Paddling long distances for short fish...

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Jim Wallace, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. ...isn't as bad as it sounds. The weather was nice on Friday, with clearing skies, and the breeze tolerable for fly fishing.
    Got a late start, launching about 1 minute before high tide, so I didn't get much of a boost to the back of the estuary. That's what paddles and paddling technique were designed for, so I put those to work, and in little over an hour, I was three miles or so from my put-in point, approaching what might be fishy water. Dragged a new fly (sculpin/perch hybrid, on a size 6 streamer hook, intended to confuse cutthroat into striking) the entire way in, but only collected eel grass up until I got into the higher probability zone, and slowed down a little.
    I paddled past a spot that almost always holds a cutthroat that will follow and strike at my trolled fly. Bingo! It was good to know my universe was still intact. It was only about 11" but it flashed chrome sides, and I was going to get a pic, but it shook itself off as I reached for my net. I got more hits from then on, but was hooking only 5"ers. I released about a half dozen of those little guys, thinking that its looking good for next year's fishing.
    Still early yet, so I don't expect any returning bluebacks, but there is usually a stray "late" downstream post-spawner or two around or a good in-river cutthroat of at least 8".
    I paddled by another spot that's usually a good cutthroat holding zone, and another chrome 11"er grabbed on and splashed the surface before it got off. I ate my late lunch at the top end of the tidal reach I was fishing, then noted that it was time to start fishing my way back out.

    In many spots, I was able to use the current to pin my hybrid canoe against pilings and logs so that I could stand and cast without having to anchor, but I also anchored up at a few locations and cast various patterns with about the same success I was having. More 5"ers. (Next year looking good! Remember this now, since I might not say anything about it next year!)

    I trolled down thru the estuary where I have found cutthroat in the past, but only hit some more 5"ers. I had an 8 or 9"er on for a bit, nearly to my boat, but the next 5"er just made me sigh and reel in. The tide had already turned, and I still had nearly 3 miles of paddling into the onshore breeze and incoming tide to make it back to my put-in. Fortunately, the wind speed remained in the single digits, and I got into perfecting my forward paddling stroke, while maneuvering close to the shoreline in the shallows, so as to be out of the main current.
    Duane J likes this.
  2. Nice report, Jim!

    My sister and BIL live in Westport and have been involved in the fishing industry, both sport and commercial, for a lot of years. The sis is manager of a sportfishing charter office and the bro-in-law has done just about every commercial fishing venture there is.

    I need to pay a visit to my sister sometime this summer as she's alone 'cuz my BIL is running a tender up in Alaska.

    So when I go down there I might just hafta shoot you a PM in order to pick your brains for some decent fishing spots! The BIL fishes the Johns quite a bit but he's a fish from the bank gear/bait guy.

    I can get a good deal on a charter through my sis but that's not my first choice for fishing! I like solitude and nature as opposed to crowds and sniffing diesel exhaust!

    I have a CC Voyager. Anyplace down there that would allow me decent fishing with that frameless 'toon?

    Tight lines!

  3. How far can you row that thing? I had a tough old fly fisher row his 8' framed pontoon along with me as I paddled my Ultimate 12 a good mile and a half up lower Smith Creek. That was on the last push of the incoming tide. We made it to the top of tidewater that day. I've rowed my mini-drifter up there, and so has a young friend of mine.

    We fish our way back down on the outgoing tide, so we are going with the flow.
    I can paddle up or down that creek in my U-12 no matter what the tide is doing. Can't get very far up it in a boat at low tide though, because it gets too skinny and low above tidewater, even for paddling. I've stayed too long up at the top and had to drag my U-12 back down thru some very skinny low water in some of the shallower riffles that appear as the tide runs out all the way, but still being able to paddle down thru the deeper runs and pools.

    I just heard a rumor from a good source that some lame-brained idiot is poaching cutthroat down there and bragging about the "bluebacks" he is taking. Since I got that info second hand, I didn't call it in. Not yet, anyway. The asshole probably caught some post-spawners dropping back down, or maybe even late spawners still heading upstream. But I didn't see it personally, so for all I know, its just BS.

    I sure hope I don't see any poaching going on there next time I head in. Somebody had built a cabin right on the bank in there, too. Way too close to the creek. I wonder if its a squatter, or if the builder owns the land. At some point back in there, it segues from a WDFW Wildlife Area to tree farm. Maybe its an illegal cabin. I should check that out too. I haven't been back in there that far yet this year. I hope no one is living back in there, squatting.

    This "cabin" is erected right on the banks of what some old timers called the "37 hole," (Named so because 37 cutthroat were caught on 37 consecutive casts by a fly angler rowed all the way there from Raymond. Not sure of the fly that was used. I think it was around 1950).
    That deep run used to be one of my favorite tidal pools in there until a large alder over the sweet spot came down one recent winter. The cutthroat no longer have that tree to hide under and the creek bed got re-arranged some and filled in a little. Now it doesn't hold pods of returning cutthroat like it used to.. most just swim right on thru now.

    Its a fun creek to hit once in a while, but there's other places I prefer to fish now.

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