July 19th, 1999
Southern Birds Fly North

by Susan Cox

Washington was not my first visit to the northwest coast but was my first fly fishing venture. This first week back at work has been kind of pointless because my heart and head are still on the Puget Sound.

When Tom Wolf emailed a map to me with directions to the Tacoma Narrows and the last sentence said "Hope this starts your first day in Washington off right" I knew this was going to be a wonderful trip.

Within two hours of arriving at SeaTac airport I was in Tom's boat, Washington fishing license in hand, and fly in the water. I learned immediately that I was out of my league in this water. This wasn't the 20' wide knee deep trout stream I had learned to fish on. Needless to say I couldn't cast the distance I needed to. Tom just rowed us to where I could put the fly where it needed to go.

I was frustrated because I couldn't cast the distance I needed to. Tom may very well have been as frustrated with my lack of ability, but if he was, he never let on. He was patient and consistent and determined we would land a fish. The fish were there and he put us on them but did my inexperience in saltwater ever shine through. I found myself thinking that I wanted him to come fish my little trout streams so I could show him I wasn't a total idiot with a fly rod.

Tom knows his stuff. He was constantly reading the water, not just for fish but the currents too. They changed constantly! I couldn't keep up. His expertise amazed me. His acknowledge of the water, fish, and area was phenominal. (You can reach Tom at 253-538-4801.)

My first fly-rod salmon!

The wildlife we saw was awesome. Bald eagles, seals, crabs, you name it, we saw it. The 4 pound, 20" silver I landed was the thrill of my day. Tom hooked a 22" after that. What a difference 2" can make in the size of a fish. These fish were very healthy.

Me in Olympic National Park There is a lot of water in Washington and I got my feet wet in the Sol Duc River, the Hoh River, Lake Crescent, and a private lake my brother lives on. We caught a few rainbows but I kept wishing for more of those silvers.

I got the horse before the cart. If I'd just visited with JC and Deanna before I went out with Tom I would have been idiot proof. Late in the week a visit to Port Ludlow and casting instruction from Jim and Deanna taught me how to get that distance I had needed on the Puget Sound. Double hauling is like patting you head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Being a natural born klutz and uncoordinated, it took JC quite some time to get me going (he called it idiot proofing) then Deanna had to step in. Once again, I wanted them to come to my little trout streams so I could show them I wasn't a complete idiot. JC let me know I cast like a girl. Well, you can cast like a girl on a trout stream.

JC, me and the LadyFisher

Being the wonderful hosts that they are we ended the afternoon with drinks and dinner. Deanna's chocolate cake was to die for and I don't say that lightly. I know chocolate!!

Washington is a magnificent state. Playing in the snow on Hurricane Ridge blew this southern girl's mind. I had left 90 degree heat and 90% humidity. Looking back over the entire week, the blue ribbon moment was the silver on the first day, then finally, finally, finally getting that "pull, cast, feed". ~ Susan Cox

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