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Chasing an unusual trout on the Olympic Peninsula

By Troutnut on July 27th, 2018
Lake Crescent, Washington has been geologically isolated for a long enough time that it hosts two endemic (Endemic: where found; native to; belonging exclusively to or confined to a particular place) trout strains, the Crescenti Cutthroat and the Beardslee Rainbow. The lake's only significant inlet, Barnes Creek, has a small population of cutbows that seem to be mostly cutthroat but have mixed with the local rainbows:



I had a day to spend in the area (July 27th) and hiked way upstream in pursuit of these special fish. The trailhead was more crowded than anywhere I've ever gone to fish, thanks to this:



That's Marymere Falls, on a little tributary of Barnes Creek. Beyond the spur trail leading to the falls, another trail follows Barnes Creek. It's clearly well-traveled, but I didn't see another person on it, in stark contrast to the throngs of tourists coming and going from the waterfall.

Apart from the uniqueness of the fish, the fishing--or at least the catching--was nothing special. I caught about 1/4 as many fish as I usually do on a well-populated stream of this size. Even the most inviting pools only held 1-2 fish, and some incredibly promising water produced no strikes at all. The going was rough, with slick boulders, banks lined with devil's club, huge logs to belly-crawl under, logjams to monkey through, and various other obstacles. A trail parallels the creek providing easy access to certain sections, but it also climbs high onto the hillsides in places where the creek flows through steep canyons, making exiting the creek at one's chosen time impossible in places.

Between the tricky access and slow action, I decided not to designate this one as a hidden "Mystery Creek," because I just don't think it will appeal to enough people to cause any harm, and any mention of the unique trout would give away the creek anyway. But seems like a fragile fishery, so I would encourage anyone who visits to catch & release.

The scenery, at least, was as good as it gets deep in the forest:







Photos by Troutnut from Barnes Creek and the Elwha River in Washington

Marymere Falls is on a tributary of Barnes Creek. It's a massive tourist magnet. There was a group of people every 50-100 yards on the well-trodden trail to and from this falls, which is the first part of the access to Barnes Creek. From Barnes Creek in Washington.
Marymere Falls is on a tributary of Barnes Creek. It's a massive tourist magnet. There was a group of people every 50-100 yards on the well-trodden trail to and from this falls, which is the first part of the access to Barnes Creek.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From the Elwha River in Washington.
LocationElwha River
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon EOS 7D Mark II
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Pretty little Crescenti Cutthroat x Beardslee Rainbow cutbow. From Barnes Creek in Washington.
Pretty little Crescenti Cutthroat x Beardslee Rainbow cutbow.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From the Elwha River in Washington.
LocationElwha River
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon EOS 7D Mark II
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
 From Barnes Creek in Washington.
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1
Interesting balancing act From Barnes Creek in Washington.
Interesting balancing act
LocationBarnes Creek
Date TakenJul 27, 2018
Date AddedJul 30, 2018
AuthorTroutnut
CameraNIKON 1 AW1

Most recent comments on this post (latest on top)

WbranchNovember 17th, 2018, 2:27 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2393
Jason,

You surely must love to hike as well as to fish. Even when I was your age or younger I wouldn't ever hike into a jungle that you described unless it was home to a stream filled with wild rainbows 15" - 20". There is a little interesting book called "Steelhead Shangrila" by Robert Wahl. It is about a fellow who literally found a hidden steelhead gem in a channel of a major river in the Pacific northwest. The entrance was obscured with some big deadfalls and log jams and he and a very few close friends fished it for many years before (I'm not positive) high water flooded it out.

You, and many other forum members, might enjoy this little read.

https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Steelhead-Shangri-Ralph-Wahl/dp/0936608854
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Dg6775aNovember 16th, 2018, 5:12 pm
Posts: 1beautiful, reminds of James Run on Broad mt. Nesquehoning, Pa. I live in Jim Thorpe, PA. ;never been west; those trout are beautiful, like all trout!
TroutnutAugust 2nd, 2018, 2:51 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2457
Nymphs? Dries?


Mostly dries. I switched to nymphs for a couple fish.

Any thoughts on population densities and fish sizes in these streams and in the one you fished?


The density in this one seemed pretty low compared to other streams this size that I've fished in the area. Size is mostly small, too, though I did hook and lose a couple around 12-13". These mountain streams aren't extremely productive.

Is this the Elwha River that had the dam removed some years back? AA had a couple 'news' articles on the restoration of the Elwha, along with before-and-after images. Hard to imagine it was an impoundment for a century or more.


Yeah, it's that Elwha. It's still not open to fishing, but we stayed in a place alongside the river for a couple nights.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123August 2nd, 2018, 8:48 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2310
Salmonflies - the "Hex" of the West!

Jonathon

P.S. Size 4-6 Stimulator with an orange body...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
RogueratAugust 2nd, 2018, 8:12 am
Posts: 434
Dr Jason,

Beautiful scenery and a nice, concise write-up on it; much appreciated by this Midwesterner who's only got the UP of MI to compare it to. I need to head west...far, far west.
Is this the Elwha River that had the dam removed some years back? AA had a couple 'news' articles on the restoration of the Elwha, along with before-and-after images. Hard to imagine it was an impoundment for a century or more.

Roguerat

'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe

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