Saturday, 29 June 2013

BEWL WATER FISHERY WEEKLY REPORT week ending: 27th June 2013

Judging by the hits I am getting from over 50 countries a lot of you are interested in what is happening at Bewl Water.  So here is the latest fishing report.

"Water temperature 16degC Water level 94%.

Over 900 Blues of 2-3lbs and 200 rainbows of 2lbs were stocked this week.

After a few days of difficult fishing, things have started to improve . The fish are still in the top 3 or 4 feet of the water and feeding on fry, daphnia, sedge and damsels. Best areas for boat fishing are close to the Dam, Monty's Seat to Dunsters end of Hook Straight and the Cages.

Bank fishing is becoming more difficult as the water warms up. Bramble Point and Ferry Point are the best places to try. Successful flies have been Green Buzzers, Blobs, Boobies, Cormorants and Damsels.

The second heat of the South East FF Qualifier took place on Sunday 23 June. 27 anglers caught 53 trout giving a rod average of 1.89.The winner was Gilliam Vermeulen with 7 fish weighing in at 14lb 15oz. Overall winner of the 2 heats was Vince Brooks. The top 7 anglers will compete in the National Final at Grafham Water in September."
Vince Brooks is a splendid fellow and obviously an excellent fisher. Well done Vince!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Handyman's Encounter with a Black Bear!

Well we had just arrived back from our visit to the ranch when Holly, my daughter-in-law, asked if I could do a little project for her.  This involved putting up a curtain rail and hanging some new curtains in my granddaughters bedroom.  So an hour later there I was looking for the positions of the timber studs behind the drywall (note the US terminology here) using a powerful magnet to locate the nails (clever stuff). I am up on a pair of steps right by a second floor window when suddenly this huge black shape appears right below me.  Fortunately it was the other side of the glass!  I immediately:-
  1. Knew it was a bear as it was huge and jet black and really furry!
  2. Ran down the corridor shouting "there's a bear in the garden!"
The whole family then proceeded to move from room to room tracking the progress of the bear round the house.  My son Daniel was trying to get a good photo of it.  Anyway we watched it effortlessly pull the door off the compost bin I had built a few years ago, and rearrange the compost!  The last we saw of it was it gliding over the top of a five foot fence like black quick silver. 
Last summer whilst staying here my respect for the "wild" wild life in the family garden (yard) had risen when a bobcat dropped out of a tree a few feet away from me. Now my respect for garden wild life had reached a whole new level and when outside I find myself looking over my shoulder a lot more!
Well my daughter-in-law has flown off to a three day reunion in Salt Lake City and my son is at work, so Rosalind and I are left in charge of the four children.  If they become a bit of a nuisance I shall just say "would you like to go out and play!"

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Down on the Ranch, Fishing the Yakima, Snakes, Bats, Mormon Handcart Expedition etc

My wife and I took two of our grandchildren to spend a couple of days at Ensign Ranch, just off the I90 near Cle Elum, WA.  We had booked a cabin which came complete with beds, wood burning stove, fridge freezer and microwave. It was all lovely and rustic and it beats being under canvas (especially as the weather was cool and showery)!

The cabin also came with a friendly bat which granddad caught in his hand and let loose unharmed.
 First activity was horse riding which Erin was really looking forward to, but which she had to warm to.

The 360-acre Ranch is a facility of our church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is run by a team of volunteers who serve there for a year or two.  Some are retired folk like us, others are young and trendy!  My wife Rosalind and I are considering volunteering to serve there and so we got invited to have dinner with the current volunteers.  The church has these type of facilities so the youth, young adults and families have somewhere safe to go to learn about and enjoy the great outdoors.  The facility is available for folk who are not members of the church to use, provided they are prepared to abide by the same standards the members keep.
It truly is a pretty wild environment this snake was spotted by my grandson, if anyone knows what it is I would be interested to hear from you.

Running down one side of the ranch is the beautiful Yakima River, and yes I did squeeze in a couple of fishing sessions.  The intermittent rain meant there was a lot of water coming down and the cold meant there were no significant insect hatches.  However, I did catch some little fellers fishing an upstream dry fly.
One of the special things the members of my church do is celebrate the Mormon Pioneer treks by staging their own with their youth.  Whilst we were there the ranch was descended on by members of the church from West Richland.  Everyone dresses in appropriate costumes, and groups of youth are formed into families with a couple in charge, then the families are formed into companies.  Each family has it's own authentic handcart and they set out for a 3-day trek.  Each company included a doctor and there was a chap with a warning flag on a quad bike out front.  I think there were about 300 people on the trek.
Everyone is very friendly and they all look the part. This group told me all about the event and were kind enough to line up for me.

 The whole thing is extremely well organized and each family poses for a photograph before they set off.  I don't think the rifles were real???
 Here they have just set off and as you can see the ladies help the men pulling the handcarts.
This cart has been equipped with a roof to keep all their food and camping kit dry.
A day later quite by chance we bumped into one of the trekker companies again. They might have looked a bit damp and dirty but they were in great spirits as the following video clip shows.
 Then we jumped in the car and headed back up the I90 to Redmond, glad that we did not have to walk!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Fly Fishing Exploration, Frustration, Perfection and Disaster on the Peninsular, WA, USA

Let me kick off by saying that the disaster wasn't ours but it so easily could have been!  We were on the road an hour later than planned having not slept too well and then overslept.  As soon as you reach the Tacoma Narrows Bridges, (having survived the I5 etc.) you know you are entering a special place (mind you, most of WA as seen by me is special).  My first port of call in the search for sea run cuts (SRCs) or coastal cutthroat trout, as they are more formally named, was Kopachuck State Park and the Nav. System found it.  I have fished here before and caught SRCs so I was full of anticipation.  Getting onto the beach I was surprised to see a choppy sea coming in from the South West.  Casting wasn't a problem, I could put a full line out aided by the wind, the issue for me was the cloudy water.  So after a few casts and a couple of moves I decided to try somewhere else.  Before I did I went and spoke to a group of happy people who were sitting on the beach right by the waters edge eating something.

It turned out that they had collected some oysters and were enjoying them raw on the beach.  I declined their kind offer to join in the party as I did not want to risk getting sick so far from home.

So it was back in the car and off to the bridge near Purdy.  Now Reggie at Orvis had recommended fishing the beach just behind the Italian Restaurant.  As I drove up to the junction, it all looked a bit industrial and complicated and I could not see where to pull over or the restaurant and it looked windy so I chickened out and turned left at the traffic lights and onto the bridge.
I then reset my TomTom to Penrose Point State Park as I thought that should be out of the wind.  Well it wasn't, I waded and cast but there was no sign of activity.  Then I noticed on my WA Atlas that someone in the past had highlighted  a place called South Head a couple of miles further on.  This looked amazing as it jutted right out into the sea.  Eventually I found the extremely narrow South Head Road and ignoring the Private Sign drove up it.  Now I always feel a little guilty going up "private roads".  I come fishing for rest and relaxation and the last thing I want is to ruffle anyone's feathers.  Anyway armed with the thought that "I have come thousands of miles for a SRC" I pressed on, and on, and on driving past lovely little and not so little weekend hideaways.  Eventually the inevitable happened and another vehicle appeared and I had to back up what seemed like a quarter mile.  When I finally got to the little stony beach I was a nervous wreck and there were several dwellings there.  I looked around for someone to ask if it was OK to be there but I was all on my own (apart from my wife, who was hiding in the car)!  As the sea was rough and the wind, very windy I overcame my feelings of frustration and decided to beat a retreat and go and look for our B & B. 

This is when things really stared to pick up.  We stayed in the perfect B & B in Gig Harbor.  It was called "The Parsonage" and I found it on the web.  It is run by a delightful couple called John and Mary who shared their beautiful home with us (together with lots of stories).  We had a charming bedroom and we were made most welcome.

Then they recommended a restaurant down on the harbor front called Anthony's.  At the entrance I got the impression that it was quite small, but when we got inside we were amazed how big it was and how the layout made sure you had a fantastic view of the beautiful harbor. 

 Views from our dinner table (it was raining).
Mary had recommended the sunset special, which meant that if you ordered before 6 pm you could have a 4 course meal for $19 a head.   
The food was excellent, in fact I had the best rainbow trout dish I have ever had, and I eat a lot of trout back in the UK.
The service was superb.  This is one US restaurant that doesn't need the Gordon Ramsey treatment.
Feeling completely full we walked back to The Parsonage and watched on Netflix an episode of  Foyle's War just to remind us what the UK was like when we were born!
 And so to bed!
After a nights sleep and a very special gourmet breakfast we hit the road again and this time made it to the beach behind the Italian restaurant and the service station.  I got excited because there was another fly fisher there, then he left and two other guys appeared.  I quickly kitted my self out and got tooled up, got a log for my wife to sit on and then I was in the water and casting.  The location was perfect, the water was moving out still but I could not see any sign of fish.  As the water got slack a chap called Larry came and we had a friendly chat. 
He and another guy had each caught a SRC earlier.  He quit and I had a break, then when the tide turned I had another go, but nothing was showing. 
Finally I took my wife into the Italian restaurant for lunch specifying that we needed a table overlooking the sea.  Whilst waiting for my pizza I watched another fisher arrive and spey cast his way under the bridge and upstream. Then we became aware that the traffic everywhere was backing up and there were emergency vehicles whizzing around.  People coming into the restaurant were talking about a bad RTA (road traffic accident) just up the road.  As I was still waiting for my pizza I grabbed my camera and went to see for myself. 

There were lots of emergency vehicles and it looked as though it had been a head on encounter between a red car and a dark blue/black car.  One car had the roof cut off presumably to get the passengers out.  It reminded me of the day before when I could have been tempted to drive across the on coming traffic to get to where I wanted to fish.  What a disaster for the people involved!  I was glad I had chickened out of trying to turn in there.
Well then we headed for Redmond and our holiday home.  Glad that in this life there are some tranquil moments!

I keep reminding myself "failure cannot cope with persistence"!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Fly Fishing Afternoon on the South Fork of the Skykomish

Well I met up with Lonnie at the Sultan "Park and Ride" and I parked and together we rode up towards Money Creek.  It was great seeing him again and catching up on what we have both been doing over the last 8 months.  He said we were targeting rainbows this afternoon.
We could not get into our usual roadside trail because a rail track maintenance crew were very much in evidence so we parked at the camp ground in pouring rain and walked in.  Conditions could have been depressing as it was cool, wet and very cloudy, so the bugs were all staying un-hatched!  Also the water was at least a foot higher than we would have liked but it was crystal clear.  However, we were glad to be there.
 Lonnie geared up and ready to fish.
 Yours truly enjoying the moment.
We fished nymphs under strike indicators through all the likely fish holding spots.
Having not had a touch we cut our loses and moved down river to a spot where you have to be quite brave just to get to the water.  No, it is not a rocky climb down but a struggle through thick jungle on an almost invisible trail.  On the way in Lonnie very kindly let me lead!
Well we tried real hard here fishing the seams and the mid river rocky structure with nymphs and strike indicators and then streamers to no avail. 
 On the way out I let Lonnie lead and he nearly led us astray in the jungle!
 As we were driving back down we could see the steelhead brigade were out in force by the number of pickups parked up by the side of the road.  Lonnie kindly showed me some likely steelhead waters.
Then we popped into the Wallace Hatchery and I saw my first bear trap and the excellent poster display all about salmon and steelheads which I will feature in a later post.
Finally I got all stirred up by seeing the huge fish in the pool waiting to be "processed" by the hatchery experts. You can just see a few in the shadow area.  They were huge!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Fly Fishing Plans: The Sky and then the Salt for Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Since this blog is meant to be primarily about fly fishing, you, my friends from the 52 countries that look at the posts, will be wondering when I am going to report some serious fly fishing activity!  Well, I have been doing some extra curricular activities, the main one being a redecoration of one of the largest rooms in my son's house here in Redmond, WA, USA.
It is the first time in my life that I have had to use scaffolding to reach a ceiling!
I let my wife, Rosalind, do the tricky bits!
Fortunately, my local pal (buddy) Lonnie has invited me to fish the Skykomish tomorrow afternoon. Then having had a chat in the Orvis shop in Bellevue with manager Reggie Harris I have booked a B & B near Gig Harbor the next night so I can fish the salt for sea run cutthroat trout (or coastal cutthroat trout as the renowned expert Les Johnson calls them) in three recommended locations. So watch this space! Having said that my experience of trying to find the access to some of these fishing locations can be challenging (to put it mildly).  This evening I spent a good half hour (actually a bad half hour) driving round Beaver Lake, Sammamish looking for the boat ramp.  The problem is that everyone and their aunt have built houses on the edge of the lake and so you can only get access to the water from the small adjacent park and the boat ramp.  I still haven't found the boat ramp but I did see it across the lake from the park.  I asked a young man bait fishing if he could give me directions to the ramp and it turned out he was from Oxford in the UK!  I also saw swimmers in wet suits in with the trout and large mouth bass.  I would like to fish Beaver Lake from my float tube as I have never caught a fresh water bass but the thought of catching a swimmer instead of a bass is a bit daunting.  Swimmers are far too large for my landing net!  I expect it has to be "catch and release"!  Anyway watch this blog for "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth"!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Many Hands Make for Lighter Work!

One of the interesting things about staying here in Redmond, WA, USA is that there is a very strong “help your neighbor” ethos among members of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  At church last Sunday an announcement was made saying that a family had to move home fairly quickly and could male members help out on the following Tuesday evening to work on tidying their front garden (Americans call it a front yard).  As you will see from the pictures it certainly wasn’t a “yard”!  Anyway I decided to go along to help out and see what level of support they could muster.

Firstly, the house was splendid and large, as was the front “yard”.
Secondly, the support was tremendous with males of all ages represented. The road outside looked like a parking lot for pickups.
Thirdly, everyone seemed to arrive with the right equipment and worked hard with friendly banter and just a nice atmosphere.  I was interested to see American weeding techniques, which involved getting everything out and leaving a fine powdered soil.  My own techniques are less subtle.  I think we worked from 6pm till 8.30pm and there were more than 20 people involved so that was a significant number of hours.  I also saw a dandelion root extractor in use and I am going to get one when I get back to my modest garden in the UK.
The end product!
I trust that the efforts of the church members in improving the “kerb-side appeal” of the home for sale will accelerate the selling process, it certainly demonstrated to me that “many hands make light work”!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Rattlesnake Lake, WA, USA: Deep Water Fly Fishing Techniques!

Mark with his truck and "pram"
I met a real gent yesterday and he very kindly gave me a “master class” on how to fish the bottom of a deep lake with Buzzers (Chironomidae) using a fly rod.  Mark had responded to my request for guidance on the Washington Fly Fishing Forum and he proved to be a star.  He gave me some buzzer patterns, loaned me a reel with a fast sinking line and gave me one of his special homemade plummet weights.  Now recently Mark had been fishing Rattlesnake Lake regularly and his special method had been delivering the goods big time, which was why he suggested we fished there.

Mark concentrating on catching!

Mark was fishing from his fully equipped 8 foot “pram” and I was in my less fully equipped float tube.  Mark and his pal had developed this particular fishing approach because a bit of arthritis had cramped their casting style and they still wanted to fly fish.  The method was to use a team of two buzzers with a small shot crimped to the leader just above the flies and measure the depth exactly by attaching the plummet to the bottom fly.  Mark had put depth markers on the main line using white nail varnish (his wife’s I hasten to add).  The first thing that rapidly became apparent to me was that you need to be anchored to work this method and keep the flies right down.  Having tried holding position with my fins and failed as it was quite breezy Mark came to the rescue producing a 5lb dumbbell from the bottom of his pram (I said it was “fully equipped”) and I attached that to 45 feet of nylon cord I had brought with me and I used that successfully as an anchor!

Mark gently sucked the stomach contents out of one fish and showed me what they were feeding on.  Buzzers!

Anyway to cut a long story short Mark managed 5 fish and I caught zero.  So how do I explain that?

Well here goes:-

·         Mark had a fish finder

·         Mark’s anchor was a bit longer than mine so he could fish deeper

·         I was using a 6 weight rod and Mark was using a 3 weight set up so his rig was more sensitive than mine

·         Mark really concentrated hard on detecting fishy activity whereas I was distracted by the joy of just being there

·         Mark is well practiced at this method

Mark was disappointed with his 5 as he normally catches shed loads!  Although I was clearly outfished I was delighted with the day for the following reasons:-

1.       I had met a really nice guy

2.       I had been fishing

3.       I had learnt a new technique to try on the deep reservoirs in the UK in the summer when the water warms up and the fish go deep.

4.       I didn’t sink and have to swim and I learnt that I can anchor a float tube and fish provided I have a dumbbell with me.

And when it was time to go and I got cramp in my right leg (and could only paddle round in circles) Mark came to the rescue and towed me back to the launch ramp!  A real star!
Some of the buzzers in the plastic container were still alive, have a look at this short video clip.
Now to get on with stripping “popcorn” off of 300 square feet of ceiling!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Fishing Excitement on the Snoqualmie, WA, USA

Having got on well with my chores I finally went fishing today,six days after I arrived.  The chaps on the Washington Fly Fishing Forum had given me lots of useful tips on where to fish and I plan to follow that advice as much as I can.  However, I thought I would make today a practice run and fish somewhere familiar to me, so after I had laid some mortar in a remodeled fireplace I headed up to the Snoqualmie. 

I found a promising spot and waded out to a gravel bar that had a perfect seam running along it. Second cast and my copper john was hit by an 8 inch little feller, then I realized that not only had I forgotten my hat but I had also left the camera with my wife who was reading on the bank 50 yards away.  Still I thought there are going to be others to photograph so no problem.  So everything was quiet and peaceful and perfect. 
Then it happened, a helicopter suddenly showed up and started circling right above me, making a hell of a racket (sorry of that is swearing, it isn’t in the UK)!  It was so persistent hovering overhead I started to wonder why it was there.  My guesses were as follows:-

·         Someone knew I had arrived and they wanted to film me fishing

·         The pilot had it in for fishers and he was trying to scare the fish and me

·         A rooky pilot was practicing turns

·        Then I noticed someone standing on the under-carriage skid and I thought I was about
          to see a spectacular suicide attempt.

·        The auto pilot was stuck

Anyway after about an hour I was getting a bit fed up with the noise so as the chopper came round again, I put my hands on my hips and scowled at it.  I was rewarded with it flying off to try and land on the face of the adjacent large mountain (Mount Si of Twin Peaks fame)?
Meanwhile having thought my wife was completely safe round the bend sitting on the gravel bank I found her in the company of two charming Park Rangers dressed in attractive orange waistcoats!  She insisted in having her picture taken with them. 

About this time the helicopter reappeared and the Rangers advised that it belonged to the Sherriff and they tactfully pointed out that it said that clearly on the side.   I expect the Sherriff is a charming helpful person but I could not help the words of a song involving a Sherriff and a Deputy running through my mind.
Armed with the knowledge that my wife was safe in the company of Rangers and with the local Sherriff keeping an eye on her from above I wandered upstream to try and find an undisturbed seam.  At a tempting spot I noticed what looked like several brown torpedo shapes in the current.  Weed?  Logs?  Both seemed unlikely given the speed of the current.  They reminded me of what I had seen a few years ago downstream of the Wallace Hatchery.  My fishing buddy had pointed to them and I in my ignorance said ‘“what are they”?  He replied by catching one and it turned out to be a rather large steelhead!   So I decided to wade out towards the torpedo’s because they just couldn’t be big fish.  As I got about six feet from the nearest torpedo it moved sideways further out by a foot or two!   I walked back to the car and tooled up with a small selection of steelhead flies.  I then proceeded to cast my selection of flies at them from all angles other than the optimum one as there was a large tree/bush in the way.  I tried going up stream through the jungle to the other side of the tree/bush but the bank there was steep and straight into what looked like deep water.  I didn’t want my last glimpse of my wife to be as I drifted downstream to the falls!
Eventually feeling rather tired I gave up but it was a hard decision to make.  The questions are:-

1.       Have I gone mad because of the noise of the helicopter?

2.       Did I really see fish?

3.       Were they steels?

4.       If the answer to 3 is Yes, how should I have tried to catch them?

If you have any suggestions they would be gratefully received.

Embarrassing footnote: A real gent on the Washington Fly Fishing Forum has gently suggested that even steelhead would find jumping the Snoqualmie Falls a bit too demanding.  Blogger has egg on face. So what fish were they?

Sunday, 9 June 2013

We arrived, and to prove it we are here in Redmond, Seattle area!

Well thanks to British Airways we arrived at Seattle none the worse for wear!  Seriously, it was one of our better flights and the time passed fairly quickly.  We had a nice talk with a couple from Kent who having been made redundant from the HSBC bank were off to cruise Alaska followed by a rail trip across the States.  I told them that I banked with HSBC so I was probably partly funding their trip!  That got a smile.  The sky was cloudless over northern Canada so we enjoyed wonderful views of snow, ice and mountains. Even the food was tasty however the trolleys used to dispense beverages etc looked as though they had been used since the dark ages!  Following one of the softest landings I have ever experienced we joined the queue for immigration control and things slowed down to stationary.  Chatting to others in the queue helped pass the 40 minutes or so and watching a few others get taken to a holding area for interrogation made us glad we had filled in our ESTA form on line. 

The BA flights land at a satellite terminal and this means you collect your luggage there from the carousel (well actually it is on the floor by the carousel because whilst you were waiting in the queue for immigration it went round so many times it got giddy and jumped off the carousel).  Then you have to put your luggage on a conveyor belt so it can be beamed into the main terminal whilst you enjoy the jolly white knuckle ride on the mass transit system!  Things started to brighten up when, ejected at the top of the elevator, we were met by our son Daniel (all 6 foot 10 inches of him and easy to spot in a crowd).  It got even better when our two suitcases appeared on the carousel and I knew my fishing kit was safe.

Daniel advised us that we were not going straight to the house but to a music recital (just what you need after a 9 hour flight at what for us was 3 am).  Anyway he was behind the wheel so we had no choice. However it was delightful as it was the end of term recital featuring our 7 year old grandson Harrison who played the piano brilliantly.  In fact he was so confident that he got up and started to move away from the piano whilst still finishing the piece.  The piano teacher was so enthusiastic that I am thinking of asking if she has a class for old men!

Finally we made it to our US home from home and hit the sack.  The next day we were up bright and early and in action as the following pictures reveal.
I got to cut all the grass
Then I got to play with the new strimmer which was amazing as it was battery powered and fairly light but it still had enough power to rip through the jungle!  The battery's charge lasted for over an hour thanks to the new technology that has been developed by Ryobi. I don't have any connection with the manufacturer but if I satisfied myself that the battery would work for several years I would recommend it unreservedly.

The amazing battery!
After a lovely time at church today we took some of the children out for a drive to the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls - 270 feet high (10 stories higher than the Niagara Falls)!

I have got my fishing license and collect the hire car tomorrow.   Hopefully I will soon be fishing the Snoqualmie River so watch this space!