Showing posts from 2012

Henry Hagg with Hoppe - welcoming a new recruit (part 2)

Note - wow did this take a long time... Launching the Hobie boats went well and Michael, in the Outback, quickly adapted to the boat and pedal action. We cruised toward one of the creek inlets that usually produce fish.The early conversations with Michael included my fly recommendation which were woolly buggers and leach patterns. About 100 yards from the ramp I turned the pedals around, made sure Michael was comfortable and had his line out, and started to fish. I was quickly on a nice sized trout and the day looked promising. In the next hour I hooked three more trolling my go-to green woolly bugger in reverse.
     My goal was to fish the stream inlet where I had first pedaled the Hobie in reverse.
     As I got closer to the inlet I realized how low the reservoir was. I made my way up the inlet until the water started to show signs of movement. It was the same location where I could no longer pedal the kayak so I took out the paddle, used it to turn the kayak around and got back to…

Henry Hagg with Hoppe - welcoming a new recruit (part 1)

I returned to Henry Hagg Lake but this time I took musician Michael Hoppe on his first kayak fly fishing trip - and he wants to go again. I was talking with Michael a few months ago and he was lamenting the fact he had not fished a lake in Oregon. He had fished a few Oregon rivers but was wanting to get on a lake and in a float tube. I told him I could do better than a float tube and promised to take him out in the kayaks. He looked skeptical but said he would give it a go (see the video here).

We emailed a few times to determine which lake and after suggesting Lawrence, Trillium and Hagg, he chose Hagg. I was a little concerned since Hagg is not nearly as pretty as the other two but it had been stocked recently so I figure we would at least have a chance at catching fish. It was the same weekend as the Next Adventure Kayak Bass tournament. I had suggested Michael and I enter the tourney for fun, but he was not interested.

After choosing Hagg, I toyed with the idea of entering the to…

After a morning fish, a beerfest is best

September is a great time in Oregon. The salmon and steelhead are in the rivers, the trout are becoming more active, there is a crispness in the air and the food festivals are as abundant as the bounty.

    The favorite fall getaway for wife and I is the Skamania Lodge Celebration of Beer, an intimate festival featuring local brewers and generous pours at the beautiful Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington.

   We stay at the lodge so we can enjoy ourselves at the festival and not have to worry about driving the 50 minutes back to Portland.

     This is not a huge festival but instead one in which you can actually taste all the standard and seasonal brews offered the festival and then sit and enjoy a gorgeous view while drinking a glass or two of your favorite. You even get to keep the glass.

    Afterwards, you can pile on more calories at the lavish dinner buffet, get some relaxing sleep and then finish the weekend with a fabulous beer-focused breakfast buffet.

     This y…

Restoring fish habitat

Labor Day weekend was spent driving around Washington visiting friends and honoring my wife's birthday wishes. Instead of a gift, she opted to get out of town and spend time on a friend's farm outside Sedro Woolley and another friend's land outside Cle Elum. The beauty about having friends with property is that on a busy weekend we have a place to camp. Of course the kayaks went along and so did our new springer spaniel, Nik. I had wanted to visit the farm for some time and it proved to be a wonderful experience. My buddy Chuck dug a 1/4 acre pond on the farm and stocked it with some trout several years ago. The goal was to provide entertainment and fresh fish. After a couple years, the fish disappeared despite his regular feeding. Recently,  resident cutthroat trout found the pond and are now reproducing.
The pond is 6 feet deep at the deepest point and averages about 3-plus feet. There are bugs, trees, a nice grassy shoreline and a very small, but year-round…

Off on summer adventures

The blog has been neglected while I work on videos from my summer fishing adventures. Those inquisitive enough to check my YouTube channel and the video links on this blog have discovered some videos from Harriet Lake, a how-to on my custom rod holder and some teasers from my BC trip. More recently you may have seen my Netarts Bay Crabbin' video that I posted the other day. I was hoping to add some footage from a fly fishing Tuna trip and some salmon trips to the gorge but those ended up being cancelled or a bust. And, I still have footage from a two Trillium Lake trips that I haven't used but will hopefully show up later this year.

Highlighting my summer was a trip to BC fly fishing for wild steelhead. The trip proved great for both weather and fish and the entire experience could only be described as a trip of a lifetime. I am choosing to keep the river nameless primarily as a way to protect it. I struggle with this because the river is quite remote, but certainly not out of …

Fish, Cameras, Action - Four is Better than One

I rarely am ever satisfied with my hobbies and I am always trying to make things complex and interesting. When I first started kayak fishing, I took a very basic Old Town Otter and transformed it into a complex boat that helped me take third place in my first kayak fishing derby - which took place while the Willamette River was nearly at flood stage.

Needless to say I was totally hooked and the next weekend I bought a real sit-in fishing kayak. I tricked it out, bought another, modified it (I still have it) for fly fishing and sold the sit-in. The Hobie Outback is proving to be my favorite ride so far and I keep modifying it as I continue to explore kayak fly angling.

My current obsession involves shooting video while fishing on the kayak. Of course I started with one camera (an Olympus Stylus 1030), and shot some great video and stills. I then borrowed the GoPro Hero my wife had. I then decided I need to capture audio so I bought a Kodak PlaySport and added the wide angle lens. Recen…

An epic day on the Deschutes as I stay on shore.

For many years, I have wanted to fish the storied Deschutes River salmonfly hatch. Usually this occurs in mid to late May around the Memorial Day weekend, depending on the weather.

This hasn't worked  for me because I avoid travel during long holiday weekends. When I was younger and had less vacation time at work, these were weekends when my wife and I would hit the road camping wherever we could. I have many memories of grabbing the last camping site in the campground or making due with very little space to pitch a tent. Back then we would spend most of the time hiking, fishing or traveling to our destination so sleeping wasn't critical.

These days I am quite happy to do day excursions and enjoy a bottle of wine or beer at home visiting with family or friends who also avoid travel during the holiday weekends.

When I was putting together one of these day excursion, my friend Jim and I decided to check in on Sunday to see how the various fisheries were shaping up. My struggle …

The Hobie is fixed, my rash is gone and I caught some trout

First a quick update on the boat. The fix worked and boat is not leaking. I am fairly certain it will hold since I have spent more than 30 hours in the kayak since I fixed it. Regarding the rash, I switched to my breathable waders and the rash is no longer and issue. When the cold weather returns, I should have calluses.

Now to the important topics. I have spend many hours since my last post fishing for spring salmon in the Willamette River. With the water visibility at less than 20 inches I spent significant time trolling herring with a flasher. In the main river, the closest I got was when I reeled up my line and the herring had bite marks. A couple of my boating buddies landed fish so I spent a day in my sled trolling herring and spinners but that proved pointless as well.

On every trip, my 12 weight, the Deep Water express tips, and a variety of large flies accompanied me and were tried in rotation with the bait. One day, that included a short incoming tide (I always try to fish t…

Hobie has a hole and I have neoprene rash

I have fished for 40 years but I still keep discovering I have much more to learn about fishing, especially kayak fishing. Last week while salmon fishing from my Hobie on the Willamette, I noticed that the kayak was acting unstable. Instead of remaining flat in the water, it was wobbling as I moved side to side. I opened the hatch in front of my seat and discovered the Hobie had about four inches of water.

I would later discover I had a tear in one of my scupper holes (click here to see a video of the tear on the kayakflyangler Youtube Channel). What I guessed happened was that the cart slipped down while I was unloading the kayak and got bound up in the scupper hole. I did some research and found out that Hobie's current cart has a pin system that keeps the cart in the scupper hole until the cart needs to be removed from the scupper holes. This was not something that was part of my original design.
My new design includes this design element. And, with the reinforced scupper holes…

No plastic on this trip - fly fishing the McKenzie

This week I left the kayak at home and enjoyed a special treat when I drifted the McKenzie River outside Springfield, Oregon. An added bonus was fishing with my friend Philippe and well-known McKenzie River guide Aaron Helfrich. The trip was one Philippe and I had tried to make for three weeks, but the record rainfall in March postponed the trip twice.

When the rain finally subsided in April, we found a weekday that worked for everyone and scheduled the trip. The weather was threatening on the drive down and most of the drift. By early afternoon, the temperature started to rise and so did the fish as the March browns and caddis flies did their own drifting on the river. The entire trip was a learning experience because in addition to fishing the river for the first time, it was the first time I had ever fly fished from a moving boat.  Aaron did a fabulous job keeping the boat in the holes or moving at a perfect speed to create a drag free drift of the fly. Many times I was shocked tha…

Kayak fly fishing Tillamook in the rain, floods and high winds - but no trout

Spring break meant a couple days off and after waiting for the storms to pass, I headed to Tillamook with my son to do some "research."  It's always great to do fishing research and the coast offers many opportunities. Primarily, I wanted to check out some kayak launching areas that I had scoped out on Google Maps, but wanted to see first-hand, especially at low tide. I also hoped to do a little fishing in Cape Meares Lake with the Hobie Outback. I brought along the Redfish 10 hoping to talk Sam into some kayaking. Click here to see the video.

Driving down the Wilson River canyon, the river looked like chocolate milk in a blender - brown and frothy. Although the river was wild, the canyon was spectacular with little waterfalls dotting the canyon walls, adding to the existing torrent. Rain splattered the windshield during the hour drive to Tillamook, letting up only when we reached the west side of the bay. There we were met with stiff winds creating white caps on Cape Mea…

Ready to troll some really big flies while kayak fly fishing for spring chinook

One of my quests this spring is to catch a spring chinook on a fly from my Hobie Outback kayak. In this quest, I have my Okuma Guide Select 12 weight, Okuma 10/11 Integrity fly reel loaded with 300 yards of PowerPro braided line, a Rio T20 sinking head, an 850 grain SA deep water express sinking head and, arriving today, a set of salmon trolling flies.

I posted the details of my quest on the Northwest Kayak Anglers with a mention that I would even use "gravy" if the opportunity arrived. That comment generated the most posts and a good discussion of what constitutes fly fishing.

With the arrival of these flies I expect the use of any "gravy" will be limited and likely not necessary. I am excited to see how these flies react in the water. They are designed to run behind a flasher or dodger that would create more movement of the fly. Since I will be running them without  such hardware, I am hoping that the fly will at least spin, especially since I plan on using a s…

Kayak fly fishing while pedaling a Hobie Outback backwards

When I was looking at the Hobie kayaks earlier this year, one of my primary goals was to use the drive to pedal backwards while fly fishing in the kayak. From the first time I fly fished from my little Otter kayak, I realized kayaks offered the potential to fish water unavailable to the those in float tubes and pontoon boats, the type of personal boats most fly anglers use.

The primary advantage of pontoons and float tubes is the ability to  keep tension on the line when a fish grabs the fly (I talk about this in an earlier post). At Henry Hagg lake outside Forest Grove, I had my first opportunity to really test the mirage drive in reverse. I was quickly rewarded with a beautiful wild fish. You can see the video at my YouTube channel by clicking here.

When I caught the fish, I was able to feel the take immediately, keep tension on the line and feel in control of the boat the entire time. The drive easily fit the slot in the kayak but I had to reverse the pedal settings so that I was …

My Hobie Outback Kayak with the Mirage Drive gets wet

The first voyage with my new Hobie Outback proved a wonderous kayaking experience. I spent the previous week modifying my new boat in anticipation of this first trip. Once I launched, put in the mirage drive and started pedaling, a new world opened up.

I was quickly going 3 and 4 miles per hour both up and downriver. I was able to turn on a dime and basically went anywhere I wanted. My first trip was in the bay off the Milwaukie boat ramp.

I pedaled for an hour looking for sturgeon on the finder but saw only salmon. When I did find a group of sturgeon on the bottom of the river, tossed the anchor. My modifications worked flawlessly and I was quickly anchored in the Willamette. I tossed the line in and immediately got hung up on the rocky bottom. I unhooked the anchor release line, retrieved the fishing line and easily went back upstream and retrieved the anchor. I decided to try another location downriver and again easily anchored up and started fishing.

What amazed me was the tremen…

The Sturgeon

When I tell people I fish for sturgeon from my kayak, most say I'm crazy, but everyone asks if I get towed around when I catch a fish. My standard reply is "most sturgeon are not big enough to tow me around." A recent trip changed that reply. The day was planned and I was going to shoot some footage for the blog and work on my kayak fly fishing research. I also wanted to test the new anchor system I found on the Northwest Kayak Anglers web site. I picked up some shrimp, and loaded the equipment onto my Ford Escape and headed to the river. I had my fly rod, as well as the bait rod, the scent and other items I needed to do some tests. I paddled to a location I had caught fish before and tossed the anchor and, with the new anchor system, the rope bag and a float. I would soon be thankful I had this system. I tried bait first in 60 feet of water under the boat. Nothing. Then the anchor slipped and I found myself 30 feet downstream before I could get it set again. I tossed th…

Puget Sound fly fishing seminar

Dave McCoy, the head guide of Emerald Water Anglers shared tips and information on fishing the expansive waters of Puget Sound. The seminar, held Saturday, Jan. 21, was part of series of seminars put on by Northwest Flyfishing Outfitters in Portland.

About 20 people attended the seminar listening and writing down notes as Dave talked about access, tides, flies, rods, reels, lines, water temperature, seasons, etc. The primary fish being targeted are searuns and resident salmon since they are the most consistent fish in the sound. He noted that the sound is a year-round fishery but March through June and September through November are the best time to fish. With such a large body of water, it would be easy to get intimidated when trying to figure out where to start fishing. My goal was to learn more about this fishery since it is a natural for kayak fly fishing. You can cover more water than fishing from a bank, you can follow the fish as they move up and down the beach and you can ge…

Fish finders 2 - What about resolution?

Ok, so you decided the ability to peer into the depths to find fish with an electronic device is a cool idea. And you already know the importance of power because you were smart enough to read my previous entry and you did a little research in addition to that.

So now what?

There are a lot of fish finders out there and you can spend a little or a whole lot of money to peer under the water's surface.  In many cases you get what you pay for. You remember me telling you about the Hawkeye finder? That finder simply shows fish and generic bottom structure. That's what you can expect to get for about $50. The Humminbird 560 shows a lot more including detailed bottom structure, fish size, depth, temperature, battery power, hours, etc. That one costs about $160.

Now I am going to mix it up a little with another Humminbird finder called the Piranha 5. This finder shows the same structure and contours, but the quality of the image varies. On the 560, the lines are smooth and detail i…

Brewing beer and smoking salmon

When the rivers are blown out from too much rain and I am feeling in the dumps from a lingering cold, it's time to do something fun. That something was smokin' salmon and brewing beer.

The first is something I have done several times with some good success. The second is something I know little about and wanted to learn. Of course, both have wonderful rewards and really take about the same amount of time for success. On the fish side, the salmon and trout I was smoking were caught the previous summer. I also spent the previous 24 hours preparing the fish with a dry mix of organic brown sugar and Kosher salt.

The beer, or rather wort, is prepared in a little less time than it took to smoke the fish. Once the wort is finished, it ferments and ages a month or more before it is ready to drink. My guide for the brewing process was my buddy Kevin who is a great salmon fisherman. He is also a great brewer and after evaluating a production IPA and a local amber ale, Kevin opened his f…