With all the talk of hooking mortality and how to properly handle fish, I thought I would share some of the best fish shots I’ve seen in awhile. With GoPros and every one having a personal camera, the amount of gratuitous fish porn on the inter web is border-line painful. Nick took these over his last couple of days out, and they blow any other fish-photo out of the water (punny). Yes, we are contributing to the onslaught of fish porn, but feel these showcase the safest way to remember your catch.
We have seen incredible advancements in point and shoot waterproof cameras, as well as waterproof housings for DSLRs. The Chum posts new cameras every few weeks, and it’s time anglers start to take note. In these photos, Nick is shooting with a DSLR and a very badass Outex waterproof case. They are pretty expensive, but the key to epic underwater photography with your big, fancy camera.
Side Bar: No one will every realize you are standing at the hatchery hole, or in your secret spot.
Shooting lines are a key part of shooting head systems, where the main weighted belly of a fly line (i.e. shooting head) is connected to a shooting line that lets the head sail to distance. Shooting lines were used originally by competition fly casters, who replaced the skinny but sticky standard running line on their fly lines with even skinnier and slicker monofilament to get maximum distance. Anglers quickly adopted shooting head systems, which let them swap out shooting heads of varying sink rates, using just a single shooting line, giving great angling versatility without extra spools.
Today, these two factors – enhanced distance and fly line versatility – have solidified shooting head systems as standard tackle for anadromous anglers. The shooting line is key to this system because it connects the angler to the shooting head, and most of a fishing day is spent handling the shooting line. There are three main categories of shooting lines (and some variants) to consider when choosing a shooting line.
One thing I have often seen while guiding spey fisherman is that they just wont move. I’m not talking two-stepping here but simply working a run in a methodical and timely manner. Under most conditions I prefer to move three to four feet between casts which has several benefits.
1) By steadily working your way through a run you will cover more water throughout your day than the person who only moves a couple feet every few casts. Remember, we are looking for players, the fish who are aggressive enough to eat your fly on the first pass.
2) Constantly fishing new water it is simply more interesting and I tend to stay more focused as I move though a run.
3) We are not trout fishing – you will not find a steelhead river with 2-6 thousand fish per river mile, so covering water is the key to finding fish.
I do slow down for several reasons.
1) If I know fish are in a certain area and I feel that they are not willing to move far to a fly, I will slow down my pace and work the fly with different presentations.
2) If I feel a grab but don’t hook up I will cast back to the fish, trying a couple of presentations. If this does not work I will mentally note where the fish was holding and make another pass with a new, smaller fly.
By maximizing the amount of water you cover in a day you will swim your flies through more holding lies. When searching for winter steelhead covering water can make the difference, it only takes one fish to turn your day around.
We use 6wt switch rods for large trout and steelhead. These are light enough in hand to stack mend all day without tearing your shoulder apart, but strong enough to swing smaller flies and poly-leaders and turn big fish in heavy current. You will find it a little under gunned for heavy sink-tip fishing applications, or if you try to throw a large nymph rig to the far side of the river.
Beulah 10’4″ 6wt Platinum – extremely light, basically a 10’4″ single-hander. killer indicator stick and summer dry fly rod.
Redington 11’3″ 7wt Dually
Echo 10’10″ 7 wt SR
Sage 11’6″ ONE – at 11’6″ we call these “mini-speys.” you can indicator fish them without too much issue, but we find ourselves wishing the rod was at least 6″ shorter to be a better indicator stick.
There has been a lot of talk around here lately about how to properly land and handle large fish – see Gink and Gasoline’s recent post on catch and release mortality and you’ll see why this is important.
Safely landing and releasing can be particularly challenging when using a spey rod so this is how we like to do it to make sure that wild fish we release have a chance to spawn and hatchery fish make it to the smoker. Generally when swinging flies you will already be wading in the river, which is ideal because you want to land your fish in knee deep water.
The method: When I feel the fish is tired out enough to handle, I pull the fish up near the surface and grab the leader as it moves by me. The key is to not reel in too much line, try to have more line out than the length of your rod. Once you have the leader in your hand tail the fish and tuck the rod under your arm. You should have slack in your line at this point so pull some line off the reel if you need to. You can then unhook the fish, revive it if necessary and let it go without ever taking it out of the water. This is easiest in knee deep water so you don’t have to bend over as far. I have landed kings by myself this way and it works great, but may take a few tries and a bit of practice.
Winter is coming and that means getting down deep where the fish are. This three-part series helps explain your options for swinging through the bucket.
Different density tips
Sinktips are a great way to stay fishing as waters cool into fall and winter. With just a few sinktips, an angler can dial their fishing depth to find that sweet spot where the fish are holding, but without dragging the fly across the stones. Anadromous fish sometimes hug the bottom when they’re cold, spooked, or stressed, but generally they won’t swim deeper down to take a fly below them – so choose a sinktip that will present the fly at the fish’s level or above them.
Summer steelhead fishing provides some of the most relaxing – and exciting – fly fishing that Oregon has to offer. Ideal water temps and a more trouty temperament make the summer steelhead a perfect fly rod fish, and we’ve got world-class opportunities right in our back yard. We groove on the pace and rewards of pursuing these fish, and love it when they munch wet flies like the Freight Train or Silver Hilton, or explode on surface flies like a waking muddler or foam skater. Although summer steelhead will move to a surface swung fly better than any other anadromous fish in Oregon, they’ll also eat nymphs fished deep, especially in high sun when the fish lay low.
MOW tips are a relatively new offering in the fly fishing world. They consist of a section of floating line welded to a section of sinking line. Most are ten feet long and come in a variety of styles with a popular choice being the “five- five” or five feet of floating and fivefeet of sinking line. From a casting perspective, these tips cast very similarly and enable the angler to change casting stroke little between tip changes. From a fishing standpoint, MOW tips allow the angler to change sink tips less often when fishing different water types throughout the day. They do this by reducing the amount of line in the water column and by creating a straighter, more vertical angle from the floating line to the fly. This means it is easier to keep your fly in the fish zone when there are boulders and other fish-holding structure in the way of a clean swing.