Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Fall Run of the Rocky Mountain Kokanee

In the mist of the Rocky Mountains swim a trapped Salmon specie, more specifically the Kokanee Salmon; landlocked form of sockeye salmon, both die after spawning. Konanee Salmon - Oncorhynchus nerka - was originally described by Walbaum in 1792 from sockeye taken in Kamchatka. The scientific name is Greek for "hooked nose of flowing waters".

I have caught Kokanee in lakes as a kid. The sleek fish were streamlined build with brilliant steel sides and dark blue backs were fun to troll for. At the time I didn't think much of it. At the time I was just a kid, fishing for anything, especially if it was a boat (a rare event). A few years ago I thought about them again and set out to find the schools of landlocked finned wonder. But this time I was interested in seeing them in full color, view the metamorphosis.

I know what happens, I know how it all works, I am familiar with these fish BUT it's mostly paper knowledge. I have only had the chance to fish for them a few times. Each experience I leave the water with a rejuvenated mind set. I thought many times how awesome this is to witness as I watched the cycle of life happen right before my eyes

During the spawning season the fish transform from the shiny silver bodies to dark red. Their head ranges in color from a florescent greenish hue to a deep dark green. The head is bluntly pointed and narrowed snout and small stark white teeth line the jaws. Breeding males have a more compressed head and body with a prolonged, hooked, turned up snout and a hump before the dorsal fin. The teeth protrude and line the jaws, it's a site to see. And then there is the striking color change… deep dark to freshly painted bright red., their head ranges in color from a florescent hue to a dark green. What A sight.

Once again it was that time of year, autumn. Ralphy had the day off, I did as well, and at the last minute we grabbed our gear and headed to the desert to find the landlocked Salmon… and other fish.

We learned some new stuff, such as last years spawning grounds were ghost towns this year, go figure. There is a cycle to where the lower river spawning runs occur. After finding these fire red fish I decided I had to bring one to hand and coaxed a single Kokanee to my fly. Ralphy snapped some pictures before we wandered on, following the blue water to wherever it might go.

All Salmon photos courtesy of Nate Miller

It was a fun day of exploring new stretches of river - all while looking for fish of course. We found some Kokanee schools in places that were bare the prior year. I have wanted to go back, to see the final stage of a fish with a purpose. Stay tuned for the return.

Check out Nate's cool stuff at -->http://www.flickr.com/photos/32854617@N08/

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Test Run – Cheech’s Fly #317.5- B


We were headed home from a lake adventure. As usual we all were still eager to fish. Somewhere on the road we decided to take a small. I had a few flies burning a hole in my pocket...err…waders that I wanted to toss on the river; it was a win-win in anyone's book.

For the next few hours I spent a lot of time looking at the scenery. It was awesome. Each time I find myself saying the same thing, "this is the best day of fall colors ever", funny how every time seems to be "the best day". But today the feeling was perfect, the lighting was awesome; it gave nature a great contrast. It also gave me just another justification to why I spent most of my time out here… out there… you know what I mean.

I rigged up with a fly was that tied by my good friend Cheech. He is always coming up with crazy ideas and is always looking for feedback. Lucky for me I get to see the samples before the finished product, some stuff works, some doesn't, and each time the pattern is perfected. Perhaps a reason why his stuff is so productive might actually be all the fails, tweaks and miscalculations. Knowing exactly what you don't want in order to create something takes a lot of time and a ton of problem solving. I like how he takes his time to work on a pattern, investigate what the insect and material performs under a variety of conditions. Today was a perfect example of thinking outside the box… Cheech's "Scubahopper" series.

This particular fly is just part of the "Aquahopper" series that is coming out of depths of Cheech's basement. It's other half for is a shallow water swimmer, the "Snorkelhopper". These flies were designed to cover the entire water column -from fast shallow riffles to small deep pockets. Each fly has a specific purpose…. Well, that's the hope anyway.

After loosing the "Snorkelhopper", a great loss as it's really been a go-to for me, I tied the "Scubahopper". I was faced with a fast deep run with a small soft pocket tucked neatly to the side. A normal drift of a nymph wouldn't be able to get to the location, or if you could, it needs to be heavy to get down fast. I was really excited at this challenge; it was a perfect test to see if the theory matches the performance. A few casts later I had a perfect drift, tight to the side pocket. The line went viciously tight and I was rewarded with a nice Brown Trout.

It was a great to see that the fly performed exactly what its purpose was. It was a really fun fly to fish, it makes you switch up tactics and it makes you target specific locations that you might otherwise overlook or tricky spots that are difficult to get into….. I just wish that hopper season wasn't over.

To learn more about Cheech and his crazy flies check him out at……….http://flyfishfood.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall on the Berry


The old knights at the rectangle table have been slaying it on the berry. It pays to be quiet and observant when buying tying materials at the shop. Needless to say, I caught wind of it. I did what any brother would do, I called the crew. We packed the gear and headed out the door.

Walking down the trail the sound of frost could be heard crunching beneath your feet. Looking ahead, the path to freedom funneled into a thick, dark fog. The fog was level with the surrounding hillside. Just last week the aspens still had the gold coat shimmering in the morning light. Now they are bare and seem quite distant standing there in shades of black and white. Winter is coming.

Stillwater really isn't my game, but its fun and challenging… especially from shore… with a fly rod. But this is when the fish start cruising into the shallows and some really good fishing catching can be had. Armed with a few dozen too many flies I followed the crew into the fog.


It started of pretty slow. Small feisty 12inch Rainbows passed the time between the hours spent casting and stripping. Although nobody was complaining, we were looking for Cutthroats.

By mid day a few Cutthroats had been landed but not the numbers we were anticipating. We decided to work out way back to the car. Casting and walking, leapfrogging one another along the shore. We all picked up a descent Cutthroat by the time we hit the trail.

No one fly or color stood out. I think a dozen different patterns produced today… but one in particular made an impression. It was right at the end so very little information was gathered. But I am going home to gather more ammo. I will be headed back here soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Long Walk - Forbidden Water

Now back to the previously scheduled blog post....


As many of you know Utah's water is now free!! There are a few stipulations to beware of such as not crossing private property, being respectful, using common sense (if you have it), and obvious things really. This has opened many rivers that I have wanted to fish and finish.... uh, legally. I am an believer that all water is free and none should ever be private. I feel that water, not Oil, is our most precious resource, it's our right and our lifeblood. This summer I have mapped out a few of my local rivers from the beginning to the headwaters. Many trips are long days, with longer walks and its not as easy as I thought it would be. Sure there are a few places that are easily accessed but that's not really appealing to me. I always wonder what lies ahead, it motivates me and this trip was one of those long days with a 12-hour walk.

Yesterday was a long day, 4 hours of diving, fishing till dark, and then coming home to work on the computer, etc. By the time I fell asleep Andy was here, right on time. I was still sleeping when he knocked on the door, I hate when this happens. It's 5am. After my initial panic wore off we were in the truck within 5 minutes...about 5 minutes later it started. I felt a little sick, odd for me but my stomach was killing me. I thought of how tasty last nights breakfast-dinner was, how the eggs and potatoes went well with my burnt toast and strawberry jelly. I thought I was going to loose it, I opened the door and let out a quickie. The light turned green and away we went. On the freeway heading to the rendezvous point, I was feeling it again. "Pull over" I yelled, or whined not sure, it was there I lost my lunch.. er.. dinner, I mean, breakfast-dinner on the side of the freeway, in early morning traffic. Back on the road I felt a bit better.

We met up with Grizz at the store; I pounded some water, a Gatorade and a Red Bull. Ahhh, I feel better now. Its a good thing because we had our work cut out for us.

The morning was cold, the first major frost was on the ground and you could definitely see your breath. This is the first big cold snap of the year... hope the fish don't mind.

The day started out slow and picked up as the sun came out. We all thought it would be best to target the "happy water", the runs. The river is low, many areas area's appear non-flowing (frog water) so hurried though these areas. With time ticking we really needed to keep moving.

Grizz was slaying it, again, and landing some fat little Cutthroats and Browns. Andy did his part to bring the fish to the surface and was rewarded with success. I had a few, lost a few and really wanted to hook a few that I missed.

It was a great adventure. It's nice to explore a stretch of water that was forbidden for so many years. It was better than I had hoped for... it wasn't easy. I hope that the law never changes and that anglers and landowners can meet at common ground. So if you're out there enjoying the freedom, please respect the land... and pick up any trash. It would be a shame to see this overturned due to angler.