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Published again! More great news for kayak fly fishing!

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Late last year, one of the local kayak fishing pioneers, Mark Veary, requested story ideas for the regional publication, Northwest Sportsman. The ideas needed to focus on kayak fishing and would either be columns or feature stories.

I jumped at the chance and suggested an article on kayak fly fishing, telling Mark, I would base the story on my fishing presentation. He liked the idea and we settled on the March issue. The issue would be perfect to talk about trout fishing from the kayak since March typically marks the lake opening of trout season in Oregon. 
In late January, I sent my first draft which came back with the basic edits. I updated the story and it was sent to the NWS editor. I was concerned about photos because I focus on video rather than stills while kayak fly fishing. In addition to the few stills I had, I grabbed screenshots from my videos and, after a little adjusting, sent them along with the story. 
Into the cloud it went. A couple weeks later I began to worry beca…

A return to the Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo

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On Saturday, March 9, I return to the Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo to teach my kayak fly fishing class. The sport continues to grow and interest is higher this year than when I offered the class in 2016.

The class is an introduction to kayak fishing as well as focusing on fly fishing. At my classes and seminars, I always discover anglers who have kayaks but are not using them for fly fishing. This is primarily because the kayaks are typically small sit-in recreation kayaks that the anglers feel aren't stable enough to fly fish in.

The stability issue is the primary reason many kayaks end up on the side of the garage unused or rarely used. What I often tell those attending my seminars is to either think about getting a different kayak or use their kayak more often and become comfortable in it.  

In many cases, kayaks that are at least 10 feet long and manufactured by reputable companies like Hobie, Native, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Ocean Kayak, Old Town, etc., are bui…

Would Jesus Keep 'em Wet?

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The modern fishing photo is of a smiling angler looking at the camera and holding a large wild fish he or she just caught and will likely release.
This photo is the evolution of the angler struggling to hoist a large fish by the gills, which in turn, is the evolution of the string of fish held by two anglers or displayed behind a group of anglers.

The main difference, of course, is that the last two examples of killin' and grillin', rather than the practice of catch and release.

In many ways, displaying a dead fish is more respectful of the fish than hoisting it out of the water and posing with it as the fish gasps for air. I say this because hoisting a fish out of the water after a long fight is like dunking your head in a bucket of water after running a mile.

Unfortunately, I too have been guilty of this and I have several photos of me displaying a beautiful fish I just landed. But with knowledge comes great responsibility and In the past few years, fishing groups have encour…

Quest for 100K - an initiative to improve the Willamette Spring Chinook Run

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I recently became involved in the Quest for 100K, an initiative to return 100,000 spring Chinook annually to the Willamette River. The goal seems achievable but will require cooperation from many groups and organizations as well as the three million Oregonians who live in the river's watershed.

The goal was initiated by the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and was launched on Tuesday, Jan. 9. 

The launch featured representatives from ODFW, PGE, Oregon Guides, NWS, politicians and recreational anglers (although I expected a few more anglers at the event).

It was great to hear talk of encouraging all fish and conservation groups to join forces in this effort. Historically 300K spring Chinook returned annually to this watershed, in addition to other salmon and steelhead runs. Listening to the discussion, there are complex issues and enormous challenges ahead:
Predation - In the February 2018 issue of Salmon Trout and Steelhead, Publisher Frank Amato points out that seals, killer wha…

New kayak fly fishing adventures and quests for 2018

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My 2018 started on a positive note with a successful kayak fly fishing outing and the start of a the KayakFlyAngler Species Challenge 2018 - seeing how many species I can catch with a fly rod from the kayak.

The idea was hatched on the way to Henry Hagg Lake, one of my favorite local fishing spots. I had spent much of the previous year fishing the ocean with Don or kayak fishing for salmon with gear. The KFA Species Challenge is a way to focus my energy on kayak fly fishing.

In many ways, Hagg Lake was a perfect location to begin the challenge since it was here that I proved I could turn the Mirage drive around and pedal backwards. I even caught a fish that day under difficult water conditions.

After launching from the ramp that first morning of 2018, I chose to go right and fish the Sain Creek inlet. I usually catch fewer fish there but they are typically larger than the fish in the Scoggins Creek inlet.

I rigged up my two fly rods, turned the Mirage Drive around and started trollin…

My 2017 season is filled with ones that got away

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This year will be one for the books. I was reorganized out of my position in July after more than 20 years, and while taking time to determine my future career goals, I spent time on the rivers and bays fishing for salmon and surfing on my laptop. I can certainly attest to the stability of a Hobie Pro Angler.

Overall, the summer and fall seasons followed a tough spring season where I caught no salmon on the kayak and only a handful while fishing the ocean on Don's boat. The late winter/early spring was great for bottom fish but this year's tuna and halibut seasons were tough. Luckily it was saved by an epic birthday tuna trip in July. I was also able to open up some space in the freezer when I tried my hand at canning tuna for the first time - yes, canned Oregon Albacore tuna does taste that good.

With climate change, the salmon seasons are also changing and the fish seem to show up later. This was best exemplified by the emergency regulation change on the Willamette and Colum…

Fly fishing for trout from the SUP at Swift Reservoir

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In mid-August, I enjoyed my first SUP fishing trip in nearly a year. The opportunity came up when MAC Executive Chef Philippe asked me to join him at his cabin near Swift Reservoir (check out the video here)

Swift is always good for fly fishing, especially where the Lewis River drops into the reservoir. Of course having been stocked with 500,000 trout in late April helps.

On this trip, since I was only going for a night and Philippe already had his boat in the water, I didn't want to take the trailer and the kayaks and I didn't want to put the Hobie Pro Angler on top of the Escape.

As I was contemplating my need for a kayak, I decided I should get the SUP out again. It had spent many months traveling unused on the kayak trailer and it was time to put it back on the water. It was also easy to put it on top of the Escape.

I loaded up and headed out shortly before noon and arrived at Swift within a couple hours. Soon Philippe and I were on the water fishing. He had been out for t…

An epic birthday catching Oregon tuna

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This year's birthday was memorable for two reasons:
I caught a lot of fishEveryone on the boat caught a lot of fish Like most tuna trips the day started early and ended late. In fact it was a 26 hour day with a 1:30 a.m. wake up call and a 3:30 a.m. crash in the bed. 
The opportunity to catch tuna is always questionable because the fish are often miles off shore and the weather can change quickly. This day proved advantageous for us with the forecasted winds showing up late in the day.
We started the day slowly with a couple singles caught while trolling. We would try a bait stop and jigs but we were rewarded with nothing. The third fish was a different story and while slowly reeling it in, we fished anchovies and jigs. There are few experiences as thrilling as reeling in a tuna and watching another rod get buried by another tuna. Multiply that and it is chaos with rods bouncing and people reeling in fish. 
We picked up a few more throughout the day and as quitting time grew closer…

Water everywhere but few fish

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What a wet winter it has been. This is an obvious statement to anyone living in Portland this past winter. Record rains, snow and cloudy days are actually normal for Oregon and since the past couple winters and summers were relatively dry I suppose we are experiencing the swings that create the "average."
What seems to be missing in all this water are fish, especially spring chinook. The counts have been low on the Willamette and Columbia and the fishing tough. At least for me. I have plied the Willamette for several days with not a single bite.

The only solace in my efforts is that I haven't seen anyone around me catch a fish either. In fact, I have yet to see a single salmon caught this year. That's not to say they aren't being caught. Several of my fellow kayakers have posted happy selfies with big fish. I have not lost hope. In fact I expect the high water is causing the run to be late and by May and June, my luck will change. At least I hope.

For now, I wil…

A wild ride with a wild steelhead

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I consider fly fishing for winter steelhead an optimist's sport. During my many years of chasing these fish from sleds, drift boats, on the bank and more recently from the kayak, expectations of catching one on a fly are low. Of course, if catching fish were a requirement for fishing trips, they would be called "catching" trips.

With this in mind, I was looking forward to my first winter steelhead trip of 2017 more for the company and as a way of scouting a section of river in a drift boat before taking the Pro Angler.

Steve and I arrived at the launch as the faint light of winter morning was fast pushing the darkness aside. Pulling away from the shore, we could barely see the water - and the obstacles in front of us. We talked as we drifted through the long run towards the first rapid. Steve rowed into position and we dropped through the rapid. It was short and we floated a minute before Steve slowly guided the boat to our first stop. We rigged up the rods as the sun t…