Monday, September 12, 2016

A Non Fictional Hemingwayesque Account...

Sitting, blank in thought, staring into the glowing screen, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. "Pa what are you doing?"  I turned and said "thinking of what to write". "Why don't you write about a big fish you caught?". I was instantly reminded of the great Hemingway short story "The Old Man and the Sea" and the grueling three day battle between Santiago and the enormous Marlin. Additionally, I remembered a  similar unexpected non fictional battle between me and an extraordinarily large fish that still appears in my dreams from time to time.

Feeling Heminwayesque

It was another rare but glorious Oregon day in March. After what seemed like weeks of endless rain, on my way home, I could not help but notice the "greening" of the creek below that had been running chocolate brown for what seemed like an eternity. The sun sparkled thru the branches of the grand Douglas firs and the water looked every bit inviting.  Glancing at the clock on my dash, I figured that I might have a slight window to grab my rod and wade-to-play some trout to the net.

Returning to the creek, I began to put together my rod. Shaking from excitement, I struggled to tie on my flies - the site of fishy looking waters did not help. The plan was to run a bright floating indicator above a heavy anchor fly with a lighter fly hanging on a dropper about 16 inches above. I knew I had to go deep, since the water temps were still ice cold. Once my rod was strung, I cautiously stepped into the icy cold waters. I was glad that I remembered to put on extra layers and especially my thick wool socks.

Standing waste deep, I found a good seam that flowed into a  deep trench. After casting, my eyes fixated on the small fluorescent pink floating bobber that held my two flies. I waited out two drifts and towards the end of the third, the bobber suddenly disappeared under the surface. Fish on! From the rods bend, and the feel of its weight, I knew that it was a smaller trout. Surprisingly, it gave me a good fight and it was now visible from my fixed position. Suddenly, from the corner of my right eye, an enormous dark shadow emerged from the bottom. As my mouth opened and heart now pounding the shadow transformed into a silvery bullet, drifting to the surface and shockingly swallowing my trout!

My God! It was an enormous steelhead! I was now faced with the challenge of fighting possibly a record weighing steelhead on a 5wt. rod with nothing more than 6lb. line. I instinctively new that I would not win the battle, so I reached for my flip phone-camera to at least have some sort of evidence. The dance went on and on as the suns color changed from a bright piercing yellow to a subdued orange color. After jumping with such grace, she would take a run, which made the reel scream like it had never before. I put the phone back in my pocket as I started to ponder on the possibility of me landing such a magnificent fish.

I could see she was tiring, as I tried to roll her on her side. The battle had now placed me in fairly swift chest high water and I wondered how I would beach her without any net. A quick glance behind me, only revealed deep cut banks with thick overhanging brush. What was I to do? The fish was closer and closer, but as I started to reach for the tail, she took another run. Everything was being tested at its limits, including my arms that had been holding this sliver of a rod for at least forty minutes now.

Similar to the Hemingway classic, I befriended the fish with all due respect to her beauty and grace. It was not until I spoke to her that she finally came to my arms. The silvery chrome color with bright hues of pink and blue are unforgettable. I was in awe. Even my hand was too small to grip her around the tail and I could only hold her for so long before she began to struggle. Her girth and strength was too much for me as she slid back into the cold green glaciated waters, line now broken.

Truth be told, I was not upset that the fish escaped my embrace. With encroaching darkness and my heart still pumping, I was just thankful for the dance with such a great partner. I loved it much like Pushkin loved his Anna Kern. Nevertheless, unlike Hemingway's Santiago, I did not want to harm the fish, but only spend some quality time to admire her all in her grandeur. Hopefully, we will meet again and she will perhaps tell of ocean going tales. (Waking up) However, next time I gotta make sure I bring the friggin' net!

Not me but Similar Size of Fish from Betts Guide Service

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fishing Stereotypes: Fly Fishing v.s. Bait Cast

Ah yes, I remember the days...impaling thousand of shiner minnows with a deep trebled lead jig head hook with the hopes of getting that 10 pound walleye to bite at a depth of about 30 feet. Jigging on a reef miles offshore with little to no wind, the stillness so prevalent, you can hear your own pumping heart. It was bait fishing at its finest. and the methodology religious to say the least in those parts of Northern Minnesota. We not only fished for fun, but to bring home a stringer of eaters for a tasty Walleye fish fry.

A Young Double D with a Nice Smallie

During those years of innocence, I can honestly admit to the lack of a sense of reality and an isolated existence that was a result of Northern Minnesota cultural norms. Fly fishing? The closest I came to even acknowledging the sport was when our Californian neighbor failed to garage sell a large 10 foot fiberglass Fenwick fly rod with a click and paw fly reel. Frankly put, I'm guessing they gave me the rod because they knew I liked to fish or maybe to just satisfy my cute boyish curiosity.  Unfortunately, the rod never did see any water and was mostly used to whip-crack fly line at my younger brother or at the hovering telephone lines above. Simply put, I was a lion tamer with a 10 foot whip!

A Young GMan with a Good Sized Walleye

It was not until a move to Oregon in my early twenties when I first learned of fly fishing. Sad but true, I immediately stereotyped fly fishermen as rich, metrosexual types frolicking near a frothing stream, joyfully stroking and releasing their so delicate and beautiful caught fish. I could not fathom why they would let such a fine fish go! Fly fishing to me was repulsive - the sight of men communing with nature, layered in ever-so expensive sporty looking waterproof gear, fixed with so many shiny gadgets! And how about that $800 top-o-line Orvis rod they're holding? My goodness! I'm so jealous! How could that be fun?... whilst grabbing my 6 foot Shakespeare, blue-light special, outfitted with an open-faced Shimano reel.

Walleyes Waiting for a Coat of Beer Batter and a Searing Oil Bath

As my time progressed in Oregon, I got to know a few fly fisherman.  While my eyes fixated on their growing noses,  I remember the stories that rolled off their tongues and the constant claims of the improved catch rates when compared with use of a bait fishing rig. Truthfully, I was a bit still smitten with the idea of the societal transition or being someone that I really was not. Besides, I didn't support the notion that some close-minded fly fishermen look down at bait casters for numerous reasons not to mention. Regardless, my boyish curiosity got the best of me once more when I purchased my first fly rod and reel set-up at Cabelas for under $200.

Since, that first rod purchase, I've learned many things and ultimately have a greater appreciation for fly fishing. In my opinion, fly fishing takes more skill and smarts to land a fish than bait cast fishing. Moreover, once you begin fly fishing and become successful, you gain a greater appreciation for conservation that to me was somewhat missing in bait cast fishing. For instance, how many times have you seen styrofoam worm cups and emptycans of Bush Lite on the shore of your favorite stream? Hence, fly fisherman are generally not known to unethically Eli Manning any unwanted fish once caught. OMAHA!  And how about the endless lengths of unsightly monofilament line that hangs from riverbank trees?

Modern Day Double D Frolicking on the Row River Oregon

It's important to note that the cheap beer drinkin', pollutin', and uneducated stereotypes don't fairly serve all bait cast fisherman. And the same applies to the stereotypes that most fly fisherman are rich, biased, metrosexual, tree-huggers. I've seen it from both sides and I can attest that there is goodness in people no matter what method they choose. Truthfully, I don't believe I would be the fly fisherman I am today without my bait casting background. Nonetheless, next time I'm passing an uneducated hillbilly bait caster from the shore in my girly-boy boat, I'll make sure I wave hello and offer them a Bush Lite. After all, we're all after the same thing!

Best Wishes!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why I Gave Up Dry Fly Fishing

The sparkling clear bluish green McKenzie water was in view as I reached for a rod outfitted with a large Stimulator dry fly pattern holding a small dropper pheasant tail nymph off the bend of the hook. As I made my first cast, I confessed to my bud Gary that I am not a dry fly fisherman while fighting a brisk wind with probably a way too long leader.  Unfortunately, the large fly seemed to be absorbing water as we reached faster currents and eventually sank subsurface without stimulating anything but my nerves.

Sparkling McKenzie

 As I reached for the small plastic bottle of Gink fly floatant in my vest, I experienced a bit of nostalgia relative to the great success I have had in the past fishing nymphs subsurface; great quotes about the advantages of using nymphs over dry flies by such fly fishing greats as Gary Borger flowed through my head. I could not take it anymore...I finally reached for my 10 foot 4wt, which was loaded with a long french style leader, a curly-q indicator, 3lb, fluorocarbon tippet and two Prince Nymph Jigs in #10 and #14.

The boat now anchored upon a good flowing riffle, I lobbed the flies a few feet from the stern and not far from the side of the boat. I could tell that Gary was new to the method as his eyes fixated on the bright chartreuse colored slinky that drifted just about the surface. "What do you call that thing?" Trying to explain, I was still getting use to straight-lining from a boat. Thus, I could not help but wonder if there is a visual advantage compared to when your body is sunk in the water. Nonetheless, after only a couple casts, my reel's drag gave a scream and thereafter I landed my first fish!

I had continued success throughout the day as we jockeyed around fast water, in which the method works best.  As I swung my arm from East to West, I felt that the weight of my jigs were just right, pulling and bouncing off the rocky bottom -  I felt like I was in total control. Throughout the day, I thought about all the dry fly fisherman who may have passed up the same spots, since the rough water has the capability to sink the most floatable of flies. I thought about the river guides and how they feel about 40 feet of fly line whizzing past their ear connected to a size #6 barbed hook! I thought about all the energy that goes into a long dry fly cast compared to a short lob of leader and tippet.

One of Many

Thinking back, for some reason, I thought I would give my dry fly rod another chance to prove me wrong and it failed miserably.  As I type this sentence, I see it, my first rod, sitting lonely in the corner probably not to be finessed in any sort of way in the near future. Sure...I may use it for the occasional casual jaunt down to the nearby creek. However, when it comes to getting down to business, I will with no hesitation grab the nymphing rod. So to the dry fly purists, the long casters and the fisherman wearing out their copies of "A River Runs Through It": This is why I gave up dry fly fishing.

Trails End

P.S. Thanks Gary for the great trip! I hope to row a boat like you someday. Regards ~ D2

Monday, August 8, 2016

Double D's Late Summer Fly Fishing Tips

Late Summer Row River Oregon

Are your late summer fly fishing trips nothing more than frustrating attempts that leave you nothing but an appreciation for mother nature and all her beauty. Have you ever felt as if your prospected trout were swimming freely about, ignoring your offering and enjoying your inner pain? O.k...we've all heard it before, "a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work". Yep, the frustration can be so profound that you'd rather zombie out to ole' Wolfie with a bowl of ice cream placed mid-lap. Fortunately, Double D's here to save your arse with some hot summer fly fishing tips!

1. Fish Early or Late

Ultimately, lots of bright piercing light is detrimental to trout feeding. During heavy light hours, trout typically inhabit deeper or turbid waters to find cooler water and hide from predators. Boat and people traffic during these times only drives the fish to more secure locations. Not to mention, warmer waters during the afternoon can make trout lethargic and less likely to feed. Use the hot afternoons for a cool-off or nap and find solitude on the water in the early mornings and into the evenings.

A Row River Morning Surprise

2. Nymph the Afternoon

If you must fish the afternoon hours, hit fast water sections with a nymph or two. During hot days, faster riffle - like water provides a cool refuge for snacking trout. In a river system, trout hold in slower water and feed in the faster water. The fish will likely we close to the bottom, so rig up heavy enough to bounce off the bottom.

4. Ditch that Indicator

I see it too often and can't find a reason for casting a round bright object without a hook at a trout in clear as gin me to drink'in! Straight-line your nymph with a colored line indicator or implement a French Nymph method with long leader and curly q indicator for longer casts.

3. Light on the Leader & Tippet

Late summer waters are generally gin clear here in the west so a very light leader and tippet are beneficial. Don't be scared to go 6x or 7x to fool them. I love 3 lb Maxima Fluoro Carbon for nymphing.

4. Shade, Shade, Shade Shade...

Need I say more?

5. Gain some Altitude

If you live in a mountainous region, seek the upper reaches of your favorite river. The gain in altitude will likely garnish cooler water temps and lively trout ready to take your fly.

6. Terrific Terrestrial 

Don't be surprised if you can't find a hatch in the late summer. Try a hopper or beetle dry pattern and tie a small nymph of the bend of the hook to improve your chances.

7. Limit your Visibility

Trout live in water, but they are not blind to your trout-wheelin' tactics. Wear clothing colors that tend to blend in with your surroundings. Try to keep a low profile and stand in a way to not cast a shadow on the water. The French Fly fishing team can be often seen wearing shin or knee pads, which enable them to keep an extremely low position to the water.

Upper McKenzie River Bow

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fly TImes on the Mac with Friend of the Fly: Video

The Friend of the Fly team recently hit the scenic McKenzie River of Oregon in search of line pulling trout. We are happy to report that the fish were definitely on the bite! Most of our success came during the morning and early afternoon hours, in low and fast waters. Even though we picked up a few fish on dry flies, the top fishing tactic was tight-lining using a two nymph system. In fact, we could not keep the sized #14 and #16 Prince Nymph jigs out of the fishes' mouth! Props to GMan for putting this little video together of the trip!

Monday, June 13, 2016

GMan Shuts Down the Deschutes

The Friend of the Fly recently sent GMan off with a package of freshly tied flies along with a mission to seek out large Rainbow trout on the world re-known Deschutes River in Oregon. A report back to the FOTF base indicates that GMan satisfied and even exceeded the mission goals! Well done GMan!

Good Grip!

...and another.

Whoah! Easy now!

GMan indicated that the weather was perfect, with an air temp of 70 degrees, partly cloudy skies and a light wind. His tactics used were based on a local river hatch of large Salmon Flies, although a number of Golden Stoneflies were spotted too. Flies used included a large Fat Albert, Clarks Stonefly, Kaufmans Stonefly in black with tungsten bead and the "Magic Fly" which is reserved for a few of FOTF's friends and customers. A majority of fish were taken close to the bank, near brush and trees.

Beautiful Deschutes River

In final, a recommendation has been made that GMan seek out physical therapy to heal the arm and wrist strain caused by a long day of hauling in large fish.  Oh...and by the way, I hope that was a beer bottle he found in the ditch, because there's no drinking on the job!  Best Fishing ~D2

Ah yes! Beer and Humping Stonefiles!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Expanding on your Euro Nymphing Technique

More and more fly fisherman are discovering the benefits of the European Nymphing style of fly fishing. However, one major misconception is that all flies used in a Euro Nymphing system should be heavily weighted; hence the fisherman should be constantly in contact with the bottom. Remember that your success on the water is largely hinged on good presentation of your flies, no matter if the fish is taking 2/3 of its food subsurface or not. 

Here's a great video clip of Steve Parrott fishing a long line Euro Nymph Technique with a heavy point fly and a small emerger pattern on the dropper tag. Notice how Steve drops and lowers the rod to imitate rising Blue Wing Olive mayflies - a perfect example of how presentation is key and how it can foster great results. Regards ~ D2

Monday, May 16, 2016

Small Stream Fishing on a Rainy May Day 2016

Double D Surveying

The trout fishing in the Willamette Valley is certainly picking up, due to warmer air and water temps across the region. Fortunately, I did not let the recent rains dampen my fishing as I set out on a small stream excursion. As most of the local mountain snow pack has nearly diminished, I suspected that less cold water in the river system would only help magnify the fish activity with the help of some warm rain.

I was on track! The fish were alive, moving and fast to my fly. As common, with most small streams, I found a majority of the action at riffles and plunge pools. Late morning and early  nymph fishing was productive with the help of small tungsten beaded pheasant tail and prince nymph jigs. Later on, fish rose to the surface to munch on a small blizzard of mayflies. For some reason, they preferred a dragged size 18 olive Parachute Adams, which brought numerous fish to the net, including a 16 in. cutt-throat.

16 inch'er
Best of Luck! D2

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Oregon Spring Fly Fishing 2016

Deep in the Pacific Northwest, my skin is finally beginning to dry from the long damp winter. Anyone west of the Oregon Cascade range can probably relate to the seemingly like phenomena; that somewhat abnormal torch in the sky that seems to uplift our spirits. My winter dreams of spring warmth, blue skies, bluish green waters, and lively trout finally came true in the second week of April when G-Man accompanied me on a float down a majestic stretch of Oregon water.

Double D on the Rocks

The trip began with with some near bank wading that brought several fish to the net, including a white fish, some average size rainbows and a decent sized cutthroat that put up a respectful fight. I was very surprised that the fish were holding in very low and fast water. Similar to us, these fish seemed to appreciate the penetrable rays of the warming sun as colder river temps were driven by melted mountain snow.

D's Cutt

G-Man Cradles One to Sleep
As the day progressed, good size afternoon hatches of March Browns and Green Sedges appeared without any trout rising. As a result, any thought of casting a dry fly was soon abandoned.

The importance of getting the fly on the bottom became apparent after our flies were ignored when they hovered the rocky bottom and its somewhat picky inhabitants. As a result, high sticking and indicator tactics were effective methods.

"Double" Lobbin'

Large heavy Hares Ear Nymphs worked the best! A Tungsten HaresEar Soft Hackle Jig in size 10 earned the fly of the day and managed to temp a nice big Bow to slide into G-Mans larger than life net! The fly is versatile, in that it brings results on both the dead drift and the swing. Get out and enjoy some spring fishing! 

Congrats G-Man!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Fly Fisherman's Resolution

Let's be honest, most fly fisherman are a bit self-centered when it comes to a New Year resolution. For example, any non-fly fishing, standard smoe may take a holistic approach and suggest the ever popular "world peace"or perhaps take an oath "to be nicer'' to one's fellow man and woman. Conversely, a fly fisherman's resolution usually involves some sort of self-gratification when it comes to their favorite sport. Here are a few resolutions that may have already been set in some of our fly fishing minds and writ in stone for the 2016 fly fishing season.

To Fish some Finer Waters

You're tired of fishing that sewage repository you've called your home waters for more than 5 years. You pledge to splurge on a trip to fish trout in pristine mountain waters of the Western U.S. or fish for bonefish in mesmerizing blue Caribbean water.

Clear McKenzie River of Oregon

To Take up Fly Tying to Save Money$$

Ha! Good luck with that!

To Fly Fish More

Your fed up with the long nights at the office. You catch yourself too many times waving at your lucky-to-go drift boating neighbor, while staring down nonchalantly at your honey-do-list. Is it selfish that you want some quality time with your rod and reel? This is the year to fish more, for a healthier well-being!

To Succumb to the Egg Fly
D's Lifter

You've known it work's and is easy to tie, but just the thought of casting a marble size ball of yarn felt so impure! This is the year that you "let down your net", free yourself of the purist chains and catch bountiful egg loving fish!

To Catch more Fish than Trees

You've been known by your friends to spend more time de-limbing trees along the banks than keeping your fly in "the zone". Your rod swiping habits and choice of words would might have gotten you the leading role in Happy Gilmore. Consequently, you've been working on that roll cast and perfecting that steeple cast. This is the year to leave the slivers and bramble behind!

 To Cast Tight Loops rather Tight Knots

Your casts have been know to mimic the movements and sounds of a lion tamer. You can't figure out why your leader keeps knotting and there's zero to no wind. Bring in the year with minimal wrist movement and a rod tip that moves in a straight line path. Cheers to a wind knot free year!

To Finally Meet April Vokey

You've watched all the videos of her artful and colorful display of Steelhead flies. And don't forget all those unbelievable gigantic fish cradling photos, all in her majesty! You and your fly fishing friends make light of the notion of meeting the queen, while gathered around the card table, rockin' it to Dick Clark's  New Year's Rockin' Eve. With all fairness, only one of you, can have the pleasure. However, let it be known: She's Married!

April Vokey Pic from Gone Fishin Web site
Final Deep Thoughts

So are we really selfish or self righteous for wishing for new year greatness in one of the most gratifying forms of recreation on the planet?  I can only opine that as fly fisherman wish for better, we ultimately become closer to the sport, which provides us solace and gives us a break from life's drag. On our conquest to find the next big thing, whether it be a fish or a stream, we become closer with nature, closer with God: we improve our overall well-being, and we improve the connection with our friends and family.

I'm no April Vokey, but at least I nailed my 2015 resolution! To big bows' ~ D2