Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Getting Bested By The Best...

The day started on another river in another state.  A fast rising hydrograph made us question whether this was the place we should be fishing.  As you other fishermen of anadromous fish know, once doubt sets it, move to option B.

Conditions were perfect with dropping water levels and consistent water temperature.   Game on.

Into the second run, a fish slammed my bug mid swing and gave me a hell of a battle.    It was a very, very nice buck that went into the early teens.  They're aren't many fish bigger than this one in the whole realm of inland steelhead, so I was more than pleased as it swam away and the flask was passed around in celebration of good fortune.

The day continued with the swing and step routine from run to run  and into  the closing hour of the last piece of water.    That's when OMR pulled the rabbit, or should I say whale out of his top hat.

The dude knows how to fight a fish, and this one kicked his ass.  In seeing the initial hook up and watching my dad's face, I knew this was a big, big fish.    Most of the time, you can get one of these summer runs in within 5 minutes, but this battle stretched all of 15 minutes and every time the fish wallowed or it's tail came up all we could say were things like

Holy Shit.  F----K.  Oh. My. God.

After 5-6 big runs and numerous short scraps, the fish of a lifetime came to hand

It was a miracle the fish was landed, the hook on the prom dress just fell out.  Fell. Out.

A few pics and the massive buck went back on it's journey. All three of us sat there a bit stunned at what just happened.  Bested by the best, with the best fish I have ever had the pleasure to see in person.  So very wild and in perfect shape.

OMR reeled up and found a great sitting rock to enjoy the rest of the fading light.  No point in casting again on this day, he found his fish of a lifetime.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Give for Wild Steelhead

Looking for a place to make a year end donation?  How about the Wild Steelhead Coalition..

A few years ago I made it a point to find a way to get involved in conservation.  It was an overwhelming feeling that I couldnt just keep taking from the resource and do nothing to help ensure that our sport would be there for my children.    Fast forward to now I am a proud board member of the WSC we've had another great year working to help in the conservation and recovery of wild steelhead.  Here are a few of the highlights of this year's work

--As part of the WDFW workgroup, played an integral part in establishing Region 5 Wild Steelhead Management Zones (WSMZs) that include the Wind, East Fork of Lewis and North Fork Toutle and Green Rivers

--Organized an eight-city West Coast tour of the wild steelhead documentary film “Wild Reverence” to advocate and deliver attention to the plight of wild steelhead to a wider audience and eventually the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

--Continued participation and partnership in the Elwha River lawsuit to end hatchery plants in the newly restored Elwha River basin

--Researched and formulated six rule proposals to WDFW, which were recommended as part of the lower Columbia Basin stream strategy to enhance wild steelhead recovery

--Successful inclusion of arm hook squid—a main staple of steelhead diet—into the PEW Foundation’s forage fish initiative, based on WSC-sponsored research

--Participated in the Steelhead Cutthroat Policy Advisory Group (SCPAG), as well as continued engagement with WDFW and presence at Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission hearings commenting and arguing for progressive measures to recover wild steelhead

--Secured grants for habitat restoration of Skagit River watershed, targeted for Barnaby Slough restoration and Lyle Creek restoration

We did this with well over 3,000 volunteer hours in 2014 from board and committee members

The organization is 100% volunteer run we greatly appreciate any tax deductible donation you'd like to contribute.  We strive to put as much of your donated money direction into conservation efforts as possible.

Click HERE to make your donation and thank you very much from all of us at the Wild Steelhead Coalition.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mega Taco...

Apparently 40 inch steelhead can make your spey rod bend a bit....

Monday, December 22, 2014

Observations of a 4 Year Old Pheasant Hunter...

Safety was stressed, 10 times over.  Never go in front of Dad and Ryan.  Never.

Always think the gun is loaded.  Always.

Ok, lets go have some fun.  Watch the dog, she's smelling for birds.

Im not going to lie, I've pretty much been dying to take my buddy Carson outdoors since he was born. With a backpack full of snacks and drinks, we took a stroll down a canyon on a buddy's family ranch.

We never fired a shot, saw a couple flush a football field away and watched a porcupine waddle up a trail.  It was a great time.

The best part, the points of interest for a 4 year old.

Every 5 minutes "Dad, I want a snack"

On a serpentine washout in the farm road  "I bet a snake made this"

Every 5 minutes "I need a little rest"

"Hey Dad, what do ants eat"  "Why didnt you shoot that bird" (referring to a robin)

"That tree looks like your nose"

"I bet a moose made this track"  "Is this moose poop"  "Where are the mooses dad"

"watch me throw this stick in the creek"  X10

"Yes, another puddle to jump into"  The whole road was full of puddles

He was asleep within 5 minutes of getting into the car and didnt move for an hour until we got back home.    It was the beginning of our outdoor adventures together, with a lifetime ahead of us doing the same

I can only hope for more silly questions and observations afield.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Closing Bell Pull...

Hope Springs Eternal.  

The last couple trips have been challenging in terms of conditions.  Cold snaps that make fish sulk and the eventual warmup that brings in chocolate milk throwing off visibility, consistent is not a word to describe the last month of swinging flies

Still, when you make the two hour drive, you give it hell through the closing bell

And the closing bell was met with a solid yank on the last two trips

Each time we came to the last run of the day with fading daylight and hopes for a fish.  Denver from North 40 Outfitters  scored a hatchery buck coming through through the last bucket of the day on the second to last trip

The next outing was coming to an end when I drew the lead swing in the last run of the day.  Nobody had touched a fish all day and the water was loosing visibility by the second as a river above it was throwing dirty water into the mix.  Couple that with a 3 trip skunk, I was resigned to going through the motions and finishing up the day.

I turned back to OMR and Denver to say something as my fly finished the swing and into the hang-down.

Halfway into what I wanted to say and the rod bucked with that familiar feeling.  Finally.

I'd like to say that I know what I am doing enough around these rivers to know when it's going to happen, but the truth is I don't know shit about shit.  Everything is changing...runs change, temps change, clarity changes, fish location changes.  It's all changing and finding the answer is what makes a great line ripping take so special

At the closing bell no less.   A good a time as any to make it happen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Mis-Clip

The take was great, ripping the running line out of my hands.  I was running a solid skunk and had begun to question just about everything I was doing.  Wrong fly, wrong tip, etc.  What was really going on was that I was steelhead fishing, and the mind bender that it is was taking a grip.

Everyone has been there, it was just my time to go through it.

One small jump followed by several nice runs and the fish was at hand.  Beautiful 8-10 lb fish with fire in her belly, but a question to her origin.  All the other fins were perfect, and the fight in cold water made me think she was born in river gravel

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the adipose was a mis-clip.  The razor blades at the hatcheries dont all ways make a clean cut.

But still when you're on the bank ready to make the bonk or no bonk decision, that doubt came creeping in and the last thing I needed was the grey area causing me to get a ticket.

More research after the release leads me to believe that I would have been fine to keep it, but it was a snap decision on the shore that had to be made that put the fish back into the river.

Hindsight is 20/20 and that fish should be in the smoker but I'd rather find myself on the right side of caution

Which leads me to another question.  What would have you done?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Prepare to Launch...

Every once and a while my little point and shoot gets something worth sharing

Spey casting is mechanical.  You have to get from point A to B before going to C.  Screw up the sequence and cadance...your screwed.  Nothing more humbling than a cast that was supposed to go 100 feet but instead flops in a mess 20 feet out.

But done properly, it's a thing of beauty. Damn effective too.

Timing mixed with style, each caster has a difference look but the good ones all get to the same place

Line in the water, bug swimming, hunting away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#PassItOn with North 40 Outfitters

Here's a great program that The North 40 Fly Shop is starting that everyone should see if they can participate in

If you cant find you're way into a North 40 Fly Shop, my bet is that there's a young family member or a kid down the street that would love that 5 weight thats collecting dust and hasnt touched water in years.

Time to #passiton

Monday, December 8, 2014

An Ode To Dive Bars

How amazing does a beer taste after a long day on the river in bars with names like Oasis Tavern, The Blue Anchor or Joes Bar to name a few

Coming home from a deer hunt we stopped into the Oasis and it reminded me how great these places are.  95% of what is spoken inside of them in pure 100% grade A bullshit.   The beer list is never fancy or full of microbrews and a mixologist, the bartender is not one.

American beer, Irish and Canadian Whiskey and some of that Mexican tequila if you want to get fancy.

There's a great dive bar in St John, Washington by the name of The Rialto where I remember sitting around having a beer with hunters and farmers alike, all sharing stories of the day's hunt, wheat prices, politics and women.  I think out of the 14 hunters in the bar, 12 had bucks hanging.   Many were tired, many were happy.  Many were drunk.

I remember on my first big guided trip with OMR where we had a brutal day on Missouri River with terrible weather.  Temps went from 85 at 10am to 40 with howling winds out of Canada and we were stuck on the river as the winds kept us from rolling downstream.   We screwed up and left our raincoats in the truck and to top if off our aloof and grizzly old guide pulled out his G3 coat as we froze our balls off.  I wanted to punch him in the nuts.   It's basically the only time I've ever wanted to throw the towel and walk to the damn road out

At the very end of the day, the storm passed and we were the only boat left on the water and I ended up catching the biggest brown of my life

OMR, the guide and I descended upon Joe's Bar in Craig and because of that brown at the end of the day and a high amount of fine American macro-brews, the perspective of the day changed dramatically.    Soon we were making plans to come out and fish again with the old cuss of a guide.

I bet there's a million stories like that out there about these great places.  Drop a comment here and let us know where your favorite dive bars are.  I mean, research is in order, right?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fresh Bugs...

The cold months mean bigger bugs.  Here's a few fresh off the vice.

I never know what's going to pop off the vice in the beginning.  A general color pallet yes, a finished product, no.

Don't get into fly tying to save money.  Don't even try.  

What it comes down to for me at least,  is a focused art form that sometimes, god willing means a fish will like my offerings as much as I do as well.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Operation Venison Extraction

You cant tell a 74 year old deer hunter to stop hunting by himself, but you can tell him that if he get's a deer to call you to drag it out.

"Got One!"

That's all it took to know that this particular Monday night would involve a hell of a lot of work

I was almost home when I got the call that OMR had a buck down.  Within 10 minutes, Big C was scooped up with an on-the-go dinner and we were headed northward to help with venison retrieval.

His face said he was tired, but happy and proud non the less.  An experience with heat stroke early in hunting season made him realize that he couldn't do what he once thought nothing of,  but this buck's death reaffirmed and reacquired his mojo.

We set out to the deer, 3 generations of Mills boys with flashlights lighting the way.   Concerned grandmothers and moms weren't quite sure it was a good idea to bring a boy just shy of 4 into the deep dark woods to help drag the deer out.  I couldnt think of anything  better.   My childhood was full of times like this and I count not deny my oldest boy the same.

He took to the trail with excitement and wonder.  He held the hand of "Poppa Fay" and was a continual stream of questions that grandpa was happy to answer.

We reached the deer and  my son's wonderment reached next level.  I looked at the deer with resignation and said "shit"

It was a damn fine deer, a damn heavy big bodied mature deer.

We were almost a mile back in the woods when I put a rope on the antlers and began the drag.  Each successive hogback and small ridge made the deer a couple pounds heavier.   The fall pine needle drop made going uphill like skating on ice at times.  We made progress and  let's say that crossfit has nothing on this particular workout.

The last field was reached and OMR joined the push to the truck, dragging the deer with me.  It was a happy, proud and tiring moment.  Three boys on an adventure.  One just starting his outdoor experiences, one in the middle and one nearing his eventual end afield by himself.

The tailgate slammed in my truck and the job was complete.  Big C was asleep 5 minutes after we hit the road, and OMR was a happy hunter.

I was tired as I could get, but the experience of operation venison extraction was just plain awesome.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I swear it was watching me.  All it needed was a painted on smile and nose.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Irish Setter Vaprtrek Boot Review

Ready for a super technical review of an amazing piece of outdoor footwear?

Ok, here it goes.  About that super technical part, maybe not.

Aside of being a fishing nut, I do love to spend time watching my dogs work a pheasant field and chasing turkeys in spring.  It seems like I have zero luck over the past 5 or so years with hunting boots.  Failing seams, failing water barriers, you name it.  Wet feet equals a terrible outdoor experience.   I'm hell on outdoor gear.

So when I was given an opportunity to field test a pair of Irish Setter Vaprtek boots, the answer was pretty obvious.

Here are the top four reasons why these boots past my large human test and are making my time afield a lot more enjoyable in the foot department

1.  Weight

These are the lightest boots I have ever worn.  Period.    According to the web site, these kicks are 40% lighter than the average hunting boot.   This really was apparent on my most recent pheasant hunt where we put in a lot of miles in a day.  I can distinctly remember what my old boots felt like at the end of the day (cement blocks) and these don't fit into that category at all.

2.  Agressive Tread

The channeled scablands of Eastern Washington where we chase ditch parrots is a crazy piece of ground, and I really enjoyed the grip these boots gave.  Kudos to the designers on this one.

3.   Molded Footbed

Back to the super technical review.  I wear molded insoles due to extremely flat feet, and these boots have a rock solid molded foot bed (dont know if that's the right term) that keep my foot in place and so far have kept blisters on the bottom of my foot away.

4.   Quick Break In

Normally it takes weeks to get a pair of hunting boots to break in.  2 hunts and these were dialed in.
That my friends, is awesome

One thing to consider...

While the break in period was drastically reduced compared to other boots that I have had, I did make the mistake of going too far on the first hunt and I did end up with some pretty serious blisters. When I first put them on they felt so incredible that they felt already broken in and ready to go.

They fit great but with a boot like this that is going to last for several seasons, you still need to break them in properly.  After my initial hunt and when the my heals had recovered, I wore them for a bit every night for a week and the next experience was drastically different.

I can really see these boots doing really well for anyone in the outdoors, but especially guys and gals who really value a lightweight and sturdy boot.   Bowhunters, Upland Bird Hunting and long distance hikers will absolutely love them

My last question...

I dont know what it's going to be like in the severe cold  and really deep snow.  We havent' had these conditions yet and when glassing and sitting for long periods of time when deer hunting  you often are subject to really cold feet.    So that question remains....

There's a pile of technology that have gone into these boots and you should check into these four items that Irish Setter hangs their hat on


See, I promised super technical.

All in all, these outdoor kicks are worth every penny of their price tag.  In the market, give them a test drive and hopefully they work for you like they have worked for me

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Skeena Watershed Auction Fundraiser

The Skeena River system is an amazing place, and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is at the heart of the fight to protect it

Right now, the SWCC is hosting a hell of an online auction that features dozens of unique items that will be perfect under your Christmas tree.

Personally I have my eye on this beautiful atlantic salmon fly

Give it a look, bid ends on November 23rd

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Go to Belize with The North 40 Fly Shop...

Belize is amazing.  Period.

If you can swing it, hop on board with Denver and The North 40 Fly Shop when they roll down to San Pedro April 19th through the 23rd for 5 days of fishing and sun.

The package comes in at $1995, including flight from Belize City to San Pedro, accommodations at the Pelican Reef Villas, breakfast and lunch.  Not included are items like international flights, booze, dinners, and a few others.  Guides and fishing arranged by Belize Fly

It's a hell of a deal.

In the two weeks I have fished the waters in and around San Pedro, I have found this one of the most intoxicating places I have ever fished.   There's a legit shot at a flats grand slam and other amazing fish including snook.

If you've never caught a bonefish, you can hardly comprehend how fast line leaves your reel.  It's amazing.

Get more info and book your spot by contacting the North 40 Fly Shop.

Welcoming TU's Wild Steelhead Initiative...

On November 20th, Trout Unlimited is jumping into the steelhead conservation arena with both feet with their Wild Steelheaders United initiative.

Welcome brothers and sisters in conservation.  They were an integral part of kicking the crap out of the proposed pebble mine in Alaska, so lets see what they can do to activate more people and bring more light on steelhead issues across the west coast.  More voices, more money, more press.  All things steelhead need

In full honesty, I have always wondered why TU hasn't been heavily involved with steelhead conservation, considering what steelhead are.   Alas, better to be in the game then never in the game and I am excited to see what this national organization can bring to the fight.

On the 20th, TU will be hosting several regional kickoff parties across the west coast, including Seattle, Portland, Boise, Juneau and Santa Cruz

If you're near any of those venues, go check it out.  Here's another opportunity to get involved.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's In The Grass...

The tall native grass just goes and goes.  At times you lose the dogs because it's so dense and thick and the only way you can located them is to watch for the serpentine movement of grass that indicates their movement.

Our labs work the cover nose down, searching for scent trails that indicate their quarry.  You dont get to watch the dogs as well and notice their body language, so the flushed ditch parrots rocket up and scare you without prior indication.

Makes the ticker really go pitter patter.

We might walk 2 miles of the grass without so much as a flush.  We might bust birds at the beginning, middle and end.  They might run all the way to the end and hit the air at the same time in a flurry of wingbeats.

Either way, when I start this particular grass field, I always take a second before I step a boot into the cover and wonder....

What's in the grass?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Elusive Trout's Redband T-Shirt

Spokane based illustrator Deanna Camp and Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited have partnered up in creating a sweet new shirt to help raise money for the native fish of the Spokane River, the Redband Rainbows.

 These fish are scrappers, living in a river that while beautiful, has distinct challenges of pollution, storm water runoff, poaching, and many other limiting factors.  The proceeds from these shirts, posters and prints will do directly into habitat restoration and protection.

Here's are a few ways for you to pick up a shirt or print and lend a hand in helping these native redband rainbows

Retail Locations--Silver Bow Fly Shop, Sweds Fly Shop and Atticus in downtown Spokane

Online--Elusive Trout and Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chrome Rocket

Pretty damn fresh, considering its 449.7 miles from the mouth of the Columbia to the mouth of the Grande Ronde

Oh yeah, and the multitude of damns they have to cross.

Kind of a miracle that these fish can still look this bright when they make it to us.

Amazing eh?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Millsfly and Rep Your Water Giveaway...

We are proud to announce a new, 3 day contest with our partner Rep Your Water.

For the next three days, anyone who reposts, shares, or uses the #repyoursteel hashtag will be eligible to win your choice of 1 steelhead themed RYW hat, the swung fly long sleeve t-shirt and 2 flies from Chucking Line and Chasing Tail's vice.

Dont forget, 1% of the proceeds for the 11 steelhead themed hats goes back into conservation with a donation to the Wild Steelhead Coalition.

One winner per day, this Wednesday through Friday

Good luck, and swing away!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mas Reel Porn...

So dewey, so hawt.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dead Bugs...

My traditional steelhead box is full of them.  Dead bugs.

We all have those flies that we haven't weeded out. Year after year, they occupy space and you know you're never going to use them.

Half of them you would have used them or did use them, but now they're rusted out.  The other half are bench creations that you look at now and think "what the hell".

Finally I made the leap to cut bait and recycle what was left of some of the good hooks.

Happy Halloween everyone.  Maybe you'll find new life in your old bugs too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The St. John

Not much to say here.  Just soak up the sexy.

A big thanks to Steelie Mike for the unbelievable hook up.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Subtle to the Opposite of Subtle.

The first rise was so, so very subtle.

Through the pocket water of one of my favorite steelhead runs,  I felt as if the fish had nosed the fly up a bit without a seal in one of those old cartoons that balanced and spun a ball on it's nose.  It's the only way I can describe that fish and fly interaction.

Hmm, could it be?

3 steps back up and a 2 minute pause.

Skater destruction.  I don't think I've had a more savage, fully committed head to tail rise on a skater than with this fish.   It wanted nothing but death for the fly as it swung across it's zone.  Too bad the fly bit back.

This is just another reason in the myriad of reasons why I love steelhead.

One rise as timid as a church mouse.  The next, it's warfare.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Peashooter Vs Bazookas...

The old timers say, plenty of steelhead have been caught on a single handed rod.

But the truth of the matter is the single stick is the anomaly.  The oddity

So take the biggest river we fish and throw a one hander, and it feels like a peashooter versus a fleet of bazookas

When the fish took, we all freaked out and lost it.    We've convinced ourselves that it wasn't going to happen.   4 adult males dancing around celebrating something that was once just normal

Call it retro or whatever, but it was awesome.  We as steelheaders dont have to boom 100 foot casts, but spend more time reading water and controlling the bug in the water to present it well to a willing biter.

The peashooter won this round, and we couldn't have been happier.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


A mid day dryline eater in the middle of a 70 degree October day with all the fins that god gave her.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Deer Frustration...

It almost worked according to plan.

OMR laid down the gameplan.  In the waking hours of the morning, he'd stay back, cover the exit routes and I would  climb the ridge and try to find a buck.

I crested over the ridge for my position, and ho-le-shit.

You could tell from 500 yards out,  there wasn't going to be any question if it was a shooter.

The plan was perfect as the deer were returning to their beds after a night of feeding in the newly sprouted winter wheat.   The game was officially on.

450 yards out, they hung up.  The wind was wrong and they stopped in their tracks and stopped moving towards me.   Damn it.

The buck and his does dropped into their beds, not leaving me a lot of options.  I sat and debated my moves, knowing that eventually the farmers who drive the tops of the cut stubble would be along soon and the jig would completely be up.

You only have minutes in a time like this to make things happen.  Sometimes your choices work, other times, well....the meat doesn't hit the freezer

I circled as far as I could around them with the hope to drop down, cut the distance and take the shot.

The wind is what did me in, as I was about crest, drop down and shoot, they bolted

As mule deer do, a sharp whistle got them to stop.  350 yards out, I put the crosshairs on the bucks back and let er have it

The dustcloud under the buck said he was going to live another day

Frustrated.  You bet.  It was probably the biggest buck I've ever had a chance at.

But it's why I will be back at it again,  trying to alleviate the frustration.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Apex of Anticipation

The week was selected 6 months ago, and loomed on the calendar....distant, but anticipated.

The brotherhood will meet at the pre designated time and place and spend 10 days making it happen, and nights bullshitting, eating well and telling stories around the fire

Steelhead will be there.  That is why so many go to such great lengths to make this week happen.    It's a week that I know all of us have been looking forward to for a long time

Some people come for the entire length of camp, some come in and out and others for just a couple days.  No matter, everyone adds to the flavor of the greatest week of the year.

It cant come fast enough

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Season Of Strange Bycatch

The rod bucked with the signal of a savage hit and my father in law ran to the rod holder and came fast to something

It ran a bit, then surfaced

The season of strange by-catch continues

The poor cormorant, duck, whatever it was snaked the cut plug herring a good 15 ft below the surface so the notion of hooking a winged creature wasn't high in the mind when the reel started singing.

We brought it in and couldn't unhook it without picking it up, and I drew that duty

Insult to injury, the damn thing took a big squirting shit all over my pants.  So I have that going for me.

The bastard bird squawked and drove down below the boat

I think I would have preferred a coho.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Seattle....You're On For Wild Reverence

After months of planning, the final date of the Wild Steelhead Coalition Wild Reverence Fall Tour is upon us.

Seattle, you're on notice.   This Thursday at 630pm, join us at the Uptown SIFF in the Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle to be a link in the chain of steelhead recovery.

We've had our ups and downs with the tour.  Some great dates, some where you are wondering where the hell are those people who say they are steelhead advocates

You can only be a part of the solution if you get your butt off the couch,  off the chat boards and see what you can do.

Come fill the theater Thursday night.  No excuses, just be there.

Get your tickets before the event HERE.

Dont be on the outside of a sold out event (fingers crossed!)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

As It Should Be...

This is the picture of steelhead fishing in my mind, as it should be.

The picture doesn't display the fish, but the process.   The long drive to the steelhead grounds with bad coffee and an equally bad McDonalds breakfast.  It's rigging up, which no matter what you do takes way to long because the river is right before you

It's the funny way OMR stands while the line swings through the run, fist to his hip, arm bent like he's a toy soldier or something.

The reactions after a fish comes and messes with your mind and gives you a pluck.  What an asshole.

It's the sunrise of the early fall and the cold of mid winter.

It's everything but the fish.

Yes, the fish is the quest, but it's the process that sticks in my mind.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Side Benefits...

Spend your time away from the football games on a Sunday and you get to see a much more fulfilling sight.

Happy Fall to everyone.  Go get some!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Militant Single Hander...

He's probably fished for steelhead longer than I have been alive.

And stay's firmly attached to his single hand rod.

I jokingly started calling him the MSH, or the militant single hander because on this river, the traditional 9 foot 8 weight is as he calls it, the novelty act.

We oooh and aaaah over 100 foot casts that boom out from our spey rods, but the truth of the matter is that we as spey guys aren't always fishing the water as well as we should.   I sat and watched my friend work a run and I noticed his constant attention to detail that put the fly right through each bucket of each piece of water we fished.

It was beautiful watching a master at his craft.

Sure he missed some of the "way out there water" that 2 handed casters can hit,  but guess who was the one caught fish.

The Militant Single Hander.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Swinging For Beaver...

I'm going to get some interesting google search hits from this....

The take was just like a hot early season fish.  It ripped the loop from my hand and after two days without nary a bump or a pluck, the reel screaming felt great.

Dogged runs and surges made me believe I had a monster buck on.  I had dreams of a thick bodied B-Run steelhead on the end of my dryline, but....

The head of the beast popped up near where I thought the fish was and my first thought was, huh...I spooked a beaver.

Then it occurred to me......I HOOKED A BEAVER.

On a traditional size 8

On a full dryline

Prior to the hookup, I had no idea the toothy critter was in the area.   The line swung through this runs bucket and the fight was on.

Not having a lot of experience in a beaver landing situation, I ended the interaction by popping the fly

All I could do was laugh.  I caught a freaking beaver.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A 3 Year Old In The Grouse Woods...

September 1st hits and it gives us the opportunity to walk old logging roads for forrest chickens.

Bringing a 3 year old into the grouse woods is awesome.  You get to see the hunt through their eyes, and Big C was into it.  The grasshoppers, the rouge sticks on the road that must be thrown, bird know, soaking it all in

We didnt have the greatest hope, as it was mid day and pretty dry conditions, but we found a road with a creek next to it and one bird exposed itself .

OMR held Carson back and I did the duty.  The dogs dropped down the ridge, found the ruff and returned it to us.

High fives and excited inspection by the boy brought big smiles to all around.  I was so excited to be there with him as he experienced the hunt as I had at his age 30 years before.

Five minutes later, I turn around to see Big C in full pout mode.  Shocked, I inquired to see what the issue was.

"Not fair, you and Poppa Fay have your own gun, I don't.  I want my own gun"

After  a quick chuckle and explanation that 3 years old don't have their own guns.  Maybe a bb gun in a few years.

But to be honest,  I couldn't be prouder.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fighting Goliath...

Fighting Goliath from Idaho Rivers United on Vimeo.

A repost from the Chum, here's a project I believe in, and so should you if you believe in wild places and wild rivers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dress Less....

Steelhead eat a lot of things.

The challenge is to get them to eat tiny little spey flies.    Even harder, forcing yourself to use less materials and dress your flies with the sparsest amounts of feathers and flash