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!

No comments:

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!