Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Mabuhay! Make sure you dirty dogs out there are too drunk and hungover to wade because I'm fishing this weekend.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Steelhead Etiquette

By Scott Richmond

What's the right behavior when you're on the river?

If angling behavior were limited to the letter of the law, everyone's enjoyment would suffer. This is especially true when steelhead runs are strong. A strong run brings out anglers who don't normally fly fish for steelhead, and this creates a situation ripe for conflict.
I think most confrontations come from ignorance. To be sure, there are people who are going to be jerks no matter what, and there's nothing you can do except shrug your shoulders and move on. However, most people want to do what's right, if they only knew.
So here's my take on good steelhead fly fishing etiquette. If you have additional suggestions, click "contact us" below and e-mail them to me. I'll compile some of the responses and publish them in a follow-up article.

1. The best advice for behavior on and around the river is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," where "others" includes the entire ecosystem. Communicate with other river users in a positive and courteous manner. Expect people to do the right thing, and usually they will.

2. If someone is fishing near an area you want to fish, ask if you will disturb them. If they are sitting, and not fishing, they may be resting the water or waiting for the light to change. In any case, ask before you fish--and if they say "No," find another run. If someone is camped, ask permission before fishing in front of their camp; if no one is in the camp (holler around a bit before concluding this), you can regard the water as available.

3. Don't be a hole hog: don't monopolize the good water for long periods. Give someone else a chance.

4. If someone is fishing a run for with traditional tactics they are probably working their way downstream. Don't wade into the river below them, or near them on the upstream side. If you are not sure how far downstream they are going, and you want to fish the water, ask first. If you enter the water downstream, you should stay at least 150 yards from an upstream angler. This rests the water for about an hour between anglers.

5. If an angler is using indicator tactics, they could be progressing in either direction, so ask before wading in above or below them.

6. If you are floating the river in a boat, give bank anglers a wide berth. Notice where they are casting to, and give them lots of space. If you aren't sure what water they're fishing, ask them. Try to stay at least 30 feet away from the water they're fishing, and pass by quietly without splashing or making other noise that will be transmitted through the water.

7. Don't pull your boat or raft into a backeddy until you are sure no one is fishing

8. There are basic boating right-of-way rules, such as: down-river-bound traffic has the right-of-way; and boats should bear to the right when meeting. However, once a powerboat is in a rapids it cannot back down, and drift craft need to wait to enter the rapids until the power boat is clear. At the same time, a powerboat should not enter a rapids if a drift craft is already in it or is about to enter it.

9. Anglers and boaters of all persuasions should recognize the right of anglers and boaters of differing persuasions to use the river. Manners are contagious. Which kind do you want to perpetuate on the river?

10. Don't target or harass spawning fish. Recognize spawning redds and don't wade through or anchor in them.

Scott Richmond is the author of several fly fishing books for the Pacific Northwest that include: Best Fly Waters, Deschutes River (two editions), Cascade Lakes, Endless Season, The Pocket Gillie for fly anglers as well as the Rogue River and Craine Prarie: Deschutes Headwaters River Journals. You can find other writing from Scott in periodicals and on Westfly, a non profit based website with a blog and forum available to help educate the general public and advance the quality of fly fishing in the West. For those of you who want to explore the waters of the Pacific Northwest and especially the Deschutes River, this is where to do your research.

Scott's Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River is a key ingredient to success on the Deschutes River. This second edition includes way more secrets then we need to know and the 152 pages has some of the best photography ever done on the river by Brian O'Keefe and Jim Schollmeyer. For those of you who want to explore and find success on the river this is a must read, worthy for all trout and steelhead fishermen.

For those of you who are interested in hearing a recent interview Scott did with Lani Waller, you can find it here on Westfly. They cover a wide variety of topics that include etiquette, history, river stewardship as well as tips and tactics.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Get Your Orvis Balloons

From the Orvis website:

"Fly fishing strike indicators adjust to any water conditions, big or small. Attaches easily and stays afloat better. Suspends nymphs better. Reusable. Biodegradable. 10 balloons and O-rings per pack. Instructions included."

Now for some odd reason these are marked down and you should all get on it and buy them up for stocking stuffers. Damn, you wonder why Orvis gets a bad wrap, not to mention nymphers. Now I am not talking trash about Orvis or balloon chucking, though I should. But seriously, a balloon and an O-wring were previously a dollar a piece? WTF? The purpose of cheap assess using balloons was because they are cheap asses and Orvis marketing that is bright. But hey, at least they added instructions.

Strong Runs Newsletter

I highly recommend reading the Native Fish Society Fall Newsletter. All of there newsletters can be also found in their archive. This Fall newsletter covers a variety of topics including:

Conflicting goals of fish management agencies
Economics study on the cost of Mitchell Act hatchery fish
New study that documents the lethal effects on young salmon caused by sulfite egg cures
Dangers associated with raising salmon as livestock
River Steward notes and news
River Steward Program grows
Thank you to NFS membership for their support
NFS upgrades web presence

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spring Chinook for 2010

Although the Columbia River fishery managers expect the largest run of Spring Chinook in the 70 years of counting fish for 2010. I am very skeptical regarding this information. This estimate does not include Lower Columbia River stocks or Willamette basin fish. When these numbers are added to the already 470K fish that expected to cross over Bonneville Dam, the run will be huge. As a pessimistic steelheader who has watched the runs decline on all my local rivers over the last decade, I have a hard time believing this. Many of my local spring chinook fisheries were closed early last year because of poor returns. However with these numbers estimated at four times the return seen over Bonneville Dam in 2009, I hope I am wrong. Maybe the ocean conditions that brought a healthy return of summer steelhead and Coho Salmon in the Columbia River in 2009 is a sign of a new trend in ocean conditions. Then again the drastic fall in Fall Chinook on the Northern Oregon Coast and Washington Coast lead me to think otherwise.

Chinook returns are based on jack counts from the previous season. Jack salmon are two to three salt fish that return early and are not sexually mature fish. The Spring Chinook jack counts over Bonneville Dam for 2009 was over 66K in 2009 leading to believe that there is good ocean survival for this years return. However this relationship does not always carry weight as seen in the returns in 2007 and 2008 where there very large jack counts seen did not lead to large returns of fish. Lets hope the genetic alternations of hatchery fish over decades have not changed the genetic makeup of these fish and we are not seeing a new trend of mini chinook. But hey, I am not a fisheries expert and hope my pessimistic thought is wrong. Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope to swing one up this spring.

Read more about the 2010 Spring Chinook returns courtesy of Oregon Live and the Columbia River Bulletin.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Later Dumbass!

Well the dipshit Mayor of Forks is out of office finally. Nedra Reed was the the mayor of Forks that opposed catch and release fishing in the Olympic Penninsula back in 2004. For some fucked up reason the Fish and Wildlife Commission altered the regulations and now what do we have? A depleted run of steelhead in the Quillayute River system. Last spring 4700 fish were counted in the entire system. This was 1200 fish below the minimum escapement. Now retention from sports harvest is obviously not the only problem, but it is the one that we can manage. Good god man, let them go. Read more about how proud Nedra was for this accomplishment from the Peninsula Daily News.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Clackamas Bull Trout

Bull trout are Rad! There is no doubt about it, Salvelinus Confluentus is an amazing species with a multitude of life histories in many different ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest and Western Slope of the Rockies. For years this species of char has been known as an indicator species for water quality and healthy ecosystems due to their need for cold, clean water for spawning and rearing. With the scourge of man and its lust to develop and rape our forests for timber, this species has been hit hard to almost the brink of extinction. Many of the rivers that once contained healthy populations of bull trout are gone and the few that have them are very vulnerable to ecosystem changes. With the listing of bull trout as a threatened species in the coterminous United States there have been many moves to help these dwindling populations.

With one of the last strongholds of bull trout in Oregon being the Metolius River system and having bull trout extinct in it's neighboring Clackamas River system, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is working to reintroduce bull trout from the Metolius System into the Clackamas River in the hopes to reestablish this species in the basin. This complex endevor will not only help to reestablish the species, but also aid in the understanding of this ecosystem that has had vast changes over the decades due to dams, timber harvest and irrigation. With most of the upper watershed being protected by federal agencies and increased laws to protect the ecosystem, there are high hopes that this population will reestablish themselves and fill the niche left from the extinct Clackamas strain of bull trout. The long term goal of an established population will help in our understanding of this fragile ecosystem and its native anadramous and non anadramous fish. Read more courtesy of The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin and Oregon Live.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Time to Remember

Toasted a few with the old homies tonight for our old comrade Ben Kapp. We miss you brother and your legacy still effects us four years after you passing. .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News from the Snoopy Rod Challenge

News from the Snoopy Rod Challenge on the Bogachiel River in the Olympic Penninsula last friday was of a great success. Well at a hangover anyway. Check out the words of wisdom from the Graphite Samurai. The boys were a little too under the weather to get after it early in the morning, but got after it none the less. You might want to take a look at the time machine also. I venture to say that this very well might be the answer we are all looking for in regards to better fishing and less crowding. We might also be able to bring back those native returns by using those fish from decades ago. Yes, I think the great scrolls of wisdom have something here. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Summer Steelhead in the Winter

Well there is no doubt that there was a lot of steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River System this year. At over six hundred thousand total steelhead over Bonneville Dam there is no doubt there was a lot of fun had at the expense of this years return. Many anglers out there had a banner season and there is no doubt that a lot of rookie fishermen out there caught their first if not many steelhead. But we have to remember that the vast majority of these fish were not of native origin. Only one hundred and seventy-two thousand of those six hundred thousand fish were of native origin. Many of those hatchery fish are still alive and either swimming up still or holding for warmer flows to move farther up into the upper reaches of there native streams. These hatchery fish in a few months will be competing with our precious natives and thus aiding in the slow process of watering down the gene pool.

Many people stop fishing for these fish because the quality of their meat are no longer the quality of just a few months ago, not to mention the increased difficulty to swing these fish up in the current cold conditions of winter. The ethical issues of catching native fish that are getting ready to spawn, is yet another thing to take into consideration. In only a few months these fish will be on their spawning beds and any harassment of these fish should be prevented. However like mentioned before so will hatchery fish and the only way to prevent these fish from spawning together is to remove them.

Modern scientific studies have showed that the likelihood of offspring from native steelhead that have spawned with hatchery steelhead returning as adults is very low. Hell, the chances of offspring of native fish returning dealing with the harsh environment of their native streams during their adolescent development, competition with other species and hatchery fish, downstream migration through dams, predators in freshwater and salt then ocean conditions is low. This is part of the argument that we face when fighting against hatchery plants. As part of this equation we must aide our native fish by removing these hatchery adults regardless of quality of meat. In rivers such as the Methow in Washington, it is unlawful to release hatchery fish. We must carry this over to all drainages that have hatchery fish and continue to harvest these fish despite the condition of their table fare. Smoke them, freeze then for crab meat, fertilize you garden in the spring or return them to the ecosystem for biomass. By doing so, you will be aiding your ecosystem and help out our native fish. If you end up catching a native fish, please take all the necessary measures to release it without harm.

Is there a time to stop fishing for summer steelhead? Off course there is, but you must find that within your own realm of ethics and the reality that most of these fish are of hatchery origin and need to be removed. Us guys on the wet side of the state need to remember that those who fish these summer steelhead rivers in the winter are for the most part live in that neck of the woods and are removing hatchery fish from their rivers. Many rivers of which are still seeing fresh pushes of fish from the Columbia and Snake throughout the winter.

Recently I got news from my homie Mike Gamby that while trout fishing he was not only able to fight the ice and cold, but also several steelhead with his trusty Echo Carbon six weight and Vosseler DC. Apparently his Vosseler didn't freeze up in the cold. I was pleased to see he made sure to bonk his limit and I am sure they will cook up just fine. Props to a great day on the water.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spey Vato

Spey fishing and casting is addicting and adding steelhead and salmon to that and it’s downright obsessive. There is no doubt that this has taken at least the Northwest by storm over the last decade and has added a new niche in this small world of fly fishing. Some might even say that in this countries economy today, it has helped to keep many of the fly fishing manufacturers and fly shops around.

Now most fly guys who never casted a spey rod find them intriguing even if their ego tells them that they can cast as far with a single hand rod, but gear flingers it’s a different story. Well that was until a buddy ran into this vato from the valley and later introduced me. Now this wasn’t any other gear guy, but a brother who not only never casted a single hand rod and of all things was Mexican. Now I know all that stereotypical bullshit is bullshit, but just like many others that caught plenty of salmon and steelhead with gear he did not go the normal route of the single hander and an indicator, rather went from the jig to the two hander. In fact he has never casted a single hander. And seriously how many Mexicans or even Hispanics do you see spey fishing in this country?

It goes to show you how diverse this style of fishing is. After seeing a few people cast, cover water and even catch a few fish, Jiggin Jim was hooked. And it didn’t surprise me when I got the call last month when he not only swung his first winter of the season but two on an undisclosed river somewhere in the realm of your inner imagination.

This sport, obsession, hobby or whatever you call it never ceases to amaze me and it’s one of the many reason why I enjoy it. So the next time you see a Simms wearing, Nautilus reelin, Echo casting, ugly thug looking sombitch named Jaimie' on the river that doesn’t look like you, remember he didn’t steal his gear and you are no different then him. Well, you could be just as ugly……….

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fly of the Month: The Boss

Boss (Brian Chou 09)
Tail: Black Arctic Fox
Body: Peacock with gold tinsel
Hackle: Red Schlappen
Head: Gold bead chain eyes.
Hook: The secret weapon

Well this Boss looks a little different from the one that was inspired by old Virgil Sullivan back in the hay day on the Russian River in California. However that creativity that inspired Virgil to take it to Grant King for commercial success is no different then the inspiration of this slightly different version. The success of this fly over the decades for steelhead and those annoying salmon that get in the way are proof of it's merit. Check it out, it still works today.

Now find a fish and ................... his brains out!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Yeah so there aint no end in sight. Two times to see God, I a mean the surgeon this week with secondary complications due to napalm. Well at least it looks like I was hit by napalm. The good news is I can walk without the crutches and can go back to work in a week. But fishing is out of the equation for quite a while and I am getting sick of tying flies.

Reports from the rivers are descent for late summers with a few winters here and there. Spent last evening sharing tall tales with a couple of bums from around the way. Apparently BC was off the hook this year and stories of Alaskan rainbows the size of steelhead were plentiful this season. The poor economy lead to many guides fishing for themselves this Fall. Poor bastards! With luck they will bring some good reports from the Snoopy Rod Challenge in the OP this friday.

Watch the video