Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Power of the Internet

So with nearly 9000 steelhead going over The Dalles dam on Saturday I figured "Hey there ought to be a few fish in the lower Deschutes"
"You're a friggin' genius Shane" says my loyal fishing partner John "Let's fish the lower Deschutes for some of them there summer steelheads!"
Now this is a Monday mind you! School is back in session and according to our wonderful president George W. Dumbass the economy is booming so everyone is gainfully employed manufacturing hamburgers or some such thing. Surely the Deschutes will be a veritable fishing ghost town...right?


We pull into the parking area at Heritage Landing. The same parking area where two short weeks ago had two other vehicles in it. Should have been tipped off by the guys running side-planers on the sand bar and the idiots in their float tubes in areas where I've never seen float tubes before. Oh yeah the 10 gazillion boat trailers should have been a clue also.
Well that little parking area had at least fifteen cars in it now so being the brilliant fishing tacticians John and I are we decided to head up to Maupin and summarily got skunked!!!
But hey we only saw a few other fishermen including one woman who was so worried that we were going to fish "her stretch" of water that she hovered around where I was fishing until I left.
I know, dear reader you are just dying to know what this all has to do with the internet?
With the boast of a million hits per day on the drama queen fishing website one should not be surprised that when a guy posts pictures on the lower Deschutes holding large steelhead and familiar landmarks in the background the masses will converge like a plague of locust.
I used to blow this stuff off but after seeing things first hand on various fishing locales this should come as no surprise at all. It's like that old shampoo commercial.
"They tell two friend and they tell two friends and so on....."
So I'm beginning to think that a successful fishing day doesn't necessarily have to involve catching fish but being able to fish without having to deal with the equivalent of the Mongol hordes on my favorite river

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Two Inch Rule

As the years go by the fish of course get bigger! Sometimes they even change species altogether.
That Deschutes pike minnow will magically transform itself into a big redside after a year or two. Of course it's ideal to never have witnesses to dispute ones "mythical" triumphs or at the very least make sure they are out of sight while these trout are being fought.I once fished with a guy who claimed to have hooked four, count 'em! four chinook all while I was fishing no more than 20 yards from him! Not once did I see his rod or line move...not once! Now that is what I call a skilled angler. Another fellow I used to drift fishing for winter steelhead with many years ago would violently set the hook on every snag or hesitation his terminal gear encountered. He would loudly exclaim "Damn I just missed a fish" then later while were talking about the day to another angler old Bill would proudly proclaim that he had hooked 12 or some like number of fish but just couldn't get the hook into them.
Now of course yours truly would never exaggerate such a thing *wink*

Enjoy the following essay courtesy of "The Contemplative Angler"

It is said that all anglers are liars. I deny that charge, I believe
that anglers simply view the material world in a different, more
open-minded way than the common man. We see the potential in all
things, the spirit of life springing forth endlessly. We know that the
fish we release today might, to the unenlightened gaze and the harsh
reality of a tape measure, be only ten inches long -- but we see more.
Next season it will be twelve inches perhaps, through the normal
process of growth and development; but we must first endure a harsh
winter without angling, and he was the last trout of the season. It
seems only right and proper that by March, that same 10" anemic rainbow
trout is now regaled as "the 18" brown I took on the Sugar, in the last hour of the season".
Nevertheless, there is a general code to our prevarication-- the 2"
rule. You know that when you return to the campfire at day's end,
everyone will have a story to tell about the fish they released/broke
off. The largest fish you took was twelve inches, but if you tell the
lads that, they will assume you are lying, that, in fact, the fish was
only ten inches. To counter their foolish skepticism, you report the
fish as fourteen inches -- everyone is satisfied and understands that
the fish was 12" -- because of the 2" rule. It was not necessary to
mention that it was not a trout, but a fallfish -- after all, among
fallfish it was a beauty.
Catch and Release has, of course, allowed trout to grow in the
manner described. For those who don't understand the merits of C&R,
I need only refer you to the 18" brown I took on the Sugar. That would
not have been possible without C&R.
The most marvelous case of the possibilities of C&R was brought
to me on the Manistee River near Grayling, MI, six years ago. It is
largely night fishing during the Hex hatch, and this night there was
only a sliver of a moon. A dear friend, but inveterate liar, was
fishing one hundred feet downstream of me when he suddenly whooped with
glee. A moment later I could just discern his outline in the moonglow
as he held aloft what he claimed was an 11" brown. I could not see the
fish. However, when we got to the campfire, shivering in the June chill
at midnight, I was amazed to learn that I had been witness to the
capture of an 18" brown. Fortunately, the successful angler was soon
convincing himself of his veracity through the medium of a tall glass,
and, as he was pouring, and it was his bottle, I was equally convinced.
Such is angling. It has many arts and arcane elements, not the
least of which is the 2" rule, use it well and often.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The River Why and other musings

Have you ever seen a cuter little girl? This is my grand daughter Heidi Anne Stewart.
People marvel that such a beautiful child can be related to me! I tell them that my oldest son Troy is just as ugly as me so Heidi obviously gets her good looks from her mother Heather.

I had the opportunity to hear author David James Duncan speak last night and he is as good in person as his books are. His book "The River Why" is a classic and a must read for most progressive thinkers. The fact that it is set right here in the Pacific North West makes the places and characters seem more like people we know than some obscure stranger in a fiction novel.
Another thing that makes Duncan appealing to me is the fact that he is a fly fisherman along with a rabid conservationist. He lives in the same valley of the Bitteroot river where Norman Maclean lived and where the story of his fly fishing family is set.
When you think about it the Pacific North West has spawned many talented writers and artists.There is Chuck Palahnuik of "Fight Club" fame along with the late Ken Kesey and screenwriter Gus Van Zandt. A pretty talented bunch huh?
Any of you that have the chance to read any of David James Duncan's work will not be disappointed. I just ordered "My Story As Told By Water" and will someday tackle the mammoth "The Brothers K".

I fished the Deschutes river on Monday and came away with this startling revelation! Cell phones are not water proof. Yes I was due for one of my famous "two footed punts" on the river and sure enough my cell phone made the ultimate sacrifice for my clumsiness. The river in Macks Canyon area is the toughest wading that I have done on this river and I was lucky to have only fallen once. I did manage an encounter with a steelhead but it was brief.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

That New Rod Mojo

I have believed through all my years of fishing that there is something magical about taking a new rod out for the first time. Just seems to be a good fishing catching karma going on there.
So on Monday John, Mike and I headed to the Deschutes in search of summer steelhead. We arrived at the Heritage Landing parking area, suited up and headed up river. John took a few minutes to give Mike a crash course on spey casting and away we went. This was one of those very rare days on the Deschutes when the wind was not blowing at gale force gusts. In fact the wind did not come up at all the whole time we were there and so that should have been the first clue that this was going to be a special day.
After a brisk walk up to the spot we wanted to start Mike stationed himself just above me and started fishing with his new CB Burkheimer custom spey rod. Mike's new rod is just beautiful with agate stripping guides and exotic wood reel seat.He attached a Hardy Bougle reel to it and it was truly a work of art very fitting for a bamboo fly rod craftsman like Mike.After fishing for no more than 15 or 20 minutes Mike let out a shout that he had a take and I told him the fish may be back so keep casting to the same spot. Sure enough he hooks up and the fight is on! Mike is an experienced fly fisherman but this was his first steelhead on a fly and the old "new rod mojo" was really in play here as he landed a chrome bright summer with an intact adipose fin which meant the fish would be released to fight another day. Mike of course was ecstatic and he really deserved this fish. He builds as beautiful a bamboo fly rod as you'll ever see, a true old school bamboo craftsman.
Here is Mike with his fish...Way to go buddy!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Seasons on the Deschutes

"Hope springs eternal" as we have endured the long dreary winter. The seemingly endless series of storms and the disdainful practice of using a heavy sinking line that comes no where near the vicinity of the fish. How many flies do I really need to tie after all while I wait for the coastal streams to drop and clear enough to make a fly fishing trip a little less insane? How many times can I wax my cane rods? Yes that first trip over the mountain, full of hope and dreams of rising trout. I know that when spring training for baseball starts that trout is not far behind.

The days are getting shorter and the dam counts are getting higher. After fruitless attempts to coerce lethargic summer runs to come to my fly in the 70 degree water of most rivers the first hint of fall can only mean it's time to head to Maupin. The October caddis will be doing their suicidal dive bombings into the water which will make my spey casted muddler irresistible to the steelhead don't you think?
So after a trip or two to the mouth of the river to watch the float tube daredevils cheat death at the Blackberry Hole it's time to head up river.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's never about the trout...well almost never

It's not always about catching a lot of fish that draws one to fly fishing. It's just a simple desire within myself to get away. There's no stress about who is in the pool where I want to fish because there is always somewhere else to cast a line. Sometimes though, it is about the trout.
So read the poem below with that in mind

Where the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes that scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout and whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;Leaning softly out from ferns that drop their tears over the young streams.
Come away O human child!To the waters and the wild with a faery hand in hand,
For the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand.
Excerpt from " The Stolen Child" W.B. Yeats from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Flyfishing Pilgrimage

The North Umpqua is the most beautiful river in a state of beautiful rivers! It's steelhead fly fishing heaven. Nope I didn't get a chance to actually fish it because of time constraints but the water I saw was beyond belief in it's beauty. I think I will go back next year and fish this river where the likes of Roderick Haig-Brown,Jack Hemingway, Major Mott, Mike Kennedy and Zane Grey once fished. When Mike Kennedy passed away a few years ago he was cremated, in accordance with his wishes, along with his favorite bamboo fly rod and his ashes were sprinkled into the river off of Mott Bridge.
I looked into the river from Mott Bridge and saw several summer steelhead milling around in the pool under the bridge. We are truly fortunate to have such rivers like the N.Umpqua, Metolius,Deschutes and Rogue in Oregon. Hopefully people will show the respect these wonderful rivers deserve and treat them like the priceless gems they are.
I actually did get to fish the legendary Rogue but the endless procession of rafters made any serious fishing difficult at best.

On a much more somber note I am saddened by the tragic death of the "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. He deeply cared for the animals of this planet and though his "shtick" was a little corney he was sincere in his beliefs and the world needs more caring individuals like him.