Thursday, March 29, 2012

Winter Steelhead Video

Enjoy this video while the weather is stormy and unsettled. It is a recent quick video we shot with GoPro cameras, and an attempt to coordinate all of the different film clips together in sync. It is an amateur video, but it is practice to get better; so enjoy it.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

High Water Winter Steelhead Report - (3-18-2012)

This past Sunday, I had a trip booked with two anglers named Taylor and Rob. They were both itching to get out, and had a case of "Cabin Fever"; which can prove to be a widespread ailment in Oregon this time of the year. The weather lately has been nothing short of atrocious, and being outside and being active is the key to treating a bad case of "Cabin Fever". The conditions were far from favorable on Sunday, and I was going to cancel the trip, but the guys insisted that they wanted to hit the river. The assured me that they wanted to learn how to fish for winter steelhead effectively more than wanting a guided trip just to catch fish on. They told me that they would not hold anything against me since I was going to call the trip off, and they just wanted to fish, and learn how to better their angling techniques for getting into winter steelhead.
Rob on tight to a wild Oregon winter steelhead
When we got out there, the river even looked a tad bit more messed up than I was anticipating, but you have to deal with the given conditions. I was showing them the water speed and type of spot you would want to see to try for winter steelhead with a bloated high water river. We hit the first spot, and it did not yield any fish, nor any signs of fish, but you have to fish spots in order to catch anything.

A nice deep bodied wild male Oregon winter steelhead
The second spot proved differently, as Rob stuck a fish within a minute or two of fishing it. The fish took the offering hard, and the Thingamabobber took a savage dunk and Rob struck tight to connect with the wild winter buck. It was a pretty fish with rose colored cheeks, and a super deep body for its length. We admired the fish and sent him off to continue his run upriver to find a hen to pair up with.
Nice shoulders on this wild native Oregon winter steelhead
 Now it was Taylor's turn to get tight to a winter steelhead, as Rob was totally stoked to pull out a fish from the swollen water that the recent weather has pumped into the river. Taylor was fishing hard, and after a couple of spots later his indicator went under showing signs of a take. He came tight to the fish, but the hook did not hold the fish for more than a little while. It was another good sign though; since the water was high, and just getting a fish on was a big deal.
Showing where the fish should be holding in the pool....
 Luckily, the very next cast just a little bit upstream resulted in another take, and Taylor struck hard to see life on the end of the fly line. It turned out that a snarly snag of roots somehow got onto the line, as I scrambled over to wrangle it off. Luckily it worked out, and the line was clear to rip through the guides of the Access Switch rod. The fish ran hard down stream, and it thrashed on the surface only to free the hook.
Pushing a "stack mend" onto the Thingamabobber
This fish ended up giving itself a LDR (long distance release), as we all grumbled a frustrated sigh. Luckily Taylor is the kind of angler who was stoked for the hook up, and not bummed that he lost the fish. So many anglers do not value getting tied into a winter steelhead, and they only care about landing fish, and numbers. Going out and hooking up when the conditions are not in your favor is a treat in itself. Just hooking up with a wild winter steelhead is crazy enough!
On tight to a wild winter steelhead....
Rob and Taylor had a killer day of winter steelheading, and their angling skills soared through the roof on this day on the river. It is always rewarding for me to see people roll cast across a river, and get a several second dead drift to their fly, when it was not in their mind to do that in the beginning of the day. Getting out on the river can always prove to be worth while, and when you hook up with more than one steelhead on a day when the conditions are less than favorable is always a plus.
Working a winter steelhead run.....
You never know what a day of fishing can offer unless you get out there. I often hear people complain in the winter about high water and miserable weather, but it is always better when you are out there. Many times the weather is better out on the river than it can be in the Portland metro area, and you cannot catch winter steelhead on the couch.

Tight Lines!!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Florida Vacation Part II: Snook Fishing

Nikki and I visited both my parents and her parents while on the trip to Florida. Her dad Lance loves to fish as much as I do which is totally sweet; so I knew a fishing trip was in order for the four of us. We inquired about guided fishing trips, and found Bad Fish Charters, and Captain Cayle proved to know where the big snook were hanging out. He also knew how to put 4 anglers (Nikki, Lance, Mary, and I) of all different skill sets onto the snook in a smooth and patient manner. He also was able to guide us with everything from casting live white baits gently and accurately on circle hooks to casting flashy baitfish flies in the dark near bright lights where the baitfish accumulated the snook like trout boiling on dry flies. It was really cool and very different, and it kind of reminded me of fly fishing in the Sacramento Delta for striped bass and fly fishing the night in Oregon for rock bass and lingcod smashed together, but add the tropical factor in and you have night time snook fishing. Kind of......, but not really......Just like any fishing, you just have to experience it to know what it is really like.
Snook fishing in the night was totally rad!!!
My First Snook - also the first catch of the day.
We motored out to an area where there was a lot of structure. That is what the snook like to hang out around, and Captain Cayle knew the snook were here. It was simply a matter of when the snook wanted to play. Snook love being around pilings and areas where the bait is accumulating. They are also very lazy, but love to hang out where there is a current moving through the structure; so getting right near a piling is the key to success.
Nikki caught a nice large spotted sea trout on a live white bait
Circle hooks were something I was very impressed with. They literally work like they are supposed to, and all you do is reel down when you can tell you have a fish taking your offering. You do not want to set the hook because you will literally "farm it" out of the fish's mouth. If you reel down tight, the fish will take the point of the hook in the corner of the mouth every time perfectly. I had more trouble keeping a nice good hook set with my flies compared to the circle hooks with the live bait.
This snook ripped the line hard!!! We wondered what was swimming on the other end.
 When it was sunny out, the bite was tough, but Lance was pulling the snook out on a higher frequency than the other three of us. He had the touch the snook were looking for, and since I am a fly fisher, I was feeling a little foreign to the spin tackle. My flies were not working either; so I was wanting to hone in the skills with the circle hook fishing. Funny to think how I used to bass fish super avidly with spin tackle when I was a youngester, and now I feel like a lamo on a spin rod. It is something I do not do often; so that is my excuse.... NO EXCUSES !!!
Another Fine Snook Caught By Lance on a White Bait & Circle Hook
 Lance kept on getting into the snook, and kept us all entertained with the radical action these fish put on. Captain Cayle assured me that the night time would offer snook to the end of my fly line, and I was also confident since I have experienced days in Oregon where I catch rockfish with regularity in the darkness after getting skunked in the light.
As it got dark, fly fishing started to really work well for the snook on small pfp flies
 We ended up seeing some insane fishing when it became dark out. Fish were boiling in a light that Captain Cayle took us to, and I was able to see snook chasing my flies when I was stripping them back. It was really cool, and super visual. Fish were boiling in the light at times, and it was almost looking like the snook were trout picking off flies from the surface. Only the snook were ambushing the white bait from below, and I thought how cool it was to see this behavior from another fish I have not ever fished for before this afternoon/evening.
Flies imitating small white baits took snook once it became dark out on the full moon night
 When the fishing was fast and furious, we were not able to get the good pictures that you can take in the daylight; so we refrained after a few fish. We tried to video some of the fish taking bait and flies, but that did not come out the way you would want it to. We had a blast catching lots of fish, and it was great having a great guide take us right to the hot fishing area.

Captain Cayle showing Mary's Snook
The spot was like a production snook catching conveyer belt. He would tell us when to cast, and then the line would pull tight with a snook crushing the offerings. I would strip the fly when it was my turn, and I would see shadows honing in on my baitfish fly. It was tough keeping the line speed/fly speed all in check with the variable currents coming around the structure.
This Grill of the Snook looks really similar to a Largemouth Bass's Bucket Mouth
 I was able to take snook on flies and also even got fish to chase a crease fly on the surface which was totally cool. Lance hammered snook on the white baits and circle hooks, and made me realize how tough it is to mimic the action of live baits on a fly rod. I was getting into fish, but once in every so many retrieves compared to almost every cast at times for the actual live bait. Fishing was fast and furious at the spot where we had a large light on the water attracting the baitfish, and it was a spot I could have fished for hours and hours.
Snook have eyes adapted for night time ambush predatory feeding
 We caught a lot of fish, and we took turns for who was up next to get into a snook. Everyone got to fight a snook, and everyone caught snook that were pushing sizes that any angler would be happy to catch. The snook is a fine game fish that hits your offering with total authority, they fight with explosive power, they jump, and they can hit sizes that will make you yell "WOW" when you tie into a trophy sized fish. Call Captain Cayle if you are ever wanting to go fishing the while you are visiting the Charlotte Harbor area of Florida.

The Snook were interested in a small FPF White Baitfish fly and a Crease fly

Friday, March 16, 2012

Florida Vacation - Beach/Pass Fishing Short Report

With all of the nasty rains we have had, and skyrocketing water levels....

I had to come back from my tropical vacation to this......

Recently I was at Florida with Nikki visiting our families, and we also got to do a lot of fishing. One of the days I was playing around at a beach pass where the ocean met a bay through an inlet. I was throwing a tropical intermediate line with a small sparse baitfish pattern, and it proved to be interesting light tackle fly fishing. I was simply casting out and stripping back in areas that looked fishy, and I ended up increasing my species resume quite a bit.

Blue Runner - Captiva/Sanibel Island Blind Pass
Admiring the power of the Jack Crevalle - What a tough little machine!
A close up look at the Crevalle
Small Ladyfish caught at Sanibel/Captiva Blind Pass
Built for speed.... ladyfish are the closest relative to bonefish and tarpon
My First Flounder Caught on a Fly Rod - Gulf Flounder
Fly pinned in this flounder's grill.......
Fishing Blind Pass - Captiva/Sanibel Island
Smiling about the freakiest catch of the day.....what is it?
Lookdown Fish - a rare catch supposedly - in the Jack Family
Beach fishing proved to be very fun and interesting. I was totally winging it, and was learning on the spot how to get into these fish. I got several of the Jack Crevalle to take, and the other fish were mostly incidental while targeting the jack type species that were running through. I could see baitfish boils and predatory takes on the surface; so I knew I was in an area where fish were (besides having lots of other people fishing in the area). Surprisingly, I was the only person out there fly fishing, but it just shows how many fly fishing opportunities go untouched out there. It was also rewarding to see that I was getting into fish more consistently compared to the other anglers, and most of them were using live bait. Flies work well at times I feel due due to the subtle presentations (my super sparse pattern was too hard to resist) and being able to cover the water super effectively in some areas.

I will be posting more about this trip, but this is my first blurb about it for now. Next will be posting about our snook guided trip we went on. 

Tight lines......

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Quick 3/2/2012 Fishing Report - Gorgeous Winter Steelhead Buck

Lots of huge airs, runs, and sheer power......
Winter Steelhead Money Shot
Rose Colored Cheeks on this Wild Buck
Trout Beads Work Like a Charm
Winter Steelhead Admiration

Clothes-lined to a winter steelhead.....

This winter steelhead gets a 10 for the arch....

You can see the rainbow red stripe on this steelhead

Nice arch for this air! Kurplunk is about to happen.....
Popping an air! - After I thought I was about to land it!
Stay tuned for this fish on video......

Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Let the Snow Keep You Home From Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing - March Brings The Natives

Yesterday I guided these two guys named Ken and Will, and they were a total blast to be with out on the water. They wanted to hopefully get into a winter steelhead, and the weather system the day before seemed to really threaten our possibility for getting that accomplished. We were determined to go through with our plan, and the water levels did not raise with the weather system; since all of the moisture was locked up in the form of low elevation snow. Would the cold water from the snow affect our fish catching possibilities? Getting out there and fishing would be the only way to tell.....
Admiring this chrome bright wild native Oregon winter steelhead
The first pool we fished seemed promising, but we could not muster a grab from any of the possible fish that may have been in the spot. We saw a few flashes, but nothing would make the Thingamabobber take a downward dive. The water temperature was right around 40 degrees, and I was confident that if it would raise a couple of degrees we could have some good action. They were fishing hard, thorough, and they were picking up the techniques and tactics very well; so it was just a matter of the inevitable.
What a chrome bright buck! Oregon Winter Steelhead
We got into a spot, and I set up Ken in a area where he was waded out in the middle, and I was with Will helping him with distance roll casting, when Ken yelled fish on! We both looked toward him to see a WHALE of a steelhead breach the water with a huge air. It was a total monster!!!! Literally the biggest steelhead I have seen on someone's line in person, and I was praying we could land this beast. Ken battled the fish, and got several big airs, and some insane runs. It was headed down a nasty set of rapids toward a pool with a cliff on our side of the river. It was not looking good, but you have to try. Ken worked the fish, and I was down by it close and personal. I could see that this fish would easily brake the 20 pound mark and was looking closer to the 25 pound range (especially after having someone land a 19.09 pounder last week). This fish looked well over 40 inches, and had the girth of a fall Chinook salmon, except it was a acrobatic wild male winter steelhead. Ken got the fish down to the only area where we maybe had a chance for me to scoop it with my rubber catch and release net. It was a little side pocket of calmer water above the cliff at the end of the line of being able to go downstream anymore. Unfortunately the fish went over the last ledge rock, and was in the last possible foot of water before the chafed tippet popped and the fish was free.....Ohhhhhh soooooo close......I was standing there with the net out, but never had a viable chance to scoop this fish of a lifetime for Ken. Ken, Will,  and I gave the manly bro handshakes after that insane moment! What a fish!!!!! Sooner or later one of those huge ones is going to get landed!! They are that big for a reason.......
On tight to a strong winter steelhead on a Oregon north coast stream
Now it was Will's turn to hopefully rope into something insane like that one. We fished one pool after and nothing happened as far as hookups or seeing any potential action. We went to the next spot, and I set up Will where I hooked a monster last Friday, and had a client two Mondays ago hook into a very huge fish. Will fished a few drifts through,and suddenly the Thingamabobber took a plunge. Will slammed the hooked into the corner of the fish's grill and it was game on! The fish gave a super deep sturdy battle and it seemed like it would never end. The standard big buck fight; where it just hunkers down in a fast current and wears you out. Will endured the battle, and eventually got the ocean fresh chrome bright buck to yield. It was a fish that measured at 34" long and was chrome as a dime. We admired this native beauty, and Will sent him back off into the chilly flows to continue his run upriver to this natal spawning grounds.
One stoked angler showing his awesome wild winter steelhead - Oregon north coast stream
We then went to the next spot, and it was Ken's turn to rope into some chrome. He took about three casts into the "hot zone",and he was into another chrome bright fish. It was looking like a "normal" sized steelhead, and we kind of joked how it looked small after the two previous fish. The fish fought very hard, and made some nice runs, and really put on a seriously long enduring fight. Ken steered the chrome bright native hen into the hoop of the rubber net, before we unhooked her, snapped a few pics, and sent her off into the mysterious green waters. I took the water temperature and it was now at 43 degrees; which was interesting to see how that lined up with more consistent action.  
Winter steelhead or cannonball landing in the water?
We fished a few more spots with no action, and then I decided to take them to another "honey hole". I was giving them a demonstration of where to fish the spot, and on my second cast of the demo, I got into a fish. I offered the hot fish off to one of the guys, but they insisted I kept the rod in my hand and wanted to see my fight the fish. I had a fun battle with the fish, as it ran through my fly line, and went deep in the back end of the long pool. I fought her all the way back in, only to have her zip the line away several more times. When I landed her, she was a gorgeous wild hen that was picture perfect and went about 7-8 pounds. I checked her beauty out, and sent her off into the steelhead green pool. What a day! I even got to catch a fish on my guide trip!
Steelhead of a lifetime launching an air on a downstream run
I set the guys up in the spot, and within a few casts, Ken was on tight to another chromer. It fought well, and turned out to be a fin clipped hatchery fish; so we bonked it. Ken now had some fresh winter steelhead to bring home for the table on top of the wonderful native wild winter steelhead we got to experience. What a day we had out on the water to kick of March winter steelhead fly fishing. These native winter steelhead are something you have to experience! Get yourself out on the water!!
Picture perfect hen - native wild Oregon winter steelhead
I have a few openings for the remainder of winter steelhead season for guided trips; so if you are interested get a hold of me. You can email me at or you can call me by phone (541)-232-6360.