Hood Canal - Seattle's Backyard Fishery

June 27, 2017

Hood Canal Fly Fishing - Perhaps there isn't a more beautiful time of the year on Hood Canal than the early days of summer.  Flat water is the norm, not too many windy days and moderate to warm temperatures make for great days on the water.  I had some anglers out the other day on Hood 

Fjord Fly Fishing on Hood CanalCanal in search of Sea-Run Cutthroat.  It was a father and son combo, and it was the first time they had ever fished Hood Canal.  

The Fjord(aka Hood Canal) is really a gem very close to Seattle and the surrounding metropolitan areas.  It's the type of backyard fishery, anglers can easily drive to for a day and beach fish, boat fish or hire a guide.  For my clients that day on Hood Canal, it was like they discovered a "diamond in the ruff."  They were amazed at the views of the towering Olympic Mountains above, and the great saltwater fly fishing that inhabits the shoreline of this unique Fjord sitting at the base of the Olympics.  

Wildlife was out and about as usual, and the active bald eagles with young in their nests were on the hunt for an easy meal to feed their young.  Matter of fact, we heard a bunch of racket coming from the trees and out pops a wild pigeon being chasing by a bunch of crows.  The pigeon escaped them easily, but what happened next was something I haven't experience before.  

Fjord Fly Fishing on Hood Canal

Suddenly, a bald eagle appeared from her nest high above looking for a meal.  The pigeon tried to land on our boat as a refuge as he did circles around it being chased by the eagle.  This one ended poorly though for the pigeon as he was picked off by the bald eagles talons right next to our boat and carried up to the nest for an easy meal.  

Fishing for the day was solid.  The first beach we fished produced three nice fish in the 16 inch class - strong and full of fight giving us multiple jumps each - steelhead like.  Then we kind of hit a dry spell for awhile, as we searched for more fish.  Sea-Run Cutthroat can move around a lot, so sometimes the key is moving locations until we find fish.  Later in the day, and as the sun started to creep below the beautiful Olympic Mountains the top water action started to heat up.  Poppers stripped slowly along the surface were producing lots of follows, and plenty of missed opportunities.  The thing

Fjord Fly Fishing on Hood Canal

 about top water is the hook up ration is a lot lower - like 30-40% of using sub-surface techniques.  However, just like dry fly fishing a river or lake the excitement is all in the take!  One of my anglers just wanted to fish top water - just for the thrill of it.  He was completely satisfied with getting follows, short strikes and some violent takes. 

The days of summer will continue on Hood Canal, and if you are looking for a backyard fishery located near Seattle come give it a try.

  1. This sounds exciting as well as a beautiful experience. For one who has yet to explore this fishery I am very curious about more details, i.e., specific locations and access, flies and their sizes, and of course techniques. Also, on calm days can a river boat be effective? And, where would you load and unload a river boat into the water. Finally, what is a good source of information to fish the cutthroat in Hoods Canal.
  2. Great report Chad! I made it out for just an hour or two last Saturday. Got a few, but they were in a bit deeper water than normal. Looking forward to a great summer on the Canal.
  3. Hi Bob, great questions. I actually have an article coming out in Northwest Fly Fishing Magazine on Hood Canal Cutthroat for the August/September issue that will address most all of those questions you asked above. It should hit the shelves around mid-August. In the meantime, to answer a few of your questions, the whole Hood Canal holds fish. They are very beach specific though and really like to hang out on certain beaches on certain tides. I have written some other blogs that address your questions for Red's and also talk a lot about tactics, techniques and how to find SRC's on my site at www.fjordflyfishing.com. Go to the blog/fish report link and read some of the past articles. A drift boat would certainly work fine at most launches, and it would even work better with a small outboard on the back to get you spot to spot. Sometimes you can find fish very close to the launch site and other times you've got to travel a distance. That is the kicker on this fishery, they are mobile and tend to move around. There is not a lot of written material available on Hood Canal Cutthroat, short of what I have written. So, feel free to email me on details and more questions - chad@fjordflyfishing.com.
  4. I need to get my butt over there again!