Sunday, March 30, 2008

Korkers Review - Update!!

You never know what might happen.... all good things.
If I were a betting man, I would have bet that …

A) Nobody reads my blog

B) Korkers wouldn't see my post and if by some miracle they did, things would be swept beneath the carpet.

Well, well, well... was I mistaken. The seed planted and it grew…. Within 5 hours. That's right, 5 hours, some random person saw it and immediately contacted Korkers. It was a brief valid question. He received a response immediately. Form there it went through the grapevine and somehow, someway, the email landed in my inbox. Was I ever surprised! I was delighted, curious and apprehensive and I responded. I received a reply without delay. To be honest I figured that if I received any retort what so ever it would be to get me a pair of boots to shut me up. I know I would do ; ) So, I anticipated some strong arming or ass kissing to be shot my way. Although, I didn't allow myself to shut anyone down when someone tried to correct the situation. Things happen and when they do you can't keep shutting them down, that isn't fair, everyone deserves an opportunity to make things right. Instead it was a good down to Earth discussion. I was not handled in a "corporate" manner, but rather in a real person-to-person way, an approach that I can relate to. This impressed me more than you could ever envision. The situation was handled very professionally, responsibility was taken and the door remained open.

To my dismay, Korkers called me out on my word. In my response I said "If you have any questions or would like to put me on your R&D team feel free to contact me at any time." And they called me out on it… touché! Now I really didn't know what to do. I sought advice and really thought about it. I did say what I said, regardless if I was joking or not. I tried to take emotion out of the equation, the situation was dealt with and behind us now, so I felt there was no need to look in the past, but instead look at the future… so why not? Why slam a door when it's open? This was not what I had expected, anticipated or ever thought the outcome would turn too. It was a bold, raw, honest question and now it was my turn to answer. So I agreed. In light of a bad situation a company stood behind what they believed in, made things right and offered me a cool gig. This was a no bullshit offer I assure you and I agreed.

So, to be fair… I was WRONG, Korkers actually doesn't have good customer service they have extraordinary customer service. Nick at Korkers should be applauded for thinking outside the box. I was not only pleased with the email response and phone conversation but there was no ass kissing and no bullshit. What you see is what you get. I am stoked with the outcome… all I can say is, you never know.

Thanks Nick! I am looking forward to the upcoming year and I will do my best to beat the shit out of them again!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, and I quote…. "These boots will be the first entry into the inaugural Korkers Hall of Fame"…. ; ) Woot Woot!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Winter Fishing - Nymphing the Dream

It snowed last night laying down a clean slate of white. Overnight temperatures were in the "cold as hell" category… yeah I know that phrase makes no sense but somehow you understand it. Anyway… Nate and I met up with Mike D at the inlet. 97.2% of the lake was still frozen. He was already at the creek diligently tossing streamers by the time we made it to the parking area. After rigging we met up with Mike and agreed to hike over to the far shoreline. It's deeper over there, easy to see what you're walking on and well, what if? ……. Well, that sucked, nada, zip, zilch, nothing. No strikes, no follows, no fish. We abandoned that idea and went to plan B, head to the river.

On the way to the stream I wasn't all that thrilled to be nymphing. Yes of course I was stoked to be fishing. To be honest I suck at it, it's not really my cup of tea so to speak. I do not have the patients for the constant re-rigging after you get broken off, be it fish or rock, stick or the moss creature from Scooby-Do. The tangles get to me, staring at the bobber irritates me and the clinking of the split shot in my pack at every step makes me wish I brought my iPod. All these reasons are why I need to keep on it, keep practicing... meticulously. But seriously, give me a rising fish and a dry fly, its more entertaining watching the rejections ; )

Nate Rigged Czech style and Mike stuck with the streamers. I had wished I rigged Czech on the walk to the water, thought about switching. I always go to the stand-by bounce rig here. Not sure why, there are way easier ways to rig, with wayyyy less hassles…that's probably the reason I do it…lol… Right out of the gate Mike had a few hits pounding the banks. A few on but just didn't get a good hook set. Nate stuck a few fish and I was lobbing my rig over and over, staring at the trees and watching the birds. I take the nymphing time to enjoy the surroundings because of the lack of catching : ) I watched Nate's techniques and tried to figure out what he is doing, when he is doing it and why. If you fished with him you'd do the same thing, watch and learn and take some taking notes. We kept moving up the river. I still hadn't even had a strike. Nate was ten feet down from me and stuck a fish…. Figures. After a short moment of doing this monotonous lobbing routine I decided I'd had enough, time to get into it. Open the box of goodies and selected an old stand-by, picked up a few rocks and decided to try out NJ's sweet looking BWO pattern. I switched flies and after talking with Nate I shortened my leader. I sure wish I had done that earlier. I was finally on, and then another, two quick fish and a few more hits. Leaving that hole and meeting them back up the river, Mike had to leave…..

For the next few hours I was finally figuring it out. A specific little tip from Nate was all it took. I couldn't believe how fun nymphing is… when you're catching. It was truly unbelievable…Brown, Cutthroat and White Fish. I tried all day but couldn't find a Rainbow but Nate did… of course he did. I was so stoked to catch a Cutthroat here and by some dumb luck I got two. The numbers were thrilling, the fly's were working as it was designed (to catch) and I almost thought nymphing was cool ; ) It was a great day on the water, I learned a few things, touched a Cutthroat, watched some big birds fly and got a few pics…. I wish I could do that all day, every day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Streamside Observations

You never know when places are going to be good. Sometimes you just need to go and find out for yourself. That's what we did, we traveled for a few hours checking spots and curing the "what if's". After a few lakes, a few streams and a few crowded areas we headed for the last spot. The road was not clear but not that bad if you don't mind a foot or two of snow on the ground and mud puddles up to your doors.

We took a few samples to see what going on. It seemed that every rock was loaded with insect life. Some had only a few Stones some had ten of them. It was amazing. I am not that efficient in distinguishing the difference between Skwala's and Golden Stone's though. They all look the same to me ; ) So it appears that very soon big-drys are going to be tossed.

The "golden color" Stones were roughly 1 inch in size. There were some that went well over that mark. The juvenile Salmon Fly looking bugs were also in abundance.

What do you see??? No need to get tech but don't let me stop you. But please add the general name as well so I can follow ; )

This sample came from under two medium rocks.

Click on picture to enlarge

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tigers and Ice --->Off

Its 6:00 am. Bags are half way packed, gear is spread out on the floor, in the corner sits a fly in the vise that is only moderately started, Red Bull half way down and I can't find my 3wt reel…$&#$%!!!! Ohhh, there it is sitting right in front of me, staring at me during my entire whirling dervish act. Looking around the front room I thought, how in five minutes could I create such a disaster? After cleaning up my freak-out and re- packing all my things I turned on the computer and sat down to finish some needed Midges. I observed a few words on the screen and thought…. Shit…. What to do now… Right at that second my phone rang, it was MFRW (Chris B), and he had seen the same letters and read the same sentence. That's all it took, change of plans. Don't need that 3wt anymore today or the flies that I had to finish…. This always happens. Perhaps I should wise up and do some reverse sociology and start tying flies that I don't want to use because I never end up using the flies that I think I might "need" anyway. It's an ongoing joke that life likes to play on me… ha ...ha…ha.

About the same time the phone rang Nick and Matt were pulling in the driveway. I explained the new intelligence that had just come in over the wire. After two-point-nine seconds of dialogue we changed course and headed in the opposite direction in search of open water.

Arriving after sun-up the water looked inviting. The weather was already heating up for winter standards, the wind was calm and nobody was around. Perfect. A quick breakdown of the day's arsenal was talked about. The decision was made to go with a fast sinking tip. We all had variable lengths in leader and penciled in our starting colors. Nick had black, Matt took green and I had on white. Walking down from the car was the first "point", Nick had the gravel, Matt had the "block" and I took the… nothing really, just a piece of shoreline. Matt was on right away, and then again. Before we had the chance to figure out what was going on he was releasing another Cutthroat. Shit…. I mean, good job Matt ; ) Nick and I scrambled to our boxes of flies. I didn't really have anything green, dam it; I should have been tying Stillwater stuff. I found something that might work. By this time Matt had at least a half dozen fish and who knows how many more hits, and saying something like "Oh, oh, ooh, yep there's another one". Shit… I mean sick Matt ; ) Casting out finally... got a tug after a few casts, but nothing like I had expected. So I reeled in and attached a shiny new 9' leader, need to go longer I guess? Well that worked, finally. Nick had gotten into some Tigers, Matt had a pod of Cutts and I had some dinky planter Rainbows with no fins. I decided to move. We walked along the shore picking off fish as we made our way to the backside. On the back bay we ran into a pod of Rainbows, manly planters but if you could get below them there were some healthy holdover's, with fins… but no sign of Tigers, yet. After fishing the backstretch we found a few areas that held some monsters. A few follows were real heart breakers, following it all the way to your toes. Some how you'd find yourself trying to coax them into easting your fly. The first follow gets the heart pumping. Then the next few foolow you say something like "come on, come ON" then the "oh, oh, oh, its right there" like they don't already see it - there following it, duh. One time I caught myself saying "please", luckily nobody heard. We all got into a few nice Rainbows and Nick put on his tester and slayed it.

As we made our way around Matt spotted a game warden. He scrambled to find his license just incase we were asked. For the next hour or so the warden was seen checking everyone's license. Finally, I thought this might be the first time in my life that I have been checked. Well, unfortunately we were the only group that wasn't approached…ironically we were the only fly guys… go figure?

Last spot before we headed back produced my only Tiger. He hit it less than 5 feet from the shore but took off like a bat out of hell. I was stoked, mission accomplished. Need more Stillwater,???

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Winter Fishing - Small Creek, Small Flies

I have had the dry-fly tingle since last fall; I am a life long devotee of sight fishing. Nate and I had been digging around trying to find any information on streams other than the standard crowded Utah waters that have been producing good Midge hatches. As usual, there was no information that we could find. So in order to tame the "what ifs" we had to go. I suffer from the "what ifs"… I am learning to treat this problem but sadly I have to work some. Lucky for me I have a friend that suffers from the same dilemma… we packed our gear and hit the road

The mountain was quiet at pre-dawn. Arriving at almost 10,000 feet the view was surreal. Endless snow covered mountains, 360 degrees of them. For the next hour I wished I had brought my snowboard. It still looked like mid-winter, untracked powder was everywhere, what a paradise I thought. Snowmobile and snowboard tracks were spotted, those bastards I thought, having all the fun away from the crazy world with nobody around. The soft light hit the tallest of the surrounding peaks first. The colors slowly creped down the East facing mountains, at first just one then a few more of the taller spines were lit, soon all of the peaks were glowing in a red hue, the colors were astounding…. first light is one of nature's greatest gifts to me. Once again I feel at home.

We geared up and headed to the river…. Somehow I forgot to bring the snowshoes, oops…. Crotch deep in snow we made our way down the trail, laughing, crawling and falling like a bunch of idiots trying to get a fix as we made our way to the water. The stream was gem clear, flows were low and midges were spotted. In the river it felt like time stood still. The snow banks were all overhead sometimes way overhead. It was like fishing in a tunnel, pretty cool feeling, everyone should do it. We searched for "heads", stalking trout with tiny flies, size 22-28. I stumbled on a hot pattern that I had gotten from Cheech. There was a deep run with rising fish. They had refused a few flies already so on went the dropper. After a few change ups I decided to through on a larger than normal bead head that I had never used, not sure why but I thought at this point it wouldn't hurt. I wish I did that sooner because it worked like a champ. Took a half dozen fish out of that hole. Nate was also killing it. He has this "special" fly that he has been working on, oh the prototype. Winter stones were seen along the bank and a few midges filled in the gaps.

After lunch we moved above the car. This stretch held a ton of fish, its slow moving water and the fish could be picky. Nate was getting into some fish with his fly… again. I was switching flies but couldn't really dial it in. The glare was killing me, the fly pattern was too big, I couldn't see the fly and had to rely on Nate for the hook set, and a few other excuses of why I was sucking ; ) Then I remembered the test box of midges I got from Cheech, I dug it out and on went a size 26 or 28 parachute midge that was in the "good" side…once again I wish I would have done that sooner. It did its job quiet well, its been pulled off the bench and placed into the first string box.

We had a killer day on the water. Nate and I got into some fish on top, the weather was cold but sunny and the scenery was worth the effort. Again, I dreaded the trip home. Seems to be in my thoughts lately, whether I am fishing or snowboarding. This whole concrete thing just isn't for me; it's been 2 straight long years of it. Perhaps a move is in order. At the end of the day all I thought was how gorgeous the part of the country is, can't wait till the return trips in the summer.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Product Review - Korkers


Product---> Korkers Streaborn wading boots

Out of the box they are fantastic, very comfortable. I liked the idea of being able to change the sole. However, after trial and error I went with the sticky rubber sole for the duration of the boots life. Since I backcountry fish more often that not, packing in the extra weight of soles seemed silly (not sure why I didn't think of that before) and there wasn't room in the pack anyway. I was delighted with them for a few weeks, until the day I went to put them on and they were way, way too small... what happened??? To get them on with out cutting the circulation off I had to get them wet before I even leave the house, that sucks! Toe-punch was a common thing when hiking down hill and this just wasn't what I had in mind. Although I dealt with it, the last straw was when I was fishing in November. The back "hook" on the boot was already broke which caused the sole to pop off. I realized this when I tried to hike back up the hill next to the water and about fell in. I looked down to see the disaster. After searching for the missing part I decided to keep fishing. I figured that I could return them to the shop and that would be that. I unfortunately assumed the shop would call customer service explain the situation, I would get a new pair of boots, eat the cost of the sole and life is back on the trail...... but nooooo, what I got was an unacceptable way to treat a customer. After 6 months of use these boots just couldn't hack it.

So here is my answer to a corporation that doesn't care about their customer, just their money....

To whom may concern,

Enclosed you will find a pair of the "new" Korkers Streamborn wading boots that were released in the spring of 2007. These highly anticipated boots were purchased in May of 2007 and sadly died on a crisp fall evening in November of 2007 catching Tiger Trout. In the short 6 months they have walked on this earth, they have had the pleasure of witnessing hundreds of pristine miles, seen dozens of river drainages, soaked in high country lakes and had the delight of pursuing fish five days a week. They will be profoundly missed.

As you can clearly see, the nylon-injected hook is broken. I was using the sticky rubber sole as I have the entire time. I am a believer that felt has the potential to transport whirling disease from ecosystem to ecosystem, basically I feel that rubber is more fish friendly… so I bought the rubber sole to compliment the boots. I purchased the extra sole following your consumer guidelines, as well as a shop employee's recommendation, which were again based on your strategy. Unfortunately, that idea was poorly thought out. I have discovered the rubber sole is smaller than what the manufacture had thought, so it did not properly fit the OmniTrax Technology, as it should have. This smaller sole strap makes it fit rather snug on the hook, which I thought was normal, so I didn't think anything of it. Over a 6-month period of time it had obviously put too much stress on this area, end result a broken nylon-injected hook and lost sole. I watched your on-line demonstration and read all the directions. Never once, was there any suggestion to not use the proper retail suggested sole size for the boot. Now, this leaves me out a pair of boots and in the process the rubber sole was lost, that is an extra purchased accessory. Not to mention the sizing issues, I again followed your guidelines and have found that they shrink so bad that they need to be soaked before I can even put them on. How could your design, R&D and marketing people overlook this simple flaw…Triple whammy?

So, I did what people do when a product lacks integrity, I took them to them back to the shop. The employee could clearly see what had happened. He called customer service or whomever shop's call to get things like this resolved. They stated that I need a receipt to show proof that the boots were purchased within the year time frame to be eligible for warranty. Well, I don't have the receipt and more to the point, they haven't even been on the shelves for a YEAR, they are a new product. A Korkers representative said there is nothing he can do. I guess I am naive, I didn't even think that I would be sending these boots back so I tossed the receipt. I suppose I am the type of person that doesn't pack around all my receipts, waiting till the day something goes wrong. Usually, I get a few years out of my gear, call it good and buy another pair. I understand gear does not last forever, but in my opinion 6 months is unacceptable any way you look at it. I suppose the web site "targeting" statement wasn't actually targeting me. It states "Fisherman who are passionate about the sport, hard on gear, and need the ultimate in support and durability. Whether you are a winter steelhead fisherman, or a trout bum who hikes several miles into the backcountry to find monster trout, Korkers new Streamborn is the pefect choice for all-season angling." That is a direct quote from your website, even the grammar errors. I should have known better I suppose??? What a bummer.

I am not new to gear, hard work, play, wear and tear, rain, sleet or snow. I have used and abused the best gear that companies can make. I have tested gear, prototypes, samples and ideas. I am not new research and development, corporate red-tape and a market flooded with inferior products that are sold to hard working consumers in the name of a buck. While you try to find ways to sell products like these to me, I am out there doing what your products are supposed to be capable of handling. I use these boots almost more than regular shoes; I do not guide. I bought these boots specifically for remote backcountry travel through rough terrain. The interchangeable gimmick sold me but I found myself leaving the trail soles behind, ditching the felt and have really enjoyed the rubber traction. So, this leaves me with a pair of broken boots, one stick rubber sole and bad taste in my mouth. I am very disappointed in this situation. I understand lemons, a bad run, accidents and problems. What I don't understand is poor customer service that leaves the consumer high and dry. As of now I am not asking for a refund, a new pair of boots or a new sole, as I do not have my receipt. This is a total loss on my end and for that I feel that the consumer needs to know about this potential hazard. This will be posted on my blog (url enclosed below), a few fly-fishing web forums and word of mouth, as this is extremely disheartening.

In light of this situation I have decided that instead of throwing them away to the trash I would kindly send them to you…for your Research and Development team. They actually might be interested in seeing what used boots look like. If you have any questions or would like to put me on your R&D team feel free to contact me at any time.

Best of luck to you,

Friday, March 14, 2008

Streamside Observations

I am thinking of starting a weekly "Stream Observations" type of thing. I am not sure how to run the format, so any suggestions are more than welcome.

I like bugs, insects and seining is fun to me. Picking through your catch is half the enjoyment…you never know what you'll find. Lately, I catch myself in anticipation to find certain insects. To me what lives underwater is alluring, exciting and fun. The insects are amazing and carry great detail...only an artist could create such tiny intricate masterpieces.


Snow, then super snow, parting clouds then sun… we seined a small section, no shortage of insects here. A few different types of caddis, plenty of Little Yellow Sally nymphs, some big sow bugs, a ton of Baetis nymphs, midges, a few Drakes and one small leech. On the way home we passed over a tributary, the snow was covered in bugs. A closer look we discovered the highly anticipated BWO adults.

The adult Baetis was photographed under different lights...all pictures are the same insect. The interesting thing to me is the drastic color difference between the two light sources. In one light it appears as normal, another light its translucent and not the greenish color we all know.

Click on picture to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Winter Fishing - Green River... Day 2

Chris was already awake when my alarm went off. "It snowed," he said, great I thought, here we go again. Walking outside it felt rather warm considering the overnight snowfall, still cold but no wind chill... yet. The snow covered the landscaped to create a pure white canvas. It actually looked inviting, a mural from nature so to speak, it felt peaceful.

Walked out to the boat… Sh**, f***, damn!!…Forgot to put the cover on. My thoughts instantly went back to the diner the night before. I asked the waitress what the weather was doing, "snow" she replied. Oh well, good thing I asked....we have paper plates for shovels so that's neat. We made our way back to the shop to get another shuttle and snag a few more productive flies. Chris bless his soul found me Red Bulls, few life is good.

Pulling down to the river there was the sense of peace. Wispy light grazed the water, I felt free. The wind was actually calm, sure to change but for now it was welcomed. Chris wa to the parking lot. There was nobody around, just a few sippers on the opposite shore, some smart fish at the put-in and a kid with a broken leg who was finally liberated from the confinement of a lazy-boy sticking these so-called pressured fish. Life is good.

Shoving off we decided that if we saw sippers we would target them and keep moving to the next pod. It wasn't too long before we found them...let the games begin. After getting rejected a few times we scrambled to the midge boxes, Cheech's midge box to be specific. After switching flies a few times we dialed it in. Chris went with his old stand-by the "Kimball's" and I tied on a cluster trailing a the #26 assassinator. Chris parted off the last two of his Kimball's and quickly called for back up. Luckily, Cheech had tied a few up, Chris was back in the game.

I lost way more than I liked, bent a small amount of hooks, parted a couple off and landed a few to hand. By this time Scott had done everything in his powder to get us a good drift and distance, he was killing it once again on the oars. Again, he rowed the entire day, never once complaining about anything... Scott is a stud. By this time Chris was over the sippers. The small, slender, stunted, mouth pricked Browns just didn't cut it.Especially when you could look down and see these huge fish that are not feeding on top. So, he tossed on a bugger.

By lunch Chris had landed a few to hand and while we parked on the beach for lunch he hooked into another. After lighting the stove for the afternoon braughts session, I made a few casts, OK a ton of casts and hooked into one. Good lunch and we haven't even eaten yet. Lunch was great; something about hot food on the river just feels nice in cold weather. While eating we broke down the fishing scenario...same as the day before, the midges were almost over and the buggers were on. Yesterday I was just late but it seems today we are right on schedule. So, Goldylocks and the three bears are now hunting for Browns.

Right out of the gate it was on. I found the fly and Chris dialed in the swim. Casing out and mending helped it get down quick so that you were able to get at "fish level". Once the fly was down you just swam it tight to the bottom and following the terrain. Over the rocks and then drop it back down through the cracks if you could. You watch the fish chase the fly, oh the visual takes...I couldn't get over it! It was the same feel as the dry fly, watching and anticipating, then the strip-set. Sometimes missing them of course but the experience as a whole for those few hours was just the pure untainted joy of fishing and catching. It is in the end bonds us all together, at the end of the day we are all drawn to the fish for different reasons but the same outcome is the ending goal, enjoyment. Some use it for an escape, some to add something better to their life, some for a breather from the daily grind, some do it for a living and some just live it, not something they do but something they are. All for the same result, a bit of freedom and something pure in this crazy world we live in. It was getting cold gain, might snow.
The drive home was a sad one. Arriving back to the lights of the city really set me into though deep; I do not belong here in this rat race I whispered to myself. I have lived in the city off and on for sometime, breaking it up between the seasons. But now after this trip I realized that I have been here for too long...why I'm not sure. Perhaps moving back to the mountains is in order. It was a great trip, one to remember.