Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trout Season - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sang To the tune of the Christmas Song "It's the most wonderful time of the year" 

It's the most wonderful time of the year
They'll be flies for the tying
And new lines for buying and plenty of beer
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the hap-happiest season of all
With the waders need patching
And the salmon flies hatching
down your neck they will crawl
It's the hap-happiest season of all

You'll lie about trout lost
And to your spouse about the cost of that new fly reel that
you just bought.
You will fall in the river
And then you will shiver
While the season gets closer to fall


Happy Trout Season to Everyone

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stay Out Of The Upper River Please!

This will be a yearly thing where I bring this post to the top. I feel it's just that important for the well being of wild steelhead. Those of you that already curtails your upriver fishing, I applaud you!
Those of you who insist on harassing fish on their redds then maybe you should pay attention. There are still fresh steelhead in the lower portions of the river so why not stay down there and leave the upriver areas alone....ya think?

This subject is something I strongly believe in and adhere to so since this is my blog you dear readers will just have to indulge me.
As most of you know I spend a lot of time fishing the rivers near Tillamook, Oregon. I fish for steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout on those rivers and know some of them very well. I know the fish and where they frequent, although you would never guess that by my angling success or lack thereof on the Wilson. This time of year I will stay out of the upper parts of those rivers because I know there are many wild steelhead using the upper rivers and tributaries to spawn.
How did I arrive at this decision? In 2001 I was fishing in the upper portion of a Tillamook area stream and hooked a very large wild female steelhead. I played her out and landed her carefully to avoid any harm coming to her when I saw that she was dropping her eggs. I had probably taken her right off a spawning bed and I felt disgusted with myself for even being in that section of the river.
I vowed from that day on to never fish the upper river in late spring until at least the end of May. I've tried to convince others to do likewise and have managed to convince some but others steadfastly refuse.
The ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) closes the nearby Miami river completely for that two month period and the upper Nestucca river is closed in order to limit access to spawning areas but why not the Wilson or the Trask?
I have seen too many pictures of grinning fishermen holding a wild buck steelhead out of the water for their hero shot while that male fish is dumping it's milt all over the fisherman's waders.
Some might say that why stop at the upper rivers why not close the whole river during that time? Wouldn't bother me in the least but some of those are big revenue rivers for both the ODFW and Tillamook county so with heavy lobbying from a few "good old boys" Tillamook area fishing groups they  stays open.
I urge everyone who reads my blog to consider what they can do to further the cause of wild fish in this state and any state. If we don't do it then who will!

The picture below gives you an idea of what to look for.


Friday, April 07, 2017

The Vilification of Conservation....A Disturbing Trend


In the past few years there has been a disturbing trend going on here in the Pacific Northwest. Organizations, whose mission it is to protect wild salmon,steelhead and trout, are now the hated enemy. Outrageous lies, perpetrated by well known fishing guides and others, are rampant throughout the internet fishing community. Outright slander directed at groups like Native Fish Society is now common on internet fishing sites.
Why is this and what is this? The why is the paranoia that these conservation groups are working to have hatcheries closed. The what is just plain old fear mongering by those that are apparently too dumb to understand and by those with a personal agenda who will go to any length and spread any lie to achieve their goals of over loading rivers with harmful hatchery plants.
They also have bought into the lie that these conservation groups want to make all streams fly fishing only! Again not true but this is perhaps the most popular lie.
I am a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited. I am also a member of Native Fish Society, Wild Steelhead Coalition and Federation of Fly Fishers. None of these groups want to make our Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead rivers fly fishing only! Got that? None!!!
Then there is the the disdain for proven science. Fish biologists have almost unanimously agreed that hatchery salmonids are harmful to wild salmonids.Even Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has published papers, BY THEIR OWN BIOLOGISTS, stating the harmful effects of hatchery fish! Clearly the preponderance of evidence is there! Yet in this day and age of disdaining anything scientific this evidence is dismissed.Instead the opinion of arm chair fishery biologists,gear guides and half-baked, self proclaimed fishing experts who have little practical training if any in complex fishery science is listened to by the ignorant masses. Does this scenario sound familiar? The opinion of some north coast guides is listened to instead of those with doctoral degrees. Go figure huh?
Anytime that conservation groups are compared to Nazism and the holocaust then the debate has gone into a dangerous and dark direction. There is no accountability for the fear mongering and these lies and that is too bad.You can bombard the lies with facts and peer proven science but to no avail.
We are nearing the end of a resource that was once abundant. Because of ignorance,greed and short-sightedness we are looking at the proverbial bottom of the barrel.
I am not a fish biologist so anything I state that comes off as personal opinion can be taken with a grain of salt. I try to avoid getting on a soap box but I will definitely link scientific data about the dangers of things like broodstock programs and inter-action between hatchery fish and wild fish. There is a ton of unbiased studies out there.
Conservation groups get accused of "cherry picking" the science and that is something that is totally untrue! There are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent people in groups like Native Fish Society who know that to publish false information would be ruinous to the organization so they just do not do it.
The old "you want to close the hatcheries" argument is something right out of the alt-right playbook. You feed people lies and misinformation long enough you might actually get a few of the more gullible to believe you! FOX News is a prime example of using lies and fear mongering to sway votes.
If you want to debate me then you can bet that I will politely listen to your points but if you start spouting off bullshit then I will come back at you with science. It's the only way right?
I first wrote this entry back 4 years ago and have updated  and expanded it.
The fact remains that there is still mistrust and outright hate towards the very people who are trying to save a few wild fish for future generation.It's maddening and frustrating beyond words.
All of us that care about the cold water fisheries here in the Pacific Northwest know that this is imperative! Follow the science!

Helpful Tips For The Older Fly Fisherman

A few years ago I picked up a helpful pamphlet by the late Lenox Dick about fly fishing for the elderly. I'm almost 63 but don't put me in the grave yet and I do appreciate those senior discounts. Since I have a bad back and it sometimes makes me feel like I'm 103 I thought that the information by Mr. Dick was useful.

I did, however, notice that the author left out a few tips that would be of use for us veteran anglers so here goes....

1. Never fish with someone a lot younger than you. Exceptions of course would be your own children or grandchildren who wouldn't dare keep you out too long in fear of having to carry you back to the car. Anyway, these young guys tend to be obsessed and you may never, ever get off the river especially if the two of you are in his vehicle. This rule also applies to fishing with someone who is new to the sport! They just don't understand that your old body just ain't up to those marathon fishing trips anymore.

2. Never eat spicy or high fiber food the day before a fishing trip on a remote location - Trust me on this guys! Avoid those coconut macaroon cookies at all cost.

3. Do not forget to take toilet paper - You will have to cannibalize  your favorite fishing shirt if you forget the TP!

4. When nature calls be sure to get your waders out of the way - They don't make Depends for fly fishermen yet!

5. Try to not make your disdain for bait fishermen too obvious - Remember this is the group from whence you came and may still dabble in occasionally in the winter. Remember there may be a day after you've hung up the fly gear when you cannot do anything but plunk Powerbait at the boat dock.

6.Try to avoid phrases like "Well in my day we did it this way" - Remember how much you used to hate it when someone said it to you when you were young? My day was before graphite, cell phones and the Internet so it's a wonder I ever caught anything.

7.Always tell someone where you are going if you are fishing by yourself - They will need to know where to start their search for the body after all.

8.Invest in a pair of waders with a zipper in them and don't forget to zip them back up before you wade back out.

9.The pants you wear under your waders should have a zipper as well. Button up Levis are a hassle when you gotta go.

Face it Gramps you are not the world class caster you mistakenly thought you once were! Just be satisfied that you at least didn't miss any guides when you threaded your fly didn't miss any guides did you?  

So there you go pops! You can enter your golden years of fly fishing fully prepared and hey at least you are getting out of the house.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

"Slow the F**k Down!"

Haven't written anything fresh here for awhile so pardon my rustiness and poorer than usual punctuation.
So you might be wondering about the title of this post? The original inspiration for the title goes back several years ago.
I was fishing one of my favorite runs on a small Oregon coastal river and struggling, as usual, with my Spey casting. I had obtained a really nice Thomas and Thomas Spey rod and could not seem to cast it worth a damn. No matter what I tried to cast this rod efficiently seemed to end with a mess. Every once in awhile I did boom out a nice cast but never seemed to be able to repeat it.
I noticed a blue raft coming down stream and I recognized the man on the oars as my Spey casting mentor Mike. Mike was/is a giant in the Pacific Northwest Spey casting world. Mike, in my opinion, is almost without peer when it comes to fly fishing for steelhead.
I say Mike is almost without peer solely because of his two Spey casting colleagues. These three Spey geniuses revolutionized the way we approach the use of the long rod in a way no others ever have.
Also Mike's wife is a WORLD CHAMPION SPEY CASTER along with being a most excellent steelhead,salmon and trout fly fishing guide.
Anyway there I am anxiously awaiting Mike's arrival into my pool. As always, I enjoy any and all time I can spend with Mike and today was no exception.
When Mike rowed up I knew he was going to comment on my casting or as he calls bad casting "River Pollution"
Shane! I have only four words for you today about your casting...."Slow the Fuck Down" and I immediately knew what he was talking about.
I was rushing my cast and not allowing my rod to word correctly to cast the line. Mike went on later to be my absolute Spey guru and whatever success I have with a Spey rod I owe it to him!
Mike's advice was taken to heart and I become a better caster because of Mike....Thanks pal.
When out on the river "slowing the fuck down" can mean more than just our casting prowess but also in taking the time or slowing down to observe what is happening around us.
Let me be blunt here. If you are fishing just to fill your freezer with salmon fillets and not taking in where you are and what you are doing then you are kidding yourself. To you the river is just a means to an end. The river could have high rise apartments right to the water's edge and you wouldn't notice or care. You just want "meat"
Have you ever slowed down to observe the world along the river? The ever busy water ouzel trying to make a living along the shore line or shallows of the river. The river always has a lot to reveal if you slow down and look.
It's a nice thing to catch a fish because after all isn't that the root reason for being here? If you feel like you are a failure because you aren't bringing home a fish every trip then wouldn't it be cheaper to just go to the docks in Garibaldi or Astoria and buy your catch right from the commercial fishermen?
Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song called "FeelingGroovy" and one line especially speaks to all that I am trying to say here....slow down down you move too fast.You've got to make the morning last.
Enjoy all that is around you. Take the time to enjoy what the outdoors has to offer and if you happen to catch a fish then so much the better.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Classical Angler: Matching the Hatch… sort of...

The Classical Angler: Matching the Hatch… sort of...:

Matching the hatch… sort of. With apologies to Ernest Schwiebert  Bergman Plate of Dry Flies from 'Trout' and antique British ...

It's a real treat to read the writings of my friend Erik Helm.