Let the record show that I began this post by saying the following: I think Cutthroats are awesome. The rich, golden hue and the transitioning spotting pattern from sparse to full of the Westslope make it my favorite trout in appearance, and roll-casting to Coastals remind me of my favorite days in North Carolina doing the same for Brook trout. Being an Eastern transplant and having cut my teeth on the trout rivers of the Southeast however, I often find myself missing the aerial acrobatics of the Rainbow and the ticked off runs of the paddle-tailed Browns trying to snap your reel from the reel seat. Yes, both of these exist in Washington, but Cutts make up a hefty percentage of the fish on the small mountain creeks of the Western Cascades where I spend a large chunk of my Summer fishing. Which is why days like yesterday deserve their own blog post.
A fellow North Carolinian and friend from college who just moved to Washington and I headed out to the _____________ River, a tributary of the ______________ in search of my friend’s first trout. This river is a river in name only since I’d estimate the flow at 100 cfs or less, but it proved fishy the few casts I put out on a backpacking trip the weekend before. More than that, it seemed very Coastal Cutthroat-y being such a small flow tucked away in the Cascades. Three casts into the day however, my friend was hooked up to a 12 inch fish that had not only come out of the water to inhale the fly, but had also done its best Olympic gymnast impression before coming to the net. Rainbow.
Over the next 6 hours of pool after pool teeming with Rainbows many different sizes came to the net, but every one put together an impressive assortment of powerful bursts and leaping flips. What I found interesting was that every time I set the hook I was shocked at the burst of speed that took my rod tip from almost perpendicular in one direction to almost perpendicular in the other. More than that, I laughed every time the fish burst from the water to obliterate the fly only to miss it, flip over, and nail it on the way back into the water (that happened at least 3 times by the way). That combination proved to be enough to enjoy even the <6 inch variety of fish.
Needless to say, I think my friend will gladly hit the water anytime I can take him, but in some ways I worry that he might be slightly ruined in the expectation department. Having your first fish be the biggest of the day, and probably in the conversation for biggest in the river, plus 6 hours of hard charging dives and X Game worthy flips will make for a difficult mountain creek encore. Like I said, I think Cutthroat are awesome fish. But let’s also say that I don’t mind too much when the first fish on a new creek has the red slash down its side instead of under the gills.