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.