In this episode, Dylan Rose and I welcome our good and long time friend Coach Duff or Terry as we love to call him to the show to discuss the state of Hawaiian bonefish, guiding and anything else that might or might not pertain to it. Enjoy by clicking the picture above.
As before, please keep in mind this is for entertainment and contains some sarcasm as necessary to deal with the pressures for our lifestyles.
First I will apologize for the giant delinquency in our blog posting to the 7 of you who read this. While 16 of us have access to post, I and occasionally a few others actually get around to putting what is on their mind to keyboard, sorry for that as well.
I just spent 2 weeks in Bolivia at Tsimane Lodge pursuing, yep you guessed it by the scales above, Golden Dorado!! And Pacu if you find them fascinating enough to take your mind off the antics of these brilliantly colored eating/killing machines!!
I have done my fair share of fishing around the world and have come to conclusions on what I really enjoy; small group sizes, good/great guiding and food, comfortable enough lodging and an experience that is representative of the culture you are traveling to. This place is IT baby!!!
Imagine if you will sight casting to fish like this, upwards of mid 20 pound range, some even larger actually in water the size of let’s say, the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie, South Fork of the Boise, Metolious, San Miguel, Rock Creek, etc. You know what I am talking about, small streams where stealth is important to catching trout of 14-18 inches and instead, when you peak over a rock, you are slapped in the retina with a 15+pound fish. Not just any fish either, one that jumps multiple times and typically well over 4 feet out of the water and one that also requires the use of at least 30# wire to the fly and not even that guarantees you are landing it – AWESOME!
What the wire should tell you is to keep your freaking digits WAY away from its mouth and yet that not so subtle indicator escapes many, yet this isn’t always the fault of the angler as these fish can actually turn their body around enough to bite their tail if they wanted to which makes a last second shot at your hand as it leaves pretty easy work. It just makes even the release a bit more exciting.
Tsimane Lodge is actually 2 and soon to be 3 camps in 3 regions of Bolivia with access to some of the most beautiful jungle meandering streams you can imagine. The camps are located along the rivers, close enough that as you fall asleep at night you can easily make out the voracious Dorado feasting on the Savalo (perch like fish) all night along the banks. It actually makes falling asleep a bit tough, that and the numerous insects that want a piece of you for their dinner and they make fast work of you too. Don’t dream of coming here without serious Deet.
This takes all but about 2-3 minutes without bug repellent, seriously!
The view from the first camp at Asunta.
What was left a a Savalo after a brief feeding frenzy. This fish was 14 inches long.
After looking at this shot, pretty sure they about 100 or more teeth in that mouth.
Here is a good look at a 20 pounder, certified by boga.
If you can actually tire of such fly angling, surface poppers across fast water or big streamers though the obvious looking water where any fish in its right mind would be, then there are the Pacu. Considered, and are, the toughest of the species to target down there, they are much like a freshwater permit in shape and attitude towards flies not representative of what they want. Spooky too just make sure all parallels are in tact.
This one was kind enough to fall for my lack luster skills. While they do like to run and put up one hell of a tug of war, for me, Dorado are king here.
While Pacu will take small streamers, this seems to be their preferred food, good luck with that.
One more thing to keep in mind for this trip, actually a couple. This is a culturally immersed trip as you spend each and every day with at least one if not two of the native people from the area as “hosts” but in fact, if they could speak English or rather when they can, they will be guiding you. They can spot fish that you swear there is no way they are there, I mean in 8ft of murky water from 75 feet away type stuff, bonefishing would be cinch for these guys. On my down time, with my broken Spanglish, I would teach some of these guys some new knots, share some flies and otherwise laugh at the others when they would pooch nice fish. One of my favorite memories from here is watching these guys on “point” helping one of us spot a big Pacu. When the angler would get a take they would jump up and down and when the fish would be lost, they would throw a rock or jump up and down again. What a rich experience to watch their enthusiasm rub off on all of us.
Secondly is that you will want to be fit for this trip. Spending all day in the sun on a flats boat, being poled around or slowly and carefully walking a flat is NOTHING until you have hiked over uneven boulders and rocks for miles, carrying your fishing gear (and 30 pound camera case for me) in the same tropical conditions. Casting big heavy flies only to strip them back as fast as possible only stopping to hike even further from point of origin to the next spot, then repeat. We drank water as fast as we could and one day when it was particularly hot, after 10 bottles of water each at least, none of us took a leak. Sweat just poured out of us as fast as we could put liquids back in. Just another reason it is called adventure travel!
All in all I am still blown away by the fact that a fish like the golden Dorado exists on our planet. Any angler that enjoys the hunt, the pursuit of a fish would find this nothing short of life changing. This was simply the most thrilling angling experience I have ever endured and can’t wait to go back. Even watching others as much as I did was spine tinging, just waiting for what lay ahead on the next cast, around the next boulder.
Brings me full circle back to steelheading now that I think about it… welcome home!
As fall arrives in our region, some anglers begin to feel a bit anxious, almost hormonal in a way. It’s the change in the air as we walk downtown to work or while trout fishing one day late in the summer, we can smell it, even sense the change of season upon us.
It is fall and my absolute favorite time of year to fish and not only fish but to swing flies, both dry and wet for steelhead.
For some, it is the time of year when they will marginally consider going out fly fishing, only if the weather is “cooperative.” For those anglers it is the last chance at a steelhead for the year as they won’t endure the winter conditions to pursue these fish, their disease hasn’t set in — yet!
Fall steelheading is pure serenity on the water. Cast, mend and step, watch the line swing, or not, take a deep breath and feel the cool crisp fall air deep in your lungs — repeat. Paying more attention on the next one because you know you are headed for the bucket or something grazed your line on the last pass, nearly impreceptible in this perfect piece of water, a mere hesitation that brought you back to your senses.
As those of us who are hosts or carriers of this affliction/affection for steelhead wander or sprint our way into this time of year, we inevitably question ourselves on every facet of the pursuit. This is the game and we love it. It drives many nuts to even open this proverbial can of worms with someone like us because there are no absolutes with one exception — you must be in the water with your fly to even have a chance, this we can all agree on.
I don’t wish to delve into the minutiae of the rest, only want to open a door here for those who haven’t yet had it cracked. Without question, this time of year will drive those whose heart is not owned by a particular river insane — way too many choices!
May favorite question from my regular and new clients is “Where should we go to get a steelhead?” My mind says “HOLY CRAP, did you really just ask that!” Because I can only come up with about 20 absolutely beautiful, serene, sexy, fantasmical (word unsure?) rivers to watch water pass on. Especially if 7 hours drive isn’t too much and for those afore mentioned anglers, this is not a problem.
I think you get the point and the scary prospect is this barely scratches the surface. Imnaha, Clearwater, Rogue, Willamette, Toutle, Wenatchee, Methow, Klickitat, Sol Duc, Salmon, Kalama…if it happens to be a tributary to or even a trib to a tributary of the Columbia or any of these other rivers, it likely has steelhead in it this time of year. And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t catch steelhead on the swing in these either, you can you just have to actually do it. Please do not let someone tell you they are going to have you swing then after an hour of half hearted effort be like, “Well, good thing you have that long rod because it sure makes managing your indicator easy from the boat!” Choose your path and stick to it, make it a mission and it will happen.
One item to note, so as not to make it even worse, I haven’t even mentioned leaving the U.S. to the north, even I can’t take it once we bring those lovely waters into the picture.
“Where is this?” you ask. Anywhere you want it to be, you just have to get yourself there!
This is as good as it gets and is the future of our industry. Not only blogging but virtual magazines that encapsulate our industry, speaking to what is current and also paying homage to what it once was and always will be.
Creative and provocative photography, articulate and thoughtfully woven threads of our language that when together open minds and intrigue readers — they move and inspire us.
What is unreal is they are free, you just have to sign up for their monthly or quarterly email. When delivered, like this past week when 3 of the best all came nearly at once, you will be whisked away, time will feel captured and still but will past instantaneously.
— 10 and 2 has a wonderfully written piece on our friend Dec Hogan
— This is Fly has Coach Duff – RAW baby – photographed by our other EWA pal and online staffer Blake McHenry
— Catch features friend and killer photographer Aleksandar Vrtaric
Here are some of our favorites:
My personal favorite reason for subscribing to these is their undeniable, virtually invisible carbon footprint on our environment, that very same one we love to hike, fish, photograph in.
For this reason alone, everyone should be supportive.
As the summer season prepares to bid us adieu and in our case it seems quite hastily, I reflect upon all the memorable days on the water, good and bad. Thankfully there are rarely bad ones and even the few of those are really only bad in my mind, clients were very happy even when the fish didn’t get the email/fax/me screaming at them.
On some of those days, and for you other guides (especially winter steelhead guides) or even anglers who have promised the world to someone, or expected it and it just never materialized, there is always a point in the day where instruction gets old, the 6 pack of Guiness/PBR/Olympia/Fat Tire is gone, all safe conversational topics have been covered
Fish are rising but person can’t set the hook or get a fly to them or fish have vacated the river, one of the two anyway and the silence could easily be break your hand if you punched it, yeah, that thick and the “Why do fish jump?” quip was pulled from the bag long ago. No need to remind them, again!
10 years ago or more, myself and another shop employee were working at the Telluride Angler during off season, a deathly position there, that time of year as water is in perfect shape and all tourists are gone. So not only do you not get to talk about fishing with anyone, you don’t get to fish either. Thumbing through a catalog, Dan found these and we ordered one or two for the shop as jokes. It was AWESOME! At first we stuck it on the manequin out front of the shop on main street and since it has a remote control, we could let it go from clear inside the shop and watch everyone’s reactions. We sold over 700 of those in just under 2 months!!
I kept one with me on the Gunnison for awhile for just those moments, you know, these guys had booked the Salmonfly Hatch a year in advance are currently in the process of missing it by 3 days. Pissed they are but tension was well relieved when I started complaining that I didn’t feel well…and had to let it all go.
Here is the greatest thing about this…wait, there is way more than just one great thing, according to the packaging there are now 15 different emanations documented here. So the 16th best thing to keep it real is just turn it on around people with cell phones because they randomly set it off without warning!
My daughter LOVES it, wanted to take it to school for show and tell. I was about half way to school with her when mom threatened a number of things, we were both disappointed!
Take this for what it is, potty humor, if you really dig it though, there is a great book my daughter found, she is almost 5 by the way, here are the links to both:
I understand this isn’t for everyone, good guides will know who they can use it on and who they can’t. For those who know me, this post will come as no surprise and for those who don’t, I would be able to tell if it wasn’t appropriate, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still do it just once though!!
Happy fall fishing everyone.
Every once in a while a truly inspired fly pattern is developed. The Parachute Adams, the Elk Hair Caddis, the San Juan Worm. Ok maybe not the last one but here’s a pattern Charlie Robinton developed late last night that should be added to every fly box in the country:
Hook: Size 10 Daiichi 1170
Thread: Yellow 6/0
Body: Pink post-it-note strip cut “feathered”
Antennae: Pink Post-it-Note
Tying Aid: 1 fifth Tequila (Reposado works well) and limes
To tie this fly start by drinking the bottle of tequila. Now that your mind is nice and focused find some post-it-notes. Cut a strip off the bottom of the note 1/2 inch wide. Careful, don’t cut yourself, those scissors are sharp and the paper won’t stop moving. Now figure out how your vice works and put a hook in it. No, don’t put the hook in your finger, put it in the vice. Right. Wrap some yellow thread on the hook. Now, find the strip of post it note and make a bunch of cuts most of the way through the strip along its length. If you think that’s complicated now try doing it after step 1. Got that done? Cool. Tie one end of the strip onto the hook close to the bend and advance the thread forward. Wrap the post-it forward so the little tabs you made stick out but point backwards. Think cactus-meets-caddis. Tie it off when you get to the front. Add a couple antennae made from two little pieces of post-it. Throw a few half hitches over the eye. Now go reward yourself with a beer or six!
So we know it is a part of our job, a job we have chosen to dabble our foot in or more like plug our nose and jump in the abyss with both feet. This isn’t so much a complaint as much as a plead, to several entities out there, some in our world and almost completely capable of our control and others not so much, or maybe they are one and the same, who knows!
First the ones I think we have control of. If as an angler you hear your fly hit your rod, please stop casting! I understand that when the fly is small and of the dry fly sorts, the sound of it striking the rod tip may not be as audible as a 3 split shot rig with 2 heavy flies. So there is some considerations here.
Secondly, though, when you notice your fly has struck the rod and IS stuck to it, PLEASE don’t think that with 3 seconds of high speed gyration that it will magically come undone, in fact it doesn’t. Image above was the residual effects of just this sort of remedy for an errant cast, an HOUR after the client had tried to untangle it, with utmost delicacy I will add. Don’t take this as complete sarcasm, there is a degree of admiration here for the fortitude shown in their effort. However, this is what we would label simply as a “start over!”
A quick snip or two, a few lightning fast double surgeons and maybe just one improved clinch this time and voi la, we are fishing again!!
Lastly, can someone, Einstein maybe, just explain to me the physics or maybe more simply the nature of how a line with only one open end on it can manage to create such a debacle? That is really all I ask, this and that my daughter live a full, happy and healthy life.
While on the water, these little fiascos ignite nervous laughter from all parties, we guides sweat them a bit because we know that if they show up early in the day, more are sure to come and here are some of the common reasons why:
1. Wind always comes up later in the day
2. Long days with few fish make for more frantic casters
3. Wives outfishing their husbands, sometime the other way around but not usually
4. Desperation on guides part to get that one big fish of the day and salvage a tip
5. Similar to what many significant others are accused of in malfunctioning relationships, guides fall victim as well… WE KNOW WE CAN CHANGE THEM, MAKE THEM BETTER PEOPLE
6. Picking up the rig with too much slack line, guide watches in slow-mo as theee ennntttirrrree ssseett–uuupp hhhiiittsss ttheeeee rrodddd…
7. Person in front or back makes concerted and admirable effort to cast over opposite shoulder, afternoon wind kicking up, tired and so on…
8. Stopping for lunch…it does give us a bit of time to recollect our composure and start anew but…the inevitability of it all!
9. Certainly the only one we like to see and that is the missed hook set on a fish immediately followed by another forward cast…
In the end, we love it or we wouldn’t keep doing it. However, the end of the day can send some into a deep and dark place where the only remedy, the only solace is the sunlight on their face, “late rent” notice stuck to their door and the need to get out and change another angler for the better, because we CAN!!!
Probably the worst of it all, way more so than any of the above mentioned tidbits is that we can almost always see it coming, way before it happens. It’s as though we can see the future and yet can’t do anything to stop it. Aside from acts or gestures that would land us in the drink or jail or both.
Really though, thank you to all who hire guides, we DO love ya! For those who don’t or can’t handle the afore mentioned menialities of the sport and profession, they are likely short for our world anyway so chalk up your $400 or so bucks to helping them find a new job sooner rather than later.
There seems to be a theme here, many fly anglers have their hands in the wine making business as we will continue to show over the coming months.
This month, Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards located in the infamous Dundee region of Oregon gets the nod. Don Lange, owner and winemaker, swung for steel with my dad on the Deschutes awhile back and happens to also produce one of my favorite wines with bottles adorned with traditional Atlantic Salmon flies.
Next time at the grocery store, swing by and pick up the Pinot Noir or the Pinot Gris Reserve and look a bit more closely at who you are following down through Wagenblast as it may just be Don!
“I just launched my Fishing Dog Photo Contest, which should be a lot of fun. Who knows what images I might see. Grand prize is a Loop OPTI spey rod and matching Speedrunner reel. Worth what? About $1,200 retail. I threw this rod the other day and it launches. Other prizes are coming from Hatch, Yellowdog, Bug Slinger, Smith, fishpond, RO drift boats, and Deneki. If you’d like to be included in this contest with prize donation just let me know.”
Having grown up with a black lab as my dad’s co-pilot in the boat, I have plenty of experience with dogs, that like water, being in or near it when a fish is on or being landed, holy crap! We used to have to chain our labs head to the bottom of the boat, literally 2 inches from the bottom. We only found this out after simply putting his leash around the seat, he nearly hung himself going after a winter steelhead we had to chase down a run on an Oregon coastal stream.
My other favorite is when the dog things larger fish are out to get them and the growling and play fighting begins, try stopping a nearly 100 pound male black lab, from attacking your fish as you beach it, keeping the line taught on a spey rod and you can’t even get to your fish.
At any rate, some of my fondest memories of fishing growing up involved in one way or another a dog. Dog Bless ’em!
Check out Anglers Tonic for more details.