Fly Fishing Reports
After a lifetime of fishing the Methow River we have had a geological occurrence brought on by record wild fires and heavy rain in concession. The usual gin clear water on this stream has changed in the lower stretches (below Beaver Creek) for at least a season. I feel that from the “weight” if the material and its reach downriver it will blow out in a spring run-off or two. The effects to the fish will be seen in the years to come. In the four short days of fishing we have encountered most of the regular species, minus the whitefish? that are normally present and in addition BROWN TROUT. Yes brown trout reports by guests when fishing, credible reports too. I have yet to see one myself but will take a pic when I do.
In the meantime fishing the river has been a challenge with the silt loads on the insides that vary from five to twenty five foot wide and up to thigh deep. The river upstream from Beaver creek is in normal condition and one could expect regular Methow river fishing. this however has not stopped our operations and we are running full speed. The recent full moon has had steelhead on the move, they have been sporadic but catchable. The fact that we have seen quite a few Bull Trout in the river has given us hope that any resident fish kill may be minimal from the slides. The bug life has nearly disappeared in the lower zone, mainly pertaining to the summer stones that normally embrace the rocks at rivers edge. Upon turning a few rocks the underside life is minimal in selected areas.
So we had a COHO opening a full 6 days before the steelhead opening this season. Not sure of the intent with that by WDFW as the very few COHO I have seen on our swung flies have been very dark and undesirable. Maybe there are better fish elsewhere? let us know. Up till now its only been a impact on steelhead with the opening, as we all know that SALMON openings bring out a different angler, (serious head scratching)…
In the big picture of things this is a small blip on the screen of life for the Methow and her regular propensity for stability will return shortly. In one thought the ash may be fertilizing the river and its benefits are to come. As humans most of the geological changes we see are slight in comparison and nature has a way of repairing itself.
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Well my first half of the fall season is ending its been a great run down here on the Klickitat even with July weather in October (aurgh)..The bite is very temperature and clarity dependent and variable in the direct sun. Thankfully the steelhead like to bite so well and provide great action when the kings are silent. The Chinook bite was great in the AM or cooler cloudy days and really turned on with some cloud cover and two foot vis. Most days double digit’s hook ups was the norm again with some kings un-land able. Swinging the Chinook was on and off but do-able when applied. Our favorite Chinook fly was simply a black string leach with pink or chartreuse tail, super easy and effective.
Now I am off to the Methow to see the fire damage and work on catching those Coho that are outnumbering anything else this season. The ability remains to be seen since we have not had a catchable number of Coho in the Methow in my lifetime! thinking a flash fly or bright colored Clouser jigged around in the holes on a VARSITY SPEY ROD will do nicely. ( shameless PLUG,, check).
Really looking forward to swinging a dry line on my favorite water in the world and hoping that the wild steelhead there like it too.. This was last seasons skater but I think it will do nicely again!
About 15 plus years ago I met Gus Garcia in Ellensburg Washington. We were guiding together on a two boat trip down the Yakima River for trout. That day started off much like every other day of guiding, BS’n clients and bragging about the day before and really hoping the fickle Yakima would be better fishing than windsurfing.
Not more than 500 yards from the put in at Big Horn my stern guest hooks up and the bow dude ( totally appropriate name) turns out of the stand ups and right over backwards into the River. He pops up , thankfully entangled in MY fly line and rod, gasping in surprise. I net the fish, tell him to grab the gun whale and hold on.. About then GUS floats by chuckling “off to a good start eh”. We get the bloke in the boat and calmed down enough to start laughing about it, well WE being his brother in the stern and the two other boats with his family passengers in the area, he was not amused.
So started my friendship with Gus..
A couple days ago we made the same float with different results thankfully as it may been I that went swimming unwillingly. The fishing was not nearly as good but the company way better.
The early morning game is ON, get yours while the temps are hot and the big bug bite hotter.. Terrestrials are just starting and the Caddis and Epeoris are going strong in the evenings depending on which float you do..
Fish one full day and one half day with private lodging:
415$ per person plus tax based on double occ..
Two haves make a whole plus private lodging: Get the best of both worlds fish an evening float on a Caddis and Epeoris hatch stay in private lodging and fish an early morning float throwing the big stones till the late morning.
$350 per person plus tax double occ..
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Shortly after winter spring steelhead season I wonder off to do some fun fishing in the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California Sur, or simply East cape as the Rooster aficionado angler calls it. The Yucatan trip to Ascension bay was plagued with high winds and not so enthusiastic tarpon. I did manage a few fish and presented to a couple willing Permit but beyond that our good fortune was limited to the fantastic service at La Pescadora Lodge in Punta Allen.
Jose the head guide is the next level individual that understands more about the areas Permit than the Permit themselves do. I will just have to call a do over on this one, already have my dates on the calendar!
East Cape fished very well for us with the Dorado bite on pretty much daily. The Roosters were far and few in between and really only seen a couple for the short work we offered on them. I fell off the high horse and went trolling a day and did pretty damn well with a few Wahoo, a Marlin that followed us for a mile and Dorado that came running from a hundred yards to crash our baits. Its the damdest thing we could see them leaping from the left or right and attack our trolled offering. It is something that is as exciting as skating a dry over the sweet spot.
I learned more this season than the last five, some real fish catching experience that will be useful for the years to come. Basically why I love going to new places, the learning curve is fundamentally the game.
Back to reality and the trout fishing world on the Yakima River…that will be in the next posting, Yakima River Drakes, the time is now!
Fathers Day special 15% off trips booked by June 15, used anytime! EM jeff@Brazdasflyfishing.com and add “Fathers Day” in subject line… Gift certs available.
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PS: new website coming soon…
My good friend and guest at the Bogy House this last week caught an impressive sized buck from our local waters.
Bruce has been a steelhead angler for over 50 years and a commercial troller in Alaska just as long. Needless to say he knows how to fish and has caught more salmon and steelhead than most of the sports fishermen in Washington combined.
A fish like this brings hope to our small world of steelhead enthusiasts, knowing that it is still alive and passing the Genetics on to future generations of monster winter steelhead. We often see these beasts but seldom touch them.
I was lucky to have been there when he captured this beauty as his biggest steelhead ever anywhere he has fished. I cant tell you how wonderful it is to even be involved with such an event. This is the second largest steelhead I have ever seen personally. We chose this pic as it is NOT enhanced by wide angle it is NOT long armed it is purely a quality specimen for a quality group of guys.
Thanks for the times Bruce and Tony…Jeff
The low water of January was just a game of mother nature, now its catch up time.
Going through the fast track pace of rain flood freeze and drop in three day intervals is enough to cause a fishing guide to loose it…No forecasts are good enough for the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula. We have a unique situation that allows huge amounts of rainfall just to keep pace with good flows for fishing, along with a steep mountain range that is constantly receiving snow fall and snow melt compounding the flow into the river. Its a constant on again off again affair with these darn Steelhead!
Having success with high water takes a lot of luck and persistently doing the right thing!
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New April dates available on a cancellation; Arriving April Wed. April 9 fishing 10,11,12 and departing Sunday the 13th…Call for pricing. Thanks Jeff..
Where to begin…
*Spring Steelhead: The Olympic Peninsula started with a bang in January with good to great fishing on odd weeks. The coveted big fish weeks in February have too low of water and results were mixed with super numbers or moderate results. March has a few days of blow out and good fishing on two and three salt steelhead with plenty of jumbos in the mix.
The first part of April fishing on the Hoh was non existent, coming off a good freshet in late March, the Hoh tribe who’s self imposed season ended April 1st, pulled the ceremonial card on a dropping river the very next day and fished five days straight with drift nets and jet boats on the lower Hoh to stop short the escapement goals for the third season in a row. WDFW, WSC, CCA all of them “SILENT” until this Fall when the escapement figures came out. (Maybe think about that when your at the restaurant and you see steelhead offerings, or when these organizations want your donation to increase regulation on sportsmen or worse yet close the rivers). Thankfully we are blessed with 4 other rivers on the Peninsula at this time, which fished well into April, the Hoh never did pick up again before closing the 15th.
Rooster fishing in Baja: Fishing is better than expected, the bait showed up, the dusty Mexican Baja is still dusty. This trip is through Jay Murkowski who manages through tough logistics to get you into the zone of good fishing. However we did not expect to have the window time, but the fishing made up for it.. The only Mafia we seen was the bait mafia and they appeared harmless but did know the value of the sardine. We landed 12 different species this trip worth the price!… Hosted trip in May 2014..
Fun fishing in BC: Did the 20 plus hour drive to the Skeena for the first time to find it not quite ready. Some local rain and low snowpack caused it to stay dirty past the usual July 1 kickoff of historically better conditions. The Kallum was out too which generally is clear due to the lake. We ended up on the Kitimat for five days and found the fishing just OK. We did catch Chinook daily and the local area is beautiful. Upon the drive home the Skeena was just clearing up ( just missed that one). In 2014 I will go back after July 7..
Summertime Trout fishing: The Yakima was is in run-off till June and unpredictable till the 15th. Good numbers of caddis in the canyon and the best ever drake season makes for an awesome late June and July. The summer stone was nearly non existent but the hopper/beetle craze was decent to make up for it. Had some wonderful days on the Methow after July 15 and caught the largest Cutty of my life in the Natches, sorry no pic…
**Fall Steelhead: This was the season of the century for Washington anglers. The Steelhead started off fine in September on the Klickitat River. We managed a couple swing fish a day with a few on the Pin rod or nymph rod early before mid month. However as soon as the 15th rolled around the river began filling with Chinook. We literally could not get away from them. SO we embraced the action and went with it, catching them EVERYWERE. Swinging was the favorite as the Spey rod handles there bull dog action best. With small ups and downs in the ability to CALL the shot it was possible for 20 fish days on great fighting hard hitting Chinook right were we fish steelhead.
With one hiccup of water in early October and the opening of the Methow our Salmon fest was over. Just in time too as the crowds became relentless after the 15th on the Klickitat and we had moved the operation to the Methow. This was the best decision I have ever made in guiding, the Methow was virtually empty of anglers, we seen maybe 2-4 people a day the first couple days, on 17 miles or river, that’s it! The fishing was stellar and we kept silent and caught our share. We could swing fish anyplace we wanted and even the dry game was predictable with good numbers of fish in the river instead of in the Columbia. The locals figured it out and the word started getting around as late in the game the week ends became semi crowded but never unmanageable. Without a doubt the best fall season I have had in countless years based on numbers of caught fish and dodging the pressure.
Bird hunting: Finishing up the Fall steelhead on a freeze out generally put me on the waterfowl right in the thick of the migration. Not so this season, the early birds were gone and even the divers were few. The refuges were full so it was a stalemate flight not much happening. Quail and Pheasant however where very cooperative with lots of opportunity if I could shoot better.. I don’t know if there was a great hatch of Ring-necks or my Lab Jesse is the greatest upland lab in the state as we found Pheasants and quail nearly every day.
Early December I get the call for a Montana Goose hunt, wanting to start were we left off last year with limits of duck and geese in the fields we jump on it. NOT the best decision, the weather was cold already (20’s) at home. Calling for a warm up were off to Great Falls within 12 hrs of getting the report. By the time we reach Helena its 30 below zero NOT what was expected. After an engine breakdown, a short hike to reach cell service and a local tow truck ride by Gates of the Mountain, five hours later were back on the road as every waterfowl in the state is going the opposite direction. We limp into Cascade as the Mighty Missouri river is freezing solid and Ice damming.
What an impressive display of nature, I am thankful to have witnessed the slow but powerful event. We can only shoot over dry ground and there are no birds in the fields just next to the river. We ended up with a couple limits in a couple days selectively shooting over retrievable locations. It was an awesome hunt, way more birds in range than we could shoot due to the ice in the river. Pass shooting over land was cool and once the spot was found easy hunting for minus 25 degrees!
Back home in the Burg the birds were thick as the storm pushed in when we went the other way. By the time I get a hall pass there all wised up and untouchable in my zone. The entire basin is froze over and the stalemated again, I scratch through the end of the year on upland or jump shoots to come a full circle..
Prepping for Spring Steelhead.. Its a viscous cycle
Well all good things change. The steelhead game is improving with leaps and bounds and these bronzed battlers are turning into the zombie apocalypse. In a few weeks the spawning grounds will be infested, in a good way, with the stench of spawning salmon..
The WDFW has announced the opening of the upper Columbia tributaries, primarily the Methow and Wenatchee. With the flows we have it will be a swing game on decent numbers of (federal) wild steelhead. Knowing how the Methow reacts the first month will be a blast especially with the water flow. I think is flowing around 1000 cfs although the graph that is funded by the feds shows differently (no surprise there).
My game will be the dry or the I line right out of the gate with nymphing on the run to keep things wet.. Cant wait to throw one of these:
The whole reason for life as a steelhead fisher is fulfilled every fall when these Icons of the NW will rise again to the dry fly…
Dates open this fall..
After a life time of fishing I have learn to stop and slow down, engulf ourselves in the best fishing when it is happening…For a week now I have been catching Salmon and Steelhead in the amounts I only remember in my dreams of great places like Alaska, or Kamchatka..I have been fishing for the pure enjoyment of catching fish in places that we have never caught them, I am passing up great water to search for and find steelhead away from the salmon. In small hide holes sticking to themselves staying out of the runs that are choked with Chinook. We are finding a fare share as well as the incidental Chinook that seem to be on every rock.
With this full moon the deck is shuffling at night and whole sections of river that are fishing at the NORMAL rate seem empty in comparison to the best fishing areas. There is some rain in the forecast we will see what happens, I can only hope it just the right amount..
Today I stopped to take some pictures, forcing myself to shoot the one presently in the net not the next one…
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Swing flies for Chinook: Most of all “LARGE” and with a combination of flash, pink, chartreuse, blue, black or purple….and Hold on as when they eat it you know it!
I posted these elsewhere recently but will show them again:
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