Koffler Tidewater Powerboat – status update

Lookout Salmon — and sea runs, and steelhead too!

Just checked in with Joe Koffler to see how work on my new powerboat is progressing.  Zowie.  The boat is really taking shape.  Just a week ago, it was a simple frame with my name and a hull number scribbled on the transom with a black sharpie.

Now look at her.

This fine craft will tape in at 16′ by 60“.  I once had a 16′ x 48 flat bottom sled that was a very good fishing platform.  That boat had a 50 hp Merc jet pump and a 6 hp Evinrude kicker.I decided to build a specialty craft this time, a boat with fly fishing in tidewater first and foremost as the design driver.  I could have gone the jet pump route, and who knows, I still have that option in the future.  But for now I decided that a 20 hp Honda would be just about right for my current comfort level. A hundred pounds versus close to three hundred pounds.  Easy starting, quiet, and plenty of power to get me around the tidal reaches of our bays.

The main compartment of the boat will be open; no seats or boxes to hang up a fly line on.  I will have two removable boxes with seats in case i take Lisa and Jackson out on bay or lake, but if I am salmon hunting, it will be a no frills, stand and fish all day proposition.The front deck will have flush mounted latches, again, keeping line snagging opportunities to a minimum.  Tackle trays on both sides of the boat will be close to 11 feet long, and just right to lay fly rods out strung and ready to cast.

The flat front deck will function as a casting platform, with compartment for two, removable 3 gal gas cans, a battery, and a fish box.  A water wash-down system will make it a breeze to wash mud and sand out of the boat.  The fish box is for my buddies who insist on keeping fish.  They seem to want to eat the beasties.  I will likely bring home a fish a season for my friend Andy, that is, if i manage to catch one.  We shall see.Bilge pump under the deck.  Built-in fuel filter.  All the gas lines and power cords will run under the diamond plate deck. Two oarlock positions will offer options for f the boat in flowing water and moving short distances between anchor points.

Fish finder. Structure scan.  maybe the dang thing will work, maybe it won’t.  We’ll see.  If it functions as advertised, i should be able to see just how many fish are NOT biting in every hole.  Should be fun.

I still have my Koffler 16 x 54 Drift boat and my Koffler 11 x 48 Pram.  So, the only think lacking at this point is a pontoon raft and a place to stow all these fishing boats.  with this growing armada, i have every option to cover rivers up and down the coast; if i can only eek out the time and gas money.

Hope to be on the water by mid August, towing this boat with a galvanized Koffler trailer too.


Tenkara Fly Fishing – Pure Fun

Ooops! Forgot that I took my Pram seats down to Koffler’s for Joe to do some work on them.  Here we were getting ready to go fishing with no seats.  No problem, we have camp chairs.  time to improvise, I figured.

Now, it’s about time I went fishing and just had simple fun. That’s what I imagined when I first saw a Tenkara Fly Rod several months ago down at the Caddis Fly in Eugene.


Tenkara. Here is a little information gleaned from my initial research.  Tenkara is a method, perhaps a little philosophy thrown in too, that has been employed in Japan for several hundred years.  Don’t know exactly how long.  Key element that immediately attracted my attention and admiration is the simplicity of Tenkara fly fishing:  no reel; just a rod with a relatively short line tied to the tip of the rod.

Tenkara fly rods are long, say in the 11-13 foot range.  The lines attached to the rods are about the same length as the rods, and tied on to a short cord, called an illian, which is glued to the tip of the fly rod.

Here’s another thing about moderrn Tenkara fly rods:  they telescope from the 20″ range out to the full length of the rod.  I know, it might sound gimicky.  but I have fished so many places on small streams and large, where the best cast was the close cast.

Seeing that Tenkara rod in the fly shop got me thinking going back to some of my old trout fishing haunts with one of these finely tapered rods, a line of about fifteen feet, and a little fly to skitter on the surface.

Just a week ago, I asked Chris to order me a Tenkara Amago.  At 13′ 6″, this rod is advertised as the Tenkara rod for larger rivers and larger fish.  My main goal was just to tie a string on the rod, round up my young son Jackson, and head out for an evening of absolutely no-fussing-with-tackle fishing and fun.

We did just that.

I will be exploring the Tenkara fly fishing philosophy and fly rods more very soon; I think it has wonderful potential.  For now, no specs, no details, just a short pictorial review of the evening.


Tenkara:  except for a spool of tippet and a fly, here’s all you need to go fishing.

It was after 6 PM when we pulled out of the driveway, but we were goin’ fishing!

We made it to the boat ramp, threw in the camp chairs, and we are ready to go git ’em.

Somehow, a burrito and an A&W root beer made the gear list.

About two minutes after we anchored, Jackson hooked the first trout.  Check it out:  no fly reel!

Hatchery rainbow number one was soon released.

Hatchery chinook that never migrated to the ocean had grown to about 10″ and were eager to snap at our fly.

Fly selection was crucial, as long as we used the first fly we tied on, a #14 hare’s ear soft hackle with the barb pinched down.

There wasn’t much time for snacking, what with all the fishy business going on.  The Tenkara rod was a delight to cast.  We managed only one (honest) easily sorted-out tangle during the evening.  Jackson put the fly out and twitched it just the way the wily fish demanded.

I tried to get us back to the boat ramp before dark, but Jackson gave me the “common dada, let’s make a few more casts.”  One cast led to two, the fish kept grabbing into the twilight, and soon it was dark, again.

Jackson and I carefully removed the line, de-telescoped the Tenkara, and put our prize in its case.  A little west of Lebanon, Jackson fell asleep, just like his big brother David did twenty years ago.

Salmon Fisher’s Journal: Deschutes River, June 1 1966

I was on the Deschutes last week, not fishing really, and I spent some time reading excerpts from a Deschutes river Journal; June 20, 1950 – March 1 1981; by  Thomas Burgess Malarky.

More than one passage was intriguing.  This one I’ll comment on today.

(Quote) June 1, 1966.  Perhaps trout fishing’s basic fascination is this; no certainty; no sure thing.  Motivations of these native rainbows are often mysterious,  Wy they chose t rise; why they don’t.; why they suddenly go wild in 50 degree water; why , when the situation is ideal, you can’t move a fin – – -why, why? (End Quote)

Thomas was writing about the Deschutes near Dant.  1966 marked the summer between my Junior and Senior year at Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon.  Most likely, I was fishing the Metolius, in the Canyon upstream from the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.  I would have been fishing Green Drake and Red Coachman Special Parachutes.

My Junior year at OSU was complete, or nearly so.  I would also have been getting ready to report for My ROTC Midshipman assignment, aboard an LST home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan.

June dry fly fishing on the Metolius was glorious. Many of the trout I caught were hatchery fish.  Some, I believe, were wild.  I never thought much about the differences between hatchery fish and wild fish then.

A small but dependable number of giant rainbow and brown trout would taunt me once in a while; just often enough that I remembered their usual lairs and had a sense of hope that I might catch one.  For all intents and purposes, I never did, although in precise fact I did hook one monstrous rainbow and nearly hooked a big brown, both on dry flies, over the years I fished there.  The rainbow was a fish of steelhead proportions, and quickly spooled me in heavy water.  The brown was 24″ and deep bodied.  I know this because the fish succumbed to my friend, James (Jim) Beggs, a week after rejecting my dragging parachute fly.  Jim went back to the pool after hearing my story, waded out to the very same rock I had fished from, hooked the fish, and took it home in his wicker creel, as was our custom in those days.

June on the Metolius was, of course, Green Drake time.  June was also the time to fish a giant maroon-bodied Mayfly,tied on a size #8, 2-XL Mustad 9672 forged-wire hook.  The body of the fly was a red/maroon Peacock herl, with a small gold oval tinsel rib; the hackle was full and large, grizzly and fiery brown.  The tail and wing post were white calf tail, tied in a continuous piece from tail tips to the clipped wing post.  I have seen these huge red mayflies bring the largest trout of the season to the surface in the pools between the hatchery and the mouth of Canyon Creek.  I do not remember ever seeing this insect in the Metolius in the upper river, say, in the vicinity around Camp Sherman  or the Campgrounds before the river descends to the House on the Metolius waters.

I learned about this giant dry fly from Jim Beggs.  Jim, like many Metolius River regulars in those times, purchased many of his flies from Audrey Joy, a full-time professional fly tyer who worked several days each week in the sporting goods section of the Portland  Meier and Frank Department Store.  I remember days and days, upstairs in the Sporting Goods Department, talking to Audrey while she tied flies on a rotating vise her husband had fashioned from a treadle sewing machine.

Much of this diversion into historical reminiscence is just a way of noting that a trifle forty-something years has not diminished the fascination Mr. Mularkey and the rest of us anglers hold have with fish and our obsessions with fishing.  It is possible, perhaps likely, that Thomas Malarky fished with some of the parachute flies I tied for Norm Thompson’s.  He and I knew some of the same people.  Although I never had access or knowledge of the Deschutes Club waters, we shared much.  Perhaps he fished he Metolius on occasion.

Forty some years from now, and another forty, and so on, I hope that men and women are still wading the waters of the Deschutes and the Metolius in June, waving fly rods in the air, hoping to entice trout to rise, wondering why they often will not, and leaping with joy when they do.

Not Fly Fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat in Oregon

Not Fly Fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat in Oregon

Coastal Cuts.  Harvest trout.  Blueback. (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki)

Chris Daughters asked me to write about fly fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat and tie some Sea Run flies to feature on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.  Silly boy.  He has fallen for the joke, the snipe hunt, the imaginary fish.

These anadromous cutthroat trout are NOT present in Oregon coastal rivers.  Some fly fishers dispute this fact, but they will soon receive a visit from the knee breaker division of the rumor suppression squad.   Then the problem will just go away.

However, let us imagine that there were actual sea-run cutthroat in Oregon.  There are not, but what if there were?  What would one do about it?  Go fish for them, if they would take a fly, I would guess.  Huuumm.  I managed to us the word “would” three times in two sentences.  Nice.

Why would people coin cool imaginary names for imaginary fish?  Part of the clever rumor, I think.

“Blueback” refers to the blue back of this imaginary fish when it first imaginarily returns to freshwater after a short foray (several months) in the ocean.  Imagine a deep steel blue back, clean white belly, and silvery sides.  This is all part of a plot to lure fly anglers away from places where the summer steelhead seeking populace has grown to the point that there are 1.7 fly fishers standing on every Deschutes River rock and valet parking has become the norm at every pull-out on the California – North Umpqua Interstate Highway.

The “Harvest Trout”  line-of-bull hints that the fish are in the rivers in the autumn, when summer crops are harvested.  Again, this is a desperate attempt to decrease the density of steelhead anglers and send them into fishless reaches of Oregon coastal rivers, sell more tackle, burn more fossil fuel, and generally disperse anglers across fishless waters where they won’t interfere with serious and knowledgeable steelhead and/or salmon anglers.

As one who does fish for steelhead and salmon, I heartily support any effort to keep people from messing with personal playground rivers like the South Santiam, a yet undiscovered and unpublicized bonanza for summer steelhead fly fishing.  If people knew that I average nine wild summer steelhead between 9 and 17 lbs. per day, skating dry flies on the South Santiam, well, I would probably have some competition.  But no one knows about the huge run of wild summer steelhead on the South Santiam, yet, so for now, I have this wilderness river pretty much to myself.

In the spirit of this practical joke, I decided to go with the story, to make up some cool imaginary stuff to support the legend of the Sea-run cutthroat in Oregon.  Cool stuff like a hypothetical discussion of flies for sea-run cutthroat:  fly styles, color combinations, best materials, best fly sizes, and so on.  Taking this imaginary venture to the limits of sanity, where I live, I even decided to tie a bunch of flies and shoot some videos for Chris to post on the Oregon Flyfishing Blog.  Ha ha.  What a joke.

Chris and I will spread the faux information, videos, and flies between my WordPress blog and the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog in the next few weeks.  Have a laugh on us, please.


Summer Steelhead Flies: the push begins – – –

Sorry, Jay is not available right now. His assistant, the anonymous Simms-wearing entity pictured above, is providing this entry today.

Check out the onslaught of summer steelhead fly tying videos posted on Youtube by the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog:


The opener is the summer steelhead Boss series.  I could call these Comets too.  Or BossComets.  What the hey, they have properties of the Boss and the Comet, and they tie easily and fish well and boy do the fish eat ’em.  More to follow in next few weeks.  Chris Daughters and I had fun shooting these videos, and there was much rambling while “filming.”  Chris: “chenille makes these flies sink faster, right?”  Jay:  (My thought process went something like this.  Huh?  Wet chenille can’t have any greater density than water, right?  What the heck do I say now?  Do chenille-body flies sink faster than dubbed-body flies, once they are both wet?  Never thought much about it before being put on the spot this instant.  What to say?)

To find out what I did say, if anything, take a look at the videos.

Every video is unscripted and contains many secret fly tying techniques and fishing methods, as well as the most secret places where NO ONE goes, Close to where YOU live, that contain hundreds of hungry summer steelhead that are easy to catch.

Ha ha.

BTW, this is a shoulder season.  Chinook on the coast (yes, the first summer/fall kings are there), summer steelhead, trout (nah), sea-run cutthoat.  OMG!

Meanwhile, enjoy the flies, tie some up, and go fishing.


Anyone else wish they were going Sea-run fishing today?

The people fishing sea-runs today weren’t glued to the computer at five in the morning, coffee at hand, Bunny Graham crumbs on the keyboard, easing into the work day.  And they aren’t reading this blogosperic wistfulness, either.

They’re on the water right now, working out thirty feet of flyline, ready to push a fly up against the brush, anticipating letting their fly lay still for a second, then giving it a twitch, hoping to see a silvery streak leap from ledge to fly.  They might know, even instinctively, that the early fish will be chrome sided, blue backed torpedoes, and that the early fish tend to be the biggest of the season.


They are probably fishing alone.  Practically no one fishes Sea-runs these days.  I will.  Any day now.  Just not today.

For those of you who are, or for the lucky ones tying on a Muddler right now, may you have a wonderful day.

For the rest of us, working and wishing – may our day also bring harmony, comradeship, and discovery.


Koffler Tidewater Pram Review, June 2010

This review of the Tidewater Pram Joe Koffler built for me is pure, unabashed objectivity (personal bias).  It is what it is, OK?

Joe built this Pram for me about 4 years ago.  I call it a tidewater pram, because that is where I often fish it.  It is also a river pram, a lake pram, a reservoir pram, but it is not, normally, an ocean-faring pram.

Hooked on tidewater fly fishing for king salmon, I was.  I fished Clay Banks, Sixes, Siletz, Nestucca in my driftboat, with and without an electric motor.  Worked OK.  Caught salmon.  Fought the wind.  Knew there was a better option.

Didn’t want a California Pram.  These things might be fine, even preferable for guys who are 5’4″ and weigh 120.  Not for me.

I’d fall out of one of those CA prams in about 12 seconds.

I went down to see Joe at the Koffler shop near the Eugene airport.  I remember the days when Bruce Koffler had his boat building shop at his home in the hills.  Ahhhh.  The memories.  We were all so very young.

When I told Joe I was looking for the perfect tidewater pram, all of the standard options they offered were a  “Whitewater Pram” and a “Rocky Mountain Trout Boat.”

Both boats  were close, but neither was quite right.  Joe and I brainstormed.  He asked a ton of questions.  Where would I fish?  How much whitewater would I want to run?  Would I fish alone, or with a buddy.  With a motor or with oars only.

Not too long after our conversation, I took delivery of my Koffler Tidewater & River Pram.


Eleven feet by 48″. Diamond plate deck, stem to stern.  Two rope seats, adjustable and removable.  Two positions where I could insert oarlocks.  Anchor release at bow and stern.  Fish box under one seat, mostly for gear, because I rarely catch anything and even more rarely kill a salmon.

Tackle trays along both sides serve as rod holders.  Clean and open.  A wonderful fly fishing platform.  I fish tidewater, the South Santiam, the McKenzie (not the big water though), the Willamette, the Middle Fork, the Siletz (haven’t tried that one drop below Moonshine though), the Nestucca, Trask, and more.

So stable I can stand on the tackle tray and the Pram will not tip over.  Handy, given my clumsiness.  Swift, nimble, water worthy, and capable of fly fishing two guys  – two big guys.  A poacher-boat, one of my friends dubbed it.

This Pram rows well, very well.  It is well suited to rivers with moderate whitewater – no crashing through the middle of big holes or standing waves.  It is clean and open, very stable for two people to stand and cast, low profile so the wind doesn’t push you ll over the river, bay, lake, handles electric or small a 4 Hp motors, and is a joy to slide through shallow riffles when the rivers are low in late summer and early autumn.

I’ve had some wonderful days in this Pram.  Rode out some horrendous storms on the coast too.  Steelhead, the occasional salmon, and sea-run cutthroat.

The standard white water prams and rocky mountain trout boats are shown on the Koffler website.


Joe has since built several eleven-foot tidewater-river Prams like mine for people and all have been joyously received.  If you are intrigued, give Joe a call at 541 688 6093.

Joe is currently helping me design the perfect tidewater powerboat for my fishing needs and budget.  I’ll most certainly drone on about that boat soon.  for a sneak preview on that boat, check out the oregonflyfishing blog.


South Coast destinations….

Tucked in safe for the night….

Slide it into the river too . . . .

Stuff it full of rods . . . .

And once in a very long while . . . .