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Fly Fishing Articles


Date: 2008-09-10

Title: Walleye on a fly


Living in the NW in the United States and fishing for Steelhead and trout, I had never fished for Walleye. On August, 22 - 29th, 2008, some good friends invited my wife and I, on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip to Whitewater lake at Strikers Point in Northern Ontario.

Strikers Point Lodge

Wabakimi Park's Premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodge

At the eastern end of Whitewater Lake, in the heart of the Wabakimi Provincial Park is one of our premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodges. Here is the fly in fishing lodge that is home to the largest registered northern pike in the 2005 season, (50" 31 pounds) caught and released by a Strikers Point Lodge guest. Plus, as part of the Ogoki River watershed, Whitewater Lake offers Walleye anglers exceptional results. So exceptional they can plan a shore lunch everyday.

For more info go to: http://www.wildernessnorth.com/fly_in_strikers.php

Being a 100% fly fishermen, meaning if I can't catch it on a fly rod and with a fly, I'm not fishing. I went to Whitewater hoping to catch lots of Walleye, but not sure if they would take a fly well. Results - I caught a hundred Walleye!

Morning and evenings are definitely best time to fish, but also when afternoon winds come up helping diffuse the surface light. Fishing near rocks or reefs produced the best result. Whitewater's surface temp in late August were between 62 - 67 degrees, and with a full sinking fly line I did my best fishing at 20 feet deep. In the late evening I would find Walleye on the edges of reefs and catch them in 5 - 6 feet of water.

I was using Airflo - Sixth Sense Sinking line

For my fly rod I was using: ECHO Classic 10'0" #6 Fly Rod

I fly fished for Walleye much the same as I do for trout in lakes. I would cast out my full sinking fly line and waiting a few seconds as it sank then hand retrieve in short pulls.

During the afternoon or evening when the wind was blowing. I would simply cast out and depending upon the depth (strip out more line if I needed to go deeper) then drift with the wind - using the wind as a trolling motor. This technique was very effective.

I used Meat Whistle Bass Jig flies, and found these to be very effective - especially if I need to go deeper then twenty feet. I caught some Walleye at 30 - 35 feet deep using these rabbit strip jig flies.

The most effective fly, the killer fly, was a Red Real Eyes Plus Black Wooly Bugger with Black Rubber legs, size #2. The Walleye loved this fly and it would be fish-on every couple of casts.

Fishing for Walleye using a fly rod is fun, and with barbless hooks it made it easy to release the over-sized 18+ inch mature Walleye as well as the undersized fish, and keep a couple of fat 16 inches for a meal.

Fresh Walleye is delicious and at Strikers Point Lodge, new arrivals are greeted as they enter the lodge for dining for the first time with - fresh out of the oven, baked bacon Walleye wraps - they are deliciously mouth watering.

I would like to thank the crew at Strikers Point and Wilderness North for their great accommodations, and friendly and expert service.

Jeff Layton

Date: 2008-09-10

Title: Pike on a fly


Esox (Linnaeus, 1758) is a genus of freshwater fish, a member of the pike family (family Esocidae) of order Esociformes such as the Muskellunge. The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike. The species of this genus are known as the pike.


Pike, Haus des Meeres (public aquarium), ViennaThe pike feeds on a wide range of food sources. Their primary prey is other fish, including their own kind, but predominantly smaller shoal fish. Pike are cannibalistic preying upon smaller members of their own species. Pike are undeserving of their fierce reputation with only a few minor incidents of pike 'attacks' on people being substantiated.

They will also prey on insects and amphibians such as newts or frogs in times when food is scarce, and occasionally on small mammals, like moles or mice when caught water-borne. Small birds such as ducklings may become a target for hungry pike. Pikes are also known to prey on swimming snakes, such as vipers.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_(fish)

Living in the NW in Washington State in the United States and fishing for Steelhead and trout, I had never fished for Pike. On August, 22 - 29th, 2008, some good friends invited my wife and I, on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip to Whitewater lake at Strikers Point in Northern Ontario.

Strikers Point Lodge

Wabakimi Park's Premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodge

At the eastern end of Whitewater Lake, in the heart of the Wabakimi Provincial Park is one of our premier Canadian Fly In Fishing Lodges. Here is the fly in fishing lodge that is home to the largest registered northern pike in the 2005 season, (50" 31 pounds) caught and released by a Strikers Point Lodge guest. Plus, as part of the Ogoki River watershed, Whitewater Lake offers Walleye anglers exceptional results. So exceptional they can plan a shore lunch everyday.

For more info go to: http://www.wildernessnorth.com/fly_in_strikers.php

Fishing for Pike on a fly is an experience I will never forget and look forward to fishing for them again and again. Fly Fishing for Pike using surface flies is an addictive pleasure. Once you have found the right fly and work the Pikes feeding zones - usually along grassy beds, or protective areas like logs or rocks where Pike can hide themselves and wait for their prey to swim by. You're in for some exciting fun.

At Strikers Point I was guided by friend Mark to an inlet named "Bay of Pigs". This spring river feeds into Whitewater Lake and it is a Pike breeding a feeding zone. The water here is a few degrees colder; ideal for late summer Pike fishing. Its tall grassy line banks make for ideal hiding and holding water for Pike. Just cast your surface fly plug as close to the tall grass as you can and begin jigging the fly across the surface and get ready for an explosion of action when a Pike takes his/her hungry notice.

Pike are predators galore, and when they are interested in your fly they attach it like a shark attaching its prey.


Fly Rod, I used an Echo2 9'6"/10' #8


Airflo - Forty Plus


The Killer Surface Fly that I found worked best for me: Bill's B.P. Musky Fly-Black-Red

For Sub Surface, this fly worked the best for me at Whitewater: Mike's Black Flash Fly

Make sure you have some long needle nose pliers like Dr. Slick Barracuda Plier

Two pair of Dr. Slick Barracuda Plier work good if you don't have a jaw separator (keeps the Pike's mouth open so you can extract your fly without losing your fingers!

Also some Toothy Critter leader material or metal wire with snap.

I would like to thank the crew at Strikers Point and Wilderness North for their great accommodations, and friendly and expert service.

If you would like the opportunity to catch a 50 inch Pike on a fly, I recommend Strikers Point, at Whitewater Lake in Northern, Ontario, Canada as your fly-in destination.

Jeff Layton

Date: 2008-07-21

Title: Fly Hook Color Guidelines


Fly Hook Color Guidelines (Alec Jackson Fly Hooks)

When illuminated by diffused light (cloudy days, fishing deep near the bottom) both bronze and silver hooks are inconspicuous - least visible to the fish.

Bronze Hooks:

Use bronze hooks when fishing for fish that are between the sun and your fly (floating flies, skating flies, greased line flies). Under such conditions the bronze hooks are the least visible.

Against many backgrounds, bronze is the most difficult hook finish color for fish to see.

Nickel Plated (Silver) Hooks:

Use Nickel Plated (Silver) Hooks when your fly is between the sun and the fish.

For all flies illuminated by diffused light - overcast conditions or sunk flies - use nickel plated hooks. Nickel plated hooks are the least visible when the light is diffused.

Good morning color - when the light is increasing

Gold Hooks:

Gold platted hooks may offer the best of both silver and bronze hook color combinations for invisibility - whenever in doubt use gold colored hooks

Good evening color - when the light is decreasing

Black Hooks: Greatest silhouette - good for heavy and cloudy water and dark patterns

Blue Hooks: Same as black hooks. Blue hooks pick up better surrounding colors more subtly than black hooks.


Date: 2008-07-18

Title: Alec Jackson & Spey Hooks


Alec Jackson is the Jackson behind the Spey hook. Now retired he runs the Yorkshire Flyfisher and is of purveyor silks and other fine tying materials

The following is a article from Wild Steelhead & Atlantic Salmon Premiere Issue written by Alec Jackson


As the famous British angler, Hugh Falkus, has note , few Atlantic salmon are takers: anglers should cover water quickly , looking for takers. The same thing applies to steelhead. Those who waste their time looking for " the right fly," in a effort to turn observed fish into taking fish, should be run off the river. Rather than attempting to feed the inedible to the unfeedable , steelhead anglers should use a reasonable fly, and move on.

What are the attributes of a reasonable fly? A reasonable fly should not alarm fish. Yet it should he highly visible under all conditions. It should be the proper size, shape, and color. It should fish at the right depth. It should have good hooking and holding characteristics, and be easy to dress from readily available materials.
Victorian—era salmon flies are beautiful but not reasonable—they are difficult to dress and require materials hard to obtain. Early steelhead flies were ugly, but they were reasonable. With the passage of time, salmon flies have been simplified and have acquired more of the attributes of a reasonable fly, and steelhead flies have become more attractive without losing their reasonableness. Today we are in the Victorian era of steelhead fly dressing. Syd Glasso started it, about 50 years ago, with his Olympic Peninsula Spey flies. He catalyzed the move away from the ugly, bright and gaudy steelhead patterns of yesterday—the cheap painted street walkers—to our beautiful and functional steelhead flies of today, which I call the elegantly gowned courtesans.
Many years ago Mark Canfield said to me “When a steelhead is hooked it gives you its best; you owe it the same in your flies.” I agree.
Designing flies for steelhead has recently made rapid progress by borrowing from the best traditions of Atlantic salmon fly dressing. Books such as J. H. Hale’s How To Tie Salmon Flies (1892), George M. Kelson’s The Salmon Fly (1895), and T. E. Pryce-Tannatt’s How To Dress Salmon Flies (1914) are much sought after by today’s steelhead fly tiers because of the information they contain about salmon fly dressing techniques and its applicability to steelhead flies. Spey flies and Dee strip wing flies are now more common on steelhead rivers than on Atlantic salmon rivers. Some steelhead fly anglers I know even fish full—dressed salmon flies! They are to be admired and respected for their devotion and artistry, but are such flies required to catch steelhead? No. Steelhead are worthy of beauty, but flies do not have to be complex to be beautiful. Simple flies, reasonable flies, when well tied and carefully considered, have a beauty and elegance of their own.
I see little in common between early salmon fly dressing and early steelhead fly tying. Salmon angling had a 300- to 400-year history when the first steelhead was caught on a fly. Early salmon anglers were handicapped by their tackle to a much greater extent than were early steelhead anglers. By the time fly fishing for steelhead started, early this century, rods, reels, and lines had progressed to the point where they were adequate, and salmon flies had reached a high degree of sophistication. Yet early steelhead fly anglers were more likely to use the rods, reels, and lines of salmon anglers than they were to use their flies. Early steelhead fly tiers were quick to develop reasonable flies which had little in common with salmon flies of the day.
A reasonable steelhead fly for one set of conditions is not a reasonable fly for all conditions. Winter’s high waters and summer’s low waters demand entirely deferent flies

The requirement that a reasonable fly should not alarm fish places greater limitations on the summer steelhead angler than on the winter steelhead angler. Summer fish enter rivers as long as one year before they spawn and thus experience a much wider range of water conditions than winter fish. Summer’s warm and low water conditions are unknown to winter fish. Under such conditions small dark flies and light lines, capable of delivering our offerings gently, are required. Any fly larger than a size 2 is too big and any line heavier than a seven weight is too heavy. Large flies and heavy lines have the potential to alarm summer fish, as do the bright colors frequently used in winter flies. Spey casting, or any form of the line slapping the water, should be avoided, where possible, because of the risk of alarming summer fish. For low water fishing I prefer small, dark, portly flies. 1 2 foot leaders tapered to six or eight pounds and five or six weight rods. For winter fish I use bigger and brighter flies, shorter leaders and heavier rods, because I am less concerned about alarming them.

Fish use sight, sound, and smell to locate and capture food. As fly tiers we are primarily concerned with their vision. Some flies are designed, or fished in such a manner, to make sound or disturb the surface—waking flies. (Such flies are not considered here since any fly can be made to wake, by the use of a riffling hitch or by threading a sequin on the leader and pushing it against the up-eye of the hook.) Artificial flies and fly tying materials have little in common with fish food when it comes to smell, unless they have been treated with roe extracts or the like. Such unethical arid disgusting practices—like putting your grandmother on the street—should be illegal.
To be highly visible under all conditions, a fly must be the correct size, shape, color, and fish at the necessary depth. Many frill-dressed salmon flies do not have the right shape to be highly visible under all conditions. They are two-dimensional and present a knife’s edge view from certain aspects. A reasonable fly is three-dimensional and is incapable of presenting a knife’s edge view, so there’s always more to see regardless of the relative positions of fly and fish. Fly size, color and fishing depth vary between wide limits depending on fishing conditions. Compare and contrast summer's warm waters, when greased line techniques are most effective, with winter’s cold waters, when flies fished down among the rocks are appropriate.

Greased line fishing means different things to different people. Simply fishing with a floating line does not constitute greased line fishing.
Greased line fishing involves using a floating line and low
to control the attitude, speed, and depth at which a fly fishes. The method was developed by Arthur H.E. Wood, at his Cairnton beat on Scotland’s River Dee, and written about by Donald G. Ferris Rudd, in Greased Line Fishing for Salmon (1935), under the pen name of “Jock Scott.” Curse that man and his book and all the confusion it has caused. During Wood’s time at Cairnton it was probably the most prolific Atlantic salmon beat in the world, stiff with fresh, free-taking fish that could be caught any way desired. Wood caught them the way he enjoyed fishing—even with bare hooks. Wood’s low-water flies were two-dimensional and thus not reasonable.
At Carlogie, farther up the Dee, Frederick Hill, the river keeper for Captain Musker, discovered that portly flies were better producers; his flies were more three-dimensional than Wood’s. Hill wrote of his experience~ Salmon Fishing, The Greased Line On Dee, Don And Earn (1948).
Why did Hill’s more heavily dressed portly flies produce better at Carlogie, just a few miles upstream from Cairnton, than Wood’s sparsely dressed slim ones?

Steelhead and salmon do not feed actively enough in freshwater to be able to maintain their body weight; they live off their fat. When fish are using their eyes, essential proteins and enzymes are concerned. The chemistry of vision depletes body reserves. I theorize that fish vision declines with body condition and suggest that the farther they are from salt, by time or distance, the poorer their vision—thus the need for fatter flies.
Many of my low-water steelhead flies are tied in two styles, which I term Coastal and Inland. Coastal flies are slim, but not as slim as Wood’s. Inland flies are fat and over-hackled, much fatter than Hill’s. Coastal versions are rarely used and then only over fresh fish close to salt. Inland versions are the workhorses.
When we use hook size to define fly size we are at best ambiguous. All hooks are not created equal. For example, size 6 Partridge Wilson hooks have a shank length of 21 millimeters and a gape of 10 millimeters. Size 4 Partridge low—water hooks amid size 2 Partridge salmon hooks have about the same dimensions, much closer than the same models labeled size 6. Add different manufacturers to the equation and the problem becomes worse. For this reason I always think in terms of shank length and gape rather than. than size. My flies for greased line fishing are always referred to in terms of Wilson equivalent hook size regardless of the size printed on the box. But never forget that and our definition of fly size means nothing to fish. Outside of the cone of vision of a steelhead, the undersurface of a river is a mirror, in which fish see not only the fly but he also its reflection. Surface motion of water gives life to a fly and moves it relative to its image. Consequently fish see a subsurface fly, one that is just under the surface, larger than life. And the fly is constantly changing in apparent size.

My flies for greased line fishing are in the hook size range of 10 to 4 with eights and six's preferred. All are tied on hooks of three wire weights, and with varying amounts of dressing, so I can control the depth they fish within narrow limits— about half an inch to an inch below the surface.
How do I know my fly is fishing at the correct depth? More important, how do I control it?
If I can see my fly waking on the surface, or if it does not come to the surface the instant I tighten my line, then I am doing something wrong. Or I am using the wrong fly, then I change my fly, sometimes IF I am not doing something wrong, sometimes as often as three times in a single pool. Should my fly be waking, I put on the same fly tied on a heavier hook or a more sparsely dressed fly, or a combination of both, in order to sink the fly a little. If my fly fails to pop to the surface the instant I tighten my line, I substitute the same fly on a lighter hook or more heavily dressed on son the fly fishier closer to the surface..
What color should a reasonable fly be for greased line fishing? Black! Silhouette is more important than color and black gives the strongest silhouette. Fat black flies give a stronger silhouette than slim ones. Often greased line fishing is done under a bright sun. As a result the fly is strongly backlit. Photographers know how difficult it is to obtain a true color rendition of strongly backlit subjects and compensate by opening up their camera’s aperture a couple of stops. Fish can’t do this. I defy you to hold up one of your flies against a strong light, at arm’s length, and determine its color. If light levels are low, the rod cells in the eyes of fish take over the primary function of vision. They cannot differentiate colors, only black from white. They see a silhouette.

Most of the above, about greased line fishing, does not apply when a fly is being fished down among the rocks. A floating line with flies on heavy wire hooks can be used if fished in the style of Bill McMillan. However, I like to use sink-tips and light wire hooks
because it’s the function of the line to take the fly down and the lighter the wire the greater the life of the fly Flies on light wire hooks, to quote the prize fighter, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Winter’s frequent high and discolored waters call for large bright flies fished close to the bottom. My winter flies are generally size 2 or larger and on the red side of green. Larger flies require heavier lines to cast, but I don’t think the combination alarms winter fish under winter conditions, as it would summer fish under summer conditions. Why the red side of green? I wish there were an easy answer, but there isn’t.
Look at the colored plates of flies in Trey Comb's book, Steelhead fly fishing and Flies (1976). Count the number of flies. Now go back and count the number n that are predominantly white or green—less than three in a hundred. Do the same thing with Trey’s recent book, Steelhead Fly Fishing (1991). The disparity in numbers is even greater. Why? By trial and error steelheaders have found that white and green flies don’t produce as well as others.

There is a scientific explanation.

As fly anglers we try to understand fish vision and are interested in three types of cells in the eyes of fish: rod cells, comic cells, arid glial cells. Rod cells, along with their inability to distinguish colors, have already been mentioned. When the light is good, cone cells take over the primary function of vision; they can differentiate colors. Finally, there are the glial cells which help organize the process (chemistry) of vision. White—all wave lengths of the spectrum—and green do not stimulate as great a response, or of as long a duration, in type B glial cells as do other colors. Thus the poor performance of white and green flies.
When the light is improving, in the early morning, type A glial cells utilize the blue end of the spectrum most efficiently and when the light is failing, in the even, they use the red end of the spectrum most efficiently. Colors on the blue side of green are morning colors while colors on the red side of green are afternoon colors. I’m not a morning person. For my winter fishing I use yellow, orange, red, and combinations of them in my flies.

During fall and winter, steelhead rivers are often high and discolored. The discoloration comes from two sources, suspended particles of inorganic material such as sand and silt, or the stable products of organic decay known as Gelbstoffe. Particles of sand and silt are large compared to the wave lengths of visible light and thus same scatter all wave lengths equally. They reduce the visibility of all colors about the same. Gelbstoffe, washed into our rivers from the land, absorbs the shorter wave lengths of light more than the longer ones.

Yellow and orange are possibly the most visible colors when our rivers are discolored by Gelbstoffe. Consider the design of Al Knudson’s Yellow Spider, a highly productive steelhead fly. It was designed for sea-run cutthroat, harvest trout, and has a fat yellow chenille body and a cock grizzly hackle to hold the mallard away from the body—the perfect reasonable fly for its intended purpose. Also consider the effectiveness of the General Practitioner, a bright orange prawn imitation.

There is little the fly dresser can do about the hooking and holding characteristics of his flies, except to make sure he selects the best hook for the job and does not obscure its point. Always start with a needle sharp, up—eye, return-loop, forged bend, high carbon steel salmon hook. These hooks are—or used to be—available in a wide range of wire weights, from 4x-fine to 5x—stout, and shank lengths from 1x short to “Long Dees.” Hooks lighter than 2x-fine have good hooking but poor holding characteristics.

The opposite is true of hooks heavier than 1 X—stout. There is a natural relationship between the type amid style of fly being dressed and hook shank length. Clearly, you should not dress Dee strip wings on 1X short salmon irons; likewise you wouldn’t tie Bob Arnold’s Spade on a Dee iron. My preference is for single hooks in the 2x-fine to ix-stout and ix-short to 2X-long range. For me, these have provided the best combination of hooking arid holding qualities.

Finally, there’s the matter of readily available materials and ease of tying.

There are more furs, feathers, and other materials available than 1 can count so I’ll make do with mentioning those I typically use: deer hair, in as great a verity as can be obtained, the finer the better. Cock and hen hackle, from necks and saddles, in a wide range of sizes amid colors. Peacock and ostrich herl, preferably on the feather. Guinea, mallard, and teal hackle, some dyed. An assortment of wires, tinsels, dubbing materials, yarns, and silks. Substitutes for heron, such as blue eared pheasant and ring-necked pheasant. (God forbid that I should ever use synthetics—I’d rather commit sonic other form of adultery!)
From my point of view, steelhead flies require only three components: a tail, a body, amid a hackle. And I’m not sure about the tail and the hackle.
All of my working steelhead flies can be grouped into four classes: Spades, many elaborations of Bob Arnold’s original pattern; Pseudo Speys, simple versions of Spey and Dee flies; grubs and shrimps, adapted from those for Atlantic salmon; marabous, reliable steelhead flies which fish big and cast small.
The bodies of all my flies are made of peacock or ostrich rope. Store—bought chenille is just as good. Fish can’t tell the difference. But it’s ugly and I hate it. I’d like to be able to say steelhead like my rope better than chenille, but they don’t. The only thing I can say is that the time it takes me to make my special body material allows no time for frequenting dark bars. Some day I would like to learn how to make elegant silk rope in the manner of Kevin Perkins. So please, Mr. Perkins, sir, take time away from your exotic birds and teach me how it’s done so I can tell the world.
I’ll willingly give up my fancy feathers.

Date: 2008-06-16

Title: SW Washington - Lewis County Fishing Areas


Carlisle Lake (20 acres): This popular opening-day lake near Onalaska is generously stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout for opening day, plus some broodstock (20-26 inches) rainbows and several thousand brown trout. An additional rainbow plant will be made in May. Carlisle also has largemouth bass, with a 14-inch minimum size limit for bass. Public access is available. Internal combustion engines are not allowed. Open season is from the last Saturday in April through February 28.

Cowlitz River: See Cowlitz County for a general description of the species available. The access area at Cowlitz Trout Hatchery (Blue Creek) provides a boat launch and is one of the most popular bank fishing areas on the river. Mill Creek and Blue Creek will be open in December to provide an additional hatchery winter steelhead opportunity. Night closures and non-buoyant lure restrictions will be in effect during this one-month fishery on these streams. For river flow information, call Tacoma City Light fishing hotline at 1-888-502-8690. Disabled accessibility at Blue Creek - level 3. WCT, lgs, Blk Tpa.

Fort Borst Park Lake (5 acres): Located in Fort Borst Park near Centralia, this family fishing lake (juveniles or licensed adults when accompanied by a juvenile) is stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout for opening day. This lake has also been selected to receive a bonus plant of large triploid rainbow trout (averaging 1-1/2 pounds apiece). These sterile fish can grow to trophy size if not harvested. Open season runs from the last Saturday in April through February 28.

Mayfield Lake: The big attraction on this Cowlitz River impoundment is tiger muskies. The state record for this introduced hybrid is currently 28-1/4 pounds. Most of these fish are caught during the warmer months. The minimum size limit for muskies is 36 inches (but anglers are asked to consider releasing all muskies). Yellow perch are also caught in fair numbers. Fishing should be good this year for stocked catchable-size and one-pound rainbow trout. Year-round open season.

Mineral Lake (277 acres): Located about three miles south of Elbe, Mineral Lake often rewards anglers with a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier. More than 100,000 fingerling rainbows are planted each year, and good fishing is anticipated for trout up to 12 inches long with a few larger ones. 13,000 catchable-size rainbows were raised in net pens this past winter, to be released for the spring opening. Some broodstock rainbows will also be planted before the opener, plus several thousand brown trout. This lake has also been selected to receive a bonus plant of large triploid rainbow trout (averaging 1-1/2 pounds apiece). These sterile fish can grow to trophy size if not harvested. Open season is from the last Saturday in April through September 30. There is restricted boat access, so patience is needed when launching. A new public fishing dock has been built to provide very good access for all anglers. Disabled accessibility - Level 2. WCT, lgs, steep in places.

Plummer Lake (12 acres): Catchable-size rainbow trout will be planted for opening day. There are also yellow perch, bluegill and a few largemouth bass in this lake located off I-5 at Centralia. The season runs from the last Saturday in April through February 28. Plummer has limited public access, with a car-topper launching area.

Riffe Lake (11,830 acres): This large reservoir on the Cowlitz River is open all year, and provides good fishing for brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, landlocked chinook and coho salmon, smallmouth bass (and a few largemouth), bluegill, crappie, and brown bullheads. Boat launches are at the east and west ends, with bank access near the dam and at the bridge near the upper end of the lake. Mossyrock Park, south of the dam, has camping facilities that can be reserved by calling (360) 593-3900. To check reservoir levels, call 1-888-502-8690 toll-free.

Scanewa Lake (610 acres): Impounded in 1994 by Cowlitz Falls Dam, this reservoir southwest of Randle is closed from March 1 to May 31 to allow out-migration of juvenile salmonids. The reservoir is stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout by Lewis County PUD. Two parks have been constructed by the PUD, one for day use and one with campgrounds. The campground park is closed during winter; about Oct. 1 through May 1. Both parks should provide good accessibility for disabled persons. Both parks offer a boat launch with 8-foot dock. To get to the day-use facility, turn on Savio Road west of Randle, go south on Kiona Road 2 miles to Falls Road, 3.7 miles and left on Champion Road 240, then left on the next road to the park.

Skate Creek: This popular stream near Packwood is stocked with catchable-size and one-pound rainbow trout before the June 1 opener and throughout the summer. Check the regulations pamphlet for special trout size limits.

South Lewis County Park Pond (17 acres): This small pond southeast of Toledo will be planted with catchable-size rainbow and brown trout this spring. The pond has access for both boat and bank anglers. Some largemouth bass and bluegill are also available, and a few tiger muskies were introduced in 1999. Year-round season.

Swofford Pond (240 acres): Located near the south shore of Riffe Lake east of Mossyrock, Swofford is open all year. Bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, and brown bullheads are available. Channel catfish have been stocked; a couple of fish in the 20-pound class have been caught. Swofford will also receive plants of several thousand catchable-size rainbow and brown trout in the spring, and there are some large carry-over browns in the lake. Gasoline engines are not allowed.

Tilton River: The mainstem from the mouth to West Fork is planted with catchable-size and one-pound rainbow trout before the June 1 stream opener and throughout the summer. Surplus hatchery steelhead and salmon are released here during fall and winter. Check the regulations pamphlet for special trout size limits.

Lost Creek Fly Shop

Date: 2008-03-25

Title: Fly Fishing for Spring Chinook Salmon on the Cowlitz River


Spring Chinook are much like summer steelhead in that they enter the river months before spawning. Pound for pound they are the strongest salmon that swim. They are 2, 3 and 4 salt fish that average fourteen to twenty five pounds, but some may exceed forty five pounds.

Run: April thru July on the Cowlitz River

Chinooks are fish that hide from the light. Best fishing is early and late. During mid-day they often quit moving and occupy deep holes under fast water were they are nearly impossible to reach with existing fly fishing technique. However sight fishing in some pools is productive with very fast sinking lines even at noon.

Chinooks are more territorial while moving and are easier to get at when they are moving in water of moderate depth. Fast sinking lines are still most useful. The angler should be prepared to fish at depths between four and twelve feet. The fly should fish much slower than the current. Chinooks like hugging big bottom structures.

Large flies are the norm. Sizes #2 to #5/0 are used. Fly size averages 2" to 8". Some of these flies should be weighted. Marabou or rabbit strip flies are most popular in black, red, purple, orange and pink. Blue and chartreuse also works at times. All colors can be combined with liberal amounts of flashabou or krystal flash. Shrimp, squid and marine bait fish patterns are all proven.

Salmon will take a fly for one of two reasons: it strikes out of annoyance or it strikes out of habit at something it sees as food.

Salmon will take a fly for one of two reasons: it strikes out of annoyance or it strikes out of habit at something it sees as food.

Attractor patterns: These are generally large, streamer like, sinking flies that are usually brightly colored with exotic eyes and flashy tails.

Egg Sucking Leech: This is perhaps the most familiar to fly fishermen. This is essentially a wooly bugger (chenille body and marabou tail) with a brightly colored chenille head to represent the egg. The leech body can be traditional black or other colors such as purple. Egg colors are usually hot pink, orange, yellow, or chartreuse.

Boss Fly: This fly also has a black chenille body, but this is wrapped with silver ribbing and has a tail of buck tail. The collar is an orange or red saddle hackle. Above the collar are dumbbell eyes. These are made of dumbbell eyes that are tied and cemented at the head of the fly.

Comet: This fly is another variation of the other two. In this fly you wrap flash on the body instead of chenille. The flash should be gold, purple, chartreuse, or orange. Then use strands of flash for the wings. Match the color of the collar to the color of the body (for example, white collar for a white body). Then attach the dumbbell eyes with thread and cement. Finish the head with red thread.

Flesh Fly: On those days when you feel like a little more color, try the Flesh fly. These large patterns look like a small pom pom in your fly box. Made mostly of marabou, these flies have shades of hot pink, orange, purple, and white with often a few strands of flash. These can be tied over a straight hook or you can wrap the body of the hook in silver or colored threads.

Intruder Style Flies: Dark colored �intruder� style flies have been used with good success in recent years.

These are some of the basic attractor patterns. Next we have to consider the secondary fly. Your best bet here is to imitate a food source found in the rivers. While an early season Chinook will take a shad or minnow pattern, the longer they stay in the river the less likely these will succeed. Instead, try some of the following flies.

Egg Fly: The first to try is the traditional single egg fly in a bright color (chartreuse, orange, and shades of pink). These are meant to imitate the spawn laid by the females.

Crystal Sucker Spawn: This pattern is much larger than the traditional egg pattern and is made of crystal flash. This also comes in the hot colors, but has that extra sparkle to get the fish's attention in murky water.

In addition to these patterns, there are two traditional nymph patterns worth mentioning. These flies are standard fare when fishing for stream trout and work surprisingly well on Chinook.

Kaufman Stone Fly: This large black nymph can be used as either an attractor or as a secondary fly. These nymphs are a familiar part of the river landscape and the Chinook recognize them as food. They are big and heavy so be aware of the extra weight.

Squirrel Nymph: This nymph is similar to the Hare's Ear (a small brown nymph pattern) and can be tied to have a bead head. Use traditional colors like brown and tan. When salmon are being picky this small offering can be very effective.

As Chinook change their habits and metabolism, fishermen must change their tactics if they want to be successful.

Date: 2008-03-17

Title: Selecting a Fly Rod


Match the fly rod to your fishing

If you're getting into or thinking about buying your first fly rod and want advise on what rod you should buy, please let Lost Creek Flies help.

Things to consider when choosing the right rod:

  • What fish and geographical area are you fishing?
  • (Examples - Trout and/or pan fish - this usually equates with smaller flies; Larger fish (large trout/Steelhead or Bass, larger flies and maybe larger arenas in which to cast).
  • Type of fish helps determine rod, smaller fish and flies = smaller rods; larger fish and flies larger rods.
  • Other influences that determine rod length and line weight - Small flies - small rods; big flies - big rods. Big lakes and rivers - big rods, smaller rivers/creeks and lakes smaller rods and line weights. Other considerations - windy areas, larger fly rods cast better - more power. Up close and delicate deliveries such as small dry flies, or very clear low water - smaller rods and line weights will be better server your needs.
  • Line Weights

  • Line weight, this is labeled on your fly line as either line weight number # 1 - 15; or in actual grams for rods like Spey rods, or both. The line weight, like number 6 matches the flex/power of the rod. The balance between the line weight and the rod flex create the synergistic energy that propel the line forward and outward in the desired method of presentation.
  • Example: Line weight 6 matching (your rod manufacturer will label your fly rod with the suggested line weight for this rod) rods usually between 8 � ft - 9 � ft. A 6 weight forward line cast forward with lots of energy and often hits the surface with energy. A 6 weight line DT (double taper line) with equal tapers in its line design will cast forward more evenly and gently, and will land most often upon the water surface more gently - ideal for dry fly fishing when long distance casts aren't required.

    Bottom line when selecting a fly rod - you most often get what you pay for. When you are starting out and beginning you will not know the difference between a very good rod and a medium priced rod, but once you get more proficient you will want to get more out of your fly rod.

    Rod/Line Uses & Sizes

    Rod/Line Weight Uses and Fly Sizes
    Line 1-2 Trout and pan fish, Fly Size: #26 -#18
    Line 3-6 (Lower Price | Higher End) Trout, Bass, Panfish (#20 - #1/0)
    Line 7-8 (Lower Price | Higher End) Trout, Steelhead, Bonefish, Atlantic Salmon, Bass, (#20 - #1/0)
    Line 9-11 (Lower Price | Higher End)
    (Spey Rods: Lower Price | Higher End)
    Steelhead, Atlantic Salmon, Pacific Salmon, Bluefish, Small Tarpon, Dorado, Stripers (#6 - #2/0)
    Line 12 -15 Tarpon, Billfish (#2/0 - #8/0)

  • Please ask questions and let Lost Creek Fly Shop help you deiced what fly rod and fly weight line is right for you:
    Phone: 360-978-4059 | E-Mail

  • Jeff Layton

    Date: 2008-03-16

    Title: Steelhead 101

    Articles:The tell tale tug of a steelie is the drug that keeps us up to our armpits in ice water, dreading going back to the warmth of the daily grind. Steelhead are only fish but they have the mystic power to take over one’s mind, soul and time. The addiction can be overwhelming. The only way to suppress it is with a hard fought slab of silver steelhead on the fly, the very notion conjures up romance and prestige -- the pinnacle of west coast fly fishing.

    Many would be steelhead fly fishers become utterly lost in the maze of videos, books and magazines available, seemingly, only to confuse and discourage interested anglers. I do not wish to add to the heap; instead, I’d rather try to be helpful and attempt to clarify the utterly simple.

    Steelhead rely on instinct to get them through the day, avoiding seals, birds, nets etc . . . and it is this instinct that brings them back to their native streams where they become available to hook and line. This instinct is also what feeds them and makes them aggressive. Anglers must be aware of these instincts to lure the steelhead.

    Steelhead unlike humans are cold blooded. This means that they cannot control their own body temperature and therefore are very sensitive to the water temperature surrounding them. The colder the water the more sluggish the fish and the more likely it will not move for the fly.

    Combine the fact that steelhead rely heavily on instinct and the fact that steelhead are cold blooded and we have the base knowledge needed to chase this silvery dream.

    There are three basic techniques used to fool steelhead: the dead drift; the hang down; and escaping the prey. These are all techniques used to work on the instinct of the fish; water temperature decides which one and where to use them.

    Let’s start with the dead drift. This is used mostly when the water is the coldest. Water ranging from 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is what you may consider minimum temperature to chase steelhead. In these conditions the fish become very lethargic and look for slower holding water; they also are less apt to chase a lure or fly. During these conditions is when fly fishing for steelhead is the most challenging. The dead drift allows the fly to slowly drift into a steelies view and keep it there the longest-- much like a drift fisherman’s float and gear.

    Look for slow water and start fishing straight across from where you suspect the fish will be holding. Cast a floating line with heavily weighted fly (split shot may help) and long leader, quartering upstream of the fish. Mend hard immediately trying to get as much line ‘above’ the fly as possible. Allow the fly to sink close to the bottom and begin to manipulate the line with mends to achieve a complete dead drift. Keep the fly close to the bottom and drifting naturally with the current, a strike indicator can help you achieve a dead drift (remember that if the indicator or line is ‘dragging’ so is the fly). As the fly passes you continue throwing slack into the line and feeding line to get the longest drag free drift possible. The take can be very light so watch the line or indicator like a hawk.

    The hang down technique comes into play as the water temperature breaks 40 degrees F. The hang down is the bread and butter technique to most steelheaders. It’s versatile and effective and if you’re only going to use one technique -- this is it. Heavy sink tips (usually 200 grains or more) are required and the longer the fly rod the better. Look for slow to medium paced water, start above the sweet spot or where you suspect the fish should be. Begin by casting your fly slightly down stream and beyond the ‘lie.’ Immediately throw a hard mend upstream and out; try to get your sink tip pointed straight down stream (parallel with the current) and allow sink tip and fly to sink near the bottom. The initial mend is crucial and sets up the entire drift; this should be your hardest mend. As your fly line belly’s in the current throw small mends upstream but not hard enough to jerk the fly around. Keep tension on your line at all times. As the fly reaches a 40 degree angle downstream, your line and rod tip should be pointed directly at the fly, do not mend, just ‘follow’ the fly ‘til it’s out of the steelies zone.

    If the sinking portion of your line wants to belly before the 40 degree angle you’re probably not casting downstream enough or not mending quick and/or hard enough on your initial mend. The hang down is created only when your entire sink tip is parallel with the current. This forces the fly to ‘hang’ in front of a fish and keep it in view rather than swinging from the fish.

    The escaping prey works best when the water temperature is at optimum; this can be anywhere in the upper forties to sixty on the Fahrenheit scale. Summer run and post-spawn steelhead are more likely to react to the escaping prey technique than fresh winter fish. These fish have been in fresh water longer and are more aggressive and trout-like than fresh winter fish. This technique is the simplest and the most exciting. The take on the escaping prey is usually explosive and violent. Steelhead in warmer water will often move great distances to attack a fly. The need to be on the bottom is not as crucial here as with the colder situations.

    Again situate yourself above the lie of the fish; cast straight out and throw a single mend upstream into the line. (When fish are active you can use a floating line but a sink tip will usually still outperform a floater). Allow the fly to sink and as the line comes under tension simply clamp down on the line and follow the fly through the swing with your rod tip. Some fishermen have been know to throw mends upstream or strip the fly during the swing to increase the speed of the fly and the ‘grab.’ This not normal procedure while using this technique.

    When using the escaping prey you can cover a lot of water quickly. Remember the colder the water the slower and more thorough you should cover it. ‘Comb’ cold winter water and ‘Rake’ warmer summer waters.

    A quick note on fly patterns. The dead drift requires smaller brighter patterns such as glo-bugs. The hang down usually uses larger flies but still fairly bright; any large orange or pinkish marabou patterns will be effective. The escaping prey calls for dark wispy patterns in purples and blacks in medium sizes. The colder the water the more flies you should be losing, cold water means bottom scratching.

    I almost forgot the forth technique; this one is rarely if ever written about. I call it dumb luck and highly recommend it. It is a combination of all three and yet in a category all its own. To properly utilize it you have to just spend a lot of time on the water.

    Face it, steelies on a fly require ‘work.’ Each one taken on hook and hackle is a gift and likely should be treated as one. You can’t catch ‘em sittin’ in your easy chair so get on the water and have a go at ‘em.

    Rick Stahl

    Date: 2008-03-13

    Title: Mosquito Lagoon Florida, Red Fish

    Yesterday we had sightfishing nirvana. The Lagoon greeted us with slick calm conditions and tailing Redfish as far as you could see!!! It was absolutely crazy.
    Mike (Lost Creek Fly Shop) had shot after shot at Redfish tails and finally connected with this beautiful Redfish. Crab patterns were the fly of choice as these fish were almost standing on their heads digging for small mud crabs. Mike had two more very nice takes but no other fish to the boat. Great job Mike and I look forward to fishing with you again!!!
    Mosquito Lagoon is by far one of the finest places to sight fish with a fly rod.With its crystal clear water and miles of grass flats full of Redfish, it is truly world-class saltwater fly fishing. You will be poled slowly along in my Maverick HPX-T
    flats skiff waiting for the many shots at Redfish and Sea trout. Sight fishing is by far the most challenging salt water fly fishing there is and with my assistance we can together locate, cast, and hook up on a Redfish of a lifetime. It is truly a team effort out on the flats and there is nothing better then guiding a fly angler to their first or hundredth Redfish on fly!

    Recommended Gear:
  • Medium/Fast Action Fly Rod (7wt,8wt, or 9wt)
  • High Quality Disk Drag Fly Reel
  • Floating and Intermediate Fly Line
  • 10lb or 12lb Tapered Leaders
  • Shrimp, Crab, Baitfish Fly Patterns (Size 6 to 1/0)
  • Good Polarized Sunglasses - Very Important for seeing fish!!!
  • Hat
  • Rain Gear
  • Fleece Layers for cool mornings - wintertime
  • Light soled shoes - non-marking
  • Digital Camera
    Guide: Capt. Todd Fuller

    Lost Creek Fly Shop

    Date: 2008-03-11

    Title: Cowlitz River Steelhead Flies


    These flies have been categorized into Winter/Summer patterns, but the all can be used effectively for both winter and summer Steelhead. When ever the river is high or off color the bigger flies work very well.

    Every river seems to have a basic color that works best in a fly pattern. The Cowlitz river - black is the most important color to consider when picking out a fly pattern. Olive patterns like the "Babe Beast Olive" imitates sculpin, and can work very well especially in crowded fishing situations.


    Babe Beast

    X X

    Babe Beast Olive

    X X


    X X



    L.C. Marabou Series

    X X

    Coal Car Steelhead Fly


    RT Stone


    Steelhead Caddis Pupae


    Muddler Black


    Muddler Purple


    Jeff Layton

    Date: 2008-03-08

    Title: Fly Fishing for Tiger Muskie

    Articles:Tiger Muskie:

    The Tiger Muskie is a hybrid of Northern Pike and Muskie. Tiger Muskie have a long snout filled with teeth, dark tiger stripes on a light body making identification easy.

    Tiger muskies are big, hungry predators that may grow to 30 pounds or more.

    Where and How to Fish:

    Muskies are called �the fish of 10,000 casts.�

    Muskie are territorial; they stay within a relatively small area which they patrol. Muskie hide on the edge of structure where they can ambush prey. Points flanked by weeds or brush are prime locations. Logs or trees that extend into the water are also important.

    In the spring, when pan fish spawn in shallow water, muskie can be found nearby, often just a few feet from shore. During the summer and fall muskie are more likely to be found on the open-water side of structure that extends out into the lake

    Anything that simulates a minnow will catch muskie, As a general rule, big, flashy flies with lots of action are best.

    Mayfield Lake, SW Washington - Tiger Muskie a relatively recent addition to Washington�s freshwater sport fishery is the tiger muskie, a northern pike-muskellunge cross first introduced in Mayfield Lake to help curb a serious rough-fish problem and provide a trophy fishery. The success of the Mayfield program led to the planting of tiger muskies in Clark County�s Merwin Reservoir, Ferry County�s Curlew Lake, Grant County�s Evergreen Reservoir and Red Rock Lake, King County�s Green Lake, Pierce County�s Tapps Lake, Spokane County's Newman Lake, and Whatcom County�s Fazon Lake (to date). Tiger muskies are big, hungry predators that may grow to 30 pounds or more. The best way to catch them is with large plugs or bucktail spinners fished during the warm summer months.

    If fishing is your pleasure, Mayfield Lake provides a premiere recreation spot. Anglers especially appreciate the many types of fish found here. Chinook, coho, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, yellow perch and smallmouth bass are popular catches. Fishing is open year-round at Mayfield Lake. Mayfield is stocked with rainbow trout and coho salmon.

    The second Tiger Musky Fishing Tournament hosted by Lake Mayfield Marina and Resort in Mossyrock, WA took place Sept 15-16 2007. Four fish were taken during the 2007 Tournament.

    The First Place Prize went to the father-son team of Frank and Mike Haw for a musky measuring 42.75 inches.

    Flies: Bait Fish Flies like Lefty's Deceiver, Big Woolly Buggers, say size #2, Bunny streamer #2's, and large bucktails and streamers. Fly anglers fishing for bass using popping bug have taken Tiger Muskies.

    Lefty's Deceiver

    HOOK: Gamakatsu Model B10S 2/0-6

    THREAD: Flourescent red single-strand floss

    TAIL: White hackle fibers with pearl Accent Flash

    BODY: Thread (floss)

    UNDERWING: White bucktail

    OVERWING: Red bucktail

    THROAT: Red Accent Flash

    EYES: White paint, with black pupils

    Tiger Muskie Flies

  • Bill's Baby Spook-A-Like-Perch Fly
  • Bill's B.P. Musky Fly-Perch
  • Bill's B.P. Musky Fly-Black-Red
  • Bill's Mr. Gills - Perch Fly
  • Bill's Figure8Sucker Perch Fly
  • Bill's B.P. Musky Fly-Chartreuse
  • Mike's Gold Varient Fly
  • Mike's Black Flash Fly
  • Uses: One of the most famous American flies (it's been honored with its own postage stamp), Lefty's Deceiver is used primarily in saltwater. However, it is a general-purpose baitfish pattern and can be used in freshwater, too, especially in smaller sizes. When tying the fly for freshwater, save a few bucks and don't use the stainless steel hook.

    Variations: There are many color variations, mostly in the wing colors: green over white; red over yellow; all white; blue over white. But in all cases, use the red Accent Flash and paint the eyes. The red imitates gills, and predatory fish focus on the gills and eyes when they attack baitfish.

    How to Fish: Use a sinking or sink-tip line.

    Handling Fish: Don't handle the fish! A tiger muskie will gladly take your finger completely off, and he has razor-sharp teeth to make that an easy task. The fish's gill plate is also sharp, and can slice your hand.

    Jeff Layton

    Date: 2008-03-06

    Title: What is the difference between Summer & Winter Steelhead fishing techniques?


    Winter Steelhead approach the coastline and enter rivers between December 1st and April 30th and are generally in an advanced stage of sexual maturity. Summer Steelhead enter rivers between June 1st and November 30th in a relatively immature stage and spend an entire winter in fresh water prior to spawning.

    All Steelhead have a common nature. All spawning occurs in either late winter or spring.

    Answer - Many, but in brief - see highlighted points:

    • Winter fish are sexually mature / Summer Steelhead are not - Winter Steelhead are in a hurry, Summer Steelhead are not.

    • Winter water temperatures - when river water temperatures go under 40 degrees F, Steelhead get more lethargic - slow to move or respond to a fly.

    • Swinging fly - vs. Nymphing (dead drift) Water temp says a lot about techniques. Getting it close - putting the fly in front of the Steelhead (hitting them in the head) is a winter rule of thumb for success. (Weighted flies, sinking tips lines, heavily mended casts - so fly has time to sink�.)

    • Flies - Winter Steelhead (attractor type patterns of flies that stimulate a response from past feeding habits in salt water/fresh water - Great lakes feeding meals. A popular winter Steelhead fly in the "Intruder" - It all started way back in the early 90's with a circle of guides at a lodge in Alaska. The first "Intruder-style" fly was the brainchild of Ed Ward, and was originally designed for king salmon. This shank-style fly was a solution for creating huge plug-like silhouettes that could simply not be achieved on conventional fly hooks. While fishing these flies for kings, it was impossible not to notice how well Alaska's huge rainbows took these large life-like patterns. And, it didn't take long for the light bulb to go on, "If these big rainbows can't resist them, just think of how well they might work for their anadromous cousins (steelhead)." Summer Steelhead respond to both natural and attractor fly patterns.

    • Equipment: Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing requires the rod's ability to cast large, and often weighted flies. Spey rods are designed for this. Summer Steelhead fly fishing allows for both single handed rods and double handed/Spey rods.

    Jeff Layton

    Lost Creek Fly Shop
    2069 Highway 508, Onalaska WA 98570
    Phone: 360-978-4059 | | Home

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