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 @

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Floating the Methow

On October 12th I headed over to the Methow River to meet my brother and his colleagues from Paws Up Ranch in Montana. Dragging my boat behind me a weaved my way through herds of deer on highway 20 and made it to Lightning Pines RV campground just before 8am. A good solid 4 hours on the road, but needless to say, who needs sleep when your going fishing.

Lightning Pines RV park, which is located on Burma Rd. in Methow, WA is a great place to stay. It is river front, with bathroom facilities, but very low key. All of the guides have made this their home and if you have the right combination "valuables", you might be able to befriend a couple of them.
The first day we didn't touch a fish besides the couple of taps at the end of a swing. We knew that we might have to get down and dirty to really catch some of these steelhead. Late in the afternoon, while floating along, we fished the stonefly omelet combination. My brother hooked into a fiesty but very small hatchery steelhead. It notched out at 20 inches but being mandatory catch and keep on hatchery fish, we brought it home. The float from Carlton to Gold Creek Loop Rd. was nice, easy going water for swinging. Certainly though, we were not alone out there.
Day two we floated from Gold Creek Loop Rd. to Upper Burma. A long float with some amazing water, incredible structure, and some seriously bony rapids. Don't float this section unless you have your game face on! We fished the Orchard Hole hard. I was the third one through swinging a black mole leech with a chartreuse tail. Unfortunately, I had made a lazy, poor leader choice, putting on an old leader I had tied, a classic error that I would only do to myself....arrrgh! We had been told by the guides to go deep with big stuff so we were swing sink tips and leeches. Right at the meat of the run, I was in that spey fishing karmic zone when BAM! Less than a second, my whole leader broke at the upper loop. Whoops! That was my one shot for the week.
The guides told us they were mostly bead fishing but several were picking up 3-4 fish a day, half on the swing and some even on dry lines! It sure is frustrating and addicting. Why can't I have a piece of the pie? When you are on a river every day, you can learn where those fish hold and focus your efforts. When you visit for a few days, you look for the good water and hope you encounter a grabby fish. Wouldn't you just kill to have a year off just to steelhead fish?

We ended up catching some rainbows and bull trout on beads and stoneflies, and Jim caught his first steelhead in the final hour, a 25" hatchery buck. Great trip, great river and there is nothing better than fishing with your brother and his dog Caddis.

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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!