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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 2 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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Soul Survivor

Posted by Mark Saturday, October 25, 2014 8 comments





After reading a recent Drake article about the Thompson River in BC, I reflect back to the North Umpqua and see some definite parallels  The whole game of chasing steelhead has gone from a humble pursuit by a relatively small sector of society to a full on "culture". This culture includes a younger contingency of anglers that don't always have good role models to lead and guide them. Many don't want any help thinking they can do it all on their own. Many can for sure, but critical historical and traditional information can be lost in the process. As that happens, rivers can fall under new unwritten rules and traditions, many times to the detriment of all.

As the "Old Guard" of fishermen slowly slips into obscurity, the new wave of steelheaders charge forward with a completely new mindset. Largely influenced by technology and media, this new wave takes much of it's instruction from the internet and videos. Gone are many of the relationships that are forged through years of on the water mentor-ship. Its an ADD world out there and no one has time to learn by doing anymore. This new culture wants it all and they want it NOW. Shortcuts of all kinds are the norm now not the exception.

Of all the rivers I fish and read about, very few are making the switch gracefully to accommodate this new rush of interest in swinging flies for steelhead. The North Umpqua still stands as a last bastion of angling ethics. Gentlemanly behavior still exists there and people still respect each others space more often than not.  It is one of the few remaining steelhead rivers in the world where it is rare to get low holed. It is this way only because of the history and tradition that has been passed down, through all that have come before. Its that way because many of you, my readers have been diligent in preserving this information by being great examples on the river.

I urge you to take the time to learn the history of the river if you do not know it. If you do know it's history please continue to fish,steward and share this gem with others. We need to keep this good thing going...........

We ALL just need to slow down a little. The good council from an older and wiser person is still desperately needed in this game. We need to be reminded continually how things were done in the past. Old ways still have their merits and often prove more effective in the long run than some newfangled short cut.

The history and ethical behavior that was practiced 50-100 years ago is still relevant today. Those traditions need to be passed on to the new generation. That means it's up to you, whatever river you are on. Learn what you can from that old timer you always see but never talk to. Share a fly and a story with someone who may be just learning.


The rivers and fish are still worth our  honor and respect so lets be good stewards out there OK?

Slow down and relax, and maybe your river will be a Soul Survivor.

 Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,  with this goal in mind,   I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God  in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14




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Serendipitous Splendor (Right Place, Right Time)

Posted by Mark Saturday, September 20, 2014 3 comments


Early Fall Brilliance





I could feel the barometer plummeting  After days and weeks of high pressure, it was gonna rain. I could smell it, you could taste it in the air. The clouds rolled in thicker and heavier. The river took on a whole new look. Gone are the bright, sun drenched runs of early and mid summer.  The ominous cloud cover now provided a much needed cover from that burning orb we call the sun. The colors of fall are starting to display brightly on the riverside vegetation. Trees and bank side brush are starting to turn the brilliant hues of early fall.

I had a little break in the action of my schedule and had a few precious hours to fish, alone and unhindered. The river was surprisingly empty and I drove down river to a favorite stretch of water. The clouds continued to build as did my anticipation for a great evening session of fishing.  There are few things that I ever bank on in this game called steelheading, but tonight I could feel that it was gonna be good. I just had no idea just how good it would be.

A light rain started to fall as I started into my first run.  I lengthened line from the reel with guarded hope as I started into the top of the tail out from my elevated casting station. I love twitching skaters and fish them often but tonight I was fishing a riffle hitched Muddler and was quietly waking the fly with a slow pulse. The fly was hitched straight underneath the head allowing the bushy offering to skitter across the surface like a water skeeter. As I started to hit the far side seam I was letting the fly land, and reach mending upstream to gain tension on the fly. Then under light tension,letting it slowly dead drift down the seam with a high rod position, holding the rod out into the river to keep the line off the near midstream currents. The fly would stall and hold momentarily on the far side of the river as I used the rod to direct its path.

As I was repeating this process I was working a longer and longer line and covering the entire pool from bank to bank. As I got down to a known holding lie, I pitched the fly across, threw a big upstream mend as the line started to tighten which straightened everything out from my high angle position. Then I let the fly dead drift down the seam for 8-10 feet without tension. As the fly was just about to come under tension at the end of the dead drift, a large steelhead came out of the far side shelf and slowly came up and turned on the fly and took it down much like a trout. I saw the whole thing vividly as I was 12 feet off the water at this spot. As often happens, I am always shocked when I see a fish eat a fly like that, even more so on a dead drifted fly. Its so visual I am overcome with the moment I forget that the fish has eaten my fly. This is of course the best thing to do anyway as these fish will hook themselves if you let them. In a split second after the take, the fish had turned on the fly to return to his lie and he is stuck with the fly by the tight line and current tension. Pandemonium ensues as the fish feels cold steel and retreats to the far reaches of the tail out and then going deep in the gut of the run bucking the rod violently as I struggle for control. A short battle and the fish is in front of me in the shallows. A final tail flip and the fly comes out and he is gone, a perfect release for this fish and a great way to start the night. It gets better.......

The rain is falling lightly now. It is warm but I can feel the drastic change in the weather and it hits me full force. After numerous hundred degree days, working hard at various jobs in the field and around the house, it is a glorious respite from the dog days of summer. I am totally satisfied with the night so far and don't really expect much more but I continue to fish. The next run is close and I am in it in minutes. It fishes well but no takers. I move to the next run and my fish radar is going off big time. It feels and looks as fishy as I can remember in a long time. I cover the run easily casting and mending the line in perfect harmony getting the fly to swing and cover the run perfectly as i have done so many times before. As the fly nears the tail and most of the known holding lies, I decide to put another drift down way into the tail, right on the lip of the drop, even beyond the drop and down into the V slick. The muddler is waking powerfully, the speed of the water going out the tail keeping it on a straight and tight tether. The fly is mid way through the deep tail and I start to
move the fly, pointing the rod straight at the fly and jabbing the handle backwards like a pool cue. The muddler skitters and wakes like water on a hot pan........and then Whooooooosh,RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! The reel handle starts spinning at mach speed as it protests the presence of another fish that has mauled the fly at the very last possible spot in the tail. Game on!  Amazingly enough, after trying to leave the pool the fish turns and comes back up over the tail and into the runs. This happens after repeatedly testing all my equipment to the fullest. My knots hold as I put max pressure on the fish and get him into a better position to fight and land. Another short battle and I have fish number two at my feet. The fly is out in a second and the fish slowly slips back into the heart of the run. Stoked is a good way to put my mood at this point.



 Any day you get a fish or two on the surface on the North Umpqua is a great day, in fact its a world class experience. As difficult as the river is to fish and with the crowds of recent years, the dynamics have changed and it has become tougher in many ways. Having almost 30 years on the river now I have seen a lot of those changes first hand. Tonight though, this river seemed new and alive, like I remember in the old days. In those early days, you fished hard and you KNEW you would catch fish or at least have some chances. I had that confidence now. The fish were looking up and they were fired up. The barometer drop had stirred the pot and fish that had been laying low in the pools were now eagerly moving and active. The biological time clock of these fish is precise, small changes in weather and cooling clouds and rain get that clocks alarm to go off. The slightest bit of rain washing down from up high in the drainage of Steamboat Creek can signal fish to move hard and often when those scents from their natal creeks are dispersed into the river.

Walking on air back to the truck I then drive to another run, a run I have fished a bunch this year that has not produced yet. It's hard to fish and I have no idea why I decided to fish it this night but there I was. After a couple fish I thought it best to retie my fly as I had forgotten after the first fish. The battered muddler still looked decent so I kept it on. I riffle hitch the fly again under the  middle of the head behind the eye. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

I start out again at the head of the run. I am casting and fishing with ease, in the zone as they say. Everything is perfect. The fly is waking perfectly my casts are floating out with little effort. I am keyed on the fly, now really expecting something to happen on every drift. I watch intently as the fly arcs repeatedly across the pool, leaving a waking, skittering vapor trail and V-wake in its path. The rain is still falling lightly.........

Again, I am moving the fly slowly as it swings across the pool, pulsing it across the glassy tail, pointing the rod at the fly and working the rod slowly backwards in a rhythmic way. It looks so cool, how could any fish resist that I think to myself as it nears the high rent district of this run. One more cast should put this fly right in the prime real estate. The cast sails out in a tight wedge, turning over perfectly and hitting the water on a tight line, waking immediately, the fly searches diligently for a player as it dances across the surface, hesitating and stalling momentarily mid stream. Then, the fly line catches a puff of water from the swirling current which starts to take the fly quickly out of the middle of the run. As the fly and line are caught by the current, the fly starts to accelerate and ends up ripping across the surface at twice the rate I had been swinging it. This sudden acceleration triggers a vicious take from a fish that was holding in the luxury apartments of this run. I half expect the take where it came from but the suddenness of the strike startles me out of my intense concentration. I was so intent on watching the fly I forgot what to do for a second. Again, these fish will hook themselves if given enough rope to do it with. The old adage of DO NOTHING when a fish takes the fly on the surface rings true once again as the fish turns in the heavy current and places the fly firmly in the corner of its mouth. All of this happens in a split second and I am once again fighting a steelhead. A quick slug fest brings the fish to hand and as I twist the fly out of the fishes mouth, I look heaven ward and think how blessed and thankful I am to be able to fish this majestic river.

The river is devoid of people and I can't quite figure it out......but I ain't complaining. I have seen no one fishing at all and have gotten to fish everything my heart desires to this point. The river is alive and the fish are happy beyond belief. Amazing what that falling barometer will do. You have to be there when the bomb drops.

 Usually I don't go out and stick a bunch of fish before guiding for a couple reasons, One-you just don't go out and stick a bunch of fish on the North very often, that's easy, and Two-you want to find those fish with a client the next day.The way the weather was shaping up, I knew that we would find fish for the next few days no problem so that was my reasoning for staying out. Also, I watch so many people hook fish that I have get out and do it every once in awhile to remember how its done, HA!

Now fish number 4 was pretty cool because it set up fish number 5 for me and a client the next day. I love it when a plan comes together. It was now getting dark and I wanted one last run. Why not, a four fish night on dries was within my grasp and I was gonna make it happen. If ever there was a time to do it it was now. I walk in with high confidence into one of my all time favorite runs. A run that has accounted for probably more fish on the river than any other. One because I fish it a lot, and two because it holds fish most everyday consistently. I decide to switch horses and put on a favorite skater pattern that has a yellow top and is more visible to me in the low light. I work quickly down to the" zone" and twitch the dry lightly through the glass behind the middle holding lie. A fish comes after the fly, once, twice, three, and then four times as the fly comes across the pool. He cleanly misses each time but I know that I have found a player who is gonna eat.  I huck a cast back out after a minute of so on the same flight path, twitch.....twitch........twitch....twitch, its gonna happen for sure.......nothing. Wow, whats up with that? I wait a minute and huck the same cast out again, twitch....twitch......twitch......one rise and a miss, twitch....two rises and a miss....twitch, three rises and a miss.....twitch twitch twitch,,,,,come on eat it will ya!!!!! Fourth rise and the fish eats with a full head and tail flip and the reel is screaming instantaneously. How sweet it is!  I put the wood to this fish, a small wild hen and get her in for a quick release. Wow, how cool is this night I think to myself..........

Having not fully covered the bottom half of the run I look out at the remainder of it and with shaking hands I retie my fly. I step straight out to the lower casting station and start back in short. Covering the water down to the tail I struggle to see my fly in the fading light. I am about to reel in for the night when I get a serious boil and explosion behind the fly. No way!  I send the fly back and nothing happens, Again nothing. I put a muddler through to no avail and leave the run knowing full well where I will be in the morning with my client. I put this one to bed as we say.

I don't need to tell ya the rest of the story but needless to say, we went straight in there in the morning and hooked and landed that fish. I love it when a plans comes together!








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Doing the Right Thing

Posted by Mark Saturday, September 6, 2014 2 comments





Spent a great day with the family on the river yesterday. It didn't start out so well though. We pulled into a great run at first light and much to my disappointment, there was garbage everywhere. Some idiot had left a couple bags of household garbage in the parking lot and the racoons/bears or whatever had it spread everywhere. The garbage can was not even full and the bags would have easily fit inside. ARRRRRGH!!!!!  I sat there for a second totally bummed and knew what I had to do. I couldn't stand the look of it anymore and knew it would get blown around during the day to come. I started to pick up stuff and gather it to throw it away. Dirty diapers, crawdad tails, old fast food bags, it was gnarly! Anyway Debi and the kids jumped in and in short order we all had the place looking good again, and we all felt better. It surely looked better.

Five minutes later after rigging up and putting waders on, we walked down to the run. Debi made about 20 casts and had a good grab. Two casts later she is fast into an aerobatic fish that hit and fought like a freight train. We touched two more fish before the day was over and we left around 4PM

I don't really believe in karma and all that but I do believe in trying to do the right thing when I see something wrong. It was a great opportunity to pass the legacy of stewardship of the North Umpqua along to my kids.They get it......

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The Wall

Posted by Mark Saturday, August 23, 2014 0 comments


 
 I revisited a place the other day that I have not fished in years. It is a place that brings back so many good memories, some of fish and some of the good friends I fished with there. There are literally dozens of these places on the river, places I used to fish that go in and out of favor for years then get worked back into the routine. You would think that on a river as easy to access as the North Umpqua, there are no more hidden gems. You would be wrong. There is no way to fish all the paces I know on the river every year. It's just not possible. It takes me years sometimes to go back and revisit the old haunts and slowly add them one by one back into the rotation. In doing so other runs must be left alone for awhile as I try to fish these rediscovered runs again consistently for a season or two. It involves really spending the time to get to know these old friends again and finding the key that unlocked their secrets so long ago.

Many of these places are above Steamboat Creek where the river has always held a bit more mystery. The river drops away from the road and trails and pullouts are harder to find. Surprisingly, many of these places are in the lower fly water below Steamboat. Places that people are often very close to and may fish occasionally but in general are seldom fished. I see it year after year, people get locked into the old tried and tested spots and overlook spots that are right under their noses. The tried and tested spots,yes they work, but when fish are pressured, finding those smaller runs and pockets that seldom see a fly are what separates those that catch fish from those that do not.

So get out there and revisit some of those places you once fished. Approach them with confidence and in doing so you can make a river that may at times seem routine and boring, new again. As you explore, trust me,you will continue to find new water and new ways to approach that water.

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We love this river and these fish. Come on out and help to keep their habitat pristine


As many of you long time North Umpqua fisherman know, every day is river clean up day. I know many of you clean up garbage along the river as a normal course of action during your time here on the river. This is great so keep it up. Luckily, garbage is not an extreme problem on the river but I for one do not like to see any in the fly water and always pick up stuff that other inconsiderate people have left behind.That being said, the Steamboaters organize a formal river clean up one day every year to really address and clean up in a major way.  This day is coming up soon and any and all that want to be a part can attend and help.

This year the clean up will begin at 9:30 AM at the Bogus Creek pull out. We meet gather into pairs and spread out for a couple hours and pick up trash etc. After that, a BBQ will commence at the Susan Creek Day use area. This is for fishers and non-fishers alike. It will be a good chance to learn a bit about the Steamboaters and what they do.I urge you to support the Steamboaters as they are doing great things for the fish and river and are a great group. For more info go to the Steamboaters page and learn more.  

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Tag Team

Posted by Mark Monday, July 14, 2014 1 comments



Had a great evening session with a good friend the other night. We fished a few pools and rose and hooked fish in several of them. The highlight was a tag team approach to a fish I had risen twice to a waking fly. I switched to a smaller wet fly and the fish would have nothing to do with it. My buddy had on a similar dry fly  and was in a slightly lower angle to the fish than I was so I had him put his pattern through. His cast to the fish was a bit more straight across and this provided a little different look to the fish. His first cast was right on the money and the fish hammered it with a vicious surface grab. The fish took line and headed for the tail and came off after a short battle. Super cool all the same and it goes to show that this game can be a team sport if you are willing to try different things and are OK with someone else getting the hook up.

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Skate it

Posted by Mark Monday, July 7, 2014 3 comments

Fellow North Umpqua guide and good friend Tony Wratney getting it done.



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Thanks for Supporting Catch and Release

Posted by Mark Tuesday, June 10, 2014 1 comments

Thanks all for the letters and comments and attending the meetings for the Coastal Management Plan. The CMP passed with flying colors. There will be no killing of wild fish on the Umpqua drainage for a period of 12 years. However, there may be still unrest over this issue in the next few years and we need to stay vigilant and pay attention to what's going on with the public opinion.

On another note there are regulations in place which still allow wild fish to be killed on several other rivers, I believe the MF, and SF Coquille and Sixes are still allowing wild steelhead harvest. I would like to see the harvest of wild fish stopped on those rivers as well. The Umpqua was a big hurdle to jump but these smaller rivers also need protecting. I am surprised that no one rallied for those rivers at any of the the many meetings that were held. They kind of slipped through the cracks.Maybe we can continue to pressure those areas for Catch and Release for all wild fish. 12 years is too long to experiment with such a fragile population.

 Treat Them Kind!

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We Need Your Voice!

Posted by Mark Friday, May 23, 2014 2 comments

This is not over yet! We have to stand up one last time to ensure that a wild kill on steelhead does not happen on the Umpqua River. Please attend this meeting in Salem to help support wild fish and stop a potential last minute addition of wild kill on steelhead to the Coastal Management Plan. This is the big one! If you can't attend please write letters to the commission voicing your support of a no kill on wild fish in the Umpqua Drainage.

Address letters to: Att: Commissioners
 Oregon Department of Fish And Wildlife
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE Salem Or 97302


ACTION ALERT

The Fish & Wildlife Commission will adopt the Coastal Management Plan for salmon & steelhead at their meeting on June 6 in Salem (Note that DOFW has a new location in Salem, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive; map and driving directions on ODFW’s website http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/directions/).  

Although it’s not included in the CMP, we expect a large vocal contingent to attend requesting the plan be amended to include harvest of wild winter steelhead.


Please attend if you can to support the current no-kill regulation. If you can’t attend, please send an email odfw.commission@state.or.us or letter to the Commission opposing any harvest of wild steelhead on the Umpqua River.

Your message can be very simple. You can also include any of the following issues to support your position, but it’s important to get the basic message across: No harvest of wild steelhead in the Umpqua Basin.

1. This is the last, best wild steelhead run in the United States, a world-famous fishery characterized by uniquely large fish as recognized in the CMP. Sound management requires caution with such a resource.

2. ODFW relies on their 2004 Biological Assessment to support harvest. Based on admittedly sketchy data, they estimate a run of 30,000 - 35,000 wild steelhead with over half coming from mainstem Umpqua River tributaries. Neither ODFW nor BLM can identify the tributaries with sufficient high quality rearing habitat to produce the half-million smolts needed for this estimated return (and it likely doesn’t exist).

3. Pending Federal legislation would transfer management of O&C lands currently administered by BLM to state control, under the provisions of Oregon's Forest Practices Act. This will result in additional deterioration of fish habitat in mainstem Umpqua River tributaries

4. Climate change will have a disproportionately high impact on the upper Umpqua Basin for both flow levels and temperatures. As the only Cascade Mountains rivers in the CMP, the Umpqua headwaters depend on snowpack for summer flows, and snowpack is diminishing - note the recent news articles about record low snowpack in Crater Lake, the source for much of the North Umpqua summertime flows.

5. Given the budgetary problems ODFW is facing, they cannot identify the current state of wild steelhead or adequately monitor impacts from harvest combined with these other factors. This isn't the time to increase pressure on the best wild run in the US.


Thanks For Your Support!


Mark


ODFW Home | Driving Directions | Employee Directory | Social Media | Oregon.gov | File Formats4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE :: Salem, OR 97302 :: Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW [6339] Do you have a question or comment for ODFW? Contact ODFW's Public Service Representative a…
www.dfw.state.or.us

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Battle Royal

Posted by Mark Friday, May 2, 2014 2 comments

 

 Parting shot (* note red fly being thrown right as the shot was taken)


I never really got to tell this story and it is worth telling.......

I had the opportunity to fish with Marty Sheppard on the Sandy recently. The last few years April Fools day has been our day. A time to reconnect and a time for Marty to unwind a little from a grueling winter schedule and get in some much needed fishing time for himself. It's always a fun day on the river and we always seem to find a fish or two. It is an unhurried and mellow vibe as Marty is always gracious with his knowledge of the river and how to fish it.This trip was no different but stood out as special because of one particular encounter.

Another good friend of Marty's was along for the ride today and we all had a great time blabbing about various topics from skiing to fishing to families as we made our way to the put in to drop the boat. Laughing and hearing great stories was the goal of the day. Fishing was the glue that held us all together and kept those stories and laughter coming all day. The fish would do whatever the fish do.....

There was no one at the ramp and it was just starting to get light. Water levels and clarity were perfect and we all had high but realistic hopes that we would find a fish on this day.

Marty is so gracious with his friends that he often tries to put us in the best water all day, that's cool but I want him to fish as well and we have to argue with him to get him to fish sometimes. I love to watch  people fish their own rivers and learn valuable lessons every time I do. Both Steve and I were gonna make sure that Marty got to fish and insisted that he fish first water. That first run produced a solid yank for Marty but his hook had become fouled somehow during the cast and drift and he reeled in to find the hook cleanly around the eyes of the hook rendering the fly useless for hooking purposes. Hey it happens!  I followed behind with another fly to see if we could get another sniff, no such luck.

I think we fished one more run and then came to a weird tail out that is hard to fish. It looked perfect and Steve and I both told Marty "You fish it Marty, it's all you! Marty did his usual, "Are you sure?" We both said "Yes! We're sure! Now get your butt out there and fish it"! Marty says sheepishly, "OK, if you guys insist"

He steps out of the boat and into a spot perched away from the shore. A difficult and deep wade at this water level.  Steve rows the boat into the shore and we watch Marty from there masterfully cast and swing line, getting closer and closer to the bucket. Steve and I are watching from shore and can see he is just about into the prime holding water. Marty sends a lazer beam out and towards the far reaches of the tail out and Steve and I look at each other, Steve says " That was the one right there" Sometimes you just know when you are about to see someone hook up. Both of us standing on the bank had that feeling, I can't explain it but it only comes around every so often. The fly swings slowly, we watch Marty and his every movement waiting for any indication that a fish has struck his fly. The fly swings into the juice of the bucket, nothing has happened, Marty stands like a statue. Then slowly, ever so slowly we see Marty's rod hand move slightly as he slowly directs the rod to the bank. Still nothing happens and no sign from Marty that anything is actually happening.( As we would learn later, Marty said the fish was just chewing on the fly forever but would not turn with it)  With the kind of patience that only comes with experience, Marty waits for that eternity to pass before the fish has turned on the fly and hooks himself. This was not a situation where striking the fish was gonna work. The line was tight, there was a bit of weight but he could tell that the fish was swimming and chewing on the fly and a quick set would have been the wrong move.  After what seemed like a minute we finally see the rod go vertical as he raises the rod. He had a ton of line out and at the initial hookup it was hard to see what size of fish he had encountered. We saw a disturbance in the tail as the fish broke water. Still looking for clues as to the size of the fish we watch as Marty tries to keep a tight line on this fish as it is well aware of it's predicament now. Then we see the long low arc of the rod reaching to the cork, flat lining, indicating a large fish. The big, slow throbs of the rod confirm to us that this is no ordinary fish. We watched from the bank as the fish decides to find another gear and leave the playing field, holding temporarily at the end of the tail before plunging downstream into the rapids below.

We yell to Marty " You need us to come get ya ?" already knowing the answer as he is in a closeout wading position and will be swimming if he tries to go down or towards shore. We jump in the boat and Steve gets us out to Marty and I grab the rod from him as he scrambles aboard on the fly as we have no anchor. Steve gets the boat to shore and we pull it in. Marty jumps out and resumes fighting the fish. The fish is pissed off and taking line, finding refuge in the various deep pockets between the rapids. Chasing this fish will be hard as wading is sketchy at best and there is a lot of stream side vegetation to maneuver around. We all lend a hand passing the rod back and forth in and through willows and alders, wading nipple deep in the fast pocket water and over logs as we follow the fish downstream. All of us have had the rod and felt the power of this fish and it is awesome! We finally get through the worst of the bank obstructions and Marty grabs the rod to make a stand in a small bay. It's now or never and Marty pressures the fish as hard as he dares testing the limits of his tackle and terminal gear. The fish finally tires slightly and it's time to get a look at this thing. Multiple times the fish is right out in front of us and then gives a couple tail wags and is gone into the depths yet again. Marty puts the wood to the fish one last time in an effort to make something happen, he's fighting this fish hard. Really the whole fight from the time we picked him up in the boat to this point way down the bank has lasted  maybe 5-6 minutes. The fish rolls onto it's side and we get to see the true girth of the fish. An amazing wild buck in the upper teens, possibly into the low 20lb mark. Just a mammoth specimen that is perfect in every way. Steve grabs the line and slowly the fish comes to hand. He goes to grab the tail and it is just too big to get a hold of securely. The fish wags that tail a couple times and Steve valiantly hangs onto it with one hand like a bull rider trying to hang on for the full 8 seconds. He gets to about 4 seconds and the fish gives a mighty flip of his powerful body and Steve is bucked off and left in the dust. With that final tail flip the hook pops free and the fish heads for the deep.

We are all left awed and humbled to have seen a wild fish of this magnificence. It was Marty's first fish of the year and it was a beauty. As we slowly walked back to the boat reliving the battle,  Marty says " Aren't you guys glad ya brought me?" He's joking of course as we were his guests but this is Marty's humor. This was no doubt probably followed by a slap or a shoulder punch from both Steve and I but yes Marty, we were glad, so glad we brought you!






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Tucks Flies

Posted by Mark Thursday, April 24, 2014 2 comments



I am blessed to be acquainted with many great fly tiers and wanted to highlight another one that is top notch. Dave Tucker ties some of the most beautiful flies I have ever seen, the fly above is a shining example. Dave has been a commercial tier and fishing guide for decades and has a consistency,style and innovation that is rarely seen these days. As a fisherman himself, he knows what works for most anything that swims and he adds the extra soul that makes these flies a cut above the rest. He ties all styles and sizes from trout to steelhead as well as Atlantic Salmon classics,Speys and Dee's. He will custom tie flies for presentation or display as well. Check out this site Tucks Flies and have your mind blown.  










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Fly Art

Posted by Mark Friday, April 18, 2014 1 comments





A couple Scott Travis tied beauties. Always good to see him on the river, especially when he is bearing gifts like these.


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Fish Net and Fly Tying Box

Posted by Mark Saturday, April 12, 2014 1 comments

There has been some interest of late on some of these so I wanted to post the info again. Spring is coming on and trout season is almost here.These make great fathers day gifts for sure.

Boxes are alder or fir and inner storage trays are African mahogany and cedar. The nets are 59 1/2 inches long with a 56 inch hoop and are Jatoba,hickory and ash and are done with the rubber fish friendly ghost netting material. Net depths of 18 and 24 inches can ordered. They will hold a steelhead!

 I have had one of the fly tying boxes for a few years and love it. Holds a ton of stuff and the fold out table supports a vice. Great for the campsite or back of the pick up tailgate. When you need to whip up a few flies in a pinch along side the river, this is the ultimate answer.You could easily hold most anything you would need to tie winter or summer flies anywhere,anytime.

Boxes and nets are both priced at $210.00


If anything interests you please call the maker Chuck directly at 541-420-1918 or email me at riverflyguide@gmail.com  or leave a comment below and I can get you in contact with the maker for further details and pricing.
















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Night on the River

Posted by Mark Wednesday, April 9, 2014 1 comments



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Dropping In

Posted by Mark Friday, March 28, 2014 1 comments



Dropping In





The rain it dumps the rain it pours,

The rivers are rising bar the door

The graphs we watch the sky we search

We view the river from a dry perch

We wonder where the water goes

Will the ocean receive these awesome flows?

The sea accepts and sends them back

In perfect form the next storm track

And on these rises steelhead swim

To find their way to where they begin

The cycle revolves around again

The highs the lows you know not when

Then it finally stops, that rain on tin

Grab your rod it's dropping in......




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In The Trees

Posted by Mark Friday, March 7, 2014 0 comments

Water levels have been all over the board as of late and finding quality fishing levels has been difficult. The low waters of earlier in the winter have been replaced by the continuing flush of rain and snow melt. The fish are moving hard now into the North Fork and can finally rest a little, escaping the relentless pursuit of anglers from the main stem. This high water allows fish movement past much of the bait water and hopefully the relative quiet of the fly-water. Timing as always is everything, and being in the right place at the right time when the water drops is crucial. I love the unpredictability of this time of year and love to feel the warmer water and see the big fish that water brings. Its always a roll of the dice but the rewards are worth it.







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Saturday Cartoon Time

Posted by Mark Saturday, February 22, 2014 0 comments


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Just Say No!

Posted by Mark Monday, January 13, 2014 3 comments

Once again the idea of wild winter fish kill on the Umpqua drainage is on the table. Below is all the info from the Caddis Fly Blog. Get out to a meeting, comment and support a no kill position.  We need all ya to get out there and speak. All our voices together will be heard.

 

ODFW seeks comment on plan for six coastal salmon and trout species

Some of you may recognize the plan outlined below, in an article we ran five years ago. Well, it’s coming to fruition, and now is your chance to comment.

Via ODFW: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host six public open houses in January to solicit public comment on a draft management plan for six coastal salmon and trout species.

chrome steelhead
The draft Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan describes the conservation status of these species and outlines a suite of actions related to harvest and hatchery programs, predators, and habitat to sustain these species and improve overall fishing. The goal is to better balance risks to wild fish populations by being conservative in some areas while also increasing fishing and harvest opportunities in others.

The species and area for the plan include spring and fall chinook, chum salmon, winter and summer steelhead, and coastal cutthroat trout along much of the Oregon coast (from Cape Blanco to Seaside).
The draft plan was developed with input, compromise and consensus from four stakeholder teams distributed along the coast whose members represented recreational and commercial fishing interests, local watershed councils, conservation groups, resource producers, local government and Native American tribes.
In addition, the department conducted an opinion survey of anglers and non-anglers about their general views regarding fishing in Oregon and wild fish conservation, and received informal feedback from other individuals and groups, such as independent scientists and volunteer groups from the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program.

According to Tom Stahl, ODFW’s Conservation and Recovery Program Manager, all of this input was used to help develop the draft plan and the Department is now seeking additional input from the public before finalizing recommendations to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission later this spring.

The dates, locations and times for the public open houses are:
January 16 – Salem – ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, 6-9 p.m.
January 21 – Tillamook – Tillamook County Library Meeting Room, 1716 3rd St., Tillamook, 6-9 p.m.
January 23 – Newport – Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn, 3019 N. Coast Hwy., Newport, 6-9 p.m.
January 27 – Roseburg – Douglas County Library Meeting Room, 1409 NE Diamond Lake Blvd., Roseburg, 6-9 p.m.
January 28 – North Bend/Coos Bay – North Bend Community Center, 2222 Broadway St., North Bend, 6-9 p.m.
January 29 – Reedsport – Reedsport Community Center, 451 Winchester Ave., Reedsport, 6 -9 p.m.


“The Coastal Multi-Species Plan is the agency’s first attempt to create a management plan for multiple species that are not listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act and for which the State of Oregon has a fair amount of management flexibility due to the relative good health of the populations,” Stahl said.
The Plan takes a portfolio approach where, for example, a hatchery program change on one stream to protect wild fish could be balanced by an expanded hatchery program on a nearby stream.


“We realize it’s unrealistic to expect that every river will be everything to everybody,” Stahl said. “So instead we are trying to create a portfolio of varied management actions throughout the Coastal planning area, balancing reduced conservation risk to wild fish with increased fishing opportunity in different locations.”
Some key elements of the draft plan include:

-Increases fishing opportunities – for example, total hatchery releases will increase 5 percent.
-Provides more protection to wild fish by clearly identifying areas that will not have hatchery programs.
-Proposes harvest opportunities for wild steehead in three new areas among the 19 basins with steelhead.
-Proposes two new spring chinook hatchery programs in Yaquina and Coos bays.
-Proposes managing wild coho, chinook, and spring chinook harvest on a sliding scale that increases or decreases the number of fish that can be retained based on anticipated returns.
-Calls for anglers and guides to provide more data for use in management through the mandatory return of harvest tags and a pilot program asking guides to keep logbooks of harvest.
-Identifies actions to address the threat that marine mammal, bird and non-native fish predators pose to wild and hatchery salmon and trout, as well as the overall fishing experience.
-Provides guidance on how to prioritize habitat restoration and protection efforts, but relies on local groups to continue working under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds to identify the necessary projects and best areas to work in their local basins.

Members of the public will find the draft plan on the ODFW website at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/CRP/coastal_multispecies.asp, and can comment on the plan at a public open house, or by sending written comments to ODFW.CoastalPlan@state.or.us by February 10, 2014.
There will be additional opportunity for public comment when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission considers the plan at two future meetings: March 7 in Tigard and April 25 in North Bend.

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Wood Working Wonders

Posted by Mark Saturday, January 4, 2014 1 comments

I just wanted to share some beautiful wood working with you all. A good friend has been making these portable fly tying boxes and nets for awhile and they are first rate. Boxes are alder or fir and inner storage trays are African mahogany and cedar. The nets are 59 1/2 inches long with a 56 inch hoop and are Jatoba,hickory and ash and are done with the rubber fish friendly ghost netting material. Net depths of 18 and 24 inches can ordered. They will hold a steelhead!

 I have had one of the fly tying boxes for a few years and love it. Holds a ton of stuff and the fold out table supports a vice. Great for the campsite or back of the pick up tailgate. When you need to whip up a few flies in a pinch along side the river, this is the ultimate answer.You could easily hold most anything you would need to tie winter or summer flies anywhere,anytime.

Boxes and nets are both priced at $210.00


If anything interests you please email me at dryfly@bendbraodband.com  or leave a comment below and I can get you in contact with the maker for further details and pricing.
















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