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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had to chuckle the other day when I glanced at my SIMMS Boat Bag and noticed the wild assortment of flies tangled in a little scruffy patch on the top of the Bag. Among the dozen or so flies were three that I had recently fished in a single day, and caught fish on too. Pacific City is a paradise for me, my analog to Rodrick Haig Brown’s Campbell River home that I read and dreamed about my entire life. The fishing opportunities within an hour of our cabin are so rich and enjoyable, and while there are certainly more glamorous and exotic destinations around the state and the world, I find myself quite amused and engaged with the fishing here close to PC. The day in question began with a quick trip into the Ocean with Ed and Kevin in their dory, fishing for pacific black rockfish, blue rockfish, and lingcod.
This modest size clouser caught 4 species of bottom fish, including blacks, kings (nope, that is the auto correct changing “lings” to “kings“, blues, and yellowtail rockfish. On the beach by ten AM, I had to rest, so I took a short nap, re-read a few entries in the Fly Fishing Book of Revelationand then headed up to the Town lake, a mere three minutes from the cabin. The little Chironomid nymph in a size 16 was about right to entice a nice summer steelhead kelt that was all shiny and full of jumps and runs, plus a few hatchery trout. Note: the hatchery trout prefer a bead head gold ribbed hares ear nymph to the buzzer.
Back from the lake by 3 PM, I unloaded trout rods, donned waders and cleated boots, and drove up the Nestucca, where I swung flies throughout the evening. I did not hook any steelhead on this particular day, but on many occasions I have, and (fish or no) any evening swinging flies in a river that is only 20 minutes from my door is a great joy.
Of course there is always work to be done, like mowing the lawn, tidying tackle, tying flies, writing about these adventures, working on book creation and sales. and helping Chris with customer recommendations, not to mention an occasional fly tying video. But all in all, life is good and the sight of these 3 flies helped me remember just how diverse the fishing opportunities here on the Oregon Coast. I bet there are many places around this state and others where you could fish three wildly different flies in a single day too, and I’d love to hear from anyone who is willing to share their home water stories.
You never know the joys and challenges life will bring. I have been blessed with all good news lately, but realize that many of my friends face all manner of heartache on a daily basis. This may seem like an odd way to introduce a short post on a wonderful day I spent with an old friend – but while our day was very good, the same was not for everyone, and I just needed to say that.
So my day began with breakfast at the Grateful Bread with Jack and john Harrell; we talked fishing and great plans for the season just unfolding, and I headed back to the cabin to mess with tackle, flies, book promotion and the like. Steve showed up about 9 Am, we visited a little, and then we loaded the boat and headed up to Town Lake. Five minutes after leaving the cabin we were on the lake, and in short order we were catching hatchery trout. Several trout. Ok, maybe more than several. It took Steve about five minutes to get accustomed to the subtle aspects of the bite and spit tactics, but he got it figured out and was soon showing those trout who the boss was.
The best flies we fished were barbless Jigged nymphs like the Bead Head gold Ribbed hares Ear. There were other good nymphs too, and our flies were out fishing the power bait anglers in the vicinity, who noted that we were getting bit on about every cast. The fish were so fast on the take that we only hooked some 20% of our takes, so it was a real challenge and a lot of fun.
I rowed Steve around the lake looking for summer steelhead, found several, and one bit a size 14 chironomid nymph that he expertly placed about 6 ft in front of the 8 lb fish. Sure enough, as the fly sank, the steelhead moved towards it and then coasted to a halt. He’s got it, i whispered, pull back now! He did and the fight was on.
in mid afternoon, we went to lunch, and then wafered up to head up the Nestucca for a little Spey Casting instruction session. Well, apparently, I am a poor teacher, but Steve managed to chuck his fly out into the drift, and pretty soon he was fast to wild hen with sea lice at the base of her anal fin. The fish had been hooked as a smelt because its maxillary bone was injured by an old scar, but the fish was a pleasant surprise on a sunny afternoon when we should only have been casting, not catching. I got a small bright wild male that came to a Micro Intruder and our afternoon was perfect in more ways than we would have asked.
Steve was fishing an ECHO Tim Rajeff Two Hand seven wt rod, I fished an ECHO Dec Hogan II seven wt rod. I fished an Airflo Skagit Intermediate Head and felt it was perfect. Steve fished a long piece of plasticized string he found in his backyard in Corvallis, and I’m pretty sure that his casting would be better if he just had a line tuned to the rod. But being a manly man, he top-handed his casts, whipping the rod furiously about his head, and caught as many fish as I did, so we were both happy and he is now convinced that “found” string is the next phenom in the Spey Fishing World. He’s probably right.
I was camera-less that day, selling old cameras and waiting for new ones to arrive, but we had our phones so we got a few shots of our fish before releasing them carefully. I hope these photos do not offend anyone, because the fish were momentarily head above water, but I’m quite confident that the fish were fine, being in cold water and only briefly up-periscope so to speak.
Photos taken with cameras can be confusing. The untrained observer might think that Steve’s chromer is larger than mine, but I assure you that his fish weighed perhaps seven or eight pounds, while mine was easily twelve pounds. Steve’s camera was set on “make your buddy’s fish look smaller” feature, and wow it really worked.
We were both thrilled to have had our flies grabbed that sunny afternoon, and lucky too, because I fished alone the same place next day with no grabs to show for my effort. Now I’m wandering around Pacific City looking for rubberized string to put on my Spey rod.
And good reading too, because I have my very own set of nine books wherever I go, so if I can’t sleep and tying flies is too taxing, I can pick up one of my own masterpieces and ponder the next stage in shameless self promotion.
And if shameless self promotion wasn’t rampant enough already, this photo featuring SIMMS sweater, shirt, waders, boots lanyard, nippers, boots, and wading staff could just about put anyone over the edge, ya think? Too bad the ECHO DH II rod and Hardy Marquis fly reel are submerged and not easily visible, loaded with AIRFLO Skagit Intermediate head, RIO iMOW tip (no brand loyalty here) and OPST LAZER line!
So, Ben, and Eric, and Red, and George let me rest for a while, will ya?
Really folks, I’m just poking fun at all us gearheadsl.
I am grateful for this day, and hopeful for the days that will follow, whatever they may bring.
Much of the time when we are fishing our focus is very narrow. Sometimes, it is startling to see what is going on in our coastal rivers. The photo above, not so very good an image, taken with cell phone last week, shows (I think) a dozen juvenile chinook salmon suspended in a little pool at the river’s edge.
The Nestucca and all of our coastal rivers are alive right now with these tiny little salmon, and soon the coho and steelhead fry will join them as they continue to emerge from the gravels. To be sure, there could be a few steelhead fry out already but I’m pretty sure that most of these little fish were chinook, but of course I can’t be sure.
Just wanted to share this image and the thought, in hopes that our rivers may always support vigorous runs of wild salmon, trout, and steelhead. Let’s hope that those who follow us in fifty and a hundred years see as many (or more) little fish in the rivers as I did just recently.
I noticed a steelhead carcass in the water near the Three Rivers boat ramp. I expected that crawfish would be picking on the meat at night, but I was surprised to see a cloud of Chinook salmon fry hovering above the carcass with little fish picking at the meat. This is not something I expected from juvenile chinook here in Oregon, and I was really pleased to be able to see it first hand.
If you are a salmon conservation advocate, student of the historical record of salmon conservation, or simply a person passionate about the future of wild Pacific Salmon, you might find Conversation With A Salmon of interest.
Given the recent bonanza in surface action fishing for Pacific Black Sea Bass in the ocean near Cape Kiwanda, I have been focused on tying a variety of Poppers and Gurglers. I have fished these crazy surface flies in a variety of forms, including the ones i make using the Gary Krebs Popper Jig cutter Jig set. These were the poppers I had the most experience with, but this season I have expanded to tying and fishing large and small Gurglers. These are wonderful flies to fish, they are very effective, and they only require foam sheeting to tie. My 3rd popper style is the hard foam popper body that I buy in a bag with hooks. These just need to be glued onto the hook, and then I add a tail usually of bucktail plus one of several varieties of Enrico Puglesi’s 1.5 inch or 3 inch brushes. I especially like the Senyo Chromatic Brush, Minnow Head Brush, and the Anadromous brush for creating a collar on these Poppers. Expect some fly tying videos on the Caddis Fly Blog eventually, but for now, here are some images to whet the apetite.
Hope you find a little inspiration here to tie your own poppers in whatever form – and do so soon.
Let’s make this short on blah blah blah, shall we? I had three fantastic days fishing in my friend’s dory boats out of Pacific City, Oregon last week. Days one and two were fishing with Jack and Capt John Harrell. Day three I fished with Ed Bowles and Rob Perkin. Two days in a 1972 fiberglass Harvey dory, one day in a mid 1970s Paul Hanneman wood dory.
Each day we put into the ocean from the beach, we were greeted within minutes by Pacific black sea bass busting the surface. Day one the fish were principally taking crab spawn, but on days two and three they were also chasing big anchovies, and that made them even more susceptible to surface poppers.
This short video is just a hint at how much fun we had these three days.
John will be ready to book charters very soon and he can be contacted via Pacificcityflyfishing.com to discuss rates and dates.
PC Popper Bass 1
We had lingcod action too, plus blacks and blues subsurface on Clousers. I’ll share more of our adventure on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog next week too, and am struggling to learn how to edit these darn videos in the process.
The flies we fished included Poppers and Gurglers; versions of these are shown in my book Sea Flies, available with all of my other books on Amazon. These books are potentially available at your local Fly Shop too, and I can also ship a signed, personalized copy to anyone who contacts me directly as well.
It seems yesterday when Jeff Hickman patiently guided Ed Bowles and me down an Oregon Coastal River and did what he could to put us into winter chrome. I’d mention the river but then there might be 3 people fish there instead of two, and my dear angst ridden fly fishing buddies would drive over to my cabin on the coast and let the air out of both of my boat trailers and siphon gas out of the tanks and maybe even borrow my drain plugs to teach me a lesson.
It wasn’t yesterday, that fine day fishing with Jeff. I do remember that my casting was accurate and powerful (ha ha ha ha), I hooked a fish with only my sink tip out of the guides, Ed lost a fish after several runs, released a kelt, I broke one of Jeff’s Spey rods using it as a wading staff as I fell into the river in slow motion with fifty feet of running line tangled in my feet, we laughed and told stories and had a great day.
Since then I’ve fished with Jeff on the Clackamas (too many years ago) and out in the ocean off Pacific City (just this year).
This season has been a time for me to shift from the hermit-mode that characterized my 2014 season to re-connecting with friends like Jeff. There just ain’t enough time to get all of my daily tasks done but I’m consciously working to achieve better balance. No – I’m not succeeding to the extent I’d like, but I’m doing better than I have for years.
Sorry, rambling as usual. Point is this – I’m late to figure it out, but Jeff and Kathryn Hickman became owners of Kimsquit Bay Lodge at the mouth of the Dean River in BC in 2014. Jeff and Fish the Swing is just now finishing up his winter steelhead season on the Oregon Coast while winter steelhead are piling over Willamette Falls and stoking the swing fishery on the Santiam, but it’s time for Jeff and Kathryn to be making final plans for their venture North to the Dean River, where they will host anglers from all over the world to fly fish for anadromous fish that are fresh from the ocean as they charge into the Dean.
Inseparable from the fact that Jeff is a trusted friend, I’m impressed with the full package that he brings to everyone he fishes with. Jeff is more than a great angler, teacher, fly designer, caster, teacher, mentor and guide. Did I mention that he’s a great teacher? Oh well, he’s a young man who loves and respects rivers, , wildlife, adventure, and people; he brings his positive outlook on life to his guiding, and the entire experience of fishing and hang-time with Jeff is rejuvenating.
Add Kathryn to the mix and you have two people who complement each other and are a pure joy to relax with, fish, go hiking, clamming, boating, breakfasting, and adventuring, as the opportunity may present itself. I only met Kathryn a few weeks ago after hearing about her for years. She and Jeff have taken on the challenge of managing a year-round swing fly fishing guide service – quite a challenge – and one that they are superbly qualified by skill and temperament to excell.
Jeff and Kathryn are nicely recuperating from a great winter steelhead season on the coast, their guides are busy on the Willamette as I write this, and there are plenty of details to arrange as they prepare to move up to Kimsquit Bay Lodge on the Dean and begin their season there with the famous/infamous run of magnificent king salmon that will be greeting clients in mid June.
The following notes identify times when a few slots are still available to fish with two highly skilled guides who work for Jeff and Kathryn. Jeff won’t be guiding, but he will fish just a little. Most of his time working with Kathryn will involve the basic aspects of hosting clients, helping maintain tackle, working with guides to plan the next day’s strategies and tactics, and generally making sure that the lodge runs smoothly and everyone has a wonderful time with their entire experience at the lodge.
There are currently still available spots in these weeks:
June 19th – 26th Chinook
June 26th – July 3rd Chinook
July 3rd – 10th Chinook and Steelhead
August 7th – 14th Steelhead
August 14th – 21st Steelhead
Cost:Prices are $6150 and include transportation from Smithers, BC. This includes 6 days guided and one day unguided fishing from the Lodge – 7 nights lodging and meals.
In my opinion, these are trips that are valuable beyond comparison.
Contact me anytime for stories behind the stories, and for help getting connected to book a trip or click on one of these links to book with Jeff via Fish the Swing and Kimsquit Bay Lodge.
Yep. I was Matt Stephens’ guest fishing upriver yesterday, my birthday eve and Matt’s birthday, swinging for winter steelhead on the Nestucca River. Wonderful day, fun with a great guy, we found a few willing fish, I fell down twice but didn’t get hurt or soaked, and the grab on the swing is soooooooo nice when it comes.
One kelt grabbed a fly on a short cast, with only the Flow Tip and ten feet of the Switch head out of the guides; and one hen intercepted a fly swinging deep in a tail out on a very long cast; and one fish climbed on in fast water at the transition zone where the fast flow met the slow. Matt caught the big hen, all were released, and we were pleased as heck to have had the day together fishing beautiful water and finding grabby steelhead.
Today I celebrate 66 years on the planet, with my family and friends. May each of you find something good today and every day. Thanks to everyone for their good wishes and support.
Feisty kelt hammered a fly in close than ran into the rapids, seeming like a twenty pounder!
Matt Stephens, birthday boy.
Matt’s nice hen up for a quick photo and back into the water.
This is a retrospective of three days in pacific City, my own corner in paradise.
Day One: I arrive at cabin about 8. By 9 I have the boat hooked up and head up to the Town Lake.
By 9:10 I’m rowing out on the lake and ready to fish.
At 11:30 it was time to load the boat and head upriver to meet my friends and swing for winter steelhead.
My friend Nate rowed his raft while JK and I yammered, we fished in bright sun, and eventually I hooked a nice big shiny kelt. Nate netted the fish, and before I could set up for a photo, i promptly fell into water up to my neck. JK fished me out, my waders full, we took the photo smiling and laughing, I poured water out of my waders, and we headed for the boat ramp.
Got sand on my rear end and socks when I poured water out of the waders.
Day two: worked at cabin when i got up at 3:30. Met Jack Harrell for breakfast at 8 at Grateful Bread. Then we hit the lake at 2 PM for trout and summer steelhead action. We caught many hatchery trout and two summer steelhead. As we rowed to the take out, we met a young man visiting from California with his girlfriend, and Jack invited him to join us on the lake for a quick lesson on how to do it right.
In a few minutes Kyle is catching trout steadily and getting coaching from two self appointed experts. I think he had a great time. He says he will be back with his parents in the summer and wants to book a dory charter to fish the ocean then.
Day Three: serious solo steelhead fishing. I start about 9 AM and fish until about 5 with no sign of fish. Then a steelhead rolls, I cast, and it’s game on. My day is perfect.
I remember reading about Roderick Haig Brown living and fishing his home water on the Campbell River, BC. These days I feel like I’ve got it pretty darn good. Paradise, near as I can tell.