Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Fun

Got to spend a few wonderful days on the coast fishing over the past couple weeks.  Mostly trolling for chinooks but got to spend a little time casting flies for silvers.

It has been six long years since I've been into a nice coho bite and I couldn't believe how excited I became.  It was one of the highlights of fishing since returning to the Olympic Peninsula about a year and a half ago.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Memories

A recent post on Doug Rose's great blog (Doug Rose Fly Fishing Blog) got me reminiscing about fly fishing out at Swiftsure Bank.

I've been thinking about what made Swiftsure so special for me.  As I look back I don't think it was solely about numbers of fish.  One can find large numbers of salmon much closer to port and without the pounding the kidneys took from the long run straight into the swells made steeper by the strong currents draining Puget Sound.

What made Swiftsure such a special place was the total package, which started with the base of the food chain.  The tiny krill is the base of the food chain out there and created the sights and sounds that made the fishing so wonderful.  There were many days where the krill were non-existent and the fishing was excellent drifting around blind casting flies.  While fun, those days were missing the total Swiftsure package.

The total package began with the krill but needed other ingredients to make an exceptional day.  You needed to find the krill and there were really two ways to find them, birds or whales.  Both required keen eyesight to spot on days with good visibility.  Foggy days are common offshore and finding them with no visual cues made discovering them even better.  I remember watching the depthfinder as one approaches the bank.  The depth slowly shallows to around 300 feet and the search begins.  The engine is shut off and I stepped outside the cabin to listen.  One could barely see twenty feet ahead but sound travels far.  The squawking of shearwaters was the primary sound I was trying to hear, but the other sound to find the krill were the humpback whales that shared the krill with the birds and salmon.  Often the first stop yielded sound and a direction to follow but usually it took multiple stops to finally find the krill. 

Once you are next to the large areas of krill on the surface you get a bit caught up in the visual feast of thick layers of krill, hundreds of seabirds sitting on the surface feeding, humpback whales working the krill, and last but not least coho salmon boiling on the surface.

The fishing was not always fast and furious because the salmon were keyed in on small krill and often were just swimming through the clouds of krill with their mouths open.  They were not chasing individual krill.  I still remember the days we waited for the sky to lighten up and the massive areas of krill to shrink as most of the krill moved vertically to deeper water.  The smaller amount of krill seemed to be worked by the same large number of coho salmon and the fishing became much easier as the fish were more likely to chase anything that looked like food.  It was a fascinating place to experiment with presentation, retrieve speed, and surface patterns.

My fishing exploration of the place took years as I learned a little bit more every trip out there.  The days of making the run to find nothing often were better learning experiences because you never learn the wrong times to fish a spot unless you go when the tides and currents are not in your favor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pesticide Tea

The Tea Party might want to keep water clean, since water is an important ingredient in tea.

House Republicans Trying to Use Appropriations Process to Move Pesticide Permitting Bill

At least they are working on issues important to average Americans.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What a Difference

What a difference a year makes.  I went for a nice long hike a couple days ago to see if I could find a few summer runs.  The river was about twice as high as a week earlier last summer.  The fishing was poor with limited visibility, but sometimes the trip is as important as the fishing.

I sometimes think that those of us that live in the Northwest have short memories when it comes to weather.  The cold and non-existent spring and early summer faded from memory with the recent warm weather.  The heart pushed hard to do a summer trip even though the mind knew the folly.

The differences between years were not only noticeable in the increased river flows but in the vegetation on the hike upriver.  A year ago the thistle was head high and in bloom while this year the thistle was barely knee high and not even close to flowering.

The warm weather may have caused temporary weather amnesia in my head, but the stream-side vegetation and water level couldn't forget the cold spring and early summer.