Thursday, February 19, 2015

Steelhead Fishing With Pictures

This season has been a fun winter to experience, and it epitomizes why I live in Oregon. Winters when the steelhead runs are robust are really enjoyable because you can get stoked during the time when most people are dreaming of the summer, and you can also learn to appreciate the seasons even more. I have been fishing long enough for winter steelhead where you see the subtle things happen like the new shoots popping out of the ground of stinging nettles in February, and that tells you spring is around the corner. You see the early mayflies, and once in a while a cutthroat slurping one on a warmer calm cloudy day. The moss carpets anywhere it can cling onto, and its green starts to become much brighter than that of the earlier part of the winter. The other day there were so many of this one type of mushroom all over the place, and three days later there was not one to be seen. Conversely, weeks back, and even a few weeks ago you could smell the partial remnants of decaying salmon far from the rivers where animals dragged the fish into the woods. A fishing session nowadays doesn't pass without some major raptor; whether it be a bald eagle or some type of a hawk swooshing down through whatever river valley I have been visiting for the given day.
Sometimes you look down and see a perfect little disc rock.
This bug hooked up with a fish that went totally bonkers before heading over a falls.
Signs of how high the water was on the very last high water event.
This rough skinned newt was quite entertaining to observe.
The newt's choice of water isn't bad either.....
The deformed right front hand made me wonder what all of the possible reasons would be.....? Amphibians are the true tell tail responders to things being messed up in the environment. With all of the beautiful water and amazing green mossy forests out there, things are hidden right in front of our eyes.
From here down are pictures from this past Valentine's Day. I was lucky and got to go fishing with my wife Nikki. We more or less had the river to ourselves minus seeing a couple we know that were leaving when we arrived. Later we saw another two people I know, but we didn't interfere with each others water anyhow. Gorgeous weather and good fishing!
The head of the head is looking rather fishy....
Fish on the swing in the first spot of the day we decided to fish!
This colored up buck decided to chomp on the black and blue swung wet.
Working a run......
Waiting for the tug.....
Mending up the Thingamabobber
Fish on and pulling hard in very heavy water. It seems like it is going to be a really nice steelhead.
Every time I could budge it into the shallows, it would sprint back off into the mysterious green depths.
 This winter steelhead is a gorgeous two toned chromer !
They don't get much brighter than this!
How much joy it was to spend time with you, but you must go back and complete your mission.
The little tributary picture was taken by my wife Nikki - she's got skills!
Working "the upstream areas" is a nice advantage of dead drifting under an indicator
Focusing hard on the presentation after the cast for those elusive steelhead.
The anchor is releasing from the water in this pic. Good timing on the pic Niki!
Nikki has great photography skills, and in this pic she caught the line in the air all the way across.
Cast is landing and getting ready to start lazily swinging across....
Nikki scoping out the run....
I always love this big mossy tree
Working the top of a nice productive run
Mushrooms are super cool!
Nikki was playing around with some of the filter functions, and this one looked nice and green!
"Green Clover" - Steelhead fishing needs a little luck added into the equation....

Friday, February 6, 2015

Acrobatic Oregon Coastal Winter Steelhead Video

Often the debate comes up between hatchery and wild steelhead, and many in opposition argue that wild and hatchery steelhead are not that different from each other. You can see the argument being legit as far as chromosomes go, and I would imagine they are the same creatures more or less. When it comes to dealing with these animals first hand there is a really large difference when you have experienced catching lots and lots of them. Then and only then can you really compare. I know people are also going to hammer on me (the hatchery fish proponents), but this entry is not to argue about the politics or anything like that. It is to just mention the power, vigor, beauty, splendor, and magic of wild steelhead, and you can also watch the video for first hand visuals of my point. 
This double striper wild buck tore me up catching many air & not wanting to yield
Personally I have had one of the meanest battles ever on a chromer hatchery 9-10 pound range winter steelhead on the lower Siuslaw River while fishing with my friend Ethan; so I know hatchery steelhead can kick your butt in simple angling fights. One huge difference is that on a scale of many fish (talking 100's of a theoretical sampling pool), when it comes to landing fish, wild fish freak out much harder than hatchery fish do. They simply do not want to yield to us! The next main point I have seen over a large enough sampling pool to see the statistics mount up, is that hatchery fish go down the drain fast in regards to "in the river" time. Likely a good thing; so they lessen the odds of successfully spawning, but they still intermingle with wild fish and also spawn with each other; so we can only guess what that is doing to the gene pools.
This fish has a really large tail to help its propulsion
Conversely, wild steelhead that portray the rainbow trout paint job fight like bandits. They crack airs and make runs better than most chrome bright hatchery fish do. They stay hard bodied, and don't get that gross funky look that many hatchery fish get when they have been in the river for more than the time of being chrome. Many hatchery fish out of this theoretical sampling pool just shake their heads, and make some runs, but the runs don't compare with the speed, torque, force, and assertion to their wild counterparts.
Oregon coastal rivers have been fishing well this winter so far.....
Again this is not an entry talking about politics of hatchery vs. wild, but my personal observations of how they feel on the end of the rod, and how they look compared to each other. You can tell when you have caught lots of them. The wild ones feed my addiction of steelheading. The hatchery ones are another story; where they are fun to catch, but not nearly as special to me. I guess if I liked eating hatchery winter steelhead more, I may have another feeling about them.....

The one really impressive thing is to think about is that a wild steelhead was born from an egg in the river. The egg was not eaten by anything before it hatched into the fry. That fry made it by all of the hungry critters to become a smolt. The smolt made it by all of the hungry cutthroat trout that may have eaten it. The birds did not get it on the way out to the ocean. It made it by all of the hungry fish in the ocean, and you can imagine the predators that would hunt a steelhead that is over several pounds. Then the fish is headed up to do its spawning run, and it already dodged the sea lions, and was scratched by a seal. It came through the bombardment of bobbers, eggs, jigs, flies, etc; only to intercept your offering. The fight is on, you land it, look it at, and send it off to keep up its run upstream to create the cycle all again.

 Wild Steelhead are amazing creatures!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

March Brown Softhackled Wet Fly - Fly Tying Video

Here is a really easy fly to tie that also catches lots of trout on the lower McKenzie and Upper Willamette Rivers for much or March, April, and ending in early May. You can give this fly the classic wet fly swing, or you can fish off of a dry fly (dry and dropper). It is typically much more productive for fish catching compared to the dry fly patterns that mimic this large spring hatching mayfly.

Materials List:
Thread: Orvis Tan 6/0
Collar Hackle: Partridge feather - natural

March Brown Softhackled Wet Fly

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fly Tying 201 Class This Friday - Spots open - FT201

This Friday 2/6/15 there will be a Fly Tying 201 Class at the Orvis Portland Store from 7-9pm. Cost of the class is $25 at the door, but you must stop by the store or call (503)598-7680 to sign up for the class prior to the class starting time (to avoid overfilling and having tying stations set up). We will provide everything for you during the class (unless you want to use your own tools/vise). We will tie several standard flies (trout style) that will give you the basis to tie many other patterns with the techniques you will use.
Catching fish like this on your own tied flies is super rewarding.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Short Video of a Winter Steelhead Cast, Swing, Grab, and Run

Here was a fun fish I tied into on the first spot of the day fishing this past Friday 1/30/15. I made a short little video of the cast, swing, grab, and starting run from the fish. It was a small fish, but any steelhead on the swing is a great one. I had some more action in another spot also, but my factory welded loop on my sinking tip was looking old and about to budge. I was lazy and never repaired it with a couple of nail knots or a braided loop, and it cost me my second fish. The fish grabbed super hard, and then it ran off. Suddenly my Skagit Head flew back at me, with no piece of T-11 with my black and blue wet fly looped off of it anymore. Poor fish was left with 8' of T-11 sinking tip and a wet fly in its lip. This day I only fished a three spots, and hooked up with two fish swinging. Makes me wonder what it could have been like if I had fished really hard that day. Fishing has been very good this winter on many of Oregon's coastal rivers this season so far. Enjoy the little film clip. I suggest watching the video on Full Screen Mode, and adjust the resolution on YouTube to the highest HD setting possible for your computer. That way you can see the fly line tighten up for the "grab" better. I hope it pumps you up to get out there and enjoy the river!