Saturday, December 24, 2011


The sweet lap of luxury in first class is quite nice. And I get to look back at all you peons behind me and scoff.

This is what all that travel pays me. Little perks.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today was my first experience being nĂºmero uno on southwest. It's sort of like getting first chair at the ski resort. You have to pay extra (paid in lack of sleep for skiing) and be vigilant on checking in 24hrs ahead exactly. And it really doesn't make a difference other than giving you that warm fuzzy.

Now I just have to give the evil eye to people with small children so they avoid sitting beside me.

And now for another day spent in the air. Only one more to go this week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why am I here?

I randomly find myself in lovely Detroit this week. I don't have family here and only one friend (that I know of). I'm not here for the holidays. And in full disclosure, I'm not really in Detroit. It just sounds better and fits the melancholy mood I was going for. I'm actually in Ann Arbor.

So again, why?

That's easy, work has taken me on the road right before I go on the road for the holidays! I will be spending way too much time on aeroplanes and in airports this week.

And I'm already annoyed with screaming babies. Families with small children should all be forced to take the same flight, although I would then feel a little sorry for the flight attendants. Better them than me though!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gotta love winter

Winter came a few weeks ago. First in the form of nonstop rain, and more recently in the form of frosty coldness in the morning. And I'm not talking about frosty cold beer. That would be much more welcome, even though it may mean I need an intervention.

More recently that other winter commonality visited me. That's right, sickness. In the form of nasopharyngitis (thanks wikipedia), or the common cold. And these days colds hit me hard and fast. I got this sucker Monday evening. I dosed up with all the proper meds but still struggled to sleep. This is what my nightstand looked like in the morning.  

Looking at the picture no I realize it worse in person, probably because that nightstand is kinda big.  It was a lot of tissues, I promise.  Enough that I had to stop and buy the ones infused with lotion on my way to work in the morning.  And yes, I went to work to spread the virus.

Fortunately for me, though, colds leave as fast as they come. It's two days later now and although I'm still draining a little, I'm no longer sneezing nonstop and wiping a sore nose dry.

Now I just hope I manage to keep the streak alive and avoid the flu this season.

Stay healthy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OR or CO?

I've been  thinking about this post for a long time.  About 2 years in fact.  (I've been in Oregon for about 2 years now)    The fundamental question I am about to answer for you is: is Oregon or Colorado the better place to live.  That's right, a final and definitive answer to the question I'm sure you have all been asking yourselves.  And I will start with some history.

When I first moved to Colorado, I thought it was the coolest place in the world.  The sun was always out, the hiking and camping were excellent, and for me being addicted to running at the time, it was Mecca!  I would say "then I started fishing," but that would not only sound cliche, but would be untrue to boot.  It was all about the running for me for quite some time.

Colorado has a lot going for it.  Perpetual sunshine is a massive plus in my book.  Rocky mountains, hiking trails, 14ers, climbing routes, excellent hunting, tons of rivers/lakes/ponds to fish, great places to cycle and run, not to mention the general outdoorsy active culture where you're the weird one if you're not out on 63rd, 75th, 36, or in the mountains on your bike on Saturday morning.  Then winter rolls around and the ski season starts up and again you're the oddball if you don't get excited when snow is in the forecast!  In fact it's commonplace and widely acceptable to call in "sick" on a powder day in Colorado,  unless your boss is a jerk.

For all those reasons I loved living in Colorado and did my best to make the most of my time there.  I got in my fair share of hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and more than my fair share of running while living there.

Then I moved to Oregon.  It was bittersweet for me, but largely bitter.  The sweet part was I was fed up with school and needed to get getting a 300% pay raise helped, I admit.  But the bitter was obviously leaving everyone I knew behind to move to a new place where I  knew no one and was working in an office of 4 people, all in the middle of the rainy and overcast season.  It was moving away from a place where I knew a ton of rivers and how to fish them to a place that has a bunch of fish I know nothing about, not to mention all new rivers and mountains.  Both literally and figuratively.

But since my move, Oregon has slowly been growing on me and the idea of this post has become a little bittersweet itself.  For so long I thought it was the easiest decision to make.  Colorado is obviously better! The fishing is more reliable and constant, sunshine, real mountains, and the active/outdoorsy culture. Then I started getting a little more into the fishing culture out here.  I always suspected the fishing in Oregon was better and that I just didn't know what I was doing.  That idea has only been reinforced the more experience I get fishing here. The fishing is undeniably superior with so many other fish than just your staple rainbow and brown trout that make up 90% of the fish in Colorado.  And so many bigger fish like salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.

There is decent hiking in Oregon, but I like to summit big peaks so it's not quite as cool as Colorado.  If you like the color green you would be in heaven here, but I'm not all that into lush green.  There is good running and cycling here along with a culture, but it's nothing compared to that of Colorado.  I have not yet experienced it, but I hear the big game hunting in Oregon is excellent, possibly better than Colorado.

In summary, I've compiled a list of some of the main features of each state and they are as follows.

  • Superior outdoor culture
  • Real mountains
  • Better skiing
  • Year-round cycling
  • Running trails (Boulder specifically)
  • Great beer

  • Steelhead
  • Salmon
  • Sea-run Cutts
  • Bull trout
  • An Ocean
  • More rivers and lakes, many within a short drive
  • Waterfalls
  • Great beer

In the end, of course, it depends on who you are. But for me, I enjoy the sun a whole lot. Cycling and running are best done on sunny days, although you could make a case to me for running in the rain. If Oregon didn't have a rain problem it would win hands down, unanimous, not even close. But boy does it ever have a rain problem!

Colorado is the overall victor from my perspective, but barely. If you live sleep eat and breathe fishing Oregon wins by 93 million miles.

Feel free to suggest additions to my lists!

And I'll write posts on MT and AK after I live there too.  :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Most Challenging Fishing Ever

Last week while I was in Colorado I convinced my buddies John and Brady to spend a day fishing.  Brady suggested hitting up the Dream Stream because it was cold enough and close enough to a holiday to keep the crowds down.  Sounded like a good enough idea to me, mainly because I had already gotten out to actually catch a few the day before and could risk a day doing some tougher fishing.  I've been there once before and though it was some fun but challenging fishing.  Big fish, but very very smart fish.

We got up moderately early (6am) to try and get to the river before too late.  As we drove into the mountains and were getting closer and closer to the river, it was hard to not watch the thermometer readout in the car tick off the few remaining degrees of warmth outside.  18 became 15 became 10 and finally stopped at 8 degrees, which is pretty damn cold.  We've all dealt with cold before so it wasn't the end of the world, but it does tend to make you feel just a little tinge of dread when the car comes to a stop and it's time to get out.

What was much worse than the cold, though, was the 20mph winds howling through the valley.  On the drive up snow was blowing across the road and the car was getting tossed around but we had been hopeful it wouldn't be as bad at the river.  We were wrong.  It was just as windy at the river.  The tumbleweeds rolling across the tundra told us so.

I made the mistake of choosing my first spot to fish facing pretty much directly into the wind.  Cast number one landed in a pile a few feet away from me on some ice at the edge of the river.  "That's ok" I told myself, "just recalibrate."  Cast number two landed in the grass on shore upstream of me.  "Ok, one more try."  Cast three was still ugly but actually landed in the water.  Eventually I figured out that if I threw enough power into the cast to toss 70 feet of line, I would get out a solid 15 feet.  Just enough to get to the spot I wanted to hit.  I also realized how cold it really was when ice was flaking off my fly line as it entered the guides.  It's fairly common to get ice in the eyelets because of wet line, but I have actually never experienced such extreme windy cold that the water on the line freezes before it even gets to the eyelet!  At least we didn't have to periodically pick our eyelets clean.

The cold didn't bother me too much, but it didn't take too long for me to get frustrated trying to beat the wind, so I moved upstream. I hit a number of decent looking holes, but being a new river it was a bit of a crap shoot.  Within the first hour I did get one bite, but the fish was on for less than a second.  I got a glimpse of him and it was enough to know he was of good size. 

I did find one hole where a few nice fish were visible sitting on the bottom behind a big boulder.  Unfortunately they were in one of those spots you can't really effectively fish because of the currents and rocks surrounding them.  Of course we all gave it a try anyways.  You can't pass up at least trying to fish to fish you can see!  No one snagged those, but Brady and I both hooked and lost a couple out past the hole we could see into.  Neither battle was all that long.

Not a whole lot else happened.  A lot of time was spent just walking around checking out the water.  I tend to do a lot of that when I'm at a new place that I really can't tell exactly how to fish effectively.  And I didn't figure this one out.  I don't have much experience fishing really grassy/weedy rivers, and this is one of those.  I need pocket water, and there was very little of that.

Eventually we all lost hope got hungry and sat down on the shore to cook up some soup and coffee.  It took quite a long time in the windy cold, but eventually we got some water to boil and split it between coffee and soup.  Both were good, but neither stayed warm for very long.

Looking back on this day, I think it is the toughest day fishing I have ever had.  Going 0 for 7 hookups between three people is only part of that too.  I've been to tough rivers with smart fish before.  I've been skunked before.  I've fought the wind before.  I've shivered in the cold before.  And I've driven hours to have a bad or mediocre day fishing before.  Never have I had all of these combine in a single day...until this outing.  It goes down in infamy as less of a dream and more of a nightmare.  Brady doesn't get to pick rivers anymore!

But hey, at least I wasn't at work!

A momentus day

The recent cold weather and rains have given me an itch that can only be scratched when sitting down at the vise.  And consequently I have been turning out some flies over the past couple weeks.  Nothing cool or important.  Mainly I pop open my fly boxes when I sit down, survey the damage the season has done to my small stockpile, and begin tying accordingly.

I am by no means a commercial tier, and I never will be.  It would be nice to learn some tricks to make my tying quicker, but in all honesty I enjoy just sitting down at the vise with the boob tube or music on in the background, and tying a couple flies.  I have never in my long tying career (about 2 whole years now!) sat down and churned out many dozens of flies.  Instead, once I reach a dozen or at most 20 I'm bored and on to other things.  Some Adderall might help with that, but as I said I don't tie commercially.  It remains something I simply enjoy doing in stints.

But I recently reached a milestone!  I finished off my first pheasant tail feather!  When I bought this thing, I was wondering if it made sense to buy the whole bird tail, or the small package of feathers.  I distinctively remembering the guy at the fly shop telling me that one feather will probably tie around 100 P-tails.  I didn't believe him because I know how people like to exaggerate, but I figured one feather would last a long time so I opted for the small package and saved a few bones.  Now I'm glad I did.  That guy wasn't kidding.

The P-tail is my go-to nymph pattern almost everywhere almost all the time, so I go through quite a few of them.  I didn't keep track of how many I tied off this feather but I'm sure it was a lot.  Still maybe not 100, but a lot.

Here are a few of the culprits that finished that feather off.

Disclaimer:  this post may be totally bogus.  It's possible I have finished off other feather(s) previously and forgot, but I KNOW I've been working with this one feather since moving to Oregon two years ago, and I didn't start tying much earlier than that so I'm sticking with my story.

PS - why is it that sometimes Blogger likes to reorient my pictures vertical when they are horizontal???  It's quite annoying.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Holidays...sorta

As you may be aware I spent the previous holiday weekend in sunny Colorado.  This is my post describing the hijinks that ensued!  Of course, you already knew that.

There was some fishing done, of course, but that comes later.  First there is turkey-day itself!  About five years ago my roomates at the time and I decided to venture away from the conventional Thanksgiving turkey for the more adventurous turducken.  And being adventurous guys we weren't about to go buy a prepared turducken.  Where's the fun in that?  Ever since Wednesday evening has been a Thanksgiving pre-party for turducken preparation and is often the more fun day.

This year it was not the more fun day.  At least not for me.  We were hanging out, smoking stuff in Brady's new smoker, we did some oyster shooters, and prepped the turducken.  Then I started feeling a bit off.  And quickly I started feeling really sick.  Within minutes I was headed for the bathroom to donate my supper to the toilet and continued to do so every hour on the hour for the next six or seven hours.  Obviously not fun.  I guess I'm wildly allergic to oysters, which is fine because they aren't that good anyway.

On Thanksgiving day itself there was cooking going on, football being watched, and people with hangovers trying to sleep them off.  As usual the after-dinner festivities were sluggish and ended relatively early as the tryptophan oozed through everyone's bodies.

Friday is when things picked up.  I had planned a fishing outing with Brady and John for Saturday, but with all of Friday open it would have been sacrilegious not to head out.  With my gear all packed up and ready to go I asked Brady what he was going to do with his day.  His fam was planning on being out and about most of the afternoon so he said he was just going to sit around the house.  I said "unacceptable, let's go fishing." He told asked the wife and we were off.  My intended destination was the South Boulder Creek, where Brady had been skunked the weekend before.  He was unable to shake my determination.

We didn't get on the water until noonish, but I wasn't concerned.  There are always fish there and they're always biting.  It was a typical day on the SBC.  The fish were in the normal spots as I expected, mostly in the winter holes but not exclusively.  I managed to catch a couple nice browns in addition to about five other smallish browns.  A reasonable half day on the SBC in winter.  But I have to admit, I miss this water during summer when I can expect catch rates in the teens per hour along certain super-secret stretches.

Part II covering Saturday's fishing drama to come later this week.

To better serve you

I just added an app to my phone that should have been added long ago.

Be prepared for more frequent and less relevant or interesting posts going forward.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trading spaces

Round one of the holidays is pretty much here, and I am fortunate enough to be going anywhere else.  Sure, tomorrow is a busy travel day, but all that means is you wait an extra 5 minutes to get groped and fondled by TSA and all the seats on your plane are taken.

In exchange, this year, I am getting a big upgrade in weather.

Portland forecast                                                                                     Colorado forecast


Yep, I'll take that trade.

And can't wait to get in some fishing, maybe on the old home turf of SBC.  But I'm already being pressured to get more adventurous.  We'll see.

Wow, gotta get up in 8 hours to catch a plane.  I'd better go pack!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The rain is here

After a couple days of more constant and harder rains this week, rivers are on the rise.  No, don't worry you silly Colorado people.  Rivers rising here in Oregon do not mean chocolate milk and unfishable conditions.  This is something I have had to learn over the past year.  Instead, what it means is that the steelhead or salmon, depending on the season, push up into the rivers.

This increase is a little late and normally (as if I would know having lived here for a whole 2 years) the fall salmon would already be in the rivers.  And late November would be when the winter steelhead begin their push upriver to spawn.

So the question that remains is what will be hidden in the dark depths of the rivers?  Will it be a nice Coho, or a Chinook, or perhaps a steelhead?  Does it even matter?  Probably not.  They are all big.  They are all serious fighters.  They are all hard to catch/land.  And I know little to nothing about chasing them.

So the final question remains, where do I fish this weekend???

FYI, the graphs on the right are of the levels of a few random rivers over the past month.  The blue is the actual level and the green is the historical average.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Colorado river, you suck

I have been putting off writing about this trip for some time.  The reason?  Because I really don't have much to say.  I do want to thank Erin and Howard for their tips.  The original idea for my recent trip to CO was to hit up some high mountain lakes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  But being so late in the year there was a good chance significant amounts of ice would be involved, and I'm not talking about ice chilling beers in plastic coolers.  I'm talking about the glassy barrier between my fly and the fishs' mouths.  We called up the Ranger's office and they said the lakes were indeed freezing overnight and then thawing throughout the days, so that idea was tossed out the window.

Our contingency plans were either the Ark or the Colorado river with a possibility of hitting up the Yampa, but that was just a little too far to really make sense.  We settled for the Colorado because of some good reports both from the intarwebs and through the grapevine.  To be completely honest though, I maintain a nugget of hatred for the Colorado river in my heart.  I have had some good days there, but more often than not it seems I get massively frustrated by the hordes of rising fish all around me but not taking my offerings.  And it doesn't help when another guy in the group is slaying it and telling me that they're eating anything with a parachute!

But I agreed to the Colorado as a destination, carrying in the back of my mind significant hopes of big fish everywhere.  Yes, I know that's a terrible mindset to have.  It's like going to a movie expecting it to be the best film of the year, but I couldn't help it!

Well, the trip lived up to my historical view of the Colorado river.  I saw more dead fish than live ones, and between four people I could count the total number of fish caught in two full days of fishing on my two hands.  None were all that big either.  The best of the trip was a 14" rainbow.  One of the other guys claimed to have a really nice one on that popped off as he was netting it, but we all know how trustworthy anglers are.  It was probably a nice chunky 12 incher.

All the dead fish were a little perplexing and concerning to me.  I seriously saw at least ten dead fish in two days, a couple of them were PIGS.  Usually I'll see one or two per trip.  I suspect the fishing gods heard I was about to visit the river so they poisoned it just prior to my arrival.

Never again, Colorado river!  Until next time...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Man, I love bacon, and this must have been some incredible bacon!

Work was paying, but I still abstained out of principle.

"You yadda yadda'd over the best part!"
"No, I mentioned the bisque."
-- props to anyone who can cite my quote

Monday, October 31, 2011

Please, take me back!

I'm sorry Rodney, I didn't mean it.  Please don't be mad.  It will never happen again!  Yes, I remember when I forgot you in that bar at the airport.  Yes, I also remember leaving you in the airport bathroom.  Yes, more than once.  Yes, yes, I also left you at the security check-in in San Jose.  Of course, how could I forget leaving you at baggage claim again in San Jose and getting all the way downtown to my hotel before remembering you.  Oh yeah, I also left you behind at that Mexican restaurant in the Salt Lake City airport.  And the time that I left you on the plane and barely made it back to get you before my connecting flight.

But it's not my fault?  I was born with a defective brain!  Like that guy in Memento, I just can't remember things for more than a few minutes.  I promise, Rodney, I do love you!

Remember all the great times we've had together!  All those fish we've caught.  I remember when I picked you out with the help of Jay, who was at Front Range at the time.  You were my first real fly rod!  I remember catching our first fish together by accident on the Ark.  I remember when I put that 14" tape mark on you to know how many fish I could keep while camping on the Ark.  And when I had to add an 18" mark to know whether or not I could keep a second fish while camping on the Bighorn.  I remember when I added that blue tape to your case so I could tell you apart from my buddy's identical setup.  No, let's not think about that time I accidentally snapped you in two; we've healed and are past all that now.

And look on the bright side.  I actually managed to not lose you on the last two legs of my travels.  Two in a row!  Sure, it may have been after forgetting you on 6 of the last 7 legs but I've turned over a new leaf!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Can't wait!

First off, my apologies for the non-fishing post.  But I figure most fisher-people also enjoy a good brew now and again.

I'm proud to say I brewed my first batch of home-brew a couple weeks ago and just bottled it all up tonight.  It was surprisingly easy, but now I have the surprisingly difficult task of watching it sit there for a month.

And doesn't my new iPhone take nice pictures?  I can't wait to use it on the river to get that great shot of a nice fish just before dropping it in the water (the phone and the fish).  Thanks work!  And I'm sorry now for when I will surely drop it in the river.

Thanks mom and dad for the brewing stuff.  It will get plenty of use in the future!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yep, that's about right

Work has had me travelling the last two weeks, and with work travels I pretty much always fit in some fishing somewhere.  The way I see it, a work trip is basically a free plane ticket to go fishing.  This trip was no different.  With a need to go from the left coast to the east coast it made perfect sense to stop over and see friends go fishing in CO.

This post is not about that.  It is about what I saw on my way to Orlando, FL.  What do you think of immediately when I say FL?  If you say "old people," you are correct.  That is what you are thinking about.  And there is a reason.  At the airport where I transferred to the plane to FL, this is what the boarding area looked like:

Little red sticks poking up all over the boarding area.

See title.

Friday, October 7, 2011

No Solicitors!

But it's legal if you trick someone into coming to your doorstep so that you can solicit them.

Which is exactly what I'm doing here.  HA!  Gotcha!  Now bow to my demands.

Some friends and I are planning a trip to the Indian Peaks Wilderness in two weeks (mid Oct) for some lake fishing and would love comments on whether this is a good idea or not.

It could be terribly cold/snowy and we are planning to backpack and stay for a few days. We're not sure if it's a little late in the season or if there could be ice on the lakes already. We're also not sure exactly where to go.  There will be a contingency plan in case of bad weather.

Let the comments and advice roll in!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's not easy being green

As PacNW-erners know, Oregon is green.  And I mean green.  It's not just that the grass and trees are green, but even the tree trunks and branches and forest floor out here are covered in vibrant green moss.  A lot of people talk about how beautiful it is and how much they love Oregon.  I suppose I understand, but I have never really had the capacity to appreciate beauty in nature.  Stargazing has always been nothing but a precursor for sleep to me, and I can't sit on a mountaintop and just look for hours.  5 minutes and I'm bored.

Now, all that is not to say I don't appreciate beauty and nature at all.  Of course I do.  You read this blog so hopefully you've noticed.  I just like to take a more active role in that beauty.  Which might mean hiking way back into the wilderness for a weekend of backcountry fishing, or some high mountain headwater fishing, or what have you.  And there's nothing I enjoy more than the sense of adventure I get from bushwhacking through trail-less countryside in search of a mountain top, a river, a lake, ... anything.

But back to the green beauty of Oregon.  It's green for a reason.  That reason?  Relentless, incessant, overcast and drizzle for eight months of the year.  No, no, it's not as bad as you think.  If you like to be cold and wet.  Otherwise, yes it is that bad.  And it is back.

When I moved out here I dreaded the fall/winter/spring back to back to back knockout punches.  Living in sunny Boulder, Colorado I became used to rainy days coming a dozen times a year and sun otherwise.  And I realize I have obviously been spoiled.  I can remember when a rough day on the water involved that nasty storm rolling through in the afternoon and me being without my rain jacket.  The rain would shower down for 15 or 20 minutes and I would take cover under a tree and try to stay somewhat dry.  Then the sun would come out and fix my pathetic inability to be capable of surviving in the wilderness, and I could continue fishing.

But what severely disturbed me recently was some time I spent on a nearby river last weekend.  The start of the day was overcast and rainy and cool so I layered up and sported my GoLite rain jacket.  I fished away the late morning and early afternoon with minimal success, but high spirits.  Then in the afternoon the sun started to poke through and I started to lose my interest in fishing.  I keep telling myself it's not that I was enjoying the rain but I know that I am, in the immortal words of Mikey, deluding myself.

There's something comforting about putting on a couple extra layers and zipping up your rain jacket and standing in the rain.  I think it has something to do with a primal sense of overcoming adversity through the intellect and ingenuity of mankind (even though the jacket and clothes weren't my own ideas/products).  This has always been a part of me and is why, since a child, fall has been my favorite season.  It's not the falling leave piles and subsequent leave-pile bonfires we would have in the backyard.  It was the simple act of putting on that long sleeve T and zipping up a light jacket before heading out of doors.

Then again, maybe it's just that the cold and rain makes one of my favorite things that much better....dark beer!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dropping like flies

Just a couple weeks back I was talking with a friend and follower of this blog and we were joking about what a great job I was doing of reaching my goals for the year.  At that point with 8 out of 10 months gone I had crossed off a grand total of one out of ten.  It wasn't looking good.

Last week I headed out to find some sea-run cutts so I could at least cross one more goal off before the year came to a close on me.  I did succeed, although I didn't tell you all.  The pics I took either turned out way too dark or way over-saturated.  Such is the life of a poor photographer.  But at least that makes it 2 of 10.

Since I was on a roll I figured it would be a good idea to go try for some salmon on Saturday.  The entire Portland fishing area is new to me, so I stayed with one of the few rivers I have been to:  the Wilson.  It was a little more popular than last time I went out, which isn't surprising since then it was very rainy and this time it was nice a sunny.  But eventually I found a spot to park and fish.

The first thing I saw when I got down to the water was a nice big fish 20 feet out from the bank.  I couldn't tell if it was a small salmon, a huge sea-run cutt, or a stealhead but who really cares.  It was a big fish.  The section of river was moving very slowly and the surface was glassy....not the best condition to make a stealthy cast.  I gave it a go anyway and managed a number of casts near the fish before he took off.  No luck yet.

For the rest of the afternoon I worked my way downstream hole after hole with no luck besides a bunch of little fish chasing my streamer around and nibbling at it.  When the sun began heading down the canyon walls I decided to move upstream and work the water above where I had started the day before calling it quits.

Finally I struck gold fishing a fast moving riffle.  There was a strong take and not long thereafter I got a glimpse of what I was in for.  Light glimmered off a huge silver side in the seam of the riffle, and I couldn't help but say "holy $#!T!"  It was on!

Right away the fish turned in the current and headed downstream.  Line spun off my reel and I tried to move down quickly with him.  Luckily for me the fast current was short and he dropped into the big pool just 25 feet downstream.  From there he was easier to control, but I was still somewhat regretting adding some 5X to my 4X leader.  Reliable knots sometimes elude me.  When I had tied this one I wasn't all that happy but I tested it and was too lazy to redo it.

That knot was all I could think about as the fish came up to me then turned and swam back down into the deep pool.  Over and over again.  Each time the fish came up near me and I tried to get down to him he ran.  A number of times his turn involved me getting a splash of water in the face.  I pulled my net out of my vest and got that close to him once too before realizing it would be of no help.

I've seen it done in the movies and apparently you can just grab big fish by the tail.  I have also always thought it was made to look way easier than it was.  But that was my only choice, so I kept fighting the fish to tire him out.

Finally after an hour in fish-fighting time, or 15 minutes in real time, he came in close enough for me to attempt the tail grab.  I grabbed his tail, put my rod down and picked him up.  As easy as that!  If someone had been watching they would have been fooled into thinking I had done this before.  With a better look at him I became a little confused.

I had assumed I was catching a nice Chinook or Coho, but it looked more like a steelhead to me.  The only information I had to distinguish were the few things I read in the past week or two.  What I remembered was something about spots on the tail and that Chinook have black gums, Coho have white gums with a black outline and steelhead gums are all white.  This guy's gums were solid white so I am left assuming he was a massive steelhead.

I set the camera up for a quick self portrait and took a couple pics to make sure I got a decent one, then got him back in the water.

My best guess is he was somewhere north of 30" in length and weighed however much a fish that big weighs.

Also notice the adipose fin still in tact, which means he's not from a hatchery.

And that crosses two more goals off my list.  One for catching a steelhead not on accident, and another for making a new notch on my belt for my new largest fish.  Congratulations to me!

Now I just need to bag a Salmon...

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Unpossible

I was out on an Oregon coastal stream this weekend to chase some sea-run cutts and ended up stumbling upon some salmon.  They were ominously out of place in the small stream, and actually startled me when I saw the first one.  Then I started to get excited.  There were a few of them cruising around in a pocket of slowly moving water.  I'm not good at estimating size/weight, but my best guess would be in the 30"+ and 15+ lbs.  One of them could easily have been 34" and 20-30lbs.  Ginormous by my standards.  And probably uncatchable on my 7/8wt with a 4x leader.

And then I saw one of the monsters porpoise, presumably to eat something!  I stopped tying on the big ugly streamer I had just grabbed and instead pulled the biggest hopper pattern I had out of my box.  No, I didn't expect this to work, but just imagine if it could!  With my camera in place I snuck out into the river and gave it a few casts.  Here's the video, sorry I'm not in the frame but you should be able to see the casts and you will also see the fish...

I gave up after that and moved upstream to catch some cutts.  Later I came back down here and gave a big ugly streamer a bunch of casts.  It swam right by one of the smaller salmon's mouths a number of times but no bite.  I even accidentally snagged the streamer on the fish's dorsal fin without it noticing, but I didn't want to hook the big fish that way so I gave a couple soft pulls and it came loose.

Maybe next time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


As you know if you read this blog, I recently relocated to the Portland area.  And now you know how classy the area in which I live is.

Let's just hope the fishes drink as much as the locals so they are dumber and easier to catch.