Friday, July 27, 2012

A Float Through an Urban Wonderland

Yesterday evening, I was fortunate enough to join my good friend Wayne "Trout Jedi" Jordan on a float with Sean Visintainer, the owner of Silver Bow Fly Shop here in Spokane. I've floated the river before with Silver Bow, but that was last summer with my Father-In-Law. In fact, last year's trip was one of my first forays back into fly fishing and it occurred almost a year to the day prior.

Big Spokane River Redband.

This year, lower flows then the previous season coupled with rising water temps and lots of pressure had me thinking that the trip would be good, but perhaps not red hot. After being on the water for 10 minutes, I stood corrected. Wayne and I, under the direction of Sean of course, put on a friggin clinic. We netted countless Redbands, got a token pikeminnow, and I of course landed two Whitefish...

Another BIG Spokane River fish.

These weren't just any fish though... we caught some HOGS! I got my two best fish out of the Spokane ever, with both over 18" and chunky. Wayne got one that was pushing 19" and looked more like a Triploid out of a local lake. It was insane. Perhaps the best part was the fact that we used our own dropper flies (Wayne's Bastard Prince and my E-Z-Wing Caddis). Several fish also destroyed our Pat's Rubber Legs.

The "Jedi" Strikes Again!

When fishing with more experienced fisherman, I like to try and pick up some new tips or learn new tactics. If I'm lucky enough, the other fisherman will catch a flaw or two in my methods and help me improve my catching ability. A guided trip is an ideal time to pick up these pointers and tonight I was thankful that Sean noticed me pumping the rod too much while fighting fish. I was creating slack in doing so much and lost several nice fish early in the float because of this habit. Lesson learned, and by the end I was sticking and landing nearly every strike.

Healthy 14" Redband. Native, Feisty, Beautiful.

The float was a great time, and I highly recommend a trip with Silver Bow in the near future. They are a great shop with wonderful staff who know their stuff.

Putting a bend in the Winston. Thanks again Sean and Silver Bow!

The photos used in this blog entry were taken by Sean, Wayne, and myself!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The High Price of a Bat Bite

It's been a week now since I've had my run in with the batty bat that decided to put his teeth into my hand last week on the St. Joe River. After the incident, and my many trips to the doctor/hospital thus far for treatment, I've had many different emotional stages.

First, I was extremely concerned about my well being. I'm not a complete idiot while outdoors, and I scouted ahead to place my hand on the stump that the bat was resting behind, but I didn't deserve rabies for my apparent misplacement of my hand. I'm 27 years old and dying this young from an awful disease would be a terrible way to go.

Barely perceptible, except for the bill...

After getting my first round of treatment, I was then freaking out over the cost of treatment. Anger over my faux-pas of not killing the bat to get it tested (which would possibly save me a ton of money should it not be rabid), and the medical system which only offered shots at hospitals (and in ERs to boot) was heartbreaking.

Now, after two rounds of vaccines, a trip to my primary care provider, and three more vaccine appointments scheduled at the hospital (starting tomorrow!), I feel certain (100%) that I will not get rabies. I also am afraid that my insurance will not cover any of the treatment and that it will all count towards my deductible (regrettably $7,500). That being said, I'm seeing the positive side of things, and the day that this is all paid for (sometime in 2018?), it will become a huge laughing point... wait, it already is one.

Thinking of the price that I'm paying for all of this (estimated of course... with help from the CDC and my insurance company), I've found that the bat bite fishing excursion was the most expensive fishing trip of my life. Here's what I could've done with the likely $7,500 that I will be paying the hospital to make sure I live a rabies free life:

- Paid off debt... duh. Not exciting in a materialistic sense, but it'd be great to knock out a chunk of the old student loans or car loan.

- Buy a fly fishing raft... a nice one. A Streamtech Boat.

I would prefer this to a bat bite.
- Buy ten premium fly rods (Scott, Sage, Winston...) and have a disgustingly complete quiver.

- Get another Hernia operation and have some scratch ($2,000+) to spare... at least I got something more tangible out of that hospital experience. 

- Buy a house in Detroit... maybe not, but it was possible a few years ago.

- Buy a fleet of Watermaster rafts... seriously, a friggin fleet!

- Do nothing... I didn't have the money so in theory, this would be the correct answer. 

Overall, I'm laughing about the whole thing and here at the Skinny Waders household, we're thankful that it'll all be over soon. The health of a person should never be measured against money, and that's the simple truth to the situation. 

It's time to get out on the water again soon... I'll just have to take extra care to avoid bats. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cutthroat, Dry Flies, and Bats...

I'm moving away from Spokane soon. The end of August to be exact. It will be bittersweet... I'll miss the Spokane River, my fishing companions, co-workers, and the proximity to Montana. I won't miss the crazy tweaked out meth addicts, the terrible roads and drivers, nor will I miss the awful economy. I guess I'll miss the fishing most of all though...

That lead me to this week's short fishing trip, originally planned for a two-day trip on the St. Joe River in North Idaho. The Joe is a tributary to Lake Coeur d'Alene and is renowned for its Westslope Cutthroat fishing. I hadn't been on the Joe since last September and sunny skies greeted my fishing partner and I when we arrived on the river this past Wednesday.

This 18" Cutt fell for a Stonefly Nymph. Caught by Dustin Bise. 

The intense heat and cloudless day was not great for hatches (sparse PMDs, Golden Stones, and Caddis) but fish were still active. Combining nymphing slots and buckets and throwing attractor dries, we quickly got into fish. In fact, our first fish of the day was actually one of two on the same cast. Yes, my first one-man double... a 16" Cutt on the stonefly and a 6" Cutt on the Prince dropper. The day was looking solid until an incident on the next hole.

Two Fish = Win! 

While I was hiking down a trail to a boulder that created a huge eddy, I reached forward to brace myself (going downhill) on an old tree stump. I looked at the stump before I reached for it, and saw nothing unusual. As soon as my hand touched the top of the stump (and my fingers reached over the edge of it) I felt a sharp prick and heard an odd screeching noise. A small creature of some sort fell to the ground and started crawling around while I quickly jumped down to the river bank, scared to death. I looked at my finger and saw two small puncture wounds (practically superficial) and looked on the trail to see a small bat (silver haired bat) hissing/screeching at me.

Now, I was scared, didn't know what to do, and in hindsight I should've captured and killed the little bastard, but instead I went to the river, got out my soap and began washing the wound out continually. We continued to fish for the rest of the evening and set up camp that night. I figured/thought that rabies took some time to set in and the bite looked mild enough that I'd be fine if I waited till the following day to trek back to Spokane.

We fished through the night, netting 20 fish between the two of us, mostly Cutthroat with a few Whitefish thrown in for varieties sakes. The following morning, we fished for a few hours working fish on dries and nymphs in the nicer buckets on the river. Even a big pool produced fish for us, which was shocking considering how much pressure these fish had seen recently.

Great Cutthroat from the "Bat Hole."

It turned out to be a near 40 fish trip for us, which is phenomenal considering the chatter from most anglers on the river was that fishing was terribly slow.

Nice Cutthroat following release.

Wrapping up early, we drove back to Spokane where I went immediately to the hospital. It was determined that I needed to get a Post-Exposure Rabies treatment (series of 5 shots, plus an EXTREMELY expensive anti-body shot to start off with)... the bummer is that insurance will barely cover any of it (read none... just adjustments... they say it's not a preventative thing but rather an injection) and the average bill for people bitten by bats who need the treatment is $10,000. No joke. In fact, that first day I had 11 shots at the Hospital including 6 of the anti-body into my fingertip... painful freaking stuff.

So a trip that went from being a cheap, camping overnight for Cutties, turned into the most expensive and frustrating ordeal of my life (wait... maybe college takes that title).

I won't be posting too many fishing reports in the near future as medical appointments, work, and packing for our move will occupy most of our time. I do have a float planned for next week on the Spokane and will have a full run-down on that.

So next time you're out fishing/hiking/exploring in North Idaho, be aware of bats and stay the #%#@ away from them. They do have an important role in our ecosystem but they sure can be expensive and possibly deadly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Last Minute Trip...

Hey all... seems like a while since I've posted a trip report. Last week, with the FFF Conclave in town, sending out job apps and cover letters like crazy, and seven shifts at work, I didn't exactly hit the water much. I did get into a few Redbands here in town and an ugly sucker on a day off, but I wouldn't exactly consider the week of fishing to be very satisfying.

This week was looking pretty mundane as well until I realized my friend and I both had similar days off. With a quick shift swap, we worked out a nice two day trip on the St. Joe River in Northern Idaho. We will be camping one night and fishing all day long for two days straight. It should be solid as levels are just coming into shape for wade fishing, and the Joe has likely not been pounded by wade anglers like some of the other area rivers... yet.

I'll have a full trip report and pictures in a few days... And next week, a float on the Spokane River will be the trip report topic. I'll also be traveling back home to the Portland/Vancouver area in a few weeks time and hope to hit some small water trout fishing in rural Southwest Washington.

Check back soon for sweet fish pics, and perhaps a funny story or two.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gear Review: Redington Torrent Fly Rod

Seeing as the blog is in it's infant stages, I'm not in the position of receiving free fly fishing goods to test  and review. That being said, if I personally buy a product and feel strongly about it (for good or bad), then I'll possibly post a gear review on it. The following review is my honest input about a product that I spent my hard earned money on... enjoy.

Redington Torrent 8'6" 4 wt 4 pc. Rod

Despite being on a budget, I was on the hunt for a perfect small/medium water dry fly rod. I had a few 5 and 6 weight rods in my quiver but wanted a faster action 4 weight that could shoot some serious line, had solid pick up, but would also cast accurately in close/tight situations. With summer dry fly season nearing, I wanted to find a rod that would fit all those needs but for under $300.

Thankfully, you don't need to spend $750 anymore to get a quality made fly rod. I looked at rods from Echo, TFO, Orvis, Sage, and Scott before settling on the Redington Torrent. One of my local fly shops, Westslope Fly Shop in Spokane, was kind enough to order the rod in for me and allowed me to cast it before I walked out with the rod. Being a newer model, none of the local stores had any Torrents in stock.

Beautiful wraps and green finish. Nice work Redington. 

After just a few days, the rod arrived from Bainbridge Island and I met owner Jesse Clark at Westslope to test cast the rod. First impressions were simply... "wow." The Torrent featured a fairly fast action but was inherently smooth with a slightly tip heavy flex. I was throwing accurately from 15-60 feet and if needed I could punch it further. To be blunt, it cast better than my older Scott A series 5 weight and it gave the Sage VXP (a $500 rod) a serious run for it's money in lawn casting scenarios. Needless to say, after test casting it for a half hour, I left with the rod in hand.

Finish wise, the rod features a nice dark green finish that has some SERIOUS coats of paint on it. Talk about a glistening finish. The cork was not necessarily premium (some filler, but to be expected) but the grip was comfortable and more than adequate. The reel seat has a green graphite insert and a single up-locking reel seat keeps my Lamson Guru 1.5 securely in place. Stripping guides are PacBay and are high quality, and the wraps are nice and neat. The rod tube is a sweet stealthy gray aluminum with a lime colored Redington Logo.

Graphite insert on reel seat. 

The real test for a rod is, to me, how it fishes. A rod can lawn cast like a dream but until you fish it and become infinitely familiar with it, you don't know what you're getting into. The Redington Torrent is built to fish. I've used it with great success throwing everything from dries on the Bitterroot (60 foot reach casts with accuracy) to dropping lighter double nymph rigs on the Coeur d'Alene River. This rod is simply wonderful. Fish from 6" to 18" are a blast on this setup and though a 3 wt would be fun on smaller mountain streams, the 4 wt. Torrent doesn't feel like overkill in those situations.

I love the faster action (now that I've been fly fishing for long enough, I feel that a faster rod can work for many different applications) and enjoy the light weight, sleek finish, and of course the low sticker price.

This Bitterroot Cutthroat was a Torrent 4 wt. victim. 

You can certainly find a cheaper rod out there, but you wont find many with this quality finish, action, and phenomenal warranty (Redington/Sage are some of the best in the business). I suspect that the rod taper was borrowed from an older or current Sage model (perhaps the VXP with slightly lower modulus graphite?) and I don't regret the purchase in the slightest. I'll be looking at a Torrent or Predator in the future for a solid 7 weight streamer/bass rod and recommend it to anyone looking to find a quality, fishable stick.

Redington Torrent Grade Sheet -

Finish - 9/10 (only cork could be better... but for the price that's not realistic)
Hardware - 8/10 (reel seat is solid, but a slightly sturdier one would be nice)
Lawn Casting - 9/10 (faster, progressive action... similar to Sage VXP)
Actual Fishing Situations - 9/10 (can really do it all in the 4 wt class...)
Value - 10/10 (Great work by Redington... as usual)

Overall - 9/10. I prefer this single-hander over a similar CPX and find it to load with minimal line out, make accurate casts from 10-60 feet, and the fit and finish of it is excellent for the price. Pick one up and you wont regret it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Putting Lipstick on a Poop Plant?

Driving up and down the lower Spokane River will inevitably take you past the Wastewater Treatment Plant at some point.

The Poop Plant (as I like to term it) has been undergoing expansion/construction/etc since I've been in Spokane (over a year and a half now) and I understand that they are making it more efficient/effective in cleaning up wastewater before it is returned to the river system.

That being said, it was interesting to see this new public "art" in front of the complex the other day.

I'm all for public art and sculpture but does this really do much? I understand that the "see-through" pieces blur the view of the plant a bit... but I can certainly still smell it...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Not What I Wanted...

This was a first for me. A sucker. A fairly big, nasty, slimy, stinky, sucker fish. Native... yes. Lame... also a yes. Fought like an old tire. 

Thankfully I got a few Redbands to start the day... I'll be back at it in a few hours with some friends. It's a good day off work despite mid 90 degree temps. 

Here's to hoping I'll be catching more Redbands than suckers in the evening.

Second cast of the day... the preferred quarry. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Waterworks-Lamson Warranty Service Review

After busting up my Lamson Konic 2.0 reel a few weeks back on the Thompson River, I mailed it to the fine folks at The Waterworks-Lamson in Boise, ID for warranty service. I mailed it in on a Thursday and received it back a week and a half later.

Because the reel was a cast aluminum reel, and the damage done was of my doing (falling hard on a big rock!), I was worried that I would not be covered by the warranty program. I took a huge crack out of the spool and broke the clutch mechanism that held the spool tightly to the frame.

Lamson guarantees their reels from workmanship defects for the lifetime of the reel for the original purchaser. Despite my skepticism, Lamson warranty representative Tim told me to send the reel in (along with a $20 warranty service fee). I was concerned that not only did I send Lamson my reel and $20, but I also may not get a fixed reel back due to the damage being my fault.

I'm happy to report that my reel, upon returning home, was good as new. Lamson replaced the broken spool and fixed the clutch/locking mechanism. Lamson also retuned the drag (it's smoother than ever!).

Lamson is known for their wonderful service and I will not doubt it again. I'll probably be a Lamson customer for life, but I will likely buy a fully machined Lamson (like my Guru 1.5) the next time that I'm in the market for a reel. I love the value of the Konic, and appreciate it's precise tolerances and smooth drag, but the extra durability, better finish, and even smoother/lighter properties of a machined reel are hard to ignore.

Thanks Lamson for the great service, amazing product, and quick warranty repair.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Montana Trip Recap

This past Tuesday afternoon, Wayne "Trout Jedi" Jordan and I embarked on two days and nights of camping and fly fishing in the Missoula area of Montana. We planned to fish for sure on a few rivers and would "wing it" according to water flows, fishing pressure, etc if our destined waters were not fishing well.

We hit a few big name waters, some relatively unknown creeks, and a few quiet but excellent rivers. 

I had a few goals before the trip...
1. Catch my first Bull trout. A must.
2. Catch a big Brown.
3. Drink good beer.
4. Catch all the available gamefish/trout species on the waters that we fish... nearly improbable but a good ultimate goal.
5. Work on my dry fly game... ie. Reach cast effectively, stalk fish, and make my first cast count.

In the end, I accomplished four out of five goals. Only number two eluded me, but I hooked a MASSIVE Bull trout on the ******************* River that took me to my backing before coming unhooked. That one still grinds my gears. Oh well...

PMDs, Caddis, and Drakes up top seemed to be the main meal tickets, and my self tied Z-wing Caddis Pupae was a winner nymphing. Wayne of course caught fish in all manners, and he even enticed a fish to a purple/glitter Chubby Chernobyl dry fly... and it wasn't just any fish, it was an 18" Westslope Cutthroat. Not your average Cutty!

Enough text for this post though. How about some pictures?! Wayne took the shots of my fish and I threw a couple of Wayne's victory photos in for good measure as well.

Rock Creek, Montana.

Rock Creek Brook Trout. Small guy, dry fly. Only Brookie of the trip.

Wayne's Big Cutthroat.

Hello Cutty. How was that Chernobyl pattern?

Biggest Cutthroat to date for me. Just shy of 19". Great fish.


My first ever Bull trout. Small but native and gorgeous.

Dry fly stalking Cutthroat. Always fun.

Feisty Montana Cut-bow.

Riverside refreshments. Critical to a good trip.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where do you want to fish this summer?

A simple question perhaps, but what realistic waters do you wish to fish?

I have a pretty solid, if not standard list. No, I wont fish them all, but I can dream right?

- The Upper Deschutes, Hosmer Lake, and Todd Lake in Oregon.
- The Kalama and Grande Ronde for Summer Steelhead.
- The Lower Yakima for Smallies.
- The Kettle River and the Upper Columbia for Redband Trout.
- The Missouri and Dearborn (though Fall may win out on that trip).
- The Blackfoot/Rock Creek/Bitterroot (Should be knocking some of these out this week).
- The Kootenai and Yaak.
- Cutthroat on the St. Joe.

That's my list for now. Where do you plan to fish coming up? Leave a comment and let me know!