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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Steelhead Camp Part 1

Keith Darnall and my old lab Sage taking a break.

Our Fall annual Steelhead camp this year was a lot different then in past years. Usually we try and spend at least a week on the Dry Side fishing on several different rivers and this year only allowed for a short window to be spent in these different locations. Also for the first time I was able to take my father on this yearly pilgrimage.

My father, an old vet who grew up trolling for walleye in Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa could never really get the hang of fly fishing. Though he has caught a fair share of fish in Alaska on the fly, he has always been intimidated by casting the single hander and leery of trying to cast the spey rod. So this year with the help of friends who fish gear, we were able to outfit him with semi appropriate equipment for salmon and steelhead fishing.

Not ever catching a steelhead on gear, I only have a modest knowledge of how to catch one with such equipment. Also knowing the etiquette of the river and knowing how he listens to his youngest son, I was not sure how this trip was going to pan out for him, not to mention the odd amount of stress I had knowing I wanted him to catch fish and have a good time, while I had to try and help him do something I had never been successful at.

So after a long night of driving and a nap we found ourselves with some good friends on the Clearwater River. Like all good tourist in the area we decided to drive up the river, visit Poppy at the Red Shed and get our licensees and tribal permits. After feeling like we wasted the morning we finally got a swingable run in the lower river. The sun was on the water and fish were in the area because several boats kept on catching them just upstream of us. After working the run for a few hours I finally get that dry line grab and the loop taken from me then the set followed by this odd feeling I have come accustomed to on the Clearwater. Seconds later my annual dry line whitefish on the Clearwater was landed. That was the last grab I got in the two days spent there.

So the following morning we headed upstream to one of my good friend Keith Darnall's spots. We put my dad in the bucket, Keith went downstream and I walked above the run and worked the tailout into the run. About a half hour later I work my way to where my father was. He had broken his jig off on a rock and was trying to re-rig his outfit. Knowing granny knots are not the best knots for fishing, I decided to get him set back up. With my line still in the water on the dangle I got his setup back into working order and casted it while trying to explain how to run a drift down the seam. After reeling it in I casted again and then it happened, bobber down, reel, set then a fish flying through the air. I still had the spey rod in my arm pit and 90 plus feet of line dangling below me and handed it to my dad. I guess a good son would have handed the rod with the fish on it to his father, but I handed him the spey rod instead. Oops :).

A half dozen jumps later the fish was on the beach. A nice big B-Run. I was shocked how much control I had on this large fish on a 6'6" spinning rod. The black and red jig the fish was caught on I tied just a few days earlier. The jig it was tied on was pulled off a rock in the river and sat in a box with all the corkies and hooks I had kept over the years. Thank god for recycling.

Now catching a steelhead on a spinning rod is not a big accomplishment by any means. Hell lots of steelhead fly fishermen have done it before they took up fly fishing, but for me this was a first, and a grand fish to do it with.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Save Bristol Bay" Road Show

The "Save Bristol Bay Road Show will be at Portland, Oregon's Bagdad Theater Wednesday, October 19th. See Kate Taylor, Justin Crump and the rest of the ambassadors of the Bristol Bay Region of Alaska in their pursuit of saving one of the last strongholds for Pacific Salmon in the world. Check out Red Gold and the show at McMenamin's Bagdad Theater. They will also be in Corvallis on Friday, October 21st at 7pm (The Art Center). Lets join together and prevent some spoiled bitches from ruining God's Country for a couple pennies and copper wire Meth heads tear out of our catalytic converters.

See you there.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Beginnings

This weekend marks the first time that I am unable to make it out to the annual Eastside Steelhead Tour on the Clearwater/Snake/Grande Ronde, and while Dawn and I will miss the good times and focused audience of steelhead this time of year, we have a new addition to the family that is taking our full attention. On September 24th, our first child Natalie Kai-Yen Chou (her middle name is a traditional Chinese name meaning "new beginnings" and is based off an ancient family poem) was born at a healthy 8lbs and 21inches. Dawn is recovering slowly but surely, and I'm finally learning why God invented coffee. For those of you who are parents, I'm sure you remember those first months pretty well (although it may be more of a blur, as these past three weeks feels like to me), full of many midnight diaper changes and half awake origami swaddles, with the methodical bouncing that unconsciously starts happening while talking about the weekend with coworkers.

For the record, I have actually managed to make it out fishing for a couple hours in the morning (or maybe it was just Dawn's way of politely kicking me out of the house for some fresh air while my visiting mother watched the baby), but what I found mid swing was that my thoughts kept drifting back to what it felt like for my baby girl to fall asleep on my chest after I did what I do best thus far in her life- get her to burp.

Coming home was even a different feeling. As I raced home from my morning outing, I realized this was the first time I was coming back from fishing to my new family...the first of many I'm sure, but it was something I had never felt before. Hundreds of fishing trips, and this was the first of its kind. I didn't feel the need to make a call on the way home to ask if there was anything I could pick up at the store (which is my crafty way of saying that I spent slightly more time than I thought fishing, and now I'm going to attempt and divert any potential conflict with this selfless act of errand running)....none of that. Just that I wanted to get home, hold my baby girl and breathe in that smell of baby through her soft hair.

So while our friends are camped out somewhere out east, and believe me, we will be joining them as a family in the near future...for now our entire world is right here, between dijon diapers, getting puked/peed/pooped on, Friday night runs to Babies 'R' Us for the "right" binkie and many sleepless nights staring into the eyes of this baby...waiting...for the first time she looks back at us and smiles.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Steelhead Dreams

Awesome videography, beautiful landscape, beautiful river, beautiful fish and beautiful Hannah Belford showing us guys how women can do it too.