Monday, December 28, 2015

Public Lands...Your Property

Beyond this sign is one of the most spectacular pieces of public ground in the lower 48. Spectacular fishing, hunting, hiking and camping.  Canyon after canyon and carved by one of the biggest rivers in the west, it is OUR ground.

Public Lands.  Our property

But the placement of this sign could seem a bit funny.   Where the department of fish and game parking lot is, then to this sign, you have to walk through a very private, locked off community.    

Thankfully, the home owners of this area are amicable and don't impede the usage of our lands. Friendly waves with smiles meet us as we walk through to our destination up river.  

It could be different.   I am always in fear of one bad experience with a hiker, angler or hunter and those homeowners could make it tough for all user groups.  You already have to hike down a trail to get to the beach, then cross over a fence to access the road you need to be on but a more aggressive fence could steer off the less than intrepid crowd.   Instead of smiles and waves, the proverbial stink eye and mean mugs could dramatically change the mood.

Across this country there are countless examples of public land being shut off to access because they're surrounded by private lands that say no to easement and effectively shut the ground down.

Crazy right?  

Its a serious issue that is a quagmire of a problem, but there are groups out there dedicated to making sure that we as sportsmen and women have a place in the public commons.

I highly suggest joining both The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, groups who's core mission is to preserve our outdoor heritage on public land. Get involved today with this issue.

Beyond steelhead conservation, land use preservation has become of a pillar of what I believe in an fight for.  Without public land, we loose the user experience.  Not all of us have private land access, but we all have our land, the public's land to use and be a steward of.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Spey P.S.A.

Not my finest cast, not by a long shot.

Wind.....wind, wind is thy enemy.  

Lets just say you're out there casting away and the wind changes directions and you're mid way through your cast progression  and you drop your anchor in a somewhat suspect place too close to your body

Reset the damn cast.    Dont be stubborn, just reset.   There's your public service announcement.

Otherwise,   you hit the go button and the sink tip and fly smash into the back of your head.


Thank god it didnt have barbell eyes.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

WSC Year End, With A Carrot...

It's that time of year that every non profit that you interract with is going to putting out their year end appeal for donations, and rightly so.  Tax benifits aside, the impact of year end giving to non profit groups is the lifeblood that keeps the good work going

The Wild Steelhead Coalition is no exception to the rule.  We are a volunteer driven organization that does the best it can to provide the most amount of impact for the small budget we have.

In 2015, we spent zero dollars on office space, staff, or fishing retreats. Instead, we used every dollar you graciously provided to fight for wild steelhead. And boy, did we get some great stuff done. 

With your support, in just 12 short months together we:

Scored a huge victory for struggling steelhead stocks on the Olympic Peninsula by successfully championing a years-long effort to reform antiquated sportfishing regulations, including finally ending the sport fishing harvest of wild steelhead in Washington. 

Spearheaded a campaign for the creation of much-needed Wild Steelhead Gene Banks (also known as wild steelhead management zones) on the entire Skagit, Elwha, and Puyallup watersheds.

Convinced the federal government to more extensively study the impact of hatchery steelhead on threatened Puget Sound wild steelhead.

Served on numerous steelhead advisory groups sent countless letters to state and federal government entities, and hosted a handful of successful events.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

We'd love your support to continue our work this coming year, and we're going to dangle a nice little carrot your way

Starting from November 15th through the end of the year, anyone who donates over $50 is in the running to win an ECHO Glass 7129-4 spey rod, courtesy of the good folks at ECHO Fly Fishing themselves

Thanks in advance for the support, and we look forward to giving are all again in 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Internet Makes Many Mighty...

No Bait.  No Barbs.  No Kill

And a little bit of in river refuge for the fish.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council recommendations,  adopted 4 common sense rule changes for the rivers on the Olympic Peninsula 

These changes had to happen.  Years and years of missed escapement on the majority of the rivers on the North Washington Coast and having to deal with co-managers who are netting the runs to death, anglers had to take a leadership position to lessen impact on the ever dwindling resource.

To some, you would thought the sky had fallen.  Fish recovery is such a political quagmire, but the devolution of discourse on the internet....especially on the side of the street that oppose these changes is down right nuts.  NUTS.

The examples of internet tough guy syndrome came in hard and fast

"All the catch and release guy's kill a ton of fish. I'm still going to kill every "wild steelhead" I can. Leave our hatchery fish alone"

"Even with a ton of opposition the commission does whatever the fly fags tell them too because they are getting the golden handshake somewhere along the line and the only way the commission is ever going to listen to the common man or average sport fisherman is for all of is to stop buying licenses and fish elsewhere just for one year......if 300,000 of did not buy a license in 2016 because of the arrogant , elitist rules they are adopting I fucking guarantee you we would get a few spots at the table and this shit would be over turned.......lets band together and just say no to buying a license in 2016 until they quit fucking us and give is spot at the table........fuck Miranda Wecker and the rest of her elitist posse.."

"Screw the wild fish and make a lot of hatchery fish for us to kill. Most of the wild fish comes from stray hatchery fish and are interbred. The tribes don't care either so why should we. Everybody is afraid of endangered species. Last time I checked there was lots of species extinct and guess what, the world did not end! Get overy it!"

Then you have this article.  Lots of LOLz in that one.

Reminds me a lot of a South Park episode, except change jobs to fish.

Lets think about it a second.   

You make no changes, stay the status quo.  Runs continue to decrease and  it stays the ONLY place in the state of Washington, and about the only place in the damn world you can keep a wild fish.  

100% of a run are caught at least once.  ZERO inter river refuge for the fish.  

Folks, the Endangered Species act is knocking at the door.  Once that comes in, we as a state and as sportsmen have NO control.  

Yes, the 800 LB gorilla in this situation is the relentless netting by the tribes that have rights on these rivers.  The Bolt Decision means we have to co-manage the fishery.    Big changes are needed in their approach to the fish runs because they wont sustain in the future with bank to bank gill nets.

Also, a few popular myths to dispel.

There is no fly fishing vs gear fishing agenda.  Absolute red herring

These rules are not meant to take opportunity away from gear fisherman.  

The "agenda" is pushed by some secret illuminati of rich, old white fly fishing only men and women.  Nope, the proposals where submitted by the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council which was made up of guides, sports, fly and gear fisherman.

As a matter of fact....when WDFW held public comments in Olympia back in November, people who spoke in favor of these changes were there in mass, out numbering the nay's 4-1

Control what you can control.  Make the changes necessary to enhance the resource and lets do what we can to bring the co-managing tribes to the bargaining table.

And when you feel like bitching on the internet.  Go ahead, it does nothing to help.  Get involved, now.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Soul River Alaska, The Best 10 Min of Your Day

Alaska Cross Cultural Exploration Short Documentary from Soul River on Vimeo.

Get involved with Soul River today!

Locked In...

Preparation for the day.  Alarm clanging away.  Up and groggy, 430am.

105 miles through the wheat fields.  Headlights and tail lights through darkness.

 Coffee.  More Coffee.

McDonalds.  Always McDonalds.

Anticipation heightens.  Where to start?  What fly?  Park the truck.

In the Spot.  Bombs away.  Locked In.  Fish Connected.  It happened.

OMR catches a fish.  Not weird.  Normal.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Last Chance For #WIldSteelheadMatter Contest

Last chance ladies and gentlemen!

Tomorrow at 5 we pick the winners of the Rep Your Water and Wild Steelhead Coalition's #WildSteelheadMatter contest

Get up on Instagram, post your favorite fish pic with good, solid fish handling practices
(aka keepemwet) and use the hashtag #wildsteelheadmatter and your in the running

Get more info at either Rep Your Water, The Wild Steelhead Coalition or the Millsfly instagram pages.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#WildSteelheadMatter Instagram Contest

Who wants some sweet schwag?

Head on over to Instagram and get in on this great contest with Rep Your Water, the Wild Steelhead Coalition and yours truly.

Follow both the Wild Steelhead Coalition and Rep Your Water, post your best steelhead/ing picture and use the hashtag #wildsteelheadmatter to get into the running.

Three winners will be chosen by 5pm pacific on Monday the 7th.    Two winners will receive a a couple custom Millsfly Bugs and a Wild Steelhead Coalition Rep Your Water Hat, as seen in the pic above.  The big dog winner will get the same and a RYW belt buckle to boot.

A couple hints.  #keepemwet is highly encouraged, gills in the water.  Any wild fish pics out of the water is an instant loss.   The biggest fish doesnt always win, but capturing a moment is key!

Good luck

Monday, November 30, 2015

Creepy As Creepy Gets...

When you're combing across the backroads in search of wild birds, you often run into remnants of yesteryear.  Old barns that lean to the side, abandoned farms and the like, but this one takes the cake.

The remains of a prolific sheep ranch in Eastern Washington and now owned by the BLM, the entire house and majority of outbuildings are all built like this.   All metal, built in the 40's and creepy as hell

Can you imagine growing up in a house like that.  Dear god.

It feels like there should be some faceless guy sitting in a dark room mumbling and rocking back and forth while in the next room the kid from Poltergeist has her head spinning around.

Just back away, baaaack away slowly.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

To The Last Swing...

OMR had already reeled up and was sitting on the bank waiting for me to throw in the towel.

Just one more cast.  And then another.  And maybe five or so more.

It's incredibly hard to leave good water un-fished even as the last fading rays of sun were disappearing over the canyon rim.

Fine, one more cast.

Each cast is an offering of hope.  You hold out hope each time that the line hits the water but really when it's down to the last few seconds of the day,  the hope counter is down as far as it can go.

I put the mend in the cast, said here we go.  Simple math says the day was almost finished.

The fish picked up the bug in the last 5 feet of the swing and off she went.   OMR sat on the bank repeatedly saying, "No way, No Way NOOOOOOO way"

I was about as shocked as my father.  A perfect ending to a great day on the water that will only stoke the fire for the next day out.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Sun Rises...

No filter needed.  Just the soul filling power of the sun rising over field of geese decoys ready in anticipation of the days events ahead.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Wrong Set of Horns

The plan worked to perfection.  Well, almost

The spot was perfect.  The rut was on.  The weather was hinting at a turn for the worse meaning that the deer on this particular property would be on the move.

Shoot, I saw one of the biggest bucks of my life on the drive to the property, cozied up with a special lady friend trying to whisper sweet nothings in the pre dawn light.

It was about to go down!

Horns be damned, I just wanted to fill the freezer.  If it had a nub or a mass of points, he was going have a day of reckoning.  The woods came alive as the sun came up and that special feeling was there, my long awaited deer drought was going to come to an end.

About 2 hours into my morning vigil, the ridge to my left was a blitz of motion as 7-8 deer came barreling down to the flat to my left.  Something had spooked them, what it was I dont know but it got the blood rolling.  Most were does but one could have been a buck but no shot was presented as they flew into the trees.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement above and to the left.

Horns.  Big Horns.

Carefully I spun around to circle around and ambush the deer as it came through the cut I was watching

And boom, there they were.  8 deer, 5 of which were of the male variety.

Unfortunately, they were Mule Deer.

Not.  In.  Season.

Only Whitetails were on the menu for this late season hunt.  So I sat there, frozen as the wind was right and they couldnt smell or really make me out behind the stump I hid behind.

The big heavy horned 4 point buck didnt give two shits about me, as he chased the does here and there.  Nose down, lips curled and motivated, I could have taken him about 50 different times from a range of 30-60 yards depending upon position.  That doesnt even count the 4 other bucks that were in range and milling around, confused to their opportunity with the big dog around romancing the farer sex

So I sat there and the herd circled around me.  One doe came within 10 feet as I sat motionless, letting the scene happen.

Finally they bounded off, and I was speechless.

It all worked to perfection, they just had the wrong set of horns.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Redington Chromer and Behemoth Review

Redington's newest entry into the spey game, the Chromer, is a hell of a rod

This fall they gave me the opportunity to give the 13-6 8 weight a go along with the Behemoth as we spent our days on the Clearwater in search of early season steelhead.

First Impressions

The mid level price point of $399.99 is a nice way to get people into 2 handed casting without spending mortgage type money on a stick.  You can find some cheaper, but you can find dozens that close in on the $1000 mark or more.   So the price point is great, A+

Aesthetically,  the matt black finish looks great and the components all come together nicely for a great looking rod.  The biggest difference is this....polymer top and bottom grip points.

Traditionalists probably scoff, but I found that these touch points were really nice in hand and in running line management.

With regards to the Behemoth, again the price point of $109.99 you're not going to find many large arbor reels to match with a spey rod that can beat this reel.  The die-cast construction, the lock down drag (if necessary), and other features are exceptional on a reel like this.

On The Water

Paired with the RIO 38 ft Scandi Shooting Head, the Chromer was an all out pleasure to cast.  Each person is going to have different likes and dislikes in every rod they throw, but the break in time with the Chromer was minimal for me.  Once I found the proper anchor placement with the Scandi head, the rod allowed me to cast and cover wide swaths of the rivers I was fishing.    Back to the price fishes like a $1000 stick if you know what I mean

With regards to the polymer grips and my used of mono running lines, I found them to be a big bonus feature with the Chromer.  Pressing the line into the polymer allowed for far less fouled casts that tend to happen with lines like Amnesia.

The reel did exactly what it needed to do.  I prefer a light to moderate drag setting, and I experienced no backlash or issues like that.  The line pick up of the 10-12 reel I had was very, very quick and allows you to keep solid connection with the fish

Any Negatives?

Completely nitpicking on this, the rod's cork could use a little work.  My particular model was missing a few pieces of cork filler but for the price point, do not expect the most amazing cork in the world.  It's a trade off, I'll take a lower grade handle for the awesome cast-ability of the Chromer any day.

On the Behemoth, there was an issue that I had from time to time.  There is JUST enough room for my running line to get caught outside the spool and thank goodness it never happened while catching a fish.  On those time when it happened, I had to loosen the spool a bit, pull the line over and then retighten it back down.  It's a fairly common problem that I am sure anyone has dealt with from time to time

Unanswered Questions

The only thing for me personally is that I never got the shot to throw the rod with heavy sink tips.  It's rare to find a rod that excels at throwing both scandi and skagit heads but I have a suspicion that the fast action and strong butt section will handle heavy tips like 12 ft of T14 with ease.


This combo of rod, reel and line gets a OH HELL YES rating from me.  There are few entries that can provide this much performance for the price.  I may or may not have shed a tear when I shipped them back to Redington, but that's between me and the UPS driver.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


The 3 pack of geese circled our spread three times, progressively getting set up to cup their wings and descend into the open pocket we made specially for them

The amount of noise that geese make in the air, aside of their honks and clucks, is impressive, hightening the anticipation of our group leader with the call to raise up and unload.

Talk that day amongst the guys went the normal rounds.  Hunting strategy.  Old hunting stories, maybe a few stories about the fairer sex.  Most interesting to me, the holy grail of waterfowlers


I had no idea how rare they are in this area, at least for the hardcore goose hunters.

The guys I was with on this particular day fall into that category, living for the time when they get to yell "take em" and the blinds flip open.   They listen to YouTube clips of competition callers to get edge.   Nobody beats them in the morning to the field, and in 30 years of combined goose hunting nobody had a goose band on their collective lanyards.

The doors flung open and in moments later three geese hit the deck.  In the commotion of 6 guns doing what they do, it's really hard to say which hunter hit which target.

As I bent down to pick up the quarry,  there it was.

I yelled back to the guys and they all laughed.  We had been talking so much about bands that they thought I was pulling their legs.

Then they saw it, and the jaws dropped.

Banded in June of 2011, this massive honker sure had a story.   They say they live 10 plus years, but I have to believe that a 4 1/2 year old bird is beyond the norm.

The guy who found the field and located the geese got the band.  He deserved it and all were happy that it would be on his lanyard.

Till the next time when "take em" is yelled.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Icebreaker Stratus Jacket Review

Alright, focus on the jacket, not the fish.

Recently,  I was given the opportunity to review the Icebreaker Merino Stratus Jacket and was immediately impressed.  Hell, it was June when it arrived and I wore it around the house for an hour or so because it was darn comfortably.  My wife thought I was crazy for wearing it in the summer, but that's besides the point

Icebreaker began in 1994 in New Zealand with the goal of creating a company around the wool of Merino sheep.  It's roots are in the outdoor adventure sports like sailing, climbing, skiing and the like, but now they're working on gaining tracking in the hunting and fishing segments.  Hence, the jacket I reviewed is in Real Tree camo.

In the effort to find expedite this review (it's going to be glowing) and get to the point, here are the top 5 reasons why I dug this jacket, and one  I would change if I could.

1.  Merino wool is delicious.  Yes, I said it.  Dee-liiii-cious as it wraps around your body.  Those merino sheep are lucky animals, they must always be comfortable.

2.  Recycled Materials.  The Icebreaker company is committed to reducing the amount of synthetics in their clothing for reduced impact, read more about that HERE

3.  Secondary wrist cuffs.  The devil's in the details right?  Well this cuff that is under the top layer at the end of the arm does a couple of things.  First, keeps the heat in.   Second if you're a clumsy feller like myself, when you fall in the water......that tends to keep the water from invading un-wanted real estate

4.  Wool is rad.  Some of my first outdoor gear when I was a kid was made of wool.  All the old guys I hunted with constantly praised the water repellant properties.  When it gets wet, it doesnt feel like it because of it's breathable.  Oh yeah, its also anti-bacterial, so it doesnt need to be washed all that often

5.  Heat Regulation.  It sure feels like the jacket adjust to the temperature, and allows you to wear it in a wider range of temps.   Like it has a brain and reads my needs, but maybe that's just me....

So it cant be all perfect, and as I do in every review I try to find something that I would change if I was the product designer

The sizing is slightly on the small side.

As a card carrying member of the double bubba club (I wear the XXL) I noticed that the sizing is just a bit on the small side.  This jacket fits me but I'd love just a bit more room that I am accustomed to in my size.  The chest is snugger than normal and the arms feel like it should be an inch or so longer.

Conclusion....this jacket has my enthusiastic stamp of approval.  I've worn it fishing, I've worn it hunting.   Hell, I've worn it to the office in spite of my coworkers eye rolls.

Check out the full lineup of Icebreaker gear by clicking HERE and follow them on FB

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Olympic Peninsula Wild Steelhead Action Alert

Olympic Peninsula Wild Steelhead Action Alert from North Fork Studios on Vimeo.

3 moderate rule changes are up for debate about how we fish on the Olympic Peninsula

There are other factors beyond sport fishing that are creating larger impact, but what control do we have over nets? Lets do what we can do and get on the bus with these three potential rule changes.

Get more info and submit your comments by November 12th by clicking HERE.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


For the better half of three days on the river, it was nothing more than casting practice

And it was killing me.

I have never been so humbled by a river or a fish than I was on my last trip.   Cast after cast, run after run, day after day....nary a bump, tap or pull

Pouring salt on the wound, everyone around me was smashing.  I watched people outside of my party who couldnt cast 30 feet pile drive casts into the river and come up tight to a fish.    There were no answers inside my fly box and I continued to support my buddies by happily reeling up to assist in tailing of every fish that was hooked around me in the vain hope that it would put karma on my side.

I have always heard that these things happen to anyone who spends time on the banks of steelhead rivers.  Guys going November to the following September without a fish to the bank.  There are easier ways to catch these buggers than on the swing and a long dry spell will really test your convictions and morals.  

All I could do was shake my head, down and few beers and smile.  And keep casting.

Ground down to a nub, laid bare and closing in on the third day of nothingness,  a bone was thrown my way.

A beautiful 10lb wide hen gave me all I could handle.  Coming to hand the fish closed the door on an ungodly skunking.   I couldnt have appreciated that fish any more if I tried.

So the moral of the story.  If you swing flies for steelhead, be prepared to be humbled.  It's going to happen, to everyone.

Just put your head down and keep casting.  It cant last forever.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Happened To October

What the hell happened to October.  I blinked and it has almost flown away without wetting a line for the object of my outdoor eye.

Life has that way of putting priorities ahead of fish.  

I can only look at so many facebook pictures.

I can only see so many instagram posts

If I get one more text...well, I'm going to.....

Wait...I'm going fishing.

I'm going to squeeze as much of October as I can get into my hands.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Yes, I Need All These Flies...

I have exactly 400 to many flies, and I need all of them.

They have to be there as I stand there, mid river and stare into my fly box and wonder what the hell I am going to put on next

4 days in my happy place coming up soon.  Better get cranking on the vice

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Its Not Just About The Fish....

Take for and a half minutes and let this beauty come into your melon from the good folks at North 40 Outfitters

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taking My Deer Lumps.

A good deer hunter, I am not.

Growing up I was the kid who read Field and Stream and Outdoor Life cover to cover.    Concepts of ballistics, deer drives, spot and stalk and the merits of the classic .270 was well know to me.

I grew up to fulfill my birthright as a man of the woods, the slayer of hoofed animals with horns.  The damn things were supposed to tremble as I set forth to hunt them.

I wanted to be good at it.....dreamed of success afield yet I can go on record with my minimal success deer hunting

The list of reasons are wide and long.  Wrong side of the draw.   One hill away from the deer.  Wind shifts, unseen deer spooking the deer we were stalking, a bad shot here and there.

Most of the time, I am the guy dragging someone else's deer out of the woods

Truth of the matter is that I havent devoted the time that is needed.  Sports and school got in the way growing up and now there's a million different competitors for my time.

But hell, I am the eternal optimist.  General deer opener is this saturday.   May luck be on my side.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lets say you're a steelheader.

Lets also say you're a bird hunter.

And further down the line, you combine those two items at the the fly tying vice.

Boom, the combo works.   Turns out Blue Grouse makes a hell of a wing on a steelhead fly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Swing The Fly Goes To Print...

The magazine of choice for those who swang is growing up and headed to print this coming December.

Swing the Fly, while continuing their free online version, will be launching a quarterly print publication with extended content and features.

The word from the publisher that this is going to be coffee table quality, and the expanded photography section is going to be next level along with it being published in a environmental friendly manner

The best news is that 10% of your subscription fee will go directly to the Native Fish Society, The Atlantic Salmon Federation and my conservation group of choice, the Wild Steelhead Coalition

Seriously, if you're into it....get signed up as you wont be disappointed..

Read more about the full announcement via Swing the Fly's BLOG

Get all signed up by clicking HERE

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Flotilla of Hope...

Sitting on the shore with my two boys, 200+ boats of all shapes and sizes begin the flotilla up to Lower Granite Dam was an inherently emotional and impressive sight.

Yesterday's #FreetheSnake Flotilla on the Snake River was a smashing success.  Organizers came together and put on a flawless event that was full of logistical challenges and safety concerns

The end game of dam removal is going to be a huge, long, drawn out and contentious political process but this event and it's participants were a clear message to all involved.  They mean business.

Dozens of different stakeholders.  Organizations, Native Tribes and everyday people alike.   All saying the same thing.

It's Time.  Let the Snake River run free.

Stay involved, via Free The Snake's web site and their Facebook Page

Friday, October 2, 2015

Land, Water, Conservation....and Washington DC

The last 72 hours were a bit, aaaah, crazy.

I was fortunate to join Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in their Washington D.C. fly in to help support the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

It was a on the fly education in the processes of the capital, the intense give and take of the political game, and finding hope for our purpose

The long and the short of it, government had till September 30th to reauthorize the historic, 50+ year old fund that takes money from offshore oil and gas leases and puts it back into conservation, access, and just about anything that helps to enhance the outdoor experience.  Think sportsmans easements, walking trails and ballfields.  It's that varied, and the fund has effected just about every county in the country at one time or another

As guessed, the bill was killed in the political game of parties and political rhetoric.   But not all hope was lost, as Congress passed a continuing resolution to avoid government shutdown and maintain current funding levels for 2 months in the effort to get their ducks in a row.

What was really remarkable was watching the impact that our team's presence had, even in the one day of lobbying for our cause.   Washington's senators all are tremendous backers of getting the fund reauthorized, and there appears to be broad based bipartisan support to make it happen.    From our USDA breakfast at 645am to our last meeting, we saw what our meetings did.  Senator after senator took to the floor of the senate and spoke passionately about what the LWCF means to them.   Former foes turned into allies.  Yes, the fund didnt get the authorization, but the Washington political machine was turning the right way

And due to the continuing resolution,  lets hope that the LWCF moves to authorization and eventually authorization into perpetuity.

So my 72 hours in Washington was an education on the run.   Get up to speed, and fast.   It's fired me up to continue to work to further conservation efforts from the smallest event to maybe another trip to the capital.  Who knows, but what I have realized, is that unless you get in the're letting the other side win

Friday, September 25, 2015

When Your Number Is Called...

When the fish picked up the fly, it was a subtle tip tap....and thump.

Something was up, it wasnt doing what a steelhead normally does, that first initial surge wasnt there. It casually took it's time and took a pile of line with it out to the middle of the river and just sat there and wallowed.

If I was a betting man, I would have bet the house that this was a chinook.   I couldnt move it and when I did, it just went right back in the middle of the current and gave me the middle fin.

10 pound test maxima has it's limits, and the amount of pressure I put on the fish to check it's surges and runs was about there.  Still the thing was, it was a chinook.  Unintended bi-catch that while cool, it wasn't the intended quarry.

My fishing partners began to lament the time it was taking me to land this fish.  "Put the nuts to em" "Come on, get it did already"  We shared the same feeling that this was a salmon so no real pressure was felt.

Until it came in a little closer, rolled and the red strip of a massive B-Run buck indicated to us we had ourselves a full on level 10 situation.  A full on 2 foot jump confirmed that this was no salmon

When you have to that point the fish of your life on the line, things get a, tight.    The talking got all type of serious and you could feel the pressure in the air.

Three times the buck came in to the shallows and appeared ready to be tailed, only to run out to the middle to sulk again.  I was ready for the hook to pull, as a fish like this doesnt give up the goods easily

Finally, head up on top sliding to the shore OMR grabbed it's tail and we all stood there speechless

It was a true giant of the species.

After a quick revival, we sent him on his way.  When your numbers called, enjoy it, and put it away in the memory bank to light up your days for years to come.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

#FreetheSnake Flotilla October 3rd

If you're an advocate for the Snake River, there's a hell of an event you should be a part of

Join Save Our Wild Salmon, Friends of the Clearwater and a host of other conservation groups October 3rd at the Wawawai Landing on the Snake starting at 8am for the Free the Snake Flotilla.

You'll be a part of sending a message to government that these dams have outlived their purpose and there's far more to gain by letting these rivers behave as they are meant to.

The Snake is such an amazing river.  So much productivity lost but we have the ability to regain it.

Get more info on the Snake River Flotilla FB page. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

OMR's Secret Sauce...

You may have wondered why he catches so many fish on the swing?

And if you believe that, I have oceanfront property in Idaho I'll let go for really, really cheap.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The FayClave Returns...

Has it really been five years?  This weekend commences the 5th annual Fay Clave in, this time in honor of OMR's 75th birthday.

Again we'll be on the lower Clearwater in hopes of meeting a few fish, and celebrating a guy who keeps on trucking, paying no attention to creaky bones and hearing loss.

What excites me the most is the quick and deep progression into steelhead rabbit hole we have all fallen.  We picked up the spey rods 6 years ago with nary a clue.  Now look at us and we're full on steelhead dirtbags.

So if you're on the river this weekend, come share a story and a beer.  We'll be happy to have you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

10 Observations From The Blind

You dont turn down offers to go early season goose hunting with some of the best young waterfowlers in the region.  Do what you have to do and be at the meeting point at 4am, regardless of what you're doing the night before.

Well in my case I was sitting at a charity benefit, sans federal waterfowl stamp when the call came in.  Thankfully the state of Washington makes it easy by not participating in the online purchase of said stamp but I scrambled and found a retailer at the last minute that gave me the paperwork to make me legal

I should have cut down the alcohol consumption and went to bed early.  I should have gotten a good nights rest.

Meh, midnight sounds about right for bedtime, especially with a 315am wake up call

Well by shooting light our group was positioned in the field, decoys out and brushed up in our layout blinds

The shooting turned out to be a bit slow, but we had a great time.  Here are 10 observations from the blind from this great morning afield

1.  Dick and fart jokes are universal.  They help bond guys who dont really know each other quickly

2.  I've realized that waterfowlers and steelhead fisherman are very alike.  Obsessed.

3.  3 hours of sleep works a hell of a lot bettter at 22 years old than 34.

4.  6 guys in close proximity creates a lot of methane gas

5.  Laying down in the bling with the doors covered waiting for the geese to work your spread, waiting for the "take em" call is like waiting for your parents to tell you it's time to open your presents on Christmas morning

6.  Steel shot sucks

7.  Geese are massive.  Really really big creatures.

8.  Listening to 19-22 year old dudes talk about their escapades is pure comedy.  I can only imagine what I would have sounded like at that age.

9.  The notes that can come out of a goose call by one guy is just ridiculous.  Just amazing.

10.  Oh great, I found another activity in the fall that I really like.

A big thanks to the guys who invited me in to their group for the early season hunt.  I hope to join you again as the fall progresses and the northern birds make their presence known

Until then, honk on!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When the Season Really Begins...

The fish slashed across the surface and crushed my skated dry fly like a killer whale chasing a school of salmon

Hyperbole aside, the rise was so sudden and violent that the white belly of steelhead is all I can really say I saw before the line was tight and the fight was on.

There's all sorts of build up for the season.  Watching damn counts.  Tying fly after fly.

It really doesn't start till that line burns away from the reel and your giggling like a child

And when you're on the board, all you can think about is when you get the chance to try again.

Monday, September 7, 2015

From Vice To Fish...

Photo Credit--Jedi Chou.

The text comes in an instantly I am jacked.

The fly didnt last 5 minutes before getting wrecked!  Oh and BTW, your fly caught this fish behind a bait and a hardware guy

You never really know if a a vice creation has the juice.  It may say yes in hand, but something changes on the water and it just doesn't get the job done.

Its an eye opener when this was the first fly that came through after more "effective" techniques came through the pool and were blanked.   You dont expect a fly, let alone a skater , to get smashed after the egg and spoon rides through guns blazing.

Boom.  The data backs up the theory.  Now back to the vice to make more to send out to other beta testers to gather more data.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

#PublicLandsProud Continues

Every once and a while, the sun shines on the ....

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and their #PublicLandsProud social media campaign picked a shot of mine for their initial winner of the contest.

Really, this hack can win?  That means anyone can win.

Over the next 3 months, TRCP and the #PublicLandsProud initiative will be running 5 separate contests and the winner of each will be win a pair of Costa Sunglasses to up your sunwear game.

And they are....

Aug. 26 – Sept. 8: Fishing

Sept. 9 – 27: Scenery

Sept. 28 – Oct. 18: Upland bird

Oct. 19 – Nov. 8: Dogs

Nov. 9 – 23: Big-game

Boil it down and public access is the base element to everyone's outdoor enjoyment.  Think about dont have to be mega rich, you dont have to have land and title to hunt, you dont have to own a river or a lake.  We are in a county that gives us more outdoor access than any other and the TRCP is behind us guaranteeing our outdoor rights now and for future generations

Ever walk on a piece of CRP grassland, hunt on BLM land,  fished a river via a sportsman's access.....then you should be #publiclandsproud

So through November 23rd, tag your social media posts with #publiclandsproud and cross your fingers.  Good luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Just A Pretty One...

Just a hell of a bow from a Western Montana stream this summer.   No major prose needed, a beauty in itself.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Romantic Notions of Salmon Fishing

The romantic mental picture of fly fishing for salmon

The Duwamish River is not that.

Jets overhead, the backup noises of semi trucks, strange industrial smells all wrapped together in the midst of a superfund site where $342 million bucks are being applied to clean up the mess of decades past.

Still, when dozens of schools of pink salmon cross your path, it's impossible to not get excited.

It speaks to the amazing ability for salmon to continue in the face of such muck and slime.   Millions will pass through the Puget Sound and along with that, thousands of anglers will chase them

Like our 4 fly fisherman in the midst of buzz bombers.  Just a bunch of buddies out at dawn looking for a pull or two.   So maybe the romantic notion of fly fishing for salmon exists.   The setting may not be pretty, but the chase remains the same.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beach Dawn Patrol...

You can add Puget Sound beaches as another beautiful place to watch the sun comes up. Especially awesome is watching a coho crush your fishing partner's popper at his feet

What a morning....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What Constitutes A New Fly...

What constitutes a new fly?

When I sit down at the tying bench, I often times just let it come to me.  This little pattern of which I'll call the "Roadrunner" was an amalgamation of many different flies I have seen and fished with.

But really, is it new?

The real answer, the honest answer is that it's probably not.  There's only so many ways a person can affix fur and feather to a hook and call it new.  Everything is a variation of a variation of a variation.   Open an Umpqua, MFC or  any other fly company catalog that comes along and what is new is just a change up of something from the past.

But dont get discouraged.

If everyone did tie the same things and nothing changed, it gets real boring, really fast.    The variations that the talented tiers come up with are works of art that catch fish.   I am always excited to stretch my abilities and try to come up with something "new"

In this case, the "Roadrunner" is a little skater for steel that brought in elements of a Ska-Opper, a Muddler and a different hook that most arent using in this application.   The first time on the water and this little guy jams across the water, chugs when i want it to and I am sure will draw a savage strike in the near future.

Again, is it new?

We'll let the fish decide.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Smolt Juke...

Here we are yet again, staring at dam counts and wishing this year's run of steelhead would hurry up and get here.

Sitting in the first run of the day, expectations were high.  "It only takes one" we jokingly repeated to each other knowing that really we were searching for needles in a gigantic haystack.

You can only stare at your line as it swings through the current until you start seeing and feeling things.

"Was that a bulge under my fly?"  "Yes, that was a tap on the bug, yes!"

Really nothing's happening.  I am just wishing it was.

But then you get the familiar tap, tap, tap of a fish tracking the bug. it, be it!

Fish for steelhead long enough and you'll understand quickly that you cant judge the fish by the size of a rise or pull on the bug.  Every single one is so varied that you have to just let it play out.

Back on the hunt, and the taps continue through mid swing.  In the last bit of arc I dropped my loop and waited the impossible 2 seconds before I lifted the rod.

The 10 inch smolt rocked out of the water just like it's much bigger cousins would do later in the year.    You have to laugh at and also respect a fish that can gives it their all, even though it's much, much, much smaller than you would have hoped.

6 times it jumped as it completed its full on juke of my emotions and 4 more times that exact scenario played out on our first trip of the year.

Thanks for the emotional roller coaster, I appreciate it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

When The Gas Light Goes On.

It was a classic "get to excited and forget to" moment.

For months we've been looking forward to the first steelhead trip of the year.  The night before I had the truck packed....rods, reels, food, beer, and about a billion flies.  I met my buddy at the designated spot at 4am and we were jacked to hit the road.

Speaking of that road.  It winds through Palouse country and at 4am, lets just say there's not a lot of services available.  I looked down and checked my speed and oh sheet....the gas light is on.

A quick gage check tells me I have 12 miles of fuel left and about 20 miles to the next known gas station.  Nothing like being an idiot, forgetting to buy gas to seriously delay your first day on the river

We were almost to a half horse town my buddy and I had passed a million times over the years but both though there wasnt a gas station.

Oh what the hell, lets check it out.

As suspected, the fill up station didnt have a card lock and wouldnt be open for hours.  After a few choice words by myself, we pressed on through town to the highway reconnect...

I see another gas station that looked like it was from 1955 and dejectedly I drove buy it but holy out of no where does my buddy see a ancient debit card lock on the pump.

Saved in a half horse town by what maybe the first 24 hour filling station in the history of humans.

Shoot, even the pump had the gallon and price counter on the rolling numbers.  It was awesome

Needless to say, we thanked our lucky stars and continued on with our trip, laughing at our luck.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Steelhead Changeover....

All tippets, gone and put away.

Lightening bugs, hares ears, pats stones, pmds, chubby chernobyls, caddis....bye bye

Shhhhhhhh, 9 foot tapered leaders, Lamson 1.5 and 2s.  Night night chronomids and seal buggers.

Happy resting thingamabobbers and lanyards.  See you all in April 2016.

Oh hey, how you doing Hardy?

Welcome back scandi and skagit.  We've missed you.

Ska-Oppers, Muddlers, traditionals.  Hells yes

Maxima, glorious maxima.  I love you in all your 8, 10 and 12 pound varieties

Amnesia, polyleaders, even big winter swing bugs.  Come on down.

Game over trout.  Game on Steelhead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

KEEPEMWET Goes Live...

Photo Credit-Brian Bennett

The official KeepEmWet site is now live.

The movement for better fish handling practices has been gaining momentum over the past couple of years.   The science proves that the more care we put in towards lessening air exposure,  the better the fish will fair after they are caught.

Truthfully, fishing is a blood sport and after it all stacks up, there will be some that dont live to fight another day.  But....if you intend to release a fish, why not do what you can to give it a fighting chance.  Pun intended.

Check out the 3 Guiding Principals as well as their overall Ethos.....hell why not check out the whole site.

Its not about not taking pictures.  It's not about casting stones on those who's pictures you dont agree with.  It's about a proactive approach to furthering ones conservation of the resource.

#keepemwet !!

Friday, August 7, 2015

At The Get Out...

The raft hit the beach with the familiar crunch of gravel that signaled the end of the day.

Damn, it's over.  A bit of melancholy mixed with deep and profound happiness of a great day on the water.  

The put-in is full of nervous excitement.....lets get the boat in the water and roll.  Oh shit, did we get the cooler?

Mid way through the day, you begin to recognize the end is on its way.  No matter the weather and or fishing conditions, its tough to see the day end when the finish point is in sight.

The only good part of the get out?  Planning your next trip on the drive home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wrapping with the Jedis

I sat down the other day at the vice with the goal of twisting up some steelhead muddlers.

Lets just say the first ones off the production line probably wont see the light of day.   You can stare at pictures online all day in the effort to get better results,  but advancing from "ugh" to "hells yes" seems to always come from super subtle hints from the jedi wrappers that I call my friends

I have to imagine these guys, and you know who you are, were at one time in the same situation I was and they had someone help them out and now they're passing the info down the line.    That's what I love about the nature of our sport and craft.  Learn and then teach.  It's the only way.

With regard to these steelhead muddlers, the difference was made in a few subtle but very key tips.  The type of hair is critical.  What I was trimming the deer hair was all wrong.  The number of clumps of hair made all the difference.  (think less than 2).  These small hints jumped my bugs from the oh hell no category into yep, I am going to fish that with confidence land.

And without confidence in the bug, you're never going to catch a thing.

So thank you my Jedi wrapping friends out there.  Thanks so much for the tips and I hope to pass the knowledge down the line in good time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Celebration of Wild Steelhead Ver 2.0

This year, it's going to be bigger.  Much Bigger.

September 13th and 14th at McCoy Park in Portland its on.    Soul River continues to bring more and more to our sport, especially when it comes to introducing more new faces to the crowd.

More info about the event

Once again, Soul River is delivering another fly fishing extravaganza to the city. Bring the Soul we'll bring the river to you. The Celebration of Wild Steelhead! Spreading knowledge of Mother Nature and the art of fly fishing to your community. Armed with the goal of introducing youth and veterans to the positive experience of fly fishing along with the funk and soul of Speaker Minds this will be an event that can't be missed.

This event will not only celebrate the iconic wild steelhead of the Pacific Northwest, but also build upon strong community ties and raise awareness of conservation, fly fishing, and local arts in an all ages, accessible, friendly atmosphere. Like always, this event is FREE and along with our sponsors, we will be giving out 200 free fly rod packages to the first 200 youth in attendance. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the experience, and embrace the Celebration of Wild Steelhead!

Come learn.  Come cast.  Come tell lies like fishermen do. 

Come learn about conservation.  Most of all, come have fun.

Learn more about the event HERE.