New Book on Estuary Chinook Flies is Close

Jay Nicholas Oregon Chinook Flies draft cover.
Jay Nicholas Oregon Chinook Flies draft cover (out of focus!)

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.

This is the pile of Chinook flies submitted by 24 oregon anglers for the book.
This is the pile of Chinook flies submitted by 24 oregon anglers for the book. I know this photo does not show much, just a pile of envelopes and fly boxes that people sent their flies in, but the contents are stunning!  Over two hundred Chinook estuary flies to drool over that are pictured in this about to be published book.

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.

One of the Chinook estuary flies that will be featured in Oregon Chinook Flies.
One of the Chinook estuary flies that will be featured in Oregon Chinook Flies.

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.

Marked-up draft copy of Oregon Chinook Flies.
Marked-up draft copy of Oregon Chinook Flies.

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.

Jay Nicholas, August 3, 2015

Tuna are here!

Jack Harrell and Albacore.
Jack Harrell and Albacore.

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.

Ed Bowles and albacore.
Ed Bowles and albacore.

One of the nicest tuna was this fish pictured below that Kevin caught.

Kevin Ferguson and albacore.
Kevin Ferguson and albacore.

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.

Jay Nicholas,  July 24, 2015.

Albacore – Warm Blooded Fish?

Pacific albacore tuna close aboard the dory "Last Cast", a bare week ago.
Pacific albacore tuna close aboard the dory “Last Cast”, a bare week ago.

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. ”

(End quote)

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?

I hope to find out shortly.

Best wishes to all

Jay Nicholas (July 16 2015)



Last Cast Feature in 2015 Steelheader’s Journal

Steelheader's Journal 2015 Edition.
Steelheader’s Journal 2015 Edition.

Just got my copy of the 2015 edition of Steelheader’s Journal, and quite naturally zipped straight to the back page to see the Essay I wrote at Pat Hoglund’s invitation.

Jay Nicholas' essay in the 2015 Steelheader's Journal.
Jay Nicholas’ essay in the 2015 Steelheader’s Journal.

Thank you Pat, for the opportunity to share my renewed passion for winter steelhead fly fishing.  Yeah, there are kings out there now, but when the salmon season winds down, I’ll be after those chrome bullets again come January 2016.

Common, get out there and purchase your very own copy at your local fly shop or online.

Jay Nicholas, July 8 2015

Reflections on being a Fish Biologist

Memo to Jim LIchatowich, dated May 5, 1980.
Memo to Jim LIchatowich, dated May 5, 1980.

Good Morning to my friends, followers,  and those seeking solace or wisdom browsing the Internet this fine day.

I wanted to share a Memo from the very small file of work related items I have saved over a lifetime career as a fisheries scientist.  I’m not the nostalgic type, not entirely so anyway, but I have saved a very few items and may share a few more in the future.  Most of what passes across our desks is junk not worth saving anyway, but this is one I’m really glad I still have.

My friend Jim Lichatowich sent this memo to me in 1980, shortly after he had received it from an anonymous person, thinking Iwas the original writer (creator?) of said memo.  This would indeed have been consistent with my behavior, but honestly, I don’t remember now If I crafted the memo or not.  I wish I had, because I love it.  But I’m not certain.  It could have been any of several people who worked in the Research Section of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife like Reg Reisenbichler, Dan Bottom, Pete Lawson, and there were others of similar intellect and spirit capable of this genius.  If anyone knows, I’d sure like to know, because I’m not comfortable claiming the idea for this memo for my own, as much as I admire the thought.

For those who are faint of eye, I’ll re-write the memo here.

I share this memo, and reflect on it regularly, because it has a ring of truth that resonates for me still.  I believe that we know quite enough to make choices and take management actions that will be good for the future of wild and hatchery Pacific Salmon.  I think we still stand a good opportunity to secure a future where salmon and people thrive.  This is probably getting to be a too-much used phrase on my part, but it’s the best I can do. I’m tired of hearing fishery biologists implying that if only we had more data, better monitoring, and the like, well then of course we would have the clear answers that are needed to make good decisions.



Date:  May 5, 1980

To:  Jim Lichatowich (Pretty sure Jim was Research section Chief back then)

From: Genesis

Subject: Creation

In the beginning God created black boxes and fishery biologists.  And tho’ there was light, fishery biologists were kept in the dark. And it was good.

And God created salmon so they could swim into and out of black boxes and confuse fishery biologists.  So the biologists fin clipped and tagged and released many slam into black boxes, and when they emerged on the other side revered them and cut off their snouts and took off their scales.  And the fishery biologists remained in the dark.  And it was good.

And God created interest groups to inspire the fishery biologists.  So the biologists clipped more fins and cut more snouts and took more scales and released many times more salmon and worked up a furious sweat in the darkness.  And it was good.

And God also created oceanographers, limnologists, ecologists, and other deviants and outfitted them with penlights to look int the darkness.  the batteries were very weak.  Ad they crept through the darkness and occasionally saw a flicker from their tiny lights.  And what they saw was very conflicted and humbling. And the lights were very weak.  And sometimes they only thought they saw.

And the fishery biologists’ eyes were very sensitive to the light so they put on their sunglasses.  And they clipped fins and cut snouts, and took scales and released many more salmon.  And it was dark.


May your day be bright and sunny.

Jay Nicholas, June 25, 2015

Challenges during a fly photo shoot

Chinook Salmon Comet Flies by Jay Nicholas.
Chinook Salmon Comet Flies by Jay Nicholas.

Yep, I’m working on another book, this one with a working title of Authentic Chinook Flies, due for publication by August, I dearly hope.  Fact is, there are unexpected challenges one faces when shooting such photographs, as the photo series below will reveal.

First trial photo: Comet I retrieved from upper jaw of Chinook in Nestucca during 2005. background photo is of Clay Banks Hog line in 2003.
First trial photo: Comet I retrieved from upper jaw of Chinook in Nestucca during 2005. Note that leader fragment is still attached to fly, just as I found it.  Background photo is of Clay Banks Hog line in 2003.
Uh, oh.  Some creature is lurking in the background!
Uh, oh. Some creature is lurking in the background!
Boomer loves to mrs with my flies, but honestly, he likes Rob Russell's flies just a tad better than mine.
Boomer loves to mess with my flies, but honestly, he likes Rob Russell’s flies just a tad better than mine.

Oh well, such is the nature of the silliness we deal with in the Nicholas family, and we do love our cats so I took a break to serve morning cat snacks to Boomer and Rollo, his brother, then closed the den door to resume shooting photos for the new book.

I hope this image gives you a smile for the day, and offers a hint of anticipation for the next book too.  Meanwhile, I have a party to go to this weekend with my family and then I just may fish a little.

May your day be bright and this season bring many great grabs.

Jay Nicholas,  June 11, 2015

Fly Fishing Glossary review by Marty Sheppard

Fly Fishing Glossary: AKA Book of Revelation
Fly Fishing Glossary: AKA Book of Revelation

Here is a sample of the stuff that caused my unbiased friend, Marty Sheppard, to laugh out loud and blog about the Fly Fishing Glossary, also known as the Fly Fishing Book of Revelation.

If you click on the link in this sentence you will see what Marty posted on Metalheads about the book.  Thanks for your support Marty.

I quote from Book of Revelation.  Remember, you can order direct from Amazon or by contacting me here in the internet ha ha for a personalized copy – or contact your local independent fly shop and ask them to carry the dang book!

Improved Clinch Knot
The clinch knot is a great knot, period, end of story. Naturally, however, some attention-seeking angler decided to make waves and fancy-up on the original knot so they devised this so called improvement. I say nonsense. If you fish 15 pound Maxima Ultragreen leader with a size 12 Adams, you will never have a problem with the basic clinch knot breaking off on a twelve inch trout; therefore you have no need for the improved clinch.

See Frenzy knot.

Independent Fly Shop

In the good old days, independent, locally owned fly shops were sprinkled all across the country. Sadly, many have dried up, strangled by big box stores and the imaginary lure of lower prices. Some fly anglers practice the despicable behavior of spending hours, days, and weeks chatting with the employees in their local fly shop, soliciting advice regarding what sort of rods, reels, lines, and so on would be best for their intended fishing parameters. These slugs then make an Internet order from some monstrous soulless anonymous entity because they can save twenty-seven cents on a spool of thread. Then when they receive the wrong size fly line or their rod breaks in seven places and the reel is set up for upside down retrieve, they take the stuff into the local fly shop and ask for exchanges, free shipping for warranty repair, and a cup of coffee to boot. Truly despicable.

These are the same guys who spend half their day on the Internet chatting over how to save three cents on a 25-pack of hooks. Most of these fellows spend little time actually tying flies or fly fishing. For these types, the hunt for a few pennies savings is more thrilling than actually tying a fly or trying to catch a fish. Go figure. They have to resort to making up imaginary stories about tying flies or catching fish. Then these same guys bitch and moan when their local fly shop goes out of business because the owner’s profit margin dropped from thirteen cents per hour to less than seven cents an hour and his wife forced him to close the doors because the fly shop was clearly nothing but an excuse to throw cash down the toilet.

Then what? Ha, ha on these guys. No more local fishing reports from real people, no more in-town experienced advice on tackle selection, no one to steer you towards the best fly poo for your particular color of fly line. All they have is some distant voice on the phone or an imaginary chat persona on the Internet.

By the way, there’s nothing, repeat, nothing wrong with Internet sales, if they originate from an honest-to-goodness locally owned fly shop. There are indeed a few of these fly shops still alive, though their number is shrinking quickly. The long term benefits of supporting locally owned store-front fly shop is the relationships and community provided by a place where friends can hang out, drink coffee, and share stories. These are the equivalent of the old-time wood-floor hardware stores where you could buy nails by the pound and get three size-sixteen wing-nuts for five-cents a nut – most of those places are gone too.

So get yer ass down to your local fly shop and support their business, OK?

Incidentally, experience has conclusively proved that female fly fishers NEVER engage in this sort of behavior. Never. The moral standards of women are far too high to behave in such an unscrupulous manner. Thank you ladies.

Now for another term . . . ..

This term is typically employed in a complementary context to indicate positive, desirable, and tasty qualities. It can be confusing however, because a steak may be juicy and actually exude juice, a nine-hundred buck fly rod may also be referred to as a very juicy rod, whilst exuding no juice whatsoever. Flies may similarly be referred to as juicy (see Juicy Bug), Beef Jerky may be juicy, and a Saracione 4.25” fly reel is certainly juicy, even when sitting all polished up in a Man Room display case.

Rest assured that the term juicy is usually a good thing and explore the context to decide if any actual liquid matter is involved.

Rare exceptions to the overall positive connotation of this adjective exist, and one shall serve to make the point: juicy fart. This is indeed not good, especially when delivered within waders. Perhaps this is sufficient and the topic is now fully covered.


This is probably sufficient quotage for the time being.  Sales of Fly Fishing Book of Revelation have lagged behind my marketing hopes of selling one book a month, and I need to earn enough to buy another bag of cat food soon, so I’m pumping this in hopes someone out there will take pity or find the book’s crazy approach sufficiently attractive as have the 8 other readers who have given it a 5 star rating on Amazon.  I assure you that these are all upstanding citizens who are entirely unbiased in their acclaim for the glossary.

Have fun with this folks. This book contains of over 340 pages of serious, crazy, funny, true, fictional, and amazing information that you will never find in any other book about fly fishing, guaranteed.  Please do not let my therapist see this book…….

Best to you all,

Jay Nicholas, May 28, 2015.


Steelhead Gurgler/Skater with EP Critter Brush

This is another chapter in my latest infatuation with Gurgles, this here steelhead skater. Hold on.  I typed in Gurglers and auto correct gave me Gurgles! I used black foam and super glued the doubled front end because this allows me to stand that front surface almost straight up and wow that makes it push water like so very nicely. Pictures are worth the thousand words but here is the recipe followed by photos. Hook Gamakatsu B10 S size 2 Tail: Elk Mane from Hareline Dubbin + Mirage Lateral Scale Body: EP Wooly Critter Brush, Black/Red Foam: Black thin .002 foam from Hareline Dubbin Thread: Danvillie’s 210 D black or grey

Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush.
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush.
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush - all size twos.
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush – all size twos.
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush - oooops, I forgot the flash in the tail!
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush – oooops, I forgot the flash in the tail!
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush - bird's perspective  view.
Steelhead Gurgler with EP Wooly Critter Brush – bird’s perspective view.

These flies wake across the river quite nicely, I fished them several evenings last week on the Nestucca and rose one late winter steelhead in a tailout at dusk.  Casting an ECHO DEC HOGAN II 6.5 spey rod rigged with Airflo Scandi Compact 450 gr line + Airflo Floating Polyleader and 6 ft straight #12 Hatch Professional Fluorocarbon tippet. Brush on Zap a Gap applied to the doubled over front “bill” of this fly seems to help it stand upright and improve the water pushing power of the fly. I’m looking forward to fishing this fly as the summer steelhead begin trickling into the river, and I bet a downscaled version will get the sea runs going too. Hope you find something fun here and the inspiration to tie your own. Jay Nicholas, May 2015.

Nicholas’ Anchovy Gurgler

Underside view of Anchovy Gurgler.
Underside view of Anchovy Gurgler.

Nicholas’ Anchovy Gurggler

First, I know it is silly to claim this fly as “mine.”  So many thousands of fly tyers have tied Gurglers before I even knew about the pattern that surely someone must have tied a fly pretty much like this, but wait! Maybe they did not have the advantage of the Mirage Lateral Scale and the EP Senyo’s Chromatic Brush and the EP Minnow Head Brush to tie their fly so maybe this is actually an original creation.


This fly rocks the Pacific black rockfish when they are on the prowl for big baitfish scattered among crab spawn.  I thank John Garrett’s coaching via Facebook because when he was tying Gurglers I noticed the V shape he cut in the fly’s back (I had always just cut the foam straight across but this looks so very much nicer).  This is glued to the back with brush on Zap-a-Gap, but sometimes I do not glue it down to create a little higher profile, not that It is noticeable to the fish, but I like both the glued and non glued versions for their different looks.

Side view Anchovy Gurgler.
Side view Anchovy Gurgler.
Bass perspective view of Anchovy Gurgler.
Bass perspective view of Anchovy Gurgler.
Seagull perspective view of Anchovy Gurgler!
Seagull perspective view of Anchovy Gurgler!

Hook Gamakatsu SP11-3LH Saltwater size 1 or 1/0

Tail: White bucktail under Fl. blue buck tail + Mirage Lateral Scale
Body: Senyo’s EP Chromatic Brush, Blueberry 1.5”
Gills: EP Minnow Head Brush bloody Red
Foam: Blue thin .002 foam from Hareline Dubbin
Thread: Danvillie’s 210 D white or fl blue

Are the bass super discriminating regarding the profile of a surface fly they will take? Probably not.  Still, I love this fly and it catches fish.  I hope beyond hope to catch a king salmon on one of these someday.  Who knows.  Maybe.

New Camera Captures Image of Anchovy Gurgler at 28.3 MP.
New Camera Captures Image of Anchovy Gurgler at 28.3 MP.

This here is an image of the Anchovy Gurgler shot with my new camera, whoo-hoo!

Hope you enjoy this post and tie up some gurglers for whatever fish you are chasing.

Jay Nicholas

April 2015

Guest Steelhead Intruder Art

Good morning people.  You never know what manner of joy the inbox will deliver each day, but sometimes it is really wonderful.  Meet new people, share stories, know there probably won’t be time to forge new friendships – judging by the old friendships that have cobwebs on them due to the shortage of time and the things I have chosen to undertake.

But on the bright side, I learned that I’m not the only person who is infatuated with fly art, and many if not most of the people I’ve met are far more advanced in their artistic endeavors than I am.

This morning, I wanted to share a painting by Nathaniel Price, a fellow fly tier – angler – artist.

Nathaniel Price Intruder Painting, April 2015.
Nathaniel Price Intruder Painting, April 2015.

Thank you Nathaniel, for sharing this image to inspire my tying.

If several people were willing to share their art with me I would include their work in one or more of my new books that are presently in production, destined to join the nine titles already available on Amazon.

May you all have a good day ahead of you.

Jay Nicholas April 28, 2015