Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Partay 2011!

Keith Darnall and Andrea classing up the place once again.
The Holidays are always a great time to spend with friends and family and this year was no different. Last weekend we had a festive gathering bringing friends from throughout the country. Laughs, drinks, memories, fishing stories and holiday cheer filled my tiny home here in Camas, Washington. It was great to see everyone and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Brian Chou on the grill. 

Jarrod Black representing a little more then Rajeff Sports. 
Enjoying the festivities!
Embarrassing Mia, Priceless!
Sorry Marty :)!
Jeff Cotrell, Mia Sheppard, Brian Styskal and Marty Sheppard. 
Chelsea Vanderpool, Nick English and my brother Joe laughing while talking about the first time I went fly fishing.  .
Jeff Nelson making a chick drink for himself.
Kerry Burkheimer showing us kids how to really be a Rockstar.
Kasia and Justin Teegarden
Merry Christmas from the Crew!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hatchery Vs. Wild

This is a summary of some of the issues of hatchery impacts on the productivity of wild salmon and steelhead. It is a interesting read as well as everything found on Bill Bakke's, Home Waters and Wild Fish.

By Bill Bakke

Naturally spawning hatchery fish from long term hatchery cultivation produce 6-11% to the adult stage compared to wild fish. ( Leider et al. 1989, Araki et al 2006)

In the first generation native broodstock hatchery fish (using wild steelhead for hatchery broodstock) the reproductive success of the hatchery fish spawning naturally in streams declines by 14% (males) and 2% (females) compared to wild fish spawning naturally in the river. (ISRP 2011)

In later generations (second and third) the reproductive success of native broodstock hatchery steelhead spawning naturally in streams is 50% (males) lower and 77% (females) lower than naturally spawning wild fish. (ISRP 2011)

There is a genetic change in the hatchery steelhead that carries over to naturally produced progeny of hatchery-origin parents causing reduced reproductive fitness of wild-born descendants in the wild and the population fitness of subsequent generations. (Araki et al. 2009, ISRP 2011)

In just 6 generations native broodstock hatchery steelhead reproductive success is 29% to 54% that of wild steelhead. (Berntson 2011)

In order to maintain cost effective hatchery programs, access to healthy abundant wild steelhead populations is required. (Based on research by Araki et al. 2008)

In order to protect and rebuild wild salmon and steelhead populations harvest targeted on hatchery fish must be regulated to protect wild spawner abundance, spawner abundance goals need to be adopted by species and watershed, hatchery transfers among watershed need to be eliminated, and naturally spawning hatchery fish need to be excluded from wild fish spawning areas. (Conclusions base on best available science)

Impacts of hatchery fish on wild fish must be controlled so that competition for food and space for rearing juveniles in streams and the estuary support wild fish survival, predation and predator attraction by hatchery fish is controlled to protect survival of wild fish, and nutrient enrichment targets from natural spawning wild fish support and expand the productive capacity of the habitat. (Conclusion based on best available science)

Competition between wild and hatchery fish spawning naturally in a common habitat can reduce the production of wild juveniles by 50% (Kostow 2004)

The cost to produce a hatchery steelhead that contributes to the catch is $200 to over $400 per fish harvested. Most hatchery programs funded with tax dollars are not cost effective, making the hatchery program vulnerable to loss of funding as hatcheries compete for funding with other social needs for available dollars. . (Hans Radtke 2011, IEAB 2000)

The Day With the Boys

We each have a time in our lives when a date brings you back to memories of the past. Many years ago in December I lost the most important person in my life, my mother. A few years later on the same anniversary date I lost a good friend that took his own life.

When my mother passed, I became more of a recluse and for some reason started to go out in the winter looking for something. I thought it was my first steelhead, but later I found out it was a lot more. Several years later when one of my fishing buddies passed, I started to question life and why I was out there. At that time we had a close nit group of buddies. We jokingly called ourselves The Early Morning Freestone Pimps. This group name came from our good friend who was no longer with us. It took a long time for me and my buddies to get out fishing again, especially getting out together.

Now years have passed and we all got together from time to time, but this day or time of year was different and over the years we decided that it was important to remember that day together in the fashion best suiting this group of buddies. That would be of course fishing. It hasn't been all about fishing, more about getting together as you might expect, remembering our lost friend and for me my mother.

Mike Gamby, who you will recognize as one of the posters on this blog, is a a unique individual. Mike, a family man, works educating our youth promoting sports activities though Vancouver Parks and Recreation. Mike's one of those up beat guys that is as honest and straight forward as it gets. Over the years like mine his life has been blessed with children and time for fishing decreased. He however helped me realize how special it was to come home to happy faces and giggling children after a long day at work or on the river. Coach Mike as my daughter calls him from her days at the local recreational center still plays hockey and very soon might be drafted into the NHL, or at least into some Pee Wee league somewhere.

The only real flaw, though you may call it a blessing, is that Mike is not addicted to steelheading. Just saying!

Jaybird, Jay the Pirate, Boogie, Flip or Jay Johnson's life changed several times before finding a home with the Motiv Crew, Fly Fishing Film Tour and naked Airflo Fly Line advertisements. This dude asked me if I was Asian the first time I met him and after telling him I was half Filipino, I was adopted into his family.

Over the years life has changed for both of us and he now gets to live the dream we always talked about. So when Mikey and I got to his house the other day to spend the day on the river you would think this professional fly fishermen would be ready. Instead it was like it was so many years past. He couldn't find his shit. Seriously the dude couldn't find his gear. Like always there is gear all over the place and enough guns and ammo for the Zombie Apocalypse, but his wader bag was no wear in sight.

Of course we found a pair of moldy boots fresh with a layer of moss on them in the backyard, but they did not quite have the traction of the pair he used while traveling across the globe. So after some nicotine, a nap on the couch, playing fetch with Ruthless his dog, curing cancer and inventing a three handed fly rod, Jay finally found his wader bag. It only took two hours, but who needed time when Jay has a time machine.

After hitting the road and stopping by a greasy pot for breakfast, we slipped time back to 1669 and hiked down one of our old secret waters in search of a few early winter steelhead. It didn't take long to find them, but it sure took a long time to get one to take. After hiking up and down the stream we finally found a pod of fish that we could cast to and after we all took a crack at them I finally hooked up. While fighting the fish I turned to the boys just in time to hear Jay tell Mikey, "That sure looks like fun!" Classic comments like this throughout the years is what fishing with Jay is all about.

A few minutes later I was able to feed the Johnson household once again. Fishing wasn't the best part of the day, but catching a fish always helps. Take time to give thanks to your family and friends before you loose your chance and always remember and learn from those you lost. This is a time of the year for friends and family after all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Mighty "D".

The Deschutes is a fickle little trout mistress.

Trout fishing here, in my opinion, is a LOT harder to do, than other rivers in the west.
Especially in the winter.
Even more so, because I am not a “regular” of the river.

But there is something that draws me there in December…
Is it the lack of crowds?
Is it the chance that you might “nymph up” a Steelhead?
Is it because those scary ass rattlers are not chasing me around, trying to eat my face?

I think it is a combination of all 3. Which is why I love fishing it in the winter.

When I go to a trout stream… I look at “fishy” places… in big riffles, behind boulders, broken water…. You know… all the places that you think trout “should be”.

But the Deschutes aint no “stream”. It is a big, big river. And it is intimidating.

From what I have heard, the Deschutes rule is…”back eddies and foam lines”.
Also, nymph, nymph, nymph. Bobbers and stoneflies, with little red worms.

But as a trout guy… You give me the opportunity to fish a dry, I will take advantage.

Enter my buddy Randall…. In my opinion, he knows this river. And he loves to fish a dry with old school fiberglass rods, and Pfleugers.

We just recently spend a beautiful cold sunny day over there, with no one on the river, clear water, and very little wind. And dry flies. All day.

Watching Randy fish this river, made me completely change the way I think about the Deschutes.

He is a stalker. He looks for fish first. And if you look hard enough, they are there.
He fishes eddies INSIDE of eddies, 3” from bank.

If he sees a foam line, he fishes it. As long as it’s extremely close to the bank.
It is a challenge to cast, to stalk, and to get a good drift. I love it.

And he is good at it.

And it completely changed the way I fish that river.

But I aint touching Fiberglass. I am an Echo guy. An extremely attractive Echo guy.
Just ask me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Early Winters

December 1st marked my first real day of chasing Winter Steelhead. Had dinner and a few drinks with some friends the night before then headed home early in the morning, setting my alarm before I headed to bed. Waking up from REM sleep was a blurr and the next thing I new it was almost noon. Well shit, typical motivation and not remembering that I turned the alarm off, I started heading out the door, but before I made it down that steps I flipped a uie. I ended up tying some flies and got some shit done around the house. Typical, I can't ever get motivated to fish for early winters, much less those Chambers Creek retarded hatchery fish that show up this time of year.

This early returning strain of midget winters have fed hatchery rivers throughout Washington for years. This is the same strain that the Elwah tribe decided was a good idea to introduce to the Elwah now that the dams are gone. These fish are not known for great fights, being good biters, being large or having many fins when they arrive back at their native streams. Still when Rome, follow the Romans or dig into the American Commercialized version of Christmas. Trampling people at the department store can be fun too.

Day two was a little different. After picking up Dr Bill on the long drive to the river we were greeted with way too many people in the dark. Still we were there and if anything it had been a while since I got out. After a few hours with nothing to show for it, I cut off that damn indicator. I just have a hard time getting into nymphing after swinging flies all summer and fall. With a Echo Ion and an Airflo Six Sense (The best nymphing line for those who use spey casts!!!), I didn't have a tip small enough for this mini Delta to turn over, so I pulled out the cheap tip. You know, a split shot. Seriously a few casts later I was into my first fish on a caballero. One of them micro chromers that fought better then the other fish I tangled with that day.

Dr Bill continued to nymph, picking up his first of the year as well. He brought his lab Rocky with him and that dog doesn't like fish. It was funny as hell to see and chased every fish he saw. It was probably detrimental to our fishing, but hell, who cares, when your number is up, its up.

Wish we had Chums to chase like these down here. It was nice to see a few of them still around though they will not be around for long.

Fishing Redds in Idaho

Here is a fine example of why late season steelheading on the East Side should be closed. You can see the huge redd they are fishing, not to mention the fish chasing the hooked fish everywhere. Why the hell did this get put on the internet and especially with the Silver Creek guide's name on it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


GOLDFISH from Detonation Studios

More work done by Detonation Studios, Ian Majszak and Bryan Gregson.

Bacon Lube

Cause I aint fishing until tomorrow and its a good rod cleaner.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tim Rajeff Lookalike Contest

Straight from Rajeff Sports, check it out:

Is it worth shaving your head for a chance at an Echo Rod of your choice? Or deadlifting 100lb dumbbells often enough to develop Tim's Hulk-like forearm physique? How about rocking supertight running shorts and hanging out at the local Tiki Bar? Only you can answer the above conun and if you've ever been to a flyfishing tradeshow, there are a lot of folks out there who'd do much weirder things for a free rod. Given Tim has long-stated being a hair dresser to the stars is a dream of his, well here's your chance to get your shave on and truly "Be Like Tim" (just don't challenge him to any casting contests). Let your imagination carry you away on this one. No limit on number of entries, all we ask is that you make it fun, imaginative, and respectful.

*All entries must be emailed to in .jpg format and as high a resolution as possible. Contest deadline is 12:01am January 16th, 2012. The winning image will become property of, and all rights of use to Rajeff Sports, LLC.

Check out Echo Fly Fishing's new website.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Roadtrip of the Year

To make a long story short, one could not turn water into wine and instead turned it into cold Coors Light. The cold fertile waters of the Skeena will have to wait until another year when wallet is filled with more then receipts. The plan changed to a roadtrip to visit some buddies in Montana, catch a Brown Trout before it finds a Fall Partner then go visit some river in Idaho where pigmy steelhead have to travel 600 plus miles to get to.

Tamarack in the Hills of Montana.

The short cold Fall days turned to the beginning of Winter in the Rockies and the drive slowed to the pace of snow and ice filled passes and rollovers. Seeing good friends along the way and staying in towns along the way made the drive seem shorter and the lack of tourists made the scenery in Fall colors a different perspective of what I have seen while making fishing trips in the Spring and Summer months.

Ian Majszak lecturing us on good photography.

Each day brought a different river and scenery to the menu. The trout seemed to target the same thing specifically no matter where we were. Fish were caught and good times were had. Though after a few days and seeing freezing guides every morning I could not help but look into the future and what this winter will bring while in search of Winter Steelhead that are just starting to trickle in on the West side of the Cascades.

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout from a Montana Spring Creek. Note the talon marks from a raptor.

With the weather turning colder and a forecast of 15 degree in the location in Idaho, we made yet another change of plans to yet another venue and one I know well. After yet another long drive through two states we found ourselves on the big river once again. We spent a couple days enjoying the last fruits of Fall then came home to the smiles of our families.

Rick Matney with a Montana Steelhead. If lake run rainbows in the Great Lakes are Steelhead, then this lake run fish in Montana is no different.

Though not the trip I was looking forward to and planning for a year, getting out of Dodge before Seasonal Effective Disorder set in was a must, and like always, lots of things were learned on the river and road to make it worth the carbon footprint.

Classic wets still work just under the surface in the cold!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Guess He Wanted it!

So there I was fishing in the dark the other fight trying to cover water in a boulder field. Water temps were down and working through the run I kept snagging up. Lame as hell really so looking at my tip wallet I went to an old SA clear intermediate that I could not get the curls out of (bullshit PVC crap). While taking five feet per swing I kept tripping on the boulders in the dark as I stepped through the run. Then all of a sudden my line stopped and instead of dropping a loop I just raised the rod thinking it was another boulder then it was there. Weird as hell take and even more so when I found my Fall Favorite in the back of its mouth. Oh well this Buck thirty went to the dinner table. Great end to already good day on the Eastside.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Steelhead Camp Part 2

Justin Koller working the run.

It is always nice coming home to water you know well, though this year with rain and wind it wasn’t the same and challenging in new ways. Fishing the same water for years, the water conditions this year was not the same. Water clarity was not as good and water flow was almost twice that of years past and thus lies and patterns learned over the years changed. Fish were still in many of the same places, but consistency with a dry line was not the same and methods were needed to change over the days to find what we were looking for.

Keith picking my pocket like always.

Day one brought many fish to a dry line and even the surface, but as the water rose and the clarity started to change the fish were moving though in waves. It was not consistent and by the second day, much of the water that held fish did not hold as many the next day, or at least did not come to the consistency of anything with peacock and gold like years past. Still fish were found, but tactics and fly size really started to become a factor.

I got hammered three times skating this little one in pocket water before bringing this one to the beach.

By day three large flies were the ticket but as the clarity started to come back we were able to find more productive holding lies and dry lines started to come back into play. Day four produced the same and by the time my father and I left, it was perfect. Fish were there and starting to hold more consistently.

One of several fish my dad caught.

Despite drinking less and being first on the water, each day just seemed shorter then in years past. Sharing water with my father and good friends was a blast. My dad finally got to see why I travel around the Pacific Northwest in search of these anadromous trout and he even got to catch a few in the process. Watching his hands tremble while holding up his first steelhead was well worth the price of admission and a memory I will always remember.

Josh Mills from Chucking Line and Chasing Tail lighting up the place.

The traditional last day skated fish on a new creation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Work On Condit Dam's Removal

This is awesome and it is happening today! Check it out, White Salmon Restored!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pacific Northwest Fly Tyers Rendezvous

The 2011 Fly Tying Rendezvous will be on Saturday, November 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sam Cox Building, Glen Otto Park, 1106 E. Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, Oregon 97060. This is the same building as last year. There will be many of the N.W. best tyers tying their best flies. No better place to learn the latest techniques in fly tying. Admission is free so bring your family and friends. There will be tables setup for a silent auction with 50+ dozen flies and lots of fly fishing equipment. Food will be available on the premises as well. Have fun!

Check out the Pacific Northwest Fly Tyers Rendezvous.

Shamburg's at it Again

Got a text last week from my good buddy Mark Shamburg. You remember the bamboo spey making, machinist who likes to make his own click pawl reels and who caught a Spring Chinook on his birthday in January a few years past. Well he is off in the British Columbia wonderland slaving away on the river. The quality craftsmanship of his work is amazing and he sent me some pictures the other day of the fruits of his labor. I can't wait to make it up there. Hmmm..........maybe next week.

Mark with the first fish on his trip and the first on his new grass rod and Shammy Reel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quick Klick Float

This weekend I was able to take my daughter Lillian out to visit our good friends Jeff and Jan Cottrell in Klickitat, Washington. Jeff's been fishing the Klickitat for decades and spending time with them has always been more then spending time on the river. Jeff and Jan have been like family to me for years. This last year my daughter got to spend some quality time with them. Last week my daughter asked me if they were going to forget her since they had not seem them in months. So of course with a weekend off and a boat in dry dock, I knew this was a great opportunity to get out.

After eating the usual gourmet dinner at their place on Saturday, we slept in Sunday morning. The Klickitat River this time of year is crowded and this year it has been a downright zoo. There are over a dozen fly shops and outfitters both fly and gear that are guiding on the river these days. Though most of the Chinook Salmon are on the beds already, it prime time for Silvers. Whoopie, but the omelet hatch is on that thus the bobber brigade is out in force.

Now this is prime time to skate a fly. October caddis are out in force, water and air temperature is perfect, yet with the amount of pressure on the river, you got a chance in hell bringing one of them to the surface. Its a crying shame and the asshats trying to pump it with more hatchery Steelhead and non native Silvers, it may get worse.

Photo: Jan Cotrell

At any rate we had a great little float. The Klickitat in the Fall is breathtaking and the weather was perfect. The best part of the day was seeing my daughter connect once again with my good friends and see that Mother Nature is fun for both girls and boys. It also nice to know she will always want to go back to Klickitat, which means I will indeed get some water time with her in the future.

Oh yeah and the pumpkins, I don't know. There were scattered in every good nymphing and yes swinging spot on the river. I figure one of the fly guides was marking his spots for the newbie guides following behind him. It would figure anyway and yes Lillian took one home.