Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winter Steelhead Class Reminder/Update

The Winter Steelhead Class for Saturday January 5th is full now, but the Sunday January 6th class still has four spaces available. This is a wonderful gift you can give to your favorite fly fishing friend, family member, and/or significant other for the holiday season; or for yourself to learn how to fly fish for winter steelhead.
Dime Bright Winter Steelhead
Email me at or call me at (541)-232-6360 to sign up for this awesome opportunity to become a proficient winter steelhead fly fisher.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Winter Steelhead Video To Pump You Up; While the River Levels are Blown Out

With the recent big time storm, our rivers took a huge hit, and levels are blown out for a couple of days at the least. The best odds for success coming up would be if you are planning on fishing a smaller creek/stream which will clear up quickly, but if you plan on fishing the larger rivers like the Wilson, then you are at least several days off. Luckily the Wilson hit flood stage last night, and now it is dropping like a rock.

Gauge Reading for Wilson River at Tillamook
The Nehalem River on the other hand really rose a lot, and it will be at least a couple of weeks to drop into a fishable levels. Hatchery steelhead should running viably after the river levels fall for those rivers that get planted like the Wilson, Alsea, Siletz, Clackamas, Sandy, North Fork Nehalem, Gnat Creek, & Big Creek(to name a few).The runs should be strong through mid January; so get yourself out there as soon as levels drop to get into this wonderful early winter opportunity.
Gauge Reading for Nehalem River at Foss
This winter steelhead fell to a pink egg sucking leech
 With all of the weather I know I am developing some "cabin fever", and I am really itching to get out for some fishing. Since there is not much angling that can be done in the area of northwest Oregon, I have put up a short video for you to enjoy. This will hopefully get you all fired up for the winter fly fishing action that you have to look forward to. It was filmed late last winter, and it was a really hot pretty buck steelhead.

Enjoy the Video (click to view):

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Class - January 5th or January 6th, 2013

When you ask most anglers how they fly fish for winter steelhead, they often tell you only one method on how they do it. They may say "I swing flies with a Spey rod using a Skagit head and 10' of T-14 sinking tipped line on the end, and a huge articulated fly on the end". The next guy would say he uses a 28' shooting head and an single handed 8wt with a big black leech. The next woman uses a strike indicator, and a fly that looks like a pink jig on a 10' 7wt rod; while her friend uses Trout Beads on a switch rod with a Thingamabobber strike indicator. They are all correct techniques to use for winter steelhead, but which one is the best for you and the river/spot you are fishing at?

All of these methods sound great, but which technique would want to do when you go to a river at the coast laden with bedrock slots and very little cobblestone present? Many people boldly tell you, "This is all you need to do to catch winter steelhead", or "the only thing I ever use for winter steelhead is..." Those people are often not the ones you should be picking up your techniques from; since they may fish a river or a run that is conducive for swinging flies; while you are constantly fishing a stream/run that requires a dead drifted fly to probe into a deep slot to get into a fish. This class will demystify all of the things that make winter steelhead fly fishing seem so hard or unapproachable. Reality is that winter steelhead fly fishing can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Another reality is that you should be able to catch winter run steelhead on most of your outings when you are fishing proficiently. Winter steelhead are not the mythological fish that they used to be years ago. With the internet having live feed of water levels, modern fly line design, modern flies design, and the high tech rods we now have; winter run steelhead can be effectively fished for, and by season's end, you can have large numbers of fish you have caught while everyone has been complaining about the winter and having "cabin fever".
A gorgeous wild native winter steelhead
I will be instructing two different steelhead classes coming up in early January. Each class will have room for four people to sign up, and participate. The class will not be a GUIDED fishing trip, but it will be a CLASS. You will be on the water in this class; so you will need to have your own waders and wading boots, a rain jacket, hat, polarized sunglasses, etc. I will have several rods I will be bringing, and you are more than welcome to use the equipment I will have for the class. You can also bring your favorite steelhead rod, and we can make sure in the class that you have the right setup for winter steelhead fly fishing. For this class, I will have single handed rods (10' 8wts), switch rods (11'ers), and spey rods also (13'ers) to demonstrate and have you all try out. This way if you are interested in winter steelheading, but have not chosen a rod/reel yet, you may find out what type of setup you are most comfortable with.
Admiring a wonderful trophy winter steelhead
The class will go into winter steelhead techniques and there will be on the water demonstrations; so you can see how the fishing should actually look when done correctly. Casting techniques will be demonstrated; since most winter steelhead streams have no back cast room, or little back cast room at all. Reading water will be covered; since you have to know what types of water will hold winter steelhead, and then how to approach those types of water for your best success out there. We will go over the equipment used for winter steelheading, and the different types of fly lines used for different situations with the two handed rods and single handed rods. Choosing your flies, and how to rig them up properly will be covered in the class. This class will really dive into all of the common aspects of winter steelhead fly fishing, and you will come out of the class knowing what to do on your own when you decide to hit the water this winter in pursuit of winter run steelhead.

Winter steelhead are one special fish to tie into with your fly rod
The cost of the class will be $100, and the class will be offered on Saturday January 5th -or- Sunday January 6th. Class time will be from 9am to 2pm, and we will start right at 9am. You will want to show up about 15 minutes early to be able to get your waders and gear on; so you can be ready to start on time for the class. We will be meeting at either the Wilson River at the Jones Creek Bridge or at the North Fork Nehalem Hatchery Parking lot (location to be decided when the date gets closers according to river conditions). I have chosen the two possible spots for the meeting place so I can decide on the location according to which place will offer better steelhead conditions according to water levels and weather, etc. -There will also be backup/alternate dates in case rains raise the rivers too much and we have to do the class at a later time. The Saturday the 5th class will have a backup date of Saturday January 19th, and the Sunday the 6th class will have a backup date of Sunday January 20th.
This rose cheeked native buck winter steelhead finally yielded after one acrobatic fight
In order to sign up for the class, email me at or call me at (541)-232-6360. Payments must be received in full to be officially signed up for the class.
-Cancellations must be done at least 15 days before the class date to receive a full refund for the class. This ensures people to be able to re-sign up if someone cancels; since these classes often fill up fast, and have a high demand for instruction.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Important Article About Our FIsheries!! - Conservationists Ask State to Study Impacts of McKenzie Hatcheries on Imperiled Wild Spring Chinook Salmon (press release)

This article and topic is something that is totally important to me; since I do a huge portion of my spring, summer, and fall guiding on the McKenzie River. I also had heard rumors of this lawsuit a while back from someone in a conversation; so I am posting this article for those interested. It is funny and a oxymoron  how the McKenzie River is managed, since you can fish with bait in the "general regulations season" from the third Saturday in April through October 31st (fly and lure all year round), and you can keep finclipped steelhead, finclipped trout, and finclipped salmon. The McKenzie is managed for all wild trout and salmon though, and you can kill a steelhead that has an adipose fin (since the head regional bio in the area somehow got that passed - thinking they are all ferule fish and deserve to die - Whatever happened to strays?). Basically the management is a total nightmare on the Mac, and there are also other vested interests that do business in the river valley stocking the living daylights out of the river with CRAPPY HATCHERY PLANTED TROUT. 

We have some studies going on in the river that are trying to protect the wild native trout, but those studies have only covered a few miles restored native trout habitat from a cease in stocking in that stretch. This has caused the natives in that certain stretch of the river to get heavy researching pressure; being caught and tagged with lots of fish handling. Why can't we simply use other river models to model the management after? It has been proven across the board that rivers with planted hatchery trout suffer, and rivers with wild fish only management strategies are typically healthy and thriving. Anyhow, enough ranting for me about the strange management of the McKenzie river for its fisheries. I want to inform you blog readers about this article that discusses how the Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the McKenzie Flyfishers, (on November 6th) sent a notice of intent to sue to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) for operating two fish hatcheries on the McKenzie River that harm wild Chinook salmon without having studied the impacts of hatcheries and obtaining federal approval to operate them. (taken from the article's first line
 Click Link Below to read the article:
Location: Eugene, OR

A Spawned out Spring Chinook Salmon after it has completed its spawning cycle

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Small fish, big opportunity - Article sent from Pacific Fisheries Management Council

Here is an article of interest I wanted to show all of you blog followers. The article written by the Pew Environment Group, and it discusses the work of The Pacific Fishery Management Council; which is based in Portland, Oregon. The council will meet this week to discuss their Draft Fishery Ecosystem Plan.


Sometimes the environmental challenges facing our oceans seem so large that it's hard to know where to start solving them. Changes in climate, degradation of habitat and rising demand to feed an ever-growing world population are just a few of the daunting ocean-related problems our nation faces.

Over the past several months, however, a collection of conservationists, anglers and others have come together to urge federal policymakers to safeguard the array of species that serve as the foundation for a healthy marine ecosystem. And, to their credit, regional fishery managers on both coasts heeded the message these advocates delivered: If we want to protect the oceans, it makes sense to start small.

Species such as menhaden, sardines and herring - commonly known as forage fish - are the lifeblood of a healthy ocean. Swimming together in dense schools, these oil-rich fish feed on microscopic plants and animals and then become nourishment for larger wildlife as a crucial link in the marine food web. These fish account for more than one-third of all ocean species caught around the world. But unlike catches of cod or tuna, most of the forage fish that is caught is not consumed by people.

Take menhaden, for example. Giant schools once ranged along the Atlantic coast, feeding whales and seabirds and commercially important fish. But menhaden populations have plummeted 90 percent in just the past 25 years and remain at a record low. Despite their declining numbers, hundreds of millions of menhaden are still hauled in and ground up to be used in fertilizer, pet and livestock feed, and dietary supplements for people.

This removal of forage fish can have significant impacts on coastal ecosystems. Studies have found that the amount of menhaden in the diets of striped bass, ospreys and bluefish has declined. And on the Pacific coast, the decrease of forage fish has been linked to diminished salmon runs, losses in seabird populations, and the unnecessary death of marine mammals. In fact, in 2009 scientists documented 80 percent mortality among pups in a population of sea lions off the coast of California when females left them for a week at a time in search of food.

According to a report issued this year by a panel of 13 eminent ocean scientists, forage fish are twice as valuable left in the water as they are caught in a net because of the vital role they play as food for commercially valuable predators such as tuna and cod. In other words, it's important for federal fishery managers to ensure that there are enough of them to feed everything else in the sea.

That's why conservation and fishing organizations - including the Pew Environment Group - have urged the federal government to step up protection of forage species in the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the Atlantic, we are calling on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to follow the expressed will of regional fishery councils and implement new protections for menhaden and river herring. And on the West Coast, we are asking NOAA officials to fulfill the Pacific Fishery Management Council's June commitment to forestall fishing for certain forage species until there is proof that catching such forage fish will not harm the overall ecosystem.

Even though the regional fishery councils endorsed these common-sense objectives and earned broad public support, those commitments mean nothing until NOAA implements the policies. Unfortunately, agency officials have been slow to embrace the councils' direction.

America's oceans offer a tremendous economic asset and cultural legacy. Whether you enjoy fishing on the water, eating a sumptuous seafood meal, or watching whales and seabirds, all of these activities depend upon a thriving and healthy marine ecosystem.

Forage fish nourish other wildlife and sustain important commercial and recreational fisheries. If we're going to protect our oceans as a whole, we must make sure that healthy populations of these smaller prey species remain in the water to support the entire food web.

Peter Baker ( ) and Paul Shively ( ) of the Pew Environment Group are both are avid anglers who work to conserve fish in New England and along the West Coast, respectively.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Some Pics of The Fall Fishing - Late Oct - Early Nov

I have been really busy guiding this fall, and working at Orvis on my non guiding days more or less. Keeping up with the blog postings has been a challenge with the combination of lots of other "work" to take care of, but I will have more time coming up to get some material back into the "bloggersphere". With lots of rain recently, I had to cancel a few trips, and ended up having some time to fish a little. I also went to do some salmon fishing and mushroom hunting with Nikki on my time after my guided trips. We had some fun fishing and scored on the King Boletes (mushrooms) too. I wanted to share some photos from the last couple of weeks; so I hope you will enjoy them!
Sea Run Cutthroat took this trout bead while angling for Chinook Salmon

Another Sea Run Cutty that could not resist the "Trout Bead" while salmon fishing

Angler in the battle with a really large cutthroat on the upper Willamette River

The reason why you lose some strong fresh fall Chinook salmon at tidewater pools

Now Nikki can add fall Chinook Salmon to her resume of fish caught on a fly rod.

A fine snow bellied fall Chinook Salmon - note the sea lice near my right hand

Nothing is better than catching salmon like this right from the salt......

These salmon had guts and gullets full of these baitfish

Another fine catch while we were salmon fishing - King Boletes

Napping & Feeling lazy in the gorgeous sunshine

Clouser Minnows tied with chartreuse & white or chartreuse & baby blue were the hot ticket for these fall Chinook