Tuesday, September 30, 2008

well fuck me, it happened

Sometime ago, maybe 10 years or so, I heard that steelhead take dry flies. At the time I didn't really believe it. See, back then I barely believed that they would take a fly...only under strict and rare circumstances. But this is the common mind of a Great Lakes steelheader, especially one fishing North Shore Lake Superior tribs. For me the game was spawn bags, until a fateful day which saw my brother outfish me using a size 10 hare's ear nymph. I started playing around with it and realized that steelhead would move to the fly with some form of regularity. But even then, dry flies and steelhead were only a pair in the science fiction section of my mind. Then some years passed and I happened to move some great lakes fish to a streamer (prior to this day it was nymphs only for me), it was a big olive conehead muddler and I outfished a super fishy group with the fly by casting up and across, throwing a downstream mend and giving it some action...the steelhead hammered that fly. Dry flies and steelhead that day moved from sci-fi into fiction, a shift toward the believable.

A couple more years passed and I found myself living in Oregon, a friend from back in the midwest set me up with a two handed rod, gave me a casting lesson and a quick one-day course in swinging flies for steelhead. I asked him about steelhead and dry flies and there was no hesitation in the "fuck yeah, they take 'em" reply. Well that would be my mission then, get a steelhead on a dry. I spent some time my first and second summers fishing dries with limited confidence. Then, fishing the Deschutes with a wet fly, I watched a steelhead make a bonafide rise. The wet was planed out on the surface and a steelhead came out of the water for it and smashed it, he missed most of the fly on the first pass but sunk the fly in his boil. Then I saw his tail come out of the water and thrash around, simultaneously feeling the big tug. This was the first time I'd seen any part of a steelhead come out of the water for a fly, it was the first reality bender. On the same trip I had one fish take a riffle hitched muddler, but the fly was in the glare so I wasn't sure if it was on top or not, it was a grab and go but a confidence builder. More trips, more dries swung, one big toilet boil flush under the fly last summer, one head-tail rise in smooth water this summer, but still no fish hooked on the dry.

This past week that friend from the midwest called and asked if I could get out for the weekend. I could and did, there is a big camp on a big river this coming weekend and we wanted to get a headstart, get a program going before all the dudes show up...I think there will be 15 guys, all badass sticks, in the camp so a program going in is key. We went and found some new water, re-affirmed likes or dislikes of "old" water and found some new opposite bank access on known-to-produce runs. One run in particular doesn't get fished much and has a serious penchant for giving it up like a 5 dollar hooker. The first morning we went in the backside and being the generous dude, he let me go through first. When I got to the bucket a fish came up and plucked the dry hard, two casts later on the other side of the bucket another fish came up and missed. I was thinking that was it for the trip, I've fished this river several times in the past and I essentially get two shots per trip...tops. Needless to say I was in disbelief when, three casts after the second fish, I saw a dorsal and tail of a steelhead sharking my fly that was waking downstream. Time slowed way the fuck down, my window of reality was a 5 foot square around the fish and the fly. I'm an atheist or agnostic or whatever the fuck you are when you don't believe that praying works, but I'm pretty sure I was praying anyway when the fish and fly dissapeared and went under and stayed under and stayed under and stayed under. It was probably 2 or 3 true seconds, about 5 minutes in my head, until it came tight. According to the witness "I've never heard a grown man scream like that, it was sorta girly". The fish wasn't big, and I didn't get it in my hands, but got it up real close and the hook popped out. Given that it was most likely a native it's better that way, especially since, given my state of mind, I might have hugged the fish or something...and he thought the scream was girly.

Anyways, thanks to he who let me have first pass through the money bucket. The moment fulfilled a huge goal of mine and has certainly changed my fishing self, in the best of ways.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear The Drake,

I am astounded that you, once again, somehow trapped me into reading you cover to cover. I will say that compared to the first couple editions the trend is away from the little bank-eddy pockets and towards the main flow, a slight dissapointment, but if thats what it takes to keep you on the shelves than so be it. My favorite bit this time has got to be Jean Bie's letter to the Editor reprimanding Trask on his filthy language, a great touch, this is the stuff that makes The Drake, The Drake. For those of you that don't have a perscription, see your doctor at www.drakemag.com and get one. Oh yeah, The Drake, I do have one request...NO MORE CHEESE DICK UNDERARMOR ADS!!!


the leech

Monday, September 22, 2008

something you should know

From the Statesman Journal:

Following the report released by the National Marine Fisheries Service that identified 37 pesticides that pose risks to salmon and steelhead, Oregon state officials are moving ahead to set new safety benchmarks for seven pesticides of priority concern.

A team from the Oregon Water Quality Pesticide Management Program identified seven priority hazardous pesticides: azinphos-methyl,
chlorpyrifos, dacthal, diazinon, endosulfan, simazine and ethoprop, based on water-quality monitoring in five Oregon watersheds, including the Pudding River near Salem, as well as the Clackamas, Yamhill, Hood and Walla Walla watersheds. Three pesticides, azinphos-methyl, diazinon and chlorpyrifos have been detected at concentrations that exceed federal aquatic criteria in the Clackamas River Basin (See report here: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5027/ ). Chlorpyrifos was detected at maximum levels more than twice the federal standard.

The National Marine Fisheries Service
report on the ecological damage associated with pesticide use reveals “overwhelming evidence” to suggest that 37 pesticides, including these seven, increase the chance of extinction for protected salmon and steelhead. See this report at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/pesticide_biological_opinion_draft.pdf
The state is now turning to its own team of experts to set stringent benchmarks based on existing research on these chemicals of concern. Generally the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with developing water quality standards as part of its registration process, however a significant time lag exists between the time the product goes on the market and the setting of final in-stream standards.

According to Kevin Masterson, the agency toxics coordinator with the State’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), a pesticide might be on the market for 20 or 30 years before the EPA’s water division finishes reviewing its effect. For example, the final in-stream standard for diazinon- one of the seven pesticides detected- was not set until it was already banned for household use because of risks to humans, birds and fish. Diazinon is still cleared for agricultural use but could still face restrictions.

“The EPA and the states around the country don’t have standards for the majority of current-use pesticides. More standards exist for drinking water, but there still are more pesticides without standards than those with them,” Mr. Masterson said.
(that is fucked up. even better...nobody knows what effect, especially long-term, a majority of current-use pesticides have on people.)

Despite the time gap for water quality standards, states are encouraged to develop benchmarks from a list of pesticides of concern. Unlike EPA standards, benchmarks do not have the enforcement power or require public review. These benchmarks will be designed to help state agencies better understand and explain to the public and pesticide applicators when there is a problem with pesticide concentrations in surface and ground waters. An example of a benchmark can include: 10 parts per billion concentration [of named pesticide] in waters can lead to salmon decline or increase the risk of cancer.

“You can do all the monitoring in the world, but without benchmarks, it doesn’t mean much,” said Steve Riley, an Oregon Department of Agriculture water issues specialist and team member.
Once benchmarks are established, the team of officials will begin working with farmers, nursery growers and other pesticide users to reduce pesticide runoff starting with a pilot project in the Clackamas River Sub-Basin near Portland, Oregon. The program is also evaluating a list of seven relatively newer pesticides such as
2,4-D and glyphosate for possible inclusion in the list as part of an ongoing evaluation of pesticides. The state’s DEQ is also increasing the number of pesticides it tests for in Oregon waters and lowering the level at which they register to give an even clearer picture of what pesticides are showing up at potentially risky levels.

Beyond Pesticides has long criticized EPA’s flawed risk assessment process that does not consider all aspects of potential harm to human health and the environment and that allow dangerous pesticides to be registered without having met all of their data requirements.
Aimee Code with the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides applauds the team’s approach to educate pesticide users to reduce runoff rather than replacing one pesticide with another. “There have been wonderful collaborative efforts around the state to solve these problems,” she said. “It’s a wonderful step in the right direction.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


this is pretty good...nothing earth shattering, but pretty good.


Monday, September 15, 2008


Steelie squared occured, and the world is still here. So, we're safe for now. It was barely a steelhead though, and when the first chrome winter hits the bank the total level of good will be much higher and therefore, who knows what will happen.

Went crabbing last week, only got 2 keepers but a dude on the dock had one and gave it to us, a definite bonus. Just cracked 'em and boiled 'em and ate 'em with butter...superb.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

a trick

last night kari decided steelie should learn how to rollover....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

paradoxical, man

steelie might meet his first steelie this weekend, so if the world implodes you'll know why...too much good in one place.

Friday, September 5, 2008

tall boys

spent my birthday proper this year.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

a photo essay, of sorts

As promised.

this is a big ass hive under a bridge

glacier np

more glacier

just outside glacier

that was unintentional

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Memo

Hiya, just got back late last night from 12 days in big sky country. Unfortunately we didn't find as many big trout as normal, but we certainly found more. Steelie is a badass fishing dog. Saw a shitload of water including, but not limited to, Rock Creek, Blackfoot, Flathead (didn't fish it), Bitteroot (can you say, fuck yeah?), E. Fork Gallatin, lower W. Fork Gallatin, etc... Kari hooked the biggest fish of the trip and it may have been the biggest MT trout I've ever seen...huge, on a hopper. The fall is late, the hoppers weren't really working (despite the previous sentence) and they were all small, like 10's instead of 6's like I've seen in the past at the same time of year. Nymphing produced the most consitently along with a good ol' Adams in 14. And of course the beetuljula slayed. I was popping the beeteuljula much more than normal and drew loads of strikes doing this, especially popping it downstream, oddly enough. One of said strikes was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen while trout fishing (disclaimer: there are large mouth bizass and pike in the lower bitteroot, but we were 30-40 miles upstream of there, no barriers but cold water), the cast was to the bank down and across and drew a really good boil but no take, the re-cast landed tight behind a big stump and got popped hard, the big foamer acted like a bass popper, and the take was an explosion, like a 15 pound pike in attack mode. I have to believe it was a trout, if it truly was it was a fucked up, 'roided out thing that I really wish I could have seen.

That was a sorta long memo, but you can deal. Pics to come...soon, maybe.