Monday, December 31, 2012


I have always been a fan of east coast striper flies.  There are so many possibilities for not only specific patterns but of techniques (such as Bob Popovics') for west coast salmon.  I recently was spending a bit of time watching tying videos online and came across the Mushmouth by Dave Skok.  It looks to be perfect for imitating herring and I liked the use of Softex within the pattern to minimize fouling.

I decided to make an attempt and while the first try was a little rough I was pleased with the second attempt.

Right now I have confidence that this fly will work well dredging for blackmouth in the upcoming months.  Of course I find that I always have confidence in the flies when they are fresh from the vise.  We'll see if that confidence lasts on the water.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blackmouth Quest - Day 2

A decision I made towards the end of the summer will have a major impact on my fishing over the next few years.  After a poor summer of fishing and feeling like an outsider to all the great saltwater fishing opportunities I broke down and purchased a saltwater boat.  I'll probably spend the next few years blogging about fuel issues, broken motors, trailer wiring issues, and all the other crap that comes with boat ownership but right now I'm on that post-purchase high (it feels so good I may start hoarding boats).

Back to the point of this post.  I bought the boat right as the best saltwater coho fishing season in recent memory was ending.  It was a long months wait until we reopened for chinook in Area 6 and then mostly waiting for decent conditions to fish with the pretty dismal weather we've experienced over the past month.  I've made it out twice this month to dredge for chinook.  I've landed one tiny salmon (12 inch chinook) and multiple rocks.

Right now I am more pleased with the rock catching because it is the only way to tell I am reaching the bottom in 60-80 feet of water.  It is amazing how quickly thirty feet of T-17 will sink.

Another thing I am learning is that not casting the head far enough will result in tangles just like a cut plug herring will if the angle between the sinking line (mooching weight) and the fly (cut plug) is not wide enough.

The other thing I am realizing is that the weather forecasts are not to be taken seriously.  I read the NOAA marine forecasts daily and often base my decision to fish on them.  Too often I make the decision to not go and start dealing with other projects and jobs and then get a glimpse of the water in the afternoon and it is glass smooth all the way to Victoria.  Of course I see this with an hour of daylight left which would mean I would get to the fishing grounds as the sun sets.

Yesterday I was not going to make that mistake.  I needed to be out on the boat and do some fishing.  I ran into some friends at the launch who gave me a report from a few days previously so I decided to take their advice and try fishing a little closer to the ramp.  I fished the outside of the hook for around an hour or so.  It was nice to fish some varied water depths as the drift was moving the boat slowly from deeper to shallow water.  The wind was blowing a bit but I was able to use the kicker motor to keep the boat in line with the sinking flyline and get the fly near the bottom.  I did not touch a fish (and neither did the other boats fishing there) so I decided to head a little further west.

I turned the boat towards the buoy and hit the gas.  As I approached the spot I had fished before I saw a group of boats (busy holiday weekend) about a half mile away so I figured I would see what was going on.  As I approached the shelf they were fishing over I started noticing birds and started seeing bait on the sounder.  That is always a good sign.

I slowed down and idled through the boats trying to tell if there was a way to fish amongst them.  Some were trolling downriggers but it looked like a bunch were mooching and jigging.  I also saw some nets fly so there were definitely fish around.  I started fishing but tried to stay out of the other boats way since most were trolling or motor mooching and our drifts were different.  I managed to stay out of their way but I also managed to likely stay off the fish too.

The wind started kicking up a bit more so I decided to bail.  After I pulled the boat out and started to drive home I noticed the wind dying down and the seas flattening out.  Missing on the weather seems to be the story of my season so far, but I'll keep trying until I hit it right.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I've been noticing a trend recently in fish photos.  It seems as if a serious gaze is the only way to show off a fish.  I know fly fishing is a serious business but I think showing some emotion is better than looking like Zoolander with a fish in your hands.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not Recommended

2013 WDFW Rule Proposals to Comment On 

Looks like rule proposals to reduce harvest of wild steelhead and reduce angling efficiency will not be recommended by WDFW.

Sad that a no angling from floating device seems to have divided the wild fish advocate community.  It seems that there were two types of disapproval of the "no fishing from floating device" rules.

The first was that people did not like the rule.  Most in this camp fish out of boats and did not want to change their tactics.

The second were people who felt that they went too far and might have too much of an impact on the sportfishing community or only wanted the regulations to cover a watershed with minimal boat impacts.

I have a different take about a "pick one river" approach.  I do think the rules should be approved for all of the rivers on the coast.  If only one could be picked wouldn't you want the one not consistently meeting escapement, has massive boat pressure, and the data shows that up to 75% of the escapement is caught and released some years.

Forget the idea that it may cause the most impact to guides and anglers.  Just based on the fish alone, the Hoh River should be the first with a no fishing from boats rule.  It would have a real impact as long as WDFW still refuses to even deal with wild steelhead release, or bait bans.

We have made so much progress over the past few years.  We have gotten hatcheries shut down.  We have gotten wild steelhead management zones in place.  We've won fights on planting Chambers Creek alien steelhead in the Elwha.  We still have lots of work to do and time is running out. 

Losing this is a step backwards.  To hell if WDFW doesn't think we should comment on "no fishing from floating devices."  Send them comments.  Let them know that wild steelhead come first.  They should come before the interests of those who fight every conservation idea such as most of the guides and the City of Forks.  They were wrong on wild steelhead release, Snider Creek, Wild Olympics, and they are dead wrong on these issues.

More wild fish and a quality fishing experience are long-term economic engines that will benefit all of those who now oppose these regulations.  Change is hard but it must come or the change we face is not what anyone wants to see.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

One of those days

This morning I arrived at the lake, payed the daily state park fee, and started getting rigged up.  As I opened the Water Master bag an image immediately formed in my head.  I could vividly picture the two oars leaned in the corner of the hall closet thirty minutes away.  I quickly jumped back in the truck and headed back home for the oars. 

After picking up the oars and hitting the gas station I was back en-route to the lake.  I pulled back into the parking area and started getting everything rigged up.  I walked the boat to the waters edge and the moment the rubber hit water the wind went from zero to twenty.  I stood for a second trying to make a decision on whether to deal with the wind or head back home again.  The seven dollar state park fee loomed large and I decided to head into the whitecaps.

While it is always good to spend some time on the water, this morning was not full of good decision making.  I arrived back home and told my wife about the wind.  All she said was ,"That is what the forecast was saying."  Looks like I might want to check the forecast next time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools Day

Mother Nature had her own ideas for an April's Fools joke yesterday.

This winter has been exceptionally warm in Colorado and yesterday was almost too much.  A week ago I drove by a local reservoir and it was almost completely covered in ice.  On the way to the river yesterday I veered off the main highway to take a quick look to see if there was enough open water for fishing.  As I crested the small pass I couldn't believe my eyes.  All I could see was open water.  In one week the reservoir went from 90% ice to 90% water.  It was truly unbelievable as this lake normally doesn't become ice free until mid to late May.

As I drove further south towards a new river I wanted to check out the thermometer in the truck kept rising.  The heat of the sun had me cranking up the air conditioning to remain comfortable driving in shorts and a t-shirt.  I had to periodically glance around to make sure I was still 8,000 feet high in the Rockies.

I arrived at the river and started hiking upstream.  The only signs of winter were some old thin snow patches barely surviving in the shadiest, north facing places.  There were other signs that made the date seem irrelevant.  A few wildflowers starting to bloom in the open spaces and a dusty trail made it seem much later in the season.

After a short hike I entered the cold, off-color flows.  The chill of the water felt great with the sun beating down.  It felt great to cast a long line trying to get some trout to eat a streamer.  I hooked a few nice trout but it was really just nice to be out on what felt like a summer day.  I will remember that warmth when the fog and wind keeps the temps cool along the Strait of Juan de Fuca this upcoming summer.

I would love to say that this day of warmth was welcome after a long winter but we have not had a long winter.  I remember seeing crocuses blooming before Christmas where the ground would normally be covered by multiple feet of snow.  We have had warm sunny weather for what seems like the entire last month.  April Fool's day was certainly the warmest day of this stretch though.

Of course, it must have been a joke as we awoke to rain and sleet this morning.  Maybe it never happened.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Endless Greed

Saw this article in the Seattle Times

Increasing Pressure To harvest Small Fish Worries Scientists

And then I see the following advertisement that is a product based on small fish's food.  We sure seem to be working hard to destroy the entire marine food chain.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why Fish?

I have non-fishing friends and family who often question why I always feel the need to bring a fly rod along on every trip outdoors.  I occaionally wonder if they have a point.  Is it really necessary to bring fishing gear along?  Being out on the water or wandering through the forests should be enough.  It really should be enough but it is not.

Walking along a river, paddling the saltwater, or watching whales feed ten miles offshore are great visual feasts but I would be missing something without fishing.  First, I would likely not found any of those places had I not originally planned on going there to fish.  Fishing is the reason I am there in the first place and the sights and sounds are a great side benefit.  We have all struck out on fishing trips due to high water or being too early or late in regard to run timing.  These trips are often memorable due to the beauty of being outside but those unforgettable days would not have existed without fishing being the driving reason for even venturing into those special places.

The greatest whale and bird watching I have ever experienced all came about in search of fish.  No one ventures to this particular place to view whales and birds because it is a fishing spot that requires a long run in rough water.  It is virtually a private nature preserve only seen by offshore fishermen and possibly the crewmen on a passing freighter.

Have you ever noticed the patterns in the gravel bars that the river currents create?  Every stone seems stacked at the exact same angle along the entire shoreline.  You wouldn't necessarily see that from any other vantage point except standing knee deep in the river swinging a fly.  The backpacker hiking a riverside trail will never view the river in the same way we do spending time right next to the water and spending hours observing relatively small areas.

A non-fisherman only gets the rare glimpse of life underwater.  A waterfall where salmon relentlessly jump to access spawning grounds upstream or a shallow creek with spawning fish are a few of the rare spots that one can view fish in their natural environment.  We fishermen get a glimpse of that every time we hook a fish.  We learn to understand currents and the way rivers move in the hopes of increasing our knowledge enough to get better at hooking fish.  This gives us not only an understanding of the fish but the environment underneath the mirrored surface of the water.

In bigger waters such as the saltwater we have to pay attention to tides, currents, weather, and run timing to get the reward that often feels like an distant handshake at the end of the fly line as one feels the initial grab and first couple headshakes of a fish.  Learning run timing and the type of water the fish like takes time.  Like a steelheader waiting for a grab, the time spent casting and exploring the salt give us plenty of time to soak in the natural world around us.  We notice things that a person standing fifty feet away on the shore wouldn't see or even think to look for.

The act of fishing brings us closer to the natural world.  The closeness and understanding of natural processes gives us a perspective no non-consumptive user can have.  It is like our own little secret.  The park overlooking a prime fishing ground has tons of visitors that look at the same water and see the beauty right on the surface.  Little do they know about the beauty lying just under the surface.

So the next time you are asked, "Do you always have to bring fishing gear?" respond with a resounding, unapologetic  "Hell Yes!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good News....Bad News

What a day.

Due to work by wild fish conservation groups the Elwha Tribe will not be planting Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead in the Elwha.  Check out the link below:

Agreement protects Elwha steelhead from hatchery releases

It is moments like this that make me actually hopeful that our wild fish stand a chance.  Finding optimism is often one of the hardest things for me to do in the fishing world.  My eternal pessimism is likely not made to deal with wild fish issues as I am constantly feeling a bit down when it comes to long-term trends even though we are winning more and more battles every year.  First, we got the state to create a Wild Steelhead Management Zone on the Sol Duc against local opposition.  Now we got a co-manager to make the right call when it comes to restoration of wild fish after a dam removal.

Now for the bad news.  The coho forecasts for this summer and fall were just released here.

It looks like the saltwater salmon numbers will be way down for everywhere inside Puget Sound.  It looks like a repeat of last summer's fishing will not be happening.  With the good news about the Elwha I am going to make an attempt to stay positive for the saltwater fishing this summer.  Even with less fish coming through the Strait that doesn't mean that fish won't stop and feed in areas which should still provide great fishing at times.  Even with the poor news of total run sizes I am making a vow to remain positive in chasing fish come August, September, and October this year.  I may even attempt to make a trip or two to other areas that have better forecasts for 2012 than 2011.

Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WDFW and Bobbers

On the department's Facebook Page they are promoting the opening of the kill season on wild winter steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.

The funniest part of the post is the picture they used. 

Celebrate killing wild fish with pictures of bobber caught steelhead.  I only wish I could make stuff like this up.  Laughter is the best medicine for insane policies.

Finally... Snow

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stop Lying!!!!!!

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Olympic National Park Sued Over Hatchery

"Elofson (Lower Elwha ­Klallam river restoration director) also said in September that the Chambers Creek steelhead is used to provide a harvestable steelhead run.

He said then that the native and Chambers Creek runs happen at different times of the year and that studies have not shown a genetic impact on the native run."

Stating that native steelhead return at different times of year than hatchery fish is a lie.  Historically the rivers of the Northern Olympic Peninsula had large runs of early returning native steelhead.  The long term impact of planting Chambers Creek steelhead have devastated these early returning natives.  The intense harvest pressure on early timed hatchery fish have destroyed the early natives along with the ecological impacts of planting hatchery fish.

Early timed steelhead fill habitats that cannot be utilized by later returning fish.  Think of small tributaries with no snowmelt that have peak hydrographs in late winter and early spring.  Early spawning fish are able to utilize these habitats that later spawning fish cannot.  Diversity within the species is a good thing and continuing to push the idea that native steelhead only return in a narrow window in the spring is 100% untrue.

Giving up on what was once a large part of the run means we will never really see restoration of wild winter steelhead in the Elwha River.  Giving up before the dams are even down is unacceptable.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Coho Are Just Ugly This Year"

With the start of the saltwater salmon season setting process (North of Falcon) beginning over the next month we are starting to learn what the preseason forecasts will be.  The Columbia River coho forecast has just been released.

Columbia River Coho Forecast Not Encouraging

My saltwater season goals usually begin with thinking about at least a trip or two out to Neah Bay.  This forecast does not make me optimistic for this summer out at the NW tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  It seems like a Columbia coho return over 500K is a guarantee of incredible fishing and below that results in spotty fishing, especially closer to the entrance and just inside the Strait.

I will not let this keep me from my plans to fish out there this summer, but it will minimize the number of trips out there.  Hopefully, the Puget Sound forecasts will make me smile about the fishing closer to home.

Fingers crossed for that Puget Sound forecast. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thank WDFW For Snider Creek Decision

The Wild Steelhead Coalition put up this link:

Thank the WDFW for their important management decision regarding the Snider Creek hatchery

Take a moment to let the managers know that you appreciate them following the science in removing hatchery steelhead from a major river system and creating a Wild Steelhead Management zone on the Sol Duc.

It is too bad that with the mountain of science and evidence of the negative impacts of hatchery fish that WDFW would allow another brood stock program to be started on the Bogachiel River.  First, it will likely be difficult to find enough wild fish to remove from the system during the early portion of the run timing and these rivers need all of the early timed wild steelhead to hit the gravel.  I guess this is what happens when you allow the commercial sport fishing sector (guides) to run their own hatcheries and have too much influence over fish managers.

All of the negative impacts the Snider hatchery had will be magnified on smaller wild steelhead populations.  If hatchery fish were the solution, we certainly would have no problems.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I have issues with most things fishing.  This blog has not always been the cheeriest place on the fishing internet.  I probably should spend far less time (closer to zero would likely be best) reading crap on the internet since the vast majority of what I see bugs me.

I am going to attempt something never before done on this blog, and that is to stay positive on this tiny speck on the internet.  From this point on I will be focusing on what I like and not on the things I dislike.  There will be a dramatic decline in content since I will not be focusing on things I despise, such as...

- Guides who give nothing back to the rivers and fish besides over-hyped blog posts and detailed, exaggerated fishing reports.
- Blogs which have serious man crushes on the guides mentioned above and promote them every chance they get.
- Blog stickers - Seriously?!?!?!?!?
- Detailed internet fishing reports.  Do you really think naming less fished streams helps anything but your ego and small dick?  Even worse are when the kiss-and-tell reporters make it clear from their lack of knowledge that they have spent less time on the coastal stream than a tarpon.
- The idea that rivers need more friends.  This is related to detailed internet fishing reports as this argument is always given for kiss-and-tell fishing reports.  One can count the numbers of fish runs saved by overcrowding with one closed fist.
- Calling techniques fly fishing that clearly are not.  This is specifically related to bucktailing in the saltwater.  Trolling is trolling.  People fish flies off downriggers... is that now considered fly fishing?  My recent conversion to positivity prevents me from even mentioning b#$%s and b@#%#$s.
- Fishing on TV.  I have been living at a place with cable for the past few months and have been fascinated by the fact that all fishing shows are seemingly hosted by good ol' boys with unintelligible southern accents.
- Signature Fly Tyers - Fly tying creativity is not putting a trailer hook on a well known pattern

Whew... I feel exorcised.  The demons are gone.  Pure Positive Attitude from here on..... I hope.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wild Fish Say, "Yes We Can!"

The Osprey Steelhead News blog has a great post about how wild steelhead have responded to the removal of hatchery steelhead from the North Fork of the Clackamas in Oregon.

What makes this case study even more amazing is the lack of genetic issues involved in the population suppression of the wild winter steelhead.  The effects of the hatchery fish were ecological in nature and not genetic.  Genetics are often what get mentioned the most when hatchery and wild interactions are discussed, but this case study shows what damage can happen to populations just by the ecological interactions with hatchery fish.  When we add both parts (genetic and ecological) the effects must be magnified, which makes me hopeful that recovery can also be magnified if hatchery plants are stopped.

Good news is often hard to find in the world of wild fish in the Pacific Northwest with our dwindling healthy stocks and the overwhelming number of ESA listed stocks.  Seeing an eleven mile stretch of river start to produce close to carrying capacity after only ten years of being hatchery free (just above the dam and not the entire river system) has to give us hope when fighting hatchery plans elsewhere (Elwha, Sol Duc).  It also shows how quickly wild fish can respond when we actually give them a chance.  We should see some case studies in Washington State in the years to come as many of the smaller systems without collection facilities have had smolt stocking stopped in the last few years.  Hopefully we will see not only more fish, but more diversity with some increase in the critical early component of the wild winter steelhead run.

I do not know how many nails in the coffin are needed to actually have a shift in hatchery thinking by the agencies in charge, but this only adds to the massive dogpile.

Kudos to ODFW for making this change, how about doing the same thing for the Sandy?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yes We Can

Pool 32 Magazine #4

Great article urging action regarding wild steelhead.  Especially nice equating the money spent on gear with the total membership dues received by the Wild Steelhead Coalition

As I have posted in the past, notably absent in much of the conservation world are the guides who make a living (or at least try) on the backs of the wild steelhead runs.  There are some exceptions but on the whole the guide industry is absent when it comes to wild fish issues especially in Washington State.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aquaculture is Insatiable

Just another threat to our oceans and fisheries.

Seaweed Aquaculture for Ethanol

This sentence jumped out:
"Seaweed farms also would compete with other uses of the coasts, such as conservation, aquaculture, fishing, recreation and possibly other future forms of renewable energy such as offshore wind and tidal and wave energy."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elwha River Unchanged?

Olympic National Park glaciers continue to shrink, most recent study finds

Today's article and pictures in the Peninsula Daily News got me thinking about the common wisdom that the Elwha River above the dams is unchanged since the dams were put in.  I often have repeated this when discussing wild fish restoration.

The fact that glaciers are diminishing and the pictures of the Lillian glacier make me wonder what impacts the loss of glaciers since the early 1900's will have on fish returning to the upper watershed for the first time since the glaciers were much larger.  I'm not even sure that the impacts will be negative, but it is certainly interesting to see such major changes in such a relatively short time frame.

Will decreased and warmer summer flows have negative impacts on returning Elwha fish along with other populations throughout the Olympic Peninsula.