Thanks to all my supporters

Dear Friends and Anglers,

I have officially shut down all aspects of my fly fishing business. This blog will remain up as an archive and for when I feel inspired to discuss fishing and fishing related issues. I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this adventure. My clients are incredible people that I really enjoyed spending time with over the years, dating all the way back to 1994 in Colorado. I hope to see many of you out on the river. Feel free to email or drop me a line anytime!

Jason Cross

For local guiding and lessons, please contact my good friend Ed Megill @

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fly Fishing for Nooksack River Steelhead

My outing Friday was a float from Mosquito Lake Road to Nugents Corner. On the boat there was a Lender, a Real Estate Agent and Title Company Salesman. So, who do you think hooked the fish? Me? Well, I did hook a small steelhead right next to the Nugents Corner boat ramp after they had all left. I saw a splash near the ramp and I ran and got my rod. Three casts and boom, fish on. I lost the fish shortly after it jumped. Maybe because I was so surprised.

This brings up a good point in the world of steelheading. We live in a place and on a river that can be difficult to fish. You may get one chance at a steelhead throughout an entire day or you may get none. On an exceptional day you might meet a few chromers. Stamina, perseverance, consistency and confidence are my words of choice. Fish every cast like it is the one! Don't let yourself fall asleep at the wheel and miss the grandiose opportunity.

How do we prepare ourselves for that fish? All your cards have to be played right or you have to get lucky. That first run is for the fish alone. If your hook set wasn't strong you will lose that fish when it jumps. There mouth is so much stronger than that of any normal size trout. Think of this fish as super-trout! If you have been casting down through a run with a type 6 sink tip and jig-head moal leech (super heavy fly) and you let that fly drop on your back cast a few times, there is a good chance you nicked that fly hook on a few rocks and dulled it. You just lost one of your cards. Take a look at your fly and hook every now and then. Change or sharpen it as needed. Compare your used hooks to new ones.

Second card: make sure you have that 24"-30" loop of line between your swinging hand and the reel. This line gives that fish a chance to turn with the fly and then your hard hook set will end up in the corner of its mouth.

Third card: don't take your steps when your fly is just coming to the dangle. So many fish will hit just as the fly stops its swing.

Fourth card: Fish with confidence and be consistent throughout the run. Keep the same amount of line out throughout the run and don't forget that steelhead are often closer to the shore than you might think.

Did I mention that the North Fork is closed from the hatchery downstream to Mosquito Lake Road. The hatchery needs to get a solid egg take and they have had troubles in previous years. Still, there is plenty of good water to fish.

WDFW Emergency Regs

Okay, back to yesterdays fly fishing outing on the Nooksack River. The answer is The Lender. Fish was on, ran, jumped, flopped and was gone! So cool though. That was his first experience with a steelhead. It makes a huge difference just to know that they are there. He will probably fish harder and better from now on when he gets out. It is so rewarding just to know that you are doing things right. If you never feel that connection, you ask yourself over and over again if you are doing things correctly. Way to go Travis! Thanks to Edward and Chris. It was an awesome day.

Well, it looks like I won't be out until next Friday unless you give me a call!

North Fork Nooksack Closes

The North Fork of the Nooksack is now closed from slightly above the Kendall Creek Hatchery down to Mosquito Lake Road. The hatchery has not received their required numbers in years so they are trying out a closure. I think it will reopen when they have received their minimum of 80 females.

North Fork Closure

Otherwise, the water was perfect yesterday, and the fish are there. I ran into WDFW Officer on the North Fork the other day. Apparently, they have only three field officers for all of Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands. They just can't have eyes everywhere or man-power. So, it's partially up to us help protect the fisheries we have and report any wrong doing that you might see out there.

I want to give people the Nooksack Fisheries Hotline number again (360-592-5140). This lets you know whether the subsistence gill-netting season is open or not on any particular day. No point in reporting something that is legal. The schedule seems to change weekly but has often been from Sunday through Wednesday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nooksack River: Mosquito Lake to Nugents

I spent yesterday on the river with three guys, Mike, Ed and Roy. The weather was way too nice and so were they. There are some really nice swinging runs on the North Fork right now as well as the main stem. There is almost too much water to fish and make it down river before dark. Two of my favorite runs produced fish yesterday. Unfortunately, no fish were brought in! But hey, that is half the battle and then you know you are doing it right and fishing the right areas. I am out again tomorrow and it looks like it will be true steelhead day.....lots of rain.

I really wish we could figure out how to make the Hwy. 9 launch more viable. Driving your car or truck through 18 inches of water just isn't fun without a lift kit!

And the eagles! Wow, there are a lot of juveniles this year, which is a great sign for the eagle population. Thank you Ed for all your awesome camera work!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nooksack Report

What an awesome weekend to be out! I think most everyone assumed the river was still out. Saturday, the water below the hatchery produced a fun day. Ted landed 2 whitefish, 1 dolly varden and 5 chum. The chum are thick and you have to take care not to foul hook any or to walk in the water on the reds. This really important this time of year! If you don't know what reds look like ask someone.

Sunday the North Fork dropped into shape and was a perfect steelhead green. Marcus and Ed each had a bump but no tug on the end of the line. The chum are not interested anymore because they are in the bedroom so to speak. We did see one large steelhead surface in an eddie. No joke, I saw the mouth and then the chrome back with black spots. It wasn't interested in our offerings. The river is perfect and it should get better for the next two weeks or so. I will be out on Wednesday and Friday. So make sure to tune back in.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A new Nooksack!

Floated from Mosquito Lake Road to Nugent's this morning, but didn't fish. Well over 100 Bald Eagles! Simply spectacular. The North Fork is a completely new river and the main stem is just way too off color. The North Fork certainly isn't lending us much visibility however. I think we had 6-8 inches of vis. It's still dropping and cold. The fish are there and maybe we will have a foot plus of vis for tomorrow. Sunday should be pretty good on the North Fork.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Big Water!

Ouch! 30,000 cfs at Cedarville guage. We might be fishing some new runs next weekend if it comes down. It could bring in some fish when it starts coming down. Keep your fingers crossed. And watch those water flow guages. See the link on left of page.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December is here!

Okay, it's time. Don't wait for January. Get out on the Nooksack and try for your first steelhead. Or head down to the Cascade and get one under your belt. The eagles are out everywhere, the worst that can happen is that you relax! I can help you. Give yourself an early Christmas present and get out on the river with me. See my Outings blog.
My motto: your hands only get cold if you catch a fish! Photo to the right: Matt needed some beach coffee after this chum!

November 30th Outing

We were in search of the chrome. Steelhead 2, AnglerontheFly 0. Ah yes, but there will be plenty more times to step up to the plate. Matt was the fishermen of the day. He hooked a nice 15 inch dolly varden in the tail-out of a run on his spey rod. Then a few ours later, he hooked into a spunky 7-8 lb. chum that we all thought was a steelhead by the way it fought. Still, any fish that bites a fly, runs, pulls, fights and jumps is a friend of mine!

The Nooksack was as clear as I have ever seen it and water temperature dropped from 40 degrees in the morning to 39 later in the day. We persevered some cold feet and a couple relentless jet boats and had a great day. It was nice to see the water at 1900 cfs and really examine the runs. Some perfect water that we will all return to soon. Thanks Matt, Carl and Constantine!

Last year the hatchery return was low due to a low a smolt release. The 2006 smolt release was up around 165,000 individuals. This bodes well for hatchery returns to the North Fork in December. The estimated return on Puget Sound fish is .5 %. 825 fish is better than 320. Hopefully this rain and snow we are receiving will bring in some fish. Well, what are you waiting for? My boats ready to go, give me a call. It's never too cold to go steelheading, is it?

Local Information

Nooksack River

The Nooksack is our most Northern Puget Sound river. From the flanks of beautiful Mt. Baker and the Mt. Baker Wilderness the Nooksack River travels 75 miles to Bellingham Bay through diverse terrain. Three forks make up the main stem that locals say starts in the town of Deming. The North Fork provides most of the water in the drainage right off the northern side of Mt. Baker and parallels the Mt. Baker Highway often unseen. The Middle Fork is smaller and faster tributary with a steeper gradient and deep plunge pools. The South Fork, although some 50 miles long that stretches into Skagit County, is only fishable for 14 river miles before it closes to protect endangered Chinook spawning grounds.

The North Fork Kendall Creek hatchery provides a decent fishery for winter steelhead and October salmon fishing. Chinook and coho hatchery returns are mainly from the Native hatchery on the South Fork at Skookum Creek. Salmon fishing opens on the Main Stem in early September and stays good through a healthy chum run well into December. Both forks open in October for salmon but can be fished for sea-run cutthroat trout in September. Thanksgiving brings about hatchery steelhead season which carries through into January. Wild steelhead start trickling into the system in December and really show up in good numbers in January and February. Sadly for the fishermen the river closes in the end of February.

The main stem is a true spey rod river with some beautiful classic steelhead runs that will remind you of other nice places you have fished. The forks are smaller and lend themselves more to the single handed rod or a switch rod. The North Fork Nooksack is a wild and scenic river and boasts an incredible population of bald eagles. The river shifts quite frequently throughout the vast channel as the waters rise and fall with rain. Tree roots and log jams make up much of the excellent fish habitat on this fork. The south and middle forks are more defined channels and runs and holes remain more consistent. Wherever you are on this river the backdrop is spectacular. Around one bend you will look back and see The Sisters and the next bend will offer a pristine view of towering Mt. Baker.

Resident trout and anadromous dolly varden are found throughout the system in small numbers with the latter being off limits to target. The North Fork Nooksack above the 100 foot Nooksack Falls can be fun summer trout fishing with light weight rods and surface flies. Some open tributaries such as Canyon Creek can be great fun on the dry fly in July through September for small to medium sized trout. These tributaries of crystal clear cascading water sooth the sole and bring you smiling back to the roots of fly fishing.

Puget Sound Beaches are fun relief from the river and Stillwater settings. Sea-run cutthroat are available for the catching along several nice cobblestone reaches. The shelter of bull kelp beds provide a great feeding grounds for this fun anadramous salmonid. Late summer sees the arrival of solid hatchery coho fishery easily within reach of shore.

Come on up and get away from the crowds. You wont believe how beautiful it is and you won’t regret it. And, oh yeah, you might catch some nice fish!