Big dries for Olympic Peninsula trout
A Cutthroat more than happy to take this Cellophane Wing Green Drake Pattern
We fish them big and we fish them fast. On the Olympic Peninsula you may find our Cutties ready to take what ever is properly presented, though at times they may seem finicky, our fish are highly opportunistic. Nymphs, small dry’s-big dry’s, small soft hackles – big 3.5 inch rabbit strip streamers, our Cutties will eat them. Of all these flies there is one that is held most high, and that’s the dry fly.
Its not that we are purest dry fly enthusiasts (though admittedly most of us secretly are) its that OP trout crush the largest surface patterns with surprising enthusiasm. Often the bigger the better. On the Olympic Peninsula our Cutthroat trout break the norm, having a short feeding period they are highly aggressive and are looking for any opportunity to feed.
Safe passage to the upper Elwha was previously blocked by a rockfall from the removal of the Glines Canyon dam, but was removed last fall. Fish have taken advantage of this removal and have now been confirmed by the Olympic National Park as having made it to the upper stretches of the Elwha!
“Fisheries biologists monitoring restoration of the Elwha River and ecosystem recently confirmed that adult Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout have all passed upstream through both the former Elwha and Glines Canyon dam sites to reach the upper Elwha River.”
You can read the whole news release here!
Just a reminder that the Hoh is currently closed.
We’ve had quite a few good fishing reports from the Hoh, but it is indeed closed. It’s scheduled to reopen on Sept 1 2016 – Oct 10 2016.
There has been some recent chatter, rumors and proposals all having to do with the upcoming salmon seasons. Right now it looks like there will a very limited, or nonexistent, salmon season in the saltwater this summer and fall. The state and the tribes have not come to agreement on the seasons, so they are both going to the feds to try and get some kind of opening. Coho are predicted to return in very low numbers this year and it is important to protect this resource if they are truly in peril. Politics always plays a role and there lies one of the main problems.
A major hit for us here at the shop is the proposal to close the entire Quillayute system to all fishing, not just salmon fishing, for the months of September, October and November. That would mean no cutthroat or summer steelhead fishing, not even in the upper stretches of the rivers above the salmon hatchery, an area that has always been off limits to salmon fishing anyway. Another brilliant move by the WDFW to never recognize that thousands of anglers like to fish for trout and don’t care about salmon. Lots of anglers do not want to harvest a fish, even when legal. We just want to fish and spend time on rivers.
Voice your concern over this proposal by contacting the WDFW. Contact Mike Gross and tell him what you think: 360-249-1210
On a lighter note, and since the Quillayute system is still open, there are lots of places to go and have some solitude for a change and have a good shot at catching a fish.
There are still a few brand new, bright steelhead entering the rivers. No, not a bunch but they are there mixed in with the downstream fish. Do not fish the upper rivers if you are looking for steelhead! Stay in the lower 10 miles. This is where you will find the spring chinook too and one can get lucky and have a yank while fishing for steelhead.
There are some early trout opportunities too. Some early mayfly and caddis hatches have a few fish looking up, but your best bet is to fish larger streamers and sculpins. It is not too early to skate some larger dries aggressively to get the bigger cutts to move. It does work with enough persistence. Fish it while you can, but fish consciously and with a conscience.
Chris recently fished out on the coast and came across a large school of Black Rockfish boiling on the surface. He grabbed the floating line and tied on a large popper. Here’s 8.5 minutes of popper fishing.
Black Rockfish On Poppers- Neah Bay Fly Fishing from Chris Bellows on Vimeo.
Here is a picture of the fly afterwards.
When we heard that Olympic National Park was closing all Park waters on the Hoh River and South Fork Hoh our initial reaction was one of anger and disbelief. We felt that we needed answers from the managers about why this fishery was being shut down.
We wanted to speak with biologists with both Olympic National Park and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Park returned our calls quickly but unfortunately we are still waiting on WDFW.
Sam Brenkman with ONP talked in length with us about the issues that caused the closure. Olympic National Park did not want to shut down the fishery but felt with the status of the chinook run that there was no other option. The forecast for this year’s run was approximately 850 fish, which is below the escapement floor of 900 fish. This spring/summer chinook stock has not met the escapement goal 5 of the last 6 years. With spring chinook stocks down coastwide, the Hoh River stock is considered extremely important.
The positive news is that this is not meant as a permanent closure and the National Park wants to continue to allow fishing on the Hoh River. They feel like they did the right and only thing they could do with the current downstream management in place.
This is why we left messages for biologists with the State. We cannot understand that will the current state of the Hoh River’s spring/summer chinook why there is a fishery for stray hatchery fish that allows barbed hooks and bait. Besides the impact on the under-escaped king salmon, there are impacts on downstream wild winter steelhead, wild summer steelhead, and listed bull trout. We want to ask WDFW if there is any creel survey on the lower Hoh during this fishery and why a fishery is opened on a stock of fish forecast below escapement with a population trend moving downward.
We have not heard from WDFW yet, but we will keep trying to get these questions answered and attempt to fix the problem. We are still upset about a closure that impacts the people and fishermen least responsible for chinook impacts. To us, it seems like the users, both tribal and non-tribal, who actually directly harvest these fish should be shut down before backcountry trout and steelhead fishermen are.
Low runs of fish are never a good thing. Hopefully we can all work together to not just re-open fisheries but bring back healthy numbers of Hoh River salmon.