Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

It's been too long. Far too long. 

My life has been, for the most part, a drama this past month.

Work has been crazy, I've been preparing for an exciting new career, and my life at home has been a roller coster. I can say that the holidays unleashed every possible emotion in the Skinny Waders household.

I have gotten out on the water exactly one time since my trip early in the month to the Deschutes. This morning, I closed out my year of fly fishing with a quick run to a local river for some swing time in search of Steel.

No dice today, but just getting out and making casts during the light snowfall helped me process some of the craziness that has been my life in the past month (and year)!

I've had a few things affirmed this past year:

1. Your family is the most important thing you have. Secondly, a wife that lets you fish regularly is pretty dang great. Don't mess with that!
2. Trout are wonderful. Steelhead just might be better though! After latching into Steelhead on the Klickitat, I finally get it. There is something special about a fish so powerful, beautiful, and rare (talking about wild fish on this point).
3. Spey casting and two-handed fishing can be overwhelming. I'm loving the challenge and the gear is starting to make more sense to me, but I really need to get some casting lessons or go on a guided outing that instills the right way to fish on the swing.
4. Conservation of our fishing resources should be the number one priority of fisherman. If you can't conserve your fishery, you won't have a species to target, catch, and harvest. Simple but ultimately the truth. Get involved in any way and make a difference in your watershed.
5. Being patient makes a world of difference when it comes to finding a great job. I've worked restaurants for the last 10+ years, and even braved a retail gig this holiday season, but I sure am glad that I stayed patient and found a perfect career position... I'm the new Assistant Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Washington. That's right. I'm going to do my best to make a difference within the CCA (which is a tremendously influential group that all recreational fisherman should be involved with)!

My favorite fish of the year:

This one was tough to choose. I caught some great Redbands on the Spokane, landed a trophy Westslope Cutthroat in Western Montana, and even tamed my first Tiger trout. It's been a great year on the water for me, but I have to go back to my large native Steelhead on the Klickitat. 

Worst moment of the year:

The bat bite and rabies bill sure sucked a big one... but, a recent health scare involving Mrs. Skinny Waders takes the cake. A happy, healthy wife = a great life. I don't know what I'd do without her! 

2013 Fishing Bucket List:

1. Catch a big Brown... and preferably on the Missouri. 
2. Steelhead on the spey.
3. First Pink salmon.
4. First Puget Sound Cutthroat. 
5. First Chum Salmon.

2013 Personal/Career Goals:

1. Make the most of the job with CCA. Sounds vague but my exact professional goals are my own, but we'll leave it at this... I want to see CCA Washington as an even greater force for change than it currently is. Bigger, stronger, and more vocal. BE A PART OF THE CHANGE!
2. Buy a house... My wife has a bunch of stuff and we need more room for it.
3. Drift boat/raft purchase.
4. Be a better husband... you should always be looking to improve yourself!
5. Lose less gear (cameras, nets, etc...) because my wife will kill me. 

Good fishing in 2013 to all.

Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Double Nymphers... you must try this!

I love to fish with double nymph rigs. That dang Spokane River has made me into a nymphing machine... but I was always frustrated at how quickly my leaders would get ruined because of Thingamabobbers kinking and fraying my line.

The video above (from Red's Fly Shop) solved my problems. They are sharing this great solution to making easy adjustments to your depth while taking better care of your leader...

It's really simple. Use some old fly line material (the running line or rear portion) and nail knot the fly line to the leader... Kinda unorthodox, but it works great!

I attached my leader, loop to loop, to my fly line first, and then nail knot tied the fly line onto the leader via the thinner tippet end of the leader. I found this much easier to execute versus putting the looped end of the leader into my nail knot tool. The video will tell you to do otherwise (and if you are using a leader that is not pre-looped, than by all means, do it that way) but I prefer nail knotting the tippet end and running the nail knot up the leader before tightening.

After nail knot tying one piece of fly line onto the leader (and moving it up to the butt section of the leader before tightening it all the way, you then slidw\e a thingamabobber onto the line by threading the leader straight through the metal grommet on the indicator.

Then, you repeat the first step of nail knotting a section of old fly line to the leader, moving it up to the butt section of the leader before tightening it all the way.

The end result is an easy to slide and adjust indicator system that doesn't fray or kink your leader up in the manner that a standard application thingamabobber does.

I used this method recently on the lower Deschutes and I can say with certainty that I will be using it again! I loved being able to change depth quickly and not ruining leader or adding on more tippet material.

It's very convenient for those frigid days when undoing and reattaching thingamabobbers become a genuine pain. Saving time and material? Winner!

Thanks Red's!

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Two Right Feet...

Back at it... yes sir.

After transitioning between jobs (restaurant to seasonal retail... more on that another day) and twelve straight days of work, I finally found myself with a few days off.

On my first day away from work, I celebrated my birthday with friends and family. It was a needed day that I enjoyed immensely, but something was still missing.

I needed to fish!

So today, I went with a new fishing buddy (Chris) and explored the mecca that is the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon.

Chris, working the "nervous" water.

I had heard that the trout fishing had been stellar the past few weeks on the D and steelhead were also still being taken. Trout and steelhead have a way of motivating me to drive two hours in order to (possibly) put a hook in their mouth.

A cool, but calm morning greeted us as we pulled into Maupin. As Chris rigged up his rods in the Maupin City Park lot, I threw out my nymph rig into the mighty D. First cast. First fish! A nice 15" Redband was my morning greeting... celebratory cinnamon whiskey went down the hatch and the curse was on.

A fish on your first cast can be a bad omen at times. It's not often that I get a fish so quickly and I normally don't buy into the superstition regarding it, but today the curse came through.

As we pulled up to the next hole, I began to wader up... CRAP. In my moronic, early morning packing, I accidently packed two right wading boots. A right footed Korkers Metalhead and Korkers Chrome boot are NO good for wading. Laughing at my luck, I ran back into town to rent a pair of junk boots for the day.

A windy, yet beautiful day on the Big D. 

The hit parade continued as the wind picked up throughout the day. What started as a light breeze was soon 20+ MPH gusts, ripping down the canyon. Throwing double nymph rigs became a chore of sorts, though I managed to get into a nice Redband that came to the net as I hung precariously on the side of a basalt boulder on the shores of briskly moving back eddy. Flows were over 7,000 CFS in town, and the river was fishable, but just barely.

Chris and I conjured up some over eager Chinook parr with dry flies in a spot, and we both missed a few dry fly strikes by trout before we decided to explore new water in hopes that the wind would be less intense downriver.

Wrong. The wind was still awful. I took out my spey rod at this point figuring that I might as well try to go big since the trout weren't being too cooperative. The steelhead were just as unwilling to play as the trout though Chris did get into his first Deschutes River trout.

Chris and his catch... gotta love native trout.

Chris was beyond excited as the fish took down his nymph rig and put on quite the aerial display. Despite being a newer fly fisherman, Chris did a great job getting in quality drifts and it was nice to share some tips that passed onto me with him. It always pays to pass on knowledge, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the trip.

We called it quits after being battered by the wind for 8 hours, bringing the wrong boots, and catching our first lower Deschutes Redband trout. For my first trip on big D, I sure can't complain.

I can't wait to fish the Deschutes again... maybe next time I'll bring the right (and left) boots!