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.