Backpacking the Middle Fork Teanaway River Trail

 Posted by on September 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Sep 082014
 
Middle Fork Teanaway River Trail

Middle Fork Teanaway River Trail

A few weeks ago, I backpacked the Middle Fork Teanaway River Trail with my son and another father/son duo. The trail was an easy and flat hike through forested terrain. Most of the trail is an easy walk but you’ll need to cross the stream, full of slippery rocks, quite a few times. If you go, wear river sandals rather than hiking boots because there’s no way you will keep your feet dry on this wet and often muddy trail.

Camping on Middle Teanaway River Camping on Middle Teanaway River Camping on Middle Teanaway River

Camping on Middle Fork Teanaway River

Flat areas for camping were limited so we settled for a rocky clearing next to the water. We only saw a couple of other groups the entire trip. At night, the only sounds we heard were the comforting gurgling of cascading water over the rocks. That’s what backpacking is all about. Unfortunately, while most of Western Washington was enjoying warm and sunny weather, we experienced thunderstorms each day we were there.

Middle Teanaway River trout taking a dry fly

Middle Fork Teanaway River trout taking a dry fly

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip was small creek fly fishing with my 3wt rod. I only brought along a few flies but they were all I needed to catch numerous fish, mostly small cutthroats and some rainbows. Being a small creek, most fish were 6 inches or less; only one was of any size, around 8 inches. Nevertheless, it was great fun to wet wade and find pools of hungry fish. The water was so clear that I could see the fish rising to my dry fly. What else could a fly fisherman want?

 

 

 

 

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Chum Salmon Run Signals Autumn

 Posted by on November 3, 2013 at 7:00 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Nov 032013
 
Chum salmon eating a "turd" fly

Chum salmon eating a “turd” fly

Outside of perhaps colorful maple trees and falling leaves, there’s not a stronger signal of autumn for me than the fall chum salmon run. The chums have returned to many rivers in Puget Sound in good numbers in the past week.

For Northwest fishermen, the chum run signals the end of the salmon season. And while fishing for chums can be great fun, it’s also disheartening for fishermen who must wait until next summer before they can feel the tug of a salmon again.

The chum in the picture above was caught in the Hood Canal and took a red chocolate and chartreuse “turd” fly. It took me about 100 yards into my backing!

 

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End of the Pink Salmon Run on the Skykomish River

 Posted by on September 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Sep 262013
 
Pink salmon dying in the Skykomish River

Pink salmon dying in the Skykomish River

It was a beautiful sunny day today, so I went to check out a new fishing hole on the Skykomish River near Monroe WA. As I suspected, the pink salmon run is over in this river and most waters in Puget Sound. Overall, the 2013 pink salmon run has been usually slow and disappointing.

There were lots of fish in the Skykomish today but they were all spawning or decomposing at the completion of their life cycle. It was sad to see them clinging to life and gasping their last breaths. Spawning pinks, like the recent chilly Seattle evenings, are a harbinger of autumn and the impending wet season in the Northwest.

 

 

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Pink Salmon Fishing on the Stillaguamish River

 Posted by on September 13, 2013 at 8:26 am  Outdoors  1 Response »
Sep 132013
 
Pink salmon from the Stillaguamish River

Pink salmon from the Stillaguamish River

 

 

After a couple of unsuccessful outings for pink salmon, I decided to  fish the Stillaguamish River with a friend yesterday. It was a sunny, warm day and I was optimistic about our chances since recent fishing reports were positive. When we arrived at our fishing location, however, our optimism quickly turned south as none of the approximately 20 fishermen  had a hookup.

Within the first 15 minutes, however, I landed my first pink salmon of the year on a pink comet fly. The second fish was just as bright and fiesty as the first.  My friend later reported that they were great table fare.

It has been a strange year for the pink salmon run in the Puget Sound. Normally, the run is robust and pinks are plentiful and willing to bite in both salt and fresh water. Not so this year. Many of my fishing friends have been disappointed in the 2013 run so far. When the fish are around, they have not been as active as in past runs. It’s anyone’s guess why this is.

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First Coho Salmon of the 2013 Season

 Posted by on August 26, 2013 at 10:13 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Aug 262013
 
Coho salmon

Coho salmon

The coho salmon season in the Pacific NW is one of my favorite times of the year. I even have an app on my PC that counts down to the opening day for one of my favorite fishing areas. The other week, despite suspicions that the fish were not running yet, I scouted out the area on the opening day.

The fish were few and far between; I only managed to catch one! Even though it was small at around 6 pounds, she fought hard and was worthy of being my first coho salmon of 2013! The coho run will only get better as we approach September. I’m looking forward to another great coho season.

 

 

 

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Callibaetis Mayfly Hatch at Leech Lake

 Posted by on July 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Jul 052013
 

 

 

 

Callibaetis mayflies hatch at Leech Lake

Callibaetis mayflies hatch at Leech Lake

A friend invited me to fish Leech Lake near Mount Rainier a few days ago and I gladly accepted as I had never been there before. Leech Lake is a high elevation  (4412 ft) lake open for fly fishing only.   Since it was a Tuesday, I figured that we would be one of only a handful of fishermen at the lake that day. I drastically underestimated the crowd–I counted at least 25 people on the lake that day!

It started slow with occasional strikes in the morning. Then a massive Callibaetis hatch ensued between 1pm and 2pm. Within minutes, I was literally covered with dozens of Callibaetis mayflies. Fish were rising all around me in a feasting frenzy so I tried to “match the hatch.” I methodically tried one dry fly after another. Although I caught a few fish, including the beautiful brook trout below, none of my flies elicited strikes consistently.  Most of the other fishermen had the same experience.

Brook trout from Leech Lake

Brook trout from Leech Lake

We left Leech Lake that day overwhelmed by the huge mayfly hatch and humbled by our inability to fool the numerous surface eaters. But the many puzzles encountered in fly fishing are what attracts many of us to the sport.

 

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Beaver Lake Stocker Rainbow Trout

 Posted by on May 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm  Food & Cooking, Outdoors  No Responses »
May 132013
 
Beaver Lake rainbows on the fly

Beaver Lake rainbows on the fly

A few days ago, I took advantage of the recent nice sunny weather in Seattle to do some lake fishing on Beaver Lake near Issaquah. The lake, recently stocked with larger than normal rainbows, provided some nice action and a welcomed break from work. With only a few others on the lake that day, it was nice to be able to pick and choose my fishing spots. I had the most action while slowly trolling a small green woolly bugger on a floating line.

Broiled rainbow trout with carrots and onions

Broiled rainbow trout with carrots and onions

I later invited the fish I caught to dinner. They were broiled and accompanied by strips of carrot and onions. These hatchery rainbows were super tasty!

 

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Personal Record Coho Salmon for 2012 Season

 Posted by on September 30, 2012 at 6:20 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Sep 302012
 
Ten pound coho salmon from Olympic Penisula

Ten pound coho salmon from Olympic Peninsula

It has been an excellent season fishing for coho salmon on the Olympic Peninsula. On a recent trip, I hooked into a coho that was especially strong and fought well so I knew that it was going to be a big fish.  When I landed it, I immediately knew that this was going to be my personal best coho for this year.

The chunky, hook-nose coho buck with big shoulders weighed in at an even 10 lbs. and was 29″ long and had a girth of 17″! According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, local Puget Sound coho range from 6-12 lbs and can be up to 31 lbs. Having caught a 10 pounder, I can’t imagine hooking into a 30 pounder!

Coho salmon steaks

Coho salmon steaks

The fish was so thick that I decided to cut the salmon into steaks rather than filleting it like I usually do. Unfortunately, I did not own a big butcher knife or butcher bandsaw so the steak cuts were not perfect. Nevertheless, these steaks will be excellent steamed or grilled.

 

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Coho Salmon Fishing on the Olympic Peninsula

 Posted by on September 4, 2012 at 6:59 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Sep 042012
 
Coho salmon from the Olympic Peninsula

Coho salmon from the Olympic Peninsula

Fishing for coho salmon in a bay in the Olympic Peninsula is one of my most anticipated activities of the year. Coho salmon usually start returning to this Olympic Peninsula river in mid-August. I really enjoy the sight fishing aspect of this fishery.

When I arrived at the bay one day last week, a couple dozen fishermen were already positioned along the banks of the river anxiously waiting for the coho to swim upstream. When the fish swim by it becomes a free-for-all with lines going in every direction. It’s amazing not more people get hooked. And when the fish pass by, everyone calms down again until the next wave of fish.

The first schools of fish are usually the smaller hens followed in a couple of weeks by increasing larger fish especially the bucks. Some of the males can reach double digit pounds. A minimum of 8 or 9 weight fly rods and large arbor reels with strong drags are needed to control and land these fish.

At the end of the day, I was rewarded with my first coho of the 2012 season. That evening, my family enjoyed the first fresh grilled coho of the year. We’re hoping for many more fresh salmon dinners this fall.

 

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Jul 282012
 
Monster rainbow from Corbett Lake, BC

Monster rainbow trout from Corbett Lake, BC

The other week, I had the fortune to visit Corbett Lake in British Columbia near Merritt to do some trout fishing. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in BC, the lake has an elevation of about 3500 feet. Corbett is a private, fly fishing only lake known for its trophy-size rainbows up to 18 lbs. Before going there, I was very incredulous that rainbows that big could inhabit this lake.

Large rainbow with chartreuse bunny leech fly

Large rainbow with chartreuse bunny leech fly

On the second day of fishing, I was trolling the depths using a large chartreuse bunny leech under a full sinking line when something big bit my fly. I could immediately tell that this was not like the 20″ fish that I caught earlier in the day. Nope, this was a substantial fish.

I tried my best not to play the fish too long to avoid unnecessary stress on the fish but my 5 wt. with 6 lb. tippet was underpowered for this fish. After several runs into my backing, the fish tired and I quickly brought him in.  I had to get one of my friends on another boat to help net the monster. We caught glimpses of the bruiser just below the surface and knew he was going to be a trophy fish. His head was as big as a salmon’s.

 

Reviving "Walter" before release back to the depths

Reviving “Walter” before release back to the depths

When we got him into my measure net, his head and tail stuck out beyond the net and the numbered inch markings. He was 30″ long and had enormous shoulders! The owner of the lodge later estimated that he weighed a good 14 lbs!

We slowly revived him before we let him go back to the depths of Corbett Lake.

The fish handily beat my previous personal best rainbow of 26″ when I fished the Alagnak River in Alaska a couple of years ago.  Hopefully, I’ll see “Walter” again in a future trip to Corbett Lake.

 

 

Sunset at Corbett Lake, BC

Sunset at Corbett Lake, BC

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