Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Bounty of Choices...

We are entering the sweet spot of the year.

The crisp mornings of fall make way for some killer afternoons.  There's still enough daylight to make it feel like you were out a long time. 

And oh the choices.  Enough to make you go nuts trying to figure it out where you're going to go, what your going to chase, what you need to tie up.

Grouse is open.  Dryline Steelhead.  Just about time for Quail and Chuckar.  Soon, Pheasants and Deer

Choices folks, are a grand thing

Now go get after it....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reader Responses--Naming the Run

It's always great to get a response to a particular post that I put up here at this little outpost of fishing on the internet.  Last week's "Naming the Run" post got some great response, and Slint's email to me was sent in just the spirit that I was thinking about when I posted that particular post. 

Thanks Slint for the note and enjoy reading his version of of "Naming the Run"

I loved your post about naming runs.  I hear you.  My home river is a Great Lakes trib with a self-sustaining naturalized population of lake run rainbows descended from California stock.  They've been there longer than the browns in the Madison, but aren't natives.  Still, they are really special fish who have carved out a niche. I love them.

My friends and I have a similar policy as yours, although we allow dudes to name runs after auspicious events as well, not just the first hooked fish.  Many of the runs and pools on this particular river are named and recorded from earlier generations, but we have our own name for some and have named others for ourselves that had been previously unlisted on any of the river maps produced by local conservation organizations.

A sampler:

The stretch we refer to as the Holy Water consists of, in order from top to bottom: Led Zepplin, Power Sculpin, Old McDonald, Skinny Brown and Zoso. 

Further down river you'll find Vin Diesel, the Washington Generals, Pink Worm, the Duece, the Coho Hole, Scissor Grind and British Columbia.

These are all runs where we've hit fish, on a river where the locals keep telling me they won't hit a swung fly.... I just nod and keep my mouth shut.

On the rest of the river we use the traditional names, but there are some tasty pieces of water just begging for a new name.... as soon as someone can get grabbed in them.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Foreground...Background, Spokane River

Foreground--A beautiful nymph run that I pulled a few beautiful, wild redband rainbows out of.

Backgound--no, that isnt a nuclear plant.  Just the place where Spokane's "Sheet" is reclaimed.  We locals call it the poo plant.

Urban fishery huh?  Yep

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Naming the Run...

Coming down the road, looking down on the water....we knew it had to be fished.  

It had all the characteristics, even flowing current stretching over a long gravel bar.  A slight chop on top of the water gave clues that the run had the bolder garden buckets that drew fish in like a magnet.

It screamed at us, swing it, and swing it now.

Still, it's tough to have complete confidence in water you've never fished, let alone catch a fish.

We all looked at each other to determine where each of us would jump in.  Rarely is anyone the asshat who runs into the water without the normal pleasantries of asking.  You have to pretend you don't care where you start but your lying, as you've been eying the bucket since you got out of the car.

I am sure countless others had fished this run in the past, there's no doubt about it.  It's too popular a river, and steelhead bring people out of the woodwork.  But to us it was the maiden voyage.

Twenty minutes in, we all started to doubt our selection of water.   New runs tend to do that to you.  Success gives confidence,  repetitive casting without a tug makes you think your crazy.

In the midst of the should we or shouldn't we leave conversation....Bo almost gets yanked into the river.

So without adieu, it was time to name the run.

Back at the truck, we discussed over the post run/congratulatory PBR's what the hell our group was going to call this piece of water.   Bo had the honor, as the guy who lands the first fish usually gets to right to do it.

Every different group has different names for the same pieces of water.  Confusion rains when one guy tries to explain to another the defining characteristics of a run that he calls "Black Rock" and other guys calls, lets say.."Tall Tree"

On my home river, names also revolve around what is around it.  The Ranch Run, Cattle Company, The Rocks, and so on.

Other times, runs are names after people, as in Poppy's Riffle on the Clearwater.

So we all looked around and threw out suggestions.  "Annexation of Puerto Rico" was suggested but quickly thrown out.  After some him and hawing....Bo named it.

The Grove.....named after the oddly out of place grove of trees over looking the run.

Does your group have a great way to name runs, or a great story on how your favorite piece of water was named? ....shoot me an email at jmills81 at hotmail dot com and I will throw it up here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Yin and the Yang of the Clearwater...

Finally we're knee deep in the highly anticipated steelhead season of 2011 and for the last couple years, we begin on the Clearwater.

The Clearwater is a bitch of a river, only giving you glimpses of its drylining glory.  For me at least, it makes me earn my steelhead.

But good gawd, is it a special place.

This weekend marked the return of the annual celebration of OMR with the 2011 edition of the Fay Clave.   The weather was perfect, the flows were perfect and to add fuel to the fire, a certain "friend" of mine kept sending me texts with pictures of fish all week long.  Yeah, thanks a lot

So to the point of this post, the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, the up and the down of the Clearwater.

Within 20 minutes of setting up camp, we wadered up and bolted to one of our favorite runs on the river.   20 minutes after that, a rocket attached itself to my line and did it's best to head back to the Snake.

I couldnt have felt any better.   Catching my first B run CW fish was akin to getting laid for the first time and there could be some debate on which one I will remember more in 20 years.    Needless to say, I was a bit happy.  The Yin if you will

Then for the next 2 days.  Nothing.   The Yang to complete it.

OMR kept on rolling through the three days with nothing to show for it but a savage take and a battle that left him staring at the water for minutes after the connection was lost.  Still, he was the last guy on the water, keeping the hope alive

Not to be out done, Fay Clave attendee Bo hooked and landed the biggest Clearwater fish I've ever seen.

What a beast.

To wrap it up, three days on the C-Dub just stokes the fire to come back and find the right key on the right day to make it all happen.  Until then we'll just keep trying.

Because every thousand casts or so, you get to drop your loop and feel what a steelhead can really do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Clearwater....

Can be so damn amazing.  Fay Clave 2.0 is in the books and tune back in tomorrow for a full write up.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dred Pirate Red Beard Hath Reappeared in Costa Rica...

The Costa Rica Challenge - Exclusive Sneak Preview from N.S.A. on Vimeo.

Hey Red Beard, can you hook a brotha up next time with an invite. 

Some seriously narsty stuff went down in Costa Rica.  I suggest you watch!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Atta Boy Son...

I didnt even bait him into this picture, he went right for it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Murph Dog...River Enthusiast..

Someone else in my household also loves her river time.  Almost looks like she was posing for this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tricks of the Steelhead Jedi's....The Comeback Fly

Finally it was time to saddle up the spey rods and head to steelhead country.  Early season steel in Eastern Washington and Idaho is no guarantee but the rewards are fantastic. 

Savage takes.  Drylines.  Skaters.  Oh hells yes.  All part of the early season out here.

In the journey to become a better fisherman, I try to do my best to shut the hell up and listen to guys and gals who know more, done more and caught more than I ever have.   Anyone who knows me and how much I talk knows this is a tall order, but I do what I can.

There's a group of guys in Southwest Washington and Oregon who have opened up the playbook to me.  Guys like Brian Chou, Joe Willauer and Steelie Mike....they are my Steelhead Jedi's and when they talk..I listen.

So a couple years ago while out with Steelie Mike on the Deschutes, he brought to my attention the concept of a "comeback fly".  Being new to the game, it seemed absolutely ridiculous that a steelhead would come back to a smaller, sparser fly after plucking or hitting in a non committal way to a bigger, more aptly dressed fly.  Looking at the flies Mike gave me that day, all I could think was yeah freaking right....but I will put it in the box and remember this lesson for when the time was right.

Well on Monday, the time was right.

Notice the fly in that buck's grill.  The fly Steelie Mike gave me 2 years prior.

The first run of the morning and OMR was kind enough to give me the jump.  About 45 minutes into that particular stepdown session,  my mind began to wander as my swing was came into the bucket of the run.  Wham...the fish grabbed hold and just as fast, let go.  My eyes slammed into focus on the spot where the fish took to see the massive boil that let me know that it wasnt a little smolt, but a full fledged ocean run rainbow.

The conversation I had with Mike 2 years prior jumped into my brain and then I directly went into my fly box, grabbed that comeback fly and stepped back up 2 steps to re offer to that fish.

Why a fish would take this fly is beyond me.  Maybe it's the latent feeding response to when they ate caddis as a smolt, but this Spade fly was as sparse as it could get.  A couple wraps of mylar and about 10 total strands of elk hair.  That's it, thats all.

Paying close attention to my fly as it cut through the water on my dryline.....the fish came back and nailed the shit out of that fly. 

For a hatchery fish, the fight was great and typical of a buck.  Long dogged runs and one last offering as it's belly hit the rocks. 

With regulations mandating it's release, we took a few pictures and sent him on his way. 

So thanks Mike, glad I listened.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

OMR Drops The Hammer....

Betcha didnt know that spray poles have a tendency to flex this much on the forward stroke. 

Another example of OMR dropping bombs really shows how much they really do taco out.

BTW, check in tomorrow at Chucking Line and Chasing Tail for a little tip on a little knowledge that Steelie Mike gave me last year that resulted in a tug o war with my first steelhead of the 2011 season.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hey Mom, What That?

Just look at the eyeball that my boy Raft Kevin's son is throwing at that fish. 

Another addict is born.

Proud Dad Kevin took the photo as The Golf Pro corralled Kelly's nice cutty caught caught on her second cast of the day on an unnamed flow in Northwest Montana.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trout, Beer and a Little Bristol Bay...

So if you're buying, I do have a hankering for the Northern Lights Crystal Bitter

Just saying...

But back to the point, if you're in town, you probably should go to this meeting, member of TU or not.  I am excited to hear the perspective of Dwayne Meadows, Bristol Bay National Outreach Director of TU Alaska.

See you there.