Monday, March 30, 2015

Sage Salt Review...

Fish that live in tropical salt water seem like they're dipped in rocket fuel and given a case of redbull before they eat.

Needless to say,  the gear you need to fish for them are a slight step up from your every day 5wt.

Before my recent trip to the East Coast of Mexico, I was given the opportunity to test drive this set up

Rod--Sage Salt 10 wt.

Reel-- Sage 6000 Series 10 wt.

Line--RIO Outbound Tropical Short 9 wt. 

My other salt experiences centered mostly around bonefish and tarpon, so this deal of standing on a beach getting pounded by the waves with a what other fishermen considered a "silly little stick" felt a bit daunting

The third morning I was absolutely trucked by this Jack in the picture above.  It proved to be my only fish from the beach on this family vacation but it gave me a solid feel of this rod reel and line combo

Spoiler alert-- Holy Shit.

Here are my top observations 

1.  The ocean is daunting, so you end up blind casting a ton when you dont have birds or surface activity. The 10 wt Salt felt like a 7 in hand, but has a ton of backbone.  Casting fatigue was limited which helps a ton

2.  The line combo was perfect.  One of my Jedi salt fly fishing buddies recommended to size down on the RIO Outbound as the 10 wt line was too much for the 10wt rod.  Very true.  I could see how the additional 50 grains from the 9 to the 10 could throw this set up off.

3.  Without a good reel, you're not going to stop these fish.  Seriously.  The 6000 series was set to the nuts when the Jack took it's runs and it still did everything it wanted to and then some.  That's no detraction from the reel as I don't think there's a reel out there that can do much better.  The test is that after the big time runs, is the reel functional and in once piece.  Don't bring a plastic reel to Mexico, just don't.  Bring the big guns as you're going after fish that potentially are in that "lifetime" category

4. Solid side note.  If you're going to Pacific side of Mexico, consider bringing a stripping basket.
The only consistent issues I had was in battling the surf, the line would wrap around my legs and detract big time from casting distance.   A couple of times I had moving bait balls rolling by me and I'd get one good cast into the school only to be followed by the line into my toes and my ankles.  In an instance, the bait fish and the subsequent ocean thugs that follow them were gone.

5.  Solid Side Note 2, practice before you go.  If you're normally a trout guy and a 8 weight is big, a 10 wt does take a big of getting used to.  Additionally, if you've never fished with shooting heads and you plan on using a line like this....make sure you know when you practice as to where the line loads the rod.  Being quick with the line and your casts often means everything when the fish are flying by you.  Double hauls are a must and the ability to go from nothing to a 60-80 foot cast is HUGE. Repeat, HUGE.

I felt a solid gear lovers twinge when I had to send these items back.  Fishing with this set up for 10 days made me realize even more than I already knew that solid fly rods, reels and appropriate lines mean the world when your standing in front of a large ocean and waving a silly little stick

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bums, Joggers, Rebar and a River

Wanderlust, urban exploration, whatever it was I couldn't drive over the bridge one more time and look upriver and ignore this stretch of my hometown river.

This river has it's A+ stretches where it doesn't seem possible you're 5 minutes from a Starbucks, but there's just as many where your as likely to encounter a homeless encampment as a rising Redband trout.  It's got a troubled past when residents avoided it like a disease.  Smelly, raw sewage, trash, and was treated like the red headed stepchild of the city

Like many other urban centers across this country, the river's that flow through hundreds of thousands of people's backyards are starting to get their due.  They're centers for urban revitalization, civic pride and for us fishing degenerates,  improving areas to toss bugs.

Our city mascot, the marmots scurried underfoot as I found more and more places to fish that were a hundred yards or so from the busiest street in town.  The fish on the other hand weren't very cooperative as we are in the middle of runoff.   Pieces of rebar and concrete wire mesh darted out from the urban mess on the banks but just off the shore, the seams and troughs looked just like a place where a fat fish would hide under the right conditions.   You just have to time your casts to avoid snagging a jogger decked out in neon.

It's a gritty river in this stretch.  The voices of the past before development are still there, reminding us of what a great asset it is for our city.    Ducks and geese poured in from overhead, beavers worked the banks, herons stalked the shallows and if my guess holds true, wild trout swim in the currents impervious to the 500,000 people living around them.

Get more info on this river in recovery by clicking HERE

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Heart of Spokane...

Heart Connections from Kimbo on Vimeo.

I cant be more excited about how the Spokane River community is taking more and more action to restore the lifeblood of our town.  

The river needs more advocates.  Advocates are the voices of restoration.  More restoration means more fish and a healthy river.  Win, win, win.

Get more info about the Spokane River Forum by clicking HERE

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Other Pictures...

Sometimes the best shots have zero fish in them.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fish In A Barrel...

It was full on next level deja vu.

The yearly outdoor show was back in town and Big C and I were staring at a bathtub full of trout. Remembering being C's age and the fish being intoxicating.  There was nothing more I wanted to do was to do that make one of those nasty, smelly, hatchery trout mine.

OMR wanted nothing to do with it, but always obliged.    Fuel for the fire.

So here I am, 30 years later watching C uncontrollably giggle when we pulled a few fish out.    Extremely excited, he was.

Maybe he will have the same experience 30 years down the road.  Who knows, but it's one I will remember for more than 30 years.  I'll remember it for the rest of my life

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Outdoor Anxiety...

I am a world class worrier.

This post has been a long time coming, something I have been thinking about for a while but have had a tough time putting down into form.

Anxiety isnt something guys are supposed to admit to.  We're men of the outdoors, hike up a trail kill a deer drag it out kind of guys....float 20 miles of a wilderness river and think nothing of it kind of guys.  Etc, Etc. Etc.

But sometimes, my anxiety gets the best of me and it's hard to enjoy god's outdoor splendor

Given a solid family history of worry, I know I had it coming and looking back, anxiety has manifested itself in different places in my life.   College baseball, relationships and more have all been affected.

It's terrifying when OMR is late returning from a solo outdoor trip

I have a tough time when on a multi boat trip down a river when I cant see the other boat.  They've flipped, obviously...right

Deer hunting sucks when you separate to cover more ground

Etc, Etc, Etc.

The weird thing is never about me.  It's about others, always.  Call it a mother hen mentality but for some reason the feeling of making sure everyone is alright is a tough one to shake.  Im not hunting and fishing with dumb, unprepared people.  Most are better outdoorsmen than me

What it my compelling need to feel in-control.  The paradox is that the more I try to control things....alter other's plans to curb my anxiety for instance, the less control I actually have.

Weird, right?

These feelings don't happen every trip.  Sometimes I'll go months without even a twinge of anxiety.

Then all of a sudden I'll be 5 days from a trip and all I can think about are worse case scenarios.

Very frustrating.

So the question then becomes, why am I writing this?  Why the dumping of feelings and emotions on my readers.

Because I know in my heart of hearts that there's many guys and gals out there who feel the same way.  There's a solace in knowing you're not the only one who can feel a certain way, even if it's something which can feel so trivial but so terrifying in the same breath.  

How am I working on this part of my life?    I'll tell you

Find a great counselor.   How the heavens linked me up with a person who also fly fishes is mystery, but my therapist loves to toss a fly.

Have open conversations.  Dont suffer your feelings in silence.  Tell your wife, husband, partner, and most importantly your outdoor companions.  You'll be surprised that sometimes, the people you're with on the river and woods are very emphatic and helpful.  If they're not.....well, maybe you need a new fishing buddy.   The more open I am about this to others, the more cathartic it becomes.  Drop the macho BS and talk about it.

Read.  Dr. Wayne Dyer, the Bible and Eckart Tole have been great for me in settling the mind

Practice seeing the best case scenario, not the worst.  99.9% of the time, the worst case never happens.  Think on that a bit.

Did I mention it's beneficial to talk about it?

If you feel like you're in the same boat, feel free to drop me a line.  I am as open as I can be about this subject in my life and since I have become this way....the easier it becomes to deal with it when it comes up

Remember, you're not the only one who feels this way.  There's thousands and thousands and thousands who deal with the same issues.  The beautiful thing is that anxiety issues is cureable and manageable, and I am on my way back up the hill myself at this moment.

So it's time to practice what I preach.  I have a float on a new river in 5 days.  I'll do my due diligence,  my research and then I'm going to drop the boat in the water, get on the sticks and let the day happen.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trout Bugs For FFC...

It's time to round up your bugs and donate to the Fly Fishing Collaborative.

2014 was a fantastic year for the FFC,  teaming up with many guides, bug wrappers and other supporters to raise enough money to build a self sustaining talapia and produce farm in Thailand.   This farm will allow the orphanage to take up to 160 more children in and out of human trafficking and sex slavery.

2015 has the FFC planning on building two more talapia farms, but their encountering a new problem....

The internet has found them.  Numerous web sites have picked them up and demand for their fly wallets is outpacing their ability to fill them with flies

It's a good problem to have, but if you're good on the vice, you have the opportunity to donate your flies and become part of the solution

Two problems really, helping fulfill the demand and bring more children in the impoverished out of sex slavery and human trafficking.

Live beyond just fishing, and turn your passion into great social justice.

Click HERE to get in contact with the FFC.   Trout bugs are in high demand....dry flies, nymphs and streamers to create trout fly wallets.    Salmon and steelhead flies will always be gratefully accepted, but as the FFC grows outside of the Northwest, the need for non-anadromous flies is growing exponentially.

Now gets to wrapping!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Things More Interesting Than Fishing...

A couple hours at a local lake and a long list of things more interesting than fishing were discovered by Big C

Rocks, more rocks, throwing of rocks, sticks, breaking sticks, throwing sticks, trails, weeds that look like lettuce, bugs, smooshing the bugs, cows, cow poop.

Climbing rocks, pinecones, throwing pinecones at OMR and into the lake, ducks, birds, all the birds, seaweed, fire-rings, mysterious trash, old bottle caps, deer poop and a loose duck feather.

That's 24 things more interesting than hooking a fish.

It didnt matter, three generations of Mills boys standing near a lake and having a good time.  The fish and fishing will come in good time.   The quality time was and is unsurpassed in it's importance

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When in Rome....

Rigidity in technique has zero place in the open ocean.  A stiff wind, confused seas and a captain who's a legend in inshore fishing.....means you open up the playbook

Casting these things took a bit of getting used to.  3-5 ounces a piece on a massive casting rod equals a learning curve.  Non the less after about 5 minutes we had casts arching far into the sky and splashing down on the waves.

I was expecting to get crushed every time but something was up.  A change in current took the bait away the previous week and our targets werent interested in what we were throwing.

But hey, look.  Check out the middle plug, it's got a fly on it!

So when in Rome, open up the game plan and have fun

Monday, March 2, 2015

Slammed by a Jack...

They said, look for the birds.  The fish will be there.

Ok, no birds.  Now what?

You can watch Running Down the Man and think you have a clue but really, it's a whole new ballgame for this steelhead junkie

Being the eternal optimist, I figured something would be swimming along and if time, opportunity and luck came together, I'd find pay dirt

But seriously, when you're standing on the beach getting pounded by waves for a couple days, blind casting up and down the sand, you begin to doubt the effectiveness of what you're doing.

Couple that with the long stares you get from the other fisherman with their gigantic surf rods, I felt a bit  under-gunned

Each time I'd come back to the condo the family would ask things like "nothing again?" and I'd utter some stupid fishing maxim like "it's fun just trying".   Really though, I was getting frustrated.  Each wave came slamming in taking my line all around my feet and legs, making casting a bitch.  Next trip I now know that stripping baskets are a full on must.  MUST HAVE.

On the 4th day of the trip, I woke up before everyone and contemplated not going out for the morning session.    The bed was really comfy and last night's beers and tequila shots were still buzzing around my head.

Oh hell, get yourself up.  You're only in Mexico so long

I began the routine of the previous mornings.  Stare out into open sea, guess a spot and start casting.

On the second cast, no more than 30 feet out, I got dumptrucked by this ocean thug of a Jack

I yelled and hollered so much the neighbors and the rest of my family thought I was in trouble.  The 10 weight was to the cork and even with the reel dead set to the nuts, this fish was doing anything it wanted to do.  Clearly I was hanging on for dear life

After about 15 minutes of slugging it out and not knowing up till that point what I had on, a wave crested and in the brief moment when you can look into the window of the wave, the massive jack swam by.  At that point, my brother in law was there to help land the fish and we both uttered


Somehow the 20lb leader and fly held in the corner of the mouth and as the fish breached one more wave, my brother in law pounced on it.

My mind was telling me 25 pounds, but it's probably more like 15.  I didnt care, a rabbit was pulled out of the ocean's hat

I think that this surf fishing's going to have a spot on my roster of things to do for a long, long time.