There are many ways to target Sea Run Cutthroat and find success. I truly enjoy speaking with others that spend as much time on the water as Jefferey does. He truly knows this fishery. Although some of our tactics vary Im constantly interested in learning and I would tell anyone that this is a fishery where listening learning and implementing will bring you the most success! We hope you find this blog interesting and that you too will learn something!
Two weekends ago these two new flies, my Olive Flex Hackle Fly and the Tan Faux Fox Fly, accounted for over 40 sea-run cutthroat trout landed, and probably that many more fish bites, hits, and misses.
For two days it seemed like there were small schools of cutthroat that had a size range of 12 to 20 inch hungry fish, and for two days the tides and the weather cooperated making for a solitary blue ribbon fishing day that four or five of my fishing friends missed out on because of previous commitments. On the third day of a long fishing weekend my friend Jim Olson was able to join me but unfortunately by Sunday afternoon the north winds had turned into a steady 15 miles an hour, gusting to 20 miles per hour, and the schools of roaming hungry fish were nowhere to be found.
We “gave em hell” as they say , but I guess you could say some days hell is the fury of high winds making for near impossible line control, larger waves that I don’t think fish like in the shallow estuaries , and very cold hands that make it challenging at best to hold the rod and control the fly line.
Hoping for a repeat of that weekend I made a couple phone calls to find once again, my Fishing friends, especially some of the older ones, were becoming Fairweather fishermen, and honey dues would take precedent, so I would be fishing alone again, naturally! I do understand, my own walks on the beach are getting shorter and shorter, and if I can’t see the river, lake, or beach from the car, I have to think twice about the walk, especially in unpleasant weather. But , and that’s a big but, in the Winter we’re lucky to get four or five days every two weeks where the tides are good and we’re lucky if the weather is too, so I mustered up as much energy as I could , and got me to the beach on time.
The tides were nearly the same as two weeks ago, as was the wind speed but I knew the bright sun and clear blue sky might keep the fish deep in the water column and cautiously away from the shoreline, but enthusiasm and hopes were high as I started working the same waters that had been so exciting to fish two weeks ago. I really wish I could tell you the fish were there and the fun begun immediately, but that was not the case, as is often the way it is with sea-run cutthroat trout ; here today gone tomorrow, in the bays and estuaries this week, and maybe not to be seen for weeks on end?
I did manage to have four bites in three hours of hard fishing, missing one big fish that I had on for ten or fifteen seconds, landed a small 15 inch silver salmon and one sea-run cutthroat of the same size, but that was it. I hooked the big fish on my new Olive Flex Hackle Fly, the most productive fly of the past blue ribbon weekend, and the two fish landed were on one of my classic Delia’s Cone-Head Squid, and that’s about all I wrote, so let’s see what tomorrow’s tides will tell?
Well I wish I could say the fishing got better on the second day of the Superfish Weekend, but I cannot tell too many fishing lies or I know karma will keep me wondering what I did to deserve the bad luck?
So all I can tell you is I saw no fish rise or any other signs of fish life, the tides were good but winds picked up and the sun burned through the morning clouds, and I wondered, as I often do with sea-run coastal cutthroat, “where the heck are they?”
There are times when the third try at something; the third swing, the third call, the third go around is the charm, and the third day of Superfish Weekend finally was.
The previous two days have been so slow that I didn’t invite anyone to join me, and besides it was Super Bowl Sunday and most folks I know would probably rather be watching the game than watching for signs of some fish.
Hoping the early morning fog would stay on the bay and keep the sun off the water. I waded my way over to the scene of the last few crimes, and being a creature of good and bad habits I tied on the recent #1 fish catching fly, hoping that on the swing and relatively fast strip strip pause retrieve, I would get that much needed and hoped for tug, take, bite, where the fly stops and if you’re quick enough and lucky enough, you connect with life at the end of your line. No matter how many times I go fishing, and make hundreds , sometimes thousands of casts before the connection is made, the feeling when it happens is as good as your first kiss and your first fish, it’s the best.
Fortunately on the second or third cast I had the kind of pull that was solid, my timing must have been right and I connected with a beautiful 16 inch female starting to show signs of pre-spawn changes in her fins and gill plates as well as a deepening of her spots and the lateral line becoming more pronounced, as well as a fattening in the belly.
My new Olive Flex Hackle fly had caught at least one or more fish on the last six fishing days. Fortunately, I ended up with a total of four fish between 13 and 16 inches on the fly before I changed to my Cone-Head Squid (some habits are hard to change), and caught two more fish, casting across the outgoing current and letting the fly swing, making subtle twitches with the rod tip to add a little life to the fly until the fly line and fly were directly down stream. I would let the fly swing in the current for up to 30 or 40 seconds before I would start my irregular retrieve of 2-6 inch strips, changing the number of strips from one to four or five with pause in between until I got a bite or repeated the cast.
I hooked and landed another brother sea-run cutthroat, even more colored up than his twin sister who also was caught on my Cone-Head Squid. Once again this morning I managed to hook at least two other big fish that I couldn’t coach off the bottom and when they finally decided to make a run for it I lost both. Interestingly and frustratingly enough, I’ve managed to lose big fish on five of the last six fishing outings but the most exciting part is to know there have been big fish around, outsmarting me as big fish do!
By now I had landed four nice cutthroat on the Olive Flex Hackle fly and missed at least that many, two nice fish on the Cone-Head Squid and lost two heavy fish and missed a few bites. The tide was slowing down, sun was shining and hardly any wind, making for ideal conditions to fish the tiny size 14 Roderick Haig-Brown Asellus fly. This fly has produced on a number of occasions this past year.
I usually like to fish it on a 9 foot tapered mono leader that I add 3-4 feet of 4X fluorocarbon tippet too. Fish it dead drift in the current or use the Les Johnson “euphausiid hop” style of retrieve.
Fortunately I managed to fool two more small, 12-13 inch pre-spawn colored cutthroat before the outgoing high tide and the catching slowed way down.
I had landed eight fish and had three larger fish on and off and probably had another dozen bites, a good day in any Fishermen’s log, and still time for Super Bowl Sunday.
A weak beginning had ended up a strong week-ender!