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They Are Where You Find Them........

Posted by Mark Saturday, February 28, 2015 2 comments




Yes, its true, after all these years on the river I still find new runs. Knowing the river at every flow in every season really makes it about a half dozen rivers, maybe more. Fun to try new things, fun to see that this river hasn't come close to giving up all her secrets.  Amazing to think that there are still so many places fish hide that never get touched. I am humbled every time I set foot on her shores.

 The wade out to the newly discovered run was tough, and probably not real smart......

The water is fast and pushy, testing my wading skills to the maximum. Several times I look longingly toward shore not fully sure of the task at hand. Past the point of no return, I am committed now and I stagger on. Water is flowing hard around me waist deep, pulling me and pushing me. My feet slide crazily across shelf rock and thankfully grab hold. I walk the tightrope between control and foolishness. A dangerous chute waits far below me, taunting me, haunting me with the possibilities should I make a mistake. I usually don't get scared much on the river anymore, mostly because I don't put myself in the position to be scared. But, I am scared now and it feels good. Its a healthy and respectful kind of scared. All of the sudden, I feel like a kid again, a major dose of adrenalin spikes through my veins. I spy my path through the current and lunge for the high spot that will put me in a position to cast.  My cleats dig hard as I lean into the small wave train and find purchase in the nick of time.

I have made it! Now what? It doesn't look nearly as good now that I am here. Why oh why do I do this? What I thought would be a slower inside seam races along, really too fast for a good swing. I scan the water looking for tell tale signs of a dish, a piece of structure, a flat spot, anything. I see a flat spot down in the run, near the limit of my cast. It's not much, but if there is a fish anywhere in here he will be there. I start to cast and swing. I am throwing a big upstream mend and pointing the rod straight out in front of me, even a bit upstream to try and slow the fly down a little. Very slowly dropping the rod and following the fly after the mend, really reaching out there. The swings are fast but as I near the flat spot I saw earlier, I find a 20ft wide slot that starts to feel pretty good. Its a narrow swath but the swings are slower. I am maxed on my cast so I start to slip line into the drift trying to reach that flat spot and keep the fly swinging slow.

After several drifts slipping a few feet of line in each time I am at my limit. With the extra line slipping, I am fishing my fly over a hundred feet away from me now. I make one more drift and the fly line catches some puffs in the current and does not respond to the mend that I try to put in. The fly is smoking through the sweet spot, much faster than I like. I hang on and hope and am met with a vicious take, the big buck coming out of the water instantly as my fly was probably cruising at about a foot under the water.  The take came the only place it could have. The little flat spot at the limit of my wading and casting ability. I could never have anticipated how the fish would respond to a fly with that much pace.

He liked it and so did I!

A new fish in a new place, what could be better?

Ezekiel 36:26- And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

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Fish Move!

Posted by Mark Tuesday, February 3, 2015 1 comments




I met up with my buddy Marty on the river the other day and we had a great time fishing and just hanging out. As is always the case when guides get together, we exchange stories and observations of the rivers we fish and how the steelhead behave in our particular waters. We both shared experiences guiding where clients have hooked fish behind other people.  It got me thinking, why are we as steelhead fisherman so adverse to fishing second pass through a favorite run? I mean we all like first shot at a producing run but that isn't always possible. Just because someone has fished through a run first doesn't necessarily mean they fished it well. And even if they fished it perfectly there is a factor that we often forget. Fish Move!

Fish are constantly on the move. Maybe not running hard up the river covering miles but many times they are moving around in a particular run. Fish are lazy and are always searching for a place that they can hold where they can expend the least amount of energy. When they find that temporary spot they may stay for a short time, like as little as a few minutes, to maybe an hour or so. Some will hold for hours or days, even weeks in some conditions. We are looking for the moving aggressive fish not the dour fish down in the trench. I have watched fish come into a holding lie that is a long term parking spot and sit for awhile and then move out within minutes. Why did that fish move from that perfectly good spot? Everything was perfect but he got antsy or something and moved. Steelhead are on a mission and even though they stop in places to rest, their instincts keep them in a state of almost constant movement. These are the fish that are grabby, the ones that are used to moving more, the ones that have no problem moving to eat your fly. These are the fish that move around in a run and are in a taking position when you fish the run. The guy before you fished it well but the fish was not in position or of an attitude to eat a fly.A fish can become aggressive to a fly in an instant if he is in a position to do so.

A number of things will make a fish move around in a run, rising or dropping levels, clarity, water speed, numbers of fish in a run,structure availability or the need to find a mate to name a few. We as fisherman need to realize that this constant movement can work in our favor. We need to fish every run with confidence knowing full well that any swing of the fly through a run may attract a fish that was not in a taking position just minutes before. I see it constantly with the people I fish with. We fish some of the same runs on the same day at different times and we hook fish  behind each other all the time. These are our peers who know the lies and the water as well as anyone.

Bottom line is, it doesn't always matter who got into the run at first light. It's the person that is in the right place at the right time when that fish settles into a taking lie and eats your fly. You could be second person through or the tenth person through.

Fish move, so fish with confidence every time you step into a run. Don't let the fear of someone else fishing the run in front of you get you off your game.

Thanks Marty for hanging out with me. You always inspire me to think about these fish in new ways.

Genesis 1:20- And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life........
Tight lines

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Its Better to Have Hooked and Lost..........

Posted by Mark Saturday, January 24, 2015 1 comments








 
...........than to have never hooked at all.

The grab was nothing out of the ordinary. Good solid pull followed by a squealing Hardy. A couple short runs then the fish came straight at me. I reeled to keep tension on the line as the fish moves upstream. "its a big buck" my buddy said to me as we both kind of recognized by the fishes behavior it was probably a boy. I still had not felt the full weight of the fish as it had been a highly erratic fight so far. As the fish moved upstream I put the wood to it and tried to roll him over or change his course. Not happening. My 7wt was bent to the cork and I was pulling as hard as I dared with 12 lb test. That's pretty hard. The fish was not phased in the least and just kind of did what he wanted. Another good line ripping run downstream and then more of the same. As I reeled and pulled, he just sort of swam and meandered his way back upstream. He got even with me and then went around a mid river shelf and sulked on the other side.

The line was over or under or around the shelf in such a way that I lost connection with the fish. I know he's still there but can't get an angle on the line or the fish with the current and structure hampering my efforts. My wise buddy says " Get downstream of him and pull him off backwards" This seemed counter-intuitive to me as it looked like the line was around the front of the rock and the current was keeping it down. The fish was on the far side. But, I was ready to try anything at this point so I slowly walked downstream, getting below the fish a ways and pulling the whole time. Finally, as I got below him I could again feel the throbs of a heavy fish still on the line but still around the rock somehow. I moved a little farther down and the fish came to life, surging and thrashing at the surface, throwing his massive body side to side and raising a ruckus. Still around the rock I staggered through the rocks reeling and pulling hoping to free the fish from its predicament. I stumbled and fell in, putting an arm down and feel the cold North Umpqua water pouring in by the buckets. I wobble to my feet colder and wetter. The fish makes one last thrash on the surface and saws the line off and we part ways. We both see the massive body and tail of a wild winter steelhead bolting for its new found freedom and he is gone.

The chances at these truly huge fish are fleeting. To get them to eat a swinging fly is one thing, to land them is another altogether and always a gamble. Everything must go perfectly and gear and knots must be perfect. That may easily have been the biggest fish I will see this year, maybe for years. I was privileged to encounter it and feel blessed to be near and know a river where these fish swim.

Remember, landing the fish is not always a  possibility. Be thankful for the encounter and be ready for the next one.........

Proverbs 21:13 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.

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What the Frack?

Posted by Mark Saturday, January 17, 2015 0 comments



 If You Love These.............



The Jordan Cove Project has kind of flown under the radar but now is crunch time. We need all your comments to deny the permits needed for this project. This is a bad idea in every way. There is a huge potential impact to our native fishery watersheds in Southern Oregon if this goes through.

Below is a sample letter that can be used that covers the basics. Also listed is the three agencies that these letters should be sent to. 

Thanks for all your help!



Protect Southwest Oregon’s Rivers From Fracked Gas Export

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are currently asking for public comments regarding the impacts of a proposed gas export terminal and pipeline across the salmon watersheds of southwest Oregon. Both agencies are responsible for evaluating required Clean Water Act permits and protecting our public waterways. If these permits are denied the Jordan Cove project is dead in the water. Now is the time to let the agencies know you value clean water more than dirty energy and to deny these permits!

These permits deal with the proposed 230-mile pipeline to transport fracked gas from Malin to Coos Bay, through the watersheds of the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille and Coos Rivers. The project would involve a 36” pipeline crossing 400 different waterways, clearing important streamside forests and dumping sediments into clear water streams. Additionally the terminal site would require extensive new dredging in the sensitive estuary of Coos Bay. All told this would result in 5.8 million cubic yards of fill dumped into salmon strongholds throughout southwest Oregon.

TAKE ACTION: Send a letter to DEQ and the Corps describing how you consider the project not in the best interests of the public, and your concerns that the project would harm water quality and salmon habitat. Your voice matters and now is the time!

Please personalize your letter and let the agencies know how you personally value clean water and salmon, or how this project would affect you and your quality of life.


Sample letter
Letters should go to these three:

Please deny certification or permits for Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector NWP-2012-441

Dear Governor Kitzhaber, Director Pedersen, Director Rue, and Colonel Aguilar,

I urge you to deny all permits or certifications for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export project and associated 230-mile pipeline (NWP-2012-441).

Salmon are an iconic part of the Pacific Northwest and an important part of our regional economy. The proposed more than 5.7 million cubic yards of fill into 400 waterways throughout southwest Oregon would harm the habitat these fish depend on. The threatened watersheds, including the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille and Coos Rivers are known for their salmon and steelhead fishing throughout Oregon and the US.

Salmon depend on clean cold water, and many areas of southwest Oregon already face problems with warming waters and sediment. In fact, substantial money is spent by state, federal and private entities to restore clean water and improve salmon habitat throughout the region. Dumping fill into our streams and removing important streamside forests to make way for a gas pipeline would not only make conditions worse in these important watersheds, but would squander the public investment in salmon restoration.

The extraction, transport and eventual burning of fracked gas cannot be considered a bridge fuel. The gas in question – methane – is 86 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and recent studies from Stanford to NASA point to the lifecycle of gas being as bad for the climate as coal. Once Boardman coal plant shuts down in 2020 the Jordan Cove project would be the single largest greenhouse gas source in the state of Oregon, if we allow it. Exporting gas to new markets would accelerate fracking in the Rockies and would damage the State’s efforts to halt climate change.

The pipeline route threatens 300 Oregon landowners with eminent domain – the condemnation and theft of their property – for the exclusive benefit of a Canadian gas company. Not only would their land be possessed, but lower pipeline safety standards in rural areas raise the risk of accidents for a pipeline company that has seen three explosions on their gas lines this year alone. Landowners and rural emergency responders are simply not equipped for the risk of any accident or intentional attack on a pipeline or facility involving more than 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Finally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration tells us that exporting gas and bringing American consumers into competition with the world market for this gas would raise rates in Oregon and throughout the U.S. Higher gas prices would harm ratepayers and domestic manufacturing, shipping more jobs overseas.

This project would harm Oregon’s clean water and the people and species that depend on it. It is clearly not in the public interest, and I urge you to protect the people and watersheds of Oregon from exploitation by denying all permits and certifications that your agencies are evaluating.

Thank you.

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Winters Tug

Posted by Mark Thursday, December 4, 2014 0 comments



The fly lands with a light splash and quickly sinks through the off colored water, pulled down by its own weight and held down by the sink tip it is attached to. A slight upstream mend before the line tightens gives slack in the line and sends it deep into the depths. I can feel the line "hook up" as it reaches the deepest part of the swing and the line gets tight again. The line bellies out slightly and begins the familiar broadside swing of winter. I lead the fly, keeping it at the desired depth, feeling every movement in the current and how it affects my fly. I can actually feel the fly swimming and imagine what it look like under water in my minds eye. I close my eyes and see it pulsing and waving in the current, the materials collapsing and expanding as the current and line tension act upon them. I am lost in the moment, in the zone as it continues to swing through the heart of the run.....

I am in a swingers daze when the ever so slight hesitation in the line comes. After being so in tune these hesitations are felt immediately and instinct kicks in. Is it brushing over a rock? Am I hung on a log?  Is it a fish? The line tightens up ever so slowly, I wait on it keeping my rod down. And then, there it is, a quick couple of short pulls indicating to me that the fish has the fly now and has turned. Its all feel. His movement and the turn on the fly signaled to me in the short pulls I felt. I leave the rod down and wait for him to flee back to his holding spot. The words of a friend echoing in my head "10 feet or ten seconds, whichever comes first!" The 10 feet comes first as he finds a new gear and realizes he's stuck peeling line of the reel like you dream about. The 10 feet turns into 30 feet and I lift the rod firmly now and give him a quick jab.

The quiet of the early morning is shattered by the sound of the
growling gears of a reel paying out line.........


The seasons they are a changing.  Seems like it was just yesterday that I was throwing dry flies to free rising steelhead in 55 degree water. We now move from those free rising steelhead eating dry flies, to the slightly less active and harder to find fish found in the cool water of early winter.

The water levels can rise and fall dramatically at this time of year. Rivers go from blown out to fish-able and back in a matter of days. Each high water episode brings in a new pulse of fish. These early fish are great biters and have not seen many if any offerings on their way up river. The high water that brings these fish in allows for a river mostly devoid of people and they use this chance to gain quick access to the upper drainage's of many watersheds.

They arrive in the general vicinity of where they intend to spawn and they settle down and wait. These early winter fish are still sexually immature and will use the time, often many months before spawning, resting. Encounters with these fish are fleeting at this time of year. There can be good days and then there are multiple days without a sniff. The fish are solid and strong from their months at sea and are really a force to be reckoned with when hooked. These are really ocean creatures that have entered the relatively tame world of the river. They have the spirit of the ocean in them still and they act like it on the end of the line.

Have a safe winter season.
Tight lines and screaming reels to ya

Mark

Proverbs 4-26-Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.

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Thankful

Posted by Mark Thursday, November 27, 2014 0 comments

 Ephesians 5:20- giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.











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High Plains Drifter

Posted by Mark Sunday, November 9, 2014 0 comments

 Had a chance to go to the Lower D for a few days recently. It was a time of great camping,food and fellowship with great people. The North Umpqua crew broke loose for a few days and had a great time in sleds and drift boats fishing a great river.

The river was flucuating and semi off color due to the White River but still way fish able. We touched fish every day and the weather and wind was remarkable in many ways. From freezing temps to sunny days in the 70's. Then rainy nights with a whole bunch of wind thrown in. I got to see what 45+ gusts can do to a summer dome tent. It didn't end well lets just say that!! Several memorable full moon rises were seen as well. It was good to see the river again and she did not disappoint.


















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