Isa 9:2--The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isa 9:6---For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Merry Christmas to you all, and tight lines and screaming reels in 2014
Ephesians 6:17- And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
You know that place, that place in a run that just feels and looks fishy? Some call it the bucket, I like to call it the Sweet Spot. Over the years I have found many of these places on the North Umpqua. Places where I know fish live on a consistent basis. I have discovered these places after years of hard work and trial and error. Some of these places are obvious to all and others are more subtle. Currents and structure must be studied and fished at multiple water levels to uncover all the secrets that these kind of places hold. Any sweet spot in a run will obviously move in relation to current and water flow Most often this movement is length wise as the size of the sweet spot will grow smaller in higher flows. There is always an optimum level that occurs where the sweet spot is at it's maximum holding capabilities and fish are drawn there because of the ease at which they can rest and seek protection. When watching a fish holding in one of these areas at the perfect flow they expend little energy and are usually rested and grabby to a swung fly. In those places, both obvious and not so obvious, I fish techniques that will show the fly to a holding fish in the best possible way. This may include several different styles of swing. I may start with an upstream dead drift of a dry fly over the holding area first, followed by a more sideways type presentation, followed by a more traditional down and across swing. Any one of those could work on a given fish.
There are times when you are fishing down to a known sweet spot and you just know you are going to hook up. I can't explain it but those of you who fish much have had the feeling. It is a combination of doing the right thing at the right time in the right place with the right fly along with a years of experience that tell you a fish is just about to grab the fly. I can't explain it. If you know you know. It happened 3 times on a recent trip. The first time I was fishing a run where a buddy had just hooked and landed a fish. I started in where he left off and was immediately in the sweetest spot of the run. I had a strong pull on a drift that was so in the zone it barely fazed me. I expected it. The fish grabbed but didn't stick and I knew he hadn't been stung too hard if at all. Getting the fish back in the cold water was not a for sure and I knew it. He may not have been stung hard but he may not move again. I stood mid current for a moment and decided to change to a brighter fly. I gave the fish time to settle and slowly changed out my fly. It had been three or four minutes and I reeled in 10 feet of line and started back in. After a few casts I had lengthened the line back to the point where I had the first grab and the fly swung through and nothing happened. This particular sweet spot was quite large due to the lower flows. For some reason I felt that the fish was still there and would grab and I continued to move down the run. I was 5 or 6ft past where I had gotten the grab and I got that feeling. I KNEW I was gonna hook this fish. The fly waggled through the sweet spot and the fish took hard and exactly where I thought. Sure, I had a good indication that a fish was there by the first grab but I hardly ever have the feeling that I KNOW I am gonna hook up. It's just not reality in steelheading and if you think you are gonna hook up on every cast you will be disappointed. The fish ran and jumped multiple times and was a great bright fall fish of 7-8 lbs.
The second fish was in a long riffle run below the fly water. The level was perfect and I could fish the entire thing and was getting great swings. The top was a shallower long riffle and sort of fast, transitioning into a choppy section that started to increase in depth. After that was a broad tail that had a very interesting flat spot on the far side that screamed "Sweet Spot". The depth was perfect, the flow was perfect, the structure was perfect. I absolutely knew I would hook a fish in that lower section the first time I walked into the run. It killed me to work my way down to it but there was so much potential, although not as perfect water, getting down to it. My eyes kept drifting down to that flat spot on the far side. I got closer and the feeling of hooking up got stronger. As soon as my fly entered into that flat, sweet seam on that far side, I knew I was close. A couple more drifts and I was swinging through the heart of this sweet spot. I was holding my rod firmly fully expecting a hard grab and I was not disappointed. A 10lb wild buck grabbed with enthusiasm and went for the tail out the Farlex protesting loudly. After a short battle I released the fish back into the depths.
The last fish was a fish my buddy hooked. We walked into a run and I said to him, "there is a fish in here for sure". He knew it too as we both looked at the run knowing full well that no one had fished it in weeks. Both of us had landed many fish in this run before at this time of year but this year being a bit tougher than normal we should not have had the feeling we both did. But we did. You could just tell it was gonna happen, it was very plain to see. You could actually feel it in the fall air. After about 3 drifts I was not at all surprised to see from my high vantage point, a beautiful fall fish move to the fly and hammer it.
Another fish, another sweet spot. We trusted our instincts, went with the tried and true methods for the conditions and were rewarded. Knowing these sweet spots, and how water levels both attract fish to and repel fish away from them and when to fish them shows that pool selection is a crucial part of the game. We were in the right place at the right time but we also had supreme confidence in what we were doing at all times.
You may not hook a fish every drift but you need to fish like you will when you get into the Sweet Spot!
These Sweet Spots can come in many varieties,shapes and sizes. All are to be enjoyed!
I thank God for the many "sweet spots" in my life.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Tight lines my friends!
And you know what? It doesn't matter how you do it.
Fish in a manner that is pleasing to you and let others do likewise. Don't be so dogmatic in your approach and keep your options open to learning from others. Also, be open to teaching and sharing when those opportunities arise. Be kind on the river. Stop and say hi to someone you don't know or to someone you have seen on your river and never spoken to. Slow down, look around a little. Enjoy the surroundings. They are always awesome!
Lately it seems the fly fishing world has just gone plumb crazy. I have seen more division among people over fishing "style" in the last few years than I have seen unity. It seems there are more things that have entered into our fly fishing lives that can sneak in and seek to divide. Don't let it happen.
However, it's not all doom and gloom and we need to remember that we have much more in common with our brethren that fish the fly than differences. We all, myself included, need desperately to get back to the roots of a simpler and less frenzied way. A way in which we can come together once again, put the silliness and our petty differences aside and rally around the common goal.
The rivers and the fish should always be center stage, when we as humans try to take that limelight away and put it on ourselves we fail every time.
Working on this in my own life, still work to be done.
Here is a good reminder.......
Philippians 2:3-6 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. ...
Now go swing a fly!
Had a great time on the river recently. These pictures give you a little window into what I got to experience on this last trip to the river with great friends. Fishing was as good as I have seen it lately and as usual you had to get out there and cover a lot of water to find them. We found fish in odd and out of the way places. The tried and true spots were not giving it up so we fished some weird stuff. It worked. We had the river to ourselves and we found willing fish every day.
It really is. Lets be serious about this thing we do called steelheading. We all like hanging with the bro's and spending quality time on the river blah, blah, blah, but hey, WE NEED TO GET BENT! I enjoy the outdoors as much as anybody and it doesn't take much to keep me happy out there but sometimes you need a grab and the ability to pet one every now and again. Face it, if there was no chance of catching a fish we would all have quit a long time ago. It's the chance that it may happen in the next cast or in the next run or in the next day or the next week that makes us keep putting the funny pants on.
We don't have to catch fish every time we go out and we don't have to catch a ton of them but any encounter with these fish is spectacular. The numbers are dwindling in almost every water shed on the west coast and our impact to the environment is clearly evident. We want to steward the resource yes, but we also need some confirmation that these elusive creatures still swim free and strong. Any action we see out there however small, gives us the knowledge that we can still be connected to these amazing fish. We need it, we crave it. We dream about it. We talk endlessly about it. A pluck, a grab, a rise, a drive by, a boil, a toilet flush, a good yank and ultimately a loudly screaming reel is what we seek. Lets not kid here. Anyone that says they are content to cast all day and have no action and catch nothing is fooling themselves. Man was made to pursue these fish, it's in our blood. Deep down we are all predators, admit it or lie. The hooking and landing of the fish is what drives the steelhead fly fisherman's engine. It's OK to say you like to hook fish.
My tank is low right now. I have not been able to fish as much as I would like lately but that's OK. Family and work have had top priority. But the next time I get out there for a good session ( which is coming) you can rest assured I will be fishing hard and fast and searching for something to spin my Farlex.
It's about the fish man, it's ALL about the fish.
That being said, God always holds first position.......
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Great George Harrison tune here by Davey Knowles of Backdoor Slam
The smoke curls off the Lancero and dissipates into the clear and crisp air of the land of the Nez Perce. Dinner is over and it is time to bask in the afterglow of a few drams of single malt and the fading light of perfect late summer day of fishing. A full harvest moon looms on the horizon, playing hide and seek behind the wispy clouds that signal the front of an on coming storm. All is still and quiet, except for the occasional horn rattling from rutting bucks in the adjacent field. Then slowly, from across the table from me a voice says
"You know these are the exact brand that Castro smokes"
"Wow, its no wonder he likes these" I say two and a half hours later as the best cigar of my life still burns strongly. Simply amazing......
That is just a snapshot of one part of a fantastic week with great brothers. The places we fished, the things we saw, the brotherhood of like minded anglers and people that we encountered could fill a book. The Big River is wild and unpredictable. She is selfish at times about giving up her secrets but with time those secrets will slowly be revealed. There was action and there were fish hooked and landed but that hardly mattered. As my friend Marty said so well, and I quote " Catching a steelhead is always the goal, but it's not the point". As I grow older and move between the seasons of my life, that statement rings truer and truer every day.
Fishing there is about long lines, long rods and long casts. Don't kid yourself and try and cover those far off lies with a short head line and a 13'6" rod. The main reason is, because you can't do it, especially with any consistency. It is a lesson in futility. Get the right tools for the job and go to work. Getting perfect turnover to the fly every time at distances in excess of 100 feet is no easy feat and one that I aspire to become better at. It ain't the North Umpqua by a long shot and it takes me awhile to get out of my bucket hopping, ADD mindset and settle into some 2-4 hour cast and step sessions. I am out of my element but yet can find the groove after a few sessions and make these longer lines and rods work for me better and better the more I fish them.
So challenging and yet so relaxing at the same time. The Big River moves at her own pace, and you must become tuned in to what she tells you. All other rivers have their challenges but the Big River makes you reach down deep to a place that other rivers don't require.
My words and ramblings do little justice to the magnificence that is the land of the Nez Perce.
Until we meet again........
Where does it come from? How do you get it? How do you loose it? What do you do if you loose it? How do you get it back?
It can come from ........
The fly you fish
The river you are on
The run you are in
The people you are with
The things you see on the river
The knowledge that you are doing the right thing at the right time in the right place.
Confidence is gained by time on the water pure and simple. I know it's over used but it is so true. PAY YOUR DUES! It ain't gonna happen overnight. It takes years, heck lifetimes to have and gain confidence in every fishing situation.
Confidence can be lost when times are tough, you are between fish, you are having trouble keeping them hooked and so on.When you have lost all confidence in what you are doing, especially when swinging for steelhead, don't over think things. Do what you did in the beginning to build it up again. Fish hard, cover water with known and effective patterns. Don't try and reinvent the wheel and start fishing crazy patterns and techniques that you are not versed in. Stay focused on the goal. You are swinging flies for sea going trout not building a submarine. Your time will come again and you need to be fishing in a way that allows you to capitalize when the fish eats the fly again. Don't be way out of your comfort zone doing something stupid or outrageous when Mr. Steel decides to show up. In the same breath I will say sometimes doing a little something different may get your mind off your lack of confidence and on a new fly or run you haven't fished lately. Sometimes diversion can be good and keep you from going completely crazy. There are no hard and fast rules when you lack confidence but try to stay true to what has brought you success in the past.
It happens to us all. Confidence can come and go like the wind. It only takes a split second for it to return and can stay with you for a very long time if you let it. We often let situations, people, conditions etc. erode our confidence. You don't have to.
Confidence is the most valuable player in any ones steelhead game. The slightest bit can drive you to fish more carefully, cast more technically, and fish more efficiently. The lack of confidence makes all of those factors I just mentioned non factors. When you don't think you are gonna hook up, do you think you cast or fish very effectively? Not! You just want to be somewhere else.
Excuses start to emerge such as, the run doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel fishy, I hate this fly, it's too big, it's too small, to bright or too dark, the suns out, it's cloudy, the wind sucks, my off shoulder cast sucks, my leader is too long/short, my hook is dull, my waders leak, there are no fish in this run, someone was just in here, I haven't caught a fish in days or weeks or years,this will never work. All of these thoughts and more go through your head when you lack confidence.
Mind and soul are easily mislead. Doubts start to creep in. You seriously think about taking up another sport. Your mind wanders to anything but the here and now. You are drifting, you are waffling in that world between supreme dedication to a given pursuit and throwing in the towel. You say "I've given this sport a good run, maybe golf is in my future"......
And then the line snaps tight, the reel screams and all doubts are washed away in one glorious moment and guess what, look who just walked in.....your confidence.
Most of all remember where your ultimate confidence should lie........
“For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Prov. 3:26
“I am determined and confident! I am not afraid or discouraged, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” Josh 1:9
“God guards me, keeps me in perfect and constant peace because my mind is stayed on Him, because I commit myself to Him, lean on Him, and hope confidently in Him.” Is 30:15
See ya on the river!
I roll over to him and put my window down and say " Hey how's it going man, where are you going to fish?" He jumps out of his rig real quick and gets all bowed up and starts grabbing his rod like if he has it in his hand he gets the run. He says " The Gorge" and I say " yeah no kidding,I figured that much since that's where we are. Are you gonna fish all of it"? There are three distinct sections there thus the reason for my inquiry. My purpose was to try and communicate with this guy and see what he was gonna fish and maybe we could have worked something out and both been able to fish some of the water in there. You know, share some water, which could have easily been done. I was also hoping that if I talked to him for a second he would realize it's all OK, I was just out fishing like him, and he can slow down and relax a little. I was also hoping that in talking with me he would offer me a chance to fish the upper or lower section knowing he was a little hasty and possibly out of line for racing me to the spot. None of that happened. Communication is always good on the river and something that I try to pursue when the opportunity arises. It is also something that is truly lacking the last few years. Any way he says, "No were fishing all of it"!!! "Well OK, that's fine have a good night" I say as I drive off slowly. Now I could care less that he got the run and I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. I know the river well enough that I always have a plan B and beyond. My point is, I tried to have a friendly interaction and was met with someone who was all about themselves and what they wanted to do. He was in such a hurry to beat me to the run that he forgot he was just fishing and it was supposed to be fun. I could see in his eyes that he needed to fish that run more than me. Have at it buddy, knock yourself out. He was spinning his wheels!
That's not the way the river and it's history were passed down. It's not the way I will show the river to people either. Sure there has always been competition and friendly rivalries but that's what they were, friendly. Sure, the early risers got the first shot at the run and that's fair and the way the game has always been played. Now days it's gone to the extreme. People are going to ridiculous lengths to fish some runs in the Campwater. Guys spending hours before sun up waiting for the Station. That's fine and all but it just makes a competition out of a leisure sport. I don't fish to compete.
Many have learned or are learning bad etiquette from others. Many of those anglers that are supposed to be leaders are not leading well and that is now the legacy that is being passed on. The 5 miles below Steamboat Creek has become so crowded that I often avoid it all together, maybe fishing a small percentage of the runs I used to fish. They can have it all. I would rather fish the upper river or the lower river in relative peace than deal with the dog and pony show that has evolved in the last few years. Little does everyone realize or even consider that the wild fish they love so much are the very ones that are being relentlessly pursued day after day so close to their final spawning destination. The river is being loved to death before our eyes.
In the old days, which were not that long ago, people talked more on the water, people exchanged flies and information with total strangers, people shared runs or sections of river when they came together at the same time. People would gladly give up or share a run as a gentleman knowing that it was not worth the conflict. They knew full well the favor would come back to them down the line. People respected others space. The pace was more laid back. There was room for everyone. It is still like that in many ways and those friendly exchanges still happen don't get me wrong. But we all have to work a little harder to help keep it that way.
The dynamics of the river have just changed in many ways. The players have changed. A new breed of angler has come to the river. A new generation that has no idea about the history and personalities that have made this river what it is. We all stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us and we can never forget that. The "Me/Entitlement" generation has come and it's effects are far reaching. The youtube and How To videos of the river from a few years ago have literally gone worldwide and the river is seeing pressure like never before. People come more and more to catch fish and that was never the sole reason to fish the North Umpqua. The fish will come when they come if you put in your time. For many the catching of the fish and not the total river experience has become the goal. Turning the river into a self serving steelhead slot machine demeans the sport, the river and the legends that made her great. If you want numbers go to the Deschutes, the GR,Trinity, Klamath or Rogue.
As the years go by, the old guard is slowly dying off and with it go much of the stories, history, ethics, soul and the very fabric that hold the river together. It doesn't have to be that way. Do your part to have pleasant exchanges on the water. The day you save may be your own. Lets try and keep the class and elegance of The North intact. It will take all of us to do it. It's worth it.
Do your part out there and don't spin your wheels..........
Fished with a great friend the other day and fishing was pretty decent. We moved multiple fish and hooked one of them in a couple hours of fishing. A great time for us both to re-connect and relax, enjoying the cool of the evening and some much needed shade.Wet wading, short sleeves, shady lies and dry flies what more can you ask for?
Just got back from a great family adventure on the John Day with Marty and Mia Sheppard and Little Creek Outfitters. All I can say is Marty runs the tightest ship in the business. First class all the way! Unbelievable experience on a great river with a stellar cast of characters. World class swimming, small mouth bass everywhere and a very relaxed family vibe all combined for an amazing time.
We all so appreciate the hard work and dedication that Marty put in to make this trip happen. Even though Marty was technically "off", he was still "on point" and a great host and always made sure his guests had every possible thing they could ever need. It's nice to have cocktail ice when it's 100 degrees out there! It's always a group effort on these trips but having a captain that knows and lives the outfitter experience is key. Marty is that guy.
A great new e magazine showcasing great photography and writing on two handed fishing and casting,
It was the classic comeback fly situation yesterday. Last pool of the day, bottom of the 9th bases loaded. We were fishing a fly we were calling Big Bird, a big yellow skater used as a searching fly. We had fished the run early in the day and had no luck. The afternoon pass through proved to be a good move. Doug fished through the upper section flawlessly, putting Big Bird on the mark and swinging it with a gentle twitch. The fly reached the upper part of the glassy flat where many fish come from and we saw an almost imperceptible splash at the fly. Our eyes were bleary now from watching the fly all day, currents and ripples can sometimes fool ya. Doug said " did you see that?" "That was so small it couldn't have been a steelhead could it'? I said "That was him, for sure!" I said "Throw that same cast out there and see if he takes a poke at it". Doug fires it out and nothing happens as the fly catches a current and pulls through the same spot with a little more pace this time. Nothing........ I grab his line and put on a tiny purple muddler and tell him to shorten up 10 feet. He fires the muddler out and swings it through. Extends 2 feet and sends it through again. Two more feet and through again. After the next 2 feet of line he is back out to 6 feet, still around 4 feet from where the fish showed. This drift comes though and the line snaps tight and the reel starts screaming. There is not a sweeter sound to be heard. The fish was not large but had the heart of a lion and almost left out the bottom of the pool on two occasions. The fish was landed and a very satisfied smile and high five followed for both of us. Picture perfect comeback fly hookup.
Pretty tough fishing out there right now with a lot of hours between action. Not a lot of fish in the river yet. Fish good water well and keep after it and you may just be rewarded.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 1:2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 1:3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 1:5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.
So every year I have places I want to explore on the North Umpqua. Places that I have fished before but have not fished in many years....some are harder to get to places, some are so obvious and people stumble right over them without knowing it. Places rarely fished. You may say to me, "Hey man,everything on the NU in the fly water gets fished and fished a lot" and you would be wrong. Amazingly, there are many runs and holding lies in some of the most crowded and popular sections of the river that rarely see a fly. It's true.
People are creatures of habit and fishermen often even more so. You fish a run a certain way because that is the way it was shown to you or that is how you have seen others fish it. You fish runs the same way after that method is proven to work and fish are found. We rarely break out of a routine or pattern that has been shown to be effective. Despite thoughts to the contrary we should vary from our routine or pattern and seek out other holding lies in that run by changing our approach. Start higher in the run than you normally do, fish lower into and through the tail into the next run. Cast farther, wade deeper, wade shallower, fish close fish far,change cast angles, mend, don't mend. All of these actions may find a fish that was not in the primary holding water. The more fish there are in a given run in the primary spots,the chance of fish holding in these secondary areas will increase dramatically. People will hammer the primary spots and the grabby fish will be plucked out if they are there fairly easily. Meanwhile, there are grabby, willing fish in secondary spots that do not see a fly due to the average fisherman's adherence to routine.
Ever wonder why someone can come in behind you and pick up a fish? There are obviously many reasons for this including but not limited to, a new fish just pulling in, fly pattern,color and size, technique,tactics,line used,skill, and knowledge etc. Sometimes it is sheer luck. But more often than not I believe the reason that the person who picks up a fish behind someone is that the person following watched how and where the first person fished. The person following was aware of how far the person before him was casting where he was standing. He was acutely aware of the cast angle and other factors learned from the preceding fisherman. It is my belief that many times the following fisherman has targeted a fish holding in a secondary lie that the first fisherman did not cover. I think this happens a lot. I know it happens a lot. It has happened to me and I have caught fish behind others by observing and doing something different.
I need to continually re-adjust and rethink the places I fish. Every year,I incorporate long lost runs of yesteryear back into my routine. There is no way I can fish all the runs I know on a regular basis so I rotate runs in and out of my routine based on water levels,crowds,fish counts,weather,and structure changes.This is a key to success and keeping the river fresh and new for me. On a river as popular as the North Umpqua, you will find that exploring new water and targeting secondary holding lies is always a good thing, it will reward the person who persists.
There is more water that holds fish than one could possibly master in a short lifetime. Go out and seek some new areas. Don't follow the sheep around fishing the same runs the same way. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you find, and what you find will include more than just new places to fish. It will include the rich diversity of God's creation, the river, trees,creatures and wilds of a place that many dream about fishing and few get to experience. The exploration and willingness to search to find your own places to fish will make the old river become new again.
That goes for life as well.The willingness to search for the truth in a world full of untruth may also lead you to some amazing discoveries...........
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
See ya out there!