Friday, November 4, 2011

A fall to forget

This fall has been frustrating from an angling perspective for me. I spent 5 weeks working in Chicago during the "prime time" months of September and October. Don't get me wrong, I loved Chicago and everything about it, but you won't ever catch me trading Wrigley for my Oregon's fall steelhead rivers. I sat with angst from a 41st floor window overlooking Lake Michigan wondering about how my brother or Simon or Chad was doing at their various locations. My hotel had a river view, but I didn't see any fish rolling among the water taxis.

I took full advantage of August though. On my last trip, we got em' pretty good, despite some ripping winds. I took the shot below as we had 40+ MPH winds blowing from right to left. You can see the dust it kicked up in the Gordon Ridge area.

I've been limited to weekends on local waters since I've been back. The fishing hasn't been great, but enough action to keep a guy and his fly happy.

Bernie landed this above average fish last weekend. Another one of those mystery "misclip" or "wild" fish from the Willamette Valley.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Canyon

I had a chance to get over to the Deschutes a couple of times in the past month. The first was a work trip that Chad and I parlayed into a 24 hour jet boat excursion. This was Chad's first trip taking his own sled up from Heritage Landing. Having been a passenger on other boats gave him a good idea on the proper lines to take. If you've been on this section of the river, you know that hazards abound. There are many places where ledge rock is hidden just below the surface. Hitting one of those can ruin your trip in a hurry.

While Chad was a bit puckered going up through Rattlesnake, we made it through fine. The rest of the rapids went off without a hitch and shade was on the water in no time. Coming off a July trip where I was skunked, I was in disbelief when my loop was taken from my finger and line began peeling from my Salmon 1. While the fish wasn't a trophy, the small hatchery fish marked the start of a good night for both of us. At the end of the night, we exchanged stories of each take and enjoyed a cocktail. The next morning wasn't quite as productive, but we still had our share including a big native buck that kept me smiling for some time.

I tried to get a picture of Rattlesnake rapid on the way out. It was a little bumpy, so excuse the finger in the picture below.

Chad playing a hot one

While the jet boat trip was sweet, it was too short. I had to get back. Bernie and I packed up the driftboat and headed back over. Fishing started out slow for me as I hadn't even had a tap in the first 24 hours. That was all forgotten later in the trip when both Bernie and I ran into a pod of fish for an epic night. My size 8 drab little pattern I tied up was getting yanked aggressively. On the 2nd fish of the run, my 7127 Burkie snapped at the top ferrule. I had to collect myself quickly and sprint the 1/2 mile back to camp to exchange rods. Luckily I made it back to the same run and nobody had stepped in. The fish didn't go anywhere either.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mid Summer update

We've been reaping some of the benefits of the long cold spring around these parts. The flows have remained pretty steady and water temps have been good as well. The fishing hasn't been red hot, but good enough to give it a go after work.

After a few months of finding the right motor and a tiller installation, the sled is now fully operational. She gets on plane extremely easy and is gonna be a great fly fishing boat. It's a 19.5 foot by 60 inch bottom made by Jerry's Marine out of Gold Beach, OR. They are the same folks who run the jet tours on the lower Rogue. Needless to say, they know how to put together a sled without overloading it with extra heavy gauge aluminum. The 90HP Yamaha two stroke jet that I found works great and gives me plenty of power. With a dry weight of only 260lb's, the motor keeps the package light and fit.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ricky strikes again

I was sitting at the vise tying a few hairwings, when Ricky calls. He tells me its his birthday and he wants to go fishing. I said "Fine bud, we'll go somewhere. Be here in 30 minutes and we'll go out for a couple hours."

The first run we fished has been a known producer for me with the present river conditions. I got grabbed, but the only bite that stuck were the mosquitoes that were all over me. We reeled up and moved down river. I only had 35 minutes left to fish before I had to depart for highly coveted 9:15 softball game. The run we planned on fishing was occupied. On a whim, we tried one other spot. Ricky's egg sucker got bit and the ACR's mojo I'd proclaimed was corroborated once again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old guy, new trick

I commissioned Rick to help me out over the past year with some projects around my house. He helps me, I help him. I'm not sure there is a better return on investment that bringing in your first steelhead on the swing.

I thought our opportunity had passed as he fished several promising pools with no grabs. I had a short lived hookup behind him, but that was the only action we'd seen. The last run we fished was too deep for Rick to fish it effectively, or so I thought. Wading tight to the bank and chopping some line out, I was pretty sure it was a lost cause. I was about ready to wrap the night up when Rick stars yelling that he's got one on. I figured it was a trout, but the large splash and roll on the surfact confirmed it was a steelhead. After adjusting his drag and soiling his drawers, Rick worked the fish in and allowed me to tail his first on the two hander!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Now this feels better

I hadn't caught a steelhead since March until last week. I couldn't remember why I liked swinging flies, what the takes felt like, or what it was like to see the backing on a big reel. I now remember.

I squeezed in a session on last week between work and my softball games. We play double headers on Thursday's. To appropriately match the theme, I hooked up and beached two hens. One was a dud and the other was the Ashton Eaton of steelhead. She jumped high, took shorts sprints, long runs, did it all like the Decathlete himself.

Bernie got in on the action this weekend with a couple fish of his own. I can freely admit, he picked my pocket clean on one of them.

Below is a shot of the 5115 CF Burkheimer Bernie has been using. The rod is fun to fish with and handled a 7lb'er just fine.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to some fishing

This bird was hit at cruising speed and somehow managed to stick. It is pretty much an accurate description of how I felt all spring.

I haven't posted in forever because I haven't been fishing all that much. With the local rivers running twice their normal flows, a guy is suddenly more motivated to work on the yard and complete those unfinished projects. With my early local steelhead season pretty much blown, the focus was geared toward some quick spring salmon trips.

One feat of note was that I did manage to catch a Ling Cod off a coastal jetty in the morning and a Springer on the Umpqua later that evening. Not sure how often that happens in Oregon?

Small springer

One fish from a pretty decent salmonfly day.

I had an hour to kill after work last night.........

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Springerfest 2011 Part 2

Well, we had hot fishing for an hour and a half. The weather started to cool and so did the bite. We moved up river to what is now referred to as the "Otter hole". We didn't hook anything that night, otters or fish.

The nights were cold, especially the 2nd, where the low was set to drop to 34 degrees. Not a welcome temp when you are worried about cold water. The next day pretty much went like the first. We got up early and waited.......and waited. Nothing. By 11am, the sun finally broke over the canyon walls and the water started to get warmer. Just after 2, on of our rods went down and another hatchery fish was in the cooler. It is amazing what 1 fish can do for the mood in the boat. The feeling was eerily similar to a winter steelhead trip where 1 fish makes you feel successful.

The pressure was off for the day and we hooked up a half hour later 1 final time for that day. Luckily, we were running into hatchery fish, which always makes family and co-workers happy back home. The weather that night was predicted to rain, so we decided to break down camp a night early and go sleep in a dry hotel. We were not going to repeat our soaked camp experience like last year.

In the middle of the breakdown, Chad's buddy Ron came up around the corner in his boat. We thought he'd be around, but hadn't seen him either day. After he gave us a profanity laced hello, we agreed to meet up with him later and fish until dark.

We came up empty in the evening session and left Ron to spend the night on the water in his favorite corner. Chad and I got to the boatramp as the sun went down and decided we should just transfer our gear to the car and sleep on the boat. It all seemed like a great idea to idle downstream until we realized that it was not only dark outside, it was really dark outside! Luckily, my little headlamp was bright enough that alternating shots of each bank kept us safe. We got positioned next to Ron, who was just finishing up a bottle of wine. Listening to him tell his stories was ten times more entertaining than any basketball playoff game we would've been watching at the hotel!

The last morning, we scored first with a small hatchery fish. While Chad was fighting that fish, Ron got ripped across the river by a busty native. After that, nothing. Chad and I tried a couple of other spots, with no luck. We loaded our gear up and went home. My only regret was that we missed the fight later that day between Ron and an 8 foot sturgeon!

In the meantime, its back to the 2 hander for me. I even did some dry line casting last night!

The Camp

Ron hooked up in his sweet boat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Springerfest 2011 Part 1

It was time to put down the 2 hander for a brief moment and get down and dirty for Spring Salmon. The levels were on their way down, water temps appeared to be moving higher, and the weather looked good. Chad and I carved out a little time away from work and hit the road with high hopes. I even brought my spey rod and chunky flies................

As soon as we got the boat in the water, the rains came in and got us a little wet. We were able to find a decent camp and get things set up quickly. Thankfully, one of Chad's neighbors hooked us up with a rain canopy. It kept our kitchen and firewood dry.

No luck on the first night. Water temps were colder than expected and the weather was predicted to drop into the mid 30's at night. Not a great outlook. We woke up the next morning to rain, but it eventually the clouds parted and the sun was hitting the water. I swear we probably checked the water temps on the depth finder no less than 36 times. We tried a few different spots and eventually settled on a previously successful area.

Around 2pm, the water temp started to climb a little. Then we had a good line bump. Then, one of the rods buckled and it was on. As we pulled off anchor and were giggling like school girls about being hooked up, Chad noticed the float that holds our anchor rope was actually floating down river with us. Uh.........not a good thing. How were we going to get our anchor back? Chad's face looked like someone just stole his lunch money. He couldn't even enjoy our first fish. We netted and bonked the hatchery fish and had 1 in the cooler.

Luckily, I was keen on getting a Springer on the fly, so I had brought my waders. I slipped them on, waded out into the off color water and probed the bottom with a rope hook. Low and behold, I found our anchor and rope and we were back in business!

Over the next hour, we hooked and landed 2 more fish! It was game on. The hot bite didn't last long, but we were fully content. The sun was out, fresh salmon for dinner, and we still had all our equipment. More to come.........

Fresh fish and freshly recovered anchor

Love these tails

Terrible picture from Chad, but excellent fish. Back in the water to do its deal.

You bet it was good

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You might have a winter steelhead problem if....

While at work, you look down and notice Blue Arctic Fox remnants on your suit sleeve. People just don't understand. That is all..........

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

As March comes to a close

Last week we had a few times like this.................. That turned into things like this............. That make days like this..................worth the trouble.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BC Fishing Van

I spotted this sweet fishing van while on my way for a coffee refill. Cool rides like this don't swing through downtown Eugene very often. The skull and cross bones constructed with a switch rod and surfboard is about ten times cooler than any stoned hippie I come across down here. Add in the beefy tires not seen in the picture and you have yourself a mobile fishing unit. Very nice!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I get skunked and still love it

If you can't repeat the post's title, then winter steelheading with a swinging fly just ain't for you. I'm serious. Most of my fishing days in the winter come on the weekends. I strategize all week, bargain with my wife, and always maintain high hopes. I'm cautious with those hopes because I know what's coming next: High wind warnings, heavy rain, suspect river clarity, and probably a skunking. If you fish for winters with the fly then you know, there is a lot more to it than results.

If it were all about catching fish, I'd sidedrift, or plunk, or plug, or nymph. Those techniques are great and can all be fun, but there is something unexplained about swinging a fly. I don't know what it is, but I get excited just peeling line off my Hardy Salmon 2 as I start into the run. As the angler, you are doing so much more than just fishing. You've watched the levels all week, poured hours of your life into the flies you use, cast multiple lines to dial one in, spent hundreds of dollars on equipment and gas money. And its all worth it.

This last weekend, Casey and I nervously watched levels go down and bounce right back up. We made the call, the drive, and did a bunch of hiking and exploring. Well, the exploring was a bust.......scratch those rivers off the list. It was time to drive back to Portland to re-group. We decided to check on our options over some food and brew. We first tried HUB(, but it was super crowded and had a cast of characters straight of our "Portlandia". The second choice hit the spot. There was still a wait, but Apizza Scholls is the real deal ( New York style pie and a couple of Ninkasi Spring Reign's really hit the spot after a long hard day. Plans were made for the following day and virog was renewed.

We opted for a float. We swung flies to sweet runs all day long. No grabs, no fish, nothing. And then it, not a fish.....the nastiest wind storm I've seen since a similar whitecap incident on the Yellowstone River. The river was a white squall. I crouched low in my seat and Casey rowed us out of there before local timber blocked off any escape routes. The shuttle back to my car revealed downed trees and limbs everywhere.

Another weekend in the books, and it was a skunking. I don't really care, I still love it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Field testing

Casey shot some video with his waterproof camera. Looks juicy to me?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some winter ammo

Gotta replace your divots as you lose em.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chrome Weekends

My weekdays are usually filled with daydreams about steelhead. There just aren't many things as sweet as bright steelhead on the swung fly.

This hen absolutely crushed my bug. There were a bunch of sea lice on her belly.

I'm not sure they come brighter.

This buck was a toad. Not super long(32), but it had the deep body of a springer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Olive and Orange

Sick tie from my brother. You can't buy this kind of movement from your fly shop.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another winter bug

I lost a few bugs while getting skunked yesterday. Back to the vise.

I eliminated the artic fox in the back and replaced with ice dubbin. Also used a red and black blend at the head. We will see how it swims.

Pic was taken with my blackberry, so its a little fuzzy......

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The cream for the clear

With clear conditions on the way, I've tied up a few bugs with softer tones.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I went on a bender

Last weekend, every river in Oregon was out of shape, and I sat at home grumpy as ever. Not only was I free on Saturday, but I had Monday off of work with no place to swing my flies. Things dried out and I took a personal day on Friday to start off my 48 hours Friday/Saturday steelhead bender.

After 2 straight days of being up before 4am, 12 hours of driving, multiple sore body parts, and a few steelhead to show, my 48 hour quest for steelhead is done..........for now.

34 in hatchery buck destined for the smoker.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

That will fish

Here's a juicy tie from Montana Mike. He's the best Montana steelheader I know.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cold, wet, and solid Saturday

It turns out I owe a big thanks to my sister in law. I wasn't planning on doing any fishing until Sunday. My brother thought he should stay home and many rivers are on the low side. The weather wasn't fantastic, and it didn't appear to be a day to waste a hall pass.

I'm not sure what happened, but my brother emailed me late on Friday to say he was all clear for Saturday. My obligations only ran through Friday night, so I was good to go as well. We couldn't pick a river, nothing seemed like a good choice, but eventually we sorted out a float and got to business. It was a gametime audible and it felt like the wrong choice. The water was a crisp 38, the roads were still icy, and the rain began to fall. It was one of those days where you felt like there wasn't much chance, but is justified with the usual internal phrase of "its just good to get out and swing".

Well..................somedays its about more than just the swing. I got taken to the woodshed by a large buck and Casey had a nice tussel with his girlfriend. We each moved another fish. Great day to be on the water.

From now on, I'm letting Casey's wife choose the days we should hit the river.

35 x 18

Bright Gal