Where to begin…
*Spring Steelhead: The Olympic Peninsula started with a bang in January with good to great fishing on odd weeks. The coveted big fish weeks in February have too low of water and results were mixed with super numbers or moderate results. March has a few days of blow out and good fishing on two and three salt steelhead with plenty of jumbos in the mix.
The first part of April fishing on the Hoh was non existent, coming off a good freshet in late March, the Hoh tribe who’s self imposed season ended April 1st, pulled the ceremonial card on a dropping river the very next day and fished five days straight with drift nets and jet boats on the lower Hoh to stop short the escapement goals for the third season in a row. WDFW, WSC, CCA all of them “SILENT” until this Fall when the escapement figures came out. (Maybe think about that when your at the restaurant and you see steelhead offerings, or when these organizations want your donation to increase regulation on sportsmen or worse yet close the rivers). Thankfully we are blessed with 4 other rivers on the Peninsula at this time, which fished well into April, the Hoh never did pick up again before closing the 15th.
Rooster fishing in Baja: Fishing is better than expected, the bait showed up, the dusty Mexican Baja is still dusty. This trip is through Jay Murkowski who manages through tough logistics to get you into the zone of good fishing. However we did not expect to have the window time, but the fishing made up for it.. The only Mafia we seen was the bait mafia and they appeared harmless but did know the value of the sardine. We landed 12 different species this trip worth the price!… Hosted trip in May 2014..
Fun fishing in BC: Did the 20 plus hour drive to the Skeena for the first time to find it not quite ready. Some local rain and low snowpack caused it to stay dirty past the usual July 1 kickoff of historically better conditions. The Kallum was out too which generally is clear due to the lake. We ended up on the Kitimat for five days and found the fishing just OK. We did catch Chinook daily and the local area is beautiful. Upon the drive home the Skeena was just clearing up ( just missed that one). In 2014 I will go back after July 7..
Summertime Trout fishing: The Yakima was is in run-off till June and unpredictable till the 15th. Good numbers of caddis in the canyon and the best ever drake season makes for an awesome late June and July. The summer stone was nearly non existent but the hopper/beetle craze was decent to make up for it. Had some wonderful days on the Methow after July 15 and caught the largest Cutty of my life in the Natches, sorry no pic…
**Fall Steelhead: This was the season of the century for Washington anglers. The Steelhead started off fine in September on the Klickitat River. We managed a couple swing fish a day with a few on the Pin rod or nymph rod early before mid month. However as soon as the 15th rolled around the river began filling with Chinook. We literally could not get away from them. SO we embraced the action and went with it, catching them EVERYWERE. Swinging was the favorite as the Spey rod handles there bull dog action best. With small ups and downs in the ability to CALL the shot it was possible for 20 fish days on great fighting hard hitting Chinook right were we fish steelhead.
With one hiccup of water in early October and the opening of the Methow our Salmon fest was over. Just in time too as the crowds became relentless after the 15th on the Klickitat and we had moved the operation to the Methow. This was the best decision I have ever made in guiding, the Methow was virtually empty of anglers, we seen maybe 2-4 people a day the first couple days, on 17 miles or river, that’s it! The fishing was stellar and we kept silent and caught our share. We could swing fish anyplace we wanted and even the dry game was predictable with good numbers of fish in the river instead of in the Columbia. The locals figured it out and the word started getting around as late in the game the week ends became semi crowded but never unmanageable. Without a doubt the best fall season I have had in countless years based on numbers of caught fish and dodging the pressure.
Bird hunting: Finishing up the Fall steelhead on a freeze out generally put me on the waterfowl right in the thick of the migration. Not so this season, the early birds were gone and even the divers were few. The refuges were full so it was a stalemate flight not much happening. Quail and Pheasant however where very cooperative with lots of opportunity if I could shoot better.. I don’t know if there was a great hatch of Ring-necks or my Lab Jesse is the greatest upland lab in the state as we found Pheasants and quail nearly every day.
Early December I get the call for a Montana Goose hunt, wanting to start were we left off last year with limits of duck and geese in the fields we jump on it. NOT the best decision, the weather was cold already (20’s) at home. Calling for a warm up were off to Great Falls within 12 hrs of getting the report. By the time we reach Helena its 30 below zero NOT what was expected. After an engine breakdown, a short hike to reach cell service and a local tow truck ride by Gates of the Mountain, five hours later were back on the road as every waterfowl in the state is going the opposite direction. We limp into Cascade as the Mighty Missouri river is freezing solid and Ice damming.
What an impressive display of nature, I am thankful to have witnessed the slow but powerful event. We can only shoot over dry ground and there are no birds in the fields just next to the river. We ended up with a couple limits in a couple days selectively shooting over retrievable locations. It was an awesome hunt, way more birds in range than we could shoot due to the ice in the river. Pass shooting over land was cool and once the spot was found easy hunting for minus 25 degrees!
Back home in the Burg the birds were thick as the storm pushed in when we went the other way. By the time I get a hall pass there all wised up and untouchable in my zone. The entire basin is froze over and the stalemated again, I scratch through the end of the year on upland or jump shoots to come a full circle..
Prepping for Spring Steelhead.. Its a viscous cycle 🙂