Rob Russell just shipped off our full draft of Modern Steelhead Flies to the editors at StackPole Books a few weeks ago. Huge accomplishment, with over 400 flies from innovative steelhead angler/tyers and tons of step-by-step photography. Stunning photos, stunning narrative, a great read and bound (ha ha) for recognition of a keystone book in steelhead fly literature.
I know this seems beside the point but it isn’t. Rob is the lead author, I’m the co-author, and Jay Nichols (StackPole) will help us make the story legible. Rob and I are expecting a fair amount of work still to come, on a tight time-table, as the professional editors challenge us to deliver the best of the best.
Stay tuned with credit cart handy, because Modern Steelhead Flies is close, and will be a stunning visual and intellectual masterpiece in the fly tying literature – trust me on this.
Meanwhile, I’ve polished Oregon Chinook Flies as much as I can stand, and pulled the trigger to self-publish this little gem on Amazon. At 77 pages at 8.5 X 11″, this full color book is stuffed with photos of roughly 200 Chinook Salmon flies. Like all of the books I’ve self-published, this surely still has a misplaced word or two, plenty of incomplete sentences, and – well – let’s just say that a professional editor might roll his or her eyes at my unsupervised writing.
Never-the-less, I’ve received wonderful support and encouragement from many, including the 22 Chinook anglers/tyers who contributed their flies to the book. If you note the difference between 22 and 24, it is because two of the angler/tyers represented in Oregon Chinook Flies are deceased. Gene Davis and Jerry Stoopes were pioneers in the Chinook fly rod game, and I thank Stan Davis for tying his father’s flies, and Jeff Hunter for tying Jerry’s flies for this book.
Justin Coupe (Rivers of A Lost Coast) read this book draft closely, offered some great creative suggestions to improve the book, none that I can execute now, and closed by saying:
“Great work Jay, glad someone captured the history. It’s important to do these types of things because no one else is. I hope we meet on the water soon and if you’re not looking I’ll nudge the butt of your rod to keep you alert.”
Thank you Justin.
Oregon Chinook Flies barely scratches the surface of a rich angling culture. This is a work of deep personal significance. Quoting again, Justin said,
“The foreword is excellent and Rob Russell did a fantastic job laying the scene and parameters of the book.”
There is a story behind the story of this fly book. I’ll not go into the briar patch here, just note that writing about the culture of fly fishing for Chinook salmon is ripe with emotion.
I’ve reserved the first 50 First Edition Print Run to issue as a limited edition of signed, personalized copies for readers who contact me. Direct sales are my best deal economically, and I’ve met some great friends through direct sales of my other books.
Oh yes, the book. Hummmm.
This is not a traditional fly tying book, with crisp photos set against a bland background. No recipes for these flies. What you get is my artistic rendition of the Chinook flies fished by 24 Oregon anglers, photographed against a second photograph that features some aspect of salmon fishing. I’ve also noted the size of each fly and analyzed the entire collection to characterize the colors, styles, and sizes of the portfolio.
Joe Sugura contributed a nice piece on the Russell Chatham ‘Comet, Jack Harrell relates the history of the Ramone Salmon Killer fly, and of course, 22 dedicated Chinook angler/tyers contributed short stories about their files and the culture we all love.
Oh yes, Frank Amato read the draft said he loved the book, and told me that the first edition of STS in 1967 (Vol. 1, No. 1) included an article by Roderick Haig-Brown on the question of “Will the Chinook Take a Fly?” Thanks for your encouragement Frank, and for the neat Landing Net Brace you sent me recently. It came in handy three days ago.
Let me know if I may provide copies, let your local fly shops know about this book, and thanks to everyone for your support and patience.
Finally, my shot at an albacore came on August 26th, venturing offshore in the dory Last Cast with mentors Kevin and Ed. Thank you gentlemen for this wonderful opportunity. We headed down the ramp at 0600 across a treacherously soft sand beach, and launched farther south on the beach than was our habit of late. Benefiting from a long series of gentle swells, Ed and I held the dory steady while Kevin parked the Jeep, ran back and jumped in.
A brief period of gathering tuna boats just north of Haystack Rock ensued, and then with Fly Guy, Benny Beaver, and a few others, we headed west for the tuna grounds.
By 0830 we put out flies overboard to troll, with no signs of tuna to entice us yet. Five minutes into the game, my rod went down with a hefty tuna pulling at the other end of my line. My first tuna pull of this season, I was pretty delighted, and more so when the fish materialized into a fish in the 25 – 27 pound class (called so by Ed, so more reliable than any estimate I would have made).
Next up, Ed was into the fight, followed by Kevin, and then, magically, my rod went down again, as if we had planned on taking turns. All but one of the albacore on this date were over twenty pounds, with Kevin landing an honest thirty pounder after an extended battle. Very few fish were on the surface today, but Fly Guy had live bait aboard and managed to chum up a feeding frenzy while hooking up on the cast and strip.
Our fish were all on the trolled fly, but a ton of fun to be sure. We are still hoping for the cast and strip encounter if we get out again, but for now, this is great.
Ok, that’s about it. Can’t wait to head west again and hunt tuna. Big swells for a week but maybe by labor Day Weekend.
Meanwhile, Rob Russell reminded me I have last minute assignment on our book Modern Steelhead Flies scheduled for release by StackPole late this year! I’m on it Rob!
Nearly unbelievable that Frank and I just met in person, although it seems like we have been friends for years; decades even. Our rapport was immediate and genuine, the sort of thing you can just feel. Better late than …… or so I hear.
Frank joined me on a smoky Sunday morning, unusual for the coast, and we fished with Capt. John Harrell of Pacific City Fly Fishing. The ocean was a little rough (ha ha) but manageable. Johnny found a patch of relatively calmer water with a big school of bass under the dory, spread as shallow as the feet to as deep as fifty feet. We fished Clousers featured in Sea Flies, and yes, the catching was quite entertaining, with many doubles to keep us jockeying for position.
After two hours of fast paced black rockfish action, we pulled crab pots, headed to shore, hitting the beach by 9.
Frank treated me to scones and coffee from the Grateful Bread, we enjoyed our treats on the deck at my family cabin in Woods, and we talked like we had been fishing together our whole lives. Jack Harrell called and told me the fish were filleted and bagged, the crab cooked and cleaned, all on ice in our coolers. So we headed over there to load up and then made the arduous five minute return drive to the cabin where Frank interviewed me about my book publishing binge. There was plenty to laugh about, future collaborations to ponder, and great plans made involving fishing, writing, and publishing.
Frank headed home about noon, and I took a walk down to the estuary. Hummm, a salmon rolled. Back to the cabin I walked, hooked up my boat, and grabbed three salmon rods. Four hours later, on a modest incoming tide, I got grabbed as I lifted my fly to re-cast. I was sure I had a thirty pounder on, that salmon flashed so brightly and pulled so hard. I called Jack and he drove over to share in the action. Small town that’s for sure. Jack – Ive got a big one on. How big? Big. Unless it is only twelve. You know me, Jack, my fish are always bigger in the water.
Jack arrived just as I netted the sub-20 pound king, shaking with the adrenaline rush.
Met on shore by three vets with the Healing Waters Project, I offered a dozen flies for them to fish and the salmon for their dinner, part of the traditional Pacific City hospitality. Their plan was to fish the following day in an event sponsored by Royal Treatment Fly Fishing and friend Joel Lafollette.
What a day. Time for a quick coffee and hit the road for home and family.
My best to everyone who reads this – Jay Nicholas, August 26, 2015
I was on the ocean with Jeffrey and Joe, guided offshore Pacific City by Capt. John Harrell in the dory Gold Comet. The forecast was for winds to pick up by 9 AM, and there were five to six ft swells to carefully consider as we launched at 6:45.
John ran out roughly north of Haystack Rock and immediately located a big school of black rockfish suspended mid-depth in about forty feet of water. This was the first dory fly fishing experience for both Joe and Jeffrey: both were surprised and displayed big smiles within the first five minutes with fly rod in hand, nice heavy black rockfish pulling on the other end of their lines.
Capt. John put us on fish constantly for the next two hours, and the action was pretty much non-stop. The ocean was a tad on the rough side and we all took turns stumbling around in the boat while fighting fish.
Jeffrey fished an ECHO PRIME, Joe fished an ECHO BASE; both 8 wt rods, with SA 450 gr Streamer Express fast sinking fly lines. Their flies were of course expertly tied me, # 2 pink & white Clousers. Bass were layered anywhere from ten feet under the dory to 40 or 50 ft down.
I chose a different approach, and deploying a Hatch Tropical 400 gr fast sinking fly line, fished by hand, straight off the fly reel. This was a continuation of my previous day’s test fishing with a 30 ft salvaged chunk fly of line. Today, I had a full fly line on a (loose) reel, allowing me to reach fish that were laying deeper than when I had only fished the thirty-footer.
My technique was no-nonsense efficiency. I stripped about fifty feet of line from the reel, laid it in the tackle tray, and lowered my fly overboard to swim though the feeding bass. When I felt my line under tension, indicating that my fly was down, I proceeded to put my Clouser in motion, with short 6 inch strips and distinct pauses between.
I found myself most comfortable leaning against the side of the dory, back near the stern, and leaning over the side with my hand a foot or so above the water’s surface, working the fly and waiting to feel a grab. I discovered that somewhat it was tricky to achieve a secure hook set by hand, compared to fishing with a rod. The rod allows one to move more line quickly, but when hand-lining, I found it necessary to quickly and decisively raise my arm to get a positive hook set.
Feel the grab? Man-oh-man did I feel the grab. I had so darn much fun and thoroughly enjoyed the two hours we fished over the bass. Capt. John had his hands full with Jeffrey, Joe, and me constantly fighting fish, hauling our fish into the dory, destined for the fish box, and occasionally helping untangle our lines.
Considerable teasing was directed my way, with commentary noting that the guy with such an extensive supply of fly rods seemed to have forgotten to bring one.
John smiled noted that I was doing a fair job of holding my own in the catching department, and wondering if this might become a technique known as Jaykara fishing. Catchy term contrasting Tenkara fishing (using a rod but no reel) to my fishing a line with no rod.
Think I like it.
Now that I think of it, the first fish I ever caught were in the Bosphorus, near Istanbul, Turkey, when I was six years old. Now I’m 66 and find that hand lining is just as much fun, just as exciting, as it was six decades ago.
May sound repetitious, but it’s true: another great day out on the ocean fly fishing. Thanks gentlemen.
Looking forward to the next opportunity to get out and see what the ocean delivers to the finely tuned fly rod and reel – and to the hand-liner.
I suppose the answer is an emphatic yes. Expecting guests the next four days and hope there will be a few fish around in the ocean to chase in John Harrell’s Dory, Gold Comet. Red, Julie, and Joe are gearing up last minute and rearing to fish. Wish us luck. These photos are warmer-uppers for my guests.
Special note to my friend Jim, recovering from double knee replacement and a subsequent stroke: get well soon and let’s fish!
Best wishes to you all, and have a weekend full of wonderful fish thoughts.
Ok, maybe not absolutely the FULL COMPREHENSIVE review because there are a few applications I do not have to draw on, such as running these boats down through Martin’s Rapids on the McKenzie, but Joe has, so give him a call and ask him directly.
But aside from running these boats in very rough rapids, I have several years experience with Rocky Mountain Trout Boats, hereafter referred to as RMTBs. Call Joe at 541 688 6093 if you have any questions.
Q: My qualifications for writing this review?
A: Namely, I look like this: so my review might not be helpful but then again, it just might be helpful. Up you to judge. I should add in the spirit of blatant commercialism and self promotion, I have published some critically acclaimed books on fly fishing, fly tying, salmon conservation, and the hatchery fish / wild fish issue. All of these books are available on Jay Nicholas books on Amazon and I would be more than pleased to provide a personalized signed copy if you contact me directly.
Second, I own two of these beauties, because they are so perfect for the fishing I do.
Third, I have fished out of various sizes of these boats for a bunch of years, but have finally settled on the 14 ft by 54 inch boat as being perfect for me.
My most common use is in the estuary. I fit these boats with Yamaha electric start, power tilt 9.9 hp motors and they are awesome estuary boats.
Fourth: I have been running aluminum drift boats and jet sleds in Oregon waters since 1978, and Koffler boats since 1981.
Q: What is the main use of the RMTB?
A: The Koffler website says something about these boats being designed for small river trout anglers. The boat description mentions a rocker bottom on the boats that allow it to navigate in flowing waters; low sides make it possible to fit under low bridges (ha ha) and less hassle fishing than a high side boat; and of course it mentions that you can add seats with all sorts of great compartments and rod lockers and drink holders and how the seat positions are adjustable and full length side trays, and multiple oarlock block options, and foot braces and such forth.
I think there is a statement about these boats being the most stable aluminum boats on the market for lakes and small rivers.
Q: Does the official RMTB description miss anything?
A: Of course its just me, but I think that the RMTB is vastly under-rated. Sure, I would never attempt to row this boat down the wild and scenic reach of the Rogue River. I wouldn’t attempt the RMTB in the first big drop below Moonshine on the Siletz or Martin’s Rapids on the McKenzie – but Joe might be able to run these places in a RMTB.
The fact is that these boats will handle rougher white water than the official description indicates, and will certainly handle more than just gentle rivers.
These boats are really fun to fish from in estuaries, lakes, and all but very rough river reaches.
And these boats are also perfect when you are traversing down a river, anchoring or veaching the boat, and wade fishing.
Q: can a person stand and fly fish from a RMTB?
A: Yes – BUT – unless the boat is anchored, you might want Joe to add the casting brace front and rear or just front of the boat, to give the caster support and stability.
Q: What boat size options are available in the Rocky Mountain Trout Boat series?
A: 13 ft with 48 inch bottom; 14 ft with 48 inch bottom; and 14 ft with 54 inch bottom. That said, if you REALLY need a modification, talk to Joe Koffler and he will probably be able to deliver on your wish list.
Q: is a RMTB the same as a pram?
A: No. Although I often refer to my RMTB as a pram or as my SUPER PRAM, they are quite different.
Q: Compare transom ( Rear end) and stem (front end) height on a RMTB versus a drift boat.
A: The transom and stem on a 14′ X 54″ RMTB are the same (19″)
The transom and stem on a 16′ X 54″ high side drift boat are not the same ( 25″ and 38″)
This means that the RMTB looks virtually symmetrical and in practice, it is easier to fly fish from the RMTB because there isn’t that high bow end sticking up in the front of the boat. I can fish with my rod tip in the water or make any kind of cast I want with lower sides all around me in the RMTB.
Q: Compare the hull weight on the RMTB versus the High side 16′ X 54″ drift boat?
A: the RMTB is going to run close to half the weight of the drift boat, probably less than 500 pounds versus close to a thousand pounds when all the internal fittings (seats, floor, accessories etc) are considered.
Q: Is wind resistance a factor with the RMTB versus a drift boat?
A: Yes. the lower sides on the RMTB are less prone to being blown around on an estuary, lake or river, compared to any drift boat.
Q: Do these boats get up on plane?
A: No, a flat bottom boat would do that, but I want to be able to row these boats in rivers, and I have run these boats in the lower reaches of several coastal rivers, the McKenzie, the Willamette, the Santiam, and on lakes. The Rocky Mountain Trout Boat has a slight rocker similar to a drift boat, and this makes it handle quite a bit of rough water and still row very nicely and maneuver like a charm and anchor in modest current should you wish to do so.
Q: is there sufficient room to move around and fish from these boats?
A: I ask people to imagine an 18 ft drift boat, then cut off two feet from the front and back, reduce the rocker just a touch, and lower the sides. You should ask Joe Koffler or his trusted assistant Scott if this is accurate, but it seems so to me.
I honestly think I have more room to move around and fish from this 14 ft X54 inch RMTB than I did in my 16 ft Koffler drift boat.
Q: How do I like my seats?
This is a half seat, with a walk around area. Joe had never done this before and actually asked me if my butt would fit on the seat. More than so. You could shorten the seat another 3 inches and enlarge the walk around space and it would still be plenty of room. Of course this means that the seat is bolted to the floor, but I don’t move it anyway, so no big deal to me. This photo also shows my SIMMS BOAT BAG and the diamond plate box over the bilge pump at the edge of the boat floor.
Q: should the ordinary angler consider the standard seats instead of the minimalist seating I have settled on?
A: Absolutely. I principally fish alone or with one person in estuaries or the lower reaches of coastal rivers. I do not want seats to clutter up my boat. I like to walk around and cast, play fish constantly (ha ha) and have a lot of space to move around. Most anglers, especially people fishing as they are going down trout or steelhead rivers, will want seats for passenger comfort and stability.
Q: What about full floorboards?
A: Yes, I think they are essential to the fly fisher. I can stand on my fly line all day long with felt or rubber sold boots in this boat, just not using metal cleats, which will cut any fly line. The full floor boards make for fewer trip hazards too.
Q: How many anchor releases?
A: You need two if you will fish estuaries for salmon, one in the rear (I place mine on the right side) and in the front (mine is on the left side).
Q: What is that funny front gizmo on the anchor release?
A: We call those “bunny ears” and they are welded on so as to keep the rope mostly in the slot but allow me to throw my anchor line off with a crab float attached when I’m playing a fish in a hog line.
This view shows a lot.
Plastic bracket for fish finder on right side of bow.
Bow tackle tray and shin brace.
Bow eye external on left side front of bow.
Bow eye internal on right side inside of boat. This is to tie the boat to a dock, for example.
Bow eye internal on right side inside boat near stern, this is also a tie down point.
Stern anchor release on right side with bunny ears.
laundry basket (white) to stow rope and crab float in to prevent line tangles.
Walk around mid seat.
No front or rear seats in this boat – we stand to fish.
Tall stainless oarlocks, a Joe Koffler special and a favorite feature for me.
These oarlocks are expensive but well worth it. And you are saving so much money by not buying tricked out seats that you can afford the oarlocks.
Q: What about that raised flat front casting deck?
A: as far as I’m concerned this is absolutely essential. Otherwise your shins and calves will be beat by the end of the day.
Have these boats caught fish?
Q: are these KOFFLER RMTBs Koffler tough?
A: One of my boats sank twice during storm events. it is in perfect condition, just a little moss growing in it like any good coast boat.
Q: aAng to say about the bilge pump?
A: very nice, just make sure that Joe remembers to leave space around the pump so that you can reach in and clear the leaves and debris from the pump. One of my pumps is properly installed but one is difficult to access and brush trash off the pump, so I must keep fiddling with it to drain the boat. Not a deal breaker, just a little matter, and I know Joe will fix it if I ever haul my boat back to the shop from the coast (ha ha).
Q: More to add about these boats.
A: I love these boats. May not be right for your tastes, do not go fast, but they are perfect for estuary and modest river running.
Q: is this a paid review?
A: No. Joe hasn’t even bought any of my books –yet. He should be ashamed of himself. I know that Joe is too busy to read, but he should really buy at least two dozen of my books for friends and family as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, free fishing day, and for his big dollar clients who purchase giant ocean going Koffler boats. And I’m confident that he would learn a lot and laugh right off his chair in the office if he flipped through the pages of Fly Fishing Book of Revelation.
Thanks for your patience, I would be pleased to answer any specific questions about these boats if I can. I have owned one Alumaweld drift boat, one Alumweld sleld, one Willie drift boat, three Koffler drift boats, and one Koffler sled. I am more than pleased with these RMTBs.
This is just a note and link to the Oregon fly fishing Blog, where you will be able to see more photos from yesterday’s dory trip with Chris Daughters and Capt. John Harrell of Pacific City Fly Fishing.
Yes we had a great day. No silvers, and the bass were modestly cooperative. A week ago, the silvers were almost easy on the Bucktail and the bass were practically climbing in the dory, but yesterday we had to work to earn the fish tacos. The crab pots, however, were full, and Chris was able to feed his family, and a few others by day’s end.
That’s one of the key reasons that I’ve been rather quiet of late, working on – among other things including fishing – final edits to my latest book, featuring the estuary chinook flies of 24 Oregon salmon anglers.
Quite an undertaking and tons of work and fun at the same time. A photo journal of over 200 flies typically fished in the estuaries and lowermost reaches of coastal rivers, this is not a how-to fly recipe book. Nope. It is an artistic impression of the working flies stuffed into the boxes of anglers obsessed with the pursuit of king salmon, principally targeting fish that are fresh from the sea in places spread out along the reach of the Oregon Coast.
I have been working on photographing these flies, tying to make the images appealing without emphasis on being able to see each hair on each fly set against a pale blue background. So, I decided to photograph each fly set against a photo I printed out – a photo of something related to our fishing passion. Naturally. Here is an example below. This is a photo of a fly by Rob Perkin set against a Jack Harrell photo of me getting close to netting a spring chinook.
The book will feature a foreword by Rob Russell, who by the way is in the final throes of completing a book Rob and I are doing together (I’m not sure if I should be divulging too much so let’s leave it here for now). In case you don’t know, Rob is uniquely qualified to address many aspects of estuary fishing for Chinook salmon, from the flies, the culture of the fishery, on to the fish themselves, Rob’s experience-set is one that I respect greatly.
Meanwhile, in the world of self-publisjng, I have been enlisting the support of several friends to help find typos and bloopers in Oregon Chinook Flies, and their help is greatly appreciated, as is their willingness to allow me to feature their flies along with a short bio of each tier/angler.
My computer is full to the brim at the moment with images and drafts, so it is past time to do some house-cleaning and get this book out the door very soon. This has been a joyous project and the results will, I think, be of interest to all who pursue kings on the flies. This is your chance to get a peek into your fellow Chinook hunter’s fly boxes, without needing to be sneaky about it. How many have a chartreuse comet? Is the Clouser a common fly in these boxes? What about Intruder style flies and tube flies? What are the most fished color themes?
All that, and more, will shortly be revealed. Will it be enough?
Hardly, I expect.
Give me two weeks, with luck, and thank you as always for your patience and good will.
So here’s the deal. I’ve been out of the game for a solid two weeks with hernia surgery. Meanwhile, my fishing buddies kept at it and had a great time with the Albacore fishing in dory boats out of Pacific City. The Albacore have been challenging as always, but my friends have managed to catch several very nice tuna, all on trolled flies.
One of the nicest tuna was this fish pictured below that Kevin caught.
No pictures of Jay with tuna, not yet anyway.
By the way, John Harrell has been running dory charters for black rockfish and silvers on the fly rod and having very good success whenever it was possible to launch the dory into the surf. you can contact John at Pacific City Fly Fishing or call him at 541 812 9716.
I’ll be out in the ocean again just as soon as I can, in the meantime, may each of you be well and have fun at fishing or wherever you may be.
My source for this observation is taken from The Oregon Fish Commission Research Briefs Number One Volume One dated April 1948.
( I quote)
“Albacore Have Higher Temperature than Surrounding Water
While accompany the crew of the tuna boat “Western Sun” on a fishing cruise in August 1947, George Harry, biologist stationed at Astoria, found that the body temperature of albacore off the Oregon Coast was about 20 degrees higher than that of the surrounding water. Although fish are generally regarded as cold blooded animals, it has long been known that some species on being warm blooded.
“Mr Harry checked nine fish by simply inserting a pocket thermometer through an incision and into the viscera immediately atrer the fish were landed. The albacore temperatures ranged from 80 to 86 degrees whereas the water remained at 63 degrees (F). the albacore were found to be feeding largely on anchovies. ”
More recent observations reported by Oregon Sea Grant in 2009 indicate that the temperature differential is more on the order of fifteen degrees, but the elevated temperatures were each observed in tuna after being landed, and no mention was made regarding whether the battle prior to landing could have elevated the temperature.
These observations of elevated body temperature are consistent with the traditional practice of immediately chilling and bleeding albacore in order to achieve the highest possible quality and taste in the flesh.
Ideally, each albacore will be pithed, the gills cut, and the fish immersed in chilled saltwater which allows the fish to be chilled rapidly as it is bled.
Here are some age vs. average weight figures I gleaned from the Internet.
One year old: 8 Lbs.
Two years old: 18 Lbs.
Three – Four years old ( and older): twenty five pounds and up
Note please, my dear friends caught several albies last week while I was recuperating from hernia surgery, fish that pressed the scales to twenty five pounds.
Oh my goodness, how large might these tuna be a month from now?