Winter wait

February 14, 2014

The wait is over, rivers are rising and falling to rise again. The days of checking and re-checking the forecast in hopes that the last day of the 10-day would show rain, a dozen or so times in a 24 hour period are over, for now anyway. Now it’s checking and re-checking to see when it’s going to stop a dozen times a day. Playing the guessing game of when it’ll be fishable again, is the forecast right? Will that half inch of rain two days from now stop it from dropping into shape three days from now? Constant over analysis of differing scenarios and what river to be on and when. With a few days of blowout in the books and a few more ahead all I can do is wait. If you’ve been waiting for the rain to go fishing, that’s too bad…

#sunrise

Sunrise

#inbetweenthebed&thewall

The enabler

#riogrande

Waking on a pretty daze.

Long winter nights lend themselves to fire and meals from the oven.

Long winter nights lend themselves to fire and meals from the oven.

Camplifier

Camplifier

Roast chicken? Treat yo'self

Roast chicken? Treat yo’self

Descent

Descent

Steels in the pools

Steels in the pools

#low&clear

Blushing buck

Sweet music.

Sweet music.

Whitey

Whitey

Get Whitey

Get Whitey

Got to be one in there.

Got to be one in there.

A mean one, he fought as hardened as he looks. Respect.

A mean one, he fought as hardened as he looks.

Not a mark on her

Hardly a mark on her

Freshness index

Freshness index

Rain coming.

Rain coming.

While it hasn’t been the best start to the winter steelhead season thus far, it still started and you don’t catch them from home.

Looking forward to the next few months and what curves are going to be thrown and the adjustments that’ll have to be made.

Rich

Let it be known

February 6, 2014

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand what will happen if we start taking wild fish out of our rivers. It’s common sense really. The past is all you really need to look at, or the state of Washington at present. The future has its own tale to tell as well, population growth, which accounts for countless strains on watersheds, water, logging, fishing pressure, etc., etc. The fish are going to need all the help we can give them. Taking fish out of the system is unwarranted.

It’s not about subsistence anymore, you’d be killing because you can, not because you have to. I mean, take the money you’d spend on your fishing license, tackle and gas and you can buy a few weeks worth of food. Even though we can’t kill wild fish on the Umpqua, the fishing pressure has not subsided, actually it seems to have increased, this means the gas stations, restaurants and hotels are still getting theirs. There has got to be a bigger reason why we fish for them. While I can’t put the reason into words, we’re all there for the same thing (even the guys that want to whack’em), just can’t describe it. Shouldn’t this be good enough?

Kill. Kill. Kill. And nobody wins.

“For the North Umpqua, where we have the most accurate information on wild winter steelhead abundance, the PVA Model found that the population could withstand a sustained harvest rate close to 50% without increasing its long-term risk of extinction.” – Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan

Really?

Take a minute to sign the Petition

So that these...

So that these…

.

Don’t turn into these.

 

Serpents

December 10, 2013

What it all really comes down to?

These.

These.

And these…

Ain't looking for nothin' but a good time.

Ain’t looking for nothin’ but a good time.

 

.

.

 

.

.

 

.

.

 

Forget about what rod, line, reel, and all the other bullshit. The fish and what’s on the end of your line is what it comes down too.

 

Fish and the end of my line.

The end of my line.

 

While I’m not one to drop plugs. For those who don’t know, this is a source for those who like to tie/swim the big bugs

http://scotthowellflyfishing.com/

 

Here's to it. Whatever it may be.

‘Tis the season, have a great one.

 

Rich

 

 

Heads or tails

November 13, 2013

Fall. It’s been a beautiful Indian Summer with the exception of one “perfect storm” which I’m sure I’ll talk about for years to come. While the fall season was great…it was almost perfect.

Hard to beat the North in the fall.

Hard to beat the North in the fall, September

Before the storm the fishing was good to exceptional, everything was coming together. The storm was something else, something beyond normal. As September rolled over to October, tributaries that were a mere trickle, swelled to raging muddy torrents. Anadromous fish always follow the water when they can, leaving the main rivers to their spawning grounds. We lost a lot of fish to the tributaries. Fish moved back in but, the fishing could’ve been, well, perfect.

Heavy lifting.

Heavy lifting

Joe Minton with a 35" brute

Joe Minton with a 35″ brute

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Heart warming steelhead, Kerryann hanging on

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First steelhead are hard to beat, catching your first steelhead on the North, even tougher. Kerryann Minton with a beautiful hen to hand

While it could’ve been perfect, it was still pretty damn good. 

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Charlotte’s web

Sunrise.

Sunrise

The last North fish we got to the dry, showing October colors.

On top

A beautiful tributary, un-touched.

Where the wild ones grow

Flies are important.

Fly box

Muddler love.

Muddler

Not sure if it was just me but, the colors of the changing leaves seemed more vivid this year.

Chinese dragons.

Like Chinese Dragons

So, you want to be a guide?

So, you want to be a guide?

Treat yo' self

Treat yo’ self

Tail

Tails

Torque

Heads

The Beav

The Beav

While cute, this beav was not a welcome site. We had just risen a fish and were in the process of the routine and this giant beav swam through the pool. He was as pissed off as I was, invading his home pool, I understood as he got on his hind legs and made disturbing gestures and hard stares our way. We fruitlessly made casts at our fish, hope was lost for my client but I’ve had this happen before, right-fish-right time-doesn’t-matter. Then he made a swim back across the pool towards us, slapping his tail with a loud “BOOM” time after time, needless to say hope was now lost on me.

.

While our steelhead was put down, we hooked our first beaver. A bit of unwanted revenge, the look on his face says it all…sorry beav. (line was broken immediately)

No beav in sight, Hitoshi Matsuda from Japan finally gets it right and brings a bright Trinity hen to hand.

No beav in sight, Hitoshi Matsuda from Japan finally gets it right and brings a bright hen to hand.

Beth Brunswick of the "fly-girls" with a bread & butter fish fro the Trinity.

The “fly-girls” first trip down south was a good one, Beth Brunswick with a nice one.

Right hand wind, no problem. Andy Marx just cranking' one in.

Right hand wind, no problem. Andy Marx just crankin’ one in.

Bright, late Umpqua fish

October bright on the North

Jungle to alpine

Jungle to alpine

Bruce Moore, killed the bobber and gave the fish a chance to show him what they could do. They did a lot for Bruce.

Bruce Moore, killed the bobber and gave the fish a chance to show him what they could do. They did a lot for Bruce.

A familiar gallery

A familiar gallery

Eric White with another nice one, this was one of the hardest fights I've seen this year.

Eric White with another nice one, this was one of the hardest fights I’ve seen this year.

Hard to beat October too

Hard to beat October too

Every one is a little different

Every one is a little different

Down the side of a mountain and back again, Rick Davis with the reward. A perfect wild hen.

Over the hill and through the woods and back again, Rick Davis with the reward. A perfect wild hen.

Every year is different and this was no exception, I saw some of the best steelheading I’ve ever seen and some of the toughest when it shouldn’t have been. Getting humbled is a good thing now and again, makes one appreciate it even more when you have one of those days when you can do no wrong. None the less, these fish never cease to amaze.

This is a smattering of clips that I took throughout the summer, nothing fancy.

Thank you to all of those who came fishing with me this fall. Had a great time with all of you, except for the ones I didn’t(you know who you are). Looking forward to this winter and seeing many of you again. Until then…

Rich

Here fishy, fishy

August 22, 2013

How to describe the past few months? That’s a hard thing to do. The river was, well, consistently inconsistent. Most days we got our shot but we had to work hard for them, something we are definitely used to on the North as they never come easy and that’s what makes them so special. I’m searching my brain for the right word to describe it, I’ll figure it out eventually. Stay tuned.

The beauty of this place never takes a day off.

It's coming.

It’s coming.

Live water

Chop on top

In a year with not as many fish around (and just as many anglers) and tough conditions, you had to be on top of your game and as stealthy as possible. Metal wading staffs were turned away (who thought that was a good idea anyway), not just “right” presentations were called to “bring it back” more so than usual, ha, crouching approaches, different casting positions and angles, etc, etc.

More like this guy.

More like this guy.

John Luis with a cracker of a hen.  John is from the old guard on the "Lost Coast" and had taken 10yrs off from steelheading. You couldn't ask for a better comeback fish than this girl, well deserved John.

John Luis with a cracker of a hen. John is from the old guard on the “Lost Coast” and had taken 10yrs off from steelheading. You couldn’t ask for a better comeback fish than this girl, well deserved John.

Steve Bury with his second on the dry. On only his second steelhead trip ever the man has got the soul most wish they had.

Steve Bury with his second on the dry. On only his second steelhead trip ever, the man has got the soul most wish they had.

Notice the uncanny resemblance of this fishes face to that inked on Steve's forearm.

Notice the uncanny resemblance of this fishes face to that inked on Steve’s forearm.

You also had to move, faster, move faster, take your steps, “naw, gimme one more step…” “more line….a lil’more” Cover the water and cover as much as you can in a day, in the best of light.

Tightening up

Tightening up

Coolest bird on the river.

Coolest bird on the river.

Extraterrestrials

Extraterrestrials

What? Jim Ansite with a dandy chinook.

What?, yeah! Jim Ansite with a dandy chinook.

As with all good things, mostly they’re are stumbled across. Not sure if this will last season to season but they were biting this year. While only landing a few, we hooked many. Talk about pull.  “There ain’t no nook”, yeah I’m not saying that.

Brady Johnstone with another. This guy had and adipose the size of my fist, awesome creature.

Brady Johnstone with another. This guy had an adipose the size of my fist, what an animal.

Chris Marto, dealing with the feeling that comes after landing a steelhead that completely clears the water for you fly and then landing is. The guy gets it.

Chris Marto, dealing with the feeling that comes after landing a steelhead that completely goes airborne for your fly. The guy gets it.

The image of Marto's fish etched in my memory and journal.

The image of Marto’s fish etched in my memory and journal.

Morning glory strikes again.

Morning glory strikes again.

This brief moment, truthfully why I do it.

This brief moment.

David Katz, nothing like your first on the dry and spey!

David Katz, nothing like your first on the dry and spey!

A wet, cool August day, sound good? Brady with a beauty.

A wet, cool August day, sound good? Brady with a beauty.

Never a day off.

Never a day off.

Steelheading.

Perseverance, knowing you’re going to hook one in every run and fishing it that way. A random, “here fishy fishy” ain’t gonna cut it, never has.

 

Like this guy.

Like this guy.

Summer is on the way out. Hopefully taking the heat and smoke along with it, and the high sun too. Fall. Bringing more fish, cooler nights, shorter days, lower water temps and longer shadows.

I had a great time with all those that I got to fish with, looking forward to fishing again and to what the fall may or may not bring. How many steelhead seasons do we get, right?

Rich

Our backyard

July 8, 2013

Smith in the summer.

Smith in the summer.

Yet another mine is being proposed, this time in our own backyard. A Nickel strip mine within the watersheds of the Smith and Illinois rivers. In some of the most pristine habitat for salmonids left in the lower 48. Please take the time to sign a petition and send a letter to the Obama administration to forever protect these watersheds.

Sign the letter

Sign the petition

Signing these will help protect these…

A perfect winter hen

A perfect Smith winter hen

Be good to the fish and they’ll be good to you.

Rich

Ride the Lightning

May 27, 2013

My summer steelhead season starts the same way every year, a solo trip. Expectations are low as there are very few summer-runs in the system but there is always a chance, I’d go even if there wasn’t. This is a trip to reconnect with the river after a few months of my “off season”. This is one of my favorite trips of the year, not many anglers in their right minds are there and that’s what I enjoy about it.

The one friend who gets to come along.

The one friend who gets to come along.

Most of the runs we fish in the summer are un-fishable during the winter. It’s like re-uniting with an old friend you have’nt seen in a long time. Memories of fish from summers past haunt  as the fly swims through the water “the…, that one that just exploded on the dry beyond the lip, that one porpoising after it compleatly missing and never to be seen again, the one that came for every change never to eat, that one frieght training it and leaving the pool and gone…” and so on. Funny how that old adage holds so true, you remember the ones that get away the most.

After taking a few months off from steelheading, there are definitely insecurities as well. “Will I even remember how to catch one?”

In my second run of the day, the river let me know I still do.

In my second run of the day, the river let me know that I still do.

Reel screaming like a banshee trying to keep up with line peeling off into the depths downstream and catching a glimpse of a cartwheeling fish outta the corner of the eye upstream and knowing that’s your fish, oh shit!, has to be one of the coolest moments in steelheading.

A good feeling

A good feeling

With so many great pools to fish, it's like catching lightning in a bottle...

With so many great pools and very few fish , it’s like catching lightning in a bottle…can you find the fish?

This time of year, it has to do more with getting extremely lucky. Stepping into the right run at the right time. There are no magic pools, these fish are moving and moving fast. Luck is the name of the game. Catching lightning twice, yeah right, right?

Fishing a gaudy fly, even for me, I got a pluck-pluck and brought the fly back to check it out. Watched it swimming in the water and thought, “that is just too nasty for a fish to eat, can’t beleive a trout even tried to.” Changed to a more respectable fly of sorts…next cast…

34 inches of pure lightning...

34 inches of luck.

Something happened with this fish that I don’t see very often on the North, backing, lots of it. I’ve never had line escape my reel as fast as with this fish, no hesitation to leave the pool, it was instant. My reel literally smoked like a truck riding the brakes going down a steep pass, you could smell it, the S handle turned itself loose with the speed of the line, and was wobbling around while reeling, making strange noises. My left forearm became useless trying to keep up when she hesitated. Bo was freaking out. Over 200 yards later we tailed her in the shallows.

Beautiful

Beautiful

Anticipation is high for a good run this year. But reality is, is that it’s too early to tell, very early…only time will…

On another, more serious note, time is running out to voice your opinion on the Pebble Mine situation.

While never fishing in Bristol Bay myself and not sure if I’ll ever get to, I take great comfort in knowing there is a place where a salmon can be a salmon without our interfering with it, as should any fisherman/sportsman/anybody. This mine is for something that we as humans have placed value on, in the bigger picture salmon are invaluable to the earth and our existence. If you’ve taken the time to read this post, there’s no excuse not to comment(it’ll take less time to make your voice heard), you’ll feel better having done it. If you’re not convinced “Pebble” is a bad thing, watch this powerful video by Ryan Peterson then follow this link:

http://capwiz.com/savebristolbay/issues/alert/?alertid=62627501&PROCESS=Take+Action

http://

sea-swallow’d from ryan peterson on Vimeo.

Rich & Bo

Opening Day

May 2, 2013

Opening day of trout season was this past weekend. I somehow over-looked it, damn.

Ahh yes, Mexico got in the way...

Mexico got in the way…

 

See you this summer…

 

Rich

 

 

38 Special

April 7, 2013

Winter steelhead fishing, it’s a strange game we play. Take a tough fish to catch and make it even tougher. When the odds are stacked against you, pushing it until that line tightens up. The rewards can be simply put…

John Rickard and his first Umpqua steelhead

John Rickard and his first Umpqua steelhead, 38″

John booked this day with me and brought along Chuck Volckhausen of wildwatersflyfishing.com John watched Chuck go 2 for 2, knowing John hadn’t touched an Umpqua fish before…I was putting him in the buckets, ” I just want it too bad” John says.        ” Naw, she’s just making you work for it”, I’m thinking, then John sticks this guy, not bad.

A healthy 38" buck to end my season.

Another healthy 38″ buck to end my season.

Just a couple of reasons to chase winter steelhead.

Hope everyone had as good a season as I did, many thanks to all that fished with me, see you this summer!

Rich & Bo

Going Coastal

January 14, 2013

Confidence

Confidence

The happy, warm, fuzzy days of summer are gone, as are the free rising steelhead. It’s time to get dirty, creepy and anti-social. Lying to friends and family about your whereabouts, listening to Tool, wading nips deep on your tip-toes to reach that pocket above a class 4 you just know there’s one in, mobbing down a cliff on the off chance there may be one living in that tail-out, T-20, XL lead eyes, 6 inch long flies. Yup, the good stuff.

The hard won reward, a wild, ocean bright hen.

The hard won reward, a wild, ocean bright hen.

Winter fish don’t come easy, you’ve got to be dedicated and willing to put in the time. Getting the skunk is inevitable, it’s gonna happen, don’t let that stop you. With the coastal rivers constantly in flux, time on the water is the key to winter success, learning where the fish hold at different flows is crucial. Winter waters hold their secrets tightly and so should you.

Podcast

Podcast

Dancing pines and the light that shines.

Dancing pines and the light that shines.

Wading and fishing a wild coastal river is as good as it gets for me. The beauty of both the rivers and fish that return to them are unbeatable. These are special places.

Another wild hen, just a beauty. Many jumps and a take like she took it running down stream.

Just a beauty. Many jumps and a take like she took it running down stream. Which upon landing her, saw that she actually did.

Eating good is another key.

How many times have you bought this beer while fishing for them?

How many times have you bought this beer while fishing for them?

Wild tail, the best kind.

Wild tail, the best kind.

One the handsomest bucks I've seen in a while. Love the lack of spotting.

One of the handsomest bucks I’ve seen in a while. Love the lack of spotting, maybe the        hen-fish will too.

Not too many off these around right now.

Not too many of these around right now.

One of the best lines I’ve heard from a gear guy in a long time, it’s a long story and I don’t feel like finger punching the whole thing, ” I saw you was a fly guy and I thought, man, are we gonna have to kick sum’s ass right now?” He also spouted off this gem, ” Not all the steelheads in this river are ocean run, there sum that are indiggness or sumpin, natives I dunno…” Just know he was a good dude and one you’d want on your side.

Another beautiful hen, I've seen more hens this year than bucks, I ain't complaining.

Another beautiful, jumping and running wild hen, I’ve seen more hens this year than bucks, I ain’t complaining.

Twilight, breaking evening.

Twilight sky.

Who's been a good boy? You know he has.

Who’s been a good boy? You know he has.

Letting go...

Letting go…

Go fishing with high hopes and no expectations…

Be good,

Rich & Bo

www.steelheadwater.com

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