Book Signing Today Sunday October 14th 2017 – Modern Steelhead Flies

MSF Cover

In case you haven’t heard, the new book Modern Steelhead Flies is finally in print, and the authors are coming to Eugene this Sunday to hang out and sign books. Our good friends Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas will be at the Caddis Fly from 12:00 Noon until 3:00PM this Sunday, October 15th. Photographer Jon Jensen, whose photographic skills were key to making the book, is also hoping to attend.

Modern Steelhead Flies is a 300+ page, hardcover edition published by Stackpole Books. The book bridges a major gap in steelhead-fly literature, picking up the story in 1993 and bringing us to the present day. It’s the first book of its kind to bring the Pacific and Great Lakes schools together under one roof. It’s also unique for its analysis of steelhead fly evolution, and for presenting an “emergent hypothesis” regarding the importance of sculpins as a protagonist (spoiler alert!). The book features over 400 fly patterns from 66 contributing tiers, and over 1000 beautiful photos. Step-by-step tying instructions are included for 14 patterns, including two versions of the Intruder. The list of featured tiers includes several of our local luminaries: Ethan Nickel, Matt Ramsey, Barrett Christiansen, Jason Cichy, Dean Finnerty, and of course, our very own Jay Nicholas.

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The authors will be on hand to sign books and share stories from their 6 years creating Modern Steelhead Flies. We hope you can join us and pick up a signed copy for your fishing library, or as a gift to your favorite steelheader!


Photos: Cover image, Jerry French Fly Box, Justin Miller Fly Box

Rob Russell and I will be at the Shop from roughly 10 AM until 3 PM on Sunday, October 15th – we will be really pleased to see you there!

Future venues for book signing will be scheduled at other PNW fly shops as we can manage so if we miss you this weekend there will be additional opportunities yet to come.

Jay Nicholas and Rob Russell – October 2017

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10th Annual Two Fly Tourney This Weekend 10% of Sales This Friday Go to McKenzie River Trust

IMG_0707

2017 marks our 10th Two Fly Tournament and kicks off this Friday. As part of the events fund raising we are donating 10% of our sales this Friday to the McKenzie River Trust. Come by, have a beer, spend a bunch and support a great non profit land trust. All Friday October 13th 2017.

2017 is has been a really big year for The McKenzie River Trust. The McKenzie Homewaters Campaign has been an extraordinary success. The Trust’s land acquisition of the Finn Rock reach is an incredible move to preserve some vital habitat for wild chinook salmon and wild rainbow trout on the McKenzie River. If you have not become an McKenzie River Trust contributor please do, they are doing some great work.

wild trout on the McKenzie River

This years tournament is our 10th year and we would like to thank a few of the manufacturers who have helped us put this years tournament together. Patagonia is our key sponsor donating $1500 and some great prizes, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and Scientific Anglers have also provided some great prizes to our top three finishers.

web-Patagonia_FitzRoyTrout_PMS

We have our good friend Mazzi from Hideaway Bakery making wood fired pizza’s at the shop on Friday night and Mucho Gusto catering at Ninkasi Brewing on our Saturday tournament summary evening.

Stay tuned for results.

CD

Posted in Fly Fishing Contests | 1 Comment

Modern Steelhead Flies Book Signing October 15th! – Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas

MSF Cover

In case you haven’t heard, the new book Modern Steelhead Flies is finally in print, and the authors are coming to Eugene this Sunday to hang out and sign books. Our good friends Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas will be at the Caddis Fly from 12:00 Noon until 3:00PM this Sunday, October 15th. Photographer Jon Jensen, whose photographic skills were key to making the book, is also hoping to attend.

Modern Steelhead Flies is a 300+ page, hardcover edition published by Stackpole Books. The book bridges a major gap in steelhead-fly literature, picking up the story in 1993 and bringing us to the present day. It’s the first book of its kind to bring the Pacific and Great Lakes schools together under one roof. It’s also unique for its analysis of steelhead fly evolution, and for presenting an “emergent hypothesis” regarding the importance of sculpins as a protagonist (spoiler alert!). The book features over 400 fly patterns from 66 contributing tiers, and over 1000 beautiful photos. Step-by-step tying instructions are included for 14 patterns, including two versions of the Intruder. The list of featured tiers includes several of our local luminaries: Ethan Nickel, Matt Ramsey, Barrett Christiansen, Jason Cichy, Dean Finnerty, and of course, our very own Jay Nicholas.

??????

The authors will be on hand to sign books and share stories from their 6 years creating Modern Steelhead Flies. We hope you can join us and pick up a signed copy for your fishing library, or as a gift to your favorite steelheader!


Photos: Cover image, Jerry French Fly Box, Justin Miller Fly Box

Rob Russell and I will be at the Shop from roughly 10 AM until 3 PM on Sunday, October 15th – we will be really pleased to see you there!

Future venues for book signing will be scheduled at other PNW fly shops as we can manage so if we miss you this weekend there will be additional opportunities yet to come.

Our thanks and hope to see you in a few days.

Jay Nicholas and Rob Russell – October 2017

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Simple Marabou Leech Fly Tying Video

simple marabou leech

Tony demonstrates how to tie a very easy but effective lake pattern. This fly can be fished at a variety of depths and has an attractive swimming motion that catches fish.

Simple Marabou Leech

Thread: Veevus 8/0 or 10/0, Color to match marabou
Hook: TMC 5262 or Daiichi 1710, sizes 2-12
Body and Wing: Marabou Black, Brown, or Olive

Posted in Fly Tying, Fly Tying Materials and Supplies | 1 Comment

October Trout Unlimited Meeting

dean-finerty-chinook

When: Oct 9 at 6:30PM
Where: Roaring Rapids Pizza, 4006 Franklin Blvd, Eugene

Dean Finnerty presenting
Topic: Fall Chinook and an update on TU regional activities

Business meeting to follow, members welcome to attend.

Posted in Oregon Fly Fishing Clubs and Events | Leave a comment

Addition to Nicholas’ ECHO EPR fly rod reivew

12wt ECHO EPR fly rod.

12wt ECHO EPR fly rod.

I’ve lost track of the time, but I’m pretty sure that my initial review of the ECHO EPR was based on my Baja trip this spring.

Since that time, I’ve faithfully fished my 8 wt EPR for spring and summer chinook, lingcod and black rockfish, and ocean silvers.

The exciting part was the opportunity to fish the 12 wt for Pacific Albacore.

Yes.

The entire series of EPR fly rods has earned my unconditional approval.

The rods are light and tough and cast extremely well. I love the feel of the handle and the feel of the rod bent into the cork by a hard charging fish.

My friend Ed with an over 30# Pacific Albacore on the 12 wt ECHO EPR fly rod.

My friend Ed with an over 30# Pacific Albacore on the 12 wt ECHO EPR fly rod.

I also loaned the 12 wt EPR to my friends Kevin and Ed on a day when I could not join them on the ocean. They confirmed that everyone loves this EPR, and they assured me they did their best to “break the dang rod if you can.” That’s what I told Ed when I assured him that I wanted him to test the rod to its fullest. Ed was all grins  when he returned to the beach with a well over thirty pound tuna on the EPR.

The 12 wt EPR casts well with a
RIO 10 wt outbound 425 gr line and also a
SA Sonic 25 Sink 450 gr line or a
Airflo Depthfinder big game 400 gr line.

I have added the rod chart below to demonstrate the EPR’s stature as the fastest rod (lightest too) with the most powerful butt. This EPR rod will generate the highest line speed. The EPR will make the most accurate long distance casts in wind. The EPR will also deliver accurate close range casts. For the $$$$, I think the EPR holds its own with the best fly rods I’ve fished.

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 5.39.26 AM

Ok, that’s good for now. I love this fly rod. No reservations whatsoever.

Jay Nicholas – October 2017

 

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THE GREAT WILLAMETTE CLEAN UP 2017

Willamette River Clean up

From Willamette Riverkeeper

SATURDAY OCTOBER 7th – REGISTER TODAY! https://www.eventbrite.com/o/willamette-riverkeeper-1477897368

Hosted on the first Saturday of October, our annual Great Willamette Clean Up is a river-wide, community day-of-action. Volunteers participate by canoe, kayak, SUP board, raft, motor boat, jet ski, drift boat, bike, and by foot to free our river of trash and debris, while improving habitat and community spirit along the way. Cleanup sites are posted throughout the basin, and our on-line registration for this event will open in September. Several areas host post-cleanup celebrations that include lunch, local frothy beverages, and “trash-talk.”

If you are interested in coordinating a clean up site, contact info@willametteriverkeeper.org.

If your business is interested in sponsoring our effort, please take a look at our 2017 sponsorship packet to learn more about our partnership opportunities, as well as our sponsor donation page. We look forward to your participation!

Posted in Oregon Conservation News | Leave a comment

What’s Been Goin’ on in Pacific City

A lot has been going on that’s for sure. While Chris and the crew have been fishing the McKenzie and North Umpqua, I have been haunting the coast in the vicinity of Pacific City with friends. This plus a LOT of work still needed to bring Salmon Fisher’s Journal to completion.

Not done yet, but work is proceeding.

Jay Nicholas Echo Bad Ass Glass Review b

Tuna fly fishing with Ed and Kevin in Kevin’s Breaker Dory was one of my highlights. I am thankful to say that I landed a Pacific Albacore and lost several. This tuna made a successful season and it was a large fish but not nearly as large as tuna landed by Kevin and Ed.

kevin has a super fine tuna here.

Kevin has a super fine tuna here.

My buddies fished ECHO EPR and BAD ASS GLASS fly rods, both in the 12 wt. Both rods performed admirably and brought albacore as large as 36 pounds to the boat.

 

Marty & Mia Sheppard showing off my friend Kevin's Breaker Dory.

Marty & Mia Sheppard showing off my friend Kevin’s Breaker Dory.

I also had a great time fishing with Marty and Mia Sheppard. We were being hosted by my friend Kevin in his dory. We fished for black rockfish and caught many fish on my usual assortment of Clousers fished on fast sinking lines, notably the following:

RIO Outbound Tungsten Custom Cut T-14;
Airflo Forty Plus Sink-7 line
SA Sonar Sink 25 Cold line

Marty fished an ECHO BOOST BEACH 7 wt rod. This was his first exposure to the rod but the way he was casting made it look like this rod has been in his tool kit for a long time. Marty fished the Airflo Beach sinking line using a two hand spey casting style, which worked out well with the rod and meant that he never needed to make a back-cast.

Mia fished my Winston BIIIX 8 wt rod and of course cast better than I ever do.

Hummm. This is a lot of people for no fish today.

Hummm. This is a lot of people for no fish today.

Salmon fishing has been such that I’ve not had much action at all, because I was not fishing where and when the salmon were most prone to bite. I can report that pressure has been intense and tempers have flared now and then.

Jay Nicholas Boomer cat 1

OK, Boomer is telling me that it is time to move on to other tasks, so I’ll close for the day.

My best to everyone, may your fishing be great.

Jay Nicholas October 2017

Posted in Fishing Reports | 1 Comment

Nicholas’ Random thoughts on fly-bench organization

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Sometimes a guy just has to blurt out some ideas. Not particularly organized ideas, perhaps, but hopefully some ideas that will help novice fly tyers. If this sounds like you, the I invite you to view this video and see if you might pick up a few useful thoughts and improve your own fly tying strategies and skills.

Key themes illustrated here include:

To start, make sure your bench is well lit and all of your needed materials are within your reach.

1. keep your desk clean; apply cement of some sort at various stages as you go thorough the tying process.

2. place a sample fly on your desk to provide a template or example of what you want to achieve in terms of shape, size, proportion, and so forth. Place each finished fly alongside the sample fly as you go. This makes a great opportunity to see if your consistency is good. Make adjustments as you go if necessary.

3. assemble materials for several flies before you start, probably for at least a half-dozen flies or more. This includes your hooks, body materials, tinsel, tail material, hackles, wing materials and so forth.

4. Keep your cement applicator close and easy to use. The bottle I use in this video is a good example.

So there you have it.

Jay Nicholas – September 2017

 

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Fantastic Fall Fishing in the Willamette Valley

fall fly fishing mckenzie river

Water conditions, light conditions, hatches, it’s all happening now. Fall doesn’t get any better than the past few days. It’s looking great for the next few days and simply put, you need to get out there!

mckenzie river wild rainbow trout

Gray drakes, October Caddis, Short Winged Stoneflies, Blue Winged Olives, various caddis species are all hatching in good numbers. Fishing is best mid day. With a parachute adams, a few caddis patterns and a chubby chernobyl you are set. Dry fly fishing has been superb.

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Sea-run cutthroat fishing & behavior, September 2017 Part 3 of 3

Jay Nicholas Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing -Part 3

 

The following narrative is based on my book, Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing (2016 available on Amazon and from the Caddis Fly Shop).

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Cutthroat tend to be predatory and one should fish most flies with an active twitch-and-strip retrieve.

They’ll eat most anything that is available, but especially favor crawfish, sculpin, juvenile salmon and steelhead, and the like. An active retrieve is somewhat more likely to get the attention of a SRC than if you just retrieved the fly slowly and steadily. Still, it pays to vary your retrieve.

I generally employ a strip and twitch retrieve with the vast majority of the flies I fish. Exceptions are common, however, so you should at times fish your fly on a swing, a dead drift, and of course the dry flies can be drifted freely or retrieved to create a commotion on the surface. I’d say that some 75% of my SRC fishing involves some variation of retrieving a fly. The fish will sometimes take my fly as it hits the water, as it swings, or as it hangs still in the river or tidal flow. That said, I’m sure that Ive hooked more fish while twitching, stripping, or otherwise retrieving the fly—than leaving it to its own to settle, swing, or hang.

Fly Depth

I prefer to fish SRC in the top foot of the water column. This is a personal habit that surely costs me fish at times. Most fish laying in 3 to 5 feet of water will raise up to take a fly that is within 6 – 12 inches of the surface, but surely not all SRC will do so. I have seen shadows and shapes of SRCs following my fly, just deep enough that I could not see the fish clearly. Some of these fish took the fly solidly when I then allowed it to sink out of sight before retrieving. The deep retrieve is effective, but it requires the fish to take the fly and hold it—or all you will feel is a gentle tug and then nothing.

Move and Search

My opinion regarding the temperament of SRC is that they will nearly always show interest in a fly if they see it on the very first cast to an area. I think of steelhead differently. I may cast and swing through a long steelhead run three times if I think fish are present, using a different fly on each progression through the run. This careful, methodical probing of steelhead waters with different flies is something I take for granted, reasoning that a fish that did not move to one fly might move to a very different fly if given the opportunity. this is an approach I never take with SRC. I suggest that SRC waters are most efficiently fished by covering potential SRC habitat rather rapidly, placing each cast at least five or six feet away from the previous, covering each area quickly and moving on. I never make several casts to the same place, no matter how tasty a log, stump, or boulder ledge might look—unless a fish has already showed to my fly.

Once I see a SRC move to my fly, I will anchor and test these waters thoroughly, because there may very well be more than one fish in a small school in the vicinity of the first fish. This is when I may experiment with different flies, smaller and larger sizes, and so forth, but only after one fish has shown to the fly.

Once I see a SRC move to my fly, I will anchor and test these waters thoroughly, because there may very well be more than one fish in a small school in the vicinity of the first fish. This is when I may experiment with different flies, smaller and larger sizes, and so forth, but only after one fish has shown to the fly.

The False Raise

The false raise is a specialty of the SRC—the fish rushes your fly, but won’t quite take the fly into its mouth. The raise or show could consist of a swipe, a nip at the fly, a leap over the fly, a leap onto the fly or a quick look and turn-away after a close approach. Most of these false raises could be mistaken for a fish actually taking the fly—but they have not.

The false raise can usually be transformed into a solid take by switching to a smaller fly, or to a more subtly colored fly. But some of my days on the water seem destined to find the fish rushing and rejecting my fly, in spite of my best effort to find a pattern that the fish will take into their mouth.

The Rapid Ejection

I did not believe it at first. The SRC were taking my fly into their mouth and spitting it before I could set the hook. Astounded, I set-up faster, and managed to hook some of the fish, but sometimes the hook just pulled out of their mouth and went flying up into the air. I’ve learned that the SRC will sometimes behave quite nicely, taking a fly, holding it, and turning—a perfect scenario for firm hook-sets. But these ambush predators are also capable of inhaling and exhaling a fly so quickly that they are all but un-hookable unless you have faster reflexes than I. These lightning takes are the fastball of fly fishing. You need to see the fish coming and anticipate the timing of your hook-set to connect with these fish. Milliseconds early or late, you will whiff the fly into the air, it’s just like that.

Best Months to Fish SRC

There are no best months to fish SRC, because the SRC flyfishing season is a long one, lasting from approximately July through the following May — the nature of the fish you will find through out this season vary greatly. July through August will see SRC returning fresh from the ocean, and if you are lucky to intercept these fish they are at a peak of condition and fat content, if you should choose to harvest a few fish for the barbecue.

Best Time of Day to Fish SRC

Time of day is a factor that merits more consideration in some months than others. During the hot days that generate warm river water temperatures of July and August, the best SRC flyfishing will be from legal fishing time in the morning until the sun hits the water—early through mid morning—in areas that are shaded, and on days when it is overcast, cloudy, or (better still) rainy. High sun and overly warm afternoon and evening water temperatures are detrimental to our fly fishing for SRC.

July and August are the hot water months of the season when water temperature and sun are most potentially problematic. Evening SRC fishing can be productive when the sun leaves the water in shade, but one must also find suitably moderate water temperature in the evening to find receptive fish. When fishing the lowermost portions of estuaries in morning and evening, the water will be a little cooler during a morning low tide, but the water temperature on a flood or high tide will likely be determined by the ocean’s temperature, depending on the hydrograph of the estuary.

When fishing upriver after the heat of August, evening water temperatures are usually moderate, and evening fishing in shade can be as productive as morning or cloudy day fishing for SRC—if you can only find where the fish are laying and present an attractive fly.

Autumn is a season when you may reliably catch SRC throughout the day, irrespective of whether it is cloudy or not. This means that you can relax and go fishing anytime you feel like it, with similar chance of hooking fish, because the water temperatures will never be warm (or cool) enough to put fish off the bite.

SRC During Salmon Spawning Season

Cutthroat and summer steelhead will congregate below spawning salmon to feed on eggs in the fall, and these situations call for fishing small egg patterns under a strike indicator. I remind anglers to be conscious of the salmon’s spawning redds (nests) and avoid wading in areas that the salmon have dug up— to protect the eggs buried in the gravel. SRC can be found in riffles only a few feet deep that are immediately downstream from the spawning salmon. In addition to fishing egg patterns, the angler should fish the entire range of small and large trout nymphs because any of these can be disturbed and swept downriver by the spawning salmon. You will find that nymphs including the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Copper John, Prince, and any stonefly nymph are all good choices to try.The estuary SRC angler can also hope to hook a coho on rare occasion.

Fishing the Tides

When fishing the lowermost to the mid reaches of Oregon estuaries, I prefer by far to fish an outgoing tide — from about the lower half of the outgoing through the first hour or so as it has turned and started to run in again. After this point, I do not have much luck flyfishing SRC, because the water tends to get murky and my flies pick up debris stirred up by the quickening tide.

At this time I prefer to fish the very uppermost reach of tide as it floods into the river proper, and I have occasionally had the good fortune to intercept fish that are moving into the first few pools from tidewater as the riffles disappear on the flood.

Fishing After a Freshet

This is the most exciting time to fish coastal rivers (above the head of tide) in summer and early fall.

The water is up, the flows increased, water temperatures are lower, and all sorts of anadromous fish are likely to be on the move upriver, including our SRC. Keep in mind, that a rise of a few inches on a river height gage could translate to a hundred or more cubic feet per second, quite possibly doubling or tripling the low summer flow most of the short-reach Oregon Rivers on the coast. When this happens, you had best be fast to respond if at all possible. The raise and fall of the small river in summer may last a day and be done with. The fish may move at dusk or dawn and then settle into new pools. Just to have cloudy skies during the day should be sufficient to bring on a day-long bite from the same SRC that only yesterday refused to take a fly except during the first few hours of the morning.

Whatever you do, if you love SRC on the fly, you’ll find a way to be on the water the day of and the day after a summer rain. My very best summer and fall flyfishing for SRC and jack Chinook always coincided with rain, cloudy skies, and a freshened river. Note here that—circumstances depending—you may find fish only in the riffles, only in the pools, or in both, as they alternately make their way upriver and settle in to rest in new places.

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Author’s note: I hope you found something of interest in this 3 part series dedicated to sea run cutthroat, and invite you to delve into the book where you will read more about these fish and also find photographs and recipes for 60 sea-run cutthroat flies.

Jay Nicholas – September 2016

 

Posted in Fishing Porn, Fly Fishing Books | Leave a comment

Thoughts on sorting Schlappen & Saddle Feathers

This is an example of how I store pre-sorted saddles and schlappen feathers.

This is an example of how I store pre-sorted saddles and schlappen feathers.

 

I often tie with strung schlappen and saddle feathers, and prefer to pre-sort these before I begin a mega tying session. In contrast with saddle and neck patches, strung feathers usually have a lot of scrap feathers on the string. This is not a poor reflection on the material distributor, it is just a fact of life these days. The material distributors are providing the best materials they can obtain, and it is our job to sort through and select the best feathers for the fly we want to tie.

 

I am particularly determined to use the very best feathers on my flies and no doubt other tyers would be happy using feathers that I might discard.

So please do not think that you must end up with as large a pile of discards that I do. Just make sure that you are being sufficiently discriminating when you sort your feathers.

You also might want to sort your feathers into more categories that I have in this video.

Here are links to several feathers that are amenable to sorting:

Schlappen
saddles – dyed over white
UV2 Strung Schlappen
saddles – wooly bugger
UV2 strung saddle hackle
saltwater neck hackles

I hope you find something interesting here and wish you enjoyment at your fly bench.

Jay Nicholas – Septemer 2-17

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Local Rivers Get a “Freshen Up”

mckenzie river water level forecast

middle fork of the willamette river level

Recent rains have caused the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers to rise quite a bit. This fresh water surge is sure to push fish into a “fall feeding mode”. Cooler water temps, lower light conditions, and increased insect activity will make fishing as good as it gets in the coming weeks. Generally speaking we get this wonderful fall window until late October.

eugene weather fall 2017

Focus your fishing on the warmest part of the day. Slight water and air temperature increases make a big difference this time of year.

Best patterns to have in your box in the coming weeks are:

Parachute Adams in standard and Purple size #10-14
Blue Winged Olives #16-18
Mahogany Duns #16
Gray Drake #10-12
October Caddis Pupae #8-10
October Caddis Adult #8
Chubby Chernobyl #8

CD

Posted in Fishing Reports, Lower Willamette, McKenzie River, Middle Fork Willamette River fishing | Leave a comment

Sea-run cutthroat primer, September 2017 Part 2 of 3

Jay Nicholas Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing -Part 2

The following narrative is based on my book, Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing (2016 available on Amazon and from the Caddis Fly Shop).

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Sea Run Cutthroat

I will refer to the sea-run form of Oncorhynchus clarki clarki, coastal cutthroat, as SRC . The SRC is a species of Pacific salmon and may be locally referred to as a sea-run, harvest trout, blueback, cutt, and cutty. My personal preference of a common name for the SRC is blueback, because the freshest, fattest, fresh -from-the-ocean SRCs will usually show off a blue back and shiny white belly, with only the slightest hint of orange under the jaw. This blue-backed color phase does not last long after the SRC return to the estuary, and they begin to resume their riverine appearance within a few weeks, with spots showing above and below the lateral line, the orange slash marks under the lower jaw, and the reappearance of a greenish golden hue on the SRC’s flanks. Not all SRCs achieve the steelhead-like blueish back I’ve referred to, because not all of these fish enter the ocean proper—some make a migration into saline estuaries like the Coos, Umpqua, Tillamook and so on; some SRC reside in places like Puget Sound instead of the ocean. Cutthroat rearing in these saline habitats get quite silvery, but in my experience, they tend to show more spots and their backs are not quite as blue, bellies and fins not quite so pure white—compared to SRC that reside in the open ocean.

O. clarki clarki is a species of wild anadromous trout (Pacific salmon) that is present in virtually every Oregon coastal river and likely in the vast majority of coastal rivers of Washington, the lower Columbia tributaries below Bonneville Dam, Puget Sound, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, and Southeast Alaska. The rivers inhabited by the SRC number in the thousands, probably, and a great many of these represent places where one may flyfish for a genuinely spectacular, native, wild sea-run salmonid that may be as small as 12” or may exceed 20.” As wild fish that one may fish during many months of the year, the SRC is a wonderful gift to the fly angler willing to fish properly scaled tackle to suit the species’ size.

SRC Habitat & Behavior

SRC tend to congregate in localized areas: examples include habitats with submerged wood, shallow flats, and shade—unless you find them laying out in the shallows, with no cover near, in bright sun. Fact is — I prefer habitat with cover and structure, but the SRC may choose to lay in exposed areas as often as not. Anglers fishing spinners, spoons and bait will often catch fish in 8 ft or more deep water. My catches in deep water have been so infrequent that I consciously avoid these areas, even knowing there could be fish there. I prefer by far to fish shallower water in the range of 3-6 feet deep. Remember, when fishing below the head of tide, that the tidal influence can cause the depth in a location to change as little as two feet and as much as eight feet in the course of a six hour tide exchange. Fishing an estuary means being mobile and seeking the habitats you can fish most effectively as the tide’s depth constantly increases and decreases throughout each day’s cycle.

Sea-runs may rather unpredictably take up temporary residence in various places throughout tidewater, but many migrate quickly through tidewater and move upriver. A boat or float tube is necessary to fish effectively most places in tidewater and is also a great advantage when fishing upriver. One may reliably expect each summer rainfall event to stimulate some sea-run cutthroat to migrate upriver past the head of tide in every coastal river. As the summer progresses, these fish will then make their way upriver in small increments and eventually pause again. Eventually they will be found dispersed throughout tidewater upstream to the region of the basin where Chinook and—later—coho are spawning. SRC above head of tide may congregate in riffles at the head of long pools, but they may also take up residence around rocks and logs out in the slowest waters in pools that may be a hundred or more yards long. Fly fishing for SRC is a game of finding fish; finding one fish usually means finding several. When individual SRC reach sexual maturity, usually between December and February, they will move into the smallest tributaries to spawn on freshets. This may mean that SRC feeding 45 miles upriver near spawning Chinook drop back downriver ten or twenty miles to enter their spawning tributary.

Popular lore suggests that the SRC follow the salmon into the rivers to feed on their eggs. This is not a clearcut case, however—SRC enter many coastal rivers in July and August, well before the main run of fall salmon in September and October. SRC are capable of making feeding migrations within and between river basins that are independent of their natal spawning stream. I do not know the extent to which these feeding migrations are genetically guided versus being opportunistic, perhaps guided by olfaction. Cutthroat tend to be predatory and one should fish most flies with an active twitch-and-strip retrieve.

Where will SRC Pause?

Sea-runs may rather unpredictably take up temporary residence in various places throughout tidewater, but many migrate quickly through tidewater and move upriver. A boat or float tube is necessary to fish effectively most places in tidewater and is also a great advantage when fishing upriver. One may reliably expect each summer rainfall event to stimulate some sea-run cutthroat to migrate upriver past the head of tide in every coastal river. As the summer progresses, these fish will then make their way upriver in small increments and eventually pause again. Eventually they will be found dispersed throughout tidewater upstream to the region of the basin where Chinook and—later—coho are spawning. SRC above head of tide may congregate in riffles at the head of long pools, but they may also take up residence around rocks and logs out in the slowest waters in pools that may be a hundred or more yards long. Fly fishing for SRC is a game of finding fish; finding one fish usually means finding several. When individual SRC reach sexual maturity, usually between December and February, they will move into the smallest tributaries to spawn on freshets. This may mean that SRC feeding 45 miles upriver near spawning Chinook drop back downriver ten or twenty miles to enter their spawning tributary.

Popular lore suggests that the SRC follow the salmon into the rivers to feed on their eggs. This is not a clearcut case, however—SRC enter many coastal rivers in July and August, well before the main run of fall salmon in September and October. SRC are capable of making feeding migrations within and between river basins that are independent of their natal spawning stream. I do not know the extent to which these feeding migrations are genetically guided versus being opportunistic, perhaps guided by olfaction.

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Part 3 of this series on the Sea Run Cutthroat will review fly fishing strategies and tactics, including:

*best fly depth
*Best fly retrieves
*How to find the fish
*The false rise
*Best time of tide and day to fish
*Fishing behind the salmon
*Fishing after a freshet

Jay Nicholas – September 2017

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Tackle recommendations to fly fish sea-run cutthroat September 2017 Part 1 of 3

This is the cover of my book, Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing - available by calling the Caddis Fly Shop, with my request for a little patience.

This is the cover of my book, Sea Run Cutthroat Flies and Fishing – available by calling the Caddis Fly Shop, with my request for a little patience.

Several customers have contacted the Shop or called me directly, asking for my recommendations regarding tackle and flies to fish for sea-run cutthroat. I’m drafting this blog post to cover the highlights of my thoughts.

In the good old days:

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, I considered 6 and 7 wt glass rods of 8 & 9 ft about right for SRC. I fished from a 12 ft Avon Raft with Wayne Doughton in the long slow pools just above tidewater on rivers like the Alsea, Nestucca, and Siletz.

My recommendations for SRC tackle are quite different today. Where fast action graphite rods are concerned, I consider 3 wt and 4 wt rods about perfect when I fish for SRC, and I don’t worry about the occasional silver or summer steelhead I may hook on these light rods. Bring ‘em on.

This is how I would summarize my suggestions:
Rods (Single hand) 3-5 wt rods; 8-9 ft
Each of the rods listed here will serve you well: my personal favorite is the Radian.
Echo 3 Freshwater
Echo Boost
Echo Carbon XL
Winston Kairos
Scott Radian
Sage Foundation 4 wt.
Sage Pulse

Reels:  Should be capable of holding fly line plus at lease 50 yards of 20 lb. backing  in case you hook summer steelhead or coho. Of these reels, my favorites are the hatch and the Hardy.
Lamson Guru 2
Nautilus X Series XM 4/5
Sage Spectrum
Hatch 4 Plus Gold
Hardy Marquis LWT

Leader: I prefer a tapered leader with tippet in the 4-8 lb. class; all of these leaders and tippets listed below are goo options.
Airflo Trout Polyleader
Rio Powerflex Plus Tapered Leader
Airflo Fluorocarbon G5
Rio Powerflex Plus Tippet

Fly lines: full floating fly lines and clear/camo intermediate or slow-sink tips  are the norm for the SRC angler. I recommend fishing a slightly to moderately heavier fly line than specified for your rod, to facilitate efficient run-and-gun casting with maximum time fishing and minimum time casting. I have fished all of the following lines and all served me well.

Rio In Touch Midge Tip Long
Rio In touch Hover
Rio Camolux Lake Series
Airflo Camo Ridge
Cortland 444 floating line
Cortland Denny Rickards (available at Shop)
Cortland Small Game Intermediate
SA Sonar Stillwater
SA Sonar Stillwater Clear Midge Tip

Flies:
Bead Head Bugger #6-10
Royal Coachman Wet #8
Borden Special #6-8
Bonefish Gotcha #8
Euphoric Muddler #6
Crazy Charlie Pink & Tan #8
October Caddis #8
Gorman Bead Head egg #10

I hope you find this useful – you may contact me or anyone at the Caddis Fly Shop if you would like further information.

Jay Nicholas, September 2017

Posted in Fly Fishing Gear Review | 2 Comments