Friday, December 26, 2008

A Great Book!

This book was my 2008 Christmas gift from my dear wife.

I cannot say enough good things about it. Thousands of Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead flies are richly illustrated in this book that could be compared to George Kelson's classic volume on Atlantic salmon flies.
As you know product endorsements are very rare on this blog but I make exceptions when I feel something deserves recognition and this book certainly does.
This book is published by Amato books and is the fruit of 30 years' research by renowned international fly tying author, Chris Mann.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays From Shane at The Quiet Pool

We are in the biggest snow storm in 40 years here in the Pacific Northwest and with warming temperatures predicted for this weekend the possibly of major flooding is very real. We saw this happen in 1996 and it made huge changes in some of the rivers I fish.
In 2006 one of my favorite trout drifts was forever changed and is not even fishable anymore.
I accidentally caught what might have been the last steelhead ever taken from that particular run.
So swinging my fly for some winter steelhead will be delayed but I look forward to a good season.
Photo Courtesy of Bob Meiser

We saw some major setbacks in the cause of wild salmonid conservation but I think Bill Bakke said it best as we were leaving the meeting that saw ODFW take a giant step backwards in wild trout conservation by allowing a harvest of wild coastal cutthroat trout.
He told me "We can walk away from a defeat but those who were victorious must live with their decision"
Wise words from a very wise man.
So from me to all of you that have taken time to read these amateurish writings of mine I thank you and wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season.
Here is hoping that all your fly fishing dreams come true in 2009

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cheap Crap!

One would think that after over 35 years of fishing in the Pacific Northwest I would learn. Hell no! After all these years I have not learned the lesson of not buying cheap fishing/outdoor gear.
The latest cheap crap I bought was a boot dryer. I was in Harbor Freight, the mecca of cheap crap, and found this boot dryer for $10. I was so excited at finding a cheap boot dryer that I didn't bother to check and see that it ran four "D" cell batteries and in order to run it on household current I had to buy a six volt adapter. So after determining that I had no six volt adapter I ventured out to the Dollar Tree to find come cheap "D" batteries.

I don't know if they have Dollar Tree stores in other parts of the country but I have three of them within two miles of me. You could probably buy the entire store's inventory for less than $1000.
See the pattern here? In order to know that the Dollar Tree had cheap batteries meant that I had been in there before...I'm hopeless! So I got the $1 batteries and of course browsed the cheap Christmas tinsel to see if they had any new colors that I hadn't already bought for use in fly tying.
Well needless to say the crappy boot dryer did what cheap and crappy things do. Yes it crapped out and now resides in the plastic recycle container out in the drive way.
I have a long history of cheapness and it seems like some sort of evolutionary process with me. I'm evidentily still evolving when it comes to cheap crap.
It started with fishing line back in my gear days. I would buy this blue stuff that was about $1.79 for a thousand yards. After losing a huge steelhead I learned my lesson.
Then it was hip boots. I found some for $19.95 and of course in the middle of winter when the water is 38 degrees they leaked and I learned my lesson well at least until the introduction of cheap neoprene waders and cheap breathables.
It went on into rain coats. I found a really nice and cheap one at the local Bi-Mart and when I got wetter than I would have without a raincoat I learned my lesson.
Oh I could go on but I think you get the idea. Cheap rods, reels, line, rifles, sunglasses etc. will fail you at the most critical moments...take it from someone who knows.
So the moral of this story is to buy the best fishing/outdoor gear you can afford! You'll will save yourself from frozen toes, fingers and lost elk hunting opportunities(don't ask) when you purchase quality gear.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Goodbye Bettie

My favorite fantasy girl from bygone days passed away yesterday at the age of 85.
There was just something about Bettie Page that us guys really liked. She became somewhat of a cult figure in recent years and with the picture below you know why.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

River Access - Who's Right, Who's Wrong...Who Knows?

One of the hot topics among anglers here in Oregon is the one of who owns the beds and banks of the rivers of this state.
Should be simple shouldn't it? The Oregon State Constitution says they are public domain! The public is entitled to their use and even the state attorney general agrees.
Not so fast friends!
Seems that someone way back in the seventies in the Oregon legislature thought it politically expedient to muck up the pun intended. In some kind of back room deal they allowed the individual landowners the right to limit access along the river unless that river has been declared navigable.
So here is where we are today! In order for the public to legally access the bank of a river up to the high water mark that river has to be declared navigable by the Oregon Department of State Lands or DSL. The whole navigability process is a long and ponderous process and typically political charged not to mention expensive and extremely divisive.
River front landowners claim they hold deed to the middle of the river their land borders. Some do and some are mistaken but it just isn't that simple.
If their land deed is in fact accurate then unless the river that their land borders has been declared navigable (Eleven rivers in Oregon have been declared navigable in part or whole)then they have say so as to who may traverse the river along their property.
So you can see why this is such a confusing and emotionally charged topic.
The Association of Northwest Steelheaders has been at the forefront of the whole access issue. They have spent a great deal of their money and been subjected to more than a few IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue audit that challenge their non-profit status to determine who is right or wrong. They have been successful in getting most of the Sandy and John Day rivers declared navigable and I applaud them for their efforts.
One would think that the ultimate bad guy in all of this is the landowner! That is not the case at all. Sure there are some that are combative and down right belligerent when it comes to this issue. Some river front landowners have taken the law into their own hands and actually built barbed wire fences across some Oregon rivers along with illegally taking gravel out of rivers where salmon and steelhead spawning occur! Other landowners will let their cattle graze along the river bank which destroys critical stream side riparian zones.

The majority are simply trying to protect their property from litter, vandalism and abuse. They do not own huge tracts of land and in many cases their land has been family owned for several generations.
I cannot imagine owning riverfront property along the more popular salmon and steelhead rivers of this state. I've witnessed the vandalism and littering that occurs and am, without going into the sickening details, disgusted at what I've seen left by those who care nothing about the property of others.

Some over zealous river rights advocates have decided that the confrontational "in your face" approach is the way to handle this explosive issue. This has done little except to piss off landowners who might have been worked with on access issues.
So who is right? Landowners and public use advocates both are! Who is wrong? They both are!
There is no solution to this in the near future because the politicians have not had the intestinal fortitude to tackle this issue. Whether they be on the side of the river using public or whether they be on the side of landowners both large and small it is the politicians of this state that need to sort this out and the sooner the better.
My approach is to only fish where I am allowed to fish. I will respect a landowners request to leave his property and will do so immediately. I have never had a serious confrontation with any landowners because I will not belligerently take the attitude of some who think being confrontational and obnoxious and therefore getting what private land is open taken away. I have taken this stance which is surprisingly unpopular among the majority of fellow anglers but hey when have I cared about taking an unpopular stand?
So my best advice is always respect someone else's property. Do not litter and leave the river bank in better shape that you found it. I suggest knocking on some doors of private landowners and politely asking permission to fish their property. Take along a litter bag and collect up as much garbage as you can. That really impresses a landowner.
I feel this approach will win more friends than enemies in the long run.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fly fishing Dos and Don'ts According to Me

There are, no doubt, countless lists about how one should conduct himself while enjoying the sport of fly fishing. I am quite sure that they are all encompassing and some would even claim to be the final authority as to what to do and what not to do along the stream.
Well not exactly...
You will have to suffer through yet one more - Namely Mine!

So here goes and you are welcome to agree or disagree with my wit and wisdom.
Let's dispense with the obvious because I am sure you all are aware that littering, vandalism and other such vile acts are definite Don'ts. If you are not aware of those absolutes then I am truly amazed that you are able to make use of a computer much less knowing how to communicate abstract thoughts on that computer.
Don't enter a stretch of river and immediately start fishing directly below another angler. This is impolite and if you are found doing this during the fall salmon season then you might likely wind up in the river or having that 13 foot spey shoved in an uncomfortable location where a visit to a proctologist might be necessary.
Whenever I am limited to fishing in close quarters with other anglers I either leave and find some less crowded waters or I ask permission to fish in the same area.
I have yet to be turned down when I use this approach.
Do carry a plastic bag to pick up garbage along the stream bank. This is especially important when fishing, with permission of course, along private land. Nothing impresses a land owner more than an angler cleaning up trash.
Don't have a picture taken of you and your fish with your fly rod in your mouth. Nothing looks stupider than some guy posing for his hero shot with a rod clenched in his teeth. If you must have an ego shot taken then leave the damn fish in the water at all costs! I saw a picture on of some attention seeking moron with a wild Deschutes river spring chinook hauled out of the water and up to the road where his camera was...what a clown!
Do avoid completely all spawning fish and their redds. Be watchful where you wade and never ever cast your fly towards active spawning fish.
Again the enticement of visible fish in the water might be too much for the weak minded to resist but hey we are fly anglers and should know better or at least I hope we should.
Do become involved in conservation at some level. Hey If you can take the time to read the drivel I write on this blog then you can take the time to write your state fish and wildlife department to voice your concerns. They do read this stuff and they do pay attention to what you have to say.
If you can be involved beyond letter writing then so much the better. There will always be plenty of those who like to make like they care but in truth it's little more than lip service. There are a lot of folks who get little if any attention with their conservation efforts and that is the way they like it.
Don't make money off of wild fish and natural resources then give little back! This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I'm not saying it's wrong to make a buck or two off of wild fish and natural resources but it reprehensible to never go beyond that. This goes for anyone from guides to internet website owners who have huge followings. If you think I'm talking about you then I probably am.
Finally by all means Do enjoy what a river and a day outdoors have to offer. Certainly there are fewer and fewer fish available to catch but take the time to consider your surrounding out on the river.
Isn't it a great thing to be alive and along a beautiful stretch of water with your fly rod? Yes catching a few fish is nice to but is it absolutely necessary to salve your ego by catching a fish?

Our rivers out here are sparkling diamonds...every one of them! They may have become tarnished over the years by miuse but they are still a resource of immense enjoyment that you and I are able to utilize. I intend to take that attitude in the coming year. We have suffered some severe setbacks this past year when it comes to protecting wild fish but it's the beauty of where we are and where we live that makes us, or at lest me, fight so hard for it in the first place.
Enjoy that beauty and keep ever mindful of those that fought for your right to be makes a difference when you approach it that way.