Thompson River Steelhead: Climate Change and Gill Nets

Steelhead

The Thompson River is the largest tributary of the Fraser River, which is the tenth largest river in Canada and the largest river in British Columbia.

Though the 1990s, the Thompson was one of the premier steelhead fishing rivers in North America. In the late 1980s, the steelhead run was estimated at over 10,000 fish; these were large fish with the average male weighing over 16 pounds with some as heavy as 30 pounds. Steelhead are aggressive fish with streamlined bodies and large tails; catching a steelhead is an unforgettable event – something I hope to experience at some point; they are not called the fish of a thousand casts for nothing.

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are anadromous rainbow trout, spending several years in the ocean before returning to spawn in their natal rivers. Unlike salmon that die after spawning, steelhead can return to the ocean, spending a year or two before returning to spawn a final time – if they are successfully able to migrate out.

Spawned steelhead are exhausted and their outward journey is complicated by competing fish, angling pressure, reverse osmotic chemistry and biological fatigue. Any obstructions on the journey doom them. So it’s vital that the first spawn include large numbers of steelhead to continue to propagate the fish.

Unfortunately the Thompson River steelhead fishery has collapsed. In 2016, the run was estimated at 400 steelhead. The estimate for 2017 for spawning Thompson River steelhead is 175 out of 240 entering the Fraser River.

There are several causes for the collapse.

The first and most apparent cause is climate change. Numbers of returning steelhead and other salmonids are declining significantly in multiple river systems due to warming oceans. This is another example of the ongoing Anthropocene extinction – with the possibility of large numbers of animal extinctions occurring in our lifetimes and the high probability of the same in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

A second cause of the collapse of the Thompson River steelhead is the use of gill nets in the Fraser River by both commercial and First Nations fishers. Steelhead have no commercial value – it is a sport fishery only.

Unfortunately for the steelhead, their journey up the river occurs at the same time as that of chum salmon – which is a commercial fish. While slightly smaller than the chum salmon, steelhead can still be caught in the nets and be fatally injured even if released after capture.

The impact of the collapsing fishery has been recognized by the small communities along the Thompson who rely on the dollars spent by visiting fishers. And the Cook Ferry First Nation did not participate in the Fraser River chum season this year out of concern for the Thompson River steelhead.

Saving the Thompson River steelhead is dependent on the actions of the British Columbia government and there is a petition campaigns underway to pressure it to act.

But this isn’t just an issue of fly fishing for Thompson River steelhead. Whether one has fished there or hopes to do (and I’m in the second category) or whether one has any interest in casting for any fish, the primary issue is one of saving the wild things on this planet. The return of the Thompson River steelhead and the emergence of mayfly nymphs on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho are connected.

They are both threads in the web of life on Earth that sustain other species. The Henry’s Fork mayfly feeds the rainbow trout; the decay of a steelhead after its death feeds microbes, stream invertebrates, mammals and birds – as do salmon.

Life propagates when all processes of natural systems work together.

The plight of the Thompson River steelhead is another example of the combined impacts of human arrogance and ignorance. But taking action to save those fish is one opportunity to commit to the natural processes that sustain life on this planet – including ours.

Here is the link to the petition.

Spring Creeks by Mike Lawson

Spring Creeks Cover

Fly fishing in Puget Sound for sea run cutthroat trout and coho salmon means the typical fly is a baitfish or crustacean pattern – think Clousers, Deceivers, and the like. And most of the casting is blind casting surface or sub surface patterns where presentation isn’t always essential.

As a saltwater fishery it doesn’t quite prepare a fly fisher for going to storied streams in the Rocky Mountains like the Madison or Henry’s Fork where the life cycle of insects dictate the type of fly to be used – and where presentation, particularly of dry flies, is essential for catching fish. Knowing terms such as Blue Winged Olives or Pale Morning Duns doesn’t help much when there’s lack of understanding of the fishery and how to fish it.

There are several steps in preparing for such a trip. First, it goes without saying practice of presentation casts with the appropriate tackle is needed. The next is to read up on the fishery and the flies and techniques needed. Finally, if schedules and finances allow, hire a guide.

In terms of the second step, one of the best books I’ve read is Spring Creeks by Mike Lawson (Stackpole Books, 2003). Mike is the founder and now general manager of Henry’s Fork Anglers and a founding member of the Henry’s Fork Foundation.

Spring Creeks begins with chapters on spring creeks and trout behavior. As an aside, for those who’ve forgotten or never knew, spring creeks form from underground sources; freestone streams arise from snowmelt or rain.

Spring creeks such as the Henry’s Fork or Silver Creek in Idaho are celebrated for their dry-fly fishing and the skills needed to catch their resident trout; it was a revelation to me that the more constant water of spring creeks results in low diversity but high density of insects – meaning the trout are finicky about what they eat. Freestone rivers on the other hand support a great diversity of insects.

The remaining chapters discuss matching/unmatching the hatch; mayflies, caddisflies; midges and craneflies; terrestrials; presentation; and strategy. But this book is neither a catalog of flies and their recipes or a book on entomology.

While not a book on entomology, there is a fascinating discussion of how mayflies emerge from nymphs to duns. After molting up to thirty times, the nymph’s internal digestive organs begin to shrink creating a cavity that fills with internally generated gases enabling the nymph to float to the surface. The same gases then splits the exoskeleton allowing the mayfly dun to emerge.

It’s a brief discussion, but one that reminds me of the complexity and wonder of all the life with which we share this planet.

Much of the rest of the chapter and those that follow are filled with recommendations for how to fish a particular insect mixed with anecdotes of past fishing successes – and failures.

The final chapters on presentation and strategy represent a lifetime of fly fishing experience and wisdom. Studying them will benefit any fly fisher on any trout stream.

Many books are read and then put on the shelf soon to be forgotten. Mike Lawson’s Spring Creeks is not one of them. I will use it before my next trip to the Henry’s Fork.

Highly Recommended.

An Open Letter from Lefty

Lefty Kreh

I found this posted on The FlyFishing Forum. Lefty Kreh updates us on his health. While he says he might be around for a few more years, and I certainly hope so, it certainly feels as if this is the end of his public life. A truly amazing man.

To my friends,

I was 92 in January and had a carotid artery operation. During testing the hospital determined my heart was only pumping 35% and must limit my physical activities followed by a rest. The industry was extremely helpful and last season was able to attend the shows, clinics, etc.

Several weeks ago, I realized I was developing another problem, which is normal for someone nearly 93. It turns out I have congested heart failure. My pacemaker revealed there was a series of very rapid hear beats, which could cause a stroke. Fortunately a lot of doctor/friends are fly-fisherman and worked with me. In summary I have to give up travel and presentations as in the past.

Everyone produces a certain amount of fluid in the body and excretes the excess. Because of the low heartbeat my body is not getting rid of all the fluids and I gained weight. My best friend Dr. Mark Lamos put me in the hospital and with back procedure they twice removed a liter and a half of fluid from my chest. After five days in the hospital. I lost weight.

A week or so later I starting gaining weight again so it was back in the hospital for the same treatment. They reduced most of the fluid and returned home. I determined I was not going to continue back to the hospital. Mark decided to use medicine to control the excess fluid. It’s been a fine-tuning situation but looks like it’s starting work.

This means the schedule I lived for decades is no longer valid and will spend most my time at home. As we get older we learn to adjust to what we can and cannot do. I have a number of interesting computer home projects on the computer and busier than a Syrian bricklayer. I’m not frustrated and I’m content My problem is I don’t have a lot of stamina and have to work around that. If Marks medical system works I should be busy and around for a year or two.

I would like to be able to send this email to my friends but I don’t really know how to do this. So I’m asking others to help me spread the word through email. Because my lack of energy and stamina I having trouble answering emails (there are more than 400 on the computer) and not talking much on the phone. This is not meant to be unfriendly is learning to adjuster my situation.

In summary I’m busy and content but I want you to know I am so appreciative you’ve have shared your lives with me.

All The Best Friends,
Lefty

Orvis 50/50 Campaign

Orvis 50/50 Campaign

Women make up only 30% of fly fishers according to the 2017 Special Report on Fishing published by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. Orvis has set out to change that. Its new 50/50 campaign has set a target of 50 percent participation by women in fly fishing by 2020.

Leading off with more fishing apparel, wading gear and boots sized for women, and women-specific events, Orvis has made a commitment to match its campaign goals.

I recognize this is enlightened self-interest. More women in fly fishing means more potential sales for Orvis, particularly when their events highlight their gear. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest.

Bringing more women into the sport will benefit everyone – gear makers, guide services, lodges, and so on. At the same time, more women in the sport will mean change will be required to accommodate them. Hear that, disheveled tobacco-chewing guides?

Further, more voices for conservation of wild places helps everyone. This is becoming more critical given the current administration’s policies and priorities.

I once got to watch Molly Semenik teach an introduction to fly fishing for women. For those who don’t know her, Molly is on the Casting Board of Governors of Fly Fishers International – the leading organization for certifying casting instructors. I was struck by the difference in terms of how Molly approached teaching versus some sessions I’ve been in taught by men. More voices like Molly’s are needed to continue growing the sport.

This is a great initiative. Well done Orvis.

Misplaced Outrage

I had been having an internal debate on my road trip as to whether I should write something on the protests of NFL players when the shooting occurred in Las Vegas. As it is, I think I want to now say something about both issues.

First on the protests. It probably needs to be said as a reminder that the purpose of the protests was to protest racism and police violence against young black men. There was, as a result of the superficial reporting that didn’t put the protests into context, the predictable howls of outrage that such protests “disrespect” the flag and the national anthem and all members of the military. I won’t even go into my feelings again about how ignorant the use of disrespect as a verb sounds to me.

The song and the piece of cloth are symbols of this country and all it should represent. But the claim that they represent freedom and the protests are not respectful of that freedom seems to me to confuse cause and effect.

The freedoms we have exist precisely due to protest.

First, what began as protests led to the revolution and ultimately to the US Constitution that formed the legal structure of the republic. The Bill of Rights (as a reminder, the first ten amendments of the Constitution) were adopted due to protests of the anti-Federalists. The increasing protests over many, many decades led to the right of women and minorities to vote – not to mention a Civil War that freed black Americans from legalized slavery. Other protests led to increased rights and protections for American workers. Still other protests led to the rights of the gay and lesbian communities.

Protest – even more than gun rights (see below) – are part of the fundamental genes of this country.

As should be clear, the freedom and willingness to protest is what enables progress. And if something is wrong, it is the highest form of patriotism to protest.

One final point on this issue. I think it’s important that whenever those in authority speak of patriotism and the need for people to show their gratitude for the freedoms we have, it’s wise to pay attention to what freedoms they’re actually trying to take away.

Now to where the real outrage should exist.

Another city, another mass murder. How can anyone be surprised? In spite of the well meaning but facile commentary on various television and radio shows – how could this have been unexpected?

Columbine. Fort Hood. Aurora. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Roseburg. Orlando. Las Vegas. And others I’ve forgotten.

Where’s the outrage that as a society we have become numb – except in the immediate aftermath of each shooting – to the ongoing slaughter?

Where’s the outrage that I heard some former police official speak of this as the new normal?

Each time the identity of the shooter or shooters become important so the news media can label the cause of the shooting as terrorism, mental illness or unexplained. But does it really matter to the victims, their family and friends?

Where’s the outrage at Congresses over the last two decades that can only offer “thoughts and prayers” and “moments of silence”?

Where’s the outrage that the Centers for Disease Control have been prohibited for the last 20 years from studying the relationship between guns and violence?

Where’s the outrage that many hide behind the Second Amendment, claiming it gives them the right to own high-caliber military-grade weapons? And I’m not specifically addressing the AR-15/M4 platform used in many of the mass shootings. I’m talking about owning Barrett sniper rifles that can kill at 1800 meters that are sold in some gun shops.

I’ve heard on radio and television many of the arguments for the intent of the Second Amendment. Many have been led to believe the founding fathers put that in the Constitution to ensure the overthrow of a government in case it began to oppress the people. One caller I heard on Sirius said it was put in to ensure that people would be able to fight back in the event of the rise of socialistic communist government.

Where’s the outrage that we have an educational system that doesn’t educate on the founding documents of this republic?

The truth is the Second Amendment was adopted at the insistence of the southern states to ensure they could form state militias to put down slave revolts. It said nothing about individual citizens owning Barrett sniper rifles.

The Second Amendment is an anachronism and should be repealed. But that will likely never happen. Even if it were it would change little.

Gun ownership is not dependent upon the Second Amendment. National, state, and local laws would allow individuals to own weapons for hunting, sport shooting or self defense as is true in a number of countries. And yes it would still allow some to use those weapons for homicide or suicide.

Confiscation is never going to happen no matter what the NRA and a hard-core minority say.

And I don’t think it’s desirable in any case. There are legitimate reasons and purposes for gun ownership. However, I remain unconvinced that civilians need anything more than shotguns, bolt or lever action rifles, and revolvers for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting, and self defense.

In the end, writing this is just a waste of time as nothing is going to happen except the next inevitable massacre.

From a long history of wars and military expeditions to sports violence to the never ending (and ever growing) war on terror, we have become a militarized society that celebrates violence. Popular entertainment promotes violence as solving every problem – whether in an hour on television or several hours in movies. The “warrior hero” is celebrated as the paragon of a society that sees itself as exceptional and indispensable.

And behind it all are the manufacturers of weapons and war; the manufacturers of propaganda labelled as entertainment; the philosophers and preachers of American exceptionalism; and their paid whores in Congress and national media. And they have chosen our god for us.

Thanatos – the Greek god of death – is our civic god. And that choice will lead to violent death for many, many more.

As I said in a previous post, I only hope no one I know is involved in a coming massacre. And I feel outraged saying that.

Return to the Henry’s Fork

As part of a visit to my son and his family in Bozeman, I decided I needed to make a slight detour and fish the Henry’s Fork again.

The trip out from Gig Harbor was sunny and mild with hours of easy driving – I like long road trips in general and road trip days like that in particular. The only disappointment along the way was the lack of autumn colors; most trees were still green. As I dropped into Silver Bow Creek valley to spend the night in Butte I did notice the snow on the distant ranges.

The next day I spent two hours driving over Montana highways along both the Jefferson and Madison rivers making my way through Ennis and ultimately Island Park. Stopping at Henry’s Fork Anglers (HFA), I picked up a few dry flies and drove to my favorite place – Wood River Road.

Jefferson River Montana

Arriving at the river, I noticed fish sipping the surface and hurriedly got into my waders and rigged up my rod. HFA had suggested blue-winged olives and mahogany duns as flies and I selected a blue-winged olive size 16 to start.

I got at least two brief tugs indicating fish had taken the fly – only to spit it out before I could react. That was a bit disappointing, at least until I talked to a couple of other guys working the river who said the same thing. So either the fish weren’t very hungry or after a summer of being chased by fly fishers along they were very discriminating.

Wood River Road Henrys Fork

The wind began to pick up – the temperature was in the low 50’s – and I got a bit cold. I had brought my Patagonia Rio Azul waders and left my much-warmer Simms G4Zs at home. Unfortunately I had neither my winter wading pants or long underwear. So after lack of success with dry flies, I switched to a nymph and did a bit of wet-fly swinging. But no fish was interested.

Packing up I made my way back to Island Park to spend the night in the Angler’s Lodge. It is a beautiful wooden lodge on the banks of the Henry’s Fork. There’s nothing like looking out the window and seeing a river outside. The sunset made a perfect ending to the day.

Anglers Lodge Sunset, Island Park

Next day up and early and back to Wood River road. This time I had the area to myself. Low 40s and no wind made for pleasant time in the water; that required ignoring how cold my legs were.

As I did the previous day, I rigged up another dry fly – this time a size 18 Mahogany dun. Unfortunately, there were no fish sipping the surface. Looking around, I saw no hatch in progress as expected. HFA had said the hatch was occurring between 11AM and 4PM. I still thought I might find a hungry trout.

Two tugs later I had the same experience as yesterday: a quick bite and then release.

I kept at it for another couple of hours until I had to leave to get to Bozeman at the time I said I’d be there. Fortunately, I had time to stop in West Yellowstone and get lunch at Bullwinkles.

After a day and a half of a very pleasant visit – I follow Ben Franklin’s observation that guests like fish begin to stink in three days, it was time to drive home. The previous two days forecasts had predicted widespread snow for my day’s drive and I was particularly concerned about the drive over Homestake Pass.

As it turned out, the snow was delayed by 12 hours, Homestake Pass only had a bit of snow on the sides of the road and I had only snow flurries in the area west of Butte. Still, it was a good reminder: winter is coming.

Looking back at the fishing, I think I understood that I really didn’t know as much about dry fly fishing as I should. Out here on Puget Sound, blind casting wet flies to searun cutthroat trout and resident Coho, presentation and fly preparation aren’t generally a big issue.

But dry fly fishing requires a more in depth understanding of trout behavior and insect hatches as well as a good deal more refinement in presentation casting. Thinking about all that’s involved I can understand the obsessiveness that dry fly fishing can engender. I do think the next trip back will require a day with a guide to get more insights into dry fly fishing.

A River Runs Through It – 25 Years Later

Robert Redford Directing Bradd Pitt

It’s been 25 years since A River Runs Through It was released. Based on Norman Maclean’s novella of the same name, the movie resulted in, by many accounts, a major growth in Montana immigration and tourism as well as interest and participation in fly fishing. I think it’s safe to say without “the movie” (as it’s often called somewhat derisively), interest and efforts in protecting wild rivers; the quality of gear; and travel opportunities for fly fishing – none would not be what they are today.

And yet, as many of those involved in making the movie reflect (see here), the movie is less about fly fishing than the issues of family. It is a movie that brings tears every time I watch it as it touches on questions of how love is expressed and how we can or can’t communicate with those we love most.

I too an haunted by waters.

A Pox on Both Their Houses

Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico in the last few days destroying the territory’s fragile electrical grid. Just so you know, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America and its citizens are natural-born citizens of the United States; at the same time they have no representation in Congress and are not allowed to vote in the Presidential Reality Show.

I bring this up because Puerto Rico is going to need large amounts of aid to at least minimize the misery that’s going to go on there for a very long time. The needed aid will come on top of the aid required for parts of Florida and Texas (and other states) due Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

While I think some aid will flow there, without Puerto Rico having powerful representatives in the halls of Congress, the aid will not be enough. It will be enough to provide the appearance of relief for the beleaguered people of Puerto Rico – at least until television moves on to other news stories as it has already done with the victims of Harvey and Irma.

At some point we will then hear the debates in Congress about how “social programs” need to be cut because aid packages and unfunded liabilities are drowning this country in debt. The “liberal” Democrats will cry crocodile tears for those who will be affected by cuts and they will lament how they can’t bring Medicare for All to reality so we need to stick with the corporate friendly Obamacare.

All in all, more bullshit.

Because none of them will volunteer or will be asked on the empty-headed news channels why they all voted to increase defense spending. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support this week. The act approved $700 billion for defense – $80 billion more than last year. As reference points, that $80 billion would be enough to make public colleges and universities tuition free or only $47 billion of that would be enough to fund Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All.

Think about the opportunity cost of voting for more war at the expense of taking care of the people. Then think about who supported the choice made.

Only eight Senators voted against the bill: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

Voting for it were all the supposedly leading liberals who are considered the party leaders – some of whom are talked about as contenders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. That would include Cory Booker (NJ); Diane Feinstein (CA); Al Franken (MN); Amy Klobuchar (MN); Chuck Schumer (NY) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). Also voting for it were both of Washington State’s supposedly liberal senators: Maria Cantrell and Patty Murray.

The reality is that this country has a single war party masquerading as two parties to give citizens the illusion of choice. As George Carlin said, you have no choice, you only have owners.

Remember that in 2018 or 2020 when you’re told you have to vote for the lesser of two evils. Evil is evil.

The Tempests of Change

It has been difficult to watch the reporting of natural disasters this summer without feeling a sense of dread that dramatic climate change is not a resigned future for some unknown progeny, it has begun.

The forest fires burning across the West reflect the damage already visited upon the forests by years of drought and the pine bark beetle. While the total number of acres burned this year is less than in some previous years such as 2012, the acres burned are greater than the ten-year average.

Forests across the west have burned every summer. But for many in places like Puget Sound they were always happening elsewhere – eastern Washington or Idaho or Montana. But this year, a different wind pattern brought smoke and ash from fires in British Columbia, Oregon, and eastern Washington. And that smoke and ash came to an area experiencing 90 F weather.

When I came to this area in the early eighties, summer temperatures were in the mid seventies; a day in the eighties was an exception and remarked upon. Now, in the last twenty years, eighties and nineties have become common.

Western Washington went from the wettest winter on record (2016/2017) to a summer of drought and setting a record for days without rain. The wet winter fed the rapid growth of brush that became dry tinder as the summer progressed. A number of homes near Grand Mound were destroyed in late summer from a fire that spread from near Interstate 5. Similar fires closer to Seattle were stopped before homes were destroyed.

As we move into the first of the autumn storms, it can be hoped the worst of the fire threat here has passed. But sooner or later, a tossed cigarette, fireworks, careless burning, or other causes will ignite a fire that spreads out of control into forested hillsides and into housing communities. With a prolonged drought and the right winds a fire similar to the Oakland firestorm of 1991 may only be a matter of time.

Hurricane Harvey dumped up to four feet of rain on the Houston area. It was difficult to watch without feeling a sense of empathy for the population who watched the literal drowning of their homes and communities.

Efforts to recover have begun but the fetid waters will bring disease, further threatening a population suffering from mental and emotional exhaustion. This recovery is going to take months to years for many. And the television crews have already moved on to other storms (see below) and news stories.

No one – understandably – during the deluge commented on the irony of a hurricane made worse by climate change dumping on the Emerald City of the petroleum industry. But much like the fabled wizard of Oz who admonished Dorothy and her crew not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, Scott Pruitt, the director of the “environmental protection”agency, is another phony who doesn’t believe climate change should be mentioned, as it’s insensitive to those who lives are being wrecked by climate change.

While the administration doesn’t want to talk about climate change, its supporters in the petroleum industry already knew it was real. Exxon for one knew about the effects of climate change as early as 1977, having funded a good deal of its own scientific research – research it then concealed.

And for the last forty years, the rest of the petroleum industry and its supporters and stooges have claimed the science isn’t settled or that it’s just a figment of imagination. Worse, they’ve spent millions of dollars working to prevent any public discussion of it.

Unfortunately for them, nature doesn’t rely on donations from the Koch family. And it provided a second hurricane in Irma.

I had a personal interest in Irma. I had lived in Tampa many, many years ago and was concerned about the friends I had had who I assume still live there. And more than that, I have a brother who lives in Miami.

Fortunately, both Miami and Tampa were relatively spared. In my brother’s case, he and his family spent the storm in a shelter, and came home to find no damage to their house and the power still on (his trees and fence didn’t fare as well).

The Florida Keys were hammered as was parts of southwest Florida – not to mention the many islands in the Caribbean as well as the coast of Cuba. Again, it’s difficult to watch television and see the devastation and havoc created for the residents of those areas.

And now there is another hurricane – Maria, now strengthening and on a path that will take it over many of the Caribbean islands savaged by Irma.

It may be insensitive to Scott Pruitt, but there needs to be not only mention, but discussion and action on climate change now.

We may be out of time, and will certainly be if dramatic action is not taken immediately.

Hazy Days of August

August 2017 Narrows Bridge

Smoke from forest fires in British Columbia (over 100 at last count) have drifted south into Puget Sound over the last week. The air is now something seen as much as breathed due to the high particulate count (154 ppm this morning). Being outside has meant scratchy throats and irritated eyes.

But in spite of that weather it’s still a good time to go fly fishing. Or any kind of fishing as evidenced by the numbers of boats on the water this morning.

I went to Narrows park hoping to catch a coho or pink salmon – though admittedly the chance of the latter on the west side of the Narrows wasn’t great; the Nisqually pink salmon run may be shifting over to this side but that’s still subject to some speculation.

Along the way down to the beach I passed three small rabbits who seemed not to be bothered by me as long as I stayed on the path.

The tide had only begun to turn to the ebb as I reached the beach so back casting room was a bit limited. Still, there are places along the beach where a limited backcast is possible at the high tide mark.

I waded toward the Narrows bridge taking note of a number of boats drifting by with fishing lines over the side. There were also a few gear guys out bombing out their long casts. From what I could see no one was catching anything.

Deer had evidently used the beach earlier in the day.

Deer Tracks in Sand Tacoma Narrows

I did see a few Coho jumping – at least one looked to be a good size. But they were well off the beach – I guessed 150 – 175 feet, much farther than I could reach even when my double haul was near perfect.

I found good water on the far side of the bridge and after a bit of casting out to the middle, I cast more parallel to the beach. Then I caught my first searun cutthroat trout of the day. It was about ten inches long but still put a good pull on my line. I brought it in and released it off the hook. A few casts later I got a smaller six inches who slipped off the hook as I brought it close.

Then deciding to adopt April Vokey’s rule for wild steelhead (catch two and then go home) to wild searun cutthroat trout, I called it a day.

Walking back up the beach toward my car I enjoyed the day – haze and all.

Narrows Beach 2017