Why We Love Fly Fishing Hood Canal

Why We Love Fly Fishing The Hood Canal:

It’s no secret that we are partial to the Hood Canal portion of Puget Sound.  We love it.  In fact, our life revolves around the seasons of this vastly diverse fishery.  I thought I would share a few of the reasons why we love fly fishing Hood Canal.

The feeling of being remote is unparalleled in Puget Sound.  The Hood Canal is a drainage from the west side of the Kitsap Peninsula to the East slope of the Olympic Mountain Range.  The real beauty of this is that it creates a barrier that makes the eastern Olympic Peninsula  a relatively inconvenient place to do business. Which keeps the population down to a minimum.  So while you are fishing you might hear some eagles, a few splashes, and the occasional sea lion bark.  It’s fairly rare to compete with other anglers or beach goers.  The body of water is vast enough that when we do encounter other anglers, we usually know them on a first name basis.

Fly Fishing Hood Canal

Spring starts on Hood Canal earlier than most of Puget Sound.  Which we appreciate more and more every winter.  The end of February starts the spring chum fry migration that brings out the best of what cutthroat fishing has to offer.  The bait is up high in the water column, the fish are looking up, and we have a fantastic saltwater blitz of feeding fish! This is all happening in the crystal clear water with snow topped mountains towering over you from the Olympics.  I mean, what a way to kick off the fishing season!

The options are endless throughout the year,  making Hood Canal a fly fisherman’s dream. The saltwater fishery varies with the water temperature.  Which means, the fishery is constantly changing with the seasons.  However, if you hit it right, different parts of the Hood Canal will “turn on” as the lower warmer sections will turn off with the rising temperatures.  Likewise, staying with the cold water will keep you in bait rich water year round.  Cutthroat like it cold, and will be more aggressive the colder the water temperatures get.  Fortunately, year round you can always find cold water on Hood Canal.

Tributary fly fishing hood canal

As the summer rolls on and the saltwater heats up, the rivers that feed Hood Canal also “turn on”.  This small stream fishery is unparalleled west of the cascades.  These “blue line” fisheries have fantastic trout fishing that will leave you feeling like you discovered Washington’s best kept secret. Small streams and big rivers flow from Olympic National Park and create a fantastic native trout fishery!

Fantastic hatches of caddis and stone flies keeps the trout looking up. This while an abundant nutrient rich  forrest feeds these streams and keeps the trout fat and happy on baitfish, aquatic insects, and salmon eggs. This is a two fold trip visiting these streams.  You are also amongst some of the most beautiful scenery of any trout fishery in the world. Casting your fly into these trout rich waters  provides an opportunity to reflect on the old growth forest of Washington’s past, while providing a world class opportunity to catch native trout.  These streams flow out of true oldgrowth wilderness and remind you why wilderness should be protected for future generations.

Termite Fly fishing hood canal

While fishing is great in the streams, the saltwater is still fishing fantastic in the Canal’s colder stretches.  However, when it cools back off down in the fall, fantastic doesn’t begin to describe how amazing the fishing gets.  Whether off of our boat or off the beaches, the fishing is great in the fall. Big trout, and hatches of Termites falling from the neighboring hillsides. Dry fly fishing in the salt for big sea trout can leave you speechless! Twitching termites and ant patterns in the tidal current is as exciting as it gets saltwater fishing for our Sea Run Cutthroat.

Winter time on Hood Canal is when we typically see the biggest fish of the season.  The shallow water cools way down and the big deep water cutthroat come up to hunt.  Searching the shallows for sand shrimp and sculpin on the winter high tides.  These big fish are special to the Hood Canal.  Furthermore,  the Hood Canal just has a more of them than anywhere in Puget Sound. If you can brave the cold winter, it is a great time to test your angling skills with some of the best shallow water sight fishing of the year.

These are just a few of the reasons we love sharing the Hood Canal with you! Not to mention the fantastic community of shops and restaurantsdistilleries and resorts. Hood Canal is a great place to experience a wild and unique and saltwater and small stream fishery.  In addition to having a wonderful family get away. Come join us and let us show you why we love fly fishing Hood Canal.

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

Polychaete Worm Step By Step

After multiple request here’s a quick and rough Polychaete Worm Step By Step.  This is a super simple pattern for anyone.  I am not sure it matters, but I went with Peach and Brown.

Hook: Ahrex NS182

Bead: Hareline Gritty Bead (kind of fun)

Body Braid: Hareline Mini Flat Braid Orange

Wing Flash: Senyo Predator Wrap Pink, Angel Hair PMD

Wing: Marabou Peach & Brown

Dubbing Loop: Predator Wrap, Ice Dub Shrimp Pink & Olive Brown, Senyos Shaggy Dub

Polychaete Worm Ahrex

Ahrex Gritty Worm

1.) Pinch the barb and slide on the gritty bead up to the eye.  I’ve tied unweighted Polychaete Worms that fish fine, I just like the bead better.

2.) Tie in the Bodi Braid and move the thread forward. Any Earthy tone will work fine, I happen to have this right at the desk.

Worm Wrap and Loop

3.)  Wrap the shank up to the thread and tie off.  Create a Dubbing Loop just big enough to hang up on your vise.

4.) Blend your wing of Peach Marabou, Predator Wrap, Brown Marabou, and PMD Angel Hair.

5.)Tie your “wing” in reverse style at the same point as your dubbing loop.  This method will help keep everything neat and tidy when finishing the fly.

parachute worm

6.)  This is probably the only “technical” step on this simple pattern. You want to wrap a good thread base around the “wing”.  This step is similar to tying a parachute dry fly pattern. Start by wrapping the thread AROUND the marabou about 6-10 times.  You CAN skip this step, but your fly will foul about 100 times more than if you add this step.

7.) Create a dubbing loop. When blending try to add the Senyo’s products in the middle. You want to leave the predator wrap a little bit long so it picks out nicely. You can trip the straggly long stuff later.

Worm getting dubbed

8.) Twist your dubbing loop nice and tight, the brush/pick it out. You will want to make sure you don’t have any fat spots in the dubbing rope.  If you are lazy and leave any fat spots you will crowed the bead and finishing will be rough, or the dubbing will fall out and you will have a loose head when you go to fish it.

Dubbed and whipped worm

9.) Next, Start wrapping behind the wing, and make sure to fill it all in to the bead.

10.) Whip Finish behind the bead, try to get between the dubbing and bead when you finish the fly to hide the thread.

art worm

11.) Optional. Your  Polychaete Worm is done, but you could add some funk to it by marking it up a bit. I say funk that worm up.

Finished Worm

12.) Day dream about the poor fish that will eat it.

 

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!

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

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!

 

The curse of a nice day!

There is not much better than wading ankle deep in Hood Canal’s cold, clear water to push the boat off the trailer on a nice summer morning. The sun seems to be high before my coffee is gone, and clients are awake before they step on the boat. I truly believe there is no better spot to spend a summer day.

jacobs cast

With the high sun and clear water comes some very unique issues in pursuing fish. The fish seem to vacate our favorite wading beaches and they find shelter in the spots less frequented by the stick waving predator.

summercutty

Sea Run Cutthroat are just like every western trout, in that they need cold clean water to live. Unlike fish in a river these guys have hundreds of feet in depth and miles of shoreline to choose from to find exactly what they are looking for. So as that sun travels through the clear water and heats up the shallows below the fish are forced to move off the shallow flats and find their happiness in some deeper water. As anglers it is our job to find the drop offs and the depth they are hiding in and figure out a way to get our flies to them. This can be made easier if you know where the deepest points on your favorite beaches are.

colorfulone

Another method of dealing with the high sun and warming waters is to play the shadow game. Knowing the sun rises in the East we tend to fish the Eastern shorelines in the morning (if this is possible) and move to the deeper parts of the water column as the sun gets higher. It is easy to do this out of our boat, however when fishing the beach sometimes this is more possible when fishing in bays rather than the open water.

release lively

The last method for dealing with high sun is fishing the current line. When the sun is high the bait tends to ball up on the current lines, or under the weed lines in the tidal rips. When the bait gets in these tidal rips the weaker swimmers get turned around and the predatory instincts of the cutthroat kicks in full blast! These poor fish don’t have a chance when you toss a weighted baitfish into the current rips on a nice summer day!

I hope these tips can make your summer a little fishier!

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Boatdocked

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.

brita bombing

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!

Olympics 1

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?

boat-photo

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.

Glassyrun

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!

cutthroat1

 

Building a Better Box

Saltwater fly fishing has plenty of things to overly concern yourself with. “Do I need to cast further?” “Is my line getting down far enough?” “Is there any fish on this beach?”. The answers to these questions is “Just cast the best you can.” “Just fish the best you can.” “You will find out soon if you do the previous two things.”

When Brita and I fish we have a running joke, she changes flies, and I almost never change flies. We both catch plenty of fish, we both enjoy our own style of fishing, and we both fish our flies almost completely different from each other. I always tell brita that she has chronic fly changing problems in-between fish. However, I would never tell her to fish any differently because she is enjoying herself, and I want to remain inside of the boat.

Brita casting

One thing you will immediately notice if you look in either of our boxes before a serious week of fishing or guiding is that our boxes are full, and our boxes are fairly well thought out. Even Brita’s chaos is organized chaos. I have my “Topwater Box”, my “A Box” and my “B Box”.

Fly Boxes

My topwater box is my favorite, it’s a old Cliff box full of fun. This is probably the most straight forward box as far as thought. One side is gurglers/popping shrimp, one side has a handful of sliders and injured baitfish, then terrestrials that might fall in the water. I don’t bust this one out as much as I wish I did, however when I do we have a lot of fun with the different ways of targeting fish on the surface. Surface attacks are addicting and this years overcast weather has resulted in some awesome surface saltwater action. Not unlike any addiction, once you open that box, it’s hard to go back.

topwater

My A box is the most used… hints “A Box”. This is a C&F Design saltwater box Brita bought for me from The Avid Angler. This is the baitfish box. This one goes from weighted to unweighted. This is the box that unavoidably ends up in any puddle, stuffed in waders if beach fishing, dropped on the deck of the boat, and falling off the tailgate at boat launches while rigging up. C&F makes the toughest box on the planet, and if you think the knock off fly shop logo ones make up for it, I’ll bet you the price of a new C&F that I will destroy it or the seal will fail within two months of guiding. These are the boxes that have the flatwings, the jungle-cock finish, and polar bear flies. Let’s not fill it with saltwater and hope for the best. www.Avidangler.com call them up and order yourself one. I promise you will never go back.

baitfish box A

The ol’ B-Sides box holds the back ups. The ones that are good enough to fish but don’t make you proud to tie on. It holds the A Box flies of years past. There are levels to fly tying and as you “level up” the flies get moved into this box. This is a larger fly shop knock off box, it doesn’t come out but once or twice a year, however it’s always in the boat bag. Truthfully I carry the B-side box for a few different reasons. 1.) a color combo is working and I run out of the best ones. 2.) I was filling my A box and left it on the tying desk the night before (almost never happens…almost) 3.) The A box somehow goes missing or falls off the boat while running. I have never had this happen but I have heard plenty of sad stories.

Epoxy Minnows

Putting thought into the fly box allows you to quickly get your flies in the water when changing flies or re-rigging a broken leader. My A box is always in my rain gear or on my center console right next to my tippet. The faster you can get the flies back in the water the more fish they will catch. The most efficient fishermen catch the most fish. That means not only covering the best water, but covering the best water quickly, confidently, and moving on to the next section of best water. Every aspect of your set up should be thought out to add to this. We fish out of a boat 99% of the time, meaning we can carry and do carry WAY more flies than we would ever need. These are a few ways that we try to organize our furry chaos.