Sunday, December 20, 2009

Small Stream Steelheadin'

I took off early on Saturday morning in order to meet Keith at the river. I finally arrived and quickly strung up my ACR with a new 450 grain compact skagit. I headed down the path and met Keith streamside. We chatted for a second and he showed me a few quick pointers on the run we were fishing. The new line felt great and cast my 15ft type 6 pretty easily.

Keith was kind enough not only to meet me, but he also took me down the road in his vehicle pointing out every spot he could in order to keep me fully informed. This is something I don't take lightly. I think the Steelhead reward this kind of behavior. I wouldn't be surprised if Keith hooked up on his next few trips.

Well, we fished a few good runs until Keith had to leave. The water was big enough to cast the spey, but many times, I found myself leaving part of the skagit head in the rod on the smaller runs. Fishing this mountain stream was quite the contrast from the river I fished last week.

After Keith took off midday, I headed upstream and fished a few spots he had suggested. One of the runs looked perfect. I put on a black and blue intruder and ten casts in my line just sort of stopped. I lifted pretty hard and sure enough, it was a fish. He left the top of the pool and headed for the bottom. He stopped at the tailout and I was able to work some line in and get a good look at him. It was a really nice sized fish. Just as I was making some ground, he took off back downstream, splashed on the surface and my hook popped out.

I fished another hour or so with no grabs. I wanted to get out of there before dark so I called it a night and headed back via some logging roads. I think its safe to say, I'll be back.

Keith throwing some line at a likely spot

The scene of the crime

Check out this view. This is from an old logging landing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One more shot

This picture embodies what the title of the blog is about. The Tug Is My Drug!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Success Tastes So Sweet

With the summer fish in the rear view, it's time to put the focus on those beautiful pesky animals we call Winter Steelhead.

Chad "Dec" Potter and I tried to fish on Thursday, but after 10 minutes of throwing our skagits over sheets of ice, we called it quits. The plan was to try and fish either Saturday or Sunday when the water and weather warmed. I ended up driving down myself to do a bit of water searching. I found some water and even ran into "Dec" who was doing the same. We firmed up our plans for Sunday and it was game on.

We got to the river early on Sunday and were fishing by 8am. After casting for the morning and coming up fishless, we moved spots and warmed up our toes. The water was hanging steady at 35 degrees. Not exactly perfect temps for getting fish to move to a fly.

After moving downriver we hit a couple of great runs that looked promising. One of which, was probably the slickest wading I've ever encountered. I don't think I have ever feared for my life so much in 2-3 foot of water!

The day was winding down and then it happened. My loop went out and raised my rod. The 7133 Burkie I was test driving came under tension and a bit of line tore off the reel. I was actually hooked up! After a few nice runs, the beautiful 33" Hen was landed and released. We estimated her at around 12lbs. It was the prettiest specimen of a steelhead I had ever held.

Jacked with joy I kept casting and hooked up about a half hour later. It was not to be as the fish quickly came to the surface and spit the hook. No worries, I had already had my prize for the day.

Dec Potter and I pictured with the chrome above.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The John Day

With no duck game during the weekend, Simon and I had made plans to finally fish the John Day for those late summer steelhead that the river gets. We had read a few articles and seen the numbers that over 20,000 wild fish make it back to the John Day on an average year. Needless to say those kind of numbers got us excited.

After completing our respective "due diligence" Thanksgiving song and dances, we set out on Saturday morning in search of the mysterious grey ghosts. We were detoured slightly when my GPS took us into some old farm roads and into the middle of nowhere. After 45 minutes of muddin', we back tracked and found Rock Creek, our original destination.

We put together our spey rods and our single handers as well. We headed upstream and fished long and hard until around 2:30. I finally had my first action. After my "pick your pocket" swung through a deep pool the fly came under tension. I assumed my type 6 tip was hung up, but as I lifted, my line shot out and a fish flashed on the surface. Just as I yelled down to Simon I lost the fish.

We had been told the fish would be in deep slow water.'s hard to find deep water when the river is running at a shade under 400cfs. We got our workout as each plausible run was at least 1/4 away from each other. Simon and I rewarded ourselves for a hard days work back at our dive Motel in Arlington with nothing but the best: Local Pizza and cold Coors Light!

On Sunday, we hiked downstream and found a lot more fruitful looking runs. And I do say "looking". We didn't touch anything for the first few hours until it happened. The slow grab took place, I lifted my rod, and yes, a steelhead was on the other end! I snapped a quick photo and released the wild fish back into the river. I was sure there was more where that came from. Wrong again! We didn't touch another fish for the rest of the day. Simon and I in search of good water, trekked a good 4 miles down river. In an effort to save face, we made a decision to hoof it back to the car and drive home that night. The highlight of the trip ended up being the Asian Zing and Honey BBQ wings Simon and I put down at Buffalo Wild Wings while watching Dennis Dixon make his first NFL start.

To be honest, I was very pissed off at the John Day, but I know she can do better. I'll try again next year.

My one fish of the trip. A nice wild hen of about 26".

Beautiful scenery all weeked. Temps in the mid 40's on Sunday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veterans Day on the Deschutes and Crooked

I had a great idea for Veterans Day this year. Instead of doing nothing around the house with my day off I should go fishing for steelhead and trout! It was such a great idea that nearly everyone else across Oregon had the same exact though.

Simon and I rolled out of town at 4am and headed for Warm Springs. The goal was to fish steelhead until mid day and then drive over to the crooked to catch some trout. We arrived at Mecca Flat just shy of 7pm and there were already 4 cars in the parking lot. Not good.......well, we decided to fish the crappy run in front of camp and of course got nothing. While fishing the run, there were about 12-15 other cars that rolled into the lot to join the fun. I wasn't even about to attempt a frustrating hike down the trail, so we drove back out, fished the guard rail hole, got a tug, and headed for Prineville.

After a quick stop a McDonald's around 10:30(we were delayed for 5 mins while waiting for them to start serving lunch), we pushed on for Big Bend Campground in search of rising trout. A few people on the river, but it was a far cry from the Mecca parking lot. Our luck did not last for long as a friendly Subaru driver rolled up seconds after us, threw on his warm gear and rigged a rod. We had company!

No worries though, I was just excited to test out my new Sage Z axis 590-4 and my Sage 4550 reel that was paired with Rio's Gold trout line.

As I stepped down to the river, trout were already feeding on BWO's. I threw on a Baetis Cripple and immediately got fish. What a refreshing feeling. I hadn't fished dries to trout since coming back from Montana in early August. I guess when you have the Steelhead fever its hard to concentrate on anything else, but this was pretty cool!

A lot of the fish were small, but there was enough action on a few bigger fish to make things interesting. I later switched to a nymph rig when the hatch stopped and even hooked up with a nice bow of about 16 inches. I am not sure if we were in the best spot on the river or what, but Orvis Clad Warriors(definition to come later) just kept coming down the trail. One gentleman even decided it was kosher to fish within 20 feet of me. I wasn't even mad as I just convinced myself he was a veteran!

Great day to be on the river as always. We got home safely and Simon didn't even try to run us into a snowplow on the way back over the pass.

Simon thinking "Why did I come on this trip, I can't even cast my Spey Rod yet?"

A nice shot of the Crooked here. Foam lines baby!

This has nothing to do with the trip, but it is my beer of the night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Town Run Fun

On Tuesday of last week I was able to slip out of the office early and do a little co-worker fishing with Chad. We hit the section of the Willamette that runs right through town in hopes of landing some late season Steelhead.

With the beautiful backdrop of the I-5 bridge, industrial yards, pizza parlors, and a mobile housing development, it's the epitome of commerce fishing. It's kind of cool to be chasing anadramous fish so close to work, but you lose out with the scenery. So be it!

We headed up to the most likely run and started casting away. About 20 minutes in, I was pretty sure I got slightly hung up on some bedrock. It was either bedrock or a fish because on my next cast as the fly hit the water a ravish boil appeared and line was being taken from my reel. The little Bantam I've been fishing strikes again. I must have really irritated the fish on the prior cast because you don't see many late October takes on the surface. It was one I'll surely rememeber.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon: After kicking the cold, Chad and I headed back to the town run for a little float in the clack. We fished a few higher runs with no grabs. Since I went through this certain run first last time, I let Chad start in first. I sat in the boat for about 5 minutes and decided to walk up extra high to give plenty of room. I thought it would be cool while I was wasting time to see if I could throw my 12'6 Gary Anderson with a single hand. I was laying out some line and let it swing in a half hearted obligatory sort of way when I had a violent grab. Next thing I know, line is peeling from my Ross Momentum and I've actually got a fish on. I couldn't get the hook out of the fish's mouth very easily so the fish was sacrificed and later taken to Rick Axtell's smokehouse!

Did I mention I love to swing flies to steelhead?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back to the Deschutes

I wanted to get back to the Deschutes while the weather was still decent, so I arranged for a couple days off work, dialed up a fishing buddy, and off I went.

Todd and I left Lane County on Wednesday and arrived at the D later that night. After a brief sleep, 4:30 am came pretty early. We drove down and staked claim at a run, only to have somebody just take the pullout below us and step in. Oh well, not worth getting mad at, but annoying none the less. We fished through the run with no tugs for either of us. It was a good time for a breakfast regroup and to launch the boat.

After we got on the water, the sun broke through and was on pretty much every run. No grabs all morning. By the afternoon, the clouds came in the fishing got a little better. I had hooked up with the first steelhead of the trip only to lose it a few seconds later. We pushed down river to our final destination of the float. I had Todd drop me off and I would meet him at the next run down after fishing through. About 5 casts after Todd left, I had a violent grab followed by that famous tearing of line from the fly reel. A smile came to my face as I fought what felt like a good size Deschutes fish. After a few minutes the fish was coming closer to hand when the hook came unbuttoned and I was left chromeless for the day.

Good news though! After hiking down to meet up with Todd, he had landed a nice native buck of 31 inches on a hitched steelhead caddis. What a great way to end the day. Hitched the boat up in the dark and capped the night with some brats and discussion of dry line steelhead tactics. Todd's the kind of guy who has ultimate discipline. He can watch somebody hook fish on wets, but never lose focus on what he does, fishing the waker for summer steelhead. It was great to get his perspective and hear his stories from BC. Luckily for me, we were outside, so the drool didn't end up anywhere but the dirt.

The next day we fished a nice run in the morning. I ended up hooking and landing a small hatchery fish. It put up a nice fight and, after all, it was a steelhead on the beach. The weather was perfect for the rest of the day. We had some off and on rain with cloud cover and little wind the whole day. It was awesome! All the way until you get to the catching part. We didn't touch a thing for the rest of the day. That's steelheading for you wrapped up in a nutshell.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday on the Willy

I had to stay local with my fishing this weekend so I decided my best bet was the Willamette. The McKenzie has failed me several times this year while the Willy has been plain stupid at times.

Simon "Bernie" Bernatz showed up at my house at 5:50am. We hit Dutch Bros. for a coffee and were quickly off to the river. A client of mine was to meet us at 6:30 and I was hoping we'd have enough water for everyone to cover and still be happy. As we showed up another car had already beat us there. Turns out it wasn't a fisherman, but somebody who knew there were elk in the area. More on that later.

My client showed up right on time, we exchanged hello's, rigged up, and I sent Simon on his way to the Cherry hole downstream. I wanted to fish with my client and knew the spot we were in was going to be our best shot. I let him start where he wanted and I started up above him.

About 15 minutes in my fly swung to a subtle halt in a seam that I thought would just be perfect for a steelhead to by lying in. Not being used to such light takes I let the loop go and lifted the rod anyway. Weight on the end of the line and a tail flip downstream confirmed my suspicion. It turned out to be a good size buck. After a short fight I had him on the beach. Nice way to start the morning! My client, 30 yards away, never glanced up and sure as heck didn't notice that I actually caught a fish. Oh well, he was busy bombing out 100 ft of line on his old 15 foot Sage two hander.

I stepped back in the run and fished downstream for a bit when a couple of loud shots rang off at a relatively short distance. Hmmmm I thought, kind of a random spot to be hunting. I think I'll stay in the river today instead of on the trail. About a half hour later, another loud shot. After a bit I could finally see Simon making his way back up river. He gets to me and says "you'll never believe what I saw down there." Apparently a herd of cow elk crossed the river just below him. Pretty rare to see but not as rare as the Black Bear that crossed just after that. I've never seen elk down here let alone a bear, so it was pretty exciting news. Just as he was finishing up the story my reel sung like a child who wasn't getting attention. Yep, another steelhead. After a nice little fight, I tailed the Hen and got a quick Hero shot.

Not a bad morning here in the south Willamette Valley.............

This nice fish fell victim to Morejohn's Bantam.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

River of the Falls

With Monday off and the Deschutes fishing well, I hitched up the boat and headed over on Sunday night. I got to camp around 10:30, set the alarm for 4am, and fell asleep in the back of the rig.

Got up and headed down to fish a few runs. The only truck on the road was already parked at the run I wanted to fish. Solution: Go talk to the gent to see if he wants me to follow him or split the run when it gets light. He was game for the split. I basically fished the tailout and got a nice little native buck about 30 minutes in on a Purple Peril of sorts. Met up with Todd, fished the run up top and headed up to launch the boat.

Put in and to my surprise, there were probably more boaters than bankies. Finally found a run. Todd went up and I went down. A guy in a pontoon had already fished through the run, but he was a good half mile downriver, so the water had been rested a bit. About 10 casts in......grab....loop gone, hook set, fight on. I got steel peeled on this one for sure. After a great fight, brought the nice native to hand for a quick release. Back at it, 20 yards down, grab, set, fight again. Another native. Another 20 yards further stuck another. This time, it ended up being a sweet hatchery fish that ran over 30 inches.

Todd and I headed down river, opting for taking our time and letting most of the boats get past us. The clouds were out and fish were on the move. I hooked another nice one right in front of Todd on our next stop. Of course, once I told Todd "let's get a pic of this one" the fly pops out with the fish about 5 feet from me.

I let Todd go throug the rest of the run with his skater. I ate lunch in the boat while he dissappeared around the corner. Looked up behind me and notice and bit of a tailout that I hadn't given a second thought to. Hiked on up there. Big sandy deep pool. Didn't look fishy to me at all. Apparently, it doesn't matter what I think because I got grabbed and ended up beaching a nice hatchery fish.

The evening was dedicated to trying to get Todd to get one on a waker. No such luck, my thinking is the water temps may have been just a bit too cold. We were the last boat off the river and it was one long drive home. Arrived in my driveway at 12:45am! All in the name of steelhead.

Totals were 6 hooked, 5 landed. All but one came on a Green butt purple with a white wing created by master tier Chad Potter. I'm checking on if the fly has a name, but I'm thinking "Fire Starter" in honor of the brush fire just below the run where the fly did big time damage!

Hatchery fish taken from the Sandy Tailout.

Water Train putting out the brush fire.

Hatchery brute.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Deschutes Report is the deal. I had a huge post spliced and diced for the blog and as I was trying to add images, I lost my work. Not good.

I'm going to keep it short and sweet and hope to add pics later:

  • Fished Saturday morning at Pipeline - Me: 3 fish hooked, 2 landed. Casey: 1 hooked, 1 landed

  • Floated from Beavertail to Macks Canyon that day. I hooked and landed a fish midday on the "Brooksy". Casey and Miguel each hooked and landed a fish during that same time.

  • Wind picked up on Saturday night. Our tent got blasted with wind and rain. The storm did not stop the entire next day. I got a fish at first light and last light with nothing in between. The highlight of the day was when Casey followed both Dillon and I threw a run and stuck a fish.

  • Monday AM, a camper below me sprinted to beat me to the water......No I am not joking, a 50 year old man ran to the run. I fished way down river and stuck a nice fish in a tailout. Came back to the camp water before it was time to pack up and got a nice hot hatchery fish on the Purple with pink butt.

  • Totals: Cory 10 hooked, 7 landed - hot flies - Brooksy, Greyhound, Purple with pink butt

  • Totals: Casey 11 hooked, 7 landed - hot flies - Purple and pink

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mid week on the N. Umpqua

I headed down to Roseburg for a few client meetings and by mid afternoon I was off to the fly water again of the North Umpqua. I convinced my spey compatriot Chad to join me on the river. After meeting up on the lower river, we headed up, crossed Mott Bridge and booked it down river.

Fished the usual suspects including Boat, Kitchen, and the Mott Pools before heading down to try Ledges and Takahatchy. One of my favorite new links I've found comes from the steamboaters web page. It outlines each of the famous pools, runs, and slots that the river is known for.

I ended up fishing Takahatchy while Chad went down river. Fished through the whole thing, no bumps, oh well. I was standing out on a ledge of bedrock. If you've ever been to the N. Umpqua, you know what I'm talking about. The kind where it 1ft deep and the next step is 5ft deep. Well, as I turned around and started to navigate my way back towards the bank, my line started peeling off my reel. I was hooked up!

I turned aroud in disbelief and got my bearings. The fish took an incredible run towards the middle of the river capped with a tailwalking leap. A few seconds later, muddler was still in the fish's mouth, but my line had snapped. No more 8lb test.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Persistance on the NUMPY!

After pounding the river all winter long and prodding it during the summer, I was beginning to doubt my good friend, the North Umpqua.

Casey and I left Eugene/Springfield at 4:15am on Sunday and drove through the dark to the famous Camp Water section. A few cars in the lot and a headlamp parked in "Station", we decided Casey would go upriver and I would go down.

I asked Casey which runs I should hit and he replied with "Fish Kitchen first and then swing through the Mott Pools. They look fast, but they'll fish." So I headed down the dark path, stepped in at Kitchen and began fishing. A fish rolled across the river just where a piece of bedrock was sticking out of the water. I thought if I was going to catch a fish, it would be over there. Taking my steps down I looked down and small a smaller steelhead of a about 22 or 23 inches swimming up and resting in between the indentions of two rocks. I shortened up and swung over go. Fished through the rest of kitchen with no luck, tried boat with no luck, tried sawtooth with no luck. So I headed back down to fish the Mott pools which another angler had already fished through that morning.

About 6 swings and halfway through the swing, it happened. A slight tug, followed by sharp ripping of the line across the river and the fight was on. I was in disbelief that I was actually hooked up with a N. Umpqua steelhead! Looking around to see if Casey had come down I noticed I had gained an audience. A couple hiking along the path was witnessing this miracle. After a decent fight I was able to slide the fish into some calm water, tail it, and snap a quick photo before the release. Redemption! Now on to the Deschutes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jacked for the North Umpqua/Deschutes

On my list this year are 2 defining goals: I need to catch a steelhead on the N. Umpqua and the Deschutes. I'm going to take a run at it this weekend on the Umpy and next weekend on the D.

My cool new waterproof and shockproof camera should be in tomorrow so we'll get pictures to prove the pudding accordingly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Couple of quick pics to get things going

I honestly hate when people post fish pics and call it "fish porn". That said, these fish are what I call pigs! So here are a few pictures from an unnamed river to generate a little fun.

I'm blogging son!!!!!

I'm going to start documenting my fly fishing adventures on this blog. Be on the lookout for large fish, bent rods, and gratuitous shots of microbrews.