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, 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 does not show my super powerful D Loops or give justice to how far I was casting, but trust me, it was AWESOME.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
May sound repetitious, but it’s true: another great day out on the ocean fly fishing. Thanks gentlemen.
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.
So here’s the deal. I’ve been out of the game for a solid two weeks with hernia surgery. Meanwhile, my fishing buddies kept at it and had a great time with the Albacore fishing in dory boats out of Pacific City. The Albacore have been challenging as always, but my friends have managed to catch several very nice tuna, all on trolled flies.
One of the nicest tuna was this fish pictured below that Kevin caught.
No pictures of Jay with tuna, not yet anyway.
By the way, John Harrell has been running dory charters for black rockfish and silvers on the fly rod and having very good success whenever it was possible to launch the dory into the surf. you can contact John at Pacific City Fly Fishing or call him at 541 812 9716.
I’ll be out in the ocean again just as soon as I can, in the meantime, may each of you be well and have fun at fishing or wherever you may be.
Here is a sample of the stuff that caused my unbiased friend, Marty Sheppard, to laugh out loud and blog about the Fly Fishing Glossary, also known as the Fly Fishing Book of Revelation.
If you click on the link in this sentence you will see what Marty posted on Metalheads about the book. Thanks for your support Marty.
I quote from Book of Revelation. Remember, you can order direct from Amazon or by contacting me here in the internet ha ha for a personalized copy – or contact your local independent fly shop and ask them to carry the dang book!
Improved Clinch Knot Hoax
The clinch knot is a great knot, period, end of story. Naturally, however, some attention-seeking angler decided to make waves and fancy-up on the original knot so they devised this so called improvement. I say nonsense. If you fish 15 pound Maxima Ultragreen leader with a size 12 Adams, you will never have a problem with the basic clinch knot breaking off on a twelve inch trout; therefore you have no need for the improved clinch.
See Frenzy knot.
Independent Fly Shop
In the good old days, independent, locally owned fly shops were sprinkled all across the country. Sadly, many have dried up, strangled by big box stores and the imaginary lure of lower prices. Some fly anglers practice the despicable behavior of spending hours, days, and weeks chatting with the employees in their local fly shop, soliciting advice regarding what sort of rods, reels, lines, and so on would be best for their intended fishing parameters. These slugs then make an Internet order from some monstrous soulless anonymous entity because they can save twenty-seven cents on a spool of thread. Then when they receive the wrong size fly line or their rod breaks in seven places and the reel is set up for upside down retrieve, they take the stuff into the local fly shop and ask for exchanges, free shipping for warranty repair, and a cup of coffee to boot. Truly despicable.
These are the same guys who spend half their day on the Internet chatting over how to save three cents on a 25-pack of hooks. Most of these fellows spend little time actually tying flies or fly fishing. For these types, the hunt for a few pennies savings is more thrilling than actually tying a fly or trying to catch a fish. Go figure. They have to resort to making up imaginary stories about tying flies or catching fish. Then these same guys bitch and moan when their local fly shop goes out of business because the owner’s profit margin dropped from thirteen cents per hour to less than seven cents an hour and his wife forced him to close the doors because the fly shop was clearly nothing but an excuse to throw cash down the toilet.
Then what? Ha, ha on these guys. No more local fishing reports from real people, no more in-town experienced advice on tackle selection, no one to steer you towards the best fly poo for your particular color of fly line. All they have is some distant voice on the phone or an imaginary chat persona on the Internet.
By the way, there’s nothing, repeat, nothing wrong with Internet sales, if they originate from an honest-to-goodness locally owned fly shop. There are indeed a few of these fly shops still alive, though their number is shrinking quickly. The long term benefits of supporting locally owned store-front fly shop is the relationships and community provided by a place where friends can hang out, drink coffee, and share stories. These are the equivalent of the old-time wood-floor hardware stores where you could buy nails by the pound and get three size-sixteen wing-nuts for five-cents a nut – most of those places are gone too.
So get yer ass down to your local fly shop and support their business, OK?
Incidentally, experience has conclusively proved that female fly fishers NEVER engage in this sort of behavior. Never. The moral standards of women are far too high to behave in such an unscrupulous manner. Thank you ladies.
Now for another term . . . ..
This term is typically employed in a complementary context to indicate positive, desirable, and tasty qualities. It can be confusing however, because a steak may be juicy and actually exude juice, a nine-hundred buck fly rod may also be referred to as a very juicy rod, whilst exuding no juice whatsoever. Flies may similarly be referred to as juicy (see Juicy Bug), Beef Jerky may be juicy, and a Saracione 4.25” fly reel is certainly juicy, even when sitting all polished up in a Man Room display case.
Rest assured that the term juicy is usually a good thing and explore the context to decide if any actual liquid matter is involved.
Rare exceptions to the overall positive connotation of this adjective exist, and one shall serve to make the point: juicy fart. This is indeed not good, especially when delivered within waders. Perhaps this is sufficient and the topic is now fully covered.
This is probably sufficient quotage for the time being. Sales of Fly Fishing Book of Revelation have lagged behind my marketing hopes of selling one book a month, and I need to earn enough to buy another bag of cat food soon, so I’m pumping this in hopes someone out there will take pity or find the book’s crazy approach sufficiently attractive as have the 8 other readers who have given it a 5 star rating on Amazon. I assure you that these are all upstanding citizens who are entirely unbiased in their acclaim for the glossary.
Have fun with this folks. This book contains of over 340 pages of serious, crazy, funny, true, fictional, and amazing information that you will never find in any other book about fly fishing, guaranteed. Please do not let my therapist see this book…….
I had to chuckle the other day when I glanced at my SIMMS Boat Bag and noticed the wild assortment of flies tangled in a little scruffy patch on the top of the Bag. Among the dozen or so flies were three that I had recently fished in a single day, and caught fish on too. Pacific City is a paradise for me, my analog to Rodrick Haig Brown’s Campbell River home that I read and dreamed about my entire life. The fishing opportunities within an hour of our cabin are so rich and enjoyable, and while there are certainly more glamorous and exotic destinations around the state and the world, I find myself quite amused and engaged with the fishing here close to PC. The day in question began with a quick trip into the Ocean with Ed and Kevin in their dory, fishing for pacific black rockfish, blue rockfish, and lingcod.
This modest size clouser caught 4 species of bottom fish, including blacks, kings (nope, that is the auto correct changing “lings” to “kings“, blues, and yellowtail rockfish. On the beach by ten AM, I had to rest, so I took a short nap, re-read a few entries in the Fly Fishing Book of Revelationand then headed up to the Town lake, a mere three minutes from the cabin. The little Chironomid nymph in a size 16 was about right to entice a nice summer steelhead kelt that was all shiny and full of jumps and runs, plus a few hatchery trout. Note: the hatchery trout prefer a bead head gold ribbed hares ear nymph to the buzzer.
Back from the lake by 3 PM, I unloaded trout rods, donned waders and cleated boots, and drove up the Nestucca, where I swung flies throughout the evening. I did not hook any steelhead on this particular day, but on many occasions I have, and (fish or no) any evening swinging flies in a river that is only 20 minutes from my door is a great joy.
Of course there is always work to be done, like mowing the lawn, tidying tackle, tying flies, writing about these adventures, working on book creation and sales. and helping Chris with customer recommendations, not to mention an occasional fly tying video. But all in all, life is good and the sight of these 3 flies helped me remember just how diverse the fishing opportunities here on the Oregon Coast. I bet there are many places around this state and others where you could fish three wildly different flies in a single day too, and I’d love to hear from anyone who is willing to share their home water stories.