Resident silvers already feeding on baitfish

Yesterday I had some excellent fishing for resident silvers on the Sound and kept two fish(15 1/2") for the dinner table. When I cleaned the fish on the beach, I was surprised to find that each fish had 1 or 2 herring(3 1/2 to 4") in their stomachs. I don't remember ever seeing bait fish in their stomachs this early in the season. I got lucky as the fly of choice was a 2 1/2" olive/white clouser minnow before I knew that the resident silvers were feeding on herring.

This time of year their stomachs usually have contained amphipods(1/8" reddish-brown back/white bottom) or been empty(probably pucked contents of stomach when hooked). The resident silvers appear to be about 2 to 3" larger for this time of year when compared to past years. The larger size is probably the result of their feeding on bait fish. It bodes well for nice sized fish during the following months if these resident silvers hang around the Sound before heading towards the Straits or ocean or where ever they usually go in mid-Spring. These fish usually grow an inch or more per month.

Some thoughts/observation on resident silver fisheries.

1. FISH FEEDING ON AMPHIPODS VS JUMPING FISH. The small amphipods slowly spin on the surface of the water and are easy picking but small meal for the resident silvers. When a school of fish is feeding on them, the resident silvers can be seen dimpling the surface of the water plus nearby bonaparte sea gulls can be seen sitting on the water as they peck at the water surface to eat the amphipods.

When a school of resident silvers are feeding on the amphipods, these fish are surprisely spooky and totally keyed into the many hundreds of amphipods(match the hatch) floating around. Your amphipod fly is one of many. When they get within 40 to 50 feet of a boat, they will usually avoid it or go down. A boat wake or fly line landing near them will put them down. A slight wind chop makes them less spooky but it can be harder to spot a feeding school.

From the above it can be seen that when a school of resident silvers is feeding on amphipods, the fishing can be challenging/frustrating. Usually I will have a crack at them. If I am lucky, I might get a few fish but the usual out come is that they get the better of me. After 30 minutes or so I get frustrated and go looking for some fish that are jumping.

Now, jumping resident silvers are a whole new ball game. They are aggessive and will readily take your bait fish fly. All you need to do is get your fly near them and it is almost a slam dunk that they will take it. Three cheers for jumping resident silvers as they can make you feel like you know how to catch fish again after being humbled by an amphipod feeding school of fish.

2. RESIDENT SILVERS LOCKING INTO AN AREA. In many cases the resident silvers will lock into an area for a month or more depending on the food supply. You can usually spot them during the same part of the tide day after day until they finally take off somewhere else. All bets are off of spotting them if it is a sunny day or breezy. Once you find some resident silvers, fish for them often enough to figure out the optimum tides conditions. Early morning, cloudy, calm days are the ultimate when the tides are right.

3. BENEFITS OF A SALTWATER FISHING JOURNAL. The pros/cons of fishing journals has been hashed over on this forum. Keeping a detailed journal has helped me immensely to unravel a little bit of the puzzle of fly fishing on Puget Sound. I am always looking back in my journal on timing when the resident silvers have been each year at various locations, what they were feeding on, how long they were there, tides, trends/patterns of the resident silvers, etc. I can not explain enough how valueable the journal has been to me.

DISCLAIMER: I am just a 68 year old "fud" trying to pass on my experiences of fly fishing on Puget Sound. The above are my thoughts/opinions and may contain apparent truths. Be advised that if there are flaws, you are required to respond in writing with the whole truth.


Active Member
Resident silvers feeding on amphipods and euphasids can be a real trip. I remember a few years ago, small schools of silvers would come in with the tide along the Narrows north of Doc's. They looked like schools of trout feeding on tricos. They would cruise parallel to and feed fairly close to shore unless they were spooked, generally by bad casts and overanxious flyfishers. I used a slimeline and a version of a Crazy Charlie I tied and called "Crazy Plankton." You simply position yourself downtide and cast ahead of the school, then retrieve just slow enough to keep the slack out and maintain contact with your fly. Also, the fishing was best on overcast days which also made it extremely difficult to see their little noses poking out of the water.

Leland - Out of curiosity how are you modifying your Crazy Charlie? I've tied my own version using pink polar hair as a supplement to the wing and it's produced mixed results.

Sea runs seem to like it well enough on a slack tide when the bite slows down and nothing else seems to be working but resident silvers have only shown mild interest. Lately, they'll follow it in right to my feet on a super slow retrieve but only 1 in 10 or so will actually take. Has this been your experience with the Crazy Charlie also?


Active Member

Here is the recipe:

Hook: Mustad #3407 or #34007, Size 10
Thread: 3/0, Color to match body
Eye: Bead Chain, Small or Lead Equiv.
Beard: Flashabou, Pearl, 4-5 Strands or Polar Bear Equivalent
Body: V-Rib, Clear over Flashabou, Pearl
Tail: Flashabou, Pearl, 10-12 Strands or Polar Bear Equivalent

A photo is posted in the archives on

I only use this fly when I see feeding pods of silvers.

Ah..., so a resident silver is what I caught Sat while casting a chartruse Crazy Charlie into a stiff crosswind and 1 foot swells at Possesion Park /South Whidbey. At first I thought I had hooked a cutt but no slashes under the jaw, seemed too small for a steelhead and just didn't have a trout look. It was about 18" long, very firm, dark spots on a brown background along the top of its back, turning to brilliant silver sides and white stomach. Put up a good fight with a lot of head shaking when I got it close. I was using a floating line with about a 7 foot leader and drifting the fly in arc from right to left. On one cast just as the fly started to move with the current I noticed the end of the line start heading out from the beach and I tightened up and voila, fish on.



Active Member
That's his old recipe. These days Leland modifies his crazy charlies by putting a popper head on them.
Thanks Leland. I'm going to try a central puget sound spot this weekend that has been kicking out a couple of fish for a friend of mine. So I'll give it a shot and report back next week.


New Member
R, post on man, many of us have learned much and appreciate the info from the likes of you and Leland. Having just started fishing the salt a few years ago, I'm just now beginning to think that some day I might possibly begin to maybe gain a slight clue about what's going on.

Your post was very informative - keep 'em coming, I need all the help I can get :thumb:

Resident silvers on bait already certainly bodes well for some nice sized fish this summer. The last time I recall silvers on bait earlier than normal was maybe 9 years ago, I will have to dig it out of my logs. That summer I landed a 10+ pounder the end of July and caught many in the 8 pound category.

I tottally agree with logs and how useful they are when it comes to these resident fish. Find the tide and when they are biting in the cycle and just be in the same place everyday and catch fish consistently. They roll on the tides and just go back and forth with the current. Blackmouth will do the same thing by the way.

I took my Dad fishing for the first time in his life this past weekend down at Lincoln Park. Since it was his first time, we fished with gear, but we both tagged small resident silvers in the 16"-18" range, in the morning, on an outgoing tide. Didn't know what they had been eating since we let 'em go - they loved the buzzbomb pattern, though. Call it beginner's luck, because I didn' catch a fish all year down there (fly, gear, or otherwise) until this past Sunday. They are out there...
All in all, it was a good capper to satisfying Thanksgiving weekend experience - particularly for an Ohio flatlander like my old man.

I work down on the new Narrows bridge, and we spotted a large school of jumping juveniles on the east shore. There was one boat with two flyfishers working the school stripping in what I presume were baitfish patterns. They were doing quite well from what I could tell. Tons and tons and tons of baitfish out here in the water. Also some seals and sea lions working the water pretty heavily. Some large adults fish being eaten (I presume chums headed for Minter, Nisqually, etc.)