Some Pictures From the Holidays

Well we didn't do much over the Christmas break but relax and eat alot of food. It really couldn't have gotten any better. Here are a few scenery shots from the week and a few shots of some elk that were taken on a Donnely, Idaho cattle ranch where they feed a herd of elk each winter and offer a cozy little sleigh ride into the feeding grounds for an up close and personal look at these amazing critters.


The Herd Bull...until someone bigger comes along anyway, which shouldn't be long now.

Showing off his magnificant toothpicks!


Lazy Saturday

Today was a lazy day. A perfect day to tie up some Salmon Fly patterns for this summers event. And a chance to try out my new camera!


A Video Closer to Home

Well, as my waders have been dry for quite sometime now, I once again must stoop to posting someone else's video. This comes from the same guy that did the New Zealand video I posted a few weeks ago, and features a river that I would consider my home water. Although it is in another state, I live and work right across the border from this gem. I can not wait for the Skwalas this spring!


My Favorite River

My favorite river, the South Fork of the Snake, produces big fish. This I know for a fact. The biggest I have landed there was a 25" fish with a 14" girth that estimates at 6 pounds. That, it turns out, is just a baby. There are much bigger fish in the river. Idaho's state record brown trout until 2007 was a 26 1/2 pound fish caught there in 1981. I have tangled with a couple fish here that I would have just liked to get a look at before they busted me off. Both pulled like a freight train and made runs that were impossible to stop. Running upstream while our boat drifted downstream, I could only watch as line peeled off my reel, then shake my head when the *pop* came and 100 feet of slack line flew back over my head.

A post on Outdoors International today sent me daydreaming again of another float trip through "the Canyon." The fish pictured below was apparently released alive and well after being shocked up in a round of surveys by the Idaho Fish and Game this year. My crack staff is currently analyzing the data and should have the GPS coordinates nailed down by next summer.

(photo from Outdoors International)


Why I really want to go to New Zealand...

A Video from an Idaho guy from his trip to New Zealand. Unbeleivable. Someday I gotta get there.


Dreaming of the Southfork Salmon Fly Hatch

Well it was a lazy Saturday so I spent the day dreaming of the Southfork of the Snake River in July. Dry fly bonanza with nothing smaller than a size 6. Here are a couple fly's I tied up:

If it doesn't blind em it may catch em

A More Standard Stimulator Pattern

Then I decided to try something different. Another fly meant to simulate the Giant Salmon Fly, and tied according to a pattern in a recent issue of Northwest Fly Fishing magazine called Dave's Dream Stone. I didn't do this great pattern justice, and I made many, many mistakes in my first try at this fly but I think it will work. We will see. Remember I am a rookie tier still. It is my first try and the hatch won't go off on the Southfork for another eight months so I will have some time to perfect the pattern. It is one I look forward to using come the middle of July.
A fish's perspective of the fly from the bottom

Side view

Another look at the bottom, this fly just looks fishy to me.


In the Heart of the City of Boise...

...there is a River that bears the same name. It's a pretty special trait to have such a gem running through the capitol city of Idaho, and I decided to take advantage of it's proximity today. I did a little hiking up the Greenbelt Trail to get away from the more highly trafficked areas and found a little bend in the river that pulled away from the trail. Other than the sound of the Boise State University Marching band practicing only a half mile away in Bronco Stadium, I could have sworn I was miles from civilization.

The fishing on the Boise River, in my experience, can be a bit hit and miss but there is a good population of Rainbow and Brown trout and there are some fish in this river that grow quite large. Besides trout, the Idaho Fish and Game releases several truckloads of hatchery Steelhead that are trapped below Hells Canyon Dam, where they reach a large barrier to any further migration, into the river offering a little extra sport each fall. The first truckload this year arrived this last Thursday and so I decided to get out and put a few of the Steelhead flies I have been tying recently to use.

I tied on an Egg Sucking Leach (I love Steelhead Fly names) and some split shot to get it down deep and wore out my arm working a very good looking, deep hole. I only had a couple hours to fish before I needed to get over to the Stadium and reserve some seats in the General Admission section for the Boise State football game for our group.

It was a beautiful crisp fall morning and the marching bands dull thumps in the background only confirmed this is the greatest time of year. When else are you going to try and catch a steelhead all morning then walk a half mile to the stadium and take in a great college football game. Ahhhhhhhhh Fall! By far my favorite season.

As I flung my fly into the slowly churning water over and over again my eyes began to wander up and down the river as they will often do when there is not much action on the other end of my line and I noticed a group of geese just up stream that were cleaning themselves and really playing around in the water. I took out my camera and tried to see just how close I could get and they played along and humored me for a couple photos.

Yes, I did get skunked. No fish, but I have to say the day was a success. As you can see the river that runs through the middle of Boise, is a keeper.


My First Tied Fly

A Woolly Bugger of course


Owyhee River 11/1/08

My Brother Todd with his first fly caught Owyhee Brown

My typical catch for the day was much smaller than usual.

Well my brothers and I went out for a day fishing on the Owyhee River this weekend. It was a fun time as usual but the fishing was slow. The morning was especially slow. Many of the Browns are spawning this time of year but there were plenty of fish off the redds feeding in the long slow stretches. I was frustrated all morning by a midge hatch with fish so finicky I nearly deemed them impossible to catch. Finally about 2:30 in the afternoon I got into a pod of fish feeding on a very nice BWO hatch and managed to land several fish but they were all much smaller than I usually see on the Owyhee. In the last hour I managed to pick off four 12-14 inchers during the hatch and called it a day. It was a fun time out on the river with my brothers even with the fishing being slow. Todd landed his first Owyhee Brown on a fly, a nice 18 incher that gave him a good fight, and Tom landed the most fish on the day.


Tying Zone, Step One is a Go!

As I looked around at everything I would need to get started on fly tying from scratch it became abundantly clear that my new hobby was going to get expensive quick if I wasn't careful. There is just so much you need when you start a new endeavor and have nothing. A good vise is about the only single item that will actually cost you very much itself. The rest is a whole lot of little things that can add up quickly. I decided to start with the big item, the vise, and work around that. After doing research and going into a fly shop and handling several vises I came to the conclusion that I had to have a Regal vise. Now this is probably one of the more expensive vises on the market but after seeing their simplistic and functional design, coupled with the ease of use it made it a no brainer. But buying a new Regal was not going to leave much room in the budget for the abundance of materials I was going to need so I started looking on eBay for deals.

There are people on eBay selling their life's worth collection of fly tying supplies all bundled together for prices that are very reasonable. Now I am no eBay whiz, this is for sure, in fact the only time I have ever used it, I used the "buy it now" feature so there was no bidding or anything involved. Just click and pay and I was done.

Being a rookie I learned a few things along the way, and had some fun. I started searching the site and found a whole set up, with a very good vise and a whole lot of materials, that at the time was very reasonable and well within my budget. There were 4 days left in the bidding for this set and in my exuberance I placed a bid right then and there. I was in the lead...for exactly 12 hours. Soon the item that had started out looking like a good deal was spiraling out of control in a price range that made me feel queasy. I bowed out. Then I found a great deal on a Regal vise. There were no materials with it, just the vise, but I figured I could always get the materials later. The deal on the vise was just too good to pass up. I started bidding early again and had the item won for a price so low I could hardly believe my luck. Then while I was at work the bid ended, and five minutes before it ended some one swooped in and outbid me, by $1. Oh the agony of defeat. Now this was getting my competitive juices flowing. Just the emotion that I am sure eBay thrives off of.

Determined to not be out done again I found another great deal on a whole package. There were enough skinned animals, and full bird capes in it to make any small fur bearing, or feathered animal very nervous, and a very nondescript picture of a vise with very little information on it. Now one thing I know through all this is I have done my homework when it comes to vises, and I was pretty sure by the shape of what I could see in the picture that this was an older Regal vise. Just what I wanted, a Regal vise with enough material to get me going and keep me going for a while. Time was running out on the item and the price was still right. I emailed the seller about getting more pictures of the vise to confirm my suspicions regarding it's maker, but it was the night before the items bidding was to end so I was not sure he would even get my email in time to respond. I withheld the urge to bid and simply noted the ending time when I planned to come back and make my move.

Time was winding down this morning when I jumped into the bidding. With 3 minutes left I placed a bid that put me in the driver seat with $21 to spare. Then I watched as the time ticked off. At two minutes all was well, no more bids. One minute, all's quiet...good. Then my cell phone rings and it is my lovely wife.

"OK I can talk and do this no problem."

Thirty seconds left, "yes, sweetie I will pick up some milk on the way home."

Twenty seconds left, 19...18...UH OH we have another player in the game. I was bid up. By now I was not sure what my wife was saying on the other end of the line, I was focused on the task at hand. I upped my max by 10 dollars with 5 seconds to go in the bidding and by the time the screen refreshed it had confirmed I was a winner! I felt like a champion. I had been beaten down by those veteran eBayer's for the last time. I went back in to check the bid history and sure enough, my bid had beat my wily opponents by 3 seconds...for the exact same amount. If he had entered one more penny or 4 seconds earlier I would be mourning my 3rd defeat in as many days.

The thing with eBay is, after you get that little thrill of victory feeling a screen pops up to burst your bubble.

"Payment options."

"Shoot, I knew there was a catch."

I never did hear back from the seller on what type of vise I just bought but I am not overly concerned as the tying materials alone in this lot where worth more than what I paid, and if my suspicions are true that this is a Regal Vise you will hear another round of celebration once I receive my item. Now I just wish I could buy that milk my wife asked me to pick up on eBay. That was kind of fun.


Pumpkin Carving

We carved some pumpkins around here last night...can you guess which one is mine and what is on my mind?

A fly that size ought to catch a good sized fish!

The whole bunch.


I Highly Recommend...

...catchmagazine.net. This online magazine dedicated to fly fishing photography and film launched it's premier issue last month and in my opinion these are some of the most incredible fly fishing photos I have ever seen. I am especially impressed with the pages dedicated to the work of Jason Jagger. Some amazing timing involved in taking pictures like that, and as an amateur who has sat on the bank focused on a rising fish trying as I might to get the perfect timing on the shot I can say, it is a million times harder than it looks. I look forward to future issues.


Starting a New Hobby

Well winter is creeping up on us here and with that comes shorter days, less yard work, and basically more free time in the evening where I sit around wondering what I could do in that space after the kids are in bed but before it is time to nod off for the night. I have decided to start using this time to pursue the art of fly tying. I figure it could be good in a multitude of ways. It will help me stock up my depleted fly box and keep me occupied with a creative outlet. Thus I have begun my shopping for a good fly tying set up. I am a bit impatient about getting started on this although it is something I debated last winter and never got around to. If anyone has any ideas on what to look for or any tips on resources for the beginning tier I would love to hear them. I guess it is the next step in the evolution of the fly fisherman.


Raising the Ghost

Well during the best fishing months of the year around here (late September through October) I have yet to be able to get out on a river once so I have resorted to videos like this to really get the blood pumping. I am not sure it makes things better or worse to see things like this. Steelhead rising for a dry fly is not an everyday occurrence. Given it's rarity I am surprised this video doesn't look all grainy like those Bigfoot and UFO videos you see. Enjoy this cut from the film "Raising the Ghost" courtesy of Fly Boys Fishing, and try not to slobber all over your keyboard.


It's a Dirty Job, but Someone Has to Do It

The Tools of the Trade...

...the sweatshop...

...and the fruit!

It's all in a days work really...It's a rough, rough life out there on the river.


Oregon Coast

Well we took a little family vacation to the Oregon Coast and had a blast. I did not get my camera out of the case one time which was weird. Kyla posted a whole bunch of our trip on bows-n-bugs though. Here are a couple of my favorites that my really talented wife took:


Middle Fork of the Boise River Round 2

A vibrant native 10" Rainbow. This is probably the average fish we caught size wise. Notice the white tips on the fins. That is a trait that seems common on the Middle Fork 'bows.

Well today my brother Todd and I hit the road for some mountain stream fly fishing action. Todd is just learning the sport and this is a good river to do that on. He got things started right by landing the first fish of the day within our first 10 minutes on the water. It was a nice little 11 inch Bull Trout. Quite a thing to have your first fish caught on a fly out of a river be the ever elusive Bull Trout. Things were slow at first after the initial burst of action but they picked up when we moved to a new spot. All told on the day I caught between 15 and 20 feisty native Rainbows and a lonely wild Cutthroat. Most where in the 10 to 11 inch range but a couple pushed over a foot long. I hooked into a very nice fish I am guessing would have easily gone 16" but after an impressive aerial display, jumping three feet out of the water four seperate times, it got free. Todd had a long dry spell after his Bull Trout but then got things figured out and landed 5 fish in the span of about a half hour towards the end of the day. It was nice to get out and see some beautiful country but for some reason I again did not take many pictures. I guess when the fishing is hot it is hard to take time to snap the shutter. Sometime I need to get some pictures of the area as it is some neat country.


Caddis? What Caddis? I'm Fishing Streamers

I think I am slowly developing a thing for fishing streamers. When you talk to fly fishermen they always like to brag about the nice trout that sipped his delicate little size 22 trico spinner so subtly he barely noticed it was gone. Not me. Yes I do like to catch fish on a dry fly but there is something down and dirty about tugging a big ugly strip of feathers and rabbit hide through the water and watching a large wake cruise up behind and smash it. It may not be where the glory in fly fishing is but it sure is where the adrenaline is.

Tuesday night my heart skipped a couple beats each time I saw that big swirl all around my size 4 gray Zonker. The fish were not hammering it on a consistent basis but they were even aggressive in their investigation. Often they would come up and take a look at it and then give a big tail slap on the surface of the water that would have made many a beaver proud and turned back to their ambush site. A few fish grabbed at it after their investigation but failed to get the hook in their mouth. But there were two fish who fell for it and they did it with passion. The first, a 23 inch fatty, hammered the streamer right out in the middle of the river and I knew immediately this was a nice fish. So far this is the biggest fish I have caught on the Owyhee River. It pulled hard and made several good runs before finally coming to hand.

After reviving this monster and watching it swim slowly away I turned to grab my rod and noticed I was in a virtual cloud of Caddis. I have to admit I chuckled to myself when I thought about the massive hatch that was happening all around me and yet there was no way in the world I was taking that big Zonker off. If you want to catch the big, mean, ugly Browns, you have to think big, mean, ugly thoughts. Or at least throw a fly that fits that description.


Summer on the Owyhee River

One of the larger Caddis that were hatching

Well the fishing was so-so last night on the Owyhee River. I spent more time simply observing the more subtle everyday happenings on a river than I usually do. I am hoping my observations help out tonight when I go back. Here is a quick summary of the evening.

All my usual spots had fishermen in them so I ended up at one of my not so favorite spots. It is a place I always try when everything else is filled up because it looks like a great spot but it has yet to produce like it appears that it should. I fished for an hour or so, caught one small fish on the smallest pheasant tail nymph I had, and then started really noticing all the bug activity on the river. There was a tiny caddis hatch and by tiny I mean the Caddis were tiny, not the hatch. There were midges all over the water. Then there was a hatch of larger caddis and I even saw what appeared to be a smallish stonefly I am guessing a Yellow Sally. I also noticed a lot of callibaetis nymphs floading in the water so that would explain the success with the pheasant tail. Then came the exciting part of my outing. In trying to wade a little too fast back down stream after taking a few pictures I slipped and fell. In flailing around trying to get my feet under me I reached out and grabbed at the nearest peice of brush along the shore which just happened to be a nice patch of stinging nettles. My right arm is still tingling today. It is funny I never remember nettles hurting this long when I was a kid but I am sure I didn't marinate in them like my arm did this time as my priorities where more along the lines of not falling rather than worrying about what it was I was grabbing on too. Meanwhile my arm was in there getting well introduced to the nasty stinging plants. After this debacle I moved to one of my favorite spots in the last hour of light and had numerous hookups with what felt like very nice fish but for some reason couldn't keep the fish on the hook. Maybe next time.


The Middle Fork of the Boise River

Well I had some fun this weekend on the Middle Fork of the Boise River. I caught several Cutthroat and a lot of Rainbow Trout. It was my first trip up this beautiful river. Too bad my camera battery died before I got any scenery shots. You couldn't ask for much better than this. Fiesty trout in a picture perfect setting. I will have to make another trip up there.