Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I went fishing with Tom this morning. The snow was falling and the roads were horrible, but the fishing was fun. Tom brought an Ian Gordon 75' (708grn) 9/10 Partridge line, and it cast great. I had really been interested in getting an Ian Gordon, but since I tried the Nextcast I've been pretty sold on that. So I lamented for awhile after casting the Gordon, maybe I made the wrong choice, but I cast the NC again and knew it was still the best.

After fishing I stopped at Tightlines and found that everyone was there: Charlie, Kim, Bart, Smitty, Paul, John, and even the elusive Matty. Tim had treats laid out for everyone. Wow!

Tim Landwehr Owner of Tightlines Flyshop

Tim thank you so much for you generosity. Thank you for putting on our own Green Bay Spey Clave this year. You have invested alot into improving the quality of Fly-fishing we have in NE Wisconsin, and we owe you alot for it. You and Sarah have always been so generous to Liz and I. I have thought on it so many times and, yet I have never really been able to return your miraculous kindness.

So everyone have a great Christmas, That means you Erik, and Nate, I'm always checking out your blogs and I thank you for occasionally commenting so I don't have to feel too alone here in O.Mykiss. That also means the Zippel five, Tricia, BR, Lilly, Elana, and Clara,Merry Christmas. And to the Stevers. To good fishing friends Tom and to Dave P. it has been great talking more again this year, to Charlie the Deschutes and Umpqua were alot of fun. And to the awesome group we fished and camped with on the Umpqua. And to Tom Larimer who has helped so many Western trips much more fun.

There are also people that I have not mentioned. some prefer not to be, but for everyone who reads this blog I am grateful. I know a toss around between being overly intolerant and being insanely embracing. Thank you all, especially to you who post comments. Wiscokid, I looked into you tip and I am all over that.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

While you slumber...

...away from the cold winter wind, I am out fishing...

...And today it finally paid off. I was trying out an new long belly on my Loomis 15' 7/8. I have been really finding that for fish our northern local, a floating long belly is best in winter. The river is low and clear and the air is so cold that stripping line only make you ice up. the air was cold today, my dash read 18F when I pulled up on the river to meet Tom.

Tom just got a Carron 10/11 85' for his 15' 10 Burkie and I was pumped to try it out as I have been hearing so much about these lines, mostly from Tom. Well the hype was right, the combo of rod and line was so right it was like tossing a scandi on my 7133-3, in other words automatic every time, not much effort.

Well after trying out Tom's new toy I went back to the XLT which after years of hating, I suddenly really like. I worked my way down into a run called Winter's, which in 10 years of fishing has not produced a fish. I was fishing a gnarly no-name pattern, black and orange, and evil looking, pretty cool if I do say so myself, and I do. The fly was tied on a gami 2/0 hook and fished on a 15' foot leader, so it was getting down abit. I was grease lining, as I have been reading alot about it lately and it is something new to learn. (sorry for all the long winded BS, but I feel like adding it.)

Anyway, as I neared the middle of the run my loop was pulled out, but there was no weight when it straightened. The loop slipped so fast that I was sure that it was a fish, but I hadn't had a grab in so must have been a rock. I cast again with out stepping, carefulto fish the fly the same as I had on the cast, trying to lower the rod just right to keep the fly broad side. I rarely get a fish on the follow up cast and usually take about 3... oh, loop just got pulled, weight, set, whomp, on!

It was a solid Brown, about 10-12lbs, and he put up a good fight. Best of all when I got him in I was able to just take the eye of the hook and unbutton the fish without touching him or getting my hand wet. Neither Tom nor I was anxious to dip a hand in the water today. The fish stayed for a while in the water right at my feet, it was a foot or two deep, it was cool to watch him there.

The rest of the day was great. I stood on the Ice shelf and talked to Tom while he finished Winter's. We watched a big male mink darting across the snow covered ice along the river. We saw a couple eagles, lot of ducks. Then we head up stream to the Boat launch to screw around with some different rod and line combos. The XLT is nice, but the Nextcast 75 8/9 (not being technical) is more nicer. and the Carron 10/11 85 is awesome on the Scott ARC 1509.

So, to Summarize:
1. I caught a fish
2. I like long bellies
3. Minks are funny

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things get tough when it is this cold

December has been really cold and there has just not been much going on in the fishing department. So here are some photos of stuff that has made the month a little more bearable.

A few days outNew fly ideas
Dave tying at tight lines

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hmmm...Maybe the Rogue

My mind has been very busy lately. I have been imagining different potential scenarios for my California adventure in January. The rivers can be blown out or too low in california so easily that I am making backup plans, and this has lead to me looking into the Rogue river in Oregon.

The rogue gets around 10,000 wild steelhead in the winterrun, these fish run from 8-12lbs, and the Half-poundfers are still in the river. It sounds as if the Rogue is more of an egg and nymph fishery than a place to swing, but I hear two handers are catching on. sounds pretty good.

So there it is, I have another potential backup plan. and that is not bad. Really I just have to show up in Sacremento and then make the next move from there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm gone, I'm gone, I'm gone, I'm gone, I'm gone

I have left the Steelhead Site. Last night I saw another thread get started that was nothing, but argumentative and I had had it. I used the word "fuck" in my goodbye post hoping that it would get me permanently banned, so I couldn't even go back in a moment of desperation. why did I leave? you probably don't really care, but I will tell you anyway.

I left the site because it had lost any and all positive messages. If a guy caught his first steelhead and took a picture of it, upon posting the picture he would be critiqued by a bunch of lame ass lamiods because he had miss handled the fish. No one shared anything but unwanted opinions.
The other thing is that I really don't like guys that fish centerpins, and it was full of 'em.

I recently read an article by Bill McMillan in an old issue of the Osprey. In the article Bill talks about fishing the Skeena system and meeting a guy who is in the same lodge, who has been catching around 10-15 Steelhead each day. The guy is using an indicator technique, and he credits Bill with leading him too it in one of bills early books. This makes Bill kind of sad, because the way he sees it, this guy totally missed the point. Bill stopped using this technique, he wrote about why in the book. The technique put the fly right down in the fishs face and took alot of the choice out of the fishes fins.

This is not a critique on indicator fishing for steelhead. I went up and did some on the Door last spring and discovered a sport that really can celebrate the nature of steelhead. And that is what the guy on the Skeena was missing. He was there at prime time, the fishing was really good the steelhead really strong, and he knew if he got a grab when his indicator feel. He didn't get to feel the rush of energy from the fish grabbing and then turning on the fly, the fish didn't follow the fly half way across the pool, but he was catching more fish than anyone else in camp. He may as well been fishing walleyes with jigs or salmon with roe (that may be at the edge), because he missed so much of what makes the fish and the river special in his quest for numbers.

This is what I believe the "pinners" do, they see catching a steelhead as a sign of bonafide and they want that recognition, so they catch as many as they can. They become greedy their challenge to them selves focussed around numbers, nit a caring for the fish or the sport of fishing. They catch every fish in a run and think it is a good thing. It is like the guy who fishes gravel in the fall for salmon here in the great lakes, and then upon hearing that some guy caught 4 kings in Alaska say " 4 kings I could do that in an afternoon, the fishing is better here, and I'm a better angler", missing the ever lovin point.

Numbers mean almost nothing, catching just one more steelhead, time and time again means everything. I feel the grab of a steelhead so rarely and sometimes feel that I am going crazy without. I want to be in the moment with that steelhead more than I want to be bragging it up later. But to get to that moment I want to utilize the exiting nature of the steelhead when I am able. I am on a big summer river, I may start with a sink tip, but as a catch a fish or two I start to swing my flies closer and closer to the surface. I am wanting to see the boil of course, but I am try to really move that fish to the fly, instead of bringing the fly to the fish. I use the nature curiosity (or is aggressiveness, I don't know) of the steelhead. And that was the point of Bill McMillan's story, evolve you technique, when you can, to take advantage of how great steelhead are.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Preparing for California's Winter Steelhead

I am getting ready; Ready for the Eel, ready for the American, The Smith, The Trinity, The Gaulala, The Russian, The list goes on. Northern California is full of rivers that hold winter steelhead. It also sounds like California's northern rivers may be the most hit or miss steelhead fishery that I have seen since trying for Steelhead in the coastal streams around Sitka, Ak, or worse.

Rain brings the fish in, but blows the rivers out. After the rains the river drops and clears and fishing is hot, I hope. Then if there is no rain, rivers get low and the State shuts down the fishery.
So, it could be tough, or it could be amazing.

We (rusty and i) have pegged the South Fork of the Eel River as our main starting point, but our whiskers and ears are atuned to all conditions and reports from Sacramento to Portland, and we are ready to mobalize if the Tilamook area is hot and the Eel is not.

The Eel, it has got to be great. The Avenue of Giants, The Red wood forest, the land of big foot, it all sound cool to me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Joy and Pain of the Long Line

So this year I devoted myself to learning more about casting and fishing with medium to long belly lines. I have been a die hard short belly caster and I strongly believed that skagit and Scandinavian heads were the best and most versatile lines for steelhead and salmon anglers. To me this had seemed so obvious that I was surprised at what I had perceived to be a vast number of anglers that stuck with the longer belly lines, so I decided to learn about that which I did not fully understand. This is what I learned.

Long Bellies cast far: Duh! when you start with 65-90' of line out of the guides you already have a huge advantage, distance wise, on a Skagit line that is 36' with the tip. Take the 65' head, if I am shooting 30' of running line that puts me at 95' out of the guides, and 30' is not too tough shoot with the right setup, and then you add a 10-15' leader and there is alot of water being covered. This really helps on rivers like the Snake, Thompson, Clearwater, and the Miramichi where there is water that fish hold in that is a long way out.

Long bellies are good in freezing weather: Since the heads are long you can often fish runs with only the head and you are not icing up your guides stripping in and shooting line.

Fewer running line tangles: see above and replace I with running line tangles.

It's Fun: casting well with a long head is really cool and it adds alot to the experience. It is a challenge and I enjoy that.

Long Can Take a Toll on the Body: Casting a long belly seems to require more motion throughout the Body and requires more top hand. I have found that doing it alittle wrong can lead to sore elbows, which I did not have with Scandis and Skagits.

Not so great a short distances: at 20-30' the long line is not so great. They fish better out past forty, in close they seem awkward.

Long bellies + sink tips= not awesome: I may be wrong on this one but I am having trouble find a long line that fishes a sink tip as well as a Windcutter or delta, let alone a skagit which is designed for that kind of work. I am going to try a grand spey next with tip maybe that will be better. I have put short polyleaders on a Rio power spey 9/10 with some reasonable results.

Long bellies apparently mend better: But I don't like mending, for line and fly control I take the shooting head.

I am sure there are more pros and cons that I am not thinking of now, but this is a start. now for an anecdote:

Last week I fish a big slow run on my home river. The Air temperatures were in the mid to high twenties, so it was cold. To reach the real fishy water it took any where from a 60-100 foot cast, as the run grows wider as you step down. I was able to fish this run without my guides freeing up and that really helped when I hooked a fish. I also was able to keep my hands warmer by not constantly stripping in line. Also, the slow current swung better with the longer thicker line. The long line really made this run easier.

As soon as I moved down river to the next run however, where I would be fishing a faster narrow slot, I put that setup up away and switched to a skagit rig.

So I guess the point is that there is a time and a place for every thing, and if I can find applications for long bellies in Wisconsin, they must not be a total mistake. Heck, if it catches me one extra fish and it is fun I'll keep on trying to learn more.Once my arm quit aching.

Monday, December 1, 2008

One last outing on the Lower River

Well, last night we got around 4" of snow and todays high is supposed to be around 30 F. Today will be the warmest day of the week to come. So, in essence, the lower river is done for now, and it is unlikely that it will fish again until next Fall.

Despite the heavy nor'western blowing at about 24mph, I headed out to fish my favorite runs on the lower river. The snow had turned into fragile iceburgs, some more fragile than others. Casting required finding a route through the Burgs and getting my fly there through the wind. All this with air temps at 26 F, It was gloomy.

I was skunked on the first run, and some gear guys low holed me, but I was so happy for an excuse to pull out of the run, I was greatful.

On the next run I faired better, landing a nice fish around 8 lbs, which really got me pumped up again. Another thirty minutes of dodging iceburgs and freezing my ass off wore me down again, and I called it a season on the lower runs. These runs have coughed up over a dozen LR Browns for me in the last 10 days, it is sad to see the ice come.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My run opened up... for a day or two

I finaly got so sick of waiting for the best run on the river to lose its ice, I decided to give it a hand. I spent the better part of an hour stomping, jumping and butt-bumping a massive ice shelf, until I had knocked out a sheet of ice that was 60 feet wide by 150yds long. I gave the ice some time to break out and head down river, longer than you would think as the run is very slow.

Well, once the ice was out, it was almost dark, so I jumped in the run and ended up hooking two fish. I was a little pumped.

The next morning I hit the run again with Tom, I hooked a fish while tom was getting ready and he came down to help me land it. Then he got the hot hand and hooked 4 fish in the next hour, and then two more yesterday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Browns

In the last two days I have caught more browns, 4 of them and lost two others. All four fish have been pretty good sized, in the 8-10 pound range, and as unusual as it seems they have been fighting hard.

The run I have been fishing has been so consistant that it has allowed me to try some new flies and presentations and they have really paid off. I have learned alot about not only where ther fish are sitting, but also how they respond to fly presentation.

There are alot of ice shelves on the river right now and it seems that in certain areas the fish will hold right on the edge of them.
Recycled photo: sorry, I haven't been taking my camera

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold Weather

Things got really cold here. Friday, was butt ass cold and by the afternoon the same run that had been so generous only a day before was covered with ice. Fishing, was limited to some pretty lame water and I got nothing.

Saturday was the opening of deer hunting, so I was out with my dad hunting. I am not a big hunter,really I only hunt one day a season, but I feel it is important for me to take the respondsiblity of actually killing a bit of the food I eat, some I can understand and appreciate where the meat I eat comes from and the sacrifice of life that is required. With that said, I got a doe.

Since Saturday was also really cold, The rivers were still really frozen on Sunday, but I went anyway. I fished with Tom and even though fishing was lame we had a good time I tried a Nextcast 75' head line that Tom got on Speypages and it was amazing on his 15'7/8 Meiser and on my Sage 7141-4. But no fish on Sunday.

Now yesterday, I got fish. The weather started to warm and the O produced with two lake run browns, One was about 5lbs and the other was nearly ten, and that one came of my favorite run along with two red-horse, which was random. Hopefully the fishing is just picking up for the thanksgiving week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Really cold, but really fishy

Yesterday, despite the freezing temps, I headed out to try the northern locals, the O and the Me. The Me looked perfect, the siren run was in full force for the first time this year. Unfortunatly, The DNR was just finishing up with shocking the river,, this turns the river off for several days.

So I headed to the O and fished a run that has been very productive for browns over the last couple years but is ridiculously slow to swing. I was hoping that the strong WNW wind would help speed the swing, and it did, alittle. It is sad when you are counting on wind to make swinging a fly bearable. Well it was better than bearable, I landed 4 browns, all over 10lbs and none looked wretched.

It was butt-ass cold so got off the river early.

Out again today, we will see if 20F is more than I can cope with.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Spey Rod Rundown

This is a run down of two-handed fly rods that I either use or have used and the lines I have tried with them. I will mention whether I liked the rod or not and any info that I can think of.
Rod: Burkheimer 7133-3: Maybe the best all around rod ever!
Fly Lines:
Rio Skagit 550 w/6'-10' T14
Airflo Compact Skagit 540 w/ 6'-10' T14
Airflo Scandi Head 8/9 500grn w/ 10' polyleaders
Windcutter 7/8/9
Note: This has become my just about evrything rod. I have fished it on tight coastal rivers in the spring, where a compact Skagit was the only fly line that might get it out there, to big open rivers like the Clearwater, using scandinavian heads. I have fished this rod on the Grande Ronde for small fish and coastal rivers & the clearwater where really big fish can happen. The largest fish I have caught on this is an 18lb Atlantic Salmon. It is how ever a little bigger than you need if you are on the grande ronde and the fish all seem to be around 4-6lbs, but it is not bad either. This is not a rod I would use long bellies, I like a faster rod for that.
Rod: Burkheimer 8133-3: Very good rod
Fly Lines:
Airflo Scandi Head 10/11 600grn w/ 10' polyleaders
Rio 9/10/11 Windcutter
Delta 9/10
SA Skagit 600grn w/ 6'-10' T14
Rod: Burkheimer "Salmon King" 13' 9/10/11: Not for me
Fly Lines:
Skagit 750grn w/ 10' T17
windcutter 9/10/11
Scandi 10/11 600grn w/ 15' polyleaders
Very Fast rod and very strong. This is the perfect rod for fishing for B.C. and Alaska King Salmon with a sksgit line and big flies. It is also ideal for fishing scandinavian heads for really strong fish, like in Norway for Atlantic Salmon or on the Thompson in B.C. I jusy never really got into it.
Rod: Burkheimer 15'3" 9/10/11: OK
Fly Lines:
Carron 85' 10/11
Rod: G Loomis Grease Line 15' 7/8 : Awesome!
Fly Lines:
Airflo Delta 9/10 (680)
Airflo Delta Long 8/9 (640grn)
Hardy MachII 9wt (640grn)
NextCast 75' 8/9 (726grn) : *Best Floating
NextCast Winter Authority : *Best w/ tips
SA XLT 8wt (710 @ 80')
Rio GrandSpey (800grn @ 80') Heavy

Rod: Thomas & Thomas 15' 9wt 3pc : Great specialty rod
Fly Lines:
NextCast 95' 9/10 (880grn) : *Best Floating
NextCast Winter Authority 70 (850grn) : *Best w/ tips

Wulff Triangle Taper Spey 80' 10/11wt
Rio GrandSpey (800grn @ 80') good
Airflo Northwest Skagit 35' (650grn) w/ 8-15' tips

Rod: Thomas & Thomas 14' 9wt 5pc : Great travel rod for larger fish
Fly Lines:
NextCast 95' 9/10 (880grn) : *Best Floating
NextCast Winter Authority 70 (850grn) : *Best w/ tips
Wulff Triangle Taper Spey 80' 10/11wt
Rio GrandSpey (800grn @ 80') good w/ tips
Airflo Northwest Skagit 35' (650grn) w/ 8-15' tips
Rod: Sage 6126-3 (xp colors): Love it
Rio Windcutters 6/7/8 or 9/10/11 w/out mid-section
Rio Scandinavian Head 6/7 with 5' or 10' polyleaders
Rio Skagit 450grn w/ 4-6' T14
Airflo Scandinavian Head
Airflo Compact Skagit 510 w/ 4-8' T14 (favorite)

I love this rod so much I don't know where to start. It is great for fishing big flies, it is great for fighting small and big(within reason) fish.
Rod: Sage 7141-4: Great rod
Hardy MachII 8wt (570grns)
Nextcast 75 8/9 (726grns)
Rio Powerspey 7/8 (550grns)
Airflo Scandinavian Head 8/9 500grn w/ 10'-15' polyleaders
This is a very fast rod. A lot of people refer to this rod as a true 8wt or maybe even a 9wt, but what I have found so far is that this rod can handle a truly wide range of line weights. So far I have only tried lighter lines on it, but it handles light lines very well and is great for fishing longer belly lines.
Rod: Sage 6110-4: Great little stick, especially for travel
Airflo Compact Scandi
Airflo Compact Skagit 510grn / 5-7' T14
Vision Ace 380 grn w/ 10' polyleaders
Rio Scandi 6/7 w/ 5' or 10' polyleaders

Rod: Sage 8110-4: Good rod
Windcutter 6/7/8
Airflo Compact Skagit 510grn / 5-7' T14
Vision Ace 380 grn w/ 10' polyleaders
Rio Scandi 6/7 w/ 5' or 10' polyleaders
This rod has it's apllications, I am thinking the small Coastal Rivers of Oregon where things can get really tight and the length of 11' is an asset to the closeness, the power of the 8wt is good for the fly size and fish size. Other than that I guess I would usually use the 6126-3 in most cases as it has a longer front handle, which I like, and it is more fun for smaller fish.
Rod: Sage 9140-4 (old Brown): great
Windcutter 9/10/11
Delta 9/10
SA 600grn Skagit Head
Rio Skagit 650grn cut back to 22.5' w/ 10' T14
Airflo Scandinavian Head
I fished this rod for several year and caught quite a few fish on it. It is great for big fish. It is very soft, so not a good long belly rod but with the above lines. Good all around rod for bigger rivers i.e. Sandy, Skagit, Thompson, Clearwater
Rod: Scott 15' 9wt Arc : good
9/10 Midspey
9/10 Delta
9/10/11 Wincutter
650grn Northwest Skagit by Airflo w/ 10' T14
9/10 PowerSpey
9/10 Delta long
10/11 Carron 85'
8/9 Grandspey
I have tried several lines with this rod. It is soft in the tip which makes it poor for super long belly casting, like the XLT's are not great on this rod. But this rod fishes a powerspey (65') line really awesome on big rivers, especially in calmer conditions, or a windcutter in tougher conditions. It is fun in a fight with even a smaller fish and the soft tip protects light tippets. I like this rod alot for rivers like the Clearwater, Thompson, and Snake.
Rod: Winston LT 12' 7wt : Really soft tip, but fun.
Rio Windcutter 6/7/8
Vision Ace 380grn with 5' poly leader
This rod is listed as a 7wt, but it is more like a 5 or 6wt two handers by other manufacturers. I have caught many steelhead on this rod, several over ten pounds and it handled them fine. The tip is so soft that you end up fighting larger fish with the butt of the rod and the tip absords the slack. It would a fun rod for a river like the Grande Ronde or the Sheboygan.
Rod: Winston LT 13' 8wt : Not the Best
WindCutter 8/9/10
Airflo Scandi 8/9 500grn with 10' polyleader
I caught my first steelhead on a two-handed rod on this rod. It worked great for me for a long time, but the design was not great, it was very soft and noodly. There are so many better 13' 8wt out there this would not be high on list of good rods. I gave this rod to a guide in Canada last summer and we tested it with the above airflo scandi and it cast really great. I heard he was able to put it some clients hands and they caught some nice Atlantics on it.


I had to travel to Iowa this week, so on my way down I stopped by and fished the Mil. I only got one run in on the way down, but it was a good chance to try to try the Hardy MachII 65' line on my 7141-4 Sage, and with my Spey Company reel to balance the Outfit, it was great.

On the way back I was able to Stay at BR's house and get a few runs in on Thursday morning and it paid off with another brown. That is three for the year, which is down on my last two years around this time, I think. I could be that this will not be the best year I have had for fish numbers. I am worried that I will not have the enough time before the rivers freeze.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November angling improves...a little

This morning I fished the Me. There were snow flurries on my way north, and due to the cloud cover it took longer than usual for the sky to lighten up enough to fish. I fished Bonfire first and got a nice brown pretty quick. I didn't get another fish but boiled one on the run across from Bonfire.

The rivers are still low, and that has really slowed down the push of steelhead and browns so far. Two fish in a week (four outings) is not good, but it is an improvement over the last few weeks. I think I will be heading south next, and then I will be on the road for a while.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Browns on Top

Why wouldn't a Lake run brown trout eat a fly at the surface, Atlantic Salmon are their closest genetic relative, heck they are Sea Trout and anglers catch sea trout on dries all the time in Europe. Earlier this summer while I was in Canada fishing Atlantincs, I was thinking about this very thing, and I came to the conclusion that browns would come up if only we fished for them, but before I ever really tried. Local angler Matty had a similiar idea and caught our areas first top water brown that I know of, using a foam body waker.

Well, Matty didn't just do it once, he did it again and the second fish ended up on youtube.

What a fish!! The reel sounded awesome.

Well, a few days later, only the day after I arrived back from out west, I went out to have a spey clave with four friends on the Oconto. Unfortunately, There was almost no water in the river. Well I ended up fishing J with Nate and I figured A "dry" (wiggle minnow) sounded like a good fly to use and since Nate wasn't going to fish one I ask if I could borrow a Black foam wiggle minnow.

I fished J all the way down and, at the very bottom, I saw a fish roll right where the fly was waing on the surface. I could tell it was a brown before I lifted the rod, I could see the golden sides as he rolled. The fight was O.K., but the take was see a great lakes fish, brown or otherwise, come to and out of the surface to take a fly was awe inspiring.

I have tried a few more times this week to raise another fish to a more traditional steelhead type dry, i.e. the gurgler. and I did boil a fish but I have not yet gotten a fish to eat a non-wiggle minnow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Home from Nez Perce Country

BR and I just spent 5 and 1/2 days on the Clearwater, The Grandee Ronde, and the Snake. Most of our time was spent on the Clearwater, the other came as after thoughts. It was our goal to get Steelhead on the Clearwater.

We spent the first 4 days of our trip on the Clearwater and fishing was tough, but with the help of our friend Tom and Billy's pioneering of new runs we were able to go 1 for 2. The 1 was about average size (for the Grand Ronde), 5-6 pounds. A fish is a fish however, and I was happy to land it. It ate a black G.P. tied on a size 1 hook. The fish that got away was larger and it a purple G.P. tied on a size 6 double hook.

One note on the fish that got away: I borrowed a rod from The Red Shed Fly Shop, well actually it was from Tracy who is a local guide and lives by the shop. The rod was a 15' 7/8 weight Loomis Greaseliner, I tried it with a Hardy Mach II 8wt line (I think it was an 8), I threw the line on my new Speyco Symmetry reel and took it to the river. BR and I fished a run we pioneered and as I was testing how far the rod could cast, I hooked a nice fish, which fought like crap, but it was a fish. I was really happy with how the setup preformed, in short it rocked.

The clear water is such a special river. Near it mouth it has that same type of desert feel that I get on the Deschutes, but as you head up stream the arid environment gives way to evergreens as the elevation increases. BR and I van-camped each night and stayed in the area between Cherry Lane and Peck, we ended up finding a great camp that was well hidden from the road, and a great spot for a tent, should we ever use one.

The flows on the Clearwater fluctuated greatly when we started fishing the river was flowing around 3500cfs and by the afternoon of the second full day it was nearly 8000cfs, and the change took place in only a couple hours. It was the fluctuating flows that ultimately led to us leaving the Clearwater and heading for the Grande Ronde.

The Grande Ronde was as fun and beautiful as I remembered it from last year. We were only there for a very short time, only an afeternoon and a morning, not enough time. We got sevral grabs on the Ronde, I had several pulls that took the whole loop and even gave a yank, but we never got even fight a fish. That's how it goes sometimes.

From the Ronde we headed for the Snake River above Asotin, WA and below the mouth of the Grande Ronde at Hellar's Bar. We fish one run on the Snake on our way up the river, then I fished Black Rock on the ronde while BR hit Hellar's bar. It was a cloudy day so we were able to fish all afetrnoon, which was good as it was our last day. Neither BR or I got any grabs so we headed back down the Snake. BR pulled off at the fist major tailout below Hellars bar, BR took the low end and I went in about 200yds above him, I was still fishing my 11' 8wt from the Ronde, which is a tiny little stick for the Snake which is probably the biggest Steelhead river there is to fish, until we pioneer the Columbia. Any way I ended up getting a steelhead that was about 6 lbs, maybe, a hatchery fish, but still cool.

We were now starting to lose light and barely had time to hit another run, we hit two. The first was a nice but non-descript run. The second run was one we had fished on an evening two years earlier, in early October of 2006, on that night BR took a nice wild steelhead in the tail out above the run. Br knew the tailout looked right that night and I put my faith into the riffle below, that night in 2006 BR was right. One this night in 2008 it was the riffle that paid out. On about my second cast I hooked a nice steelhead on a #5 Purple Green-Butt, and after some drama with tangled line, I was able to fight out and land(just about) the fish. BR fish a waker on the tail out and boiled two fish, but no hook ups.

And that was it, we drove to spokane from there, trip over.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stuff I learned this week, about long bellies

So this summer I started messing around with more traditional spey casting. To me this means long belly lines and longer spey rods. I have been less than open to this type of casting and fishing for several years, discounting its benefits and cursing any short comings. However, late this spring I cast a 15' 10 weight belonging to my friend Tom Towne, he had a CND 80' head on it and it was a lot of fun to cast, and the casts were huge.

I started joining Tom and our friend Paul Anselmo for casting practice on weekends this summer. At first I brought my switch rod and short light sticks, but kept enjoying casting Tom's Burkheimer.

In 2002, I sold Paul a Scott ARC 15' 9 weight, that I owned. Paul never really liked it that much and, so, I bought it back from him this year. I then began the very tough process of finding the right line for it. I had a Wulff triangle taper of unknown weight which had no punch to it, I also owned the original XLT 7/8 which weighs 880 grns, and I was able to make that work, but not great. I tried Tom's CND line and that felt pretty good.

Then at the local Spey Clave last Weekend I tried a 10wt Snowbee line with a long head the Chris Anderson from Sage owns and it felt much better than any thing else I had yet tried, until Simon from Rio took some time to let me try the Rio PowerSpey lines. The 10/11 was great, the 9/10 was way better. The PowerSpey is shorter and lighter than alot of lines I have tried (the 9/10 = 68' head, 740grn) but the cast is smooth and easy and it feels like it will fish all day long.

In preparation, for BR's and my to the Clearwater next week I also took the liberty of trying to dial in a good long belly on his old brown Sage 9140-4 and I mean the original one from the early 90's. Well, I got a hold of the new SA XLT 8wt this line has a head length of 80-85' and 710grn. We had tried the original XLT7/8 (880grn) on it in 2002 on the Thompson with rather poor results, but the new XLT 8 fished great on BR's 9140. I was able to cast the whole head, which in it's self is pretty amazing.

So... this week I learned that:
1) Scott ARC 15' 9wt takes the Rio 9/10 PowerSpey
2) Sage 9140-4 (Old Original Brown) Takes the XLT 8

I also learned:
3) New super powerful spey cast for tournament type casting
4) That I don't really need to known new super powerful spey cast for tournament type casting.
5) Speyco reels are really cool, check out the link.

6) Palin is pure evil


It had been in May, when I last felt the weight of a solid salmon or steelhead on the stick. I have fished the Miramichi, the Renous, and the Cains in New Brunswick. I had fished the Margaree in Nova Scotia, and the York and St. Jean of Quebec's Gaspe pennisula. I fished the Deschutes, and Umpqua in Oregon, and even the Klickitat in Washington. For destinations this has been the best year I have ever had and I got grabs on many of these rivers, but I could never keep a fish on long enough the feel its weight.

I Have gone pretty quiet the last month. I was feeling so burned out and beat down. I have been spending lots of time checking out our eastern Wisconsin Rivers. And between our low river flows, no rain, and higher lake levels fish have been hard to find. The Me is nearly a tidal pool beron of life, and the Oconto a trickle, The manitowoc and sheboygan not even for the drive. So, I have been looking but, have not had an overwhealming urge to blog about it.

Two days ago, However, while fishing with Bart on BR's Local, that finally changed. Bart and I fished several runs, in cluding one that has been on of my most productive runs in the state, which produced nothing for us. We fished so up river runs where we met BR, He had hook a Steelhead up there 3 day earlier, and the three of us fished for a while, I got a grab in a pioneered slot. Then BR left, and Bart and I tried a favorite run again. An old lady screamed at us for walking across her back yard and her and her husband chased us to the river. It was my idea to walk the backyards, Bart was against it.

Well, once we were free of the angry people and could fish, Bart got jacked by a steelhead the ran and lept before coming off. I heard Bart's oralizations and saw the splash and boil.

Bart and I then went down river, stopped in at a good looking run which is well know and ran into Eric Helm, who has a blog at which I keep meaning to put a link to. I had just seen Eric at the Green Bay spey clave. Eric had just gotten back from an epic trip from the Clearwater where he caught some huge fish.

Anyway, Bart and I then continued down stream to one of the lowest runs and right off the bat I got grabbed, then Bart fished the spot and Hooked a big fish, it looked a little dark as it rolled and I figured it must be a brown. There was virtually no moving the fish but soon Bart moved him and he rolled again, a King? This is a fairly deep, off color run how did Bart snag a King? He didn't, old darky came over and ate a 5" string leach. I had the same thing happen 8 years ago, haven't seen it since, awesome.

I went back to fishing ahead of Bart after the king was caught and released. I got down to some real slow not super fishy water while he was still in the shit, so I reeled in and worked my way down to where two wing dam on opposite side of the river are straight across from each other causing the river to narrow and speed up. I started casting there and mental having the late day doze off, where my mind must just kinda go blank cause I sure don't know what I was thinking of when I got the pull. All the sudden I had a fish on and after a few quiet moments the fish went nuts, taking one long scorching run and several other short runs a couple near jumps and a whole lotta tough stuff. Bart landed and photographed the fish and she swam free.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well, Shit.

It has been a hell of a week.

It all started last Sunday morning, I was packing up a convention booth in Ottawa, getting ready to head for the Gaspe the next morning; when a fellow who I really don't get along with too well offered to help me tape up a box by cutting the tape with his knife. I said yes as I had nothing to cut tape with and had to bite it off. Well, on the first cut he was a little too enthusiastic, and the knife was fairly large, and it ended up in my leg. Just above the knee.

At first I wasn't sure what happened. I looked at my pants and saw a gash in them. I pulled up my pants to see a nice fillet of meat, but no blood. The guy said "I guess I got you" and I said "What the Fuck". Then I got up and headed for the bathroom, to keep blood from getting on my pants. 50 feet later my pants were soaked in blood and I was off to the ER. I was alright in the end and would still be able to fish. The Packers lost that night.

In four days of fishing and after showing countless flies to thousands of fish (visible fish) I never got to fight or land a fish. That's my third trip this year without landing a fish, third in a row. I had 3 solid grabs and was unable keep one connected for more than a few seconds.

Now a am in Quebec City spending the day in a motel room. The knee is hurting and black and blue and the Packers lose to Tampa, and Farve throws 6 TDs with his new team.

Well, shit. I come home from Canada in a week and I can not wait to be home and outa here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

York River - The Keg

Day 3

Rusty and I fished Keg Pool on the York River today. Quebec Sporting also booked one of their guides and a Client on this water with us. There is not even enough room on this run for 2 people to fish it at the same time so the third angler was not welcome, and it was not what we had paid for.

This short run was certainly full of fish and on his second pass through the run the other angler hooked and landed a small salmon, figures. He kept the fish and called it a day, which was awesome.
We rested the pool and then I fished through with a #8 low water Black Bear Green Butt and just a jolting grab, I am so sick of grabs with out a hooked fish. I am ready to feel a fish.
Rusty followed me through and hooked a solid fish. It fought hard, getting tangled in a beaver dam, but Wayne (our guide) and rusty crossed the river, got the fish free and landed the big guy. Wayne said the fish was around 25-30lbs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

St. Jean- The Bluff - A Little Better

Day 2
We fishe the Bluff run on the St. Jean. It was a pretty fun cast and step run that fished from both sides ans was holding over 100 salmon.

Rusty went through the run first and hooked a 7-8lb salmon. He got some good jumps out of the fish before it shook free.
I was able to get a grab on a #8 Night Hawk, and even got the fish to come back for a second touch.

The St jean is an amazingly clear river and very beautiful.