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

Three Flies to Fish Out of Pacific City – in a single day!

Three flies - one day - in Pacific City
Three flies – one day – in Pacific City

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.

The morning fly for the ocean - a fine clouser.
The morning fly for the ocean – a fine clouser.

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 Revelation and 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.

Size 16 Chironomid Nymph - perfect for the Town Lake Steelhead.
Size 16 Chironomid Nymph – perfect for the Town Lake Steelhead.

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.

One of my favorite winter/spring clear water steelhead wet flies.
One of my favorite winter/spring clear water steelhead wet flies.

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.

Jay Nicholas May 2015

Late Winter Chrome on the Nestucca River

My Dec Hogan II sees mid afternoon action on the Nestucca.
My Dec Hogan II sees mid afternoon action on the Nestucca.

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.

Steve's fine wild April winter steelhead, on one of my signature steelhead flies.
Steve’s fine wild April winter steelhead, on one of my signature steelhead flies.
My fine  male winter steelhead caught on a signature Micro Intruder.
My fine male winter steelhead caught on a signature Micro Intruder.

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.

At least I know I have good flies.

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.

Shameless self promotion via product placement.
Shameless self promotion via product placement.

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.

Jay Nicholas, April, 2015

Life in the Nestucca River, April 2015

Wild Juvenile Chinook in Nestucca River during April, 2015.
Wild Juvenile Chinook in Nestucca River during April, 2015.

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.


The Joy of Poppers and Gurglers

The Big POPPER Box, ready for action - anything from steelhead, sea bass, and silvers.
The Big POPPER Box, ready for action – anything from steelhead, sea bass, and silvers.

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.

Small Poppers created with Gary Krebs Popper Jig set.
Small Poppers created with Gary Krebs Popper Jig set.
Hard Foam Popper Bodies.
Hard Foam Popper Bodies.
Blue Foam Anchovy Gurgler inspired by John Garrett's Facebook posts.  Thanks John!
Blue Foam Anchovy Gurgler inspired by John Garrett’s Facebook posts. Thanks John!
Steelhead Gurglers ready for the 2015 season.
Steelhead Gurglers ready for the 2015 season.

Hope you find a little inspiration here to tie your own poppers in whatever form – and do so soon.

Best wishes to everyone.

Jay Nicholas, April 18, 2015.

Pacific City Black Sea Bass on Poppers!


Fish finder shows black and blue sea bass close under the transom offshore Pacific City.
Fish finder shows black and blue sea bass close under the transom offshore Pacific City.

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 to discuss rates and dates.

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.

May your adventures be good ones.

Jay Nicholas April 11, 2015