Friday, October 31, 2008

October Flies of the Month


A gift from the Kalama shoreline, this fly casts like a dream on a long belly line. Skate it, cast it with shot, tips or even a level wind. This fly hands down catches fish :)!

Mother of All Leeches (MOAL)

This fly has succeeded in ruining my life. Although steelhead will take just about anything when they are in the right mood, I believe from hours upon hours of research that MOALs with take stupid hatchery fish when they won’t take traditional flies. Derek Fergus, a local fly tier from Salem Oregon designed this fly. He uses coneheads to help weigh down the bunny on them because of they buoyancy. I have found that fishing them without a cone can be beneficial when fishing pocket water and rock gardens in the summer. Overall it is a great summer and winter fly and the off set SSW/Octopus hooks stick.

Steelhead Coachman

This is a variation of a traditional hairwing. It is a great fly in the summer because it mimics baitfish, stoneflies, October caddis and whatever a steelhead wants to eat at that time. I tie them with yellow, orange and purple to add a little more color. Fished on a dry line or tips, it gets the job done. It is also a simple tie and has a classy look to it. From what I hear from the old timers, classy flies work the best anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dry Side Vs. Wet Side

Early Morning on the Kalama

October is my favorite time of the year and I always try and take at least a week off every year to do a lot of fishing and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Over the years my wife has come to except this as my time to slack off more then I usually do (which is a lot anyway). One of the dilemmas that I go through every year is where the hell do I go to fish. Living basically in the Portland Metro area, there are a lot of rivers within two hours to fish.

Early Morning Clackamas

This time of year salmon, steelhead and even sea run cutthroat are in many of the local rivers. I gave up targeting salmon here for the most part because of the meat hungry anglers that want to kill everything and the many things meat fishermen bring out. I have however learned that steelhead fishing can be really good because the salmon push steelhead into certain lies as well as a lot of anglers are targeting salmon. I have had many great days swinging egg sucking MOALS and caballeros this time of year.

Casting on the Clackamas Photo: Brad Smith

Despite my yearly trip, I have a hard time trying to figure out what river to fish when I get a day off. The Klickitat, Deschutes, Wind, Cowlitz, Lewis, Clackamas are only a few of my options. When it comes down to beauty, both have their charms. The rainforest have the dark green background mixed with the changing colors of maple and alder. The vibrant colors of mixed leaves and mist on the water are something to see. There are salmon on the spawn and although the stench of death may be I the air, there is also a sense of rejuvenation and passing.

Snake River Morning

The Dry Side offers dark rich colors in brown and red mixed with smell of sage, red sumac and tumble weeds. The cold days have brought the rattlesnakes and tics away and the mist on the river in the morning with this stunning background is hard to be beat. The steelhead on the Dry Side are well known takers. Traditional hairwing or featherwing work great versus the gaudy stuff that I find to be more successful on the Wet-Side.

Grande Ronde Afternoon


I have no doubt in my mind that fall is the most badass season of the year. There are so many options for the fly fisher. My favorite part about it is that there is other distraction out there that sometimes takes people away from the river or at least the rivers I like to fish. Hunting season is in full swing by October and then there is always college and NFL football distracting people. Even among fishermen on the Wet-side of the state, many of them are targeting coho, chinook and chum salmon.

Brian Chou swinging the Grain Elevator on the Snake

The past four years I have made an annual week long trip to fish. After a killer week last year on the Lower Ronde and Snake, I could not resist to make it out there again. The Snake above and below Hellers Bar is filled with sweeping runs and boulder fields that hold both Snake river fish as well as Ronde and Salmon River fish. The Lower Ronde has a no kill zone in the lower river and for the most part just fly fishermen with good etiquette and serious anglers.

Every year there are a group of hard core anglers in their golden age that are lucky enough to be retired and be able to spend the entire season in this area. Most of them come every year and know each other very well. I envy them and have been able to learn a lot from a few of them. My favorite character out there is a guy named Bob Evans. We call Bob, Dry Fly Bob because he only fishes a dry line. He spends his summer on the Henrys Fork and then shows up on the Ronde in September. He is a rough around the edges, chain smoker vet who talks mad shit about nymphers and tip fishermen. You got to love him because he is mostly kidding, but he shocks the shit out of people who do not know him.

This trip I got to fish a lot of friends at different times of the week and at times it seemed like a Washington Fly Fishing convention and for both weekends the Montana Metal Militia kept me company. The most amazing part of the week came after a shuttled a few guys from Seattle to Hellers Bar after they floated Bogans to the Mouth. They guys invited me to dinner and after scallops and steak, I knew I was in for it. The next couple of days I shared gourmet meals and fishing with them. Ode, Ed, Jeff and Rick, I owe you many beers.

One of the larger fish I caught this year. Photo: g_smolt

Now back to the fishing, the steelhead were a lot bigger this season then in the past and I was able to land a few brutes. This area is blessed with far more native steelhead then in my local waters and after fighting a few fish you knew after the hookup what was hatchery and what was native. Native steelhead are just full of piss and vinegar and makes their hatchery counterparts look like mere trout. I caught a lot of fish and lost a lot of fish, but overall the fishing was great and I learned a lot from both water time as well as picking Bob’s brain.

Brian working a Clearwater fish.

Although I nymphed a little, especially when my friend Mark aka g_smolt from Neil Creek Chronicle fame showed up from AK, I kept to the long rod and picked up way more fish on the swing this year. The highlights of the trip being Chou landing a Clearwater fish on a day trip to Idaho, landing a couple double digit fish, watching g_smolt show why switch rods are effective, having my boy Bove pick my pocket three times on a day he landed eight and kicking back a few beers with the boys.

Mark Bove with one of three fish he picked from my pocket one day on the Ronde.

Next year BC!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holy Dough.......nuts Batman!

You guys and gals needing to feed the munchies after a long day boarding on Mt Hood or Sandy Steelheaders needing to feed your belly and soul with black coffee in the morning, Joe's is freaking badass. I do not know the owners, but what I do know as a donut freak is their pasties are the best I have had in the Northwest. They just so happen to be on the way to the Upper Sandy River for me. I love me some donuts!