California North Coast Winter Steelhead

With our fall fishing complete, we can now look forward to winter steelheading on the rivers of California's North Coast. Last week brought a big batch of rain to the north coast and raised water levels considerably. The flows are fluctuating a bit with off and on rain but we should see fishable conditions here soon. I anticipate a very good season this year on the coast and we have already hooked a few fish over there in the last few weeks. Our trips will be focusing on the Eel, S.F. Eel, Van Duzen, and Smith Rivers. This year I will be running a guided trip "SPECIAL". To find out more information sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our homepage www.steelheadonthespey.com or email me at speybum@gmail.com

A little teaser from the last few weeks



This Week's Bent Rod

The "Kid" gettin it done on the Coast.



Idylwilde Day at Califronia Fly Shop

Idylwilde Day at California Fly Shop yesterday was a great success. A big thanks to all the folks at CFS and Jason Lozano for putting together this great event. For a day with less than ideal weather, we had a good turnout of people there to learn more about fishing, tying, and Idylwilde's new patterns for 2010!

Hogan Brown tied some cool trout flies and did a great presentation on tying and fishing flies for trout. Very informative and I really enjoyed his talk about mayflies, both tying and fishing 'em. Kevin Price tied and talked about Bass. Kevin has some really cool, new bass patterns out with Idylwilde this year that many of us are looking forward to fishing this upcoming spring. Mikey Weir tied some trout flies and had a lot of interest in his Hoppicater pattern. He also did a little preview for his Mongolia video. I was only able to see a couple minutes of it, but it is something to look forward to! I did a little presentation on fishing the rivers of California's North Coast and tied a few flies.

This was a great event and hopefully we can put together more Idylwilde days. Idylwilde has some of the most innovative tiers in the industry and by far the best tied flies. Remeber, Idylwilde Flies feature Premium Skunk Repellant!



Idylwilde Day at California Fly Shop Saturday December 12th

On Saturday December 12th California Fly Shop will have an Idylwilde day featuring Hogan Brown, Mikey Weir, Kevin Price, and myself. The event will feature tying demonstrations, a tying contest, FREE BEER, free swag, and plenty of good information pertaining to fly fishing and tying. The event will be from 11-3. Come by and check it out.



A Word on Sinktips

A month or two late on this post but better now than never. Since most are getting ready for winter steelhead, thought I might share my 2 cents on sinktips. Most people are on the T-14 program for winter which is great stuff but in my opinion T-11 gets down just as fast. It's thinner so it cuts thru the water better and is more enjoyable to cast. The other option for most are 15' sinktips like those that came with your ancient Windcutter or Delta Spey line ten years ago. Yes, these tips will work but there is not much difference in depth between fishing one that is 12-13' versus 15'. In recent years I have opted or shorter tips after much trial and error. Through the years I found that a shorter section of T-11 got down just as fast(and stays down) as any 15' tip. A lot of that has to do with current and the fact that the longer tips accounts for more belly in the tip, causing it to swing towards the surface throughout the drift/swing. Shorter tips seem to stay down better and have a hell of a lot less hinge and belly. So, if you're still fishing those 15' tips, think about cutting em back to 12' and making up some T-11 or T-14 tips to go along with em. Your flies will stay at a more consistent level and who knows, your casting with an ungodly 6" string leech might improve! These days I fish more 8-11' sections of T-11 than anything else, but thats just me. I would opt for 7', 9', 11', and 13' of that T material.


Winter's Here

Winter is officially here. Early winter steelhead are pushing into many rivers and we saw snow last night at 56' above sea level. That happens about once every ten years! The nights are freezing and the days are short. Only means one thing, these pretty gals and starting to show!




Something pretty funny coming from Yurok country, aka(Klamath River)

Winter Tying Materials

With winter steelhead season nearly here, I have been tying up a storm getting ready for the ghosts of winter to arrive. Over the years I find myself using more and more synthetics because they allow for tying a fly with a large profile without casting like a wet sock. Many are also tying and fishing flies upwards of six inches and while I rarely go this big, keeping your flies sparse and using synthetics can add movement and make casting much more enjoyable. Here are a few materials I have geeked on lately...

Foxx (Craft) Furr
This stuff can be used in many different ways and can be wrapped, spun, (or dare I say it) bunch tied. It comes in way too many colors and does not bleed. I have been having fun spinning it in dubbing loops and substituting it for marabou.

Polar Chenille
This is nothing new, but has all the good qualities in a steelhead tying material. It's lightweight and has a little flash and a lot of movement. I like to wrap this through the body of many flies instead of hackle.

Flashabou and Angel Hair
Both are offered in a variety of colors and add movement and flash for more steelhead appeal.

Then there are always the natural materials that I can't do without.
Arctic Fox Tails
Lady Amherst Tails and Tippets
Marabou(I am starting to like the barred stuff but wish the stems were a little longer!)

I know I am forgetting some, but these are just a few that came to mind. Would love to hear of any other cool stuff you out there like to use as well.




Seeing that my family went to Chicago for Thanksgiving and I hate travelling around the holidays, I ventured north to spend a couple of days fishing. One of the great things about Thanksgiving and Christmas is that very few people are out fishing as they are spending time with loved ones stuffing their face full of all that holiday goodness. Meantime I fished a number of runs in search of early winter chrome with no one else around. Only downside being everything on the way home was closed for Thanksgiving with the exception of one Safeway where I picked up a sandwich for dinner. Not that great turkey dinner we have all come to love on the last thursday in November, but its hard to pass up a day of early winter fishing with fresh chrome pushing upriver!



Bent Rod of the Week

We all love that feeling!



Rivers Of A Lost Coast out on DVD

With Rivers Of A Lost Coast out on DVD now, those of you who haven't seen it yet, have no excuse. Picked up my copy today and just finished watching it for the ninth time and it still sends chills down my spine. Part of me wishes I was 70 plus years old so I could have experienced some of California's world class salmon and steelhead fishing back in its hay-day. This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen and is destined to be a classic.

Check it out at www.riversofalostcoast.com



River Etiquette...

Went out to the local river this morning to fish a run that sometimes holds early winters this time of year. Waded out and was working my way down a run when another fly flinger steps in 30 yards below me and started fishing. WTF?

So here's my etiquette rant for the year...

1. In most places if there is someone fishing a run, go somewhere else. Plenty of water even on many small creeks. North Umpqua comes to mind here.
2. Never step in below another angler working down a run, be it a bait chucker, bobber jockey, or spey guy. If your going to at least ask first.
3. If they say yes after you ask, then at least give them some room!
4. Keep moving. Stand in one spot for 10 minutes and I can guarantee my fly will get a little too close to you for comfort.

So much for a good start to my day


Steelhead on a Sea Run Brown Fly?

With relatively tough fishing on the Trinity River this past week, one of my clients Rudd Corwin, a veteran of fishing for sea run browns in Argentina each winter wanted to give one of his sea run brown flies a try. What the hell, steelhead will just about take any fly when in the mood, so lets give it a try. The EMB is certainly not eye catching but has a little flash and movement, certainly making it steelhead worthy. Not more than 20 casts into the run, Rudd hooked and landed a strong buck on a floating line and EMB. Sea run brown flies do work on steelhead!


Fishing with Jeff Bright

I was able to spend a couple of days last week with Jeff Bright on the lower Trinity River. For those of you who don't know Jeff or have not visited his website, Jeff is one of the most passionate steelhead fisherman I have ever met. He hosts trips each year to the Dean River, the Skeena River system, and the Deschutes River. Places many of us only dream of! Jeff has also spent a lot of time on the rivers of California's North Coast, especially the Trinity. It had been a while since Jeff had last fished the Trinity and I was thrilled to get to spend a couple of days with him.

We fished long and hard and managed to land a couple of fish the first day including a brilliant hen going 30" on the tape. The second day started out tough, but ended with a bang. In two runs, Jeff managed to HOOK four steelhead on his shadow hilton, but all four came unbuttoned. Three fish came out of one run and after losing all three, Jeff has a new run named in his honor "Jeff's Silver Sombreo." Something that will not soon be forgotten!

Through the course of two days we managed to fish some amazing water, take some cool photos(at least Jeff did), and talk all things steelhead. To check out some of Jeff's photography and his hosted trips visit his website at www.jeffbright.com



Random Thoughts....The Grab

It's what we long for. Many hours of fishing or as I like to refer to it sometimes as "casting practice," in hopes that a steelhead will grab our fly. We can go days without a grab. Sometimes thinking it will never happen. Fishing some of the best water you have ever seen. Asking yourself too many questions. Are the fish here? Do I have the right fly. Is the bite off? If so, why? Then comes a time when you cant do anything wrong and next thing you know, by the end of the day you have hooked four steelhead. What did I do different? How did I hook more than one? Questions we ask ourselves even on good days.

It's called steelhead fishing. And the reason many of us do it is for the grab! For those who don't care about the grab and are only interested in catching as many fish as possible, well I'm sorry. You don't know what your missing. Once it happens, you will it want more! The grab doesn't come easy. You have to put your time in. Steelhead are often called the fish of a thousand or ten thousand casts. Sometimes you get that grab on the third cast and other times it comes on the 13, 191st cast. When it happens, you'll know. Your heart may skip a beat or the rod almost gets yanked out of your hand. Either way, you keep coming back for more. More abuse, because last time I checked it has been three days and I need a fix, how bout you?



Andy Guibord Photography

Last week I was fortunate to spend some time on the the river with Andy Guibord and Ryan Miller. Andy is one of the best striper fisherman in the valley and is also an employee at Kiene's Fly Shop. He also has quite the eye when it comes to taking photos. Here are a few shots he took last week out on the Trinity River. You can check out more of his photography at http://andyguibord.zenfolio.com/


Steelhead Weather Part 2

It finally happened, the Trinity River blew out late this morning from just above Junction City down to the mouth. The river in Willow Creek and Hoopa doubled in size overnight and is still climbing at 1500+ cfs. The good thing is the big part of the storm is gone and we are just seeing some light showers now. The river should crest at any time and begin to drop shortly. As soon as it begins to drop and clear we should see some fresh fish pushing up the river and good fishing for the next couple off weeks.

On a more positive note. I spent the last couple of days with Ryan Miller and Andy Guibord. We had some good fishing until the river blew. All fish have been very bright and are a blast on light spey and switch rods. Here are a few pics from the last couple of days...


Steelhead Weather

Just a quick update. I have spent the last couple of days on the Trinity River with good friends Ryan Miller and Andy Guibord. Fishing has been good as we have connected with a few fish each day, all of which have been dime bright and full of spunk. We also received a ton of rain last night and all day today. Towards the end of the day, the river came up more than a foot but still had decent clarity. As I write this it is raining hard again and I would not be supprised to wake in the morning to a blown out river. Will have to wait and see. Pics to come....



A few pics from the past week...

Here's a few fish pics from this past week. There are some nice fish in the system and very little angling pressure. The next several weeks should provide some of the best fishing of the year on the Lower Trinity River.


Guides Day Off

Well, I finally had a day off today so I decided to do a little fishing. Two runs, two fish. The first a small Jack Salmon on a #8 Duck Turd. The second, an acrobatic hatchery steelhead that came to a #8 silent assassin on a floating line.

The Silent Assassin will soon be available thru Idylwilde Flies in their 2010 catalog. Also, check out my other patterns, the Duck Turd, Skinny Spratley, and October Hilton that have been top producers on the Trinity/Klamath systems the last couple of years. Yes, I know, shameless self promotion! But the royalties are much needed for new tying materials to come up with new winter patterns for 2011!


October is almost here....

and i hope that it is going to bring cooler weather than we have had up here on the Trinity in September. It has been too damn hot, which has made the steelhead fishing a low light game for the last couple of weeks. Every once in a while we have hooked a fish mid day but almost all our action has been first or last light. Water temps are still in the mid to upper 60's and once they drop, the fish should become even a little grabbier!

This past week saw a few big pods of salmon and steelhead move into the river. Most steelhead were of the hatchery variety but Rick Anderson managed to land this beautiful wild buck on a floating line.

The same day Jim Zech managed a nice fish on a skated muddler.

The following three days Rudd Corwin landed his first ever steelhead on a spey rod swinging flies. One of the hottest steelhead I have ever seen hooked in the lower Trinity. Rudd managed to land two steelhead and a handful of bright half pounders. A successful trip for his first time swinging flies on the lower Trinity River.

While fishing is not quite as hot as the weather, we have had steelhead to the fly 5 of the last 6 days. A good push of half pounders has shown as well and are also adding to the mix. In the next couple of weeks, we will see big pushes of steelhead into the Trinity and this is the best time to chase these fish on skated dries and swung wet flies. The grabs are exhilirating and the fish are hot. I only have a few dates available in the next few weeks which should see some of the best floating line steelheading on the year!



Lower Trinity Report

Sorry for the delay. Been having some issues with posting photos here on the blog. Some of you may noticed a couple of test photos put up here earlier in the week. Most of the photos have been looking washed out. Any ideas? If so, drop me a note. Until then, you will have to do without a few photos for a little while.

This past week saw good fishing on the lower stretches of the Trinity. The high water releases from the Hoopa Boat Dance a couple of weeks ago brought in a good slug of steelhead and a few salmon. In past years we have seen this push of high water bring in a mixture of hatchery and wild fish but this year we have been seeing more wild fish to the fly. All fish landed we chrome bright wild steelhead in the 3-5 lb range and full of spunk! With the water being low and clear, skated dry flies and small wet flies on floating lines have been the key.

One of the highlights of the week for me was watching from a high bank, a steelhead take a skated muddler. The fly passed in within three feet of this fish on three separate drifts only to take the fly on the third drift when it looked to be right on its nose. Another cool thing is that this fish took a skated fly off the surface at about 10:30 with the sun directly in its face. Just goes to show that the most aggressive fish don't care about the the sun!

Fishing is only going to get better from here on out as we will start to see bigger pushes of fish in the next two months. The next 40-50 days is prime time fishing on the lower Klamath and Trinity rivers for classic floating line fishing for summer/fall run steelhead. To stay up to date with current reports, available dates, and trip specials, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our homepage www.steelheadonthespey.com



Cloudy waters, blue skies, and the wild summer runs of the Deschutes River

Just over a week ago I hosted a group of five anglers on a four day, three night camp trip on the Deschutes River thru Deschutes Angler Fly Shop. A few days prior to the trip, the areas around the Deschutes were met with triple digit temperatures causing a large chunk of the glacier on Mt. Hood to melt. Driving over the White river on Sunday, it was flowing rather quickly and looked like white mud.

After seeing the White river and knowing we were probably going to have to fish sink tips and larger flies, I have to admit I was a bit bummed out. My dreams of hooking wild Deschutes river summer runs on floating lines and skaters under the low light of the rivers canyon walls would probably have to wait till next trip. Oh well, its steelheading, how often do we get ideal conditions when we want them! Heck, if we ever did, steelhead would not be called the fish of a 1,000 casts!

We loaded up monday morning and were off for a four day, forty mile float down to the mouth of the Deschutes. In the course of four days we witnessed a variety of wild life from Bald Eagles, Bighorn Sheep, and bright wild summer run steelhead. We had many grabs each day. Some were nice fat Deschutes redside rainbows and others were just short plucks from an unwilling steelhead. We all had quite a few non-committal plucks from these ocean run rainbows. Part of you would think for a brief second, was that a trout? Only to put another cast in the same spot and get slammed by a streak of silver. When the fish really wanted it, they took the fly with authority. Many of us were blessed with hard grabs and long runs from these summer run torpedos. Bill Carnazzo hooked one of the hottest fish of the trip a chrome bright wild buck in the 9-10 lb range that had him in his backing before he could blink. Kudos to a great fish Bill!

Over the four days we had fish take a variety of flies from #6 sparse hairwing summer patterns to 4" long purple and black Intruder and marabou style patterns. A few fish were hooked on floating lines but a majority of fish were taken on sink tips. Fish were hooked in slow moving boulder stream tailouts, walking speed riffely runs, and fast pieces of pocket water not many would think to fish. There is a reason this place is so well loved. The Deschutes has everything someone would want in a river filled with grabby summer steelhead!

All things considered I think we had pretty good fishing considering the conditions. Visibility ranged anywhere from 2-3' and varied from hour to hour. Every time we thought the river was clearing, we would wake up from a nap after lunch only to find the viz had almost gotten worse. Keeping a positive mindset and fishing sink tips and bigger flies most were able to connect with a fish or two each day. By the end, everyone on the trip had landed at least one fish.

A big hanks goes out to John and Amy Hazel from Deschutes Angler for the opportunity to host a trip. They have an amazing fly shop and guide service and anyone on their way to the Deschuutes should check out! Another big thanks to our camp host and guides Harley, Gordon, Charles, and Travis for working extremely hard everyday putting our group of anglers onto fish. Not to mention the entertaining jokes and conversations they created around the dinner table each night. The trip was fantastic! We had great campsites each night, good company, and amazing food. A big thanks to John and Harley for the meals. The chicken with the mango salsa is one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had and I am hoping John will share the recipe! Thanks to Bill, John, Fred, Kevin, and Spencer for joining me on the trip and hopefully we can do it again next year.

More pics to come...



North Umpqua and the tales of Fred Giusti's forever lost 40+

The first leg of our trip up to Oregon was to the famed waters of the North Umpqua. We thought this would be a good stop not only because it was about halfway to the Deschutes, but we always love a good a$$ kicking! Spencer had never fished the N.U. and we were meeting Soft Take and his dad there. In the first run the next morning I had a boil to a skated muddler but could not get the fish to come back to the fly. Fishing half a dozen more runs neither Spencer or I could bring another fish to the fly that morning.

We headed out to see Lee Spencer in the afternoon and chat about all things steelhead. Lee said there were about 260 wild steelhead in the pool and that fishing on the river had been tough lately due to warmer temps and a lack of fresh fish moving up the system. Even Lee has had tough fishing lately only bringing two steelhead to his version of a muddler without a point.
The evening fishing provided a bit of excitement. With soft take and his dad now on the river we all split up for the evening session. Spencer and I headed down to a favorite tailout where Spencer had risen a nice fish to a dry and then briefly hooking one later in the run on a hitched muddler before getting trigger happy and giving it the old farmer john! Here's where it gets good...

On our way to the next run we run into soft take and his dad Fred. Fred was up on the road next to the truck stringing up a new rod in disgust. We pull up and he's got his hands up in the air shaking his head. "Fred, what's up?" His response, " That damn steelhead just took off with my fly line. my fly got ripped and took about 10-15 feet of line off the reel and bam!" So you got spooled? Fred pulled out what was left of his 40+ floater and said, "the steelhead took off with the floating head and it snapped off where the running line and head are connected." So your telling me there is a steelhead swimming around out there with a 35' piece of green floating line connected to a fly in its mouth? " Yeah" Spencer and I were laughing so hard we were almost crying. I know of guys that have lost some shooting heads before to snags but not to a summer steelhead. Too funny! That run will be forever known to me now as "Fred lost his 40+ run."

Next up, the Deschutes report. Stay tuned....



North to Oregon!

I will be leaving today for a 9 day trip up to Oregon. August 24-27 we will be hosting a 4 day camp trip on the Deschutes thru Deschutes Angler Fly Shop. With record dam counts and good numbers of fish entering the Deschutes it could line up to be a good trip. We will also be fishing the North Umpqua and maybe even the Rogue on the way home. Stay turned for a trip report the first week of September.



Trinity River Report

Just back from two days on the lower Trinity river. Fishing was respectable for the hot days of mid August. As usual with this time of year, there are a decent number of wild summer run fish available. In two days on the river we saw good numbers of chrome bright steelhead but many were reluctant to take a fly. Part of this can be attributed to extremely warm water and air temps, giving anglers a small window of opportunity first thing in the morning until the sun hits the water. Water temps ranged from 68 in the morning to upwards of 73 degrees in the late evening.

The good news is that we managed a couple of grabs first light with one good hook up. Unfortunately we were unable to land this chromer but it put on quite the fight, jumping twice as it screamed downstream before coming unbuttoned.

It is shaping up to be a great fall on the Trinity. With good numbers of wild summer run fish in the system and many more wild and hacthery steelhead moving into the Klamath river, we should see some great fishing from now through November. Go for the grab!



Newsletter and Website Updates

Steelhead on the Spey Guide Service is now offering a monthly newsletter. We will be providing fishing reports, guided trip specials, and articles/reviews. We are only offering any guided trip specials we might have through our newsletter. To sign up for our monthly newsletter visit our homepage at www.steelheadonthespey.com and scroll to the bottom of the page.

We have also updated our website in preparation of the steelhead season. Check out our updated Articles section and Photos page. We will also be adding a new page on schools/classes we will be offering this fall and winter. All schools/classes will also be previewed on the blog as well.



Red Wine Summer Fly

The Red Wine Summer fly is just another variation of any standard skunk or hairwing steelhead pattern. Hairwings are simple flies that are both easy to tie and provide a good silhouette in the water. Another bonus is that the white wing makes this fly easy to follow from a high bank, allowing one to see if a steelhead follows the fly. I tied this particular fly for the Deschutes River but it has been a very effective fly for summer and fall steelhead pretty much everywhere I have fished. Last fall , this fly accounted for numerous steelhead on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Pattern Recipe:
Hook: TMC 7999 #4-8
Tag: Small flat gold tinsel
Tail: Golden pheasant red breast feather
Body: Claret seal or Angora Goat
Rib: Small oval gold tinsel
Collar: Purple saddle or schlappen
Wing: Pearl krystal flash under polar bear or bucktail or kid goat
Head: Red Danville 6/0 unwaxed

One of the key things to remember when tying this fly is to keep it thin and sparse. This allows the fly to have maximum movement and swim naturally. Give it a try and hopefully you too will find similar results...

Go for the grab!


Simplifying Spey Lines: Skagit vs Scandinavian

In the last few years we are seeing a huge growth in two handed, spey casting/fishing industry. As more and more people enter the sport, we are seeing a bit of confusion between the differences in shooting head spey lines. Skagit and Scandinavian shooting heads are gaining in popularity, as there are more enjoyable and easier to cast than your average 55-65' Spey line. I wrote the following article to help anglers understand the difference between Skagit and Scandinavian lines, hopefully making your choice on what line to buy or fish a bit easier.

Simplifying Spey Lines: Skagit vs Scandinavian
by: Jason Hartwick



While were on the topic of dry flies...

I don't think enough people fish dry flies for steelhead. Skated or waking dry flies are one of most effective methods of taking summer and fall steelhead throughout the West Coast. These fish are extremely aggressive and will move quite a distance for a fly, especially one that is creating a disturbance on the surface. Plus, there is nothing better than seeing a fish push water and go crazy over a fly skating across the current. While they might not always take your offering, just seeing a toilet bowl swirl on your fly is enough to get the adrenaline flowing!

Like anything else, there are a variety of different dry flies and skaters. In the last ten years, foam skaters have become popular since they ride high on the water and create a good size wake without having to riffle hitch the fly. My personal favorite is a riffle hitched muddler. It is an old standby and they push a lot of water when hitched and create a big wake with a buggy profile. Put the sink tips and wet flies away! While you might not raise a fish the first couple of times out, stay persistant and it will happen.

Jason Hartwick


Dry Fly Love

So I was finally able to sneak away from work for a few days and hit a favorite summer run stream to the north. It has been far too long since I last visited these fabled waters and skated a dry through its boulder strewn runs and tailouts. It's not a place with big numbers of fish but what is there is a special race of wild steelhead that give their heart and soul if hooked. Key word being"if"!

I have spent many fish less days on this river. There are also days where 5-6 fish might rise to the dry fly only to refuse it, causing your heart to skip a beat. You think that she might come back on the next cast in hopes that the fly sticks and the Hardy starts to sing. Nothing happens, but that's fairly typical here.

Your mind often starts to wander and the process of cast, swing, step gets repetitive. Just as you think it might be another one of "those" days, the atypical happens. Your fly is skating through a ledgy tailout when all of a sudden the water erupts in the vicinity of the fly. The fly is gone and a split second later, line is being ripped off that signing Hardy at a high rate. At the same time, the fish is cartwheeling out of the water at almost head height. How the hell do these fish jump that high while still pulling backing off the reel. The fish finally stops once the line is wrapped around a rock. All you feel is tension on the line and nothing is moving. Did the fish wrap you around a rock and come loose? Only to approach the rock and change the direction of pressure does the fish scream downriver into the backing again looking for more rocks to hide around. Minutes pass and not much line is gained.

Do these fish ever give up? Not easily. A couple of more jumps and head shakes and she finally breaks for some softer water. Here is my chance, after following this fish 150 plus yards downstream over ledgerock and boulders, does she finally start to tire in a slower pool. As she nears the bank, it is one of the strongest, most hard fighting wild hens I have ever landed. Something I will never forget, until maybe another fish falls to a skated muddler!

Jason Hartwick


Spring Steelhead: Nicholas Dean Lodge April 11-17, 2010

I am pleased to announce that next Spring I will be hosting a trip through Angling on the Fly to Nicholas Dean Lodge April 11-17, 2010. Nicholas Dean Lodge is one of the premier salmon and steelhead fishing lodges in British Colombia. Located on the banks of the Skeena River, Nicholas Dean offers spectacular steelhead fishing on a variety of Skeena River tributaries as well as a few other well known drainage's. April is one of the prime months for big winter and spring steelhead that British Columbia is known for. This is a prime week for steelhead that also offers a chance at tangling with an early Spring Chinook.

This will be a 6 night, 5 day trip to Nicholas Dean lodge. Trip cost is $3695 cad per angler for 5 days of fishing and 6 nights lodging (double occupancy/boat). If you book before October 1, 2009 you will lock in the 2009 rates of $3695. After October 1, you would be charged the 2010 price. The trip includes guided fishing, lodging, meals, and transportation between the lodge and airport. The trip excludes your airfare to Terrace-BC, fishing license/permits, and gratuities. If you have any questions or to book a trip please contact myself or Keith Kaneko at Angling on the Fly.

Jason Hartwick


'Upstream Battle' Removing the Klamath's Dams and saving Wild Salmon and Steelhead

This is an inspiring short video clip from Ben Kempas about Native American tribes and the impact of PacifiCorp's Klamath River dams. This would be the largest dam removal in history and could help restore the declining runs of wild Salmon and Steelhead on the Klamath River.



Rivers of a Lost Coast

I was able to attend a viewing of Rivers of a Lost Coast this past Wednesday at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. I was fortunate to attend the show with a few fellow employees of Kiene's Fly Shop that were part of the making of the movie, Chuck Campana and Joe Shirshac. It is pretty cool to know and here stories from these two old time California steelheaders.

What a great documentary! All I can say is WOW! Justin Coupe and Palmer Taylor did a hell of a job putting this movie together. It was better than I could have imagined and I cant wait to get a copy when it comes out on DVD. Having Tom Skerritt narrate the movie along with the classic footage and photographs make this a very special documentary for California salmon and steelhead fishing.

A few minutes into the movie and I had chills running down my spine hearing how much California's coastal fishery had an influence on salmon/steelhead fishing throughout the country and how quickly it was lost. This shows how important conservation and protecting our natural resources are. In the coming weeks I will be posting a few articles on conservation and what we as anglers can do to make our fisheries better. Please stay tuned!

Jason Hartwick


Spey-O-Rama 2009

Spey-O-Rama is taking place this next week April 17-19 at the Golden Gate Casting Ponds inside Golden Gate park in San Francisco. This is a great Spey event that features many of the industries top manufacturers and a distance casting competition. I will be at Spey-O-Rama on Friday and Sunday with the guys from Beulah Fly Rods. Come by and cast the new Beulah Platinum Series Spey rods and elixir and tonic lines. Come by and say hello. I will gladly help anyone with their casting, line/rod questions, or just talk about Steelhead on the Spey trips for the upcoming season. I look forward to seeing ya'll there.

Jason Hartwick


Winter steelhead season has come to a close...

It came and went. 2009 was somewhat of a dismal winter steelhead season. We did get some great conditions on the mainstem Eel River in mid January which provided some good fishing for many. February was a pretty wet month and while we needed the rain and snow, it kept many of our coastal rivers blown for most of the month. Though when they were fishable the numbers of returning fish were down and many were hoping the season would just be late. In March we had better conditons and many of the rivers that fish well into March just didn't produce. Overall, I would say that the returns of fish this year were down and mixed with tough water conditions, i.e. extremely low water or blown out, made for tough fishing.
On another note, a couple of friends and I were able to sneak out for a day of fishing before the season ended. In the last run of the day after a few too many Oly's, Will connected with this little hen. A great way to end the 2009 winter season.

Jason Hartwick


Kiene's Dec Hogan Spey Classes

Today we finished up the final day of our three day Kiene's Fly Shop Dec Hogan Spey classes. For the second year in a row Dec Hosted three classes on spey casting and fishing instruction. It was a pleasure to listen to Dec talk about the different elements of each various spey cast and watch him help each student. While Dec did a fabulous job instructing students on 6 different spey casts, I feel most of the students enjoyed his talk about fishing for steelhead with a two handed spey rod. Dec went through how he would fish a floating line with a skated fly, wet fly, and fishing heavy sinking tips.

It was great to spend three days with Dec and after listening to him speak and teach, I feel I learned something new each day. It was a pleasure to help Dec and Terry Thomas with this class and hopefully we can look forward to having Dec out again next year. Thanks to all who attended and thanks again Dec!

Jason Hartwick


Guides Weekend Off

So far the 2009 winter steelhead season on the coast has been a bit of a bust. Not that we have had the best conditions for fishing but when the water and weather cooperated I would have expected the fishing to be a bit better. While we did have some good fishing in January, February and March have been a tough!

I was able to sneak away from the shop for a couple of days and headed north for a relaxing weekend which of course included some winter steelheading. Spent some time on two rivers I do not fish all that often, seeing the usual jaunts have not been producing like they have in the past. Will Johnson joined me and we did some serious hiking on the first day on a smaller coastal river. We had the river all to ourselves and fished some great water, same results!

Seeing little results the first day we ventured a few hours in a totally different direction. This wasnt exactly a short drive and we ended up only fishing half od a day in off and on showers. A few of the smaller tribs were beginning to muddy up a bit and the river was on a slow rise. With a few hours of light and a rising river, Will and I fished fast. In search of that perfect piece of water that might contain the presence of that wild 15 lb chromer all us steelhead junkies are in search of. We both fished down one of the better runs on the river with no pulls. Will headed downstream and I went upstream. I stumble upon a slow moving pool I would not normally fish because it is pretty slow moving and looks to be 6-10' deep. What the hell, I am not finding any fish in any of the usual spot, might as well try something different. The first couple of swings are slow and deep but the current looks to get better the further down the run. Next cast, the fly gets a better swing and just as the fly comes off the faster seam into the slower water, WHAM! Fish takes to the air, give a few headshakes and comes undone. Whata ya know, I lose another winter. Pretty typical for me this season! Though I didn't feel too bad as it looked like it was a downstreamer (aka snake).

Alright so there are some fish around! Strip in and re cast a little further downstream from where I had lost that last one. About 5 casts later, I get jerked so hard it literally ripped the rod out of my hand. Yeah, I know, I here this phrase a lot too but couldnt think of anything original or that was G rated. Fish comes right to the surface and jumps multiple times while instantly taking me near my backing in slow moving water. This was no snake, and appeared to be a thick winter buck. After a 5 minute fight or so I had the buck near the bar but each time I would try to beach him he would peel off another 40' of line. Finally, I think I have him and have the leader in the guide. As I go to tail him, he bolts back towards the pool and hook pulls. Normally I would have been content with the fishing getting off because we are going to let him go anyways but this lightly colored buck looked to be in the mid 30" range and 13-15 lbs. It would have been nice to get a pic of him seeing this was a mid teens fish in a river that typically sees 4-7 lb fish on average. Tragic! If Dave or anyone else that knows that story, this was my crumbler!

F#$% it! Might as keep working down the pool. To shorten this saga a bit, I ended up hooking and landing another snake that went arial a few times and ripped a little line. Fooled me at first but as I tailed her and released her quickly, she was 27-28" and no more than 5 lbs. Wow, what a run! Every once in a moon made of spare ribs does that ever happen. Moral of story. I was one lucky SOB for the day and we all should fish some slower water for winter fish. Not those riffly rus and tailouts, summer runs love.

Sorry for the long write and no fish pics. Snake pics are not allowed!

Jason Hartwick


American River Spring Steelhead Special

As March approaches we typically begin to see some spring steelhead or supercharged half pounders in the American River. These fish respond well to a swung fly and will even take dry flies on the surface as the weather warms and the caddis begin to come off. Most of these fish average 16-20" with fish up to 6 lbs. Many of these fish have just arrived in the river and are extremely bright and full of fight.

I will be offering a spring special for those interested in fishing for Spring steelhead. The focus of these trips will be swinging flies on single or two handed fly rods with floating lines or light sinking poly leaders. The trips will run about 3 hours in either the morning or evening. We will target a few of the prime runs where these fish tend to hold. Cost is $75 for one angler and $100 for two anglers. This is a great way to refine your techniques for swinging flies for steelhead and learning about spring steelhead fishing on the American River.

Jason Hartwick