Spring Steelhead, Secret Salmonfly, and Fishing with Bob Clay

I am in no way, shape, or form ready to leave the coast and spring steelhead.  But we have to split for Maupin and the Deschutes River in a few days to be closer to the hospital in Bend for lots of upcoming doctor visits.  Cairn begins her third trimester next week!  She is doing awesome.  Beginning to get a little uncomfortable at night but otherwise it has been smooth sailing.  We went fishing again just a few days ago... very proud of her!  So we will be heading back to Maupin to plant our garden and start tying my killer salmonfly pattern (major procrastination!).  I have been holding out on this fly for five or six years now, only tying small handfuls for my clients to fish.  But I think the time has come to post a few photos and maybe a tying video.  you will want to whip a few of these up if you enjoy fishing the big bugs, so stay tuned.

Anyways, this has been a winter steelhead season of highs and lows.  The rivers were in constant fluctuation.  I lost more guiding days than I am used to and feel bad for the folks who didn't get to fish.  That is the price we pay for such a remarkable fishery here on the Oregon coast.  When the rivers were in shape the fishing was as good as I have seen it.  Very few kelts and lots of beautiful wild fish.  Also lots of genetic diversity much like I saw on the Deschutes last summer and fall.  A coincidence?  What I mean is we caught fish from 18 inches to 15+ pounds.  Having a huge range of size and age class is incredibly important to the fitness of the wild gene pool.

Speaking of wild gene pool, we have several trips in tonight's Native Fish Society auction at Motgomery Park.  Our seventh annual "Drift in to Green Valley" trip with Lange Winery and chef Richard Gherts has been a very popular item.  This year our three day Mack's to the mouth trip for four rods will be hosted by legendary Kispiox River guide and bamboo rod maker Bob Clay.  To say that I am stoked to spend a few days on the river with Bob is an understatement.  As always our crew will be involved with these trips and we are very proud of their commitment to wild fish.  They don't get the recognition they deserve.  It will be interesting to see how the big protest goes.  We are proud supporters of the NFS among other conservation and humanitarian organizations.

Here are a few shots from the river...

Casting Beulah's 13' 2" 7 wt with their 500 grain Tonic head. Bruce Berry photoA surprise visitor... Western Toad. Little creatures like this guy make for an extra cool day on the river. Bruce Berry photoSteve O'Brien with a fresh spring chromer. I suggest booking a trip with this guy, as he is yet to get skunked! And he is a fun guy to hang out with.

To my loyal clients and friends, dear fishing buddies, my dad, and my wife Cairn... THANK YOU for fishing (and putting up) with me this winter and spring season (or at least attempting to!).  It is inspiring now that I look back on it.  Time to put away the big sticks and heavy junk and get out the five weights!!  Very happy to go hunt big redsides for a few months and looking forward to becoming a dad this summer.



Suckers for punishment

Winter steelheaders are.  You have to really enjoy the fishing and not let total saturation get you down.  Winter steelhead are unpredictable creatures and the habitats that they live in are equally volatile.  When the rain is pounding and the rivers are rising I tell myself, "the river temperatures are rising", "the PH level of the water is improving", "the fish are moving through more accessible water"...  The truth is they come when they come, low water or high, rain or shine.  Your fly has to be in the water though.

Cairn's home made soups have helped take the edge off cold wet days on the river.  New England clam chowder... white chili... andouille sausage, wild rice, and corn chowder... chedar broccoli... soaked up with a rustic baguette... she has been working magic in the kitchen!



Having fun yet?

Cairn six months pregnantBeautiful femalesMean looking rainbow trout

Sun feels good



Hatchery steelhead and the swung fly

Do hatchery steelhead that will chase and hit a swung fly have the competitive genes fit for the wild gene pool?

I have had people in my past encourage me to release hatchery steelhead caught on the swing because they are the ones that are okay to spawn amongst the natives (the ones with aggressive and competitive genes).  Personally I don't buy it.  There is a lot going on genetically that most of us don't understand.

Here Scott Hagen displays a pair of hatchery fish that clobbered a large fly on the swing.  So the question is thumbs up or thumbs down?  (Think Caesar at the end of a gladiator fight)

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Do you dream about fishing the sweet spot?

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The Brothers Kersh

I had the pleasure of fishing with two brothers recently, Andrew and Stephen Kersh.  These guys are younger than my average client and represent my future guiding and the future of fly fishing.  With a good attitude and the willingness to learn they humbly set out with me on their first day of winter steelheading - any kind of steelheading.  The process of spey casting and swinging came quickly to these guys, as did "the fish of 1000 casts".


Andrew Kersh caught this fish, then like a gentleman let his little brother step in and finish the run.


Stephen Kersh

Thanks guys!