Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to the Bay

Life is a series of changes, and the last couple months have been a wild ride.  The wife and I packed up all of our belongings and now reside in a twenty five foot travel trailer with a few belongings locked far away in a storage unit.

We left Southwest Florida and pointed the wheel northwest.  The wife visited with her parents in Tennessee for a couple weeks while I drove to a place only a fisherman could love.  Neah Bay is a lovely place as long as you are on the water.  The gorgeous shoreline and offshore waters full of life have to be accessed through the hub of the Makah Nation.  The main reason the wife decided not to tag along was due to the fact that she saw enough of the depressing town during my final summer guiding there in 2005.  After spending a week there I can say that it has only gone downhill since 2005, especially after watching some of the local behavior at the only boat ramp in town.  Parking a pickup truck across the boat ramp and walking away does not attract tourism.  Neither does cursing and threatening someone who politely asks how long you are going to be blocking the ramp as you spool up a gill net.

For the first three days of fishing I was able to bum a boat ride with a couple strangers.  This was the first time I had ever met up with anglers from an internet fly fishing forum.  Luckily the meetup did not end with an interview with Chris Hansen. 

The first two days were spent inside the Strait and just offshore. The visibility was like putting your head in a grey plastic bag all day.  We fished all over the area north of Tatoosh Island but the only fish in the area were rockfish.  My hosts were thrilled with the action, but my thumb got shredded lipping fish and I couldn't help wonder where in the hell were the salmon?  This area is usually a slam dunk and with the large preseason forecast it was a bit concerning.

The third day we joined Tony (who I would be fishing with the rest of the week) to buddy boat out to Swiftsure Bank to find some fish.  Tony had been finding some decent fishing the previous couple days and after two days of just rockfish we had salmon on our minds.  After a long run in the fog we arrived on the bank and my first cast came tight to something heavy.  A few minutes later this nice chinook salmon was led into the waiting net.


For us that would be about all the fish we found that day.  We decided to leave a few fish to see if we could find the concentrations of salmon that just had to be offshore.  We found none.  Tony stayed put and found some scattered pods of salmon.  Someday I will learn the lesson to not leave fish to find fish.

I fished with Tony for another four days.  The fishing remained tough, but one day we found decent fishing.  The funniest part for me was that in the midst of really slow fishing, when we finally found some decent signs of salmon we both started fishing the least effective method, poppers.  I was able to catch one on a new pattern.  I tied a trailer hook version of the Zaggin Zook and it worked as well as my normal poppers (like the Kinky Banger).  Here's a video of the Zaggin Zook.

 

It was a great trip shared with great people.  Hopefully I will make my way back to the Northwest next summer and the fishing will be as good as it should be.  I hope the preseason forecasts end up being correct and the poor fishing was a result of the warmer, brown water we found offshore.




Thursday, July 3, 2014

DamNation On Demand




For those who cannot make a film festival or show up to a showing at your local fly shop, click the link below to watch this great documentary at home. 

DamNation OnDemand - Vimeo

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Kinky Banger

I am not an innovative fly tyer by any means.  I steal ideas from great tying minds to fit what I am trying get a fly to look like.  I wrote a bit about this here.

The past couple years I have been trying to fix the one thing I dislike about the majority of poppers / sliders used for salmon in the Pacific Northwest.  These patterns work exceptionally well and myself and others have caught loads of salmon on this style of stinger hooked surface pattern.  The problem I have is that I just don't like the aesthetic of these phallically shaped flies.

I have been looking for a way to tie salmon popper patterns with a more realistic taper from head to  tail.  I was wasting time on the computer the other day and found a step-by-step guide for Jonny King's Kinky Muddler.  The way the body was constructed I knew that I had found an idea to fix a problem only I have.

I used a Dremel to create some space on the backside of the foam cylinder to allow a smooth transition from popper head to the SF Blend body and I think this will be a success when it comes to Neah Bay coho this August.

I present the Kinky Banger.




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The One

I've been busy tying clousers getting ready for a visit to Neah Bay in August.  I needed another white bucktail after picking the one on my bench clean.  I reached into the bin of hair and pulled out one of the finest bucktails I have had the pleasure to work with.  Crinkly, long, and amazingly soft.

I returned to the vise and started tying.  I grabbed the new bucktail with scissors in hand and hesitated.  I looked at this bucktail and wondered if it was too nice to use for clousers.  Should I save it for something more deserving?  Maybe something larger than #2 clousers?  It seemed like a waste not to take advantage of its full length.

When I couldn't actually come up with an actual pattern I would tie with it I squeezed the scissors and cut the first pencil sized clump of hair off.

I believe clousers are good enough.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Rivers of a Lost Coast

Watched this fly fishing documentary awhile ago and it is worth watching.  I am in the process of watching it a second time.  Truly a great film about the loss of what seemed inexhaustible at the time.

Click the link below to watch it.

Rivers of a Lost Coast


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Fishing is Great... In My Head

Took the Bote board out the other morning to practice paddling.  The Gulf was calm and I was surprised with the clarity of the water after all of the wind the day before.

After about thirty minutes of paddling up and down the beach I noticed some bait jumping out of the water.  I paddled over to take a look.  I could see the bait and then I noticed a large mass of fish below.  It was a school of large jacks just cruising around the bait.  I stood motionless as the jacks swam circles underneath the board.  I could only watch as I did not have a fishing rod onboard.  I did imagine casting a clouser towards the school and watching the aggressive jacks fight to see which one could eat it first. 

Hopefully we will get some light winds over the next few days and I can try to create some real fishing memories.  I may flub my casts and miss shots at the next pod of jacks or cruising snook but it'll be better than just standing there watching.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Lure

Ever since I sold my boat last summer before moving from Washington to Florida the siren song of owning another vessel has been a weight on my shoulders.  That is no longer the case.

Last weekend I had a three hour drive to a marathon on the East Coast of Florida and was hot to trot as I saw the boat of my dreams listed on craigslist.  It was within my price range and had the exact outboard I wanted (Honda).  Over the long stretches of pavement I kept thinking about the launching, storage, maintenance, and other associated issues of boat ownership.  These thoughts became a major buzz-kill to thoughts of the wind in my hair and being able to fish almost anywhere.  It was a heavyweight fight between the reality of ownership and the dream of boat ownership.

Reality won as thoughts from my past came flooding back.  I started remembering how much I enjoyed fishing from a kayak back in the Pacific Northwest.  I even wrote about the limitations of kayak fishing back in August of 2011 here.  I came to the decision that I was happiest when I was the horsepower.  I had already sold my kayak so I needed a new fishing platform.  There are differences between saltwater fly fishing in the Northwest and Florida so I decided on a Stand up Paddleboard.

My new boat is a Bote SUP and I cannot wait for the winds to die down a bit to test it out.  I have a ton of learning to do but I look forward to the higher casting position a SUP gives.

Here's to a summer of adventure and here's a little video of the board I just purchased.


BOTE HD 12'6" Stand-up Paddle Paddle Board from BOTE Board on Vimeo.