Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Go Beav's!

It's a common cheer here in Oregon, especially during football season.

But maybe all of us fish lovers should start becoming beaver fans.

It turns out that beavers are/have been, according the scientific community, a critical component of many ecosystems all over the world where they are a native species. Their habits of building dams and creating ponds diversify habitat and play critical roles in the life histories of everything from songbirds to salmon. They influence on hydrology is profound, and it has been shown that watersheds with healthy beaver populations not only provide better fish and wildlife habitat, but also are less prone to flooding in their downstream reaches where people often choose to live.

Sure they can cause some problems around the farm or in urban areas, but as anglers we owe it to ourselves to be informed on the issues. Beavers have long been maligned as pests and their dens and dams destroyed in the name of fish conservation and habitat enhancement, or they have been trapped into extinction for their fur. Hindsight is 20/20, and from here on out we should think twice about cursing the beaver, natures habitat enhancement engineer.

Take a few minutes to look at these links and learn why you should be a beaver fan.

Fish on,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Backside Double

thought id share a video of some fisherman demonstrating sustained anchor casting and the 180 degree a somewhat different manner...

...brings to mind some uses, say...if you ever feel like youre being watched, now youll know.

or...if youre really confused as to what a switch cast you know.

or...if youre bored of fishing a run that youve all but sent the "rake" through, and still doesnt contain fish where it should...heeeres your sign.

boy, thats a sexy loop.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shaq Diesel, Vin Diesel, Deeeeez.....

As mentioned in a recent post, I tend to be the one that is always "tinkering" with all types of rod/line combinations...what can i say? it feels like mental therapy (not sure what this says about me since this topic is what drives many people batshit crazy) to me after a long day at work, and yes, my wife as my witness, it has been known to keep me up past my bedtime on a school night. so when Mike called me up a couple weeks ago and said that he had some Red Truck Diesel rods for me to try, I had to take them out for the next couple fishing trips and attempt to "dial them in". Ive heard a little about these sticks but really had no frame of reference, so i thought id share a little of what i thought witchyall. upon first impression, the diesel has a few features that catch my eye. shape of the grip, much like a pair of fitted jeans on a nice figure, was the first thing i noticed (but im a sucker for a nicely shaped grip, moreso than shiny adornments on the blank). also, the unsanded blank reminded me of one of my favorite trout rods of all time, the scott 8'8'' 4wt G series. after fishing it on the past couple outings, i can say that we get along just fine, but it wasnt without a bit of adjustment. the rods i tend to favor have "light" feeling tips, backed by progressively (think smooth constant taper like a pyramid) flexing mid and butt sections, and a fast recovery. the diesel, however, had more of a "stout" tip, and then followed by a similar taper, also with a fast recovery. i found a couple things that this design proved beneficial in, one being the ease that it pulled heavy tips out of the water, and also how easily you could access the "beef" of the rod since the (stout) tip translates the load to the mid section well, due to less flex absorbed by a lighter tip. upon feeling this, some might go so far to say that it feels a bit "regressed" (a rod that flexes lower in the blank than up top), but after having fished rods like a Meiser MKS, which i did feel was a regressive taper, i believe this to still fall under the progressive category. remember, regressive has nothing to do with the diameter of the blank, but more the amount of deflection it has.
the only adjustment i had to make in regards to casting to accomodate for this slight difference was to start my power application on the delivery slightly earlier (think pulling the rod from behind you before you can even see it), followed by a much higher stop. also, it reacted well to slightly more overhang of the shooting head out of the tip top. this, i felt had more to do with the choice of grains/line i was throwing on it. i tend to err on the lighter end of a "grain window", so as to give the rod a chance to breathe and not reduce it to an overloaded "lob stick". all in all, i think this rod absolutely excels when throwing skagit heads and sink tips, and when given a longer dry line like an SRO Vector 45', it also excels due to a quick recovery of the blank. great feel in the hands, tracks well, and for $350, is one of the best deals on the market.

other rods the 7136-4 Diesel reminds me of are the 7133-3 CF Burkheimer, and the Beulah Platinum 7132-4.

lines i liked best on it for skagit and scandi were the 510 Airflo Compact Skagit and 480 Compact Scandi. the SRO Vector 6/7 and Rio Powerspey 6/7 will make great lines for bigger water.

would i own one? absolutely.

fish on fellow Jedi's.

Confucious say: get those big bunny flies out and fish 'em, its the year of the wabbit, theyre destined to bed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kelt Reconditioning on the Yakima

Here is an interesting study done by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission on reconditioning steelhead kelts from the Yakima River. These steelhead kelts are fish that not only have made the journey from the ocean, but have also survived the stressors of spawning and months without eating. Steelhead are unique however in comparison to Pacific Salmon in that they can spawn multiple times if they are able to migrate back to the ocean just like when they were smolts, then run the gauntlet back to their spawning grounds for the second time. It was estimated before the study took place that the incidence of steelhead making it back for a second spawn was less then 2% in the Yakima River.

The study itself was done after kelts, mostly females were collected on their downstream migration. They would then be given antibiotics, fed krill, pellets or a combination of the two and then divided into two tagged study groups. Short term being they would be fed for an average of 44 days and then released below Bonneville Dam. The Long term group would be held for an average of 227 days before release back into the Yakima River.

The conclusion to the study was that steelhead kelt reconditioning shows promise to assist restoration of wild steelhead. These kelts have been tracked back to their spawning grounds and onto redds for a second time. However it is unclear weather the eggs laid by these fish were viable and if they have helped to maintain this endangered run of fish. If these eggs are indeed viable then the 20 to 30 percent increased population of spawning steelhead from reconditioning should lead to 300,000 to 600,000 additional eggs a year. Now we are again just playing with mother nature here and as a pessimistic I am a skeptic to everything, but I really like the idea of not supplementing with broodstock or neighboring strain of fish in order to falsely maintain a native run of fish. Actively seeking solutions outside the realm of supplementation is always a good idea in my book.

Reconditioning Kelt Steelhead: A Novel Management Strategy for Populations in Low Abundance.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stepping Up

Matt Klara and Brian Chou on a Eastside river. Photo: Ben Dow

Now I am not sure if the two of you that actually read this thing have noticed or not, but I have not been writing crap for a while now. Essentially it is hard to scribble the thoughts from the ghetto of your mind when you haven’t really fished in months. For reasons to be discussed at a later time, a couple of the boys are going to add a bit of flavor to this thing.

Klara Photo: Ian Majszak

The first post from Matt Klara came last week. Matt is one of those transplants from the East Coast that has found Portland his home. This ACC, Virginia Tech foosball loving fan and MSU Bozeman snob works as a Civil/Water Resources Engineer. Matt’s work is centered around developing strategies to maintain river and habitat quality in and around our local waterways despite development. Matt’s engineering and environmental work will provide as a valuable resource.

Matt’s one of those guys who hooked his first steelhead in the winter while fishing the Salmon River in New York with the only rod he had at the time, a five weight. However the bug did not really hit him until Matt met the Dry Side of the Pacific Northwest many years ago. A steelhead bum is not the word I would use for Matt, more an Eastside freak. For Matt, the ideal day of steelhead fishing would come with a couple of solid floating line grabs sandwiched somewhere between a 20 mile mountain bike ride and a 5 mile hike. Not to mention the possibility of a carp flat during midday. On his favorite waters, this is the guy that knows that rock behind that bucket a few feet above the sweet spot that you never thought about swinging a fly through. He keeps them a secret too.

Though this guy mainly fishes the mid to long belly line in the summer, he understands the obvious advantages of the Skagit when fishing tips. Matt is one of the most well rounded fishermen I know in casting, tying, saltwater and freshwater species and even the gear rod. His weekly articles he writes on Sexyloops every Wednesday are a great read. You may also remember Matt’s work with Scott Howell from the North Umpqua Petition years ago. This petition helped to ban the retention of native winter steelhead on this fabled river.

Chou wrestling with a Chinook. Photo: Ben Dow

The second person who is going to add to this thing is Brian Chou. Brian is an interesting addition to this thing because he is the casting guru in my circle of friends. He also gets mistaken for me from time to time because his ugly ass mug gets seen on this thing from time to time. This Washington Native is the guy that annoys you because he can take a 105 foot Carron Long Belly and make it look like a shooting head while casting. Not to mention if you let him have a knife, micrometer and heat gun, he will end up cutting it up in order to make it a more efficient line. This is the kid that took the old man’s stereo apart and put it back together before dad ever new it was in pieces. Because of this he seems to get his hands on everything before it comes out the door and into fly shops. His advice and technical skills are sought out by a number of different, rod, reel and line makers here in United States because of his ability to break down and understand the wide variety of products and his constant tinkering with them to make them better.

Brian’s efficient and relaxed style of casting is not the only thing he is well known for. Within the realm of the Federation of Fly Fishers casting and instructional circuit here in the Pacific Northwest, Brian is the young guy seen in the booths of the Northwest Fly Tiers Expo and even teaching classes such as Smarter Spey Casting: Short Heads, Long Heads and Long Rods. His efficiency and ability to relate and pull examples from everyday activities helps the student break down their own casting stroke and prepare them for a day on the river.

Brian high energy, fun, positive, always on the move method of fishing does not always fit the mold of the stereotypical steelheader. In fact he tries to deny that fact that he is a steelheader all together and though he travels the world with his beautiful fishing partner and bride Dawn Fischer-Chou, he very much is a steelheader. Now if the guy would just quit trying to talk me into a week on some damn flat instead of swinging a fly then we would get along. By the way you guys have been enjoying his photography work for a while now.

These brothers are going to leave a positive vibe to this thing and definitely a different flavor for you. Hopefully these guys will provide a broader perspective and more ridiculous experience. Hope you enjoy and learn from them and I hope they do not get me into more trouble.