Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Smallie on the Fly!

Had a chance to do a float with good dog friends, Mike Schultz of Schultz Outfitters and Florida Keys guide and Ross/SA pro, Capt. Bruce Chard. Schultzy put Chard and myself on an unending supply of river smallmouhth who were on a late-season feeding binge. In spite of over 20 years of chasing the big 3 down in the Keys, Chard had never caught a smallmouth on a fly. Here was his first connection- a solid river fish to start the day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Award Winner!

My good friend Martin Bawden of the Flymen Fishing Company received two "Best of Show" awards at the recent International Fly Tackle Dealer Show. The first, for the Best Fly Tying Material and Equipment went to the new Sculpin Helmut that was rleased at the show. This weighted head brings a whole new dimension to tying creepy, crawly, bottom hugging patterns. Sculpin, gobies, madtoms, and even crabs can be imitated with the Sculpin Helmut that is available in two sizes and colors.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spey Testing

Dog friend Spey junkie and Patagonia Fishing Ambassador, Jeff Liskay, does an evaluation of Scott's new L2H, 11'6" 8-wt. switch rod. The L2H rods feature an innovative blank technology that helps to reduce torque. This give a smooth transfer of power and increased stability when change of direction is made. Components are top grade with Super-grade cork, TiCh reel seat and TiCh stripping guides with SiC inserts.

Teamed up with both a 400 gr. SA Scandi Extreme and a 440 gr. SA Skagit Exteme lines, the L2H 1158 is a rocket launcher with plenty of reserve power. It is feather-light in hand and gets a double thumbs up from the casting geeks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A New Era in Wading Technology!

Patagonia opened a new chapter in wading technology with the first public showing of the River Crampon and the Rock Grip Aluminum Bar Wading Shoe at the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show. Both items were the brainchild of Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard. In fact, the original River Crampon prototypes were built in the Tin Shed in Ventura, CA, where Chouinard built climbing pitons.

The River Crampon and Wading Shoe incorporate a series of aluminum bars which increase the contact area and provide a sure-grip on rock, cutting through any snot or slime present. If you have ever put an aluminum canoe up on a rock and had to get it off, you'll uderstand.

With over a year in testing, both products have been used on some of the most treacherous wading areas there are- Montana's Madison River, the Ponoi River in Russia, and both the Dean and Skeena Rivers in British Columbia. They will be available January 1, 2012.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Lines from Scientific Anglers!

This is the first of a series of posts highlighting new products from the just-finished International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in New Orleans. Top fly fishing manufacturers were on hand to showcase new products for the 2012 season.

Scientific Anglers introduced a number of new lines into their Mastery Textured series. Textured lines feature a dimpled finish that reduces friction and surface tenison. This allows the line to be cast farther with less effort and float higher, allowing for easier line pick up and mending.

The Textured Streamer Express lines handle easier in a wider range of temperatures with reduced tangles when lying on the floor of a boat. These lines also feature the SA ID system where the name and weight are printed on the line.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Silver Bullet

Dr. Jamie Mathias holds a fresh silver char/dolly just in to feast on sockeye eggs. Most of the ones we caught were in this size rnge and they hit beads, swung streamers, and even dry flies. The arrival of sockeye salmon in the Naknek lake tributaries starts a feeding spree for all species present. Bears also timed their arrival to coincide with the sockeye.

Dolly or Char? Does it Matter?

All of the fish species on my Alaska adventure were fun to catch, but perhaps the one(s) I found most interesting were the char and dolly varden. Depending on who you talk to: 1) they are the same fish, 2) small ones are dollies, big ones are char, 3) dollies spend their whole life in freshwater, char drop into the ocean and then follow the salmon in.

Regardless, they are amazingly strong for their size and trying to unhook one was like handling a wiggling popsicle. Some we caught were bright silver, in the rivermouth at Naknek Lake, with ascending sockeyes. At another spot, they were in from the salt and a ways upstream already with spawning king and chum salmon. these fish started to color up.

Here Dr. Allen Carnes holds a sizeable specimen just in from Naknek Lake and showing a touch of color. In this cold, harsh environment these fish may only grow an inch or so a year, so this one has a been around for a while.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ya Gotta Like Pike!

Pike are well distributed at lower elevations throughout the sub-Arctic areas of the north to the Great Lakes. At Naknek River Camp, several sloughs just off the main river and close to camp provided good pike action for a quick fix before breakfast or after dinner. A big, bright streamer got vicious hits from pike of all sizes. Don't forget the bite guard as these toothy critters will easily slice through regular mono.

Char Time!

Another fish unique to the far north is the Arctic char. This relative of the brook trout spends time in larger bodies of water and then follows salmon in to their spawning areas to feast on eggs dropped by salmon. Char then spawn after the salmon are gone. Like steelhead, char are a bright silver when they first enter tributaries and then they color up as spawning approaches. Here is a chunky specimen taken during a fly-out to a tundra river. Aggressive feeders and strong fighters, we caught char on beads, dry flies, and swinging streamers. Naknek River Camp arranges fly-outs to a number of different locations for interested anglers.

Another Species Off the Bucket List

Grayling are another "must catch" species for any angler making their first visit to the far north. They rise readily to dry flies often coming right out of the water when they hit. A big specimen is 20" long and we managed to get several in that size while fishing one of the tributaries to Naknek Lake. No photograph can do justice to the array of colors that grayling show. They are an assortment of purple, gold, green, pink, and almost any other color you can think of.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Classic Bear Photo

Part of the week at Naknek River Camp includes a trip to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park to view brown bears up close and personal. The trip is done by the camp's motor launch, so you can travel in weather that grounds float planes. Brooks Falls is where many of the photos and movies of bears catching salmon are made. Thousands of sockeye salmon ascend the Brooks River from Naknek Lake to reach their spawning grounds and stack up at the falls. Bears target this area for an easy meal and the big alpha males get the prime feeding locations.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back from the Last Frontier

Just returned from hosting a trip for Mad River Outfitters to Johnson's Naknek River Camp near King Salmon, Alaska. What a week! Caught 5 species of salmon- pink, sockeye, chum, silver, king, plus rainbows, grayling, char, and pike.

The folks at Naknek River Camp did a great job keeping everyone on fish and well fed. Accomadations are pretty simple, but you are in close access to some of the best fishing that Alaska has to offer at a very affordable price. Some great fishing is right in front of the camp! My buddy Steve Ketz, caught this 30" rainbow right at camp and we landed a bunch of fish 16"-20" there, too. For more pics of the trip go to the Mad River website- www.madriveroutfitters.com