Monday, December 31, 2012

Poetic Waxing About 2012, Or Maybe Not....

Time for me to wax poetically about another year in the books right?

Yes, it was another great year on this little ol' planet of ours.  We saw a lot of water and a lot of fish, I watched my family grow and felt ever so more comfortable in my path in life.

Yes I have an amazing wife who knows when I get that look in my eye I need to go find some flowing water.  Really, how many dudes with a crazy 2 year old boy get the opportunity to get lost in BC for 10 days.  Not many.

Speaking of the little guy, I think I am raising an O'doyle.  No matter, I love it, cant get enough of my ginormisauras.

I got another year of chasing fish with OMR.  72 and still outfishes most.

Attending IFTD in Reno opened my eyes a little more to our great industry, of which I am thankful for my little outpost in it.

More than anything, I am happy that after 500 or so posts in 4 years, there are people around to read, comment and think about what I am throwing down here.  Much appreciated there folks, much appreciated.

Here's to a great 2013.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Dogs Think We're Nuts....

You ever get the feeling that our dogs think we're crazy?

I imagine that if they could talk, it would go something like this....

"Ahh, guys...what the hell.  It's cold as hell outside and your standing in the water for hours and you havent thrown me a stick in god knows how long.  All there is to keep me from leaving your butt right here is the occasional dead sucker or decomposing salmon.  I think I'll roll around in the sucker for a bit just to remind you that your not paying attention to me"

"And by the way, if you'd listen up, you'd hear the covey of Chuckars up that hillside.  Dont try and fake me out by bringing a shotgun and then not going bird hunting.  I am a hunting dog remember....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Success in Reverse...

Gots to celebrate a bit, right?  Looking back through the pictures from another successful day out chasing what we love to chase the most, it still amazes me that this dood is 72, bad knee and ankle and still out-fishes about 95% of us.  Sure he has his skunks like anyone, but when the chips are down and you need a fish....dont count out the mojo of OMR.

After the tussle and bustle....the reward is in hand.  Another absolute stunner of a wild fish and although this picture doesn't show it

How in the hell did the fish see the bug?

OMR running down the man.

Hooked up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Swinging With Flasks, Volume 2...

Sent in from loyal reader Gerald Cook...looks like a day on the winter steelhead grounds is warmed nicely with a little bit of fine whiskey.

Stay warm and stay safe!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Picture Of The Year...

When I look back on 2012 and the year we had, from a fishing perspective, this is the photo that will have defined the year.

Another year to share with OMR and our friends.  Another year of early wake up calls, monosyllabic grunts and talks as we sped towards our water of choice and hoots and hollers as someone in the crew hooked up

Our trip to the Skeena system left us wanting more and a desire to come back.  The people and the land left an indelible mark on us forever.

Our year was fun, filled with amazing stories, hilarious bloopers and a few other happenings that probably should stay out of the written word to protect the innocent. haha!

So why is this the picture of the year?

It showcases the bond between my father and I.  It shows how much we're willing to go to fish for these ocean runs.

More than anything, look at this fish.....a perfect specimen.  Cleaner than clean with perfect angular fins that show that this fish is wild born and bread.  Also, this is a monster for the river it was caught on.  They dont get much bigger in this system.

My only regret is that I didnt catch it, OMR did.  On the swing.  In 37 degree water.

I will gladly play the role of gille any day

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Andy's First Steelhead...

I couldn't be happier for a good friend of mine.  He was finally rewarded.

You see Andy is about as a proficient trout angler as you'll find.  I've watched him dissect hatches and catch the un-catch-able trout. 

Steelhead on the other hand, drive him nuts.  Time after time they've given him the middle finger, causing him to loose faith and almost abandon the sport of steel.

Each fall and winter, he gets all psyched up enough to try it again.  Trip after trip....he repeats the line

"I'd rather cross I-90 at rush hour blindfolded and naked before I go steelhead fishing again"

He was batting a flat ZERO for landed steelhead in his lifetime.

With trout fishing, there is a rhyme and a reason why a fish eats.  They've keyed in a specific bug, a specific stage of that bug, so on and so forth.   Steelhead on the other hand....well there is no rhyme or reason.  They just eat, or they dont

And that fact is why Andy was so frustrated by steelhead....yet each year he musters up the courage to go get after it again.

Finally on Thursday afternoon I got the text....

"3-4 today, lost a monster"

The best rewards take work, don't they?

5 Steps to Winter Steelheading Warmth...

Step 1--Cast large fly into large river, mend

Step 2--Mend again

Step 3--Reach into breast pocket, grab flask

Step 4--Unscrew flask while completing the swing...hope for a grab on the dangle.

Step 5--Repeat if necessary

Step 5 is usually repeated a gazillion times during the day....albeit not always with a flask in your hand, that would be dangerous.

That being said, fine whiskey on a cold winter day makes the monotony of fishless casts a lot more warm.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sacred Headwaters Are Safe!!!

Oh happy day.  The good guys won, and won big.

I have only spent a week in that area of the world but was deeply touched by the rugged beauty of the land and rivers that encompass the Skeena Watershed.  Fishing aside, there's a quality and richness about it that is undeniable.

I awoke this morning with emails coming from my host on the Skeena, Shannon Mcphail with the announcement that a decision had come down and she and all that have worked tirelessly to stand up to Dutch Royal Shell all had their dancing shoes on.

The Sacred Headwaters are now protected into perpetuity.

This is the culmination of a decade of defiance of government and a MAJOR gas and oil company by as Shannon puts it "a rag tag bunch of hooligans"  It's inspiring to hear the news, it's inspiring to get to know the people who really in no uncertain terms, did the unthinkable.

I would be remiss to mention that non of this could have happened without the coordinated efforts of the Tahltan Nation.  The Sacred Headwaters is the birthplace of their clan and tribes, and without their rock solid stance...nothing would have gone as far as it did

This decision gets me thinking.....

Could this be the precedence that is needed to shut down the proposed Pebble Mine, as well as the Enbridge Pipeline?

We need gas.  We need oil.  But there are places that should be left alone, forever.  

Learn more about this decision at

Monday, December 17, 2012

Top7 Reasons You'll Love the Redington's Form Game Rod

The Redington Form Game Rod....gawd this little guy is fun.

Here are the top 7 reasons why this fly rod practice tool should be part of your arsenal.

1.  How often do you practice your casting in the house, only to look like a pantomiming idiot because there's nothing in your hands?  For me, that answer is A LOT.  Now you can cast the length of the living room with a legit fly rod

2.  The size of the rod and length of the line make it a great teaching tool for adults and children

3.  It will drive your cat or nutty Labrador absolutely nuts.  Cast and retrieve, play the cat as if it was a jumbo brown trout.  Release and send back on it's way.

4.  The 30 ft fly line loads the rod so you'll feel like you're actually casting a normal fly rod

5.  Get back to camp from fishing and now you have a way to determine who is the more accurate caster.

6.   Perfect to teach kiddo's on.

7.   It's wicked tiny.   Cast in your home to your hearts content without breaking the tip on the ceiling or getting the line caught in your wife's hair.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, you can thank me later for saving the day by suggesting that this may or may not be a heck of a gift to put under the tree.

Happy indoor casting...errr, wait.  Dont tell my wife.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Promont Outdoor Winners...

In the interest of keeping things on the up and's the screen shot of the random number puller thingy that prevents me from randomly picking my friends for our contests

For the Promont Outdoors

The three winners are in name

1st Place--Brett Angel, you win the Czech Yourself Hoodie

2nd Place--Ryan Bailey, your head will be covered by THIS

3rd Place, Mike Ediger, here's something awesome to dry your FLIES

Thanks to everyone who participated and entered the contest. 

Merry Christmas, and as Promont says, BE THERE!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Strong Work--The Big Hole Watershed Committee

I have two distinct memories of the Big Hole.

First was of our first major Montana Fly Fishing trip in 2004.  We rented a cabin, trucked across three states, tried our hands at rowing a hard boat down the river in August (terrible idea btw, especially as rookies on the sticks) for 3 days and literally got our asses handed to us.

Sure a few fish were caught, but clearly we had some learning to do.  In any case, I knew I couldn't wait to get back

For the second memory, fast forward a few years and my good buddy the Vanilla Gorilla was kind enough to invite us to his wedding on the banks of that glorious river.   After a few days of kicking around Twin Bridges fishing the holy waters that collide there, we joined the wedding party in setting up for the wedding on a private ranch with a mile's worth of Big Hole access.

Those 4 hours before the wedding were pure magic.  The Big Hole showed me a glimpse of what a world class trout river is all about

Rainbows and browns crushed the phat bugs we chucked and just before the wedding began, a special surprise and the representation of what the Big Hole Watershed Committee is working for....

The Big Hole Watershed Committee is the leader in watershed restoration in the Big Hole Valley. 

Water is gold in SW Montana, and there are many that put in claims on the water.  Ranchers, Farmers, Fishermen and Women, Homeowners, and the list goes on.

In 1988, the Big Hole ran dry for 35 days and caused fish stocks to suffer dearly, including the famous yet small population of Grayling.  Water rights conflict and drought brought the river system to it's collective knees.

For the river system to remain viable for decades to come, it all comes down to adequate flows and a good management plan.  That's where the BHWC comes in, and if you're searching for a place for where your money can do some actual kick ass boots on the ground work, here it is.

If you've ever dropped a line into the water, or hope to someday in the future and want to know it's protected, donate to the BHWC.

Learn more as they're in a fundraising push and need everyone's help.

Visit the BHWC web site and donate NOW.

The fish, the ranchers, the fisherman and the entire Big Hole Valley will thank you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Living Grass--Fall River Fly Rod Review

The glory that is the origins of our sport

Split cane started and continues to be the backbone of fly fishing.  With the majority of fly rods on the marketed as technological wonders that make you cast farther and your male parts stronger longer (ha, kidding) it was a joy to cast a contemporary bamboo fly rod that made me stop, slow down and smell the fly fishing roses.

Way back in February, I was selected to be a part of the Outdoor Blogger Network Fall River Fly Rods blogger tour.  15 lucky buggers would get the opportunity to wiggle, cast and fish a beautiful 8 ft 5 wt, that is paired with a Montana Fly Co's Madison II fly reel and a Rio 5wt LT trout series line

In short, this set up is amazing.

The order of who got the rod was completely random.

And random bit me in the butt.  I am last in the tour and by the leather bound journal that accompanied this beauty across the country several times, other's have tasted on water success with the Fall River Fly Rod in their hands. 

None the less, I can imagine what it would be like to be on the St Joe or the North Fork of the Clearwater tossing small PMD's or bushy Stimulators with this piece of living grass.  It's built not like your grandfather's bamboo...all wobbly and such.  No no, it's fairly fast and responsive, but responds to the forward casting stroke that behaves better when you slow it down a bit and let the craftsmanship of rod bend and flex, expressing the energy you as the caster put into the bamboo.

The wraps are beautiful.  The guides are beautiful.  The finish is beautiful

I sound like a 12 year old school girl.

But alas, I was reduced to casting on another form of grass.  My trout rivers were blown, the Spokane River trout thumb their noses to dry flies 97% of the time and any free time I get this time of year, I chase steelhead.

I still cant get it out of my head out fun this stick would be to use as cutthroat rise continually on a warm summer day.

That combo would be lights out.

There is hope.  The powers that be at the Outdoor Blogger Network are giving this set up away to one of the lucky 15. 

So do me a favor, send me some good juju, and somehow I will pay you all back.

Until then!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Latah Creek...

I drive across this little stream every day on my way to work.  It hides a past of extreme productivity and now bears the burden of dams and agriculture.

Latah Creek, likely named from the Nez Perce word for "fish" was once a very important natal stream for salmon and steelhead reproduction.

It's other name, Hangman Creek also denotes a past of violence as in 1854 a band of Palouse Indians were hung along the banks of the creek.  Growing up in Spokane, that's the name everyone knew it by and only recently did the official name revert to it's more PC name.

Still, I look at this little ditch with a tinge of sadness.  The Upper Columbia system was built for salmon and steelhead. 

Livingston Stone, the United States Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, wrote in his 1885 annual report about his observations of the Spokane River fishery in 1883:

“The Spokane always has been famous as a salmon River … Indians from all quarters assemble in the fall on this river and at the mouth of the Little Spokane to get their winter’s stock of salmon.”

This little creek that I drive over now takes an onslaught of silt from the wheat fields and agricultural lands to the south where it's headwaters originate.  Huge sandbanks, and I mean HUGE sit at the termination point with the Spokane River.  Its absolute quicksand and blows out the Spokane River for miles on a hard spring rain or in runoff. 

It's easy to think about how fish jammed up the big brawling Columbia River, then into the Spokane River and finally into this little creek.  The creek was the sanctuary they needed to reproduce, along with the Little Spokane and various other streams in the system.

Now, it's a ditch with zero salmon, steelhead and very few trout.  It runs super hot in the summer and stays a variable color of brown year round. 

As we work to restore this creek and others like it, my motivation to help comes from the thought of what was.  Our efforts to get it back to what was may never fully happen but its always better than what is, right now

There are hundreds if not thousands of these little creeks across this country.  What are you doing to see they stay healthy and or are recovering to their former glory?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Promont Outdoors--Scavenger Hunt Time!!

There's something to say about a start-up that gets me all jacked up to help them out.

Innovation doesn't always come from fortune 500 companies.  Innovation and great work comes from passion, and that's what Weston Paul , owner of Promont Outdoors  is all about.

Their apparel and products aren't groundbreaking and of new technology, but driven by a guy and a family who have a vision of where they wants to go with it in the future.  Start small and build it up and when they're recommended to me by my boys at Detonation Studios, I know they're a story worth telling here on my space on the interwebz

Here's their ditty on what they're all about:

We officially launched Promont Outdoors in January 2012 with the hope of bringing some unique gear and lifestyle wear to the outdoor industries that we love – fly fishing, hunting, skiing … the list is long. 

With the birth of our first child, we found ourselves rethinking what is really important in life. 

Yes – Montana provides us with more outdoor activities than we have time for, but life isn’t just about the thrill of adventure – it is about people and relationships and striving to make a difference. 

This venture has been in the making for quite some time and we are dedicated to providing you with quality gear and clothing that we know you will enjoy and benefit from.

I think I need that hoodie

To help you get to know Promont, we've got a little scavenger hunt for you to go on with some great prizes at the end.  Here you go:

Questions 1-3, you can find your answers on the Promont Outdoors web site

1.  What state is the Promont Fly Patch patterned after?

2.  When was the company founded?

3.  What's the phrase on their Hoodie?

From their FACEPAGE

1.  What instrument is the company founder's son playing?

2.  What other activity is Promont active in?

3. What did the Promont crew use to harvest their christmas tree?

This contest ends Friday December 15th, send your entry to the contest to
JMILLS81 at hotmail dot com  (sorry spam bots!)

Winners drawn via random number generator to keep it all fair and stuff.....

Here are the prizes

1st--Check Yo Self Hoodie

2nd--Flexfit Hat

3rd--Promont Fly Patch

So get on it....send in your entry and GOOD LUCK!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Detonation Studios IF4 Submission--The Last Salmon Forest

The Last Salmon Forest IF4 selection from Detonation Studios on Vimeo.

When IF4 comes a knocking in your local area this upcoming guess is that you'll be below away at this submission from Detonation Studios

Learn more today about the amazing place they call the Last Salmon Forest.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Millsfly and The Silver Bow Fly Shop Present...Low and Clear

February 19th, you have plans.

The Millsfly and Silver Bow Fly Shop's 2nd Annual Film Benefit for the Wild Steelhead Coalition is on again and this year's film looks amazing

Low and Clear's trailer hit the Fly Fishing Film tour in 2011 and I knew this was going to be a special film.  After a successful kickstarter campaign to get the distribution in order, the film is out and I have heard nothing but glowing reviews.

More than fish porn, it tells a very unique story that applies to more than just fishing.

This year's event will again be at the Lincoln Center of Spokane.  Great parking, great viewing space and a full bar will be available.

And the real reason you're coming.  The gigantic schwag pile that is growing by the day

Waders, Boots, Hand Painted Artwork, Rods, Reels, Guided Trips (lots), Shirts, Stickers....on and on and on.  In the first week I have been amazed at the industries willingness to help. 

The money raised will go to the Wild Steelhead Coalition with funds specifically designated to East of the Cascades work on salmon and steelhead restoration. 

Last year we netted over $2,000 in our showing of Confluence Films' Connect. 

I have no reason why we cant make it more this year....but you need to be there to make it happen!

Join the open Facebook Group for the screening to keep updated and to watch the raffle items fly on in.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fish Onnnnn....Oh Hell!

All day long, I wanted to get Wayne from Maine in to a swimming rocket.  Twice at this run earlier in the morning I watched success snatched from his hands when fish took and unbuttoned all in the span of 5 minutes.

Dont ask him about the Bill Dance Bassmaster Trout Set on the first fish that may or may not have took the fly out of the steelhead's mouth.  Pay no attention to that.

With a scant 15 minutes of light left in the day, we returned to this run and gave Wayne the jump.

There's a point on this piece of water where you go around the corner and the people above you cant see you any more as the rocks screen you out of view.  Just about when he had dissapeared, two glorious words ran out, loudly.


Those words cause a beautiful succession of chaos that every steelhead fisherman knows.  A quick reel up and sprint down the shore to go help.  OMR continued to fish in the hopes of the elusive double.   I tried to chronicle the moment and stopped mid run to take the picture above, hoping that it would be the first of a lively series of pictures.

I hit the beach and I am thinking to myself, "wow, Wayne's realy put the wood to this's almost to the shore"

Then he says...

What the hell is that?

followed by

Oh shit.....damn it!

I just burst into laughter.....and the reason why?

He caught the anti-steelhead.

When a 5 pound sucker gets side hooked and takes line off your reel, it's an easy stretch to think it's a steelhead.

Oh hell, to another day of fishing.  We'll continue to laugh about this one for a while!