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.