Conserving Nestucca Basin Fisheries

David Moryc (American Rivers) invited me to talk about the Nestucca River’s fishery values and share a little of my thinking about what might be involved in bringing a community together to make sure the basin continues to produce wild and hatchery salmonids into the future. David told me they were hoping to produce a short video to introduce background information to members of the Nestucca valley and enlist community support.

Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity.

David sent me a link to the video produced by North Fork Studios.

I invite you to view the video here and I’ll just call it Oregon Treasures.

PS: I tripped on the sidewalk between my 4-Runner and the front door of my home, fell smack on the sidewalk, and did something bad to my back. Two days ago. I’m recovering but sitting at the computer hurts. Walking hurts. Standing hurts. Everything but laying down and watching Youtube cat videos hurts. Fortunately, Boomer is spending his day napping with me. Very comforting.

Jay Nicholas Boomer Naps


Oh well.

May this day be a good one for you.

Jay Nicholas April 27 2017

Fishing with Jack Harrell in Hebo Lake

Jay Nicholas Hebo Lake Trout Fishing

In the space between glamorous, arduous fisheries for steelhead and chinook, there are occasionally opportunities to fish for hatchery trout in coastal lakes. It was raining cats and dogs at Hebo Lake yesterday, high up on Mt. Hebo far above the Nestucca Valley.

I arrived in Pacific City at about 11:50, barely got changed into my fishing clothes and rain pants, when Jack arrived with his drift boat in tow.

I handed Jack my fly rod out the cabin door, closed my Simms boat bag, and slipped into my boots, throwing my coat over my shoulders as I stepped carefully down my oh-so-slightly rain slickery porch steps.

We were filling out our USFS day-pass up at Hebo Lake by 12:30, and with trout showing all around the lake in the blustery showers,  Jack rowed us out from the boat ramp.

These were not big fish. Not extremely selective fish.But they were nice hatchery fish put into the lake so that people could catch them.

I’ve seen steelhead anglers interviewed for  videos or magazine articles — people stating that they are not interested in catching hatchery steelhead. They only want to catch wild steelhead.


Jack and I shared stories of our childhood. I’m 68 and Jack is north of 70. We both remembered childhood days fishing long hours and catching nothing. We remembered long days graced by a single little trout, or maybe a 12″ hatchery trout. If measured side-by-side with a chrome bright steelhead or salmon, those trout we caught as little boys could easily be dismissed outright.

But yesterday, Jack and I were as delighted as the young boys we were so many years ago. It didn’t matter that we have moved on and managed to catch some larger and wilder fish. Not at all. The wind howled and the rain sheeted through the trees. We were having the time of our life. We changed flies to see if some worked better than others. We fished fast and slow, shallow and deep, large and small, close and far. We felt the thrill of the hunt and laughed when we were able to see the trout cruise up from the depths to grab or refuse our fly. We remembered what it was like to be 12 years old — actually catching trout instead of just trying to catch them.

I am unreservedly grateful for a wonderful afternoon fishing with a great friend—Thank you Jack.

Jay Nicholas, April 23 2017

Looking back, looking forward – April 20, 2017

This is going to be a pretty simple post noting a few recent events and previewing a few things I hope are still to transpire in the next few months.

Our dear friend Andy Landforce, now 100 years young, dropped by for a visit the other night. Yes, he drove himself. Likely a better driver than I am. Anyway, Lisa and I had a great time listening to Andy recounting old fishing stories. I played a few salmon videos on our computer for Andy, and he was thoroughly engrossed with the action. My oh my where does the time go?

On the topic of “depression,”  you might be surprised—or not—to learn how many folks who have reached out to me and said thanks for sharing in one way or another. Here is a note I just received.

“Hey Jay thanks for reaching out, appreciate it. We need to get together sometime and wet a line. I wanted to thank and commend you for opening up about your battles with depression recently. I have been struggling with it for years, but more so lately than ever. It is always something that I find difficult to talk about. It’s all consuming and makes it hard to do much other than sleep. Fishing is the one thing that allows me to escape it. I hope that you are doing well and getting on the water. I’ve been fishing a little this winter. Keep in touch Jay.”

My response.

Where to begin? Thank you for your note. Believe me when I say you (we) are not alone. There are many people (most you would never imagine) who struggle with depression in various forms off and on — people who have reached out to me after one of my blog posts that say, hey, I’m a mess or was a mess, or whatever I said. Point is that all kinds of people are living in the bumpy up and downs of life and things are not always like they may seem on the surface. There is deeper stuff going on in many people’s lives. If there is some solace it might be in knowing that others struggle and do eventually and repeatedly come out the other side, even if for periods punctuated by more down days. Crap, life is complicated and I can’t even spell this morning! Please keep in touch.

So it goes. We are not alone. 

I know that some people stumble into me or a blog post or some dang thing and think that everything is just going great in my life and maybe it is and maybe it isn’t but the point is that the same is true for EVERYONE we meet no matter how lovely their life may seem on the surface of it all.


New topic.

Very soon—I will be launching a Kickstarter Campaign to support publication of my Salmon Fisher’s Journal. Whooo Hooooo! Much excitement to follow. I’ll just say that I’m blessed to be supported by a great team of professionals who have volunteered their time and talent to help me organize and set the Campaign in motion. I’m positive that I could not have done this all by myself. Period.

Without going into details yet, I’ll share the short list of friends who have offered their support—helping me transform my manuscript from a humble soft cover proof to a polished, Smyth Sewn, two volume edition that I’ve dreamed of publishing since I completed the manuscript early in 2016. Here is is only a year later, some interesting water under the bridge, and we’re poised to fund, print, and place this limited edition book—my masterwork—in peoples hands by Thanksgiving 2017!

When this campaign launches, I’ll be reaching out to everyone and asking for support in small and big measure to help me.

For now, I’d like to share the list of friends who have offered their support already, so I can say thank you in advance, because this is an undertaking that is out of the realm of possibility if I had to go it alone. In alphabetical order, and my first cut so forgive me in advance because I’m sure I’ve omitted several people in my haste to compose this list.

Thank you; you all make me smile.

Frank and Nick Amato (Amato Publications), Donald Barnes (Regal Vise), Bruce Berry, Ed Bowles, Doug Brutaco (Aqua Flies), Morten Bundergard (Pro Sportfisher), Kerry Burkheimer (CF Burkheimer Fly Rods), Stan & Debbie Davis, Chris Daughters (The Caddis Fly Angling Shop), Jeff Coffey (Fair Flies), George Cook (SAGE Fly Rods), Trey Combs, Jim Coon, Larry Cullens, Justin Coupe (Rivers of A Lost Coast), Andrew Dickinson (Hatch Fly Reels), Kevin Ferguson, Michael Gorman, Jack Harrell, Jon Harrell (Pacific City Fly Fishing), Troy Haselip (Watershed Fly Shop), Jon Hazelett (Ashland Fly Shop), Jeff Hickman (Fish The Swing), Pat Hoglund (Steelheader’s Journal), Will Johnson (Ashland Fly Shop), Bruce & Joe Koffler (Koffler Boats), Joel LaFollette (Royal Treatment Fly Shop), John Larison, John Leach, Josh Linn, Jeff Mishler, Frank & Jeanne Moore, David Moryc (American Rivers), Eric Neufeld (SIMMS, Winston Fly Rods), Norm Norlander (NORVISE), Ben Paull (OPST), Enrico Puglisi, Jeremy Quinlan, Blake Merwin (Gig Harbor Fly Shop), Todd Moen, Rob Perkin, Tim Rajeff (ECHO, AIRFLO), Guido Rahr, Marlin Roush (RIO Products), Rob Russell, Dick Sagara (Outdoor Products), Greg Senyo, James Shaughnessy (Beulah Fly Rods), Marty & Mia Sheppard (Little Creek Outfitters), Brian Silvey, Randy Stetzer (Burkheimer Fly Rods), Joe Sugura, Matt Supinski,  Todd Tanner, Jim Terborg, Marcos Vergara (Hareline Dubbin), Sam Wilkes.

Uh Oh.  I realize that I’m droning on here.


My dear friend Chris Daughters is back from New Zealand with his family for the summer, and I have not had a chance to drive the stinkin’ hour down to Eugene to visit him yet. Soon, very soon. And besides, he is—as usual—busy as ever.

Jay Nicholas & Jeremy

I had a very good visit with my friend Jeremy Quinlan at Pacific City last week, where we fished and shot video and pondered the meaning of life and steelhead flies.

I’m getting a much needed make-over on my blog from Rob Perkin, who is talented so far beyond my level of understanding and is also crazy enough to dive into working with me. So. Like yesterday I was feeling a little manic (not scary manic, just a little up) and must have sent Rob at least ten text messages and a several emails with content and design ideas for my blog page. Forgive me Rob.

And I’ll close by suggesting that anyone who has followed my adventure of swinging flies for steelhead this winter might find humor in this YouTube video cartoon. It has been viewed over twenty thousand times and should be required for everyone who ever dips their toes into the cold wet waters inhabited by winter steelhead. Maybe summer steelhead waters too. Don’t know if you will be offended or not, but I find this video makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. It sure does.

After viewing this you probably won’t be capable of reading anything else, so I’ll close now and wish you all the very best—even if you fish nymphs and beads to slam the steel.

Jay Nicholas, April 20 2017

A Purple/Black Steelhead Tube Fly for the Weekend

Yes, I realize that I’ve already published two videos this week, but I’m on a mission to create fresh content for my blog and my YouTube Channel, so consider this a bonus post.

The fly featured here is a purple-hued rabbit-strip steelhead fly tied on a tube. My thanks to Brian Silvey for his inspiration. Most of the flies that look roughy like this are related to his rabbit strip fly. We just can’t help ourselves, can we. I’m quite sure that I will feature more rabbit strip flies similar to this but tied with different color rabbit and hackle collars.

The fly is so simple that I will not list materials but will refer you to the short version of this video at the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

The video posted here continues my pledge to post the abbreviated (land the plane, Jay) on the Caddis Fly Blog while posting the long, rambling, story telling version on my personal blog.

One way or another, I invite you to browse the world of fly tying and see if you can find ideas and techniques of interest.

My best to you all.

Jay Nicholas

April 2017

Just 4 Guys Casting

I’ve started experimenting with my cellphone taking slo-mo video of friends casting. This makes perfect sense since we are not catching much. Problem is that my phone has poor quality video at slo-mo.

Anyway, I edited this short 3 minute movie that features a few river scenes and images of my friends and I casting on the river. Please don’t expect great quality video. We are just 4 guys having fun while hucking our flies across the run, hoping for a grab.  And please don’t expect great casting style from me — my friends do better — but we all had fun.

I’ll be experimenting with a different camera shortly, trying to get better resolution in future casting videos.

Thanks for your patience.

Jay Nicholas, winter season 2016/17

Fly of the Week: Blue & Black Fish Taco Steelhead Tube Fly

Keeping with my goal of producing roughly one post for each week, here is the latest installment. This is a steelhead tube fly very much fashioned after Jeff Hickman’s Fish Taco. I have tied this fly with a blue/black color theme but I’ll reiterate my advice that most steelhead and salmon flies are not intended to be tied EXACTLY as illustrated. Part of the fun and creativity is that each tyer has the freedom to diverge, adapt, and modify flies as you see fit.

If you view this video you will see that I am learning how to edit video, and will probably decide that I have a long way to go in developing my skills.

Thanks for your patience – I hope you find something entertaining here.

Jay Nicholas
Winter season, 2017

ECHO OHS fly rod: two-hand casting excellence in the tightest quarters

Echo OHS Fly Rod a

Just a quick notice that I’ve written a review of this very fine new OHS fly rod by ECHO for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog—after fishing this rod a full ten days this winter season. Tim Rajeff coached me into the proper wt. Airflo Scout head and tip to load the rod properly for two-hand casting, and I love fishing this rod in everywhere from close quarters to wide open runs.

Rather than a full repeat of the review, I’ll include a link to the OFFB here, and publish both posts simultaneously . I realize that my reviews make almost no mention about the OHS rod’s cosmetics and hardware. These rods are built very much like the Echo 3 Switch Rods with emerald green shaft and anodized aluminum reel seats. The rod includes the option for shorter and  longer butt handles—I fish the OHS exclusively with the longer handle (it screws into the reel seat.


Here are a few OHS rod and line matches if you will strictly be casting two-hand style, as I normally do.

ECHO OHS 6 wt. — 270 gr Airflo Scout8 ft Airflo T-10; or OPST 96 gr tip.

ECHO OHS 7 wt.  — 330 gr Airflo Scout10 ft Airflo  T-10; 10 ft Rio T-11; or OPST 96 gr tip.

ECHO OHS 8 wt. — 390 gr Airflo Scout10 ft Airflo  T-10; 10 ft Rio T-11; or OPST 96 /132 gr tip.

If you plan on using the OHS rod as it was originally intended (single-hand casting with a haul to load the rod properly), it is fair to suggest that you subtract 60 gr from the recommended head weights listed for each rod above.

Jay Nicholas winter steelhead 2017.jpg

Swinging for winter steelhead on the upper river has been a scratchy proposition for me this season. One friend fished about 6 days and caught 3 fish. Another friend fished close to two weeks and has hooked (and lost 5 fish). My count for 10 says swing fishing is three fish lost and one to hand. A challenging but successful season in my mind.

I loved the light-in-hand feel of the 7 wt. OHS rod.  It is shockingly light compared to most 7 wt switch rods. When I finally hooked a steelhead that held onto my fly (on the last day of the upriver season) I had my hands full of excitement with a nice 12 pound (I swear) hen. We all have different perspectives, but I felt that the 7 wt is entirely powerful enough to fight the fish.  At least it worked out for me. If you have doubts, I’d suggest that you reach for the 8 wt.

 Two-hand casting with this 10 ft. 6 in. rod is so pleasurable that I don’t even dabble at developing my single hand casting style—I’m satisfied to classify the OHS as a mini spey rod—realizing that I’m missing out on half of the rod’s performance capabilities.

I’ll also reiterate that these rods are ideally suited to small and modest sized rivers. They will cast a country mile, handle in the tightest quarters, and I would recommend these short (10 ft 4 in) rods in a very wide range of fishing habitats. For places like wide open runs on the Sandy, Clackamas, or Deschutes, I would often reach for a longer Spey rod. Even on these larger rivers, I have fished specific places where trees and brush complicate casting with longer two-hand rods. These make a perfect place to swing the OHS rod without stress or strain. Wow, another excuse to buy more tackle.

My best wishes to you:

Jay Nicholas

Uncut – Flame Boss Tube Steelhead Fly


I’m starting to get into the swing, figuratively speaking, on editing and posting video content.

The Flame Boss in all its various forms is a glorious fly to fish for steelhead and salmon, heck I bet the anadromous salmonid that can resist this fly is the rare individual indeed. So I’ve taken one of my favorite steelhead flies and adapted it to a tube as shown here in this video.

The Flame Boss—if tied on a shank—would not have quite so voluminous a tail or wing. This fly tied with Pro Sportfisher Marble Fox tail seems shockingly bulky but I promise that it becomes nearly transparent when it swims. Most likely I should use the term translucent. Regardless, it is not overpowering in the water and this is a very effective fly. It is light to cast and the fish love it. A friend brought three winter steelhead to hand during this winter season while swinging  this pattern.

The recipe for the fly is posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

I hope you find some entertainment in my long rambling conversation and catch many fish on the flies you tie.

Jay Nicholas – winter season 2016/17

Movie Trailer – Fly Fishing Pacific City

This is a short trailer (about 4 minutes) of a 50 minute movie I produced that showcases highlights of fishing throughout the season near Pacific City. This trailer covers winter steelhead, sea run cutthroat, black sea bass, lingcod, albacore, ocean silvers estuary chinook, land-locked hatchery summer steelhead, and hatchery catchable trout.

This video trailer represents one more step in the gradual process of adding to my YouTube channel. This is video number three and I have about 6 ready to go that I will be doling out at about the rate of one per week. This means I’d better get more in the bag and ready to publish.

Also—I’ll be sharing more on my upcoming Kickstarter Campaign and the quest to fund publication of my Salmon Journal.

May this be a good week for you, and I hope to have another video post this time next week, or close to it!

Jay Nicholas, April 3 2017