Monday, November 14, 2016

Do Fishing Ethics Matter?




Yes! I think they do...
In a day and age of dwindling fish runs a simple thing like ethics can make a difference.
So what kind of ethics am I talking about? Well let me list them for all of you.

1. Killing a dark Chinook hen solely for the eggs. - One of the worst ethical violations

2. Trampling spawning redds - Fly anglers do this a lot unfortunately

3. Fishing on spawning redds when guarding fish are present - Refer to Field and Stream Article Below

4. Using Diver/Bait rigs when wild fish are present - Fish are prone to swallowing the bait deep and that would be fatal

5. Low holing another fisherman - Happens all the time and especially by guides

6. Taking a wild fish out of water for a hero shot - No matter how experienced you think you are in handling fish this can lead to death of the fish

7. Playing a wild fish too long - Because it will kill them! If you have a tendency of doing this go to heavier gear.

8. Fishing in warm water - Summer time is a deadly time for wild fish who get hooked unless you are fishing for warm water species




Nice article from Field and Stream about Fishing on Redds

In fly fishing for trout, there are certain truths that should be self-evident.
You don't fish with bait in a fly-only river. You don't low hole other anglers and cut them off on the river. You don't kill fish you aren't going to eat. You follow all the rules.
And you don't fish for trout when they're on a redd.
A redd, just to be clear is a spawning bed, and you can recognize them by the bright, clean gravel that's been turned over. If there's a big fish on that bright gravel (trout are most vulnerable and easy to harass when they are holding on a redd), please leave it alone. Because that big fish is in the process of making lots of little fish. You don't need to be a fisheries biology Ph.D. to figure out the benefits of that.
You might not technically be breaking any laws by fishing a redd, but you're going to anger a lot of others if you do. And yes, people fish for other species during the spawn all the time. But trout aren't bass. And there are a zillion ways to fish for trout and salmon that may be migrating to spawn. Just try to avoid smacking them in the head with flies and snagging them when they're doing their thing.
I bring all this up because there's been a lot of chatter on the Internet recently about certain people unashamedly fishing reeds, and taking hero shots, etc. I've been asked about a hundred times in the past week how I feel about all of this. It's a no brainer. You shouldn't pound fish on redds, period. And when you're wading a river during the spawn, you don't step on the redds when you spot them.
Thing is, it's not just one guy, there are a lot of gurus, guides, and others who have cashed in by doing it the wrong way. No finger pointing from me. Just a point of view that will hopefully help some of you who wonder avoid conflicts on the river.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Please Leave Oregon Chum Salmon Alone



I don't know of a single conservation minded fly angler who actively throws flies at chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers in Oregon. Sure we all did years back when their numbers were abundant but now it is not ethical to harass these fish in those two Oregon rivers. You want to fly fish for chums? There are plenty of them up in Washington! Go up there to fish for them.



With the first significant falls rains the return of the runs of chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers will soon be upon us.
These salmon are arguably one of the best freshwater game fish that swims the waters of the Pacific Northwest. They come aggressively to a fly and fight with the strength to snap any 8 weight fly rod out there.
The chum salmon rival the steelhead in every way when hooked.
That being said we should leave them the alone and here is why. Their already depressed numbers have fallen to a dismal return in recent years. In the 80's they were so numerous that you could find them from the Columbia all the way down the coast and in huge numbers. While their flesh was inferior their roe and their fighting ability made them a desirable game fish.
They would seemingly all show up at once and you would actually see them ascending drainage ditches during higher water. It was amazing to watch them in tidewater as they would, by the hundreds, boil on the surface in some kind natural dance. It almost seemed like their movements were choreographed...it was beautiful to watch.
That was all over 25 years ago! Fast forward to the last few years and if you are familiar at all with the Miami and Kilchis you know how poorly the chum salmon have fared lately.
Still there are those who cannot resist tail hooking these chums and treating them with no more respect than that of a squaw fish.


It's disgusting how these salmon are treated and if ODFW were ever to do that right thing, and that is unlikely, they would not allow even a catch and release season on the chums.
In the name of angling opportunity there is a short season allowed with bait and treble hooks.
Even fly fishers will stomp through the redds and abuse these salmon in search of their "sport".
I quit fishing for them about 10 years ago and it was after seeing some uncaring gear fishermen cruelly kicking these noble fish back into after snagging them that I quit.
I never pursued them with a lot of interest in the first place. I got very angry when the editor of Salmon and Steelhead Journal magazine Pat Hoglund had a feature article on these fish with maps to the Miami and Kilchis included. He accused me of trying to protect a favored fishery and I informed him the only thing I wanted to protect was these dwindling runs of salmon.
I even chatted with him about it at the Sportsman's Show but he has to sell magazine so I guess anything is fair game.
It would be a pity to see yet another run of salmon disappear off of the northwest landscape so if any of you reading this are thinking about pursuing these chum salmon for sport then please think again and do the right thing okay?

Thanks






Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Nass Feesh"

Henning Hale Orviston, the pretentious patriarch of David James Duncan's famous fly fishing yarn "The River Why" describes bass as

 " An outlander, a devouring pestilence, a freakish invader to the salubrious waters of the North and Northwest of  indelicate appetite, sluggish disposition, negligible intelligence, paltry stamina, and possessing a head, mouth and stomach of ludicrous bulk in comparison with its stultified body"

I've heard them describes in more "colorful" terms.
Invaders is exactly right! They now inhabit, in large numbers mind you, the fables waters of the Mother River...The Deschutes.

I , myself, have witnessed small mouth bass chasing rainbow trout in the lower reaches of the Deschutes. The larger, swifter bass no doubt won the pursuit and had trout for dinner.
So why are they here? Where did they come from? Who in the hell knows but they are not going anywhere anytime soon if at all. You will find them them in such major waterways as the Columbia and Willamette. Hundreds of little watering holes in central and eastern Oregon and large Century Drive fly fishing only lakes like Davis Lake.
In other words they are here, in large numbers and are not going anywhere.
I resent their presence and refuse to fish for them even if that is all the fishing there is. Oh yeah I have fished for bass a few times and even caught some nice sized smallmouths, pitching some kind of pickled pork rind attached to something called a "spinner bait" Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in it's infinite wisdom , has put a five fish a day limit on the bass living in the Deschutes!?!?!?!? If I may be vulgar here for a moment , what the fuck are you idiots thinking?
I mean excuse me but are these spiny rayed little assholes invasive or not? Why is there a limit on them?

So today I was driving back from Seattle after a nice visit with my son. When I figured I was clear of the dreadful Seattle-Tacoma traffic nightmare I decided to stop in to the  new Bass Pro Shop south of Tacoma. I had hear that the store was an outdoors man's wet dream. As I marveled at the cavernous, fit for a dirigible interior with all the mounted and mummified wildlife on display one could not help but notice the inside was wall to wall camouflage. You name it and you could get it in camo. Even women's semi-intimate apparel could be gotten in a garish pink/camo combination.
You could buy pretty much anything in camoflage. Bass boats, duck boats, fish findes, electric motors. I saw one guy, obviously a southern US transplant, that might have tipped the scale at 400 lbs, dressed head to toe in camo. He looked like a big walking,talking ambrosia trifida shrub telling his equally overfed companion about the "Nass feesh" he recently caught.
I thought "hey this is the Pacific Northwest!  We fish for salmon, trout, steelhead and sturgeon up here! A salmonid species is the state fish in both Oregon and Washington isn't it?
Could Bass Pro Shops be prophetic? Are Spiny Rays our future? My God I hope not. I could not fathom EVER using one of my bamboo fly rods to cast a damn popping bug to a "devouring pestilence" like a bass. I would use the rod as kindling before I let that happen.
I know this much. I will most assuredly "terminate with extreme prejudice" any bass invader that I encounter.Wonder if they would make good crab bait?
Yeah, yeah I know you are rolling your eyes at my elitist ramblings about bass but it's like this. Bass, walleye and other carnivorous warm water invasive species are yet another reason why our salmon and trout heritage of this region is dying out.
Add the predation of invasive species to the long list of what has killed our resource and maybe you'll understand.




Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hatchery Junkies

I went to a very informative presentation the other night called "The High Cost of Hatcheries" presented by Native Fish Society and featuring Dylan Tomine. His research discovered how much it actually costs us taxpayers for these fish mills to run. Of course the opposition made all kinds of bold claims on social media about how they were going to fill the room and make their voices heard. In truth only about three people were there to challenge Dylan's research. Pretty typical for the gear and bait crowd and it just shows how, once again, they would rather talk tough on the internet but when push comes to shove they are as lazy and unmotivated a group as you would want to meet. It is small wonder why the Columbia River Gillnetters Association kicks their ass year after year. Bob Rees of Northwest Steelheaders did show and made his case for hatcheries in a passionate and polite way and I applaud him for it. If more sports angler groups were like Bob then maybe the fracture between conservation and sports fishing would be healed.
So I am once again bringing this post to the top for those of you that might be interested in the research I have done. I'm past the point, as I have mentioned many times on this blog, of caring what Northwest Steelhead Flunkies or the Three Rivers Sportsmen's Alliance think of me. This is a small blog....I mean really small! The biggest hits I get I when I piss someone off and it's pretty easy to do that. Funny thing is that as mad as I've apparently made these guys they never want to talk about it when I see them on the river bank.
Anyway friends and enemies the facts are out there. I don't make this stuff up. People a hell of a lot smarter than me have done years and years of research on the effect of hatchery programs have on wild salmon and steelhead.
I was researching the history of salmon hatcheries here in the Pacific northwest and you might be surprised that history goes back a long ways.
They go as far back as the late 1800's as a matter of fact. Here is a brief history of the beginnings of Columbia River salmon hatcheries by author and fisheries scientist Jim Lichatowich.
In 1875, Spencer Baird, the United States Fish Commissioner, advised the commercial fishing industry that artificial propagation of salmon would be so successful it would eliminate the need to regulate harvest. Regulation was a controversial issue at the time, as the salmon runs were being fished heavily for economic gain but without effective regulation, and some scientists already were concerned that overfishing might prove catastrophic to the runs. In response to a request from the Oregon Legislature, Baird outlined the problems he saw for the salmon industry: 1) excessive fishing; 2) dams; and 3) altered habitat. Baird believed each of these problems could be resolved through artificial propagation of fish. That is, sufficient numbers of fish could be produced in hatcheries to satisfy the demand of commercial fishers, hatcheries could be located on tributaries of the Columbia where the fish would not have to pass dams on their way to the ocean as juveniles or back from the ocean as adults, and altered natural habitats would be of minor consequence because so many fish would be spawned artificially at the hatcheries. 
Sounds pretty simplistic doesn't it? Remember that all of this took place before the Columbia river hydro-electric dams were built and needless to say they changed the game completely.
Lichatowich goes on to say...
In reality, there was no critical examination of the impacts of hatcheries on wild fish. The extent of success or failure simply was not known. Few questioned the opinion of the U.S. Fish Commission, even though it was hardly unbiased on the question and even though, at the time, only two hatcheries were operating on the West Coast. It did not matter. Hatcheries were political tools to assuage powerful fishing interests as much as they were fish farms. Hatcheries produced fish; fish produced commercial fishing opportunities; fishing opportunities put people to work. Hatchery fish even were planted in some rivers to win political favor from elected officials.
Fast forward to 1938 and many of the dams were being built. The dams acted as a barricade to the upstream migration of spawning adult salmon and blocked the downstream migration of ocean going salmon smolt.
The solution to this? The Mitchell Act.
Simply put the Mitchell Act was put in place by the US Congress to mitigate for the loss of those salmon caused by the dams.
In the years since the Mitchell Act came to be we became addicted to the hatchery product! Not only commercially but recreational as well. We got so used to mega returns of salmon that in truth we became, in druggie vernacular, strung out on hatchery salmon like a junkie is strung out on heroin.
Sports anglers came to Oregon in the millions to experience the legendary runs of Chinook and coho salmon. Sports fishing fleets filled marinas from Coos Bay to Warrenton and up the Columbia in search of a salmonid bonanza. Huge commercial fleets plied their trade in the ocean and into the Columbia itself.
There seemed to be no end to the salmon cornucopia and the economies of communities on the lower Columbia and along the coast were driven by the returning salmon.
Of course the wild spawning Chinook and coho, along with wild steelhead got lost in the boom and little notice was given to this until it was too late.
The old cliché of "What goes up must come down" paid a visit to this party and the runs, both wild and hatchery, crashed and the salmon orgy was over. The wild salmon and steelhead runs were damaged beyond repair and no longer could state fish and wildlife agencies blitz the Columbia with hatchery smolt because of budget constraints and the Endangered Species Act.
Unfortunately the salmon appetite of the commercial and sports fishermen was not sated. The rancor and posturing of both groups became heated to the point of near violence because neither wanted to give ground and do what is right for the resource.
These "Salmon Wars" continue to this very day with a lot of finger pointing and political maneuvering. Wild salmon and their habitat are still kicked to the curb in the name of fair allocation.
I've distanced myself from these "wars". I like to compare it to a couple of selfish brothers  fighting for the last pork chop at the dinner table. A few  groups have come on the scene saying they are going to save the wild salmon...bullshit! Sure they want to save the salmon from the greedy gill nets only so they can have more for themselves.I would invite any of you to attend public meetings where the subject of catch allocations is the topic. You will see greed and base human nature like you have probably never seen before.
True conservation groups, like Native Fish Society, and their efforts have been vilified in the process.
The hatchery system will be with us for as long as there is a salmon left to fight over. Minimal protections for wild salmon and steelhead will continue to be compromised and watered down for the "best interest of the angling sport" and for the sake of "Angling opportunities"
"Angling opportunities" is a clever euphemism used by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for maximum exploitation of a dwindling supply of fish in order to sell licenses to support a bloated bureaucracy like ODFW. Past winters have seen some decent returns of hatchery steelhead into the Columbia and coastal rivers of this state but it also saw a orgy of greed, ignorance and repulsive behavior by so call sports fishermen.
When will it all come crashing down in an Armageddon of user groups? Maybe next year, maybe not in my lifetime but you can bet it will come crashing down eventually if things don't change. It may not be one cataclysmic crash but a death by a thousand tiny cuts.
Sensible hatchery reform is needed! I am not talking an ending of hatchery salmon and steelhead but a common sense approach to filling the need for a recreational harvest and wild salmonid conservation.
Until that happens we are doing little more than treading water.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Solitary Angler

I like to fish alone. I find fishing to be much more enjoyable fishing by myself. After my last fishing partner moved away I decided to devote my river time to myself. My last fishing partner was a great guy to fish with and probably the best I ever had.
In fairness I make no oaths as to what kind of fishing partner I am. Maybe I am a huge pain in the ass! Never heard that from any fishing partner but who knows?
So as I look back on the 43 years I have fished in the states of Oregon and Washington I reminisce about the guys I've partnered up with to chase salmon, steelhead  and trout.
Here are some of the reasons I do fish alone these days.
1.Chronic lateness by fishing partner
2.Selfish "It's all about me" attitude
3.No concept of time and fishing etiquette.
4.Constantly forgetting gear and depending on me to cover for it
5.No regard for my physical disabilities and limitations
6.Constant derisive comments
These are just some of the things that lead me to the conclusion that I am my best fishing partner.
I can come and go as I please. When I come to a spot I don't feel good about I can just move on. If I don't want to stop at some brew pub and wait for hours (literally) for my food to arrive I don't have to.
I derive a lot of pleasure from my fly fishing and I don't like that pleasure lessened by some one else idiosyncrasies. It's sounds selfish I know, but in my senior years it's just the way it has to be.
I once fished with a guy that complained about the previous trips he had been on and the people who, in their generosity, had invited him along...amazing.
I got him into his first really big Chinook. I also got him into a few steelhead. You know what? He bitched about me to someone else and it got back to me so I never wet a line with him again.
Maybe somewhere there is a former fishing partner of mine bitching to someone about me. Well more power to them and maybe they should fish alone as well. There was a time in the distant past where I wouldn't think of fishing by myself! Maybe it was a lack of self confidence or whatever but that changed gradually to the point that it's my preferred way.
Now don't  get me wrong. There are times when a fishing partner comes in mighty handy.
Last summer I found myself stuck in the muck of the Deschutes river up to my waist and could not free myself. I had to yell at passing vehicles going by on the Maupin access road until one finally stopped and dragged my stupid butt out of the mud. I was never in any danger of sinking below the mud but I was indeed stuck fast with night approaching. A fishing partner nearby would have made this an easy fix.
I know my wife would prefer me fishing with someone for my own protection as she often asks where I will be fishing that day. I remark "Why do you want to know? Do you need a place to start looking for my body should I not come home?"
At this stage of my life I can be picky about my fishing time. Long gone are the days of "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead" philosophy. I would fish with any warm body that would take me fishing, especially when I was just learning.
Who knows? Maybe someday I will once again find the right partner.
As for now I fish alone.


To quote Norman Maclean -

"Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Riviere des Chutes


I've often written about the Deschutes on this blog and some may think too much. Perhaps they are right but perhaps they are the ones who either have never visited this river or have visited and never embraced it as only a fly fisherman can. To think of the Deschutes as only a means to catch fish is terribly sad and I think one must look deeper into all this river is in order to love it like I and so many others have.
The Deschutes is mysterious in that you can never know it's moods and can always be surprised at things you see along the river and it's canyon.For instance the wind that blows through the canyon can be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time and the mystery is that it comes up instantly like some one just turned on a giant fan up or down the canyon.
When I was first learning to cast a two-handed fly rod I of course did not know anything about casting off of the opposite shoulder. So when clumsily trying to execute a double or single spey cast off of my right shoulder and with a strong upriver wind no less you can just guess the results.....frustration but fortunately no hooks in the face.
Other times the stiff fall breeze of the canyon can make you realize how lucky we are to have beauty like this and to be alive.
I am not a spiritual person in the biblical sense but to me there is something holy about the Deschutes. Please do not ask me to expand on this notion because I cannot but the river, the fish and the canyon can be likened to some kind of holy trinity to the fly fisherman.
At the end of the Macks Canyon access road is an ancient native American burial ground. The indigenous tribes of central Oregon knew that the river spirit dwelled in that place and used it for their most sacred of places to bury their dead.
There are hieroglyphs on the rocks above the river at various locations and while Lewis and Clark's Corp of Discovery paid little attention to this "riviere des chutes" it was obviously a special place to these people.
The railroad that is as much a part of the Deschutes canyon has a history all it's own and adds to the legend of the river.The men that worked for competing railroad companies have added their names to the story of this river.
The lonely train whistle that has echoed up and down the canyon for so many years tells their story which is a unique part of Oregon's history.
The Deschutes can scare the hell out of you too!It's a most intimidating kind of place like no river I've known. From it's numerous class IV rapids to it's rattlesnakes and just the ruggedness of the canyon is something that one should respect and not take for granted. The wading can be best described as treacherous and this river is not for the unprepared or careless! It can and will take your life the minute you take it for granted like any river can.
The rattlesnakes are not really that dangerous but you must pay attention to ones surroundings and the wildlife that inhabit the Deschutes while visiting this river.
Nothing comes easy on this river. Not the fish, not the access and not the knowledge of it's soul.
Most of all this river is wonderful. There is nothing more exciting than coming around that corner before you get to Maupin and you see the river for the first time. As Meriwether Lewis exclaimed at seeing the Pacific ocean for the first time "Oh The Joy"
It's like that reunion with a loved one that you have not seen in a long time or the happiness that one feels when coming home after a long journey. Approaching the thin blue ribbon hundreds of feet below, your heartbeat quickens as it would at the blush of seeing a lover after he/she has been absent.
The Deschutes is at the very least wonderful and there are many other adjectives that could be used in the description and emotion involved with this magical place.
There is the longing you feel to return after you've spent a too short visit to the Deschutes.
I cannot wait to return.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Are Your Waders Trying To Kill You?

Link   What is living in your waders?

Good advice from the folks at Gink. Here is my own experience with dirty waders from 2014
Not trying to sell any product here but this scenario actually happened to me in 2014 while out fishing with someone new,I fell hard on a rock and scrapped a pretty good size wound on my shin through my waders.The waders were not torn at all. My shin ballooned to the size of a melon in seconds. The knucklehead I was with had taken off upstream and even though there was cell coverage in the area he had left his phone in his vehicle so I just had to wait until he came back downstream.
Got home and cleaned the wound as best I could. Although the swelling went down the wound got worse and after a visit to my doctor I was on antibiotics for a nasty staph infection. An infection that could have cost me my leg had I not acted.
The first round of antibiotics were ineffective. The second round of more powerful meds did the job but made me sick to my stomach. It took a solid two months for my leg to heal.I have a scar from the whole affair.
So what did I learn here? Oh yeah come to find out we were fishing in closed waters.
1.Don't fish with a knucklehead who will leave you high and dry.
2..Make sure you are fishing in open waters
3.Do not use wading shoes with studded, winter time soles in the summer
4.Clean out the inside of your waders...outside too! They are breeding grounds for bacteria.
5.Go to the doctor at the first sign of trouble.


This was the outcome of a slip on the river that could have cost me my left leg. This was day one and the infection had not totally set in yet.





Monday, May 16, 2016

Of Briar Pipes and Bamboo Rods - A Day on the Deschutes


I had all my gear ready to head east for a day on the Deschutes river. I had every intention of getting an early start....really. I envisioned rolling into Maupin before sunrise. You believe that don't you? Yeah I also envisioned jogging ten miles and eating a micro-biotic diet while fitting into my spandex yoga pants! In other words it just ain't gonna happen.
I did head east though, with the Deschutes as my destination. I got a late start of course but kept telling myself I would "catch the evening hatch" which really means I couldn't get my over fed old ass out the door.
But head east I did!  I stopped by the Fly Shop in Welches as a matter of ritual. Leaving with a trout Spey rod.
When I got to the river it was near perfect. Good height and clarity and no wind! My favorite haunt along the access road yielded a nice rainbow and one other "drive by" but the hooked fish put the hole down for a bit and I moved on.
The legendary salmon fly hatch was still at least a week away with a few crawlers in the trees but nothing in flight.
I decided to take my "new" old Wright and McGill Granger bamboo rod with my comfortably patinated Hardy Perfect. A really nice combo actually.
I documented my love for cane rods for many years here ad nauseum.  A bamboo fly rod is wonderful in it's tradition and feel. Not for everyone though. Fishing bamboo takes the right attitude in my opinion and not everyone is bamboo worthy. also in my opinion. There is a hell of a lot of tradition in fishing bamboo and that sentiment is lost on a lot of people.
I once traded a bamboo rod to a young man who seemed bamboo worthy but was not. He attached a strike indicator to it and that is when karma caught up with him! He broke the rod on the first fish! Serves him right and I offered him no sympathy whatsoever.

I am not sure bamboo fly rods and the Deschutes river are totally compatible. The Deschutes is a big wild river. The wind can be fierce at times. Finesse is not a word that goes with the  Deschutes when the wind decides to make an appearance.. Sometimes it's just "chuck and duck" and hope for the best if the wind is howling.
Well the Deschutes canyon wind was not a sentimentalist when it came to bamboo so I put away the W&M in favor of something more synthetic.
The limited bite was pretty much over by that time and the trout weren't in the mood for anything on the surface. I called it a day about an hour before sunset as a howling wind insisted I leave.
One last bowlful of Tradewinds pipe tobacco in my well used briar pipe then home I went.
I especially enjoy the ride home through such places as Pine Grove, Zig Zag and Sandy. At times I have to dodge wild turkeys and deer in the sage and Ponderosa pine forest before I get to Goverment Camp on the road home.
It's hard to remember ever having a bad day on the "River of Wind" in all the years I've fished it. Heck, even the time I got stuck in the mud and couldn't get out wasn't that bad of a trip.
I surely feel fortunate to live in a state that has a river like the Deschutes, We here in Oregon are blessed to have many beautiful trout and steelhead rivers withing our borders.
It's kind of funny that when fishing rivers of legendary reputation you speak in a hushed tone when talking to someone. This is especially true along the Metolius. Rivers are cathedrals of nature aren't they?  I think so at least and if you only think of a river, any river, as a means to an end then you don't really get it.
I believe that fly fishing is the purest angling that there is. Think about it for a minute. You have the line, the leader and the fly. Pretty basic and simple right? Your arm is just an extension of this basic connection. No need for bells and whistles in my opinion.
I will never use a strike indicator for my fly fishing. In my humble opinion it just ruins the whole thing. Now I realize that this might make some angry and defensive....that is not my intention. It just does not seems to fit in the whole zen of it all. I am not suggesting that indicators are unethical either. They are just not for me and take me back to my gear days of waiting for a float to dip under the surface. So just stating my preference.
Warmer river temperatures have interfered with the hatches below the Pelton regulating dam to the point that some hatches have all but disappeared.
Wanted more information on this? Click on this link Deschutes River Alliance.
I figure if you love and care about a river then you do all you can to defend it.
Sadly the Deschutes as we once knew is no more. I started fishing this river in 1974 and have seen the changes over the years. The salmon fly hatch is weeks early because of warmer water coming out of the dam. The crane fly hatch is gone as is many of the may fly hatches. Hopefully it's not too late to save the Deschutes. Maybe wiser heads will prevail...maybe.
I will keep coming back though, if for no other reason than to remember all the good times I had here. To remember all the friends I fished with on this river. Some of those friends are now gone. Just like the river I once knew.

The Quiet Pool is almost 10 years old! Can you believe that this blog has gone on that long? In those 10 years I've shared just about everything with the few of you that actually read my drivel. I hope I've made a few of you laugh and think with what I've written. As you can guess I am passionate about fly fishing and wild fish. I make no apologies for anything I've written here. I've made special effort to be accurate and factual.
I deeply appreciate you following along.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fly Fishing Overrated - Underrated


I'll just dive right in.

OVERRATED
Huge internet fishing forums - They have accomplished little more than putting crowds on our favorite rivers. They are populated by people who want instant angling gratification.

Deschutes River steelhead - I love this river more than any other but face it! The legendary Deschutes summer steelhead are little more than a bunch of cookie cutter hatchery clones....sad

Indicators - Just buy a spinning rod....nuff said!

Cheap fly equipment - Not trying to sound elitist here but putting a bunch of unlearned beginners with cheap rod, line and reel set-ups is setting them up for failure..

Steelhead broodstock programs - No matter how gear guides try to spin it this is nothing more than making hatchery fish out of wild fish. It only benefits the few but we all pay for it.

Fly fishing for carp - Just seeing if John Montana is paying attention here.

Self styled internet fly fishing philosophers - Huh?

Fishing vests - They make these with too many pockets in order to frustrate us old guys.

Barbed hooks - Look guys the information is out there so why take a chance at hurting a wild fish?

Winter - Chekov was full of shit!

Pictures of fish - So how many 8 lb. steelhead do we need to see? Show me something unique or a picture of a kids first fish or something original and for God's sake get that rod out of your mouth!

Fly fishing for bonefish or tarpon in some place warm - It's over rated because I don't have the money to do it!

Marabou - It's fine if you can find good quality feathers but just try to find good quality feathers locally.

Hatchery anything - Just a poor substitute for real fish.

Fly fishing for Chinook salmon - Kind of like reeling in a log

Fly fishing for Chum salmon - Just leave them alone guys

Okay let's talk about

UNDERRATED

Metolius River - It's probably not underrated but I had to get it on this post anyway.

Warm summers - Like I said I'll never bitch about the heat again. With the coast a mere 50 miles away I can escape the heat. Escaping the cold involves flying away to  somewhere tropical.

Releasing wild fish - If you are not doing it you should be!

Not catching fish - Hey I do it all the time so it must be a good thing huh?

Fly fishing with two-handed rods - This is a God send to steelheaders

Good pipe tobacco and good single malt scotch - Cutty Sark just don't cut it.

Regal fly tying vise - Excellent for those big winter steelhead flies.

Any river with wild fish - This is a no brainer and I'm sure you guys won't disagree.

Bamboo fly rods - Cannot say it enough

Cutthroat trout - My favorite trout on a fly



So that's it! Please feel free to add your own and I will post them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Baseball and Fly Fishing

As a kid I lived in the Los Angeles area during the sixties. The number of "baby boomers" on our street was impressive so there was always enough of us to play some bastardized form of baseball...we all loved baseball.
Whether it was just playing "Three Flies Up" or "500" or street baseball, us neighborhood kids couldn't get enough of it.
Through my father I grew to live and die with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many a pleasant Sunday was spent in the left field pavilion of Chavez Ravine also know as Dodger Stadium. It was a cheap enough family outing since seats were only a buck and a half. Dad would spring for a Dodger dog and we would enjoy a Sunday double-header of Drysdale, Koufax and the Davis boys or Willie Mays of the hated Giants, who parked  a homer just a few rows below us during a game.
The voice of Dodger Vin Scully was  and still is a major part of my life.



I think the love of baseball was just a natural progression into fly fishing. Oregon is a baseball wasteland, for the most part, with only a minor league club in the area and the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field about 175 miles away. So what does all this have to do with fly fishing?
I think you can find parallels between the two.
Baseball is a game of patience, skill and finesse much like fly fishing over finicky steelhead or selective trout. The duel between the pitcher and the batter is kind of like that between an angler and a fish. The pitcher will try everything in his pitching repertoire to outsmart the batter. Have you ever seen a batter so completely fooled by a curve ball or some off speed pitch that his legs just seem to turn to jelly? How many times have you gone through the contents of your fly box in search of that special pattern that will fool a trout.



Baseball is a pastoral and timeless. There are no clocks with baseball and as long as you can keep hitting the game can go on forever.
Fly fishing is idyllic as it is pleasant and innocent so can you see the similarities?
The biggest similarity, of course, is springtime! For the baseball fan and fly fisherman the winter can seem endless and unyielding. One might think that winter will never relinquish it's icy grip on not only the weather but our souls. Just when you think that you cannot possibly endure one more storm the words, those wonderful words that are the elixir to our deeply frozen sanity are spoken.... "Pitchers and catchers report next week" or "Did you hear the March Browns are hatching on the McKenzie?"
It's magic!!!!
The winter is in it's death throes and while it might try to make a valiant comeback once or twice during the early spring you know it's just a matter of time. We put up with those early season rain outs and start thinking about those first treks over Mt. Hood or through the Santiam Pass to the Deschutes or Metolius.
We baseball fans/fly fishermen spend endless hours basking in the warmth that is our joy of the season. We think that the days of the 6-4-3 double play or the evening hatch will not end. We are like a child again and the spectre of the coming fall and winter just will not dampen our frolic.
Alas though, when it seems like we need them the most and the autumn arrives with it's hint of the winter yet to come, baseball and fly fishing leave us. Alone and forlorn we dwell on the victories and the defeats of our passion and utter the age old cry of the ever optimistic fan/angler...Wait 'til next year!

Friday, January 22, 2016

An Angler in Autumn

I have decided to take "The Quiet Pool" in a different direction, or should I say an old direction.
When I started this blog back in 2006 my desire was for it to be a place to write my inner most thoughts about this piscatorial pursuit that I love. I feel some of my best postings have been when I wrote in that vain.
I went from writing fly fishing prose to being fly fishing's angry old man. I ranted and raved at every inequity and slight that offended me, there was plenty to be offended about in my mind. I informed you readers about what was going on with the sorry plight of wild trout, steelhead and salmon and I correctly had reason for such offenses.
I was sometimes brutal in my assessment of the wrong of what state fish and wildlife agencies were doing and I believed this and still do,
The thing is that there are plenty of places throughout the internet and especially social media like o find out what is going on with our wild resources. I run a group on Facebook called For the Love of Wild Fish that is specially for information about our wild fish and the water they inhabit.
The Quiet Pool is going to be about fly fishing and everything that makes fly fishing beautiful. I will write about my experiences on the river and with the wild trout and steelhead I love so much.
I am weary of beating the conservation dead horse. Yes, it's important and should be discussed but "The Quiet Pool" is not going to be the place. 
This is my personal journal of my fly fishing life so that is what it's going to be.
I may recycle a few old posts that I wrote in the past to help the process along. I will be sharing the things that are dearest to me, 
As I've grown older I cannot do the things I once did. The water seems cold, the hills steeper and the rivers wider. I have to measure all I do on the river as I usually fish alone because I just cannot tolerate other anglers quirks and I'm too old to learn any different. This is how I want it. I want to write about the delights of a bamboo rod or a fine old Hardy reel. I want to share my triumphs and failures with a Spey rod and the wonders of my recent trip to Scotland and Ireland.
I don't have a large following on this blog and that is the way I have always wanted it to be. I have no desire to make any money from this blog either....too much work.
I want to go to that "Quiet Pool" of my dreams and relax beside it and marvel at the many things that make a river different from any other.
There is a time and place to fight for our wild resource but that is for another place and you can bet I will be involved. There are many battle yet to come but I want to reserve this place, with it's bad punctuation and all the warts it has to record my thoughts, if not for anyone but for myself.
I appreciate everyone who has come here in the almost 10 years I have been doing this blog. I consider each and every one of you my friends,
I would like to especially thank Erik Helm for his friendship and inspiration. Erik you are a true artist with words,
So here we go folks. no rants or raves or anger just peace, serenity and fly fishing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When Winter Did Not Matter

Remember that old Janis Ian song "In the Winter" ?
One of the lines is  "and in the winter extra blankets for the cold, fix the heater getting old"  That song is playing in my head these days.
Although it's not quite winter yet here in Oregon it certainly feels like it outside. Night time temperatures are down in the higher 20's and the day time temperature doesn't get much above freezing. So as I wait out this cold and rainless weather my lack of piscatorial activity give me a lot of time to reflect on my angling life.
When I was in my 20's this weather was little more than a minor inconvenience. Yes I had to deal with iced up guides on my rod and maybe wear an extra layer of clothing but so what? Dude this was winter steelhead season we are talking about and there's is no way a little cold was going to stop me.
Back in the day before breathable waders we wore whatever cheap chest high waders were on sale. There was almost no flexibility in those old Red Ball rubber shrouds but I was about 75 pounds lighter and 35 years younger and, like I said before, it just didn't matter. Cleated soles for traction? How about felt soles? Nope! It was rubber to rock and you hoped for the best. I lost a brand new fly rod on the Washougal river one year after falling in the river one winter and my friend that was with me that day in 1976 still reminds of it every time he sees me. Those old rubber chest highs fill with water pretty fast let me tell you. It's because of that "spill" that I am a super cautious wader today.I will even pass up to the promising looking water because I am not comfortable with the wade I needed to make to get to that water.
Back then I never even used a rain coat, most of the time, while winter steelheading and also got drenched, most of the time, coming home looking like I went swimming instead of fishing. It was fun though and I have a wealth of memories from the days when winter didn't matter.
Today...well it's a whole different story. These old bones need some warmth and although I have a rain coat at the ready I still rather not deal with any rainfall that is little more than a mist.
The desire to get up at 4:30 AM with a chance of marginal water conditions (no internet back then remember) is long gone because I finally realized that in the winter the steelhead are just as apt to bite at 10am as they are at 6am.
Since it's no longer necessary to be the first one on the river in order to get the choice spot I get a few hours more sleep these days.
I feel I enjoy my fishing more these days without the need to be hard core about it.
Although I take a more laid back approach to my fishing I still feel nostalgic for those old days of trips to the Grays river in Washington or the walk up to the pipeline hole on the Sandy to fish along side of my 50 closest friends...no exaggeration either!
It was fun laughing in winter's face back then but in the end winter won as it always will inevitably.
The drive back over the coastal range is always enjoyable for me. I have seen more elk this fall and winter than in prior years. The smell of rotting salmon carcasses greet my nose along the river bank and while it is not exactly Chanel No.5 it is a good sign that these noble fish reached their spawning grounds and accomplished their purpose, insuring the future of the species.
I do not enjoy the winter season like I once did but I try to make the best of it remembering that there can be no spring without winter and in my 62 years spring has never failed to arrive.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Internet Makes Many Mighty...



From the blog Chucking Line and Chasing Tail
























No Bait.  No Barbs.  No Kill

And a little bit of in river refuge for the fish.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council recommendations,  adopted 4 common sense rule changes for the rivers on the Olympic Peninsula 

These changes had to happen.  Years and years of missed escapement on the majority of the rivers on the North Washington Coast and having to deal with co-managers who are netting the runs to death, anglers had to take a leadership position to lessen impact on the ever dwindling resource.

To some, you would thought the sky had fallen.  Fish recovery is such a political quagmire, but the devolution of discourse on the internet....especially on the side of the street that oppose these changes is down right nuts.  NUTS.

The examples of internet tough guy syndrome came in hard and fast

"All the catch and release guy's kill a ton of fish. I'm still going to kill every "wild steelhead" I can. Leave our hatchery fish alone"

"Even with a ton of opposition the commission does whatever the fly fags tell them too because they are getting the golden handshake somewhere along the line and the only way the commission is ever going to listen to the common man or average sport fisherman is for all of is to stop buying licenses and fish elsewhere just for one year......if 300,000 of did not buy a license in 2016 because of the arrogant , elitist rules they are adopting I fucking guarantee you we would get a few spots at the table and this shit would be over turned.......lets band together and just say no to buying a license in 2016 until they quit fucking us and give is spot at the table........fuck Miranda Wecker and the rest of her elitist posse.."

"Screw the wild fish and make a lot of hatchery fish for us to kill. Most of the wild fish comes from stray hatchery fish and are interbred. The tribes don't care either so why should we. Everybody is afraid of endangered species. Last time I checked there was lots of species extinct and guess what, the world did not end! Get overy it!"

Then you have this article.  Lots of LOLz in that one.
Reminds me a lot of a South Park episode, except change jobs to fish.
Lets think about it a second.   
You make no changes, stay the status quo.  Runs continue to decrease and  it stays the ONLY place in the state of Washington, and about the only place in the damn world you can keep a wild fish.  
100% of a run are caught at least once.  ZERO inter river refuge for the fish.  
Folks, the Endangered Species act is knocking at the door.  Once that comes in, we as a state and as sportsmen have NO control.  
Yes, the 800 LB gorilla in this situation is the relentless netting by the tribes that have rights on these rivers.  The Bolt Decision means we have to co-manage the fishery.    Big changes are needed in their approach to the fish runs because they wont sustain in the future with bank to bank gill nets.
Also, a few popular myths to dispel.
There is no fly fishing vs gear fishing agenda.  Absolute red herring
These rules are meant to take opportunity away from gear fisherman.  
The "agenda" is pushed by some secret illuminati of rich, old white fly fishing only men and women.  Nope, the proposals where submitted by the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council which was made up of guides, sports, fly and gear fisherman.

As a matter of fact....when WDFW held public comments in Olympia back in November, people who spoke in favor of these changes were there in mass, out numbering the nay's 4-1
Control what you can control.  Make the changes necessary to enhance the resource and lets do what we can to bring the co-managing tribes to the bargaining table.
And when you feel like bitching on the internet.  Go ahead, it does nothing to help.  Get involved, now.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Misconceptions, Myths and Out Right Bullshit







We've all read these myths through the years on the internet and although they have been debunked these fantasies still crop up from time to time from the pro-hatchery and simple minded crowd.

Like anything else once a rumor gets started it is hard to make people realize that they are buying into false information. Just look at all the people who believe FOX News

Anyway here are just a few examples of the popular myths surrounding wild salmonids.



Wild fish conservation groups want to end fishing 

This is the most common myth and is not true of course! We want reasonable and competent management of our wild salmonids by state agencies who are entrusted to be wise stewards of this resource. If we ever advocate for closure of any angling then you can bet it is for some very sound reasons.



Catch and release kill as many fish as does the use of bait:

Recent studies have measured the effects of various tackle and fishing techniques on fish mortality and offer insights for optimization of the protective aspects of catch and release fishing programs. The study data suggests that with the application of specific tackle types and selected fishing and handling techniques, the success of catch and release programs can be significantly improved. Recent data links the causes of catch and release angling mortality to all types of gear and techniques that increase the chances of 'deep-hooking' and elevated physiological stress. It is shown here that if a selection of fishery specific, mortality reducing techniques are applied, via angler education and fishing regulations, the conservation benefits of catch and release fishing can be optimized.



It's okay for hatchery fish and wild fish to spawn together:

Ian Fleming and Erik Peterson evaluated the reproductive success of hatchery and wild salmon in nature

and found that the hatchery fish productivity was less than that for wild salmon. The reasons for this
reduced productivity were stated as: “Hatchery adults appear to show reduced expressions of morphological characters important during breeding, such as secondary sexual characters (color, kype). Such reduced expressions of secondary  sexual characters can have negative consequences for natural breeding success.”

”For hatchery females in competition with wild females, indicators of inferior competitive ability include  delays in the onset of breeding, fewer nests, and greater retention of eggs. Ultimately, the breeding success of hatchery fish is frequently inferior to that of wild females.”

”The breeding behavior of males appears more strongly affected by hatchery rearing than that of females, reflecting the greater intensity of selection on male competitive ability during this period. Hatchery males tend to be less aggressive and less active courting females and ultimately achieve fewer spawnings than wild males. Hatchery males suffer more from inferior breeding performance than hatchery females. This pattern also appears to carry over into the wild, where gene flow between cultured and wild salmonids is sex based…”
“The most common form of release program is aimed at the supplementation of wild populations, i.e. the intentional integration of hatchery and natural production, with the goal of improving the status of an existing natural population. Such integration, however, entails significant ecological and genetic risks to the wild population.”
“…Despite large-scale releases…the supplementation programs must be deemed failures. In none of the studies reporting significant introgression, is there information on whether the release program resulted in improved natural production of the population.”
Simply put...Mixed Spawners Means Lower Natural Productivity:


Hatchery steelhead do not stray in large numbers

This myth has made the rounds among the professional gear/bait guides on the north coast of Oregon. They spread this myth around as justification for hatchery programs.

They do indeed stray and at a percentage of 4-26% making an 11% average according to American Fisheries Society



The "Hood River Study" proves that broodstock hatchery steelhead are no different than wild steelhead

In 1994 the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribes began to evaluate the reproductive success  of native broodstock and compared them to the wild fish they were derived from. Kathryn Kostow evaluated the data collected on wild, native broodstock, and old hatchery stock to determine whether there is a life history and behavior difference between them. Kostow found “…large phenotypic responses by fish from the same parent gene pool to the differences between the captive and natural environments are consistent with the process of domestication.”
As I've always said "Once a hatchery fish, always a hatchery fish. You raise it in a cement enclosure with thousands of other smolt and hand feed it daily then it becomes what Ms. Kostow calls domesticated.


There are no true wild runs of steelhead anymore

This is a very popular notion among the bait crowd. They use it to fool themselves into thinking that killing wild salmonids is okay because after all the runs are not pure anymore. Certainly there has been a dilution of the genetics of wild salmonids, especially steelhead but there are populations of "pure" steelhead left. Take the Salmonberry river in Oregon. ODFW says that the wild winter steelhead are perhaps the most important wild populations in the state because of their clean genetics. The  Oregon coastal winter runs of wild steelhead, while dwindling, still contain pure wild fish.



Holding wild fish out of the water for pictures is okay

Holding fish up for a photo can cause internal damage to that fishes' internal organs if not done right. So next time you just have to get you ego stroked think about what possible damage you may be  doing and keep the fish in the water. Yes we are all sufficiently impressed with your ability to floss wild and dark coho but how about keeping them in the water.



There are a lot of other myths but these seem to be the major ones that are making the rounds on the internet. Always check the facts before buying into any bullshit from people who make their livings on the backs of native and wild fish. They have no soul and could not care less about the fate of wild salmon, steelhead and trout.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Fishing Primer


 
In my on going effort to educate the fishing public to the "World According To Me" I thought a new dictionary of fishing jargon would be in order. Now mind you these terms and their definition are mostly from the boat and river bank of my forty plus years of fishing the rivers and lakes of the Pacific Northwest but a few are originals.
So with out any further delay here we go!


Dough ball - Fairly common term used to describe unlearned or dumb anglers.

Boat Whore - A fisherman who will do just about anything to secure an open seat on a boat during salmon and steelhead season

Pellet Head - A hatchery reared trout. Easy to catch and awful to eat.

Corkie Bite - Description of the action of a snagger who plunks his corkie and giant hook in the middle of a coastal salmon hole waiting for a salmon to bump into it so he can foul hook it.

Egg Whore - A bait angler that will do anything to secure fresh salmon roe. Fresh salmon roe in Tillamook county is almost as good as cash

Side Drifter, Boon Dogger or Bobber Dogger - An unskilled angler who doesn't have the courtesy, ethics or intelligence to reel up his gear while floating through the hole you are fishing.

Gut Slinger - Egg  fisherman  


Low Holer - Similar to a side drifter except this angler plants himself just below you in a hole. Sometimes your fishing partner will do this. 

Dope on a Rope - Boat angler who anchors up in a river and watches his rod tip all day.

 Limp Wristed, fly chucking, faggot  - a term of endearment used by gut slingers and low holers to describe fly anglers. Been called this a few times myself but never to my face.....funny how that works.


Hatchery Truck Chaser - A fairly unskilled fly fisherman who follows the hatchery truck that is dumping pellet heads into a lake.


Arm chair fish biologist - Talks a lot of crap, using big words and offering ignorant solutions to our fisheries problem but is unwilling to commit any time to solving them.

Redd Stompers - Carelessly wading on top of salmon redds thus destroying them.Mostly fly fishermen do this during chum salmon season on the North Oregon coast.

Hero Shot - Pictures taken of every single fish an angler catches to show just how truly magnificent he/she truly is.

"Shitting" in Your Own Back Yard - Taking new people to productive fishing spots that not many people know about.


Please feel free to add to this list....tight lines everyone!





Friday, August 14, 2015

ODFW At It Again

Metolius and Deschutes Wild Trout in Peril


The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife does not give a shit about wild fish. With a regime change at ODFW they are working to "simplify" the fishing regs. What does this mean? It means marginalizing wild trout on the Metolius and Deschutes to make it easier for anglers.
What it means is an end to slot limits of native redsides on the Deschutes and wild rainbows on the Metolius.
The Metolius is a special place and a special fishery. Pristine waters and spawning areas will now be opened to angling. Redds will be walked over by careless anglers.
On the Deschutes the slot limited will be eliminated and anything over eight inches will be harvestable.
ODFW is a state bureaucracy that has continually spent itself into the red for as far back as I can remember and the ever present mantra of "angler opportunities" has run amuck.
Increases in tags and license fees apparently isn't enough to sate this agency and get them out of the red ink.
Friends please don't sit idly by and let this happen.

Contact ODFW   -  odfw.commission@state.or.us  

Tell them that you think wild trout are pretty important.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stay Home!


SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has curtailed fishing hours on most of Oregon’s rivers to avoid additional stress on native fish already suffering from high water temperatures and low stream flows from this year’s drought.
Effective Saturday, July 18, and until further notice, all waterbodies defined as streams in the 2015 Oregon Sportfishing Regulations are closed above tidewater (where applicable) to fishing for trout salmon, steelhead and sturgeon from 2 p.m. to one hour before sunrise.
  
Angling for these species will be prohibited at all times in the Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls, including the Clackamas River up to the Interstate 205 Bridge, the Multnomah Channel and the Gilbert River. The following sections of the John Day River will also have complete closures:  The mainstem of the John Day River above Indian Creek near Prairie City; the Middle Fork of the John Day River above Mosquito Creek near the town of Galena; the North Fork of the John Day River above Desolation Creek and Desolation Creek.
Some streams will remain open for angling under normal hours because they are less prone to high water temperature risks due to springs, tides, cold water releases from some dams and high elevations 



 Full Press Release

ODFW Takes Action To Help Native Fish



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Pursuit

In the nearly 40 years of casting a fly it seems like fly fishing is no longer a outdoor pursuit but a way of life. No matter what hobby I have done in those 40 years, and there have been a lot of them, it's always fly fishing I come back to. It calls to me and even if I cannot ford swift streams or climb down into remote river canyons like I used to, it's still a lasting love.
I've read about the legendary fly fisher Mike Kennedy who requested that his favorite bamboo rod be cremated with him and the ashes sprinkled off of Mott Bridge along the North Umpqua and I think Mike knew then what I finally know now.
It seems to me that fly fishing isn't something you do casually. One can dabble in fly fishing, never really letting it become a life long pursuit but it must feel kind of hollow . If you take it seriously it will take you places, if only in your dreams, that you never imagined. You become intimate friends with the trout you pursue and the notion of ever killing a wild trout is unthinkable.
Certain rivers become your home that you always long to return to like a world traveler coming home from a long journey.
To feel all these emotions you must be willing to make your journey into fly fishing more of a pilgrimage. You are a traveler into the joys of trout.
Does this make sense? I hope so because it makes perfect sense to me. When I can no longer get to the river I will spend the rest of my days thinking about my fly fishing adventures. The fish I hooked and the fish I lost. I'll remember all the wonders of the rivers I fished and the wonders of the things I experienced.
You can go there too my friend. You have to be willing to take it all in like a child would at a toy store. Remember that you have been given a wonderful gift.
This pursuit of fly fishing should never, ever be a stressful thing but a thing where you are constantly renewed and thankful.
It's hard not to over think the pursuit of trout on a fly and yes it can be a difficult pursuit at times. Difficult but even after a rough day of wind knots,broken tippets and lost fish you can still come away with the satisfaction of walking in the steps of people like Roderick Haig-Brown, Lee
Wulff ,A.H.E. Woods and Mike Kennedy. As great as these fly fishermen of the past were they still had a beginning point point, just like the rest of us. They achieved fly fishing perfection in the truest sense. The perfection is something that has alluded me but that doesn't take anything away from the pursuit.
So if you are willing to let this angling pursuit take you to all the wonder that it holds you will never regret it. Enjoy the journey friends!



Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hatchery Steelhead Versus Wild Steelhead

We have to change current management practices or our grand kids will not be able to fish for steelhead.Anyone who has caught a fresh wild steelhead knows the difference!
I should make clear that, when I talk about steelhead, I am talking about wild, naturally spawned and reared Oncorhynchus mykiss, not their distant hatchery outlaws. Wild steelhead are the genuine article; hatchery fish are not. The scientific literature is resplendent with the reasons why. Anglers know, or at least should know, from personal observation and experience that hatchery steelhead:
• Are not native, not wild, and do not behave as wild fish.
• Are much less responsive to a lure or fly.
• Enter the rivers over an extremely compressed period. Wild steelhead exhibit wide diversity in run and spawn timing and thus provide year-round angling opportunity with at least some wild steelhead entering rivers on virtually every tide.
• Migrate rapidly to their release location.
• Are known to be harmful to native populations.

Perhaps the most basic question concerns the future of the fish themselves. Without robust wild populations, we will not have a sport. Ask any experienced steelheader whether his fishing is better now than in the past. Invariably, he will note that his angling and angling options are, at best, faint echoes of what was available just a few decades ago. If this downward trend continues for even a short period beyond the present, then the prospects for steelhead and steelhead angling are-to put it mildly-less than hopeful.

What happens if, instead of joining with another wild fish that has passed through the same environmental lenses, this survivor meets and spawns with a hatchery steelhead? We should expect that their progeny would survive at a lower level because they lack the fitness of progeny from wild-wild pairings. Thirty years of field research by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists focused exactly on this issue confirmed our expectation. The study compared the reproductive success of different pairing possibilities between wild and hatchery Kalama River steelhead:
• Native Kalama summer runs (both parents are native Kalama fish);
• Mixed parentage (hatchery male-native female or native male-hatchery female);
• Hatchery-only parentage (both parents hatchery-origin fish).

The findings? Only native-native pairings produced returning adult steelhead. The contributions of all other pairings to the returning adult populations, in the techno-speak of the study, could not be statistically distinguished from “zero.” In other words, the hatchery-hatchery, hatchery-wild, and wild-hatchery progeny were so ill-adapted-so unfit for the environmental challenges they faced over their lifetime-that none of them survived to adulthood. As predicted by Darwin, differences count in life.

The results of this careful, long-term scientific study make clear two essential facts. First, hatchery fish are not the same as nor are they an acceptable substitute for wild fish. Second, permitting hatchery fish to interact with wild fish has the effect of dramatically decreasing the productivity of the wild fish.

Pacific steelhead and salmon on the West coast are in crisis-not because we do not understand the causes for their declines. Instead, we know perfectly well what needs to be done but have instead insisted on following management practices that we know are harmful: excessive harvest, inadequate escapements, hatchery introductions, land use practices that are both unsustainable and detrimental to steelhead, and so on. We have further compounded the crisis by focusing our money and efforts on the stocks that are at the highest risk while largely ignoring other stocks less at risk, all the while continuing to apply management regimes known to be harmful. We also have examples of what will work if we have the courage to trust in the resilience of the fish themselves while providing for their basic requirements.

In short, the problem is not the fish. We and the manner in which we manage steelhead are the problem. Unless and until we change the basic management paradigms, we can be certain that the species will be functionally extinct in what is now their already greatly diminished range.
The above excerpt is from Dec Hogans new book "A Passion for Steelhead"

I have often heard from the ignorant masses "There is no true wild fish anymore" BS! That is wishful thinking by those who care nothing about this diminishing resource. The Bush administration would have us believe that there is no difference and what that amounts to is an attempt to water down the ESA so corporations can log and diminish wild fish habitat.
The ODFW is touting their "Wild Broodstock Program" It all sounds so good on paper but when it comes right down to it these progeny of wild fish are still hatchery fish.  Don't fool yourself into thinking anything else! They are still hatched and reared in a hatchery environment and imprinted with the same hatchery traits as those worthless out of basin mutants that have been dumped into the rivers for years.
I can honestly say after years of learning through trial and error that I would not lose one minutes sleep if all salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the state of Oregon closed down. This is a monster we created by building dams and plundering our pristine rivers for profit. We have gotten addicted to hatchery steelhead and like any addiction we cannot kick the habit! We feel like we are entitled or something and no matter what, we need to "bonk" a few satisfy our egos. Until we make catch and release a way of life, ingrained into our psyche it will never change. I could do without fishing the coastal rivers for a couple of years for the sake of wild steelhead....could you? I'm not just patting myself on the back here either! My education on this was a long time coming but I made it and if I convince just one other angler to make catch and release a part of his/her angling life then it will have been worth it.

The photo above is a wild Wilson River winter steelhead I caught in 2005. This fish was perfect in every way and there is no hatchery fish that can compare! Anyone of you that have caught a lot of both hatchery and wild steelhead know where I am coming from on this.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Little Joys of Fly Fishing

In this piscatorial pursuit of ours it is pretty well known what the pleasures are. Things like hooking a big trout on a dry fly or that cast that has taken years to perfect. Then there are things like a stream so clear or hooking a wild fish and then watching it swim away, a trout so beautiful that your emotions take your breath away.
These pleasures are a big part of the angling style we love but how about all those little things that bring us all joy as well.
I was thinking about these things today and while still fresh in my feeble mind I thought that I'd better write some of mine down. Some of these little pleasures might seem a bit silly but to me it's just part and parcel to why I fish this way.
Do you get a little flush of excitement when you see the courier stopping his truck in front of your house to deliver your new fly rod? It's the culmination of all the anticipation of waiting for that new rod that you are sure will catapult your angling experience into the stratosphere. Same thing with a new reel and the ultimate small joy is when they are both delivered on the same day.
I also like the pleasure of filling a new fly box with flies. Arranging them according to type and size....what fun it is to do this when you can't be on the river.
I enjoy immensely the small maintenance tasks I do on my bamboo fly rods. By maintenance I mean applying a new coat of bri-wax on the cane in anticipation of the season to come.  Anyone who has worked with bri-wax knows that it takes a bit of elbow grease but that  is  okay because I know it's a labor of love.
I particularly enjoy winding new backing and line on a reel. I used to secure the fly line to the backing with a nail knot and would work to tie the perfect knot to attach my line to. Alas the fly line manufacturers have gone to a loop to loop connection and so there is no need for a nail knot and I kind of miss it.
It's just the simple things isn't it? I suppose other recreational endeavors have these small joys as well but our joys are in anticipation of bigger things yet to come out on the stream.
Taking small pleasures in anything is what life is all about isn't it? I have never been able to understand the angler who "fishes angry" If you get so upset out on the river why do you fish? You would be surprised at the amount of people who fish that way. If some angry angler is ruining your day of fishing then just leave the area. There are other spots and other days to fish.
Once time, a few years ago, I was fly fishing the Sandy River with a friend. He hooked this big bright winter steelhead on a fly and got to fight it for a brief time. It jumped and ran and then came off. He was so upset that he threw his fly rod down in disgust at losing that fish. A big wild winter steelhead is a tough fish to take with a fly and anyone who has pursued them know this. Just to hook one is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Landing a fish like that is the ultimate of course, but just hooking one is gigantic! I mentioned to him as he grieved at this lost steelhead, about how fortunate it was that he even got the chance to hook it. Some people go years and maybe even decades for that kind of opportunity. I think it got through to him because on the trip home he couldn't stop talking about the size and strength of that fish and his brief encounter with it.
I can honestly say that I have had very few bad days fly fishing. The small and large pleasures are plentiful and there is at least one every trip. Sometimes they are so small that you almost miss them but they are there. Go to the river with an attitude like that and you will always be a successful angler.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Cost of Trout Fishing

NEW LONDON, Conn. — WITH the long winter now behind us (I hope), I’m about to head out to the nearby Salmon River here in Connecticut to see what a season’s worth of ice has done to the place. Now that fishing season has arrived, the river no doubt will be crowded with newly stocked fish and wader-clad fishermen who share my passion for this sleek and beautiful creature. But my rod will be collecting dust at home. I reluctantly gave up fishing 10 years ago after I saw what a century of stocking nonnative fish was doing to the landscape I love.
Twenty-eight million Americans will buy freshwater fishing licenses this year. Eight million of them will be trout and salmon anglers. Native wild trout have mostly disappeared in the face of this immense fishing pressure. They have been replaced by nonnative hatchery fish and their river-born “wild” trout offspring. Nationwide, state and federal fisheries agencies dump some 130 million trout in lakes, rivers and streams each year. Although this stocking lures people outside, the hatcheries that produce these trout create environmental problems.
Trout aquaculture is heavily reliant on pellet feed. The federal and state hatchery production of some 28 million pounds of trout per year requires roughly 34 million pounds of feed. These pellets are derived from herring, menhaden and anchovies harvested from oceans in quantities that the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say are unsustainable. We are devastating populations of marine species simply to support a freshwater hobby.
If that’s not bad enough, hatcheries are major polluters. Each year, much of the roughly six million pounds of fish excrement, uneaten food and dead and decaying fish that I estimate are produced by these hatcheries leach nutrients into wastewater that is often then dumped untreated into the closest stream or river. This wastewater can also contain medicines and antibiotics used to limit diseases in crowded pens, and disinfectants that sterilize holding tanks. Ultimately, these hatcheries may be contributing to the proliferation of “dead zones” — biological wastelands created by excess nutrients — that are choking estuaries and coastal ecosystems downstream.
For more than a century, government stocking efforts and more recent well-intentioned but illegal introductions of fish by anglers have wreaked havoc on native trout and other fish species. Seven species of native trout are considered threatened and others have become extinct because of interbreeding and competition from nonnative trout and other game fish introduced into freshwater streams. Despite these problems, most trout stocked this year will be nonnative to the streams and rivers where they will be released.
Many of the fishermen who will revisit their favorite stream this spring are happy to release their quarry after hooking and reeling them in. Although catch-and-release might seem, logically, to help maintain high numbers of catchable fish, the science does not validate this practice. Survival rates of hatchery fish in the wild are very low, especially after hooking damage and exhaustion associated with repeated catch-and-release encounters.
Studies suggest that 75 to 80 percent of hatchery trout are gone soon after stocking. The fact that many states still routinely stock streams regulated as catch-and-release-only waters is a strong indication that catch-and-release does not ensure fish survival. Hatcheries are breeding fish that are poorly adapted to life in the wild. Even worse, these fish can pass on their undesirable traits to wild populations of native fish.
Although stocking trout is harmful, eating them is far better than eating native wild trout. When these native fish die, their genetic uniqueness dies, too. (Brook and lake trout are the only trout native to the entire Northeast, for instance; nonnatives like brown, rainbow and golden trout are also released into Northeast streams.) Unfortunately, many states set uniformly high catch limits that draw no distinction between native versus nonnative trout. Therefore, anglers need to hold themselves to a higher standard than the rules that govern their actions.
In the end, perhaps the most ethical approach for anglers would be to catch and consume nonnative wild and hatchery-produced game fish. Huge resources go into the production of farm-raised fish, after all, and at serious environmental costs. Conversely, it is more important than ever to protect wild populations of native fish with catch-and-release practices. Many states provide trout identification materials in their angler regulations. Establishing stricter limits and mandatory releases of native species whenever they are healthy enough to survive being hooked could help preserve the genetic integrity of aquatic environments.
If we continue to ignore the impact of hatchery fish on aquatic ecosystems, we will soon regret what has been lost.