Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I got home from work today and Elia was all excited to open a package that had arrived in the mail. It turns out that I won the Carp Anglers Group Big Fish Award for the 2007 Fly Fishing Category. The fish in question was caught on the Columbia river last fall (just made the deadline) and was landed after quite a battle thanks to some help from KB. Pretty neat looking award, it will look great in my office! The other award winners are listed here:


Sunday, October 07, 2007

The reality is that sometimes, the anticipation of a trip, is actually better than the trip. On first glance, that held true today. Fishing was tough. It hasn't rained in days and the river was low, clear and the fish were skittish and shy. They held in the deep holes and avoided the fast water where they are most susceptible to flies. I had two good chances at fish, and brought one of them to hand.

After two days of tying flies and dreaming of boulders, slots, and yes...coho, it almost seemed like a let down. I stood all day fishing hard, concentrating and focussing on the deepest pockets I could find in the faster water. The bottom line...we needed rain. The river felt stagnant, dead. It was clearly dying for a drink, and just a little rain would perk things up. I waited...all day it threatened. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the skys grew dark but then the sun would peek through and chase away the dreams of rain. I kept at it and began to enjoy the challeng brought by the skimpy water and fell in love with the color of the river. It was a tea green color that allowed you to see clearly to the bottom in pockets as the current broke and swirled around a boulder. Windows appeared and dissappeared quickly, forcing you to keep you eyes moving to enjoy those glimpses of the bottom, straining to see a flash of silver as a fish moved upriver. If I were strictly a meat hunter, I might not have enjoyed today at all, but as it was I found moments of joy in the midst of what was an undeniable difficult day of catching fish. I managed to bring one fish home and as I walked back to the car, the rain came. In moments the rain was crashing through the branches and I was treated to the symphony of the wind howling through the tree tops and the steady bass of the falling raindrops on the forest canopy. Bolstered by the wet walk back to my car, I drove home with the stereo blasting, and a smile on my face.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yep, it is most definately time. The weather has turned, the water has cooled and the rain has come. For a carp fisherman, these are all generally considered bad things, but here in Oregon these things also indicate the arrival of my second favorite target...coho salmon! This year I decided to keep a few fish for the table and play the role of hunter/gatherer. What better way to start off the search than to meet up with the godfather of coho himself, PTS and a loyal carping buddy David. The three of us fished yesterday in the cool weather and at times the sun baked down (for mere moments, granted) and at other times the rain pounded us so hard we had to hang our heads to avoid being blinded by the sheer volume of liquid in the air. Let me tell you, catching fish, hooking fish...all of that pailed in comparison to the sheer joy of the pounding rain. If you waded out deep enough during the deluge, it was raining in both directions. The constant barrage had a visible and immediate impact on the river, which clouded up in an instant. You could see it happen as leaves began floating by and the tops of your boots and rocks quickly dissapeared. Fortunately, the coho saw it happen too and following the first heavy blast of rain, they started moving. Fish began rolling in the rapids below us and in no time people were hooked up all over the river. I was slot fishing the pockets. I learned to fish this way on the small streams of Minnesota and Montana and the techniques and tricks translate themselves well from the freestone brook trout streams and limestone creeks filled with beautiful brown trout. In some pocket, drifts are short and sweet, lots of lead is required to get that fly down the moment it hits the water and a 4 or 5 second drift is an eternity. I fished well yesterday; the 6th sense was working, my mind seemed clearer than my rain blurred vision but nary a strike went by without the proper response and subsequent rush of a throbbing salmon in fast water. Carping hadn't dulled my nymphing skills, but the river was something I just wasn't prepared for. I could hook them, but they tore me up in that current and messy knot of boulders and seams. I chased fish up and down the river, banged my shins, fell in the water and ran into tree branches, but none of that helped me bring more fish to shore. At the end of the afternoon not one, but both of my simms wading boots were split at the soles from frantic scrambling over the rocks. I walked the trail to the car wearing $100 flip flops that flung mud up my back with each sucking step. What a glorious day of fishing.

All three of us hooked into fish, and David's intro into the only fish that can even make me consider skipping a carp trip went well. He didn't put one on the bank, but he hooked up twice and as he said on the walk out..."I felt the power." That pretty well covered David's day. The godfather, he got into fish, but Phil always does. He planted himself in the river like he was rooted in place and each fish that found itself attached to his 14 ft spey rod was winched up to be admired, and in two cases brought home. PTS uses that big rod and hauls the fish to him, no silly single handed rods and slippery pursuits through the boulders and rapids for Phil. Me, I like the chase and don't mind losing those fish. I can raise the white flag when I know I'm beat, but the Montanan in me is ready for more moments after calling it a day. I'll give a nod to the fish, but that one battle doesn't end the war. So with that in mind...this report is to be continued...