Short Notes of Thanks to Friends in the Fly Fishing Industry

george cook

Thank you – Friends in the Fly Fishing Industry

This is an introduction to several blog posts that I’m working on and hope to post in early 2019. I want to make sure that no one makes the mistake of thinking that these are intended to be comprehensive biographies or novellas.

Not at all.

These short notes are my way of thanking several people I’ve known mostly because of my work as a very small cog in the Fly Fishing Industrial Complex. The FFI is huge and daunting and rumbles on with enormous momentum. At the same time, the FFI is an irrelevant speck in the US/world economy. It is impersonal, and deeply personal. The FFI is populated by BIG NAMES and no-names. Impersonal and personal. Stand-offish and welcoming.

My circle of friends, people i have actually met or at least talked with on the phone or via email is very small. I don’t get around much in the FFI. Far more people know me, or think they do than vice versa (yes, I had to look this one up to see if I used it properly).

So I’ve found myself a little tiny cog in a machine far larger than my comprehension, and often it seems like people who work in the FFI full time assume that I know more than I know, and assume that I know more people than I do.

Where was I going with this?

I decided to throw down a few blog posts to thank some of the people who do actually know the FFI, who know how little I understand the people and mechanics of the FFI, and have been welcoming and kind anyway, knowing that I’m bumbling around in the grass behind the outfield fence.

Apologies before I start: I’m only going to mention a very few people in these posts, and the list of people who have been kind and helped me navigate the FFI is a long one.

So I’ll close now, with final mention that my notes will be very short.

Very short, and very heartfelt thank you notes.

JN – December 28, 2018

Are Oregon Coastal Chinook Smaller?

I think the answer is yes, something is going on and has been getting progressively more obvious over the last several decades.

Our Chinook are smaller when they return to the river.

Are they only returning at younger ages than before?

Are the kings smaller at age when they return?

is it a combination of both factors?

In Alaska, biologists found that over a period of thirty years, for roughly 8 Chinook runs studied, the salmon were returning at a younger age (by a year) and at smaller size-per-age.

Oregon Fish Scientists have not studied, documented, or issued a statement, so far as I’m aware, regarding what’s going on here, or whether I’m right or wrong, or whether they have noticed, or whether they care.

I find this situation of concern.

Fifty and sixty pound Chinook were commonly caught most every year in many of our coastal rivers. Check out Fishing the Oregon Country by Francs Ames to see what he had to say about big Chinook in the Oregon sport fishery.

Think I’m done on this subject for the time.

A pleasant day and good luck fishing to you all.


Addendum 1: A friend just emailed me to suggest that the salmon might be smaller now because we harvested the big/old fish out of the gene pool and only the little-fish genes are left these days.

I reject this possibility – I do not believe for a minute that  genetic selection is the most significant factor responsible for taking away the big kings, although it might have a little to do with it.

I was responsible for the scale collection gleaned from dead Chinook measured on the spawning grounds. Our (ODFW) crews found plenty of giants on the spawning beds in all of our north coast rivers back in the 80s to know that plenty of the big/old salmon made it past the fishery.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


December 24, 2018 Stocking my Euro Nymph Box

Jay Nicholas Euro Numph Box

Nothing quite as pretty as a nicely stocked fly box. Some boxes are full with one fly pattern and some are stocked with a variety of patterns. I’m working on my nymph tying skills after many decades being absent from tying these beasties.

My thanks to the many fine YouTube tyers including especially Lance Egan, and Tim Flagler, who’s skills, advice, and easy going style helped me regain some dexterity long left dormant while I’ve been tying giant flies and dreaming of predatory monsters. Thanks also to Kelly Galloup for his great videos discussing everything from materials, tools, and techniques. After more than fifty years tying flies and fly fishing, I have enjoyed hours of YouTube viewing that has been educational, entertaining, and have stirred my curiosity and enthusiasm for what we all do. I think back to the days in the early 1960s when I struggled to learn how to tie flies with a Herter’s catalog and shudder.

I salute all of the fly tyers (on and off the internet) who are advancing our craft.

Meanwhile, I present the fly box above as my start, and note that I’m gaining a little confidence and an eye for what these nymphs should look like.

My Best to you all, everyday.

Jay Nicholas


Dec 23, 2028: You never know . . .

Jay Nicholas 12:23:2018 Ice on the Oars

You might never know what’s going on in the life of people you meet.
The barista at the coffee shop, the wait person, bus driver, gas station attendant, your neighbor, or your close friend.

Some people have near-perfect lives.
Not everyone.
“Hows your day going?” you might ask.
Regardless of the answer, you might never know.
Asking and answering this question is a matter of polite social convention.
Responding in stark truth is not required and isn’t actually expected.
Full disclosure might be uncomfortable.
Full disclosure might require more than fifteen seconds of chatter and a smile.

Lately, I’ve tried to rephrase these casual conversations.
“Thank you for taking care of me.”
“I hope you meet only smiling, patient customers today.”
“Thank you for sharing your time and your smile.”
“It is nice to see you here today.”
“I appreciate your effort here, I know this work can be challenging.”

I’m often left unsatisfied with what I’ve said.
I try to let each person I meet know that they deserve kindness and courtesy.
No matter what might be going on in their private life.
Just in case, just on the chance, the public smile is mostly for show.

I’m ready for the deeper conversation. But this is something that can’t be forced. I’m ready to listen, and I’m not afraid of what I might hear.

JN, 12/23/2018

Come home, oh beloved 8115-4 Burkheimer, come home!

How long have you been gone from my warm embrace, from the home and the place where you are loved unconditionally?  Too long. Fall season, spring season, Nay, it might be a full year — how the time slips away from us, how we make do with the stuff of life and get on, but still with the empty feeling left by your absence.

Did I loan you to a fellow salmon fisher? Was it a steelheader who wanted to test your strength. How could I not remember? How could I forget where you are in who’s safekeeping I trusted you?

Come home to me, please, come home. We will float the Nestucca with Rob and ERin, with Matt, with Jack, and yes, we will float together, just you and me – I promise.

I’ll rig you with 510 Scout and a type 3 tip, just the way you prefer.and together we will swim a Polar Shrimp,

I promise.

Just come home.

JN, 17 December, 2018