Urban Spring Chinook Fly Fishing

We dream of bright grabby salmon and steelhead in remote, wilderness settings.

Sometimes there are good fish close to home. Perhaps the salmon aren’t quite as large as we might prefer. Sometimes they are found in uncomfortable proximity to people who care little of our passion for clean air, clean water, and clean fish.

Beauty, like peace of mind, is to be found in surprising places, if we can find what we need where we are at the moment.

I have been blessed with good friendship and strong bright salmon, and for both I am grateful.

Jay Nicholas – July 2017

Salmon Fisher’s Journal Meets Kickstarter Goal in 5 days

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With 14 days until the campaign is complete, we are currently at 110% of our initial fundraising goal, thanks t the support of 121 backers.

I’ve said it many times, but I want to thank everyone who has taken action on the campaign, and my all volunteer team says a big THANK YOU too.

Naturally, I set my sights on delivering an even more spectacular set of books on Day Three of our campaign.  I’d love to be able to upgrade the quality of the cover from the initial specs we submitted to the printers, add more color images to the interior, increase the overall page count of the two volume set, and …….

I have a secret plan too, an enhancement I’m not going to mention because I’m not sure if it will be economically feasible. All of these optional enhancements to Salmon Fisher’s Journal will be fun if we can pull them off. As it stands, the book will be something that I am very, very proud of delivering. I’ve always been a person who has difficulty letting go of a task that I have set my sights on. Publishing this journal as a collector’s quality book is something I’ve been working on for two decades.

The bridge between dreaming and delivering is about to be traversed.

So — rest assured that we’ve succeeded in securing the backing to produce and deliver. My efforts over the next two weeks are focused on pushing the standards of what we can publish even further into the spectacular zone.

And I have a few cards up my sleeve too.

Jay Nicholas, 22 July, 2017

Pacific City Dory Launch and Fly Fishing for Rockfish

This is a very short video that records highlights from a recent (mid July) trip on my friend Kevin’s dory. Kevin, Rob, and I fly fished for Pacific black rockfish and had a very enjoyable day on the ocean out of Pacific City.

The video shows the process of dumping the dory off the trailer, a little of the fishing, and the run onto the beach at the end of the trip.

Several people have asked for video of the launching process, so I hope this helps people understand the what is involved when we launch into the surf. I note that the ocean was very calm on this day.

My best to you all.

Jay Nicholas July 22, 2017

Salmon Journal Kickstarter is Live!

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Yes. Finally. The time has come to make the final push from the high-elevation camp to summit the mountain. I have a plan in place to finally publish Salmon Fisher’s Journal.

I’ve dedicated fifteen years to writing, on top of nearly six decades of fishing to complete the manuscript, assemble the photo images, and ink the sketches. My all-volunteer team of professional creatives have dedicated nearly two years in pre-production mode. I’ve received financial, product, and moral support from a long list of friends who are formally or informally associated with the fly fishing community.

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With the support of professional book designer, photo editor, videographer, and project manager—we are ready to launch this Kickstarter Campaign. Our goal, the remaining funds needed to print and ship the book have been whittled down to $18,500.

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My Kickstarter goal is the amount I need to transform the Salmon Fisher’s Journal from manuscript proof to a collector’s quality, two volume set of books that tell the big story of Chinook salmon. This story is wide ranging, more comprehensive than anything ever written about the species and the fly fishery. Really.

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I characterize Salmon Fisher’s Journal as — too much and not nearly enough. I say this because no one, ever, has laid out the story in this depth, and yet after reading over 500 pages and two hundred thousand words—you’ll likely be wanting more. Such is the nature of tackling a topic so deeply fraught in passion, culture, mystery history, and technicality.

 

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With this plea, I’ll conclude.

Kindly visit our Kickstarter Page for Salmon Fisher’s Journal as soon as you can. Make a contributing to the cause. Make a donation—pure and simple, with flies, or with an original ink pen sketch. Order one or several books on a pre-order basis. Reserve a book and go fishing with me. Be a Journal FOUNDER or PRODUCER and be recognized on the title page of the book.

Enough said. Thank you.  Act now. Share this with your friends, family, and anyone who cares about the culture of fly fishing for anadromous salmon and steelhead.

Jay Nicholas

Salmon fishing with Jack Harrell June 2017

I had the opportunity to fish with my friend Jack Harrell nearly two weeks ago, and he kindly rowed me around the estuary looking for any signs of spring Chinook. Our evening was most pleasant and relaxed. Jack hooked a fine bright hatchery springer late in the day, and I rowed him over to shore where he beached the fish. Thank you Jack, for another great time on the water, sharing stories and making plans for the future. Thank you for your friendship.

Jay Nicholas
June 23, 2017 (posted on June 26)

 

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.

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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

Albacore on the fly – August 2015

A brave fleet gathers offshore Pacific City in preparation of tuna fishing.
A brave fleet gathers offshore Pacific City in preparation of tuna fishing.

Finally, my shot at an albacore came on August 26th, venturing offshore in the dory Last Cast with mentors Kevin and Ed.  Thank you gentlemen for this wonderful opportunity.  We headed down the ramp at 0600 across a treacherously soft sand beach, and launched farther south on the beach than was our habit of late.  Benefiting from a long series of gentle swells, Ed and I held the dory steady while Kevin parked the Jeep, ran back and jumped in.

A brief period of gathering tuna boats just north of Haystack Rock ensued, and then with Fly Guy, Benny Beaver, and a few others, we headed west for the tuna grounds.

Jay and albacore, the first of the season.
Jay and albacore, the first of the season.

By 0830 we put out flies overboard to troll, with no signs of tuna to entice us yet.  Five minutes into the game, my rod went down with a hefty  tuna pulling at the other end of my line.  My first tuna pull of this season, I was pretty delighted, and more so when the fish materialized into a fish in the 25 – 27 pound class (called so by Ed, so more reliable than any estimate I would have made).

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Nice photo Ed, and thanks!

Next up, Ed was into the fight, followed by Kevin, and then, magically, my rod went down again, as if we had planned on taking turns. All but one of the albacore on this date were over twenty pounds, with Kevin landing an honest thirty pounder after an extended battle.  Very few fish were on the surface today, but Fly Guy had live bait aboard and managed to chum up a feeding frenzy while hooking up on the cast and strip.

A rare double for Ed and Jay. Look at that Hatch Finatic in overdrive!
A rare double for Ed and Jay. Look at that Hatch Finatic in overdrive!

Our fish were all on the trolled fly, but a ton of fun to be sure.  We are still hoping for the cast and strip encounter if we get out again, but for now, this is great.

Kevin put his ECHO PRIME with 400 gr  Big Game Depth Finder to the test repeatedly.
Kevin put his ECHO PRIME with 400 gr  Big Game Depth Finder to the test repeatedly.
Kevin's thirty pounder was the hefty fish of the day.
Kevin’s thirty pounder was the hefty fish of the day.
Nice Buff Gloves Kevin.
Nice Buff Gloves Kevin.

Ok, that’s about it.  Can’t wait to head west again and hunt tuna.  Big swells for a week but maybe by labor Day Weekend.

Jay at fly bench working on Steelhead patterns.
Jay at fly bench working on Steelhead patterns.

Meanwhile, Rob Russell reminded me I have  last minute assignment on our book Modern Steelhead Flies scheduled for release by StackPole late this year!  I’m on it Rob!

My best to everyone

Jay Nicholas, August 30, 2015

Back to Basics at Pacific City

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Jeffrey’s happy pulling on the bass today.
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Pacific black sea bass from Pacific City, Oregon.
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First bass of the day. Many to follow.
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Big school of bass under the dory.
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Joe shows his rockfish style is effective.

Hand lining again – August 17th

I was on the ocean with Jeffrey and Joe, guided offshore Pacific City by Capt. John Harrell in the dory Gold Comet. The forecast was for winds to pick up by 9 AM, and there were five to six ft swells to carefully consider as we launched at 6:45.

John ran out roughly north of Haystack Rock and immediately located a big school of black rockfish suspended mid-depth in about forty feet of water. This was the first dory fly fishing experience for both Joe and Jeffrey: both were surprised and displayed big smiles within the first five minutes with fly rod in hand, nice heavy black rockfish pulling on the other end of their lines.

Capt. John put us on fish constantly for the next two hours, and the action was pretty much non-stop. The ocean was a tad on the rough side and we all took turns stumbling around in the boat while fighting fish.

Jeffrey fished an ECHO PRIME, Joe fished an ECHO BASE; both 8 wt rods, with SA 450 gr Streamer Express fast sinking fly lines. Their flies were of course expertly tied me, # 2 pink & white Clousers.  Bass were layered anywhere from ten feet under the dory to 40 or 50 ft down.

I chose a different approach, and deploying a Hatch Tropical 400 gr fast sinking fly line, fished by hand, straight off the fly reel. This was a continuation of my previous day’s test fishing with a 30 ft salvaged chunk fly of line. Today, I had a full fly line on a (loose) reel, allowing me to reach fish that were laying deeper than when I had only fished the thirty-footer.

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Getting the jigging action going.
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lLne under tension, fish on!
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Hand-line bass close aboard.
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This bass took me around the stern.

My technique was no-nonsense efficiency. I stripped about fifty feet of line from the reel, laid it in the tackle tray, and lowered my fly overboard to swim though the feeding bass. When I felt my line under tension, indicating that my fly was down, I proceeded to put my Clouser in motion, with short 6 inch strips and distinct pauses between.

I found myself most comfortable leaning against the side of the dory, back near the stern, and leaning over the side with my hand a foot or so above the water’s surface, working the fly and waiting to feel a grab.  I discovered that somewhat it was tricky to achieve a secure hook set by hand, compared to fishing with a rod. The rod allows one to move more line quickly, but when hand-lining, I found it necessary to quickly and decisively raise my arm to get a positive hook set.

Feel the grab? Man-oh-man did I feel the grab. I had so darn much fun and thoroughly enjoyed the two hours we fished over the bass.  Capt. John had his hands full with Jeffrey, Joe, and me constantly fighting fish, hauling our fish into the dory, destined for the fish box, and occasionally helping untangle our lines.

Considerable teasing was directed my way, with commentary noting that the guy with such an extensive supply of fly rods seemed to have forgotten to bring one.

John smiled noted that I was doing a fair job of holding my own in the catching department, and wondering if this might become a technique known as Jaykara fishing. Catchy term contrasting Tenkara fishing (using a rod but no reel) to my fishing a line with no rod.

Think I like it.

Now that I think of it, the first fish I ever caught were in the Bosphorus, near Istanbul, Turkey, when I was six years old.  Now I’m 66 and find that hand lining is just as much fun, just as exciting, as it was six decades ago.

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Jeffrey and Joe at the beach after a successful trip.
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Joe with another nice black bass.

May sound repetitious, but it’s true: another great day out on the ocean fly fishing.  Thanks gentlemen.

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Jeffrey, Jack Harrell, John Harrell, and Joe survey the beach for tourist hazards.

Looking forward to the next opportunity to get out and see what the ocean delivers to the finely tuned fly rod and reel – and to the hand-liner.

Jay Nicholas, August 18, 2015.