Friday, December 31, 2010

The year in review....

2010 was a great year. 

The year started with a big move back to Washington State.  The job situation didn't work out as expected, but being able to deal with unexpected issues and make changes is just part of life. 

Summer was a blast.  Lots of hiking and exploring.  Checked out two fisheries I had always wanted to fish when I lived here previously.  The true lesson is do not put off taking advantage of opportunities, and I know that I will strap on the pack and hit both of those fisheries again next summer.  One highlight of the summer was one of the most visual skating dry fly takes I have ever seen.  I can still picture the fly skating two feet in front of the exposed boulder and the fish coming up and exploding on the fly.

Summer also brought a couple trips back to the great big blue, the Pacific Ocean off of Neah Bay.  This past summer wasn't the best year for salmon off the coast, but a good time was had and a few fish were caught.  Next year I hope the silver runs increase and I can get out there and chase some on the cast fly.

This past year also marked my first serious attempt at gardening.  There were successes and failures, but it is amazing how much quality food one can grow in a small residential lot.  We were frankly getting a little tired of green beans, potatoes, and summer squash.  Hopefully, this upcoming summer gives us a normal June and September weather wise.

I'm looking forward to 2011.  I have a couple more trips to places I have always wanted to fish, along with more exploring of places I started learning last spring and summer. 

Also for 2011, I hope we can all make time to send letters and attend meetings to speak for wild fish.  I know I struggle to find the time, as it's easier to focus on fishing and life and ignore the fight that often seems as useful as pounding your head against the wall but wild fish are still just hanging on.  It reminds me of one of my best days this past summer.  I hooked four and landed two beautiful wild steelhead in about an hour and a half of fishing time.  Going by fishing results, I was fishing over a huge run of steelhead.  But this river now has a run of wild summer runs that might be 100 fish.  I'll remind myself of that every time I hear people talk about great fishing.  The trend is still going down, no matter how hard so many seem to be working at catching the last one.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sir, What's in the Bag?

Not that, this....

I started using ziplocs as a way to store flies back when I fished the saltwater.  I've always struggled to find a box I like for flies with stinger hooks such as intruders, so I just continued to use ziplocs. 

I think I'll put the green flies in a box though.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Respect the Pineapple

Some pics WSDOT took of the bridge at the mouth of the Sol Duc.  Also noticed a tree across the river just above the first bridge across the Sol Duc (coming from Forks).  Be careful out there, especially as the bigger rivers drop into fishable shape.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The view from the log

The angler peered into the flybox. Should he go with a bright fly or a dark fly, large profile or low water? He lifted his gaze from the box and glanced back at the river. It was summer, but this coastal stream was still carrying a load of glacial silt from high atop Mount Olympus back towards the Pacific Ocean. He could just barely make out his wading boots in thigh deep water. He thought about what a fish could see in the milky water, and black jumped into his mind.

Back to the fly box and his eyes zeroed in on a green-butt prawn fly he had tied up the night before. The flow of the fly just looked good. The black tail, chartreuse dubbing, black body and wing with a throat of teal. He grabbed the fly out and tied it to the end of the line. He had just switched to a sink tip after spending the day working the upstream riffles and pools with a floating line. He had one last shot before the long drive home, and he felt that getting a little deeper would give him the best shot at a fish. Tying the fly to his leader he wet the knot with saliva and cinched the knot tight and started to cast. He started fishing higher than he expected a fish just out of habit. Never wanting to miss a fish tucked in faster water, it had rarely resulted in a fish but once in a blue moon these fish will surprise you. Each cast was lengthened three feet at a time until he reached a comfortable distance for this run, about sixty feet. He started shuffling down the run after each cast and swing. He had passed through the fast water he started in and then slowly through the main gut of the run. The fly was swinging perfectly in this water. No mending was needed after the cast, the fly came under tension and seemed to fish itself with little help needed from the fisherman. He was disappointed that there were no fish in the run, but he was not quite ready to reel up and start walking back to his truck. The sky was getting dark so he decided to start reeling up after this final swing through the tailout. That's when he felt the jolt of a fish. The chrome steelhead was out of the water before he could even react. He lifted the rod and heard his reel start screaming. The fish was heading downstream into the next pool. He started wading towards shore to follow when he hears another splash. The fish had jumped again in the pool below. The angler moved to the shore and began chasing the fish downstream trying to both fight the fish and walk on the basketball sized rocks that made up the gravel bar. The fish made one more sizzling run and then the line stopped. The fish had wrapped the sink tip around something deep within the murky water. To the angler it only felt like dead weight and then the line came free as the fish made one more headshake with the sink tip wrapped around a snag. All that came back to the angler was the fly line and sink tip. The fly and 4 feet of leader remained in the steelhead's jaw. The angler was disappointed not to have landed this fish, but was happy to have felt the grab and sizzling runs. He quickly reeled up replayed the image of the fish jumping over and over as he walked back to his truck with a wide grin plastered across his face.

The steelhead stayed in the downstream pool resting. Occasionally the fish would shake its head attempting to dislodge the fly stuck in the corner of it's jaw. The water darkened as night fell. By morning the steelhead had moved upstream but the fly had come loose and rested in the stones at the bottom of the pool.

Over the next month the river's current gently moved the fly along the bottom of the pool as the river dropped to its low autumn levels. Then the first rains hit the coast. The river flow started growing, picking up water from hundreds of tributaries. The fly now was free of the bottom, being pulled towards the ocean fifteen miles away. The leader was still attached but eventually became wrapped on an underwater branch. The fly swung into the log the branch was attached to and came to a halt, with the hook point buried into the wet wood.

Over the next month the river moved up and down as the storms hit the coast and then subsided. Then the big storm came. The snow level shot up higher than Mount Olympus and the tributaries poured water mud, silt, and gravel into the river as ten inches of warm rain pummeled the coast over two days. The river filled the large floodplain as the water kept rising. As the river raged, it began to reshape itself. It changed channels as it began dropping. The pool that fished so well in the summer was gone, replaced with long riffle filled with small gravel.

The log with the fly attached to it was ripped from underneath the water and started floating downstream as the river crested. It floated ten miles downstream before beaching itself on a gravel bar newly exposed as the flows dropped. The fly was still attached to the log.

The fly now rested on the top of the log and was able to witness the birth of a beautiful piece of fly water. As the water receded, the river created one of those places steelhead anglers dream of. Fast water fed into a long slow glide. The bottom was a mix of softball to basketball size rocks. Over the next month, the fly overlooking this run saw an number of anglers stop and fish this gorgeous piece of water.

I started walking towards the log about a month ago. I had fished the run for about an hour with one solid grab. My feet were getting a little numb from the cold winter flows but the reason I was racing towards the log was my bladder. I tend to postpone bathroom breaks when focused on fishing. By the time I get a chance to pee, I really have to go. I'm usually dancing around trying to unbuckle the suspenders on my waders praying I can hold it for ten more seconds.

I'm clipping my wading belt back on when I happen to glance at the log in front of me. I see a battered fly, with hackle unraveled and a rusty hook. I wonder how it got here as I pull it from its perch. I look at the fly and even after being exposed to the elements it looks fishy to me. I decide that it is too pretty to be thrown away and slowly stick it back on the log. I clip the leader still attached to it off to throw away and start walking back to the river. As I started fishing again, I wondered what kind of idiot who lost his fly on a back cast so close to the river would break it off and not go grab it off the log.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Defense of Fly Fishing

Truly one of the best written discussion of the current state of fly fishing for winter steelhead.  I wish I could write and express myself as well.  Worth the read for the Syd Glasso quote alone.

Doug Rose Blog Post

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Can There Be Just One

Lately, I've been talking a lot about hatcheries on this blog.  I just finished writing a note to WDFW about the five year fishing moratorium on the Elwha River (Elwha Fishing Moratorium) and I couldn't get a thought out of my head.

Do we have one major river system in Western Washington without hatcheries?  I go through a mental list of the major steelhead and salmon rivers and cannot think of any.  Is our hatchery addiction so bad we have to plant 60,000 chambers creek fish during dam removal on the Elwha during a five year fishing moratorium? 

While the state has stopped planting on lots of small tributaries with no collection facilities, nothing has been done for the larger, more productive systems.

I guess some movement is better than none, but the slow pace in the face of extinction and closures is beyond frustrating.

I think it's time to try to get out and do some more fishing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snider Creek - Part 3

The good folks at the Wild Steelhead Coalition have put out some comments and discussion points about the program and early wild winter steelhead populations.

Snider Creek Comments

Snider Creek Discussion Points

You still have time to send in comments to

Check out the Wild Steelhead Coalition and if you're not a member, you should be.

Wild Steelhead Coalition

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I love December fishing.  The frost never melting on the north facing shoreline, steam coming off the water as the the morning sun rises, and of course swinging flies for steelhead. 

The fishing was great, but it would have been a superb day without the feel of fish at the end of the line.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Please Stop

I cannot stand all these Xtranormal videos being posted all over the web.

Before these computer generated videos, the only comedy I couldn't even watch were ventriloquists. I'm gonna start living a righteous life because if I go to hell, it's gonna be an looped Xtranormal video with a computer generated Jeff Dunham talking to his doll about stuff no one cares about.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

End of the Line

Great documentary on overfishing

Snider Creek Part 2

I drove out to Forks last night for the meeting about Snider Creek. It was a lively but civil discussion on the program with WDFW staff. Learned some stuff and my head was spinning all day at work attempting to put my thoughts together.

The meeting was dominated by those in favor of the program. Since the meeting was in Forks I expected that. If it weren't for one long time wild fish advocate, I would have been the only one asking tough questions about the performance of the program. Of course, there were many people who did not comment at the meeting so it is hard to tell if there were other people opposed to the program. I would like to think there were a couple.

Now to my thoughts on the program. It is clear that there still are early wild fish in the Sol Duc. The guides stated and WDFW data show that Snider fish make up approximately 25% of the fish caught. This is great news. If the program is stopped there will still be a fishery, even if that fishery becomes non-consumptive with the recent early timed wild steelhead harvest closure.

The arguments in favor of the program are clearly geared towards economic and social factors. The program provides fish for harvest for guides and their clients. One speaker also mentioned that locals needed these fish to feed themselves. The supposed benefits of the program for wild fish are not mentioned by proponents. By pushing economic and social benefits the proponents are showing that the program is solely a harvest based program and not meant to act to restore early wild runs. Basically if the program is not continued they say it would be economically devastating to guides and the community of Forks. I disagree with this. Eventually, and hopefully not too late, all rivers will be wild steelhead release and guides and communities will have to adapt to that change. I think we should adapt sooner rather than later.

To me the decision to continue or end the program should be based on what is good for the wild fish, not the guides or Forks. Our rivers and fish runs are not property of local communities and businesses. They belong to all of us. We should not manage our wild stocks based on what guides want but what is good for the fish, period!

While the meeting is over there is still time to let the department know how you feel about the Snider Creek program on the Sol Duc. Please let the department know how you feel. Send e-mails to: