Friday, March 27, 2009

Tying a Size 20 Dry Fly? Piece of Cake!

Yours truly on the Kilchis River

I thought that tying a size 20 dry fly was about as likely for this old fly fisherman as scoring with Angelina Jolie With the help of a lighted magnifying glass and ultra fine 8/0 uni-thread and, of course, a simple pattern I pulled it off.
I really love fishing a small dry more than any type of fly fishing. There is just something about witnessing a gentle slurp or a violent surface explosion by a trout that quickens the pulse like nothing else in this angling endeavour. It makes it even more enjoyable if the fly the fish are after is one that comes from your own vise.
I was fishing an evening caddis hatch on the Deschutes a few years ago when I tucked my rod under my arm to light my pipe. No sooner had I gotten my bowl going a big Deschutes redside decided my size 14 winged caddis imitation was to his liking and he jumped all over it while I stumbled around and collected my wits while this trout did a huge mid river cartwheel.
I did end up landing it and it was shortly thereafter that a late spring storm put the river out for the rest of my stay but it was one of those unforgettable trout that one encounters throughout his angling life.
To me it just does not get more basic than fishing a dry. You have the line leader and fly attached to your rod and reel...the rest is up to you!
Selective trout? Maybe but I doubt that the trout have the ability to actually decide what to feed on. Maybe it's that they are full of baetis spinners and want a trico or maybe it's a hexagenia is what they are after so who knows? All I know is the absolute angling pleasure that comes from a fly fishing plan that all comes together.
Whether it be a large Deschutes redside or a smallish coastal cutthroat I doubt that there are many anglers who say that they do not like the surface action.
So with another winter steelhead season almost behind me it's time to think trout. The first trip east to the Deschutes will come soon and while I would guess the early spring winds will make it a less than fruitful journey it's just being there that counts.
It's been a long cold winter and these old bones are ready for some sun and the hope that a trout will rise to my size 20 creation.
Here is wishing all of you "trout nuts" an enjoyable season. Whether you are from my neck of the woods or some place where the "troot grow as big as your arm" good luck to you all!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dammit! Protect the Metolius For Crying Out Loud!

I've written more than a few time about the way I feel about the Metolius river on this blog before. It's a magical and wonderful place that goes beyond fly fishing and into an almost spiritual emotion concerning it.
Beautiful, mysterious and breathtaking are just some of the adjectives one could use when looking upon this river and it's surrounding area.
There are those soulless folks, who see everything in dollars and cents, that only see it as an area ripe for development. They see golf courses, day spas and destination resorts. They see potential tourism money to be made at the expense of all that is right and great about the Metolius.
In the state of Oregon I can only liken the North Umpqua as a place that would rival the Metolius in it's inspirational beauty. Why inspirational you say? Go there and find out.
Walk along the river amid it's Ponderosa pines and take in all that this area offers. Like I said before it goes beyond fishing and in fact I can think of no place I've trout fished in this state where it's harder to hook a fish with a fly. The endangered bull trout populations have found refuge in the Metolius and it's nothing to look into a pool and spot bull trout over 20 inches.
The Metolius is just one of those places you want to be.
There is legislation to protect this area and it comes under Oregon House Bill 3100.
Those of you that have been to the Metolius and have enjoyed the beauty of the Metolius and it's area please let your feelings be known. If you live in Oregon contact you representative and urge their support for's just that important.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why This Picture Should Piss You Off

Yes I know another dead wild steelhead! This one from the Snoqualmie river in Washington. The blood coming from the gills and mouth spells certain death for this fish.
So here is the deal. I will not publish any comments to this blog that support killing wild salmonids anymore. Some can call it censorship but this is my blog and I support wild fish and so that is the way it is. You will have to show your ignorance and selfishness concerning wild salmonids elsewhere because it won't be published here.
I will continue to publish pictures like the one above and continue to rant about the demise of our native steelhead, trout and salmon populations.
You want to advocate the killing wild fish? Go elsewhere to do it because you are not welcome here.
There is not much else to say except this is just another example of the ignorance that is still out there concerning wild steelhead.
It may sound silly but I mourn the death of this steelhead and words cannot adequately describe the contempt I have for the jerk who killed it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The State of Steelhead

The State of Steelhead
Article Courtesy of Wild Steelhead Coalition

The article attached to the link above will alarm you or at least it should alarm you. Obviously the state of wild steelhead is dire...please get involved if wild fish mean anything to you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Trout Bum

I recently attended a fly fishing film festival at movie theatre/beer hall in Portland. The festival featured short clips of various fly fishing destinations like Belize, British Columbia,Mongolia and Kamchatka and all in all it was enjoyable to watch.
While it was fun to see these fantastic locations and dreamed about places I have to wonder if this trout bum phenomena is a good thing for our sport and for wild fish in general.
There was one clip where the anglers had to be helicoptered into a remote river in order to fish for huge rainbows and I wondered if there any place in the world where wild fish are left alone anymore? Is there any place where man cannot reach them?
I also wonder if the anglers in these films who travel to these exotic locales reflect what is best about fly fishing? The image of these guys holding a trophy trout out of the water with their rod firmly gripped in their teeth is kind of repulsive to me.
Some of you might think I am just envious of these anglers and them getting a chance to fish where most other guys only dream of but I'm really not.
I love my fly fishing world and am satisfied to fish where I am. The pursuit of steelhead and trout here in the Pacific Northwest is a very satisfying experience for me. Trying to preserve the wild salmonids of this region provides enough of a challenge and chance at gratification as I want.
When I abandoned my bait and gear angling life in favor of fly fishing only, it was for a reason. That reason is a lot more than having my grinning face plastered all over the internet with my latest conquests. I got into fly fishing for the sheer joy of it and I dearly love every tradition from the past that goes along with it.
No doubt there are millions of fly fishermen out there that feel the same way.
Sorry but the whirlwind "Endless Summer" fly fishing movies are nothing more than eye candy and something I would not pursue. The young guys in these films are not someone I envy as they place their indicators on their line and have at it.
Call me cynical if you want but to my way of thing this type of fishing over kill flies in the face of tradition and the meaning of why I travel this road.
If someone offered to pay my way to New Zealand to fish for those big browns and rainbows I would go...who wouldn't? The point I am trying to make is I think this type of search and destroy barn storming throughout the world is, in some cases, obscene and over indulgent.
The Deschutes or the Metolius rivers are about as exotic as I care to get at this stage of my life and the joy of a nicely cast dry fly is reward enough. Big numbers and lots of ego photos are fine for some but not for this old gent.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

And All Is Right With the World

We will be turning our clocks ahead this weekend and that means an extra hour of daylight! Deschutes here I come with my March Browns in hand!
Spring is starting to tease us a bit here in the Pacific Northwest with some 60 degree days.
Ah spring!
You know what though? None of that stuff matters!
It can blizzard for another damn month as far as I'm concerned because
NL West watch the hell out because we will have Manny being Manny for at least another season and hopefully two.

PS- I was just joking about not caring about those other things.....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Quest Continues

I am on an epic quest friends. I'm talking about a quest of monumental proportions and while I've flirted with achieving this quest a few times it is still elusive.
So what quest am I talking about?
The quest to consistently hook winter steelhead swinging a fly! I've hooked a couple of fish this winter but alas they were just fleeting flirtations of what is possible.
I could cop out and go the indicator route but I would rather be boiled in a molten concoction of Genke and Mucillin before doing that. I am not passing judgment on those that fish this way but my bobber days are long past me.
Like I said I have flirted with success this winter but it remains just out of my reach and here is an example.
Last Friday I had a golden opportunity with two of the best steelhead fly fishermen in the Pacific Northwest.Mike McCune, who is one of the pioneers of Skagit casting techniques, was one of them.
Well to make a long story short I got sick and had to beg off and my two pals both hooked winter steelhead. Would I have gotten one? Who knows but these two would have put me into areas where steelhead lurk.
My spey rod abilities are mostly self taught so that means I had a fool for a teacher. I had to basically learn from scratch about all the in's and out's of this pursuit.
I would liken it to a man wandering aimlessly through the desert with no direction and no clue on how to even begin to find his way. I've gone through a plethora of rods and lines and until I hooked up with Mike and John Bracke I had seriously considered not fly fishing for steelhead in the winter.
Yeah I can catch summer runs but the winter steelhead are a completely different game and after achieving all I could fishing for steelhead with conventional gear I had to pursue these greatest of all fresh water game fish and do it swinging a fly with a spey rod.
So any of you that have any secret advice that while put me over the top in this cold winter game it would be greatly appreciated.
I will keep you all posted as quest progresses and any success that I have as I know you will be on the edge of your seats in breathless anticipation.