Bob Triggs’ The Secret Season

Bob Triggs, Olympic Peninsula Guide and flycasting instructor, reprised an article he first shared on the late Doug Rose’s blog several years ago. Bob’s take on fishing for sea run cutthroat trout is timely as ever. Excellent insights and tips. Read his article “The Secret Season” here.

Into Darkness: Setting Back the Clock

Early yesterday I went to my favorite beach for a morning session chasing sea run cutthroat trout. I like this beach on the ebb where I’ve had consistent success, but decided to give it a try on the flood.

The forecast was calling for rain later in the morning and cold (in the mid-forties) so I was dressed in my warm shelled insulator pants and my hooded Nano Puff jacket. With my rain coat and waders on, I knew I’d be warm.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how dark it was at the beach. Over the last months, even when leaving the house there were the first fingers of light in the eastern sky. But this is late October and that wasn’t to be. I got dressed in a light drizzle and had walked down along the sea wall to the entrance near the bridge before it was apparent that daylight, however gray, was starting to emerge.

I started working the beach as I typically did. It didn’t take long to relearn the obvious: wading on the flood is different. And that difference extends beyond the direction the tidal current is flowing.

A couple of times I found myself in waters that were deeper than I remembered on that beach, and I slowly worked my way back closer to the beach. Beach fishing is about moving, and wading along a beach there are the shallower points and the deeper holes around those points. Without paying attention, it’s too easy to wade out or deeper than is advisable as I found yesterday.

Fishing for sea run cutthroats is not about deep wading – the fish generally are closer to the beach and going no more than knee depth is sufficient. So I was able to stay in relatively shallow water and cast parallel to the beach, in imitation of the sculpin that inhabit the zone.

That technique worked in the past here, but not yesterday. For the record, I got skunked. No strikes or landed fish.

As I was fishing the wind came up and the rain started in earnest – more reminders that this is now the season for warmer insulation, rain coats, warm hats, and even gloves.

There was another reminder yesterday too. After I got home I checked the tides for next Sunday and noticed the time of sunset seemed odd. It took me a moment to realize that next Sunday is when we shift back to standard time. Sunset will be at 4:49 PM – giving Puget Sound less than 10 hours of sunlight.

Fishing for the next four to five months can be expected to be increasingly cold, wet, and – with morning or evening fishing – dark. On the other hand, fewer fly fishers venture out during the winter months so there should be plenty of solitude.

And there’s still hope for another month or so of sunny weather – however chilly.

First Casts with Winston BIII-SX

Finally, I got a nice day for a first casting session with my 9’6” 6-weight Winston BIII-SX. The rod, as the day, did not disappoint.

The day was pleasant for early March – sunny and relatively warm (high 50’s) with no wind. I could have gotten out any time in the last month after I had the rod delivered, but who wants to stand in the rain on a cold, windy day and cast across a muddy backyard?

A first experience is always what it is. But when possible it’s always better to stack the odds for success rather than failure. Most life experiences begin with excitement mixed with trepidation as the expectation turns into reality. That in itself is enough; other factors that can be avoided, should be: a flat tire on a first date; spilling coffee during an interview with a potential employer; or having rain pour down the arm through a loose cuff while casting a fly rod for the first time.

And a warm sunny day seemed to be to the ticket. Not having to deal with layers and outerwear was something worth waiting for. I managed about 20 minutes with the rod – not long as I wanted, but about all I had given the day’s schedule.

As to the rod and how it cast? It’s a Winston: different than the BIIIX, but still a Winston in looks, feel, and casting.

The components are Winston quality. They require almost no comment. This is a beautiful green stick. I’ve read some complaints about the black anodized aluminum reel seat, but I don’t what the complaints are. I thought it looked terrific – particularly with the script R.L. Winston on the seat.

This post is what I’d call initial impressions given the limited time I’d spent casting and in the condition I cast it. It won’t be called a review until I spend much more time with the rod and in more conditions..

I was using an old Orvis large-arbor reel with a similarly old SA Mastery GPX 6 weight line with an Umpqua practice leader; I keep those for casting in the backyard and keep my Nautilus reels for use on water. I didn’t check rod/reel balance this time – I was just in a hurry to get out and cast. The rod/reel combination felt comfortable and I didn’t notice any issue with balance.

My first cast was made with about 20 feet of line stripped out. I had no problem getting the line to load the tip – but the tip was all that loaded – and make a reasonable-looking pick up and lay down cast. I say reasonable to focus on any limitation being mine, not the rod.

I began to shoot line and without hauling (something I still have to pick up) was making 50-60 foot casts with little problem. The cast tracked well, with me being able to put the fly where I aimed.

I watched my back cast on every cast for this first session to know when to begin my forward cast as well as to watch the rod tip, which is something I no longer do with my BIIX. I have the feeling a bit more practice and I’ll be able to do that with the BIII-SX.

I had never cast the BIII-MX so I can’t offer any comparison. Other early reviews I’ve read suggest the BIII-SX is a smoother cast than the MX. I can only say it’s faster than the BIIIX. By how much, and how it comparatively handles wind, is something I still have to discover.

My deltoid was bit sore after I finished – much more noticeable than when casting my BIII-X 5-weight. That could be to the almost five months from when I was last out on the Yakima river, or it could be due to the stiffer feel of the rod (I’d noticed similar sensations when casting a Sage One).

My casting is a work in progress, and as my technique improves along with more casting this year, that should problem should go away.

I bought this rod for use on the beach this year, fishing for Puget Sound cutthroat trout. With a more practice to learn how the rod behaves – as well as polishing my casting skills, I should be ready.