What’s a little rain?

What they say is true. It rains a lot in Seattle. My stay in the Pacific Northwest was saturated to say the least. To be honest the weather reminded me a bit of south west PA. Maybe a little warmer though. 8 days away from work, an accessible public transit system, tasty food, countless craft beers, and one legendary river made for a great week.

I almost got hit in the face with a king salmon here...almost.

I’m fairly sure that we saw every tourist attraction that Seattle had to offer. Space needle, science center, art museum, Experience Music Project, underground tour, even an Elliott Bay boat tour.

The food was amazing with a lot of emphasis on local seafood. I never ate so many mussels in my life. Not only is a lot of the food local, the beer overwhelmingly is also. I intended to keep track of all of the beer that I drank but that plan fell apart quickly. The Nitelite was a modest place with cheap pints.

 

It was nice to see local beer featured at almost every establishment I visited. There were tons of choices but I kept coming back to Manny’s, an unfiltered pale ale. To be honest though, I didn’t have a bad beer the entire week.

 

One place where you’re guaranteed to get a look at some fish, besides the ones on ice at the public market, is the aquarium down at the water front. These are silvers (Coho) that were bunched up above a pane of glass. Where’s a 7 weight when you need one? And speaking of fishing…

 My better half was very understanding about me going fishing for a day. I finally got my chance to stand in one of the PNW’s famous “S” rivers and swing big flies for steelhead. There wasn’t much time to fish and I knew my chances of actually hooking a fish were extremely low. It was just something that I had to do.

The Skykomish

I picked the Sky because of its proximity to the city and was on the water after about a 45 minute drive. The flow was on the higher end of just right (or so I was told) with about 12″-18″ of visibility. This is a lot bigger water than I’m used to and I couldn’t have found good access without help. As it turns out no steelhead were in the cards for me on this trip. That’s to be expected though. Winter steelheading is built on long hours and few fish. Someday, hopefully, I’ll get another shot at a wild, winter fish.

 

 

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Flies for the Sky

With an impending trip to Seattle, I worked out the details with my better half and have been allotted one day to fish Washington’s Skykomish River. I as usual procrastinated on the effort of filling a fly box specific to this trip. The Sky’ still boasts decent runs of honest to goodness, actual, salt-run steelhead. Not the hatchery stocked Great Lakes run rainbows that I am accustom to. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lake run ‘bows and browns and appreciate the opportunity to chase big fish all winter but the shot at a real west coast steelhead has been heavy on my mind for awhile now. I felt like I should tie some flies that were worthy of these increasingly rare fish.

Clockwise from top left: Ferry Canyon, Whaka Blonde, Spade (Alec Jackson), and Green Butt Skunk.

I wanted to tie an array of sizes as I’ve never actually seen the Skykomish, I don’t know what to expect. In the event that flows are low and runs turn grabby, having some smaller flies seems like a good idea. These are tied on 6s, 8s, and the gold AJ hook is a 7 if I recall.

Marabou flies.

I like the look of classic hair winged flies but wanted to use some different materials as well. Trey Combs, in his classic “Steelhead Fly Fishing” says of marabou, “The material possesses movement in the water that is matched by nothing else.”  I just mixed and matched colors and collars on these.

Clockwise from top left: Brad's Brat, Del Cooper, Skykomish Sunrise, and Purple Peril.

I really do love to tie classic hair wings. To be honest, I still struggle with feather winged flies. I’m OK with strip wings but inconsistent. I’ve started to get the hang of tenting hackle tip wings Syd Glasso style. Forget about traditional low-set bronze mallard wings on classic speys. They just make me swear.

Don't forget about the rabbit.

If marabou is #1 as far as movement underwater, rabbit has to be #1A. These are tied with zonker strips. Hopefully one of these will find its way to the vicinity of a willing Skykomish steelhead.