Sea Run Cutthroat Book Published (at last)

sea-run-cutthroat-book-cover

Well, they say that all things must find their own time, but finally, finally I managed to put the polish (Ok it is a Jay polish that must assuredly still include some novel spelling and punctuation) on my sea run cutthroat  book.

The book title is Sea Run Cutthroat: Flies and Flyfishing. This book (100 pages) includes a short chapter on Puget Sound fishing by Blake Merwin of Gig Harbor Fly Shop and a foreword by Puget Sound Guide Leland Miyawaki. The emphasis of the discussion regarding anadromous cutthroat life history and fishing is, naturally from my perspective, the Oregon Coast, but I wanted to reach out and include some fly patterns and discussion of the Puget Sound fishery since it is to very different from the SRC fisheries we pursue here in Oregon.

This 8.5″ x 11″ book  contains half-page photographs of 60 great sea run cutthroat flies, along with each fly’s tying recipe and tying notes. I also offer my perspective on the Oregon distribution of SRC, their life history variation, catch and release fishing, best tackle, SRC boats, SRC flyfishing tactics,  SRC fly styles, and the history of Oregon’s fishery and SRC hatchery programs.

The Puget Sound chapter by Blake Merwin and the flies he so generously contributed to this book help broaden the reach of the discussion by providing a glimpse into the rich fishery for SRC that has deep roots in Puget Sound. Oregon’s fly fishery for SRC has its roots that extend back a century and I included a quote from that era illustrating that these fish were as finicky then as they can be now-a-days.

Leland Miyawaki’s foreword is a generous invitation to explore the book and dig in, saying:

“There’s a lot of meat in Jay’s book, particularly when he discusses fishing Oregon’s rivers and their estuaries. So unless you’re fishing our Washington estuaries, Jay’s book is a revelation and, in the end, a total godsend. And about those fly patterns, whoa! Like I say, there’s a lot of meat in this book.”

This book is available now on Amazon, and will shortly be available at Gig Harbor, Royal Treatment, and the Caddis Fly Shop.

I would be pleased to ship a signed copy to anyone who contacts me directly, and note that delivery of signed books will probably be delayed until the week after Christmas.

My thanks to many friends who have encouraged me to create this book and catalog some of the very best flies one can fish for SRC (there are some great Puget Sound coho flies in here too).

Thank you always for your support and patience.

Jay Nicholas, December 7th, 2016

Jay’s Thoughts on Sea Run Cutthroat Fly Patterns . . . . .

Sea Run Cutthroat flies – favorite fly styles

Note:  This is a preview of more to come, think about 2011 as time to dig deeper into the lives and flies of Sea Run cutthroat.

Everyone who fishes Sea Runs has their preferences.  That’s what you are about to see here:  preferences, not absolutes.  I tie and fish several basic styles of flies for sea run cutthroat, depending on the circumstances of where I am fishing, time of day, time of year, and how I see the fish behaving in a particular time and place.  If you have not seen this video recently, or ever, check it out.  Chris Daughters and I shot several videos, including this one on Sea Run cutthroat fly patterns and styles, as part of an extensive set on flies designed to catch these foxy fish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_ByJLURTW0&feature=related

I won’t say much about or estuary and saltwater flies popular in Puget Sound, mainly because I have zip personal experience fishing there.  These fly patterns lean heavily to the baitfish and shrimp genre.  Small Clousers and modest-size scuds are apparently effective, and these fly patterns are targeting fish that are actively feeding in salt and estuarine waters.  This might make it useful to consider that individual fish often key-in on specific types, sizes, or colors of feed; if so, imitating the preferred food of the moment could be important.

Anglers fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat in Alaska and BC are in the habit of fishing egg-sac fry flies.  These are little streamer patterns with a ball of yarn or dubbing under the throat of the fly to imitate the not-quite absorbed egg-sac on a juvenile salmon fry.  This is intellectually useful but has limited application in Oregon, where the population of sac fry for sea-run cutthroat to eat is less than 0.0000367 of what it is up north.

For better or worse, as the saying goes. Here is a short description of my favorite Sea Run Cutthroat fly styles.

Traditional, named Sea Run flies. These are a few flies I tied back in the 1970s for fishing Blueback and Harvest Trout.  These principally include the Female Coachman, Pete’s Special, Spruce, and Siletz Special.  They were effective flies then, they still are, and there is some feeling of tradition associated with tying and fishing these flies.

Baitfish Imitation flies. These tend to be very slimish, longish flies intended to imitate a small fish that any self-respecting Harvest trout would want to eat.  Sea Runs, like all coastal cutthroat, are a very predaceous species:  they like to eat other fish.  Rarely, I will tie small Clousers, but I usually shy away from Clousers unless I am fishing where I want my fly to sink a little deeper.  Puget sound anglers seem to like Clousers (I have never fished there), but when fishing the upper tidal reaches of Oregon coastal rivers, I have thus far concentrated on simple streamers that fish well in the top three feet of the water, where I can see the fish take the fly.

Slim bodied wet flies. This fly style is based on the characteristics of Sea Run Cutthroat flies that were fished for decades and are well portrayed in Les Johnson’s book (fly Fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat; Frank Amato Publications).  These flies are characterized by the use of Uni Yarn for the body.  I also use Mirage Flashabou for winging these flies, finding that the flies sink well, swim true, and have just the right amount of fish drawing sparkle.  I tie these flies without tails, and I have proof that the tail omission feather increases solid hook-ups by a factor of 0.000239.


Dubbed Body Wet Flies. These depart from the profile of the slim bodied wet flies in two ways: 1) I use special fuzzy dubbing blends to make a buggy body that is thicker; and 2) I use hackles that are a little fuller, longer and/or webbier than on the slim bodied wet flies.  This fly style also incorporates Mirage Flashabou and omits the tail.

Double Hackle wet flies. This fly style incorporates a blended dubbing for a body, but places a webby hackle at both the rear and head of the fly.  Reminiscent of a Renegade fly, these flies were inspired by a fly I tied in the 1970s, a Bear Paw (I think).  This fly style continues a progression from subtle and slim to a more authoritative and juicy.  Again, no tail, but also no wing; the hackles alone are just the ticket to induce the take.

Reverse Spider Hackled wet flies. I tie these flies with rooster saddles or neck hackles rather than mallard, but the main point of these flies is that the hackles are tied with the dull side facing forward of the hook eye, and dubbing is wound at the rear of the hackle to keep the hackles “cupped” forward.  No tail, No wing.  No flash.  This is an intriguing fly style, a little difficult to tie, but effective and worth experimenting with.  A few Blueback devotees I know consider this their “secret” fly.  Dunno what to say.  Hope they won’t quit speaking to me.  Can’t be that good, a fly, can it?

Deer Body Hair Wing Flies.  The bushiest, boldest Sea Run Cutthroat fly style I tie incorporates a deer hair wing and a full hackle tied over the flared wing.  These flies tend to elicit the most spectacular reaction from Blueback, are the most fun to fish, but have one significant weakness.  Sometimes these flies excite the Sea Runs so much that they will slash at the fly, even bumping it or grabbing it by the wing only, refusing to take it in their mouth.  This makes for great fun and adrenaline rushes, but comes up short on tugification.  The solution to this dilemma is to go to a smaller fly, amping down on the bodacious properties of the fly.  Fish that will show boldly to a full profile deer wing fly will calmly engulf a slimmer, more subtle wet fly.  Not every time, but often enough that it’s worth keeping this tactic in mind.  Same tactic applies to steelhead, right?

October Caddis. As the season progresses, Sea Run Cutthroat move upriver with the Chinook.  A lot of these fish will key in on loose eggs drifting out of spawning redds, but many of these fish are also interested in eating big October Caddis and are wonderful fish to raise to a swinging fly like a caddis imitation or a smallish Muddler.

Egg patterns. These are little flies that are deadly effective and will catch harvest trout by the bucket-full when they are laying in riffles behind spawning salmon, gorging on loose eggs until they puke.  This is strike indicator fishing.   Plastic beads are not flies, but are fished in the same manner and are unspeakably effective when fished by bead-o-maniacs.  Fishing egg patterns can be crazy at times.  Although all fishing is fun in its own right, I’ve found that the thrill of catching a 12”- 14” fish is way greater when I can see the fish romp a fly just under the surface, so I concentrate my Blueback fishing down river where the fish still have blue backs.

JN

Jay’s Guide to Sea Run Cutthroat Fly Materials, August 26, 2010

Straight from the fly Bench:

Sea Run Cutthroat flies – favorite fly sizes, hooks, wing materials, body materials, fly colors, and hackles…….

Yes, it’s the season between spring salmon season and fall salmon season, unless you are fishing rivers like the Rogue where the Chinook are streaming in each and every day.  I call these the Blueback days, the sea run cutthroat season.  Difficult to save up enough days to fly fish for sea run cutthroat knowing that salmon numbers are building by the day, but these feisty fish are so spectacular that they are difficult to resist.

Here are a few musings about fly tying supplies & materials most useful for tying sea run cutthroat flies; all are available from the Caddis fly Angling Shop:

http://www.caddisflyshop.com/fly-tying.html

Best fly sizes for Oregon Sea-run cutthroat fishing. These fish are often in the 12” – 14” range, though they will exceed 20”.  I have not caught sea-runs over 17” but know they do exist.  Even heard reports of 5-7 Lb. Sea Run Cutthroat, including one trapped in the fish ladder at Winchester Dam in the North Umpqua decades ago,  a five pounder caught at the confluence of the North and South Umpqua in the 1970s, and several five-plus pound cutthroat seen in Upper Elk River, observed by fish-counting biologists.

Expect sea run cutthroat to be at the smaller end of the fish-size spectrum though.  These fish will take flies in the #4 to #12 range, with #6 and #8 being probably the most effective, perhaps because these are the sizes that are fished most often.  A 12’ sea run cutthroat will take a smack at a 6” Kwikfish, and that takes some serious attitude.  I urge anglers to NOT use #4 flies and to avoid certain #6 hooks, like the TMC 700, even though the TMC 700 is at the top of the heap in terms of my favorite salmon – steelhead wet fly hooks.

Think Sea run cutthroat eat this October caddis fly?

Why avoid large hooks?  Simple. The fish are small, the hooks are large, their “take” is usually voracious, and the hooking mortality can be awful.  So stick to #6 or smaller hooks, stay away from a hook like the TMC 700 or an Eagle Claw 1197.  Funny thing, the Eagle Claw 1197B was my hook of choice, hook of necessity and favorite hook, all at the same time, tying and fishing sea run cutthroat flies during he 1970s and 80s.  Those were the days when a lot of Blueback came home with us, involuntarily, in wicker or canvass creels, destined for the barbecue.  Our attitudes are different these days, and we send the fish back into the depths to continue their migration whenever possible.

Here is what the fly bench looks like when i am preparing to shoot videos for Chris at the Caddis Fly.

For my sea run cutthroat fly hooks, I prefer a TMC 3761, 5263 or a Daiichi D1760, D1720, and D1560.  These are good sharp hooks, have low barbs that are easily pressed down, and heavy enough to swim the fly well.

Day in, day out, I would reach for a size #8 to fish for Harvest trout.  The #6 will occasionally bring more fish to the fly, but the #8 will earn more eatage and less fly nipping.  It is important to keep some #10s in one’s fly box, because sometimes all but these smaller flies will trigger a flashy false raise followed by outright rejection and disdain.  These false strikes are fun and exhilarating but do not result in hookage and tugage.

Video production debris:  sample flies, notes, cheap video camera, all on the table in the back room near the microwave.

Fly color. If you look closely at Les Johnson’s fine book (Fly fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat) you will see a lot of yellows.  Oranges and reds are also front-runners in the color palate.  Pink, if I remember correctly, is  essentially a no-show.

Pink and yellow: nice colors for Sea Run Cutthroat flies.

Amazing.    Pink is a very dependable color for Oregon sea run cutthroat flies.  A second level of color choices includes black, olive, and purple.  The bottom layer of color choices would be brown, and chartreuse.  Unfortunately, Harvest Trout do not read my articles, routinely ignore my advice and develop their own set of color choices.  I tend to fish dim light conditions with brighter colors, and go to more subtle colors in mid-day.  I might choose a size #6 at dawn and go to an #8 or #10 in the middle of the day.  Much of my fly inspiration is based on stomach content analysis that proved Sea run Cutthroat prefer Rooster Tail Spinners over live crawdads, sculpins worms, or juvenile Chinook. Really.

Wing materials. Here is a list of materials I use when I tie wings on Sea-run cutthroat flies:  Arctic fox tail, Bucktail, white deer belly hair, dark deer hair, Squirrel tail, Pheasant Tail fibers, Elk hair, Hareline Pseudo Hair, and Hareline Baitfish Emulator.

Try a few of the videos I shot with Chris Daughters recently.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpOfw5tHehs

White Deer Belly Hair.  Yum.

My favorite winging material includes white Arctic Fox tail; white Bucktail; white deer belly hair; and Mirage Flashabou in a variety of color phases emphasizing pearl. Hummm.  White seems to be my color of choice.  I also tie sea-run flies with natural deer hair, the center section of Bucktail (dark hair), squirrel, pheasant tail fibers (remember the Dr. Spratley), Peacock herl, and Hareline Baitfish Emulator or Pseudohair.

Arctic Fox tail hair:  totally dependable stuff.  Avoid Arctic Fox body hair, too wimpy and scraggly for my likes.

Sadly, with any natural wing material, all packages of hair are not created alike.  There can be a vast difference in the length, texture, hollowness, stiffness, and so forth, of Bucktails.  Some Bucktail hair is easy to stack, but some is impossible.  Hair from the base of the Bucktail is more hollow and will flare more than hair near the tip of the tail.  White deer belly hair is not as diverse as Bucktail, but again, some stacks and ties better than others.  The most consistent wing materials tend to be the deer and elk hides, squirrel tails, and Arctic Fox tails.  These are pretty solid and do not offer nearly as many surprises as Bucktail can.

Body materials. Here is a list of my favorite body materials:  dubbing mixtures, especially Hareline Trilobal and rabbit mixed with Ice dub; Uni Yarn; chenille; and Lagartun Mini Flat Braid.  Floss also works, although my preference is to Uni Yarn over floss because of its slight fuzziness right off the spool and the way it lays down so neatly.

Body rib. No question about this material: small Lagartun or Uni oval silver tinsel.  I do not use plastic Mylar tinsel because it is relatively fragile and gets chewed up pretty easily.

Hackle. Oh boy.  Here is a subject for hours of discussion.  The availability of quality hackle feathers for tying wet flies in the size #6 – #12 range varies considerably moth by month, year by year.  A saddle patch you might be able to get this year, right now, might not be available, at any price, next year.  Your selection next year might be better or it might be more limited.

Strung brown rooster saddle hackle feathers. Great stuff for sea run cutthroat flies.

The most consistently available hackle product I have used over the years include strung rooster schlappen and strung rooster saddle hackles.  These have been around forever and will probably still be here when you and I are long gone.  The only drawback I see to these strung rooster feathers is the need to sort out the junk and select feathers for size.  But the effort is worth it as opposed to using inappropriate hackles.   I definitely prefer to purchase my strung rooster saddles by at least the ounce, and more often by the pound or half pound, because it gives me the best selection of feather qualities, sizes and such forth.  Natural brown, black, hot pink, hot orange, shrimp pink, red, :  these are all useful for tying Chinook Boss and comet style flies also. and yellow are great colors

American Saddle Clump hackle feathers are available in a ton of colors perfect for Sea Run Cutthroat fly patterns, steelhead flies, and Chinook Comets.

A product that is available now and that may or may not be available a year from now is called “American Saddle Clump.”  These are curiously similar to the old Whiting Bugger Packs.  Available in a wide array of colors, these feathers have long tapered narrow tips that are great for dry flies, decent web that makes them very good for tying buggers – and most importantly – a short, wide webby base of the feather stem.

What do I look for in hackles for Sea-run flies? For bushy, bold profile flies, I like to have a feather with fairly full, substantial hackle barbules and a fair amount of web, maybe a lot of web.  The reason I want these hackle feather properties is that I believe that it lets my flies flow and pulse in the water.

On the other hand, some of my Sea-run cutthroat flies are fairly slim and feature much smaller, sparser hackle collars.  This is because, in my creative imagination, there are days and fish that will respond better to a more subtle, smaller, and sparser fly than to a bug bush fly.  Right or wrong, take a re-read Les Johnson’s wonderful book – How to fish for Sea Run Cutthroat trout (1970, Frank Amato Publications), look at the fly photographs, and note how fine and sparse most of the hackles were on his favorite flies.  Interesting perspective.

Badger hackle. Now there is a feather I wish we could get more consistently these days.  The Spruce Fly and many other traditional Sea-run cutthroat flies depend on Badger neck feathers.  Try to get some these days.  Good luck.  A close approximation of Badger hackles can be found in the natural grizzly variant saddle hackles, strung.  These are offered in packages and can be purchased by the ounce or pound also.  The strung material contains a lot of throw-away feathers, but there are a fair number (I call this an acceptable junk to treasure ratio) of really good saddle feathers and many give the impression of a mottled Badger feather.

Neck feathers versus saddle feathers. Here is a great subject for debate.  I thin the answer is  — it depends.  I love nice wide webby neck hackles.  I love nice wide webby saddle hackles.  Each of the above, of course, needs to be properly proportioned or in some cases, over sized for the hook.

Huh? My subtle size, slim body flies are rigged with smaller sparser hackles than the big bushy flies I tie as exciter patterns.  The key idea here is to scour your local fly shops for both saddle and neck hackles, and don’t forget the Schlappen feathers too.  Schlappen tends to have the slimmest center feather quills, which is nice for winding the hackle onto the hook.  Both saddle and neck hackle feathers can have perfect fiber length and web – but then be a mess to tie with because they have big thick center quills.  All you can do is buy the dang feathers and try tying with them.

The best test of a hackle is how it winds onto the hook.  Remember, too, that feathers taken from different parts of the cape or saddle patch will be different, so each cape or saddle patch will probably have sweet areas with the best hackles for certain size flies.

Hope this helps.

JN

Nicholas’ Salmon fisher’s Journal: August 22, 2010

Jay Nicholas’ Salmon Fisher’s Journal, August 23, 2010

Siletz Sea Run Skunk, Washington Sea run cutthroat are in….

Yes I’m talking about the elusive sea run cutthroat, the smaller anadromous cousin of the mighty steelhead.  I love these fish.

Can’t help myself here, I feel compelled  to review a few of the factoids about the life history of sea run cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki clarki, here in Oregon.

These fish are found in virtually all, yes all – Oregon coastal rivers, and are in most if not all of the Columbia River tributaries at least upstream to Bonneville dam.  Formerly, and maybe even now, they were distributed as far upstream as about Hood River.  That’s what Oregon fish experts think, and what the Native fish Status report by Oregon says.  The matter of an anadromous fish of 12-14 “ making the migration from Hood River to the ocean and back seems a tiny bit intriguing.  Maybe they did, they could have, but maybe these migratory cutthroat simply migrated into the mainstem Columbia to chow down on juvenile salmon and steelhead before returning to the Hood.  Maybe they hung out in the Columbia /estuary rather than going out into the ocean.  I bet there was a lot of food for a piscivorous fish when the Columbia was wild.

Difficult to say for sure, and mostly an academic matter now, because there are about none of the feisty “sea run” cutthroat above Bonneville these days.

I should mention that recent research on sea run cutthroat in Lower Columbia River tributaries has found that some of the migratory fish have stayed in the Columbia estuary, or mostly in the near shore areas of the Columbia river plume, but that some have been tracked thirty or so miles offshore, so they sure as shootin’ are what I would call a “sea run” fish.

Back to sea run cutthroat life history in Oregon. Two to three years, usually, in freshwater before they “smolt” and migrate to ocean or estuary.  At this age they can be anywhere from 8”-12” long.  Interestingly, an Oregon researcher, three or four decades ago, recommended that the minimum size limit on coastal rivers should be 10” in order to adequately protect pre-smolt cutthroat from harvest.  The recommendation was not adopted.

So, juvenile sea run cutthroat spend 2-3 years in freshwater, migrate to the ocean/estuary, and then return after roughly three months.  This makes the migratory timing and duration of salty residence very similar to the half-pounder steelhead native to the Rogue and Klamath rivers in southern Oregon – Northern California.  Big difference is that virtually none of the half pounder steelhead are sexually mature after their first seaward migration, but virtually all of the sea run cutthroat will spawn on their first return from the salt.  This is true for Oregon, however as one looks north to Alaska, one finds that many sea run cutthroat may not be sexually mature on their first return to freshwater.

How big are sea run cutthroat? First migration blueback (they have beautiful blue backs just like fresh run steelhead when they first return to freshwater) are often in the 10”-12” size bracket.  if you catch a 14” sea run cutthroat here in Oregon it is probably 1) on its second migration back to the river or 2) an individual fish that stayed in the river until it was 11” long before it smolted.

If you encounter a sea run cutthroat in Oregon that is 16”, 17”, or more, you almost certainly have a fish that is on its 3rd, 4th, or even 5th migration back to freshwater.  es, I have heard the stories of 20” + sea run cutthroat here in Oregon.  They are true.  Trusted friends who dive our coastal rivers every year see a few of these fish , but the monster sea runs steadfastly elude my best efforts to catch them.

Question.  What is the most dependable way to catch sea run cutthroat in Oregon?

Answer: 1) find a deep hole in any Oregon coastal river a little distance above the head of tidewater; 2) make sure the hole is somewhat secluded location: 3) wait for night fall; 4) build a bonfire; 5) ensure that adequate supplies of beer, chips, hot dogs, and all the trimmings are at hand; 6) plunk out a gob of worms, crawdad tails, shrimp, or bullhead meat on a hook; 7) sit back on the beach, have a nice social time with friends, and reel in the cutthroat like crazy.

Think I‘m kidding? Not hardly.  This method was described to me as the traditional sea run fishing tactic practiced in the 1920s, a dairy farmer confided his secret methods in the 1960s, and in 2008, a young guy working a coffee kiosk in Monmouth bragged that this was the only way to really catch sea runs, having just returned from a successful fishing adventure on a certain nearby river.

Common, how about a fishing report?

Fished Siletz tidewater on Sunday. Sunny.  Last half of the incoming and early to mid outgoing tide.  Fished above and below Strom Park.  Great water.  Plenty of shady sea run habitat.  Most excellent fishing technique was applied.  Two fish scientist fly fishers giving our best.  Skunked.  wait, there were two cutthroat that could, possibly, if I really wanted, be classified as sea runs.  It would be a stretch.  Each fish was about 12”.  Maybe they had already been in for a month and slimmed down.  More likely, they were resident cutthroat.  Just tellin’ it like it probably is.

There were fresh sea runs in the area where we fly fished. The fish finder marked a fair number of fish in the deeper holes.  Were they sea run cutthroat, Chinook, or summer steelhead?  Don’t know.  They had to be fish though, right?  A fish finder never misleads.  Ha ha.

One fellow fishing a Ford Fender with worms caught a big blueback, and we found a fresh gut pile at the boat ramp.  So they were there.  Maybe if it had been cloudy with a little drizzle.  Maybe if we had fished first light.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, a fine day on the river with Kipper snacks, a beer, and good friend.

Ready to go again, yes sir.

Washington?  Almost forgot to tell ya.  A friend had great success on a Washing river last weekend.  Really got ’em to go on slim, yarn body flies.  Wish I had been there with him.

JN

Not Fly Fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat in Oregon

Not Fly Fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat in Oregon

Coastal Cuts.  Harvest trout.  Blueback. (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki)

Chris Daughters asked me to write about fly fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat and tie some Sea Run flies to feature on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.  Silly boy.  He has fallen for the joke, the snipe hunt, the imaginary fish.

These anadromous cutthroat trout are NOT present in Oregon coastal rivers.  Some fly fishers dispute this fact, but they will soon receive a visit from the knee breaker division of the rumor suppression squad.   Then the problem will just go away.

However, let us imagine that there were actual sea-run cutthroat in Oregon.  There are not, but what if there were?  What would one do about it?  Go fish for them, if they would take a fly, I would guess.  Huuumm.  I managed to us the word “would” three times in two sentences.  Nice.

Why would people coin cool imaginary names for imaginary fish?  Part of the clever rumor, I think.

“Blueback” refers to the blue back of this imaginary fish when it first imaginarily returns to freshwater after a short foray (several months) in the ocean.  Imagine a deep steel blue back, clean white belly, and silvery sides.  This is all part of a plot to lure fly anglers away from places where the summer steelhead seeking populace has grown to the point that there are 1.7 fly fishers standing on every Deschutes River rock and valet parking has become the norm at every pull-out on the California – North Umpqua Interstate Highway.

The “Harvest Trout”  line-of-bull hints that the fish are in the rivers in the autumn, when summer crops are harvested.  Again, this is a desperate attempt to decrease the density of steelhead anglers and send them into fishless reaches of Oregon coastal rivers, sell more tackle, burn more fossil fuel, and generally disperse anglers across fishless waters where they won’t interfere with serious and knowledgeable steelhead and/or salmon anglers.

As one who does fish for steelhead and salmon, I heartily support any effort to keep people from messing with personal playground rivers like the South Santiam, a yet undiscovered and unpublicized bonanza for summer steelhead fly fishing.  If people knew that I average nine wild summer steelhead between 9 and 17 lbs. per day, skating dry flies on the South Santiam, well, I would probably have some competition.  But no one knows about the huge run of wild summer steelhead on the South Santiam, yet, so for now, I have this wilderness river pretty much to myself.

In the spirit of this practical joke, I decided to go with the story, to make up some cool imaginary stuff to support the legend of the Sea-run cutthroat in Oregon.  Cool stuff like a hypothetical discussion of flies for sea-run cutthroat:  fly styles, color combinations, best materials, best fly sizes, and so on.  Taking this imaginary venture to the limits of sanity, where I live, I even decided to tie a bunch of flies and shoot some videos for Chris to post on the Oregon Flyfishing Blog.  Ha ha.  What a joke.

Chris and I will spread the faux information, videos, and flies between my WordPress blog and the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog in the next few weeks.  Have a laugh on us, please.

JN

Anyone else wish they were going Sea-run fishing today?

The people fishing sea-runs today weren’t glued to the computer at five in the morning, coffee at hand, Bunny Graham crumbs on the keyboard, easing into the work day.  And they aren’t reading this blogosperic wistfulness, either.

They’re on the water right now, working out thirty feet of flyline, ready to push a fly up against the brush, anticipating letting their fly lay still for a second, then giving it a twitch, hoping to see a silvery streak leap from ledge to fly.  They might know, even instinctively, that the early fish will be chrome sided, blue backed torpedoes, and that the early fish tend to be the biggest of the season.

Sigh.

They are probably fishing alone.  Practically no one fishes Sea-runs these days.  I will.  Any day now.  Just not today.

For those of you who are, or for the lucky ones tying on a Muddler right now, may you have a wonderful day.

For the rest of us, working and wishing – may our day also bring harmony, comradeship, and discovery.

JN