Friday, December 29, 2017

Book with Confluence Guide Service

Want to fish with a steelhead guide that's not about the numbers, but about the experience?

Then Mark Shamburg and Confluence Guide Service is your guy.

For years Mark has produced some of the finest bench made classic click pawl reels and bamboo spey rods available, and now he's going full force into guiding the waters around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Booking with Mark will give you the chance to swing flies well to the best that wild steelhead have to offer.   He's a teacher at heart, a technician at the art of steelhead and you'll absolutely love your day spent in his boat as you float down world class steelhead water

The wild steelhead of the Olympic Peninsula are our last best stocks in the lower 48, but at the same time are in peril from a death of a thousand cuts.   Mark will show you how to really enjoy your day while giving you a picture of the issues in fish conservation we're fighting for.

 If you want to catch 10 fish in a day, this isn't the trip for you.

My guess is through your experience with Mark, you'll be jumping at the chance to help in the world of anadromous fish conservation.

There isnt a feeling in the world when a fish coming in on the tide the day before tears off downriver with your fly in it's mouth.   So if you're looking for a guide to show you the way, contact Mark today.  There are but few dates still available for the 2018 winter season, get on it!

I'll dangle this little offer out there as well.  First person to book with Mark for this season after reading this will get a 6 pack of my steelhead bugs to go with your trip.

Maybe something like this will have a big ol buck chase it down for you.

In any event, give Mark a shot.

Get all your information today at Confluence Guide Service. web site.

Friday, December 22, 2017

From The Pheasant Fields...

Aside of being knee deep in a steelhead river, pheasant hunting occupies a great deal of my mind.  It was my first real love in the outdoors.  The routine of the day, the ways the dogs worked, the feeling of elation when a shot connected and disgust of a miss.  Good bird years balanced with bad bird years.  Easy opening days and grinding out 1 bird days at the end of a season

I loved it all.

Here are some of my favorite shots from this year's season.  Another 3 weeks to go and a few more miles to hike before the closing bell.

Thanks for coming along for the ride....

Monday, December 18, 2017

Skylines Podcast from Bryan Huskey...

Some of my best memories in hunting and fishing revolve around stories.

The shots missed, the bucks taken, the fish lost and landed and everything that wrapped around them.  Part of the mythology and draw to these sports can be found around a campfire listening to the recounting of special events when wandering around the wild lands of the west.

Better than any book, these stories are told over and over again passing along the oral history and traditions that make up one hell of a life.

With that, Bryan Huskey of Fishbite Media and originator of the KEEPEMWET campaign has launched a new podcast that's going to make you feel like you were right there in the thick of it, putting a stock on a mule deer or shaken with frustration in trailing a wounded elk

The 2017 Rut Report is flat out amazing and details the lows and eventual highs of this year's archery elk season and I really loved "A Win For Dad" as it feels so similar to my experiences hunting with my father.

I highly suggest you check out the Skylines Podcast series and become part of the stories that Bryan so artfully tells


Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Dog...

A steelhead river.

A dog and stick, throw after throw

Tired dog, no fish.

(damn poetic, if I do say so myself)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bend Fly Shop...

You know when you walk in the door of a killer fly shop, you can feel it?

These guys get it....

That's exactly what I felt when I stopped into the brand new fly shop in Bend, OR....The Bend Fly Shop, run by veteran guide Chris Odonnell

Opening just weeks ago, Chris and his wife have created a space that oozes class and has a second level upstairs that I am very, very excited about.

From years and years as a full time guide and owner of River Runner Outfitters, Chris has created a Shangri-La of steelhead fly tying materials and components that makes a fly tying junkie like myself a very, very happy man.

The day I stopped in they were just getting settled with the boxes and boxes killer materials, the best of the best  from each manufacturer that will allow the feather jockeys out there to create some great bugs.

If you find yourself in Bend, go check them out and in the meantime, watch their web site to see the shop grow and if you're looking for a guide on the Deschutes in the summer and fall or the North Oregon Coast in the winter, drop Chris a line HERE

Monday, December 4, 2017

Never Trust The Dude In The Vest...

The running joke in my fishing crew is that I never trust a guy in a fishing vest.

Again, it's a joke....

But Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke is doing his best to reinforce the joke as truth. 

For the first time in 106 years, our government is reducing a federal national monument.....thanks to Trump and his public lands henchman, Ryan Zinke

At one time, I sat across the table from him and listened to him extoll the virtues of public lands and I believed him.

Today, I am disgusted by the reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante.

Shame on you Utah

Shame on you Zinke

Take a read to this insightful article from Outside Magazine, and here's a great section that really tells the truth on the fraud that Zinke is....

3 lawsuits filed already today to block this action.  Saddle up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Scenes From The Steelhead Road...

I came in the door to eat, have a beer and warm up from a Deschutes River baptism....

I turned around and just started giggling

The Rainbow Tavern in Maupin, OR.  has invariably had to have had a few conversations regarding customers going outside with a beer in their hand.

This sign leaves no ambiguity, and I love it.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Boggans Burns To The Ground

It doesnt seem real

We were on another river chasing steelhead when we ran into a friend who immediately said...

"Boggans burned to the ground last night"

What the...

When our phones hit cell service the news was all across social media.  About 11pm on Saturday night the fire started and the iconic respit of weary travelers, river runners and steelhead junkies went down in flames. 


It flat out made me sick and doesnt feel real.  There for decades after decades, I myself had been going there for close to 18 years and began my steelhead journey right in that very spot.  I caught my first fish just around the corner from there and celebrated with a gigantic milkshake that the cafe was known for.


There's been so many times that we've wearily walked into the cafe before sunrise with it bustling with activity, full of would be anglers amped up on coffee and breakfast from Farrel's grill, waiting to meet their guides for the day.  Those morning pulsed with an energy like nowhere else

We've listened to ranchers talk about the cow business.  It was the first and only place I saw a real, legit cowboy walk in with sheepskin chaps and real actual spurs connected to his boots

So many shuttles paid for and received from.   Metric tons of steelhead and angling stories told.

We all felt Bill an Farrel's time was limited in the canyon as owners and operators of Boggans, but each year would turn and there they were continuing on the hard life of operating the oasis in the middle of nowhere.  Bill recovered from his horrific stroke a few years back and his classic sharpness and whit was right where it needed to be.  Farrel's smile was always looking back at you from the grill or the register.

Father time just kept marching on and the couple just kept opening their doors

It was like a given as the sun comes up.

That given, that sure thing is now gone.

It doesnt seem real, but it is. 

Goodnight Boggans Oasis

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

From Field To Fish

From field to fish, and the steps in between. 

Get out there and enjoy your time outside in the dirt and water.

Monday, November 6, 2017

DIY Waterfowl Bucket List in Montana

Looking for a place to go in Montana that's loaded with Geese and other waterfowl?

A place that you can do it D.I.Y. style?

I found your spot

PR Country Comforts in Forsyth, Montana.  Get there, 2018 dates are still available

My good buddy and all around elk killer Drew and his family run this working ranch that also doubles as an amazing waterfowl retreat.

Just off the Yellowstone river, the ranch is close to thousands of birds, both resident and the migratory honkers as they descend from Canada.

You can harvest up to 5 birds per day, the ranch is super affordable at just $56 bucks a night with a $200 minimum.  With that they have two full trailers full of blinds and decoys so you can travel light out to Montana to hunt.

Side note, if the weather is right it might be the perfect place to make a cast and blast trip.  The Big Horn River is just 2 hours away.  Limit out and then go fishing!

The more time I spend in a ground blind in Eastern Washington, listening to the birds circle overhead and my buddies call them in, the more I want to make this trip.  Hopefully it will happen soon

Get more info at PR Country Comfort's web site

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Fly Tapes...

This podcast has soul baby...

Fly fishing has some of amazing storytellers out there, and Jason Rolfe from Syzygy Fly Fishing has been doing a killer job of bringing the best of the best together over the last couple years with his Writers On The Fly Events

Now he's taken it a step further and given us the opportunity to hear from these great writers anytime we want with The Fly Tapes podcast series.

The first two sessions feature Dylan Tomine, who personally is one of my hero's in conservation and writing.  His book Closer To The Ground awoke in me a higher sense of connecting my outdoor activities to my plate and bringing my children along in a life that includes hunting, fishing, foraging and a lot less "screen time" if you know what I mean.

It's great content, give it a TRY

Lastly, the 2017 Writers On The Fly Cascadia Tour is coming up.  I highly suggest going to one of the live events if you can swing it

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cheap Sunglasses

Minutes after leaving Lewiston, I realized they were gone.  Crushed.  Rolled over by the back tired and splattered into a thousand tiny pieces

My new Costa sunglasses had inadvertently fallen out of the truck at a mid-trip rest stop and later we realized that the "pop" sound as we drove away wasn't a soda can, that was my glasses not standing up to the weight of a Nissan Titan.

Dejected, I went full ZZ Top and picked out some terribly cheap sunglasses at the last place I could acquire them before the fishing began.

I hate cheap sunglasses.

I really do.

The sun was in full effect and the glasses showed that 12 bucks was probably at least 11 dollars more than they cost to make.  I know, first world problems

Still, this isnt the first time this has happened to our fishing crew.  The same gas station sunnies produced a 3 fish day for a buddy who forgot his glasses at home

Maybe there is something to this in the world of karma?

Fifth or so cast into the first run and boom, a big time grab and go. 

10 minutes later, my muddler was slammed by this wild buck that took to the air 3 times

Ok then....

2 other grabs and one other hatchery fish to the bank for the day...

Maybe cheap sunglasses is where it's at?

God I hope not.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Our Two Hands West Coast Tour

One of the best films in steelhead and salmon conservation is coming to a town near you.

Our Two Hands from the creative team at Bloodknots is about to embark on a 8 city tour and if you're anywhere near any of those stops, I highly suggest you go.

Our Two Hands from BLOODKNOTS on Vimeo.

It's a beautiful film that gets to the point on how we're at the precipice of some irreversible damage to our foundational West Coast species and at the same time, offers hope to a new way to manage our resources

Link into the FB page of Bloodnots for event pages on each specific screening of the film

Additionally, the filmmakers have chosen the Wild Steelhead Coalition as a main benefactor of many of the stops on the tour.   They've done a amazing job at supporting wild fish conservation and a big thank you goes their way first for the film and second to supporting groups like the WSC.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spokane Anti-Pebble Mine Rally

This damn mine has more lives than 10 cats

Thanks to the morally corrupt administration and EPA head Scott Pruitt, the shuttered plans to create the biggest open pit mine are now alive again.  Yeah, that mine. 

The one that threatens the fishery in Bristol Bay. 

The ecosystem that 49 million salmon were sustainably harvested in last fishing season. 

The rivers and creeks that sustains dozens of lodges, jobs and fishing economy

The land and water that is sacred to local native groups who've roundly rejected the possibility of this mine

It turns out that a small gift has dropped in our lap, with Pebble Mine CEO John Shively will be in Spokane Tuesday afternoon speaking to a mining group and it's time to voice our opinion of his mine.

I've never been to Bristol Bay.  I've never fished the Kvichak, Naknek, Nushagak, or Alagnak, but I'll be damned to sit by on the sidelines knowing that they could be destroyed with this mine

As we've always said, it's the wrong mine in the worst possible place

So join Tuesday afternoon as we peacefully and respectfully voice our opinions at Shively's speech.  Directly after we will be showing Red Gold, the award winning documentary from Felt Soul Media that shows just what we stand to loose.

Here's the link to the FB EVENT, hope to see you Tuesday night.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

North 40 Emag Goes Big

The North 40 Fly Shops have really stepped up their game in their newest edition of their emag

Greg Thomas from Anglers Tonic has joined their team as editor in chief and you'll see some great content from George Cook,  Marty Shepard, David Moscowitz, Dave McCoy and others who have killer pieces

Take a peek at Moscowitz's piece on this year's periled Columbia River steelhead run.   It sheds great light on what's really going on.

All in all, it's full of flat out great content and photography.   Check it out.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Speak Up for Idaho Steelhead

A bit of your time is needed, pretty please.  TODAY.

If you fish for steelhead in Idaho, or in the Columbia/Snake/Clearwater drainages for that matter, you need to take action today to maintain this year's catch and release regulations on this year's terrible A and B run returns

A month ago, fishery managers in Idaho felt strongly enough that they proactively instituted a C and R  only season on the Clearwater and connecting basins.  Now that the run has been upgraded from apocalyptic to shitty, shitty, shitty.....they feel it's ok to open a catch and kill season

The biggest issue are the B-Run wild fish.  There's a tragic amount forecasted back to the Clearwater, some say less than 1200 wild fish.  In a state that continues to allow for barbs, bait and wild fish out of the water, the impact on the tiny amount of wild returns is far too great to allow for a catch and kill season

Opponents to the C and R season say that it's causing undo economic impact on the local communities.  People wont go unless they can take a fish home.

I call bullshit.  Run your trips C and R.  Sell the experience, show prudence in fish handling.  Teach anglers about what a unique resource we have and that this year needs extra TLC.

If we keep kicking the B Run fish in the nuts, they're going to go away.  Forever. 

In the meantime, we have exactly 1 day to get your voices to the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners.

Follow the link to submit your comments.  Keep the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake systems C and R this year.

Friday, October 6, 2017

When You Think Your Hot Stuff...

Well hell, didnt I think I was hot shit

Circa 2006 on a freezing day on the Grande Ronde.   There was icebergs rolling down the river and I was convinced that we weren't going to find anything that day

You'd make a cast and think your bugs were in the zone, only to find them sitting on a a chunk of frozen water.   It was a hell of a day.

Towards the end of the day, we sat on an island dejected.   Finally I looked up and noticed how the ice would pile up, giving you a brief moment to cast and sink the bugs.

I have to tell you, it's interesting to fight a big hatchery fish as it slices through the iceburgs

Extra points for the moose knuckle I'm sporting

We all have our past.  It's best to just look back and laugh.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bucket List Article...

I've read the Drake for a dozen or so years now, and I've always thought...

One day, one day....I'm going to be in that magazine.

A bucket list item of sorts, we all have to have our goals that drive our craft.  Weight lifters  and runners have their PRs,  steelhead fisherman who  search for that 40 inch buck, so on and so forth.

In the process of writing this piece on the Spokane River, what I really learned is that it's the community that you surround yourself with that will drive or hinder your development.  Like the 10 year old playing basketball with the junior high kids, I was fortunate to have the council of other great writers  and advisors that I look up to as this article took on it's final incarnation. 

The emails to fellow writers who suggested some great edits

The collaborators and photographers like Michael Visintainer who bring the words to life with his images

My friends and fellow Spokane River enthusiasts who gave me great quotes and insight to really bring the pieces together.

And most importantly, the editor who gave me a shot.

Writing the article was the easy part.  Assembling the right people in my life has taken years and that  what I am most proud of.

Friday, September 29, 2017

About Dam Time...

Another reminder that Cathy McMorris Rodger's House Resolution 3144 is bad, bad, bad, bad bad for the Snake River System.

It's bad for the fish

It's ecosystem

It's economic development

You know what it's good for?

A handful of special interests that have the Congresswoman's ear.

If you're interested in spending another 15 billion over 20 years in Salmon and Steelhead mitigation costs, with no real recovery in sight?  It's the bill for you!

If you're interested in kicking the can down the road for the next 5 or so years with no attention go increased in reservoir temps, poorer juvenile salmonid health while in river, reduced springtime spill, and continued downward trends in wild stocks, it's the bill for you!

If you're down with subverting a NEPA public comment process, basically saying that the 400,000 public comments are worthless?  Sign yourself up to this legislation.

If you're happy with re-instituting a Columbia River Biological Opinion that's been federally invalidated 5 times by more than one judge.  Boom, get you some of this action.

I, on the other hand believe that this bill is really bad.  Check it out, as I think you'll have a mind to agree

It's time to #FREETHESNAKE

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Day With Dad...

Lets spout the cliches....

It was good to just be out there.

A bad day fishing is better than any day working

They're a fish of a thousand casts.

That's why they call it fishing, not catching.

We should have been there yesterday

and so on and so on.

Spending the day fishing 3 great steelhead rivers in that day made for a great day.  We didnt catch anything except for OMR's brief hookup and extra long distance release.   I think I had a grab but who knows, maybe it was a rock.

We ate bad gas station hotcase food.  We made fun of each other.  We discussed life and kids.

We second guessed our choices of runs, rivers and flies.

We snuck in a few beers and maybe a pull of whiskey. 

We started the day and ended the day in the dark

It was a hell of a day with dad.

Monday, September 18, 2017

From Field to Vice...

The wingbeat of the flush gave away it's location.

Extreme tight quarters prevented anything other than a quick dispatch from the limb it sat upon.  This was no egalitarian wing shooting adventure, no this was get the job done for dinner

Aside of fantastic dinner that public lands had provided,  the feathers make the fly tying junkie in me do a couple of backflips.  You just cant find these feathers in a fly shop or a catelog....they're hard earned additions to a collection that I take extra pride in.

When the big buck steelhead comes to hand with a fly that contains a breast feather from this bird, I know that my smile will be impossibly big.

The loop completed, from field to vice to fish.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Karma Fish...

The run's first grab came about 15 minutes in, delivering that jolt of electricity that we all search for.   I worked that fish for 10 minutes, changing flies three times, getting two more half hearted plucks but no real connection

I didnt care, I was repeating cast after cast lost in the rhythm of the afternoon on the water.

Spending the day before and that day at the 3rd Annual Free The Snake Flotilla,  fishing was more of an afterthought for this trip.  We showed up in great numbers to protest the continued insanity of propping up the lower 4 Snake River dams.   It filled my heart to the brim with hundreds of boats all rowing 3 miles on the Snake in solidarity and show of force that a new way of thinking was and is taking over.  It was a glorious sight to say the least

Lost in the moment, the fish grabbed solid and took off, only to immediately reverse direction and come right at me.  Reeling furiously, I wasnt sure what type of steelhead had chosen to reward me.

Big or little it really doesnt matter.  In a year where good news has been tough to come by in any sense of the word, any fish was a blessing.  A kiss of karma from forces beyond me.

The fight was a close range battle, no haymaker long runs but a series of in close body blows.

Finally, wild perfection came to hand.  A quick thank you shot and she shot away like a rocket.

And for that brief moment, all was right with the world

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stare At These...

The West is on fire.  Smoke is everywhere.  The tyrant in chief wants to deport 800,000 dreamers.  It's hot AF.   Houston is still soggy.  2 more hurricanes are on a path towards South Florida disaster.

So many other things to be pissed off

Stare deeply at these muddlers, fresh off the vice.  Let your mind wander to a greasy tailout on your favorite run of your favorite steelhead river.   Imagine a great cast, the perfect mend and the bug pushing a trail through the bucket.  Wait for it...

Stay there.  Just stay there.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Free The Snake Flotilla Sept 8th-9th

It's flotilla time again on the Snake.

The 3rd annual Free The Snake Flotilla is returning September 8th and 9th

The event is getting bigger and bigger, now kicking off Friday night with speakers, conservation groups, tribes and more all present along with live music.

Festivities will be centered at Chief Timothy State Park starting Friday, then boat event will occur Saturday morning

Please join us as we continue to make a bigger and louder statement that the 4 deadbeat dams on the lower Snake river have outlived their usefulness.

Momentum is continuing to build on this event and the possibility of a free flowing Snake River.

Here's more information about the Flotilla via the FB event page

See you there!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fishing in a Dream

Photo Credit-Grant Rilette

We were laughing like 10 year boys on a playground.  The fishing was so good it didn't seem real.

Sneaking away from a family vacation to go on a guided fishing trip can be a precarious proposition, and I doubled down by letting the rest of the 10 people on the vacation on the Oregon Coast that I'd likely be coming back with dinner.

Time to do work.

For the longest time I've wanted to experience the unique dory boat fishery out of Pacific City, Oregon.   It's a wild experience launching from the beach, through the surf and out to the fishing grounds.

The boat and the Captain Grant Rilette were as dialed as I have ever seen and my buddy Kyle and I were giddy with anticipation as we made it through the surf line and out into the open ocean

It took about 5 minutes of driving through the thick marine layer to the appointed place that Grant had dialed in.  The first couple casts with conventional gear were met with a resounding yes, the fish were present.

We brought our fly rods as a complete maybe.  Ocean Rockbass are targeted via fly presentations effectively, but we were not going to be bound by technique to make sure we had a good time

Then we saw it.  Fish after fish finning on the surface.   Boils all around the boat.

Time to bring out the 8wts.

The best way to describe the next hour or so was like being a bird dog on point.  The action was frenetic as each cast was met with a hook up.  Miss the fish?  No worries  just keep stripping because it was going to get blasted again.

With limits filled immediately, we began a epic (hate using that word but it's the only on that applies) catch and release session that set the bar in my mind for when a plan comes together perfectly

I dove into my fly box and found a popper that I had bought for jacks and snook in Belize and the Rock Bass crushed it time after time.  A twitch twitch to a long pause had the fish rocketing up and blasting it off the surface.

Here we were in 60-80 feet of water, in the ocean, having the best top water action I had over seen.

The fog wrapped around us all morning and a more dreamlike state I cannot describe.  Big, strong and healthy Rock Bass smashing your every cast.  It was unreal, and if I could have frozen time, I would have.

And to add a dollop of whipped cream on top of the day, we pulled up to Grant's crab pots that were absolutely stuffed with Dungeness crab.

Photo Credit-Kyle Smith

Hell of a day.  Hell of a day.

Photo Credit-Kyle Smith

We drove away from Pacific City with coolers full of crab and rock bass limits, a wicked case of bass thumb and the resolve that this wont be the last time we have our hand at this fishery.

Grant's dory program is safe, affordable, family and kid friendly.  I highly suggest spending a day with Grant if you can.  It's well worth your time!

Additionally he guides for winter steelhead in the local rivers, fall Chinook and coho to go along with the dory trips in the ocean

Hook up with Grant via his FB PAGE or his WEBSITE.