Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Best Part of the Day

The best part of the day on the river is when you take the focus away from the fishing and take a look around. Bald Eagles fly by and land on a perch overhead, the cold clean water flows over rocks in the run above you, the twilight approaches and blue winged olives hatch in a tailout while smolts take them on the surface. Salamanders scurry over rocks into small pools of water for safety as you watch a friend cast a laser tight loop into the distant seam. These are but a few of the things that make fishing so special. It is far too often you overlook these things while in pursuit. For many of us flipping the switch from our fast day to day life is difficult on the water. Many of us focus too much on the fish and do not get the full appreciation for what we are doing while immersed in nature and its mighty rivers.

I too often try to escape from the real world and fail to appreciate what we have because I am too focused on my quarry. Those special days when I am relaxed and more appreciative of being out on the water or out in nature and less focused on fishing leads me to more success and relaxation. The more relaxed I am, the better I cast and make presentations. I am able to view the experience as a whole and not be too focused on catching a fish, more on how I am fishing and why I am out in Mother Nature. Success does still occur, and those of us that do it more and more find our own personal gratifications in our own personal pursuit on the water.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Great Day with the Boys

Jeff and Jan outside the Grenada Theatre.

Spend a day with the dirty scoundrels from the film tour last week while on their last stop in Oregon. The Dalles, Oregon viewing was sponsored by Jeff and Jan Cottrell, formerly of The Dalles Fly Shop, and I got to say it was a great success. They are two of the most down to earth badass people you will ever meet. On multiple occasions and in different capacities they have supported both my friends and myself with food, lodging, gear and words of wisdom. Though there shop in The Dalles will be sorely missed, they're rumors they will be moving across the big river and with luck will find itself a new home.

Marc and Jay letting Chris know what's up. Poor Tom Derry from the Native Fish Society had to put up with them for several nights.

A gift to the boys from Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Washington. This was the best Whiskey I think I have ever drank. Jay brought this one out to celebrate some guys birthday.

The boys from the tour are putting their work in and you will be amazed with the movie clips that they are showing. If you get a chance you need to go check them out if they come to a town near you. These guys are real fishermen and just like the crew of characters we all fish with everyday. Make sure to harass Thad, Jay and Marc when you see them and help support the tour and a couple of fish bums. Check it out here.

Tall tales of sasquatch and bow hunting. I will let Chris Owens fill in the blanks. (Photo:B. Chou)

Marc Crapo, the most redneck white Filipino brother I will ever meet. Great guy! (Photo:B. Chou)

Intersting Estuary Smolt Data

(Photo: From the Greater Georgia Basin Recovery Archive)

Recent data from Oregon State University has identified that there is a surprisingly high level of smolt death in the estuary due to predation from sea birds and marine mammals. The data indicated that there was a mortality of 50-60% of the fish studied once they reached the estuary. A native female steelhead lays 2000-5000 eggs and 2-3% of them return as adults on average. This estuary data and the following research will hopefully help to identify some of the obstacles juveniles face while on their migration to the ocean. Read more from Oregon State University.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fishing a Loop

Here is an interesting and annoying topic that always comes up from time to time. Conversations can get downright dumb and even hostile in steelhead camp at times and I really no longer see what the big deal is. Personally I carry a loop and do it because I feel that the friction of the line pulling through my finger helps to set the hook when the fish turns its head. Though those aggressive takes will not always need this slight amount of initial friction, it helps with those slow annoying takes. Also we from time to time get those very slow; I mean almost pauses or stops in your line that you think is a fish. I find this to happen a lot when fishing over hatchery fish or in really cold water. By carrying a loop this gives you an option to drop the loop on these slow takes.

The idea of dropping a loop on a fish is this. Picture a steelhead holding in moderate current. It moves a foot to intercept a fly and when it takes it just opens its mouth and sits there not turning its head. When you drop a loop with the hook in a fish’s mouth, the current will take the rest of the fly line and turn it into a bow and sweep it downstream thus moving the hook to the corner of the fish’s mouth. When the fish feels this tension, it will then turn its head and you will either have a fish on or a look of bewilderment on your face. Now even if you know a pitcher is going to throw you a fastball doesn’t mean you are going to hit a homer, but carrying a loop at least gives you an option in these scenarios. Just remember if you drop a loop, make sure it slides through your fingers and you do not just drop it. By allowing it to slide through your fingers, the fly line is still under constant tension and you do not loose control or feeling of the end of the line.

One exception I see with fishing a loop occurs when fishing with click pawl reels. With no drag on the reel, the amount of friction placed on the line from the reel is the same as sliding through your finger and also not enough direct tension to alarm the fish right off the bat. Thus decreasing the chance of an initial head shake that throws the fly. This is one of the things you really benefit from these traditional reels. Also you do not have to worry about one variable, having a drag set too tight on the initial run. Even experienced fishermen sometimes forget to check their drag. I have found that with traditional lightweight irons too much tension lead to a spring effect on the fly and you pop a lot of fish on the initial go.

Now I use this method and I have confidence in it during all parts of the year from fishing tips to even dry fly fishing. In dry fly fishing I carry a loop for a cushion for both letting the fish time to take the fly as well as to numb my reaction time. I find this especially so after I have raised a fish to a fly and then try to get it to come back. There is nothing more frustrating then bonering up after getting a fish to rise and then f… up the next take. Yes it’s a mental game, but when it comes to hooking a steelhead on a dry fly and not being a pot smoker with a delayed reaction time and me being a caffeine addict, I use everything I can to hook them.

When it comes down to it however, I think your odds at hooking steelhead is about the same when not fishing a loop for people that fish this method consistently. There are a lot of great fishermen out there that do not fish loops. It is their experience and there ability to be patient from frequent encounters over the years that make them successful. I think the most important thing to remember is sticking with one method. The only feedback that matters is the success and experience you find on the water. Each hookup or grab is a building block for the next and thus patience and instinct takes over after a while. Regardless of what you do, you are going to win some and loose some and this is what brings us back to the river.

Here is another description that explains it a little differently from Matt Klara at Sexy Loops.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shaking the Dust Off

Been working on this broken down vehicle that has all the parts but the gears aren't working. It's amazing how a couple months of dishevelment leads to graceless two right feet. Still with a little patience, proper timing and work the motors starting to come back into shape and the rust is shaking off. It's all coming together now.

Fly Fishing Film Tour

The Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour is on there way to a town near you. I am going to be sure to make it this year in Portland on the 12th or maybe the Dalles show on the 18th, missing last years because of work sucked. Stop by and harass Thad, Jay and Crapo and support the art of film making, joy of the outdoors, environmentalism, fly fishing and enjoying a beverage with friends. It will be goooooooood! Check out there tour schedule here.

Personally I am looking forward to seeing some new footage from the Metalhead video as well as Mad Phil Media's work in the Salt. Go check it out and see clips on the tour site.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Common Waters in Oregon

Being a Washington resident, I am sometimes oblivious to what is going on in Oregon and have to rely on friends to help me stay up to date on what is going on. My good friend Sam Sickles sent me this message and I want to pass it on to you. Remember it is only a few minutes of your time and can benefit us all. Please read the synopsis below:

The Oregon Senate committee Environment & Natural Resources will hear river rights legislation SB 1060 this Thursday February 4th, at 1pm. It’s very important that they receive public input on this matter. It’s a very very short legislative session and in the course of a two hour meeting in Salem, much can change.

Please write to the Senators on the Environment & Natural Resources committee and also send that same letter to your own senator. Below are the e-mail links for the Environment & Natural Resources committee.

Jackie Dingfelder, Chair
Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair
Brian Boquist
Mark Hass
Floyd Prozanski

To find your own district Senator’s addresses, email, and phone numbers, use this link.

We hope that you’ll customize your letter to mention why you care about public rivers for Oregon. A unique letter is more effective than copy & paste letter, and copy & paste letter is better than nothing. Here’s the main points that we hope you’ll make.

Dear Senator ,
River rights are an important part of this state’s infrastructure. Many businesses and communities across this state were founded due to river travel, and are supported by river travel. It’s critical that we never give up our river rights.

Senate Bill 1060 is not ideal, it has several problems that could result in diminished river rights, but the amendment Senate Bill 1060-1 fixes nearly all of those problems. In addition to the changes in SB 1060-1, a few more items will help clarify the bill and make it a better piece of legislation.

The use of the term “Class 1″ and “Class 2″ waterways should be replaced throughout the document with the respective terms “floatable” and “non-floatable”. Class 1 and Class 2 would be confused with the much more popular and widely accepted terms that refer to the amount of rapids in a river. By using the terms “floatable” and “non-floatable” it will greatly reduce that confusion. The terms Class 1 and Class 2 should be replaced throughout the document with the terms “floatable” and “non-floatable.”
Page 3, line 4 after the word “waterway” insert the phrase “to protect public health and safety or protect natural resource values of the waterway”. This clarification helps direct that any rules related to controlling the public should stem from concern for these issues.
Page 4 line 8 delete the phrase “related to conflicts.” There is no definition of the word “conflict” in the document. The use of this word often masks a more definitive description of littering, or trespass, or harassment, or menacing. All of those words offer much more understanding and accuracy of any problem that arises, and may help point to more simple and accurate solution while the word “conflict” does not. When the public litters along the highway we do not call it “conflict”, nor do we call it “conflict” if a private landowner adjacent to a highway damages the roadway or makes it unsafe. “Conflict” by it’s nature is impossible to manage, these other issues are very possible to address. Delete of the phrase “related to conflicts.”
Page 4 line 26 delete the word “unreasonably”. This law codifies the public’s right to be on floatable waterways, there should be no level of harassment that is allowed. Delete the word “unreasonably”.
Page 4 line 30 after the word “group” insert “with representatives of from the public’s various water use pursuits and interest and owner’s of property adjacent to floatable waterways” It’s important that any advisory body represent the wide array of public interest in waterways from scientific concerns, sport, commercial interest, historical interest, and the interest of land owners.
With these changes to SB 1060-1, it would be a good piece of legislation for Oregon. It would be simple and clear codification of the Public Use Doctrine that has always been critical for river travel and commerce in this state. Codification will help with law enforcement.

Finally, the people of Oregon cannot not support any quit claim amendment that may be proposed to this legislation. Navigable waterways are a critical part of the 1859 Admission Act that made Oregon a state. Public rivers are in the best interest of the people of the state, they are travel corridors and natural resources that were set aside at statehood, for the people of the state. Our public rivers have been and will always be good for the people. Even before we had the wisdom to pass the Oregon Beach Bill in 1970, we already had public rivers. Rivers that were navigable in 1859 are “Common Highways… and Forever Free,” and we safeguard safeguard that during this very short legislative session.

Rivers rights are important to me……

Please support SB 1060-1 and the changes suggested here. Together these changes would make a good piece of legislation for Oregon.


John/Jane Q. Public

Please send your letters today and ask others to send their letters as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

River Dumping

Picture courtesy of BattleGround-Mike on ifish.net.

I am sure all of you have seen it from time to time, but there is a lot of trash in our rivers from beer cans, tires, diapers, to cars and furniture. There is so much in areas that the eye sore keeps me from going back to the river. Though urban fisheries are growing everyday, the eye sores lead me to other places to fish. Though I always try and clean up what I find on the banks, in the river and on the side of the road, there is no way I can clean it all up in one brief sweep of the runs that I fish. I always try to pack out more then I pack in. In this case, they needed more then a few guys to clean up this mess. I actually saw the recover of a vehicle several years ago in the same spot on my way home from the said river.

The dumping of stolen vehicles has gone up over the years in my local fisheries, especially at boat ramps and I only hope the authorities find these criminals and give citations for environmental impacts as well as the crime of steeling and dumping vehicles. Please continue to do your best to keep your riverside clean and remove what you can. I personally have a run on an uppper stretch of a river I fish with a large car set sitting in the brush. I plan on going back to pull it out later this summer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Mark

Agate Guides

A war wound from fishing the previous day. Apparently it is a quick fix when he gets back home.

Wrapping the ferrules together.

A month or so I get a message from my friend Mark Shamburg from that he is going to be in my neck of the woods while on a pilgrimage to the Olympic Peninsula with some friends. Now Mark is from Colorado and while not trout fishing he is busy engineering bamboo rods and even making his own reels. Yes, traditional style click pawl reels. Before this trip he was able to make his very own first bamboo spey rod. Though busy with parental obligations and juggling both my wife's and my own work schedule, I was only able to hang out for a few hours on Mark's birthday on a Portland area river, the last day of January.

With the ever so crowded rivers of the weekend and moderately high water conditions on this particular river, we had a hard time finding fishable water from the road. After watching and seeing where most of the boats were, we ended up finding a nice run away from everyone to cast this new grass spey. More interested in casting this step back in technology and seeing it in action then in fishing, I ended up playing guide walking though the run with Mark. It was great catching up with Mark, not seeing the guy since last winter.

After hitting rock after rock while on his way into the sweet spot in the run, he was shocked when one of the rocks started to move and pull. Then the race was on. Bulldogging, bursts of speed led us to believe that this was no ordinary steelhead and had to be a large native buck. Then all of a sudden the fish started to flash and thrash on the surface and you could see the huge jet chrome and slight glimpse of its back. I thought to myself this can't be a steelhead and after working it down the run, I got a good glimpse. "I hate to tell you this Mark, but this ain't no steelhead, this is a springer." The January Unicorn and first I have seen or heard of this year.

Minutes later and though shaking with excitement, I was able to tail the fish and put it on the bank. A mega football at 35x23, this hatchery fish was going home. With Mark and his buddies on the road they decided to give it to me, even after trying to explain how rare and sought after springers are here in the Pacific Northwest for both there table fare and fighting ability. Both experiencing this and getting to fish this unique spey made my winter. I am sure Mark is still smiling ear to ear right now while on the Coast. I hope the next time I see him he will have time to finish one of the wide drum reels he has been working on. I can't help but to be amazed how a step back in technology can be both fun and effective while enjoying a day on the river. If you are interested in checking out his work, you can get a glimpse here on spey pages.

Happy Birthday Mark!