We Fish . . .

Jay Nicholas Fishing

We fish
We fish because . . .
We fish

We fish with utmost diligence
A hundred casts
A thousand
Un-counted hours of dedication

We fish with hope on top of determination
Remembering a great grab in our past
Hoping for a great grab we’ve never experienced
Knowing it must
Hoping it will
Fearing . . . .

When our line tightens, finally
When we feel the pull, the weight, the head shake of a great salmon
We lean back
Pull hook point into bone

We stand our ground
Each of us pulling as hard as we dare
Hard as we can muster

The salmon draws into the darkness, the safety of the deep
We draw the salmon into the light, the danger of the shallows

Back and forth
Darkness and light
Back and forth

Each of us yielding only when we must
Each testing the other’s resolve

It’s not a fair contest, we know
But still, we wrestle with the salmon as if our life depended on the outcome

And finally, more often than not
Our prize lays in the shallows, on the beach, in the net

Time to decide

Kill the salmon
Release the salmon

This salmon is food, we think
This is a time-honored tradition

So much potential lies in the shallows where we kneel
Food for family – food for tribe
A glorious token of our skill

So much potential
Male or female, sacred genetic heritage
A chain of life reaching across ten thousand, years
Ten thousand generations

So much potential
Food for the river and all the river’s creatures
So many mouths to feed

So much potential
This salmon is the next generation of salmon

And now it’s time to choose

Time to choose

Continue reading We Fish . . .

October 2018 update

Jay Nicholas October 2018

Wow. A lot going on since I’ve checked in here. There is never enough time to do the things we want to do. NEVER. So we (each of us) do what we decide, or feel we must, or chose to do. (or is it choose?) No matter, my friends know what I mean.  Here are a few nuggets.

  1. I have been doing a little salmon fishing.
  2. I have caught an occasional salmon. some days.
  3. I have failed to catch salmon some days.
  4. This has been generally a very slow year, with fair numbers of early fish showing but apparently few as the season progressed.
  5. Salmon fishing on the central and northern Oregon Coast is going to be curtailed in the next few days with closures in upper tidewater, the rivers, plus a daily one fish and season remainder three salmon retention limit.
  6. I support the fishery curtailment.
  7. I have been building my Youtube Channel and now have some 74 videos posted.
  8. You can find my channel by going first to youtube then searching Jay Nicholas.
  9. I had to laugh at the demographic analysis of my viewers: 100% males over 65 years old.
  10. I hope that this is not a complete picture of people looking at my videos, but if so I hope they enjoy the material.
  11. I have been having GREAT FUN tying pike and musky flies. There is scant chance that I will ever be able to fish these but I consider this as part of the art and creativity of fly tying.
  12. The same is true regarding flies tied hollow style. I am particularly engaged in tyng large streamer style flies using long saddles and hollow-style bucktail.
  13. I experienced two very fun albacore tuna trips this season, the first with my friend Kevin and the second with my friends Ed and Rob.
  14. The ocean salmon season offshore Pacific City was better than any I’ve seen since I think something like the last five years.
  15. There was an abundance of big (8-10″) squid in the ocean quite near the surface and within a mile of the beach. The salmon were feeding on the squid and our bucktail flies, including silvers and kings.
  16. The chinook we caught seemed to be destined for the Columbia. This is guess based on the fact that they had rather pale orange flesh rather than deep red-orange flesh like I would expect from Nestucca fall chinook in the ocean. The pale orange flesh is probably an indication that these are Columbia River TULE stock.
  17. My family and friends are well and good.
  18. Family cats Gracie and ‘Boomer are well.
  19. Salmon Fisher’s Journal is delayed again but still plugging along.
  20. I can no longer leave fly rods on the bench in front of our family cabin. Fly lines are not save now, apparently.
  21. I have so many projects in the works (thinking stages) that I can’t wait to get going. Videos. Flies. More Books.
  22. Thank you for your patience, good wishes, and support.


Jay Nicholas Cabin Kitty

Cabin Kitty enjoys a fly line for lunch.


Jay Nicholas with cats

Two cat nap.


Jay Nicholas, October 29th 2018

August Postcards from Jay

I just found this post in my “DRAFT” folder. Although it is way out of date, why not?

Anyone who knows me understands, and everyone else doesn’t need to.

Every once in a while I like to post a few images from “recent” events. These are the best of times. I never post an image from a time when I’m depressed, exhausted, in the Emergency Room, out of gas beside the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, recovering through food poisoning, taking a nap in the 4-Runner the fire station in Reckreall, walking on the treadmill at Snap Fitness, mowing the lawn at the cabin (as if this ever happens),and so forth. If I show an image of a fly it is a good fly—not the ten or twelve disasters that I crafted in order to get the one very nice fly.

Enough said, these are the good times, and I introduce these in order to remind everyone that none of us are really alone when some parts of our lives are not exactly as we might wish for.

Thank you all for your kindness, patience and support.

Jay Nicholas, August 2018

Jay Nicholas view from the front yard.jpg



Jay Nicholas Ben and Jeff's at Pacific City.jpg

Jay Nicholas Joe and Chinook.jpg

Jay Nicholas and family at coffee date.jpg

Jay Nicholas Chinook stomach contents.jpg

Jay Nicholas at the fly tying bench.jpg

Jay Nicholas and Boomer.jpg


Jay Nicholas Echo Fly Rods.jpg

Jay Nicholas Chinook fillets.jpg

Jay Nicholas Chinook Salmon egg skeins in early August.jpg

Jay Nicholas Jack Harrell and ocean Chinook.jpg

springer with T&T IMG_2288.JPG


Jay Nicholas blue berries in the back yard.jpg

Jay Nicholas - friend with chidnook.jpg

Jay Nicholas - Pacific City Fly Fishing.jpg


Jay Nicholas Cabezon


Jay Nicholas - Springer season is done.JPG

Jay Nicholas napping with cats.jpg

I’ll close now and go take a nap with my two wonderful cats, Boomer and Gracie. Life is good in the Nicholas household.


Unspeakable: the wild versus hatchery discussion

Jay Nicholas Hatchery Spring Chinook

One of the topics I’ve generally been avoiding lately is the matter of wild and hatchery salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

That’s right. Some of the very kind people who follow my blog think of me (I have learned) as a person who is ready and willing to talk about almost anything/everything.

Not so, at least no so these days.

The topics of salmon hatcheries, hatchery salmon (and steelhead and trout) and the interactions between hatchery and wild salmonids in the Pacific Northwest, and the influence of salmon hatcheries on the philosophy and practice of fishery management are DIFFICULT for me to write about.


I have learned that my words, interpretations of science, personal observations, opinions, and so forth, are too often taken and repeated in ways I never intended — used to support narrow views that are far from what I believe.

The topic of hatchery management, hatchery salmon, wild salmon and the future of hatchery and wild salmon in Oregon is a minefield of explosive passions.

I’ve learned that my musings about hatchery and wild salmon over the last several years have so offended some individuals that I’ve been “black listed” as an enemy of wild fish. I’ve been labeled a “hatchery sympathizer.” “Hatchery apologist” is another name tag hung around my neck. This might be funny except for the fact that I was labeled as an “anti-hatchery wild fish nut” in the early stages of my professional career.

I’ve thought about this quit a bit, especially because I respect some of the individuals who now view me as an “other,” as a person who might damage the future of wild salmon.

Right or wrong, I’ve decided that passionate salmon people are usually more comfortable when divided into one of two tribes: pro-hatchery or the anti-hatchery. All too often, being pro-hatchery means anti-wild and pro wild means anti-hatchery.

I get it but I don’t.

Why is it so difficult to recognize the complexities of salmon and salmon management across the Pacific Northwest?

Why is it so difficult to consider the futility of managing the entire region only for wild salmon, or only for hatchery salmon, but but never trying to finesse some combination of hatchery and wild salmon management.

So I move on and blather about fishing and tackle and leave others to battle it out over a future world with only wild salmon or only hatchery salmon.

Those oppositional positions are, I think, silly at best, dangerous at worst.

But I’m done for the moment. I fish a river that supports runs of hatchery and wild steelhead and chinook; wild coho, and wild cutthroat. I would be perfectly happy to fish here is there were only wild salmonids. It would break my heart if there were only hatchery fish here. I think (my opinion) is that we have more total fish returning to the river with hatchery and wild fish than if our run was comprised only of wild fish. A run to this river of only wild salmonids would still provide enough fish to make it reasonable to fish here, with two caveats.

1. We would not have a run of spring chinook. There would be a few springers, so few that they should be left alone.

2. We would not have a run of summer steelhead. The present run is virtually 100% hatchery fish because they were never native to the system and they do not seem to reproduce here naturally.

3. The runs of fall chinook and winter steelhead would be large enough to make fishing worthwhile, but harvest of wild fall chinook should be more limited that it is now and harvest of wild winter steelhead should not be allowed (as is the current regulation).

4.Angling pressure for fall chinook would remain very intense, as it is with both hatchery and wild fish present.

5. Angling pressure for spring chinook and summer steelhead would drop to zero.

6. Angling pressure for winter steelhead (much smaller run and no harvest allowed) would decline but stabilize at a much lower level than we see these days.


OK. I’ve run out the end of what I have the energy to say here this morning.

Jay Nicholas – 11 MAY 2018

Short video – casting OPST Commando Smooth Fly Line

Here it is, for amusement. roughly 4 minutes casting the new OPST Commando Smooth fly line from my friend Kevin’s dory in the ocean offshore Pacific City. The line has a very short head and the thinnest integrated running line i have ever seen. The line’s performance straight from beach to water was so good that I will keep this line on my reel and in the dory each time we launch and expect the possibility of casting poppers or light streamers.

I will be testing other extremely short head lines soon.

My best to you all.

Jay Nicholas August 11 2018

Ten new Nicholas Fly Tying Videos Posted


Here they are, in all their pain and glory. I am relieved to “clear the deck,” of video material developed over the last full year—but never edited and published. Time to get these out and move on to new projects.

Many of these border on unbearably long, and only the strong at heart and the most curious should brave the process of actually watching the longer videos in entirety.  Most are more suited to being played in the background while tying flies, sweeping cat hair off the kitchen counter, or washing the dog.

Thanks to everyone who has called, emailed, texted, and spoken face to face—thanking me for the various videos I’ve produced on fly tying over the past ten (or more) years. I had no idea what impact these would have on fly tyers of all ages or how many people the videos would reach in a positive way.

Thank you all for your kindness.

Jay Nicholas July 7th, 2018.


Nice Surprise – Nicholas Flies in Atlantic Salmon Museum

Jay Nicholas Atlantic Salmon Museum 1

I received this note from my friend Garren Wood recently.


Hi Jay,

I just got back from Canada where I was attending the Atlantic Salmon Fly International.  Along the way we stopped by the Atlantic Salmon Museum in Doaktown, New Brunswick.  Guess what I found?  A frame of your flies!  Attached are some of the images that I took of the frame.  The images aren’t the best because the lighting wasn’t too good.  They received a donation of about 150 frames that were in Florence Oregon at a museum there.  Do you remember doing these?
How have you been?  Did the photos from the Spey show turn out?
Jay Nicholas Atlantic Salmon Museum 2
Jay Nicholas Atlantic Salmon Museum 3
Jay Nicholas Atlantic Salmon Museum 4
Thank you Garren. And yes, I remember tying these sets of matched flies in various sizes back in the early 1990s.  I never knew that they made their way to the ASM in Canada.
I sure appreciate these images.
Jay Nicholas July 2018

Review of Monic Covert Clear Floating and Impact Intermediate fly lines

monic 1

I have fished these two Monic fly lines a great deal over the last two months,
alongside a wide variety of lines and on fly rods that include Sage, Winston, Echo, Thomas and Thomas, and Burkheimer. I have seen many fly line reviews written that are based on a few hours of testing, so I try to always put serious effort in over multiple days, weeks, weather, and water conditions before writing about any product.

General Comments Regarding Monic.

Monic is a growing American business working to establish familiarity throughout the fly angling community.

It is tough to break into the market with several manufacturers of high quality fly lines, and Monic’s primary consumer base built through word-of-mouth recommendations. These lines tend to be most popular with lake anglers and saltwater flats guides.

Monic lines come with welded loop front and rear. All lines that do not have a mono core are weldable, meaning that you can weld a replacement loop if needed. Only the clear lines have the mono core. These lines are factory welded—the consumer can weld these with a heat gun but I think it requires more finesse to avoid weakening the mono so I stick to welding the multifilament lines.

These are, within reason, all-climate fly lines. I am also told that these are extremely durable fly lines, but I have not been able to test this in two-month period.

The multifilament lines (non-clear lines) have very low stretch (4-5%).

I asked why Monic did not use a shorter, heavier, more “aggressive” head taper design that seems very popular these days. Their answer was that their line engineer and customers are seeking to create and fish a line that is true to AFFTA standards for fly line weight.

I was concerned that I would have difficulty casting these relatively light fly lines after being accustomed to throwing far heavier shooting heads while fishing for sea runs and salmon in estuaries, but I found these are very nice lines to cast, and I was able to make long casts (70 ft) immediately.


General comments regarding Monic.

Monic Covert Clear Floating Fly Line.
* This line fills a niche that has been wanting for years: a temperate
to tropical climate clear floating fly line.
* This line has earned a permanent home on one of my estuary fly reels.
* Clear
* Mono core
* 30 lb core
* All climate
* Entire head will be 268 – 284 gr (WF 9 F)
* Stealthy
* Floats
* I found that I was able to make my usual 70 ft casts in windy estuary
conditions (50ft on the short side and 80 ft with wind assistance). The
key feature of fishing this line was that I could present my fly far more
delicately than when I used short-head lines with aggressive tapers.
* I did NOT stretch this line. I fished it in temperate weather air and
water in high 50s and low 60s (F).
* The line had slight coiling as it lay on the water after being cast, but
the gentle tidal flow straightened the line almost immediately.
* The partial wiggles in the line did not interfere with casting or line
* I think that I could have eliminated the slight curviness of the line by
stretching it prior to use but found no practical need to do so.


Monic Impact Intermediate Fly Line.
*  This line fills a niche that has been wanting for years: a temperate
climate WF Intermediate fly line that I can use whenever I need to make a
delicate presentation to shy fish.
* This line has earned a permanent home on one of my estuary fly reels.
* Pale green fly line
* Multifilament core
* 30 lb core
* All climate
* Entire head will be 268 – 284 gr (WF 9 F)
* Line is a subtle pale mint green that I feel comfortable fishing
* This is a moderate sink intermediate fly line at about 2 IPS
* When first cast out of the box, the line floated a few seconds before
going down. Whereas some anglers may find this irritating, I actually
found that this only lasted for the first five or so minutes.
* As with the Covert clear WF line, I found that I was able to make my usual
70 ft casts in windy estuary conditions (50ft on the short side and 80 ft
with wind assistance). The key feature of fishing this line was that I
could present my fly far more delicately than when I used short-head lines
with aggressive tapers.
* I did NOT stretch this line. I fished it in temperate weather (air and
water in high 50s and low 60s F).
* The line had no coiling whatsoever and only a few squiggles as it lay on the water after being cast, because its core construction is multifilament rather than mono as in the Covert Clear fly line.

monic 2

Overall, I give a thumbs up to these Monic fly lines.

Jay Nicholas June 2018

On being at our best

Jay Nicholas Hollo Fly Chinook Intruder

Remember “Shame on Us?”

Well, it turns out that there’s more to the story and the “more” is very hopeful, as in full of hope for all of us anglers.

The world of anglers who flyfish for Chinook here in Oregon is pretty small, and not much of consequence gets by without notice, especially if one of use behaves in a particularly noteworthy manner.

A friend heard about the “Shame on Us” post and sent me a text yesterday evening,

“Are you fishing right now” it read.

“I called him, prepared to report on my most recent foiled effort to lure a Springer to any of m best flies, thinking he would be interested.

“Actually, I called to talk about the guy in your latest post,” my friend said.

“Go ahead, what do your know.” I asked?

Long story. Complicated story, Good story,

I listened.

My mood started out neutral, absorbing details—but after two or three minutes soaking it all in, I was sitting at my fly bench (see creation above), ceased tying and was sitting there smiling.

Here’s the short version.

The young man who behaved poorly at the Boat Hole reflected on the incident, his behavior, and the behavior of everyone around him.

He genuinely regretted his reaction, and more importantly,  he began to soak in some of the nuanced wisdom the situation offered.

None of us is perfect. Each of us has our own gunnysack filled with our life experiences, emotions, basic personality, and temperament. Our actions, reactions, and so forth are influenced each moment by the contents of this large gunnysack we carry around with us, everywhere we go.

Naturally, the bag grows larger each year and may, possibly, influence us in a different manner as we age, as we experience more, and as we learn, if we learn at all.

Who among the clan of salmon anglers carries a gunny sack without a single instance of regrettable behavior? Not me, that’s dang sure. I could rummage around and find  a few memories of times when I behaved poorly. Only a few?  Let’s let that one drop.

But we can learn. We can do better tomorrow, if we learn from our mistakes today.

At 6 PM yesterday I had no idea if the young man would ever be something more than a “pest” to contend with on the estuary. Now, after the conversation with my friend, I I look forward to fishing the same pool with him anchored nearby.

[Sidebar: anyone who knows me understands that I’d rather be fishing alone, with no one anchored near, with the freedom to anchor and fish anywhere I choose. But In this instance, I mean that if I must share water, I would consider this person a “welcome” companion in the pool.]

I’ve probably tortured this blog post. All I really wanted to do is tell everyone that some good has come from a very unpleasant situation, to share my optimism over what I’ve learned, to ask everyone who reads this to reflect on our own history with kindness and understanding—and to ask everyone to extend the same kindness and understanding to the young man who behaved so poorly in the Boat Hole a short while ago.

We’re human, we screw up, and maybe, just maybe, we can be better today than we were yesterday.

Jay Nicholas 29 June 2018



Shame on Us . . . . . .


2018-04-15 at 11-25-01This scene unfolded about 6 days ago on June 19th. Something over a dozen bank anglers were fishing gear (bobbers and spinners) from the Sandbar, the Point, and the Pogie Hole. I was In one of four boats anchored on the East side of the river, roughly straight across the holding water from the gear anglers. Everyone fishing from the boats were fishing flies.

So the gear anglers were on the West side of the hole, all on the bank. The fly guys were on the east side, facing the gear guys.

Naturally, gear guys were casting toward the fly guys—fly guys were casting at the gear guys.

Although this was a good set-up for an ugly confrontation, I was not expecting any to occur that morning, and I was shocked when it unfolded..

Sometime during mid-outgoing, a fly guy- n a white glass driftboat who was anchored high in the pool broke free from his anchor station unexpectedly, and wound up flailing about the pool directly in front of a young man in an aluminum drift boat who was fishing from a prime position below him. This happened not once but twice. The young man ceased his casting while this was going on, and resumed his efforts after the older man got control of his boat and re-anchored above him.

30 minutes later, another fly guy who was anchored in the top of the hole started his outboard, retrieved his anchor, and began to re-position below the young man fishing from the aluminum drift boat.

If it had been earlier in the tide, the man who was repositioning would have maneuvered to the East of the young man’s boat, staying in the shallows and avoiding the depths of the pool.

But the tide was very low, the boat too large to move in the shallows, so he kept his boat facing up-current, idling down-current though the deepest part of the pool, preparing to re-anchor in the lower part of the pool to resume fishing.

The manner in which the fellow was moving from the head to the tail of the pool was entirely reasonable, given the low water in the pool and the size of his boat. Further, the manner of his maneuver was far less intrusive than what one should expect to see on most days each week, given that this fishing hole is located on a boat ramp used by craft from as small as prams to 22 ft jet sleds.

Wait fo it.

Down comes the big fly guy boat. The young fly guy in the driftboat ceases casting while the big boat is slowly idling some 30 feet in front of his position—then he fires-off a cast straight at the older man drifting in front of him. The fly line lands so close that his leader wraps around the man’s neck, and the fly lodges on the edge of the man’s glasses.



Heated words were exchanged between the two men. The older man was very angry. The younger man was defiant, self righteous, cocky. Promises of hostile action were issued by both men.

The exchange lasted perhaps five minutes or so. and it ended with the older man headed for the boat ramp to take out.

I moved close to the aggressor’s boat, anchored, and we talked. A helicopter practicing touch and go at the PC airport was loud, and made conversation difficult. He confidently stated his justification for wrapping his line around the man’s head. “Please,” I asked him, “don’t do this.”

Our conversation was civil,—I had the feeling that he thought me an idiot. I thought he was smirking under his sun mask.

I lifted my anchor then, drifted away from the young man standing in his aluminum boat, rowed across the tailout, and took my boat out at the ramp.

A friend fishing his bobber from the point during the confrontation occurred reeled in and walked over to talk while I winched my boat on the trailer.

“What the hell was that all about” he asked me.

I gave the short version while I loaded rods and gear into the back of my truck.

“That’s pathetic,” he said. We’ve finally got things worked out so that we don’t have the gear guys fighting all the time with the fly guys, and now the fly guys are going to go at each other.”

“Pathetic,” he said, shaking his head as he wandered back to the Point.


Jay Nicholas June 25, 2018