Monday, September 18, 2017
The wingbeat of the flush gave away it's location.
Extreme tight quarters prevented anything other than a quick dispatch from the limb it sat upon. This was no egalitarian wing shooting adventure, no this was get the job done for dinner
Aside of fantastic dinner that public lands had provided, the feathers make the fly tying junkie in me do a couple of backflips. You just cant find these feathers in a fly shop or a catelog....they're hard earned additions to a collection that I take extra pride in.
When the big buck steelhead comes to hand with a fly that contains a breast feather from this bird, I know that my smile will be impossibly big.
The loop completed, from field to vice to fish.
Monday, September 11, 2017
The run's first grab came about 15 minutes in, delivering that jolt of electricity that we all search for. I worked that fish for 10 minutes, changing flies three times, getting two more half hearted plucks but no real connection
I didnt care, I was repeating cast after cast lost in the rhythm of the afternoon on the water.
Spending the day before and that day at the 3rd Annual Free The Snake Flotilla, fishing was more of an afterthought for this trip. We showed up in great numbers to protest the continued insanity of propping up the lower 4 Snake River dams. It filled my heart to the brim with hundreds of boats all rowing 3 miles on the Snake in solidarity and show of force that a new way of thinking was and is taking over. It was a glorious sight to say the least
Lost in the moment, the fish grabbed solid and took off, only to immediately reverse direction and come right at me. Reeling furiously, I wasnt sure what type of steelhead had chosen to reward me.
Big or little it really doesnt matter. In a year where good news has been tough to come by in any sense of the word, any fish was a blessing. A kiss of karma from forces beyond me.
The fight was a close range battle, no haymaker long runs but a series of in close body blows.
Finally, wild perfection came to hand. A quick thank you shot and she shot away like a rocket.
And for that brief moment, all was right with the world
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The West is on fire. Smoke is everywhere. The tyrant in chief wants to deport 800,000 dreamers. It's hot AF. Houston is still soggy. 2 more hurricanes are on a path towards South Florida disaster.
So many other things to be pissed off about...so.....
Stare deeply at these muddlers, fresh off the vice. Let your mind wander to a greasy tailout on your favorite run of your favorite steelhead river. Imagine a great cast, the perfect mend and the bug pushing a trail through the bucket. Wait for it...
Stay there. Just stay there.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
It's flotilla time again on the Snake.
The 3rd annual Free The Snake Flotilla is returning September 8th and 9th
The event is getting bigger and bigger, now kicking off Friday night with speakers, conservation groups, tribes and more all present along with live music.
Festivities will be centered at Chief Timothy State Park starting Friday, then boat event will occur Saturday morning
Please join us as we continue to make a bigger and louder statement that the 4 deadbeat dams on the lower Snake river have outlived their usefulness.
Momentum is continuing to build on this event and the possibility of a free flowing Snake River.
Here's more information about the Flotilla via the FB event page
See you there!
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Photo Credit-Grant Rilette
We were laughing like 10 year boys on a playground. The fishing was so good it didn't seem real.
Sneaking away from a family vacation to go on a guided fishing trip can be a precarious proposition, and I doubled down by letting the rest of the 10 people on the vacation on the Oregon Coast that I'd likely be coming back with dinner.
Time to do work.
For the longest time I've wanted to experience the unique dory boat fishery out of Pacific City, Oregon. It's a wild experience launching from the beach, through the surf and out to the fishing grounds.
The boat and the Captain Grant Rilette were as dialed as I have ever seen and my buddy Kyle and I were giddy with anticipation as we made it through the surf line and out into the open ocean
It took about 5 minutes of driving through the thick marine layer to the appointed place that Grant had dialed in. The first couple casts with conventional gear were met with a resounding yes, the fish were present.
We brought our fly rods as a complete maybe. Ocean Rockbass are targeted via fly presentations effectively, but we were not going to be bound by technique to make sure we had a good time
Then we saw it. Fish after fish finning on the surface. Boils all around the boat.
Time to bring out the 8wts.
The best way to describe the next hour or so was like being a bird dog on point. The action was frenetic as each cast was met with a hook up. Miss the fish? No worries just keep stripping because it was going to get blasted again.
With limits filled immediately, we began a epic (hate using that word but it's the only on that applies) catch and release session that set the bar in my mind for when a plan comes together perfectly
I dove into my fly box and found a popper that I had bought for jacks and snook in Belize and the Rock Bass crushed it time after time. A twitch twitch to a long pause had the fish rocketing up and blasting it off the surface.
Here we were in 60-80 feet of water, in the ocean, having the best top water action I had over seen.
The fog wrapped around us all morning and a more dreamlike state I cannot describe. Big, strong and healthy Rock Bass smashing your every cast. It was unreal, and if I could have frozen time, I would have.
And to add a dollop of whipped cream on top of the day, we pulled up to Grant's crab pots that were absolutely stuffed with Dungeness crab.
Photo Credit-Kyle Smith
Hell of a day. Hell of a day.
Photo Credit-Kyle Smith
We drove away from Pacific City with coolers full of crab and rock bass limits, a wicked case of bass thumb and the resolve that this wont be the last time we have our hand at this fishery.
Grant's dory program is safe, affordable, family and kid friendly. I highly suggest spending a day with Grant if you can. It's well worth your time!
Additionally he guides for winter steelhead in the local rivers, fall Chinook and coho to go along with the dory trips in the ocean
Hook up with Grant via his FB PAGE or his WEBSITE.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
And the hits keep on coming.
Idaho Fish and Wildlife commissioners voted yesterday to eliminate the catch and kill element to the 2017 fall and winter steelhead season. Ladies and gentlemen, this run of fish we are in is HISTORICALLY bad, with current counts sitting in the 10% of the 10 year average at best.
The move to eliminate bag limits is the low hanging fruit of changes that were on the table. The forecast is so low that many thought that and continue to think that a system wide closure is warranted.
Fishing the Clearwater as early as mid July through the end of September has always been a staple of the yearly activities when it comes to our steelhead season. As I've watched the continued shittiness of the dam counts, I'm left with this continued feeling of a deflated balloon.
The crippling effects of the 2015 and 2016 low water years for smolt outmigration and the North Pacific Blob have come home to roost. How long it's going to take for the fish to recover from these haymakers is unknown, but thankfully we had much better outmigration conditions this spring and early summer. Additionally the hot water patch that destroyed the food chain in their feeding grounds is gone so with better conditions, hopefully the rebound is quick
Which brings me back to this year, and the questions it continually brings to my mind
Why didnt the IDFW commissioners put tackle restrictions in effect? AKA, get rid of bait which has a much deeper impact on fish mortality.
With fall Chinook opening on the Clearwater soon for retention, dont they think there's going to be a heavy impact on the steelhead stock?
What is Washington Fish and Game managers going to do to be proactive with these fish?
What morally is right for me?
Big questions to a crap situation. Welcome to the 2017 steelhead season on the Columbia and Snake tributaries....it's fantastic.