State of Mind – September 15, 2015

Jay Nicholas Stand Up Art by Lisa

It has apparently been five months since I posted anything here. Not because there’s nothing going on. Not because there is too much going on to write. Not that I haven’t wanted to. Not because I really really really wanted to. But of course there are plenty of excuses or reasons or explanations and such forth that don’t merit mentioning because after all I simply didn’t sit down and log in and type.

But tonight I had to. Couldn’t put it off another minute.

What caused me to post this now? Well here it is.

I have received kind notes from friends in recent weeks, days, and hours. Words that touched my heart with such a feeling of gratitude that I frankly don’t think that I can find proper words to express how I felt.

I thank you.

I thank each of you who reached out to me.

And I have something to say to anyone who reads this.

As each of us blunders into the future, moment by moment, we may experience every emotion from pure joy to pure despair.Whether you do or not,  I can tell you that I deal with both ends of the spectrum most days.

I will pause now to let you know that I just devoted some ten or fifteen minutes writing about the dark end of the spectrum and how I can’t predict when I’ll go there and so on and so forth but eventually decided that I’d better delete the entire passage because the process is so tangled that I think it best to leave it now.


Here we are.

Sunday evening.


Nestucca River salmon are beginning their final run of the river, leaving the ocean home they have known most of their life, setting in motion a cycle of life and death that persists today in spite of the assaults of “civilization” that has no understanding or respect for natural things.  Summer steelhead are feeling the relief of waters cooled by rains falling as I write, moving restlessly about their pools, knowing, perhaps, that their time to spawn is growing shorter as the nights grow longer. The sea run cutthroat are moving about the coastal rivers now, some staying in tidewater, some moving high into the headwaters to lay behind the first spring chinook that will begin digging redds in a week or so.

I tied flies today for my friend who will fish in the Amazon Rain Forest next month.  I tied a few albacore flies too, hoping that I’ll get out to chase tuna a time or two before the ocean shifts and the tuna move offshore. I’m looking at the river forecast and trying to imagine where I’ll fish this week, anticipating that rain will send fish upriver.

My family is well.

My cats are well.

I hope that everyone who reads this is well, or well enough, or can be comforted knowing that someone, somewhere, has felt what you are feeling this moment.

Jay Nicholas Hollow Deceivers

If everything in your life is perfect,  I am happy for you.

If some things in your life are not so good, in fact if some things are really crappy, please hang the heck in there until something good happens, no matter how small that good thing might be. That’s what we all need to do, because we need each other and none of us is very well equipped to go it alone.

And if this is all too cryptic and doesn’t fit with whatever is going on in your life please excuse me. This is the best I can do to say what I want to say without saying the words exactly because sometimes I’m afraid of the words that might come spilling out.




Fishing Tackle Reviews – Genesis

Jay Nicholas Saracione in the Salmon Boat

Regarding the matter of fishing tackle and fishing gear reviews.

In the Beginning, we fished.

Some of us fished with nets and spears, but some fished with a pole, string, hook, bobber, and a worm. We were called anglers, our tools were called tackle, we ate our catch, and it was good.

Naturally, the quest to catch more and larger fish spawned experimentation with fish poles, string, bobbers and worms, referred to collectively as tackle. From the beginning of angling, we enjoyed our craft, fiddled with our tackle, and this was good.

Time slipped by, anglers angled, and the nature of tackle evolved. Our fish poles grew longer at times, and then shorter; thinner and thicker; lighter and heavier; decorated with intricate design or quite plain. Fish string evolved as well – we had floating and sinking string; dark and light string; rough and smooth; stretchy and not-at-all stretchy string. From poles to worms, we delighted in each generation of tackle, relegating previous generations to the bone heap. And this was still good, pretty much.

Gradually, the rate of technical performance advances – declined. Product improvements grew smaller and smaller as the ages sped by. Sometimes, lacking even small change to trumpet, our industry reps heralded microscopic changes as monumental. Our search for better tackle to facilitate catching fish devolved into a quest for fishing-gear perfection – we lost all sense of humility, seeking the knowing of things of a nature  beyond the comprehension of mortal humans.

While we were most vulnerable, immersed in the shady environs of Internet fishing content, an army of manufacturers assailed us, whispering glorious stories of pickup trucks, fly tying vises, micro 4/3 sensor auto-focus cameras, Kevlar vests, multi-tools, beef jerky, Q-Tips, laser gun sights, camo bikinis, thousand-pound coolers, barbecue-flavored potato chips, and such forth. Our credit card debt grew exponentially as we acquired the most marvelous trinkets to accompany our beloved fishing tackle. And although our lives were not better, we thought it so, and decided that all-in-all it was good; and therefore, it was good, perhaps, but who among us can say?


In closing, I wish each of you – wherever you are – a good day, a smile, a laugh, and the chance to fish. But if you can’t fish – I wish each of you the joy of checking out a few tackle reviews on the Internet, perhaps even a few I’ve penned.


Jay Nicholas, March 4th, 2019

Sunday Morning, Jan 13, 2019

jay nicholas and cat

Very nice start to the day. Up at 3:30 or so. A brief good morning to our guest Scott Crosby then send him on his way north to fish for steelhead with friends. I shot two hours of fly video yesterday that will all be erased because I rambled way too much. I have two cats either in my lap or on the desk here in the den. I think they are about to rumble. One cup of coffee down the hatch and time to brew a second. Is it fair to use the term “brew” when using instant? I need to fish very soon. Maybe sometime next week. Think I’ll head to the garage, turn up the heat, and tie carp flies.

My best wishes to you all .


At a loss for words – July 9, 2018

jay nicholas boomer helping me edit

I found this post  buried in the draft tab of my blog about two weeks ago. Here it is.


Today is July 9 2018.

Have you ever felt such depression that you couldn’t tell anyone about it?
As Jimi Hendrix said decades ago, “Well, I have.”

And I find myself, once again, at a loss for words.

Unable to speak or write about what’s going on, what I’m feeling,
What I’m thinking about doing.
What just happened.
what happened a long time ago.
What’s about to happen.
What I saw.
What I’m going to do.
My confusion.
My determination.
My fear.
My resolve.
My terror.
My weakness.
My strength.

I’m not writing about myself, you see, I’m writing about friends, people I know well. I’m simply reporting their dilemma.

Their stories are different; my friends are OK, mostly, survivors of terrible insults wreaked on the human spirit. The knowing of what they’ve endured is itself an assault on anyone’s spirit.

There’s probably more to say here, more to write, but I’m at a loss for words.


Today is January 4, 2018.

Have you ever felt so much joy that you couldn’t write about it?

Ever had so much fun that you couldn’t tell anyone?

Well, I have.

My best to you this and every day.

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

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.


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.


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






Father’s Day 2018

Jack V. Nicholas, circa 1956 0132

Dear dad.

Just a quick note to let you know that my life is good, family is well, and I am blessed with many wonderful friends. Yes, I know that the term “wonderful” is generally over-rated, and I in particular probably use it a little too often, but I’ll also say that when I use the phrase I try to be very conscious about what it means—full of wonder—in a good way.

Dulcie Joan Nicholas circa 1958 0142

I’ve been composing this letter in my head for weeks now, and finally sat down to the computer to write it today. Paragraph after paragraph crafted, edited, rewritten and then—deleted.

Jay and Dulcie Nicholas circa 1955 0109

You were the adult in the room, I was the child.

Jay Nicholas fishing circa 1954 0217

If I had one wish it would be this: I would go back in time to a day in the spring of 1968. I would be home for the weekend with my friend Steve Thorstead. We would be wearing our orange OSU crew shirts and packing up to go back to Corvallis.

 Jay Nicholas in OSU Crew shirt, circa 1968 0244.jpg

 I would ask Steve to give us a moment alone. I would stand you and mom side by side. I’d look at each of you carefully, so that I could remember you forever. Then I would give each of you a long hug, hold each of you by the shoulders, and tell you not to worry. “I’m going to be just fine,” I’d say. “I’m going to be father to two fine children who will make their way in life,” I’d say. It will take a while, but I will find love. “I’ll work hard, be blessed with the support of many good friends, and I’ll fish,” I’d say.”

Steve Thorsted, Jay Nicholas, and Dulcit NICHOLAS circa 1968 0242

“Thank you for loving me and getting me started. Dad, thank you for introducing me to fishing. Mom, thank you for the hours you sat in the car, alone, in winter near Heidelberg, while I cast my Super Duper in that pond, hoping for a trout to tug on my line.”

Jay Nicholas and Jack V Nicholas on Metolius circa 1964 0207

 “I’ve got to get going now, but please remember, every day, I love you and everything is going to be OK.”


That’s what I’d say.

Jay Nicholas, June 16th 2018