Thursday, December 19, 2013

Recent Fishing Pictures (Salmon & Winter Steelhead)

Sorry for the lack of entries for the last few weeks. I have been fishing on my days off and it has been good out there. Here are some pics from the last couple of outings I had fishing with friends. One day was from winter steelheading on 12/18 with my friends Ethan Nickel and Scott Nelson. The other days were from fall Chinook Salmon fishing on 12/9 & 12/10 with my friends Ethan Nickel and Brandon Bischof. Both fishing adventures were very worth while; especially since it was during the cold spell for the salmon fishing, and during a low water spell with cold weather for the steelheading.
Scott with a fish that really ripped off some line on the grab, and fought a long hard battle.
Ethan displaying Scott's first landed winter steelhead of the day; which took a deeply swung black and red pattern.
My first official winter landed winter steelhead of the 2013/14 season. Woo Hoo!!
The fins underwater on this fish show how super salty fresh this winter steelhead is....
Winter steelhead love holding in deep green bedrock slots like this one
This chromer made my fly line zig zag all around the pool while running all over the place
A prime example of a super salty fresh chrome bright native wild winter steelhead
10wt rods ready for fall Chinook Salmon
Much better than being home in the icy cold weather that struck western Oregon's valley areas....
Ethan admiring the first landed fall Chinook of the day
Clouser minnows are the go to fly for tide-runner fall Chinook
Ethan on tight to a nice salty fresh chromer on the second day of fishing
Brandon sipping some warm tea while Ethan & this Chinook have an enduring battle.
Ethan wearing out this salmon, but the salmon is not giving in easily....
Or is the salmon wearing out Ethan.......
Well it looks like Ethan won this battle with the salmon, and the Clouser minnow was the culprit again.
Hoisting up this gorgeous fall Chinook salmon; so we could check it out and admire it....
Catching fish like this when everyone is dealing with a cold snap is certainly the way to go......
The little make Chinook fought hard and put some serious bend into the 10wt Helios2.
Another fall Chinook that decided to attack the Clouser Minnow.
Ethan was surprised when this fish took the stripped clouser, cartwheeled airs, and turned out to be a winter steelhead.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis The Season.........To Get a Chromer........Try, Try, Try, Try, Try....., Try, Try, Try, TUG!!!!

When water levels do this during the wintertime in Oregon, it means it it time to go steelheading
Winter steelhead have been reported in several coastal streams, and they are also in the Clackamas and Sandy along with a few other rivers. With a recent blast of rain the rivers have risen significantly, and now most of them are on the drop, or are about to crest out and start falling. That means that all of the steelhead that were itching to enter freshwater, or the ones that were stacking up down low in the rivers during the last low water event are going to scream on up to their destinations.
Wild Steelhead like this fish are really special creatures. Treat them well - you know they treat us right!
2012 Winter Steelhead - This fish was caught while my friend & I were fishing "high water". Water level was falling...
 There will be mainly hatchery run winter steelhead for the early run, but there are some really nice wild fish here and there. I saw a picture of a gorgeous wild steelhead caught on a coastal river right before the levels bumped up; so fish are in. It's time to go winter steelheading!
Swinging with a "low & slow" presentation will produce winter steelhead
 In order to catch winter steelhead on the "wet fly swing", you must alter your techniques to get your fly into the strike zone of the fish. There are various little nuances you can do with your rod/body stepping to alter your cast, mend, swing speed, etc to get your fly to the steelhead's strike zone, and those variables alone could be enough material for a chapter in a book. The main thing for winter steelhead fishing with a wet fly swing is that you need to fish with sinking tips that keep your fly down in the zone for as long as possible. You also need to fish with fly lines and equipment that helps you get that fly into the zone for that long duration, and also with ease while doing so. With the modern day of equipment it is easy to say that switch rods and spey rods get your fly out there with ease, and they handle your line  the best and with the least effort possible. Skagit heads are the lines that throw your winter steelhead flies with the most ease, and between the Rio Flight Head or the Airflo Skagit Compact, they are both great choices. You will want to have a variety of sinking tips ranging from T-8 through T-14, and that can be a whole huge topic in itself. The main point is to have appropriate sinking tips to get your fly down per the given spot. Otherwise you may be hanging up all day long or you may be getting your fly just under the surface and it is several feet deep in the spot you are fishing depending on sinking tip being too heavy or too light. Choosing flies can be confusing for winter steelhead, but it is more important to fish with three very different flies regarding color, profile, weight, materials, etc. For example a wise selection would have one large black with blue highlights large profiled fly that could be made of rabbit, ostrich, or rhea feathers. The second fly could be a orange and pink tube fly with a large bead head that is 2 inches long made of rabbit fur. The third fly could be a smaller marabou Spey style fly with no weight, or a marabou muddle minnow for that matter. Showing a fish three radically different flies, vs three flies that are all 2.5 inches long with pink materials will likely produce more while swinging. You can even use the same fly pattern in three or four different colors and sizes, and that would do the trick to make it simple. An easy setup for swinging for winter steelhead would be a skagit head looped to 7.5 feet of T-14 sinking line, and then a 4-6 foot long leader and a black with blue highlighted articulated ostrich fly. It produces for many anglers, and will work in a variety of winter steelhead conditions.  
Dead drifting egg patterns and other flies can be very productive for winter steelhead
Certain times, spots, and situations call for dead drifting flies. Many fly anglers condone it, and give an attitude to the fly anglers that chose to participate in this technique. Fact is that is completely crushes fish, and it can be a method that leads to numbers when done properly at the right place at the right time. My personal belief is that people should be open to it, and realize that it is a moral decision to put nymphing for trout as okay, but you are a terrible person if you use a Thingamabobber for steelhead. When nymphing for steelhead you can do it blindly to slotted defined water that you can assume a fish would be holding there. You can also rely on seeing fish from climbing above the river and looking into clear spots for fish holding in tailouts, heads of pools, and near boulders in runs and pools. Egg flies, trout beads, marabou flies tied for dead drifting, & steelhead style nymphs can all produce winter steelhead while doing a dead drift presentation. An easy setup that will produce winter steelhead dead drifting would be a Thingamabobber on your leader 3-5 feet above a weighted pinkish orange egg pattern with a weightless steelhead orange egg pattern tied off the first fly's hook bend. It works and it is relatively easy to rig up.

Hope you get out on the rivers; 
so you can get tight to a 
chrome bright winter steelhead!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Oregon Fall Chinook Salmon Fly Fishing Pictures

The arsenal of equipment that we decided to fish with for tide-runner fall Chinook salmon 
Orvis Helios2 10wt with Mirage reel armed and ready for fall Chinook salmon in Oregon
Scenery is never lacking when you are on a fishing adventure in Oregon
Steve displaying an awesome fly box he prepared for fall Salmon fly fishing
Your fly box should look like this when targeting fall Chinook right from the ocean in Oregon
Prospecting the water for fall salmon.....
Some awesome looking water holding lots of fall Chinook salmon....
The first landed specimen of the trip! Woo Hoo ! Success with a chrome bright fall Chinook!
What a paddle on this fish! When we spread it out, it was twice as wide!
Enjoying the moment.....perfect fall weather, calm winds, and a chromer with sea lice.....
Fall Salmon swinging/stripping flies in progress.....ready for that big grab at any moment......
Stoked with a limit of fresh fall Chinook in a short time of fishing
The result after a seriously hard long fight with a strong fall Chinook
Under battle with a heavy sturdy hard fighting fresh fall Chinook
A nice hefty deep bodied fall Chinook Salmon fresh from the salt
Admiring this gorgeous Chinook before sending it back to head upstream
Steve texted me this pic showing his catch before driving home.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keta, Chum, Dog - Call Them What You Want, But Treat Them With Respect!

Since I moved to Portland, I have made an annual Chum salmon fishing trip to see what the fishery is all about. Fishing for Chum has a mixed reputation of being a wonderful catch and release fishery, and is also known as a snagger/ trampled spawning redd fishery. Unfortunately, the fly fishers have gained a bad reputation for being the worst snaggers, and also for walking all over spawning redds to get that trophy pic of a large fish with the fly rod. So, I take it upon myself every season to see what is going on, and maybe to be able to educate the ignorant anglers about the potential damage and harassment they are causing.
Orvis Helios2 11' 8wt Switch Rod & Mirage V reel being battle tested by a large Chum Salmon
The flip side to the fishery is that there are a bunch of good river stewards who take it upon themselves to be the "watch dogs" over those gnarly spawning dog salmon. I know when I am there, I have seen some action from anglers that has literally made my blood boil. The funny thing is how people lose there ethics so fast when there is a pile of large fish in front of them; especially the fly anglers. It seems that a fly angler will sink to the lowest level when there are large fish around them, especially when  catching them happens to take some skill. This is when the snagging factor can start to happen. Chums are known as very aggressive fish; so lots of fly guys perceive that as a fish that will climb on a swung wet fly. That may be true for Chums out in the bays and tidewater, but in a crystal clear river with really low water with anglers around, the Chums become very wary. 
Mean teeth and wild colors are the tell tale sign of a Chum Salmon
When I had my recent outing, I had a really wonderful day, but there was one episode that my wife and I experienced that supported the bad reputation of the fly fishers fishing the catch & release Chum fishery. We had been fishing in solitude for a few hours, and we had tied into several fish that we fought, caught, admired, and released. Nikki noticed that three cars had just parked behind her car, and she expressed worry about the anglers invading into our peaceful solitude with the two holes that we fished loaded with piles of salty fresh Chums. I passed off her worry figuring nobody would even think to pry into our area, and especially the approximate 10 anglers that emptied out of the cars. Well it turned out to be that Nikki's worries were legit, as the anglers started to trample down the river, stepping all over the spawning redds, and moving and scaring fish all over the place.
This colored up chum had lots of sea lice behind its dorsal fin indicating these fish often mature in tidewater
When they got closer to us, I could not believe that they were still coming and heading right to us. They literally got about 15 feet above me, and started to wade out halfway across the river, and I noticed all of the fish in the spot I was fishing were frantically feeling the harassment of these fly guys. They then asked me how I was doing as far as catching goes, and I unleashed my frustration on them. I yelled, "Can you please stop messing up the pool I am fishing; since you have basically spooked all of the fish out of the pool! You are walking all over the spawning redds; so walk on the land and not through the river on the clean humps of gravel."

They then apologized, and backed up, and proceed to walk too close to my wife in the pool she was fishing. If they pushed her out of the pool, I would have really came unglued, but they moved on and kept on going down river. After a while you could tell that they likely were talked to again by the next batch of anglers a quarter of a mile or so downriver, because they eventually walked back upstream and by us. This time walking way back in the brush. SEE, THEY LEARNED!!!! I often wonder about my moments when I have had to talk with anglers about unethical actions, but I take my fish very seriously, and I want to have these resources for future generations to come.
Admiring this powerful Chum Salmon before sending it off to continue its mission
When reading about the Chum fishery you often get anglers saying to stay away from it, and never fish for these endangered fish. My feeling is mixed because for one thing you can see how the fishery really is when you are out there. You are not speculating about it, and you are actually experiencing it. Also, if there are not people with good ethics out there, then what would the people with poor ethics be doing out there? It is important to have river stewards out there protecting our fisheries and educating others how to act when experiencing these fisheries. It means a lot more to pull a fair hooked fish from a deep green ambiguous pool then to beat up on a moldy Chum salmon spawning/rolling around in the pea gravel; only to hook it in the tail. Behave when you see fish on redds, and treat these fish like gold. This way we can able our future generations to experience what we do now. After you catch a few, appreciate it, and take off with good memories of your day. Don't worry about having to post a Facebook Pic with your fly rod and big fish. Not that I am against pics, but worry about that after your hard fighting Chum yields to you, and it is in a safe spot for a quick pic. Then let it swim off to continue it mission to spawn to make more for the future! Enjoy this resource and respect the Chums!!!

Tight Lines to All!!! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Check It Out !!! "Mending the Line" - Trailer

This past April I became aware of a project to help Frank Moore (the most legendary angler on the famous North Umpqua River) get back to France to visit the land he was at for the battle at Normandy. Well the project has been underway, and now there is a trailer ready to view from Uncage the Soul Video Productions. Check out this amazing video! It gave me goosebumps, and I bet you will feel the same. If you have ever met Frank, you will feel a lot when you view this wonderfully made trailer.

Mending the Line - Trailer from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October - Willamette Trout Fishing Pics & Video

A standard cookie cutter nice rainbow from the Middle Fork Willamette River
October Caddis Dries will get the attention of the Middle Fork's larger rainbows

On tight with a nice rainbow trout
The typical view on the upper middle fork lacks riverside homes
Wild fish only combined with fly and lure fishing regulations lead to rainbow trout like this one
Last summer's golden stone nymph exoskeletons indicate what had been hatching out during the past several months
Working the water for wild rainbows
Click Here to View Video