The Odyssey crew has been extremely fortunate to have such an incredible itinerary set out for us from learning about cutting edge restoration projects, to fishing humbling rivers. This past week, however, due to some change of plans, the Odyssey crew was on their own. Seizing the opportunity, we quickly drove from the Methow Valley to the North Cascades National Park.
Aside from the exciting presence of snow and expansive mountainous views, we were excited to take advantage of the alpine lake fishing in the area. Settling on Blue Lake (one of many lakes named so), we took to the trails and spent a day hiking up to and fishing the lake. Eager westslope cutthroat prowled the shores waiting for our dry flies – regardless of their size. With great success catching wonderfully patterned fish on dries ranging from small caddis, to larger sized stimulators and hoppers, the crew really enjoyed the alpine fishing scene. Before ending the day, we even met a new friend – a mountain goat.
Although not in the original itinerary, we decided to head on over to the Washington coast to visit Seattle and try to fish the coast. With a quick Instagram message, we connected with Josh Phillips, owner of Spawn Fly Fish, to try our luck at wrangling some aggressive sea-run coastal cutthroat.
Based on a tip from a friend, we headed out to a spot with Josh that ended up proving to be a challenging hike in. Regardless, sometimes it takes a little bit of wandering with a side of bushwhacking and scrapes to find the best spots. While no cutthroats were to be found, the crew was rewarded with PNW-esque views and the first steelhead of the trip.
As we hopped our way from deep pool to deep pool, I suddenly hear Dan Eiden yell, “that just came out of nowhere, it hunted my streamer down. It was massive.” Aiding Dyer Benjovksy, Dan pointed out the spot where the mysterious beastly fish came from – a deep pool shielded by an overhanging fallen log. A perfect roll cast and two strips of a streamer saw Dyer fighting a fish that briefly doubled over his rod. A short fight and well-executed netting of the fish revealed a 20+ inch steelhead. While our trip does not perfectly coincide with summer run steelhead, the whole crew erupted with excitement at the sight of Dyer’s fish. Interestingly enough the steelhead had a tag — a specimen part of a wild steelhead reintroduction study in the area, Josh explained.
High on the energy of a special catch, the Odyssey crew parted ways with Washington and the coast for the rest of the trip and headed east towards the Grand Ronde area where we will be finishing off our journey. On the way, we stopped at the Lower Snake Dams — a strange and eerie experience in and of itself, lots of complex thoughts raced through my mind as I stood on chunk rock a few hundred yards from the dam. I sat reflecting upon all the stories we have heard thus far, from watching Columbia River basin fisheries decline to pondering the future of our native salmonids, trout and other anadromous fish that rely on open access to tributaries and headwaters.
We will be completing our journey with a week in the Grand Ronde area by taking part in more restoration efforts to enhance habitat for anadromous and native fish. It is quite mind-numbing to think about how quickly our time has gone by, but make sure to follow along with the remainder of our journey on Instagram @tucosta5rivers.
Article and pictures by FlyLords Media Intern Matteo Moretti.