This year’s king salmon run in Wisconsin is what one might call pitiful, both in numbers and in size. And that marked decrease is seen right on through the cohos and browns and rainbows. It’s not due to any single factor, but a combination of super cold winters the last two years, poor spawn return, zebra mussels, and the feeding habits of the predator fish in Lake Michigan.
My friend, John Beth, spent a day last week pounding our favorite tributary, and managed a king or two and a few browns. However, the fish were all small—none of the behemoth browns of years past—just the “small ones” up to 26 inches. Still very nice fish, but not what we’ve seen.
John sent me some photos, and a very interesting link to an article on the low salmon numbers and size. Have a look: Salmon population plummeting in Lake Michigan
John with one of the smaller and lesser in number kings.
John’s biggest brown, a nice 26 inch, robust female.
A very nice male brown, only several inches smaller than in years past.
A nice female coho, but space in numbers.
Last night we stayed in Ogden Utah, after a long drive from Laramie, WY. As we climbed over the Continental Divide just west of Laramie we were treated with the sight of snow! The roads were clear and dry, but the snow was fresh–probably the day before. The hills to the west of Laramie were snow covered. Beautiful. We head on into Oregon today.
Snow covered hills behind a very sizable snow fence. Yup, this section of interstate 80 really gets it in the winter.
We are moving–somewhere west to be near Jason and Kelley and Brooke. They live in Vancouver, WA (just across the Columbia River from Portland OR), so we will be somewhere in that vicinity. We have not bought a home, so we will live in the motorhome until we find something. It will be a grand adventure, to be sure. Tonight we are in Kearny, NB, headed west in Interstate 80. We will intercept Interstate 84 in Oregon, and thence onto Portland. Brooke has already announced that she wants to take up to the ice cream store. Can’t wait.
My bluesman, fly fishing friend, Keith Scott (http://heavyblues.com) has been picking and singing his way across the Northwest. He was in Smithers, BC, recently and had a chance to swing streamers for steelhead in the Bulkeley—to no avail. Turns out they wanted a clown egg, which he fed them most willingly. Then to Smithers for Chinese food at the Twin Valley Hotel (Keith and I eat Chinese toigether every chance we get). Play ‘em some blues, brother.
A “clown” eatin’ steelie–that’s the fish. The other one is bluesman Keith.
Keith is a Chinese food eatin’ bluesman, too! Look great.
The new Hardy rods and reels make casting a delight and make fish like this work just that much harder during the fight.
Hardy has released their 2016 catalog, loaded with lots of outstanding gear. Of particular excitement for me are the Wraith and Zephrus rods, the Medium Spool DD reels, and Dutchess reels. I had a chance to cast the Wraith and Zephrus prototypes last year at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show in California, and was truly stunned by their performance. The Ultralite Disk Drag Reels that Hardy offers are truly a pleasure to use, and the new MADD models of that reel give exactly the same performance with a bit more backing capacity—great when one goes after bones with a 6-weight rod or fishes for big fall run browns with a 7 weight. The new Dutchess reel is a delight—lovely to look at and “Hardy” every inch of the way.
For a great look at the products go here: http://fly.hardyfishing.com/en-gb/products/products-splash/
For a look at the new Zephrus rods go here: https://youtu.be/E2Nznjnq2bw
Nancy and I are moving west—to the Portland, OR, area to be closer to Jason, and Kelley, and Brooke. We need to get more family time and fishing time together. Amidst all the sorting, packing, tossing, trips to GoodWill, and all the other assorted agonies of moving, John Beth sent me this photo of an 18 inch rainbow that he caught on the last day of the inland trout season. It came from a spring creek in SW Wisconsin, but looks like an Alaskan Leopard Rainbow. To top it off, John used a cane rod, silk line, and 100-year old reel. Ah, but he didn’t use a gut leader—we will forgive you John.
What a way to end the season.
Our second day was one of bright blue skies and pleasant temperatures. After morning chapel, we discussed equipment with a detailed Q&A session. Then right after lunch, we had a casting contest—both accuracy and distance. There were 4 targets at different ranges and each caster made 3 casts to each. One point was awarded for an overhead cast that hit the target, 2 points for an across body cast that landed in the hoop, and 3 points for a roll cast that was successful. Then, we had a casting class, discussing the tactics for distance casting and learning the nuances of the Double Haul. This was followed by a program on nymphing, again with an extended Q&A session.
During the days of the school, we ran a fishing contest, too: (1) greatest overall length of any single fish, and (2) cumulative length of all fish caught. The competition was intense, and the results great fun to announce.
The results of the competitions were:
Longest Cast — Derek Humphries 87’ 4”
Casting Accuracy — Derek Humphries 12 points
Longest Fish — Derek Humphries 15 3/8”
Greatest Cumulative length — Eddy Tofslie 460”
Looking forward to next year’s school at Clydehurst Christian Ranch
The casting contest was great fun, and the wind helped a bit.
Derek was the “top dog” in casting and biggest fish. Congrats!!
Eddy found the honey hole and piled on the inches. Amazing–congrats!!
Last night was the opening salvo to prime the fly fishing pump. Today, we poured it to them. We started with the Clinch Knot and Improved Clinch, and then moved on to a discussion of the Three Point Grip, Wrist Casting, Forearm Casting, and Whole Arm Casting, and worked through A.L.E. (acceleration, loop formation, and energy transfer), and on to loop control.
Marc then presented a PowerPoint discussion of Reading Waters. This was followed by a casting demonstration in which I covered the topic discussed earlier.
After lunch we met and spent time casting. I love to watch novice casters develop real skill very quickly and veterans sharpen their skills.
Marc then discussed Food Organisms of the Trout, and presented a program on Fishing Central Oregon. Yes, I know we’re in Montana, but his program contains lots of good information on river and lake fishing in general. Besides, it’s fun to see big fish pictures.
Then came what everyone wanted—free time to head down to the Boulder and find some cooperative fish.
Dinner was late—7pm—to give everyone a chance to fish. Then came Chapel with a delightful discussion from Greg Payton. Looking forward to tomorrow!
Marc (right) and me on stage at the Clydehurst Christian Ranch Fly Fishing School.
The class pantomiming a Whole Arm Cast.
Marc Williamson and I arrived at Clydehurst on Wednesday evening, and got ourselves organized in our cabins. Thursday morning, after breakfast, we organized the materials for the school and checked out our electronics, then packed a light lunch and headed downriver to fish a couple of nice runs that we had seen when driving in. The day was pleasantly warm with a bright sun—not the most ideal fishing conditions, but ideal for being in the outside. Most of the fish that we caught were small, in fact I think I caught a record small one. A rainbow that had to have threaded its way onto the hook—how do they do it? Still I did manage to find several cooperative 9 inch brookies, an 11 inch brookie, and a 14 inch rainbow.
The students began arriving at 3pm, and after dinner, we had our first teaching session in which we introduced the concepts of casting and two knots—the Surgeon’s Loop and the Surgeon’s Knot. Everyone received a rope kit to speed the learning of knot tying, a casting chart, my DVD on The Perfect Cast I, the CD My Madison, writing supplies, schedules, and other materials for the school. Let the wild rumpus begin.
The river is called the Boulder for a reason.
Marc exploring a very nice pool on the boulder.
My new record small rainbow–look at the size of the fly compared to the head of this fish.
Marc Williamson and I fished Montana’s Bighorn yesterday (9/9/15). There was a Trico hatch and spinner fall that was incredible. Biggest I’ve ever seen. The duns were on the water from daylight to about 8:30 am. They also hatch at night, so we were probably on the tail end of the emergence. Marc and I floated and fished during the emergence and took some nice fish. After the hatch, we set up on a long shallow riffle that dumped into one of the Bighorn’s many long, deep pools. The air was alive with the spinners, literally millions of them; size 22. When they started to come down in serious numbers, we started to spot feeding fish. I took 5 trout on a size 22 Trico: 2 of them 17,” 1 was 18,” and 2 more 19”; Marc had his share, too. They were in very shallow riffle water at the edge (The Secret River); I would clearly see each fish when it rose and spotted a couple in the water, even though it was riffly. One fish was only 6 feet from shore in water not over 6 inches deep. I fished straight up to it, delivering the fly on a curve cast. It was great fun to watch the entire process of the fly drifting down, and the fish’s confident take. Of course seeing a size 22 Trico spinner in riffle water is really impossible, so I used a size 16, Elk Hair Caddis as a marker fly, hanging the Trico off the bend of the Caddis. It worked very well.
Yes, all those white dots are Tricos’ The sky was alive with them.
And when they fell, the water was blanketed with them.
Why would trout eat such tiny insects? Because there are so many of them. But they have to rise many times, giving the angler many opportunities for a hook up.