Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mega Prince Nymph proves Oregon trout love rubber legs

Oregon trout love rubber legs. Bottom line.

Today Wild Bill and I headed up to the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, below Hills Creek Reservoir. It was a little rainy, some size 12 BWOs coming off, nothing rising.

I'd stopped by the Caddis Fly yesterday to blow a gift certificate (Thanks Mom!)and got some good advice on fly selection. I picked up a bunch of crap that didn't work, but one thing that did. The mega prince nymph.

From MattStansberry

Wild Bill happened to have one -- he hooked up on it. Then I finally put one on and started hooking up too. No other fly worked all day long. For those of you who don't know about the prince nymph, it's basically peacock and rubber legs on a hook with a bead.

This was my first trout on the Willamette this year. I've had a couple good days on the Lower McKenzie, but this is the first score on the Big W. We hooked into 5 fish today -- not bad for basically winter fishing.

Legs man. Fish love legs.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oregon environmental activism events

I've been on the road a lot -- and it's going to keep going at least through May. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm headed to Santa Fe next week for meetings and I will be doing some hiking and fishing near Valles Caldera. A few weeks later I leave for Sitka Alaska to join my dad on a grizzly bear hunt -- I'm going to document the trip, try to fly fish, and avoid getting eaten.

That said, I'm going to be missing out on some important stuff in Oregon over the next few months. Sadly, I'll list them here and hope some of you would make it out in my stead:

April 3rd, 2007 -- Environmental Lobby Day in Salem, Oregon. It would be great to go up to Salem and help reel in e-Waste, toxic materials in Oregon’s water supply and other issues.

April 7th and 8th @ Noon at the Bijou Art Cinemas 492 East 13th Eugene, OR Save Our Wild Salmon will be hosting a viewing of the documentary film, Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim.

From the event planners: In 2003 Christopher Swain became the first person to swim the entire 1,243 mile length of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. His swim brought stories about the river's disrupted ecosystems and dislocated peoples to over twenty-thousand North American schoolchildren, and to a worldwide media audience of over one billion people. A group of thirty-plus Northwest filmmakers, led by Andy Norris, followed Swain's swim, and created a modern history of the Great River of the West. The result was a ninety minute film that one viewer called, "a heart-wrenching tale of a man and a river."

April 12: Lastly, if you have any interest in learning mountaineering skills, plan on checking out the Eugene Obsidians' climb school. The dates don't work for me, but I might just make my schedule fit if I can still get in! $75 is a steal for mountaineering know-how.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Takelma Gorge: Hiking the Upper Rogue River

After breaking camp Friday morning, KP and I drove east up highway 62 toward the Upper Rogue to hike River Bridge Campground to Takelma Gorge. At the higher elevation there wasn't much to see in the way of spring plants -- not like the Coast Range, which is exploding with flowers and bugs. Instead, the southern Cascades are full of elk and deer -- presumably bear and cougar as well.

From MattStansberry

At the beginning of the trail I donned my Osprey Atmos 65 pack and new Montrail Torre boots in order to keep the gear test going. I can say that the boots felt a lot better on this trip and I really appreciated the support around the ankles. I felt more in control of my feet too -- getting used to the extra weight. The pack felt about the same -- like it wasn't even there. I did feel a shift in the pack weight when I put myself into some weird positions and that worried me a little.

From MattStansberry

There was a lot of snow on the trail, but no other human footprints. It seemed like no one had been there in weeks. We did find some otter tracks along the riverbank. Elk and deer scat were everywhere, I mean you couldn't even avoid stepping in it. We also jumped a grouse and I instinctively pulled my walking stick up like a shotgun.

From MattStansberry

I was thinking a lot about bears coming out of hibernation on this trip -- lumbering hungry boars coming out of hibernation and willing to fight for red meat, or worse a mama with cubs. We were walking through these marshy patches of whippy shrubs that seemed like the perfect bear maze. I thought of Timothy Treadwell. Some big mammals were milling around in the shadows outside of our range of vision, but they could have been anything. There was enough elk shit to build a house out of the stuff -- so it almost had to be an elk. But we never heard or felt the tell-tale elk stomp.

From MattStansberry

We stopped at Takelma Gorge for lunch and worried a little more about bears and the smell of our trail mix. We busted ass back to the car, and I actually broke my trusty walking stick whacking on trees on the way back to make noise through the bear maze. Funny, they say you're supposed to talk loudly so you don't startle a big predator. But we just clammed up, so I started hitting stuff. All we managed to spook, as far as I could tell, was a group of four wood ducks which I would have liked to have had a better look at.

Valley of the Rogue State Park camping

Last weekend, KP and I broke out the tent for the first time in 2007 at Valley of the Rogue State Park, 15 minutes south of Grants Pass. We decided to head down south for a weekend of wineries and winter steelhead. We've been working on our tent skills, trying to get better at staying warm (KP's main concern) and staying dry (my main problem). I don't get cold. Not one bit. But I hate waking up inside of a wet tent, covered in drops of my nasty condensed breath. Friday night the temp got down into the 40s but we were pretty well off. Didn't sleep a lot, but that's par for the course. Two people stuffed in a tent trying not to knock into each other.

From MattStansberry

I've always had a soft spot for Valley of the Rogue campground after I caught my massive wild steelhead there last October. It's right on the river, right off the highway, easy to set up and use as a base camp. It's pretty much a grassy RV parking lot, so you wouldn't spend a lot of time there if you were looking for a wilderness experience. But this time it was a lot less crowded and the camp seemed a little more charming.

I've entitled the photo below, "RVs in the mist":

From MattStansberry

Both times I've been there the staff has been really nice and the old folks who make up most of the crowd are really low key. Not much more you could ask for: Decent fishing within walking distance, inoffensive retirees, good basecamp for other stuff.

If you're looking for good food nearby, PLEASE check out the Circle J in Grants Pass. Awesome.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Montrail Torre GTX hiking boots review

Montrail Torre GTX hiking boots: This week I bought a pair of full on hiking boots at REI to replace my Garmonts that are worn out. I was going to try to resole my old hiking boots, but I couldn't because they use plastics and foam in the soles to lighten them up. It makes them impossible to replace the Vibram.

I wasn't totally sure I wanted a new hiking boot. I'd read Lightweight Backpacking and Camping a while back and I liked the premise that a full Gore-Tex, leather upper hiking boot wasn't the way to go. According to the book, a short, lighter trail shoe with SuperFeet is a whole lot easier on your legs -- you lose a little support, but you don't put your feet in all the goofy positions that get ankles twisted anyway. And I've got a pair of Merrell trail shoes to prove it.

But I thought I'd give the big boys another shot and I had a dividend and 20% coupon to blow. I got a dual reccomendation from each of the shops I went to -- shoe guys like the Montrails. I had to get wide shoes, size 10.

I wore them today for the first time and found them heavy, clunky and stiff. New boots basically. The main complaint is that the super-stiff soles are like wearing a pair of roller skates. I fell down about three times. We were at Alsea Falls and I just about went down them headfirst. Stay away from streambeds with these things.

Ask me again in a couple weeks. I'm going to keep wearing them and let you know if they get any better. On the other hand, this review is pretty good. And these Montrail Torre GTX reviews are really good too. I found this last review to be the most thorough from This reviewer liked the boots a lot but found the same problem with grip.

Making fun of the Steamboat Inn, North Umpqua River Oregon

I recently stumbled onto the Web site for the Steamboat Inn on the North Umqua River and I couldn't resist making fun of its tagline "'re a stranger here but once."

It's factually correct. You'll only go there once.

Wild Bill and I stopped at the Steamboat Inn last year during the summer steelhead run. It was mid-morning and we were on our way to the fly fishing only section, more pilgrimage than fishing trip. I wanted to stop in and get some coffee, buy some flies, and listen to fish stories. But they didn't want our money.

Now mind you, Wild Bill and I were not decked out in our best old timey tweed. I left my pipe and chapeau in the car. But we didn't look like a couple of hungover bums either. Ok, maybe we did, but we looked like bums with money to spend on a fishing addiction.

We walked into the restaurant section where the "fly shop" was located. The oxygen tank and walker set were breakfasting and didn't pay us much mind. The waitresses were nice and attentive and filled our travel coffee mugs. I asked who was running the fly shop and they pointed us to the proprietor who was sitting in a corner. And this is how the conversation went:

US: Hey, hows it going? Great place here. Do you have any recommendations on what kind of flies are working now?

Steamboat Dude: I could sell you some flies, but it really doesn't matter.

US: Really? I'm interested learning more about the fly fishing for steelhead and don't know much about it.

Steamboat Dude: You could fish any of them but you won't catch anything.

US: Ummm... ok. Well what about trout? I've heard there is some great trout fishing around here.

Steamboat Dude: I know a guy who catches trout on this river, but he's not going to tell you anything.

US: Umm... ok, thanks?

Steamboat: Eat shit and never come back (unspoken).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oregon cougar hunting under fire

Conservationists and hunters are clashing over Oregon's cougar hunting regulations. ODFW wants to ease a law passed in 1994, Measure 18, which banned hunting cougars with dogs. According to Portland Independent Media Center, ODFW wants to get more leverage to deputize hunters to chase problem cougars with hounds.

Not that a lack of hounds is slowing hunters down. According to an article in the Mail Tribune, hunters killed a record 284 cougars in Oregon last year, the highest total mortality of cougars ever logged in the state.

But at the same time, cougar numbers are up. ODFW said cougars were nearly eliminated in Oregon by the mid-1960s, but today the cougar population in Oregon is estimated to be 5,100. The minimum desirable number of cougar in the state is 3,000.

Obviously some bloggers are taking an anti-hunting stance, but there are just as many voices on the other side, like the Oregon Hunters Association which is offering prizes for hunters that bag cougars.

I don't have a clear stance on this -- I have a cougar tag, but I'm not sure I could use it. I think hunters should be able to hunt cougar; but it should cost more than $10 to do it. Killing less than 6% of the cougar population per year seems sustainable, but that number seems arbitrary.

I'd like to see a better argument for killing cougars than avoiding "problem animal" situations. The conservationists are tearing that one apart, as they should. It's pretty flimsy. If they charged more for tags, opened it up to trophy-chasing non-residents and delivered the money to habitat conservation, that would be better.

Trout Unlimited News: Land use and local events

This from Fishing Jones: Trout Unlimited is bowing out of the river rights, streamside access debate, according to a recent article in NewWest magazine. I was pissed when I first read this, because the privatization of our country's wilderness and river resources is one of the scariest issues facing hunters and anglers today. As more people become remote workers and/or retire out West on East Coast salaries, this is only going to get worse -- the McMansion crowd will soon be carving up your favorite rivers and moutain ranges. For something really scary, read about how fast the population is exploding in Oregon and what's happening with land use on the LandCrazed Blog.

I'm not upset about Trout Unlimited backing away from this debate because it's not a conservation issue. TU needs to support fisheries science and conservation. TU is not a fishing club. Also, I'd rather the organization spend its resources convincing idiot landowners to leave the riparian habitat on the stream banks than get into a pissing match over whether or not a bubba can stand on a riverbank and scratch his ass on some New Jersey retiree's McRanch.

If you're interested in Oregon river rights, check out Common Waters of Oregon. Sign up, donate, volunteer.

McKenzie River Trout Unlimited fly fishing trip

On a lighter note, TU Chapter 678 had a fly fishing outing on the McKenzie River last weekend. You can check out the photos and details on the TU 678 Blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kentucky Falls, Siuslaw National Forest hike

Last weekend, Alex, KP and I drove out to Kentucky Falls in Oregon's Coast Range. KP and I had tried to get out there a few weeks ago and the roads were so bad that we'd had to turn around. This time wasn't much better, but we did make it past rockslides, downed trees and ice.

From MattStansberry

Despite the obstacles, the Kentucky Falls trailhead was absolutely packed. There are three major falls on the 2-mile trail; elevation loss is about 800 feet on the way down and it happens all at once.

From MattStansberry

The hike/falls were pretty great, but the Pacific Northwest invertebrate safari made it an amazing trip. For starters, there was a millipede orgy going on -- mating, feeding, who knows? But the Yellow-spotted millipede were everywhere. For more info on this poisonous creeper, check out this Yellow-spotted millipede links from NaturePark, WikiPedia and Olympic National Park site, which calls them the Almond-scented millipede.

From MattStansberry

We also found a banana slug, the second largest slug in the world. It's the first one I've seen this year.

From MattStansberry

Lastly, we came across a giant Oregon Forestsnail.

From MattStansberry

Here is a picture of lower Kentucky Falls:

From MattStansberry

Monday, March 19, 2007

Winter steelheading photos on the Siuslaw River

This is what happens when you don't catch any steelhead. You take pictures. To be fair, Alex hooked one Saturday, but I spent the day on a photo safari.

From MattStansberry

From MattStansberry

From MattStansberry

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fly fishing the Oregon Coast: The pinnacle of Quixotic pursuit

Over the weekend, Alex, Wild Bill and I attempted fly fishing the Oregon Coast for groundfish. The weather seemed calm, the cabezon and ling were supposed to be in close and well, why not? If Ken Hanley can write about Fly Fishing Afoot in the Surf Zone, then there's a chance. Then again, I don't think there are any photos of anyone actually holding a toothy bottom dweller caught on the fly in the entire book... There is definitely $9 worth of info in this book, so I'd say buy it. But the author makes no bones about telling you, you gotta be crazy to do this -- especially when there are so many other fishing opportunities around.

From MattStansberry

We headed out to the Dublin House motel, a motel in Yachats, OR that bills itself as a fly fishing headquarters for the Oregon Coast. The Dublin House owners really need to spend more money on inventory and staff that know something about fly fishing if they plan on advertising themselves as a fly shop. Don't get me wrong, I like the fly shop idea and I like the fact that they underwrite NPR programming (which is where I heard about them), but they need to stock more than some dusty fly fishing decorations. I'm being a little harsh here, but gas is $3 a gallon in Oregon and if they would have answered their phone when I called, I might not have made the drive to Yachats.

From MattStansberry

We opted to fish the rocky points jutting out from Neptune State Scenic viewpoint. I can tell you that these were the most difficult fishing conditions I've ever experienced. The jetties were ultra burly lava rock covered in razor sharp barnacles. The waves were churning up debris, spraying up between the rocks, throwing slack into my fly line. And then there was the wind. The wind killed us. We spent about an hour or so flailing into the wind. Long enough to realize I'm out of my league -- long enough for Alex to break a toe. But still a good time.

We made a break inland to fly fish for late season winter steelhead --a pursuit only marginally more sane.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Coastal winter steelhead 10, Matt 0 -- The clock winds down

We spent the entire afternoon and evening yesterday chasing late season, native winter steelhead on a coastal creek. The water was really low, but looked great -- that mix of gin clear runs and chalky blue chutes and pools. We had a few hours before dark to get it done -- Alex, Wild Bill and myself.

From MattStansberry

We split up, tackling different segments of stream. I went upstream to fish at the bottom of a small waterfall with my egg and nymph combo. I caught a 6 inch cutthroat, let it go.

I was absent-mindedly drifting my fly under the wash and foam, just starting to lift it up to reposition when a big steelhead came to the top, swiping at my indicator. I almost had a heart attack.

I'm pretty sure that I'm unprepared to actually hook into one of these things with my four-weight. The anticipation is killing me. I'm hoping to catch one winter steelhead on the fly this winter yet. A modest goal, but I'm running out of time.

From MattStansberry

When I went down to check on Wild Billl, he'd been drifting over a spooky steelhead in a clear run the whole time with no luck. It seemed like there were two in there -- one silvery hen and a darker buck. I saw them both, but not at the same time, so they could possibly have been the same fish under different light conditions, but I doubt it. Either way they weren't cooperating.

Alex broke his Oregon trout skunk streak, pulling in a cutthroat towards the end. We also found newts and trillium.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Early season fly fishing on the upper Willamette River

Alex H arrived late last night after multiple planes, trains and automobiles. Despite public transportation obstacles, he made it and we managed to work most of the day, and fish all afternoon. We left after 2pm for the upper Willamette River. We opted to fish below Hills Creek Dam on the Middle Fork.

From MattStansberry

It was a bluebird day, super warm -- at least when we were in Eugene. But out past Oakridge in the elevation, the temp can drop fast. And we were pretty cold. We did a little stunt wading, crossed over to the other side of the river and drifted nymphs on indicators over some likely water.

I wasn't seeing much in the way of insect life, so I started rolling over rocks after a while and found that the nymphs were really small. We'd been throwing bigger stuff -- big stoneflies. But in the end we weren't that far off.

At a certain point, we sat down for a break and Alex found that giant stonefly (aka salmonfly). So I opted to cover my bases -- fishing a giant black kaufmann's stone with a tiny size 20 brassie trailing off the butt w/ 7x tippet. I ended up paying for that shortly afterward.

On one of the last drifts of the day, I finally got a big, depth charge of a hit. I saw a football shaped flash, felt a tiny "tick" and then it was gone, along with my brassie.

Expletive. Expletive. Expletive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Umpqua River polluter, Formosa Mine, needs Superfund status

Editors at the Register-Guard called for Superfund listing for the Formosa Mine.

From the article: The Formosa Mine is on Silver Butte at the headwaters of an Umpqua River tributary. The copper mine was opened on federal and private land by Formosa Exploration Inc., a Canadian company partially funded by Japanese business interests.

State officials closed the mine in 1993 after Formosa violated its state permit by exceeding excavation limits and spreading waste rock over the 76-acre site.

The Guard calls for Congress to reinstate a "polluters pay" policy in the Superfund legislation.

Sidenote: The EPA Superfund site is creepily cheerful.

Super-burly articulated streamer from Idaho tyer

Gregory Lowry from Boise, Idaho was showing fishermen how to tie some articulated streamers with two hooks. The pattern he was showing was called Dan's Streamer, named after his 12-year old fly-tying protege, Danielle Lowry.

From MattStansberry

Dan's Streamer is an extremely burly pattern. Gregory tied the tail first, a big marabou plume, then wraps the marabou around the shank of the hook to form the body. Add a little flash, and then you attach it to the next hook. He uses 20lb mono to attach the hooks together with a bead in between. The front hook is dressed in much the same way as the tail, but it has a big wool head. The pattern looks a lot like a sculpin, but Gregory has better sucess fishing it unweighted.

His home waters are the South Fork of the Boise River and South Fork of the Snake River. He fishes it in non-traditional streamer water, back eddies with slow currents. He will cast it into the slow pool and twitch it back slowly.

From MattStansberry

The other fly Gregory showed was called a Slumpbuster. It's a big puff of pine squirrel fur -- seriously 99% of this fly is squirrel. Gregory actually wraps (palmers) the pine squirrel strips backwards on the hook to give it more action. He said pine squirrel strips are pretty expensive, so he reccomended Bass Pro Shops' Zonked Pine Squirrell.

Here are some similar patterns:
  • From Fly Anglers Online
  • Barr's Slumpbuster

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.
  • Monday, March 12, 2007

    Three Oregon fly patterns in three steps

    Jim Finley of Lebanon, Oregon took time to show me three of his favorite Oregon fly fishing patterns -- in about five minutes. Each of these patterns is quick, elegant and fishy.

    From MattStansberry

    The leech, tied with dubbed Angora goat hair, is three steps. Bead; marabou tail (w/ a little flash); and brushed out dubbing. According to Finley, who has been tying flies for 20 years, there aren't many lakes this fly doesn't work on. He typically fishes the coastal lakes around Florence, OR.

    From MattStansberry

    The next fly he whipped up was a Blue Wing Olive emerger. It consisted of green dubbing, CDC wing and an Antron shuck.

    From MattStansberry

    The last fly was what Finley called a Lazer Scud. It's a crystal orange fly on a size 18 hook, dubbed w/ ice and it's back is a strip of flashabou. Finley fishes it off a dropper. He said it does well on whitefish, rainbows and even the bull trout on the Metolius River.

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.

    Parker Falls trail photos

    Yesterday KP and I headed up to Brice Creek to scout some fishing spots and do some hiking. We came across a trailhead for Parker Falls, so we went for it. Found some nice photo opportunities, good weather. I wouldn't hold out for the fishing though. I drifted some small nymphs through slower pools off the main rush of Brice Creek, but had no takers.

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Here is more info on the Parker Falls hike:

  • Map and info from Umpqua N.F. on Trail #1415 Parker Falls Trail
  • More trails in that area
  • Trail review from Call of the Wild photograhpy
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest covers Lower Parker Falls and Upper Parker Falls.
  • Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Stimulator pattern is the only dry fly you'll ever need

    According to tyer George Nelson, the Stimulator is the only dry fly you'll ever need. He said guides carry a ton of flies to take clients out, make them feel like they're getting their money's worth. But when they go out fishing themselves, they carry a couple go-to flies. And this blonde-colored stimulator is one of Nelson's picks.

    Nelson said it's great for catching summer steelhead on top on the South Santiam River, "but you'd better make sure your heart is in good shape."

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Here is the pattern recipe from WestFly.

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.

    Deschutes River & Sandy River steelhead tube fly

    Brian Silvey is a Deschutes River and Sandy River steelhead guide that started using tube flies over six years ago because his clients couldn't cast heavy articulated patterns. Silvey made it look easy as he rigged tandem tubes.

    From MattStansberry

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Blood midge for stillwater trout

    Gordon Cordova from Northern Calif. tied this blood midge at the show. It's a size 20 scud hook with a cross stitch embroidery bead for a head. He uses a smaller version of flash called liquid flash for the body and antron yarn for the shuck. He wraps the red all the way to the curve to make it look like it's swimming a little.

    If there is one thing I've learned this week, it's that I should be buying my materials at the craft store if I want to save some loot. Cordova's beads were way cool -- and he said there were plenty of colors and sizes to pick from.

    This first photo shows how gorgeous the fly is, the second shows the scale we're dealing with here.

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Here are a couple other blood midge patterns: Westfly, California School of Fly Fishing.

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.

    Warmwater poppers for West Coast bass

    West Coast bass bugs: Charlie Kears from Arroyo Grande, Calif. specializes in warmwater fly fishing. He was tying these colorful bugs for the fishermen mostly, he said.

    His real innovation is a fly called the voodoo popper which is made of cork, not balsa like the ones pictured below. It's made from "salt & pepper" size corks you buy at a hardware store. "You can tie it right in the boat and throw it," Kears said.

    He was shooting a video on tying his poppers for the FFF that afternoon.

    From MattStansberry

    Fly Fisherman magazine ran an article on Kears' home waters this month. The San Joaquin Delta (everybody just calls it the Delta) is supposed to have the best bass fishing in the country.

    This post is part of a series of profiles of fly tyers at the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, OR.

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Foam mouse flies

    This is the fifth in a series of fly tying photos from the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, Oregon.

    Douglas Fear from San Jose, Calif. stumbled onto this mouse pattern on accident while tying a topwater burbler for bass. Pretty soon he tweaked his pattern and came up with the mouse you see here.

    From MattStansberry

    He uses 2mm craft foam on a size 4 Mustad hook. He also uses thick thread that doesn't cut the foam. I'm going to take one up to Alaska this May and see if they work on those rainbows as well as they do on California bass.

    Super-bugger: New favorite summer steelhead fly?

    This is the fourth in a series of fly tying photos from the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, Oregon.

    Fly fishing guru Dorothy Zinky took some time during the event to show me how to tie a super-bugger. It's a pretty sweet pattern and I think it might replace the old cuckaburra from last year.

    From MattStansberry

    These leggy buggers are made without chenille. Instead, it's made from four densely wrapped hen hackles that push a lot of water and offer tons of movement.

    Nestucca River winter steelhead pattern

    This is the third in a series of fly tying photos from the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, Oregon. James Snyder of Monmouth Oregon tied this fly, called the Polar Caballero. Jim is preparing for a winter steelhead trip on the Nestucca River with Creekside Fly Fishing Guides and Outfitters.

    From MattStansberry

    Puget Sound surf flies -- Coastal Cutthroat patterns

    This is the second in a series of fly tying photos from the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo in Albany, Oregon.

    From MattStansberry

    Roger Swengel was tying flies for coastal sea-run cutthroat trout in Puget Sound. Seems like fishing for these coastal bruisers is getting more popular. I think this book, Fly-Fishing for Coastal Cutthroat Trout was on every shop's table.

    From MattStansberry

    This is Roger's online bio: Roger has been tying flies and fly fishing for about 45 years in Washington and Oregon. He has taught fly tying classes at local fly shops for approximately 20 years and has tied at the Oregon Fly Tying Expo for the past 10 years. While living in the Puget Sound Area, he has been fishing the salt water for sea run cutthroats and salmon. Therefore, his tying now is more for the local salt water fishing.

    Salmonfly patterns from North Umpqua tyer

    This is the first in a series of photos from the Northwest Fly Tyers Expo. John Matthews, a professional tyer from Idleyld Park on the North Umpqua was tying some salmonfly patterns at the first table I came to. He uses silk screened wings,crystal flash, closed cell foam, moose mane and deer hair.

    According to the bio on the NW Fly Tyers Expo site, John is "The Fly Painter" at the expo. He has been painting flies on cars at the expo for years.

    From MattStansberry

    Here is a good guide site on fishing the salmonlfy hatch on the Deschutes.

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    McKenzie River trail in Februrary

    A couple weeks back, KP and I hiked the McKenzie River trail, upstream from Belknap Springs. It was really gorgeous trip and it got me thinking about where we live and winters here in the Pacific Northwest.

    It seems like we spend a lot of days walking through unbelievably verdant green rainforests; green exploding from everywhere-- moss and old mans beard handing from every possible surface. The water is turquoise, glowing, the filtered light coming through the trees. And it’s every weekend -- in February. I just hope we don’t get jaded or used to this.

    I had this idea in my head when I moved here, that I’d spend 3 seasons Oregon, and spend the winter somewhere else. But I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.

    This MP3 is the sound of the McKenzie River rushing by. After reocording this we heard this thumping noise. It was giant boulders rolling down the river, shaking the ground we were walking on.

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Outdoor Life magazine sucks and is harmful to outdoor recreation

    Outdoor Life sucks.

    I signed up for Outdoor Life magazine a while back, part of a package with Field & Stream -- you basically got it for free. I've never been impressed with the magazine, but lately I've been downright disgusted.

    This was before the Jim Zumbo nightmare broke wide open, but that just adds fuel to the fire. Outdoor Life turned its back on one of its own, a sportsman and award winning writer, in order to save face with its advertisers. One word to describe that behavior: spineless.

    Beyond that, 2/3 of the magazine (60 of the 90 pages) are entirely worthless. The front 30 pages is full of inane semi-outdoors related news and gag photos, mostly ads, a handful of throw away soundbite tips that no one will remember or use. The back 30 pages is all product photos and descriptions with the editorial quality of the Cabela's catalogue (no offense Cabela's, you guys are great). And then towards the very end the ads devolve into x-ray glasses, male enhancement and exploding cigars -- scam companies that advertised in the backs of comic books in the 1980s. Comic books won't even take their money anymore, but OL will.

    I could go on and on: The constant shilling, the blatant dominance of the ATV set (would any of these people even think of hiking in or packing out meat on a horse or on their back?); the months spent on the "Dream Cabin" feature to sell ad space to building material companies (Who gives a shit about the dream cabin?); The "When animals attack" cartoon that illustrates increasingly preposterous scenarios every month.

    But all that wasn't enough to set me against Outdoor Life. I've been working in the publishing business for the past 4 years and I know the challenges editors face. Trying to publish something real, lasting, insightful is hard work. Plus, you're at the mercy of publishers and ad revenue -- it's a tough balance. But what really turned me off was the irresponsible, sensational editorial feature in the February 2007 issue.

    From Outdoor Life: Hell Hounds! Wolf Attack -- A fight to the death! Our exclusive photo gallery of a wolf eating a deer -- WHILE IT'S STILL ALIVE! -- raises questions whether wolves are noble predators or nature's monsters.

    So let me get this straight, wolves doing what they are designed to do (eat deer) makes them "nature's monsters"? Right. So what the hell are we hunters? At least the wolves are engaging with their prey and fighting for their food on their own terms.

    Other interesting quotes from the article: Wolves may have killed 200-300 dogs in Idaho -- according to estimates by a guy who got phone calls about the problem after his dogs were attacked by wolves .

    OL also throws out this gem: "Wolf attacks on livestock, game animals, pets and even people are becoming an almost weekly occurrence." What does that mean? Wolves somewhere are eating something at some point, almost weekly!

    OL pulls a couple canned, out-of-context quotes from 2 wildlife officials in a sidebar, but other than that, no biologists are given a voice.

    Check out Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife's stance on wolves.

    I'm not against hunting wolves. I think it would be a great fund raiser for state wildlife departments. Charge $100 per tag and sell them by lottery. What I don't want to see is wolf extermination, which seems to be what this magazine is advocating.

    I'd like to end with a quote from Ed Abbey's, Desert Solitaire:

    We need more predators. The sheepmen complain, it is true, that the coyotes eat some of their lambs. This is true, but do they eat enough? I mean, enough lambs to keep the coyotes sleek, healthy and well fed. That is my concern. As for the sacrifice of an occasional lamb, that seems to me a small price to pay for the support of the coyote population. The lambs, accustomed by tradition to their role, do not complain; and the sheepmen, who run their hooved locusts on the public lands and are heavily subsidized, most of them as hog-rich as they are pigheaded, can easily afford these trifling losses.

    I won't hold my breath for Outdoor Life to ask me to write for them.

    Fish Lake Interpretive Site snowshoeing photos

    Fish Lake Interpretive Site: Here are some photos from our snowshoeing excursion in the Oregon Cascades.
    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Friday, March 02, 2007

    Poacher scum kills Eastern Oregon bighorn sheep

    From the Oregon Hunters Association: According to Trooper Robert Wilson, of the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division in Ontario, four hunters discovered the headless body of an illegally killed California bighorn sheep on Jan. 22 in the Long Gulch area east of Owyhee Reservoir.

    California bighorn sheep were first reintroduced into the lower Owyhee River area in 1965. The herd now numbers about 200 animals. It costs about $1,200 per head to transplant a bighorn sheep, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, so illegally killed animals represent a significant financial loss to the state as well as reduced future hunting opportunities.

    There is a $10,000 reward for info leading to the arrest and conviction of the poacher scum. OHA contributed $5,250 of that cash, with other money coming from the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.

    Oregon Hunters Association reels in ATV abuse

    Today I was paging through my March/April issue of Oregon Hunter magazine, the official publication of the Oregon Hunters Association, and I was astounded by the editor's note on the first page. Editor Duane Dungannon tackled an issue near and dear to my heart: Four-wheeling bubbas tearing up wild lands.

    From Dungannon's article: The last thing these animals need is to have a dirty-minded Bubba roaring through their habitat, displacing them from their domain and turning their foraging areas into an arena suitable only for mud wrestling. The damage to delicate riparian areas not only destroys flora and displaces fauna, but also results in erosion that destroys stream habitat. Access for those who merely want to enjoy hunting or hiking is also compromised when these clowns turn a two-track into quicksand in a few minutes of muddy mayhem.

    In addition to the article, OHA placed a full page ad on the opposite page, offering info on how to turn in these idiots endangering Oregon Wildlife on the TIP hotline (800) 452-7888.

    This article makes me proud to be a member of OHA and I will absolutely start showing more support for this group.