Friday, December 24, 2010

Vintage North Fork Toutle River Footage

On May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens erupted effecting everyone in the Pacific Northwest. In the process the most devastating lahar, or landslide ended up running through the North Fork Toutle River, destroying everything in its path and flowing into the Cowlitz River. Despite reconstruction efforts the North Fork Toutle has not recovered from the devastating effects of this natural catastrophe. At least in this case it was Mother Nature that took the river back and not another man made catastrophe. There is still a remnant population of native summer and winter steelhead in the Forks of the Toutle River. Many moons ago I swung my first native winter steelhead there. Check out the old footage courtesy of the Old Duffer on You Tube.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dark Days of Winter

This year has been an ass kicker for me in a multitude of ways and fishing really has been on the backburner for the most part, especially this time of year with the chocolate flows of the last month and the subservient grabs from Chambers Creek and Alsea hatchery fish. Canceling two coastal trips over the last three weeks I have done more Christmas shopping and drinking then I would like to admit. But the other day my good friend Mike Gamby and I trekked over a snowy pass to fish a trout stream. Not casting a spey rod on moving water in well over a month, it was a refreshing reprieve from the rainy days we have been all complaining about on the West side of Pacific Northwest.

Though the river was still off color and higher then I have seen it in years, we were still able to find some worthy opponents to cast flies to. The descent winter fishing wasn't as revitalizing as just getting out of Dodge and getting off my ass. One of the things I have always enjoyed was the ability to fish year round while here in the Pacific Northwest. Scott Richmond once wrote a book called Fishing Oregon's Endless Season and to this day believe that is true. There is always something you can fish for if you know the lakes and rivers around you and if you are willing to take the time and spend a little gas. It is well worth the extra dollars and taking care of your mental health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself with the Seasonal Affective Disorder that effects us all during these dark days of winter.

There is hope on the horizon through, the Winter Solstice will be here in just five days and we will start to see our days start lengthen. Cold dark days will continue, but lengthen and warmer weather and grabby native steelhead are on the horizon. Like most that read this blog, I am looking forward to those longer days and less volatile river flows in the next coming months. You will all see this to be true for most fishermen when the bitching and moaning ends on all those fishing forums end and arguments about MOW tips and over prescribed skagit heads end. These dark short days of winter will end soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kunimasu Found in Japan

A species of salmonid called a kunimasu or black kokanee was found thriving in a Lake Saiko near Mount Fugi, Japan. This species once found in a lake 310 miles North of Lake Saiko was destroyed by yes another hydroelectric project. This lead to their native lake becoming too acidic for life. 100,000 Smolts were planted in Lake Saiko, but were still thought to have become extinct until recent. Read more courtesy of the Associated Press.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

River of Deceit Lyric Interpretation


My pain is self-chosen
At least, so The Prophet says
I could either burn
Or cut off my pride and buy some roe
A box full of flies is the weight, tied to my waist

The River of Deceit pulls down, oh oh
The only direction we cast is down
Down, oh down
Down, oh down (x2)

My pain is self-chosen
At least I believe it to be
I could either drown
Or pull off my skin and wade to shore
Now I can grow a beautiful shell for all to see

The River of Deceit pulls down, yeah
The only direction we cast is down
Down, oh down
Down, oh down (x2)

The pain is self-chosen, yeah
Our pain is self-chosen

Layne was a genius.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Waddington Shank Alternatives

I gave up tying on Waddington Shanks years ago. I went from spending the money on them to making them using spinner materials then cotter pins. I just didn't like the way they looked like in the end and stopped tying super long flies. I then moved on to Mustad 34007 then 3407DT. The 3407DT's were cheaper but found an alternative when a friend showed me these old Mustad - Bridgeport Snapper Hooks. I was then shocked when I got 800 of then for only eight bucks.

These hooks are three and a half inches long and you can find them in silver and blue. These are perfect for those winter intruders or strung out flies that have become more popular over the years. I cut the hook off of them and stick them on the vice with a tube fly attachment and add the stinger hook with nylon coated wire. This is quick, easy and very effective for larger flies. Not that I am looking forward to fishing those off colored waters of winter and spring, but the added size with profile just might help you get that one tug that keeps you out there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Foods Gonna Run Out for Our Fish

As if there wasn't enough to worry about for our native fish, researchers watching the warming trend in our ocean are now estimating a change in the 20- to 30-year weather cycle known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, leading to more cooler water. This cooler water will lead to less abundant food for native salmon and steelhead and with competition from hatcheries throughout the Pacific, this will lead to even more dwindling numbers of fish. Read more courtesy of the Seattle Times.

Black Friday

Don't get trampled at Walmart fellas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anchor River Steelhead

One of the many locations I have looked into fishing over the years is the Fall run of steelhead on the Anchor River in Southcentral Alaska. This river located on the Sterling River Highway has the largest run of steelhead in the region, once estimated at around 4000 fish. With increased pressure over the years and overlapping runs of silver salmon, many of these fish are not able to make it through Spring and onto their spawning grounds. Many are mistaken for silvers and harvested before they spend much time in freshwater. Not long ago I actually had a conversation with a friend who witnessed this while fishing the river mouth. Many of the people fishing this river as well as its neighboring Deep Creek and Ninilchik are not educated enough regarding the differences of these two species.

Despite catch and release regulations since 1989, these runs of fish are getting smaller and smaller. Read more about the plight of this run of fish and what is being done to prevent their loss courtesy of the Fairbanks Daily News.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thompson River Hatchery Petition

I received this message From Brian Niska regarding the possibility of a steelhead hatchery on the Thompson River. With the current river closure in place on the Thompson there is pressure on the BC government regarding hatchery augmentation of the Thompson system. Please consider signing this petition in support of wild steelhead.

Low & Clear

LOW & CLEAR Official Trailer from Finback Films on Vimeo.

More eye candy for you guys who like that kind of thing. Interesting looking video.
"Personalities comes out in fishing and there is no way to hide it."

Monday, November 8, 2010

1,000 Steelhead Dead at Dworshak

1000 steelhead died at Dworshak Dam this last Wednesday and Thursday while the Dam operators were running a routine generator maintenance project. Although most were hatchery fish, there was a lot of native fish in the bunch. Read more courtesy of The Spokesman-Review.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oregon Fly Tiers Convention

John Newbury tying a Drunella Drake Emerger.

I had a few hours before work yesterday afternoon to spend with my daughter at the Oregon Fly Tiers Show in Troutdale, Oregon. Unfortunately we got there a little later then expected and was not able to really see as much as I wanted. There really is a lot to learn at these venues, not to mention be instructed by the best of the best. Most of all I wanted to make sure my daughter was able to see that there were men and women out there that sit in front of a table and play with feather and fur, just like daddy. Although the cabellero eggs, dean lanterns and leeches that we tie together are simple and easy compared to the flies we saw tied at this venue, someday we will to tackle more complex flies together. That's going to be awesome!

Fraser River Sockeye Vs. Fish Farms

Pathogen culturing facilities!

Friday, November 5, 2010

November Sucks!

Not really, but on the West side of the state you never know what you are going to get. Cold, rain, showers, blown out rivers, spawners, darkies, mold, ragweed, short days, dry lines disappear and leaf takes are annoying. Driving over to the East side means multi-day trips because with the short cold days you really have to make the most of it. I generally fish the locals a bit when they are in shape, but with the few salmon around that are on the spawn and higher flows, you never know what you are going to get out of your day. I want to stay away from those precious redds and there are fewer bright steelhead around to make it worth it.

Still fishing time is fishing time and in the Pacific Northwest there really is an endless season. What I mean is there is always something to fish for every month of the year. This year I finally got off my ass to check out Puget Sound in hopes of finding one of those looked down upon salmonids, the chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). Yeah there are a few places you can find them in Oregon Coastal streams closer to home, but really those should be closed. Yeah I said it, those very depressed runs should be left alone. Sorry guys, but ODFW shut them down.

Keith putting his work in.

There are quite a few places to find chum salmon in the sound and Keith and I decided to check out a terminal fishery not to terribly far from home and use the sled to find them. I had only been to this location once before and it was more a recon mission years ago. This was a totally different experience for me. I have done quite a bit of estuary fly fishing for salmon in Alaska, but never in Washington. From my personal experience, salmon in the lower forty-eight hate me and I am no dentist.

Not knowing what to expect and not putting a lot of thought into it we got there the day after this section of the sound was netted. Starting our day at low tide, we ended up parked next to a lot of gear guys fishing bobbers with eggs, sandshrimp and sardines. Not really what we were looking for, but there was fish there and stuck around watching bobbers go down in the boat next to us for a few hours. We through the kitchen sink a them with nothing but a sculpin to hand. It was a bit frustrating, but like I said, we really didn't know what we were getting into.

Guys lining up at the hatchery at high tide. It didn't look like much fun.

Hours later when high tide came in we saw some interesting things. One was what I can only call the crowding of the hatchery. Both by fish and fishermen. This was a bit funny and disgusting at the same time. People in line crowding a creek mouth while salmon pile in. That was not my cup of tea and was glad I was in a boat in the distance. But at the same time more fish started to move in closer to shore and finally Keith and I started to get grabs and hookups. It was not before long that my first dime bright chum was caught. I saw this somewhat loosely, because as we all know even bright chum are not that bright. Still all the fish we caught were ridiculously covered in sea lice and yes bright. The amount of sea lice was almost shocking on some fish. Dozens spread throughout their body, including there heads and fins. Goddam salmon farms!

Bright Chum?

What worked for me was a full intermediate Airflo 40 Plus Saltwater line with a short leader and both chartreuse and green chum candy on an Echo II 9 weight saltwater rod. The 40 Plus rocks! The Echo II was a bit too much for these fish, but good to cast when the wind was up. FYI, Echo is apparently retiring that model rod this year.

Paul Kim fighting one of several fish.

We also ran into Paul Kim of Felt Soul. A local from Bellevue, Washington that recognized me on the water. Always an odd feeling when someone asks if you are who you are. Paul writes an interesting blog from his perspective of Washington fishing, especially when discussing Puget Sound fishing. You should check it out.

I am looking forward to learning more about what the Puget Sound has to offer, and what needs to be done to help restore the ailing steelhead populations in that region of Washington. I doubt I will be able to make it back again this year, but can't wait to find more new water.

Sad Day for the Thompson

Once again Canadian officials have chosen to keep the Thompson River closed to angling this Fall. It is estimated that there is a 30 percent chance that more than 850 fish will return to the tributaries of the Thompson River to spawn next spring. This is a sad day for steelhead, the anglers that follow them, the community that relies on the fishermen and the future for this fabled river. Read more courtesy of Kamloops Daily News and the Thompson Fisheries Blog.

The other sad news is hatchery introduced steelhead are being considered. Fuck!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Obama's Salmon Plan

I received a letter recently from Sam Mace, the Inland Northwest Director for Save Our Wild Salmon recently discussing the impacts, or lack thereof in the Obama administration's changes in the old Bush Salmon Plan. Instead of trying to summarize the plan, you can read the Save Our Wild Salmon Press Release below and check out there site. As the disgust rises and you reach a melting point, make sure to voice your opinion in letters, joining organizations or just speaking your mind on this matter.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A coalition of fishing, business, and conservation organizations asked a federal judge today to declare President Obama’s Columbia and Snake River salmon recovery plan illegal.

“We’d like to pretend this plan is just a ‘trick’ and the ‘treat’ is still to come,” said Michael Garrity of American Rivers. “But we can’t. We’ve been here too many times before. This administration has got to stop trying to put a pretty costume on an ugly plan and start following the law and science. We’re dealing with people’s livelihoods and keystone species on the brink of extinction.

Because federal dams are harming threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers, the law requires federal agencies to create a plan – or biological opinion (BiOp) – to reduce the damage. The papers filed today respond to the Obama administration’s continuing failure to provide legal, science-based plan.

“For two years the coalition has asked the Obama administration to uphold its promises for scientific integrity and transparency,” said former Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries chief Jim Martin. “It appears those were empty promises. If anything, the administration is going backward in terms of openness and scientific integrity.”

In 2009, the coalition asked Obama to review the 2008 Bush salmon plan. The Obama
administration agreed to do so, but instead of significantly improving the legally flawed Bush salmon plan, the administration adopted the plan as its own. The only addition from the Obama administration was an Adaptive Management Implementation Plan (AMIP) that promises only to study additional measures to help Endangered Species Act-listed salmon should their populations collapse.

The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society judges the AMIP “inadequate for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin.”

The Society review found that rather than using a precautionary approach to protecting threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, the plan “seems to use a precautionary principle to support the 2008 Biological Opinion and defend the status quo.”

Such skepticism of the Obama approach is widespread. “The federal government simply ignored science that didn’t meet its political goals – it ignored science from the AFS, fisheries biologists with the State of Oregon or the Nez Perce Tribe, and its own so-called ‘independent scientists,’” Martin said. “This plan puts the weight of risk on the fish in violation of the law, and the risk is of extinction.”
The Obama plan, according to the coalition’s filing, augments the flawed approaches of the past with new unscientific defects. For example, the Obama plan details the threat climate change poses to salmon, but proposes no new actions to address climate impacts.

Obama’s plan offers no new actions to protect Snake River sockeye salmon whose woefully low numbers have already tripped predetermined action “triggers.” The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society deems the federal agency approach to Snake River sockeye protection “inappropriate.”

Moreover, the Obama administration’s process for adopting the biological opinion has been shrouded in mystery. Legal proceedings have revealed federal agencies’ refusal to release more than 40 percent of the relevant documents.

"The current plan is nothing more than more of the same failed policies of the Bush
administration, only with a new cover sheet.” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), one of the plaintiff groups. “We’re seeing neither good science nor good policy in this plan – just another prescription for failure. More failure just destroys more salmon-dependent jobs. At-risk salmon-dependent communities have a right to a plan based on science and law, not on politics and denial.”

Briefing on the case will continue through the end of 2010. A hearing before the United States District Court in Oregon isn’t expected until early 2011.

Plaintiffs in this case include a broad range of regional and national conservation groups, fishing associations, and business interests. They are joined by the State of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe of Washington.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The End of the Line

The inevitable truth of what is happening to the fish in our oceans. Check out more here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grizzly Charging Buffalo

Holly cow, this is in Yellowstone National Park. The Grizzly is estimated at 800 pounds while the Buffalo was estimated at 1600 pounds. Now that is a lot of buffalo burger. Read more courtesy of

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Steelhead Camp in Pictures

John Kirk on his first steelhead adventure. After a few spey casting lessions and a few days on the water he was bent into the first steelhead of his life, not to mention first fish on the spey rod. There was four guys in camp who caught their first swung steelhead and one very talented Laura Jenkins who got her first also. Photo: Ian Majszak

Brain Chou casting a Bob Clay Riverwatch Dean Bamboo spey rod. Photo: Ian Majszak

Walking back from a morning of tug and war. I lost!!! Photo: Ian Majszak

Getting ready for battle. Photo: Ian Majszak

Matt Klara fixing his shit. Photo: Ian Majszak

Matt with the fruits of his labor. Photo: Ian Majszak

Fergus Skater Love! Photo: Michael Davidchik

Keith Darnall and John Kirk Classing up the Place. Photo: Ian Majszak

Jeff Nelson with one of a couple fish he caught on his first steelhead camp. Photo: Ian Majszak

Reading the Steelhead Bible after a morning session. Photo: Ian Majszak

Getting ready for the morning run. Photo: Ian Majszak

Keith running the Svendsen. Photo: Ian Majszak

Matney with the fastest boat on the river that morning. Photo: Ian Majszak

Checking out the scenery on the big river. Photo: Brian Chou

Lots of nights were spend like this. At one point we had 18 people around the campfire. Good times with good friends. I think the topic of this night was why Missoula sucked so much. Photo: Ian Majszak

There was another way to keep warm at night other then the campfire. Photo: Ian Majszak

Going to bed early, what a bunch of biaaaaaatches! Photo: Ian Majszak

Proving a point, one drunken night Matney tied up the Blue Death. The Blue Death is nothing but blue flashabou, and yes he picked my pocket with it. Photo: Michael Davidchik

An unnamed Alaskan educating us on landing skills. Photo: Michael Davidchik

Ian Majszak getting the shot. Photo: Matt Klara

Brian and I enjoying the moment. Matt's Powerspey, dryline, Scott T2H and a Red Wing Blackbird brought me some love in a run that hates me. Photo: Ian Majszak

Part of the steelhead crew the morning the Missoula boys left. Missoula Vs. Bozeman, what a stupid battle. Too bad neither of them have steelhead back home. Lots of guys and gals not in the picture. Photo: Ian Majszak

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Alaskan Chinook Bycatch at a Record High

You chinook salmon lovers out there may find it interesting that once again the Alaskan polluck fishery has put a serious dent in chinook stocks traveling throughout the Gulf of Alaska. Chinnok are a highly migratory species and many of the fish caught in Alaska are from stocks in the lower 48 and Canada. This includes fish from the Upper Willamette and Lower Columbia Rivers that have been tracked in the past and are endangered. This years tally in the Polluck fishery was over 58 thousand, which is almost three times greater then average 20 thousand. Read more courtesy of the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Love Your River

"Love Your River" is a program developed by the Oregon Environmental Council. The OEC safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon—clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For more than 40 years, they have sought out solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the place we call home.

This program challenges you to get to know your waterways and how little things can make a big difference. This months action is reducing your own personal oil spill. For instance washing your car in your driveway bleeds oil into your local watershed. Though it costs a few extra dollars to go to a commercial car wash, they are required to treat the water for disposal and some even recycle. Pretty cool and makes a lot of sense. The little things add up and make a difference and I am looking forward to learning more.

This site is a fun easy way to get to know how each of us can become better stewards of the rivers we cherish. The "Love Your River" is complete with an online toolkit and monthly prize drawings. Sign up for the Love Your River campaign to get monthly action tips, find out how clean your favorite rivers are, and win prizes like camping gear and backpacks when you take action to love your river. Check out Love Your River and what the Oregon Environmental Council is doing for your rivers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In Search of a Few of


and then maybe a few of these over the next few weeks. Gotta love the Fall!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Skater Time= Happy Hour

This is that magic time of year. Check out this video from John Hazel on the Deschutes River. You can learn a lot watching videos like this and watching guys on the river that know how to do it. I had the opportunity to watch a legend on the river last Fall and the next day I had one of those days I will never forget. Take the tips and bobbers off fellas, this is game time. Enjoy the Happy Hour while we got it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ross and 3M

My old Big Game #4 (Photo: Brian Chou)

I hate to admit it, I get crap from it from my buddies who fish the salt, but I have always been loyal to Ross Reels. Though you might not find any of the new models of reels in my closet, I still have a lot of the oldies and goodies. For years I have had a hard time not buying more when I see them in the classifieds. Maybe its the Filipino shoe thing that has transcended on fishing reels, but for sure it is at least the Filipino bargin shopper in me. When you own three Ross Big Game #6's and that isn't all of your spey reels, then you know you have a problem. I have been able to cut ties with quite a few of those as well as other Ross Reels over the years, but one thing is for sure, I still love those old Big Game Reels.

Ross Reels is a small company based out of Montrose, Colorado and have been making quality reels for over thirty years. 3M, the company that owns Scientific Angler has just recently purchased Ross Reels. How this is going to effect the factory in Montrose and their customer service is beyond me, but with the experience I have had with Scientific Angler, there shouldn't be any problem. Overall this is still a big deal, 3M is a huge conglomerante employing 75,000 workers in 65 countries, with $23 billion in sales a year. 3M dabbles in everything from medical, office and building supplies, video and computer accessories as well as sctoch tape to name a few. With ownership of Ross this could mean big changes to Ross's American homestead. Let's hope they stay loyal to their valued customer and stay planted in Montrose, Co. As of right now that is their current plan.

Read More courtesy of the Angling Trade and Field and Stream's Fly Talk Blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Clearwater Idaho Survey

I am a little late on this one, but there are some proposed rule changes on the Clearwater River and this is your opportunity to voice an opinion to Idaho Fish and Game. Unfortunately the deadline in September 30th, so get it done if you actually read this please.

— Do you support changing the general stream season in the Clearwater Region to "open all year?"

— Do you support prohibiting the use of bait during the catch-and-release steelhead season in the Clearwater River Basin?

— Do you support allowing the use of only single-pointed, barbless hooks while fishing for salmon or steelhead in the South Fork Clearwater River?

— Do you support extending "no fishing from a motorized boat" (no motor) restriction September 1 - April 30?

There are several other survey questions that you can check out here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fay Clave

So there I was sitting in the truck driving East when all of a sudden we popped in the Snake River Valley. All of a sudden that shit poor mood that I had been in for months was gone. Friends, steelhead, a few beverages and some much needed time was ahead of me and I got to say it was good. Meeting up for the Mills Fay Clave was a great excuse to learn more about one of my favorite rivers on the other side of the hills.

All the cards seem to align on this strip and skaters and floating lines were the ticket until a front moved in. The first evening I found myself working the middle of a long run where fast water broadened out forming a small bucket before widening out some more. This spot was screaming skater so I put on Fergus Skater and proceeded to work down the run. Soon after I had a smolt hammer the fly on the retrieve. Oh well and continued to work down the run. Then all of a sudden a splash on the fly. WTF I thought, it had been a while since I raised a fish and casted again with another splash. Well hell I thought to myself, two more consecutive casts and the same thing happened. Thinking it could have been another big smolt I casted again and dead drifted it more trying to entice a static drift with no response. Not soon after to my amazement my phone rang and for some reason I answered it. Stupid yes, but after talking on the phone I realized I just rested whatever was harassing my fly.

After getting off the phone I immediately changed the fly to my second favorite skater, a Smith Muddler or Smuddler. The original version of the after dinner mint with a sparse marabou wing, small flat head and long streamer hook. A few casts later a fish rose again and there was no doubt with the visual that this was no smolt. On the very next cast I see the head and dorsal come out of the water and in no time my Hardy Salmon was screaming. I new this was a good fish when I saw royal blue Teeny backing flying through my guides, but when I saw the tail fin sticking out of the water almost three feet from where the end of my fly line was I new I had something on I would never forget. Minutes later I was able to beach her and the rest is history. My first but not last skated fish on this river but for sure my first B.

The rest of the trip was a blast with old and new friends and was able to fish several rivers on the East Side. Fay Mills got to celebrate with a steelhead on his 70th birthday on a comeback fly, yet another story. I had the opportunity to finally meet my future Mental Health Therapist. He seems to be ok with meeting me out on the river so I think it should work out. I also got to harass Poppy at the Red Shed for a while and got to eat some of Linda's famous cookies that she was making for this weeks Clearwater Clave. It is going to be a great spey clave. You should all go check it out if you are in the area.