Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life on the Road: The Snake River

My new job has many perks...

I get to meet many "fishy" people.
I get to talk fishing with said people.
I work for an organization that does things the right way and is making a difference for the fish.
I drive all over the great state of Washington.

One place that my job does not (yet anyways) take me is Clarkston, Washington. I figured a trip to Pasco on a Friday was close enough though, so I made the drive through "deer alley" to the Lewiston-Clarkston area where I met up with a jump shooting fly angler that goes by the name of Ryan.

Ryan and I have known each other for some time but we hadn't hit the water together. Thankfully that changed as Ryan showed me the ropes on the Snake River.

We had originally planned on fishing the Grande Ronde but sub-freezing temperatures had turned it into a Slurpee of sorts. The weather was brutal as we wandered up and down the Snake, chipping ice out of our guides, and taking full advantage of hand warmers and layers of fleece.

We both experienced a few "bumps" and even saw a fish working the surface (?!?) but neither of us hooked up that day.

Instead, I caught a cold, and a long drive back to Portland. But the experience of big, gorgeous water, and time spent with a friend was well worth it.

Maybe that first steelhead on the spey will come next week, on another new river, in another beautiful corner of Washington.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

SW Washington Gold...

It was an absolutely frigid morning in Southwest Washington today.

A rare cool, and dry weather spell has dropped rivers to early fall levels and my buddy Nate Hall and I had to go wet a line for a bit.

Due to life's important responsibilities (namely Nate having to work) we only had a few hours to fish, but I'm glad that we both got our butts to the river this morning...

Because this happened:

After a good half hour of working a run, we decided to head upstream until we hit a private property line. Nate offered for me to fish through the run first but I declined (bad move)!

After a few casts, I hear an "oh $@*#" and turn to see a boil and Nate's rod getting worked... after several tense minutes and a walk/scamper nearly 150 yards downstream we had this beauty of a native Winter Steelhead to shore.

It was Nate's biggest winter Steelhead ever (I'd guess length at 32"-34") and it was a toad. I don't know about weight (he was thinking around 15 lbs) but I know it was something special. I especially love how Nate got it on one of his own personal ties.

We fished on this morning, still high on the moment of landing that special fish, but hoping that we'd at least hook up with another piece of anadromous gold. We explored new runs, got frustrated by lack of access in others, and even tried a new stretch of water, but we didn't move another fish.

Despite the personal skunking (not unusual for me when chasing these anadromous ghosts) I took away a few things from today's experience:
1. Fishing with friends, and seeing them hook into a fish so special as a native Steelhead is worth nearly as much to me as catching my own.
2. I need to fish more... my spey cast is regressing lately.
3. Repeat #2.
4. We need to make sure the WDFW Commission follows Oregon and moves to take gill nets off the Columbia River mainstream. Fish like this would NOT make it through the gill nets currently used on the Columbia. 

Watching that beautiful fish swim away just deepened my desire to get this spey casting thing down and to hook up with a winter fish. It will happen... it's just a matter of when!

This fish alone is a good argument against gill nets in the Columbia River mainstream.