are the peoples fish. Making them Catch and Release, putting no commercial value to them, makes their only value fun!  This fishery is the best example of what happens when we all work together.  It’s catch and release because some folks said “enough is enough” and banded together and fought for it.  These are the peoples fish! So come out and enjoy it!

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Fish Mask

When I have a client that ties flies I always ask them to see their patterns. There is nothing fly tiers love more than catching a fish on a pattern they tied. When they see the rods rigged up with my flies in the morning almost all fly tiers ask about the heads. I tell them Fly Men Fishing Co. Fish Mask makes it quick and easy to make perfect looking epoxy heads every-time. There are a few different things they also allow the tier to do.

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1.) Build up a bulky front to add to a baitfish profile. Adding extra material to the front of the fly and pushing it back with the Fish Mask not only fills the mask and makes it look more epoxy like, it also makes the profile of the fly look more full and realistic in the water.

2.)The Fishmask allows you to add weight like a bead behind the eye of the hook and still have a strong platform for your eyes on baitfish. Pushing the fish mask over a bead head wrapped in dubbing hides the weight and adds a nice finished look to any conehead patterns.

3.)Add a cleaner look to any frizzy or overly threaded heads. We have all done it, stopped a little short on the hook shank or got a little greedy adding material to a fly and ended up with a overly dressed or way to many thread wraps on the end of a otherwise great looking fly. The fish mask allows for us to cover up these “oh shit” moments.

 

Fly Men Fishing Company has consistently provided tiers with the most innovative materials in the game of fly tying, and this is probably my favorite of them all. Give them a shot, you can get them at any worthwhile local fly shop or order them direct from Fly Men Fishing Co.

Wilderness

 

I have always been the guy that gets obsessed. I obsess over the details of anything I become passionate about. When I first became obsessed with the idea of becoming a fishing guide I decided I wanted to first become the best casting instructor I could be. If you have come fishing with me in the last 10 years you probably have noticed, I can’t help but point out the little things you can do to become a better caster. It’s because I spent my rent money and moved into a car to take casting lessons from as many instructors as I could. Not because I couldn’t cast (I did get WAY better) but because I wanted to see all of the different ways someone could teach how to cast a fly line.

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My recent obsession has been finding the most wild places to catch sea run cutthroat within the Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Some of the places we found are a bit of a run to some pretty fantastic spots. We left from Alderbrook a couple of days ago and fished some of my favorite pieces of water on the entire Hood Canal. I don’t go to these places every day, you can’t walk here, there are places to catch fish on the way, however when I get the urge to find some wilderness we make the extra run, and these fish NEVER see other flies.

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The first spot we stopped is the Cliff Creek (thats what I call it, not it’s name.) and we found quite a few smaller fish munching on Chum Fry, this was a good first stop to get the skunk off and get in the groove of catching fish. Also a good spot to get the dirty jokes started for the day. The fish were ultra aggressive, we just never found any size here.

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We then went full on committed to finding big fish, and that is what we did. We lost the first one, it always FEELS like thats the biggest one of the day! However after that we seemed to be on a roll of big solid sea trout! Finding big Sea Run Cutthroat seems to always happen if we commit to the cause, and I couldn’t of asked for a boat of better guys for the job. Thank you guys!Tylerimig2

Dare I say Spring?

 

all-waters_logo_colors-03I am hesitant to say it, however I think we are finally starting to get some spring weather. I have spent two whole days on the water this past week without being rained on! Oh yeah, and the chum fry are pouring from the rivers!

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We have been spending most of our time on the Hood Canal, from Twanoh State Park through Quilcene Bay. Mostly meeting up in the morning at Seabeck General Store or at Alderbrook Lodge and the fishing has been great! This past week we have even had some great weather to enjoy with the great fishing!

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What we have been finding when chasing the cutthroat keyed in on Chum fry is that after a certain point in the day they have been gorged on the bait. We can watch the fish react to the fly however they become lazy and we have to fish very slowly to them. So our method has been to strip long twitchy slow retrieves through the schools of bait and this has resulted in soft, halfhearted attacks from the cutthroat OR what has seemed to work better is to bring the boat out in front of the schools by a few 100′ and fish to the fish who have not been gorging on fry for the last week. Thats when we get our crushing takes that we have all become accustomed to with Sea Trout fishing.

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Puget Sound has been starting to pick up with the Cutthroat fishing, however it is still a bit early for the lights out fishing in the areas we mainly focus on, so we will be staying on the Hood Canal for the next couple of weeks and enjoying the more remote fishing!

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Spring 2017

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After about 2 years of kicking the idea around I decided to go ahead and do it. Thank you all for the second year in a row of making me the most booked guide in Puget Sound, the luckiest guy in the world, and thank you for the business, friendship, and being a part of my family. Now, Welcome to the All-Waters Blog. This will be more of a fishing report than a actual blog, however we will see where this goes. I’ve got a lot of big stuff coming your way.

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February has not proven to be Spring out here on Puget Sound and Hood Canal, we have fished in rain, sun, and snow. Mostly though, we have shivered our way into some pretty nice fish! I would say Spring is coming, however if you can, you should be enjoying the last of a pretty darn good winter fishery.

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Spring is on it’s way, and yesterday we saw some evidence of it in the form of schools of chum fry on Hood Canal. Get your dates while you still can!

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