Fly Fishing Pacific City, mid June 2017

My Pacific City neighbor and friend Kevin kindly invited me to join him fishing out of Pacific City a week ago, and the black rockfish angling was among the best I’ve experienced. We had a very relaxing morning with as much action as we wished for. Thank you Kevin.  Great time with the fly rod and a variety of new Clousers to test on the fish!

Jay Nicholas, June 22 2017

ECHO EPR Review – Clearly a Great Fly Rod

 

This is a thumbnail sketch of a fly rod review I wrote for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog—featuring the ECHO EPR (extreme performance rod) fly rod. I based my review on a week fishing recently with Gary Bulla out of La Ventana in Baja.

Jay Nicholas EPR fly rod strip set

If you examine the image above closely, you will see the small splash of a skipjack taking my fly in the upper left corner of the photo. You might also be able to see that there is a slight upturn in the tip of the 10 wt EPR as the line is just coming under tension as I’m stripping. In the center of the image, there is surface commotion as other skipjack are crushing baitfish, throwing water into the air and generally getting all of us anglers about as adrenaline infused as possible.

Jay Nicholas EPR fly rod Review

The image immediately above shows my fly line leaping as it clears the deck after strip setting the hook on the previously referenced skipjack.

Jay Nicholas ECHO EPR fly rod review

The final image here simply shows my 10 wt EPR fly rod under strain. This is a good kind of strain that we fly anglers all hope to experience.

Without fanfare, I can recommend the ECHO EPR unequivocally, based on my experience with the 8 and 10 wt rods, plus my long association fishing a wide variety of ECHO fly rods ranging from 4 wt glass rods to 12 wt high modulus graphite.

I invite you to read my detailed review of the EPR on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, but in the meantime, I’ll reiterate that you positively can’t go astray if you purchase one of these rods. Their casting ability and fish fighting power rank very favorably alongside rods that cost twice the price; their guides and handle are superbly right-sized for saltwater rods, and this is something I have not found to be true for some more expensive rods. Finally, the reel seat has the sturdiness and saltwater resistance that I expect in an ocean bound rod.

I would be pleased to answer questions you may have about this or any other fly rod I have experience with.

Jay Nicholas  – May/June 2017

Fly Fishing Baja with Gary Bulla 2017

Jay Nicholas Baja Dorado by JB

I just returned from a very enjoyable week fishing with Gary Bulla in Baja, La Ventana and Baja Joe’s to be more specific. Gary runs a great show for fly anglers of all skill levels and his panga captains are gentlemen as well as fly fishing mentors.

I put together a short clip of highlights from the week, of course I failed to record some of the hottest action during the week plus, I lost one of my cameras at the end of day 6 of the trip. Oh well, stuff happens don’t it?

I also posted a trip report with more photo images on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

In short, I did not catch a rooster, but I came close. Really close. I was told that you can’t retrieve too fast for the dorado and roosters, but I now question that advice, as I’m pretty sure I pulled my fly away from both species at crucial moments when they were trying to chomp it.

Again, oh well.

Jay Nicholas with Gui in Baja

On day 6, our guide Fedilito cruised in near a buoy and threw a few ballyhoo to see if there were any dorado about. Well, there were three dorado ready to chase bait and they commenced to crash the surface, throwing water two feet in the air in the process.

This was my first week fishing for dorado and I had never seen fish of this size crashing around chasing bait. My angling companion for the day, Karen, commenced casting as I did. She is an experienced dorado fisher and kept her cool, but I was going nuts casting to the giant fish as it raced around in front of us. Of the three dorado we saw, two were very large and one was modest sized. We both cast and cast, Fedilito threw a few ballyhoo to keep the fish active, and  — oh my gosh — the biggest dorado was chasing my fly straight towards the boat as I was retrieving! I probably only had ten feet of fly line out of my tip-top when the dorado consumed my fly and turned away from the panga.

As usual, I shouted with excitement, just like a kid.

Game on.

I did not capture any of the excitement before hooking this big dorado, but it was much like the action of a few days earlier when I hooked a modest size dorado and managed to record that event on the Go Pro. I am pretty well captivated by the sight of brilliantly hued fish chasing bait and flies around in plain view. This sort of fishing excitement is something I could easily become addicted to. Oh my goodness.

Our panga captain Fedilito was as pleased as I was to have the big fish take the fly. It was a good 200 yards into my backing in a flash and jumping while I turned on the Go Pro. Fedilito cautioned me — grande dorado, no break.  This fish was a real prize to a young panga captain.

Here is the video clip. I hope you enjoy it. Better still, I hope you are able to go fishing down in Baja someday yourself. I never imagined that I would make the trip but thanks to my dear friends Gui and Jim, I decided to accept their invitation to join them and I booked a trip and a flight less than two weeks notice.

Sure glad that I did.

My best to you always. May your fishing and your world be good.

Jay Nicholas — May/June 2017

More Drivel about Hatchery and Wild Salmonids

I found this on my desktop this morning. Almost deleted it. Decided to post it. Imperfect as heck. Here goes.

I usually refrain from saying much when I find people arguing about hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead because the issue is so complex. I believe people should consider the details of each river, fish species,  brood stock hatchery program, predator assemblage, in-river fishery, presence or absence of gill net fishery in the river, the possibility of ocean or estuary interceptions (intentional and unintentional), summer flows, winter flows, river and estuary habitat condition, and on and on. Right or wrong, I believe the most useful conversations occur when people are willing to consider all of these factors and figure out what factors are most affecting the wild steelhead.

I believe that hatchery programs always represent a risk to wild fish. But I’m not at all able to predict whether the risk will translate into a large of small adverse impact to wild fish, but I am pretty skeptical when someone says that the hatchery fish will “benefit” the wild steelhead.

It seems too often that people live in hardened silos where hatchery fish are wicked, benign, or beneficial to wild steelhead. I don’t know any of the details about Washington hatchery programs so I can’t begin to guess what was going on or what the impacts were/are.

I do know quite a bit about Oregon steelhead hatchery programs and I know quite a bit about our Oregon coastal rivers. At least I think I do, but it might be fair to challenge my assumption that I know much of anything these days. I’m sure there is as much that I don’t know as what I do know. It is clear that the coastal river hatchery programs provide fish to harvest. It is clear that wild steelhead in a few rivers (not to be mentioned, but we know where these are) are doing quite well (there are enough to catch (even on swung flies) entirely without the presence of a hatchery program. These rivers also produced wild steelhead during periods when hatchery steelhead were stocked and the fishery operated under a 3-daily and 40 per season regulation.

Metolius trout certainly made a fantastic increase when the hatchery program was ceased. Clackamas wild steelhead do not seem to have made a big run-increase like the biologists thought they would when hatchery summers were removed above the dam. (My friends tell me this Clackamas statement is off-target for various reasons.) Elk river gets a ton of hatchery fish but the number of wild Chinook has been “stable” (with cycles up and down) for over four decades. It is complicated. I have not seen examples where hatchery fish “helped” wild fish.

We focus on land use practices but often ignore the cormorants and seals. The predators are not the only problem but they sure could be a huge problem in some river basins. And then there is the recreational fishery. Hummmm. When some of my friends are hooking and releasing double digits every day – how good can that be for wild fish? We want to have our fun (me too) but if every wild fish is getting handled one or more times, there could indeed be an adverse impact that has nothing to do with competition or interbreeding with hatchery fish.

I do get discouraged with some people put me in the “fly guy” category and make all sorts of assumptions about me. Same goes when people lump “gear guys” in one batch and make assumptions about them. I’ve fished gear more years for winter steelhead than I’ve fished flies. What does that make me?

I guarantee that the people who want our coastal rivers for development or water rights, or whatever are smiling while we anglers are spitting at each other. I think there are places where hatchery fish make sense by tradition or by the nature of the river. I think there are some places where hatchery programs should be reduced or phased out. I do not support an all or nothing mentality. I do support anglers of different perspectives working together to figure out the most significant limiting factors and seeing what can be done to increase survival of hatchery and wild fish, together in the same river or in separate rivers.

Now I’ve gone and done it. Droned on way too long and still not solved the riddle. Point is, no one can solve the riddle without working in a diverse coalition and paying attention to the details. Everyone is an expert these days.

OK, I’m done. Not going to say anything more. Movin’ on.

Jay Nicholas May/June 2017

 

Ballyhoo Fly (fished in Baja last week)

This is NOT a high quality video, but I think most tyers will be able to get the gist of how to tie this fly. I shot this on a Go Pro camera that insisted on focusing on my shirt instead of on the fly.

The point of this pattern is to imitate the ballyhoo fish shown below in an image I downloaded from the internet at imagearcade. My thanks for this image.

ballyhoo

As you can see, these are large baitfish and may easily be 5 – 6″ long, so your flies should be similarly proportioned.

Ballyhoo

Hook – Gamakatsu 811-s size 2/0 or 3/0
Thread – clear mono or white
Belly – white material such as SF blend, Yak hair, varieties of sea hair
Lateral line – Hint of grey
Back – light olive, mackerel,  or tan
Top of back – (optional) a few strands (perhaps 6?) in black or peacock

I fished flies like this in Baja out of Gary Bulla’s in La Ventana last week and had a great time under difficult fishing conditions of wind and short supply of  baitfish. Several people in our party caught nice roosters but I did not. I did however catch dorado, skipjack and small jacks.

My week was most enjoyable owing to a combination of very nice fishing companions, experienced panga captains,   comfortable accommodations, wholesome meals, and Gary Bulla himself, a gentleman/host who is enthusiastic, experienced, and held in the highest regard by his guests, staff, and panga captains.

I will follow with posts on the adventure and gear as time permits.

My best to you and thanks for all of your good wishes.

Jay Nicholas May 24 2017

Tying a Sardina Fly with Jay and Guy

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 2.00.27 PM

This is the director’s cut of a shorter video posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog. Thanks to Guy Allen who has tied and fished this fly to perfection and is always prepared to fish some version of the pattern on his yearly trip to Baja.

So. Last minute, I decided to join Guy and Jim on their adventure to Baja. I had a great time and some blog posts will follow when I get time to write them. For the week we were there, the sardina caught a few fish but the ballyhoo fly was better because there were not very many flat iron herring around. Still this is a pattern one would be foolish to omit from their Baja fly box.

I hope you enjoy the discussion as Guy and I explore the tying and fishing of this great saltwater fly.

Jay Nicholas, spring season 2017

Beyond Fake – Faux Bucktail Clouser

Jay Nicholas Faux Bucktail

Chris Daughters asked me to check out the new Faux Bucktail and shoot a video to introduce this material to consumers. I picked out a few colors and it sat on my bench for over a month, with me looking at and wondering if I really wanted to mess with the stuff. It looks so picture perfect. Each fiber is the exact same length and each fiber has a perfect sharp tip. I could tell that the material would not compress and flare like the natural, and that didn’t make me happy.

Eventually I gathered courage to test drive the material.

My first dozen flies were not entirely satisfactory and I was beginning to doubt the stuff. I should note that I was also trying to tie some odd patterns and not my usual flies, so that probably influenced the outcome of my experiments.

Eventually I let go of the exploratory patterns and settled in to tie my signature bucktail fly, the Clouser Minnow. Although the result is a slimmer fly than I am accustomed to tying, the results are quite pleasing. Plus—I am convinced that my new FAUX Clousers will stand up to chewing by black rockfish far better than natural bucktail clousers have in the past.

Anyway, I invite you to check out this video, the long version of one that I recorded for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog. See if you like the fly I’ve created and then decide if you want to try the new material or stick with the usual stinky natural bucktails!

Me? I sincerely hope I’m out in a dory sometime in the next few weeks to fish these new found materials.

My best to you

Jay Nicholas – Spring 2017

Short Video on the ECHO OHS Rod

This is a revised post with a slightly different video embedded.

My dear friend Jeremy cut the footage together for this short video that captures a few memories of a day this winter season swinging flies for steelhead the the ECHO OHS (one hand spey) rod. As noted in my review of this rod for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, I prefer to fish this rod in classic two-hand style and find that it performs flawlessly and makes monster casts feel effortless when fished with an AIRFLO Skagit Scout head.

The video has been edited a little from the first one I posted in order to 1) correctly name the ECHO rod as the One Hand Spey, and 2) to show a better view of my super powerful D Loops and give a little justice to how far I was casting — trust me, it was AWESOME.

My best to you on this day May 5th, 2017
This revision posted on June 1st, 2017

The Most Perfect Glass Bead Bugger . . .

You will ever fish. 

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 1.53.09 PM

Yep, that’s right. 

This is the long version of the video on tying this fly complete with much conjecture and rambling. The short version will be posted very soon on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.

I hope you enjoy this extended edit of the video. This is a fly that has caught hatchery and wild rainbow, sea run cutthroat, and summer steelhead on many occasions. Tie and fish it with confidence and vary the color of the glass bead to suit your preferences.

 

Thank you all for your patience and good wishes.

Jay Nicholas, Spring Season 2017

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