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Small-stream fun on the east slope of the Cascades

By Troutnut on June 30th, 2018
At least the day ended well.

Having dropped my wife off at a social event around noon, I was excited to have a full day to explore small streams in the mountains. My main plan was to revisit a secret spot where I had great fishing for very colorful little Westslope Cutthroat last year. First, I would try a new small stream, a bit closer to my starting point -- the West Fork of the Teanaway. This required a 45-minute drive between drainages on old logging roads, but it would deposit me out on the main roads of the Teanaway valley and connect to my destination. Supposedly. Instead, I got almost to the West Fork and found that the road was blocked by foreboding signage, high bulldozed berms, and a stream crossing minus the "crossing" part. I walked in to fish that creek, which had some pools that looked appealing but no sign of trout.

Knowing what awaited at my next destination, I gave up quickly on the West Fork (after about five pools) because I would have to waste an extra couple hours driving around the long way to my next spot.

When I got there, it didn't disappoint. It's a tiny stream with a great density of hungry, colorful trout, stable flows, and prolific bug life. I followed it through the meadow I fished last year and up until it practically disappeared into the grass, catching well over fifty fish up to ten inches long. I caught a nine-incher where the creek was small enough to stand with a dry foot on each side; it was probably my all time biggest trout when measured in stream-widths (about 25 %), a unit a small-stream aficionado can appreciate as much as inches. When I ran out of water I headed downstream, catching more fish of the same size and spooking a mule deer and two bull elk. Small-stream fishing at its finest.

Photos by Troutnut from Mystery Creek #199 and the West Fork Teanaway River in Washington

Comments / replies

Jmd123July 3rd, 2018, 2:20 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Absolutely beautiful! It's not about the size of the fish but the size in proportion to the habitat. Are those Westslope Cutthroat? They almost look like goldens except for the characteristic throat slashes.

That little creek is even smaller than the Pine! What size rod, line, flies? Love those little creeks.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutJuly 3rd, 2018, 10:14 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Yeah, they're Westslope Cutthroat. I agree they're on par with goldens... even prettier than the one golden trout I caught last year, although that one was a stocker in a high lake.

I was using my soft 7' 4-weight, which is my smallest fly rod. Started with a Parachute Adams, but got a lot of splashy refusals. Switched to a Galloup's Cripple (normally an imitation pattern, but I love it as an attractor on water that isn't too riffly) and they were eating it up, but I couldn't keep it afloat because it was getting slimed several times per pool by new fish. Switched to a royal wulff around size 14 and did just fine.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123July 4th, 2018, 9:47 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
"Switched to a royal wulff around size 14 and did just fine."

Ah yes, the old secret weapon! Works every time, including on fish that have refused other flies. Even smallmouth! Had a big 18-incher boil under a #6 White Wulff, swapped it out for a #6 Royal Wulff, and had the fish on with the next cast.

Like I said, love those little creeks. Waiting for some thunderstorm (I hope!) activity tomorrow to top off our low, warm streams (been in the 80s and 90s F for the past week). This afternoon, though, I am going to head for the bass pond at Clark's Marsh, perhaps with the kayak, as these hot days only encourage the warmwater species. Also, Hex hatches at Cooke Pond, at a time in the evening when everyone else has headed in for their weenie roasts around the campfire. With some luck I won't have too much competition, even though it's the Fourth of July...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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