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Product Spotlight: Silver Sonic Waders by Orvis

Sadly it is slowly transitioning into that time of year when the Waders have to come out of hibernation. Some of us prefer to wet wade in most cases but that doesn’t work come fall and wintertime.

If it is time to consider getting new waders check out the Silver Sonic Waders by the Orvis Company.  These lightweight, breathable stockingfoot waders are on the cutting edge of wader technology. They feature Orvis’ patented SonicSeam technology, these waders are not stitched, instead they are welded together for lasting wear.

These waders come in both a Men’s and Women’s model for all anglers!  Check out what Orvis has to say:

 

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I Turned My Wife On……to Fly Fishing

I previously lived 15 minutes away from a trout paradise known as the Platte river in Wyoming.  Then I found myself married and moving back to Iowa where my wife and I both grew up.  It only made sense since both of our families are here.  Obviously the trout fishing is not as lucrative, but the hawkeye state has some great areas to fish.

DSC02035My wife knew nothing of fly fishing until we got married.  After a few outings with our fishing crew and a couple of backpacking trips out west, we finally convinced her to give it a shot.  It didn’t take long and she was asking tons of questions.  She was hooked like a driftless brown taking a juicy hopper in September.

We started her off with the basics, putting a rod and reel together, stringing a rod, the difference between fly line, leader and tippet.  She found it interesting how much their is to know before a fly even hits the water. DSC_0610

We even spent time on the tailgate at home practicing knots with string just to make it easier to learn.  Through the spring and summer she has fished in Wyoming, Colorado and Iowa.  She is now proficient at reading water and has an understanding where the fish tend to hang out. She is quickly learning and  the different ways to cast and mend her line to get that fly where she wants it.  After our last trip to northeast Iowa, her favorite two fly combo is now the hopper dropper.  It is fun to watch her progress in her knowledge and skills.  I find it as exciting as she does when she hooks up, and share in her frustration and laughter when she misses. DSC_0616

After a great day on the stream we find ourselves back on the tailgate talking about the day and enjoying our favorite craft beer.  She always has one last question, “when do we get to go again?”

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Bristol Bay (A Southern Perspective)

Editors Note:  Bristol Bay Alaska is one of the most pristine wild places on this planet. As an angler and an outdoor enthusiast I hope to see this area remain unchanged for a long time to come. Organizations like Trout Unlimited are doing all they can in order to prevent this mining project from ever taking place. Its up to us to let our voice be heard in order to protect this region for future generations.  Take action by clicking HERE.  -JC

The legal term used to describe it was mineral rights.

The way it played out was like this.  A family would have a few acres in East Tennessee or Southeastern Kentucky with maybe one dwelling and a barn.  A representative for a coal company would show up and offer hard cash if the owner would sign over the mineral rights to his property.  In the poverty ridden condition that most of my ancestors lived, a city dude offering a couple of hundred dollars in cash for what might or might not be under the ground seemed like a no brainer.  A no brainer until a group from the company showed up and told these folks they had to leave because they had come to claim not what was on their property, but what was under their property.

DSCN6837Mines bored deep cavernous holes in the hillside to extract the black gold that would become a defining element of my regions contribution to the industrial revolution.  With impunity these companies worked round the clock to pull ton after ton of coal from the land.  Many of these families stayed on in mining camps where they toiled six and sometimes seven days a week raping the land they used to own.

One of the resounding effects the mines had on the region was not in what they pulled from underneath the land; it was the runoff of poisons that they polluted into the streams that flowed from the high country.  Streams that once were a water source and a provider of food ran orange and red; literally everything within them died.  Children were born with defects which were in part generated by mothers who were exposed to a myriad of caustics that invaded their bodies and in turn the bodies of their children as toxic levels of selenium, mercury, and arsenic seeped into the water table.

The financial boon filled the pockets of many, but a very small percentage of them actually lived in the area.  Workers were paid in scrip, which were just tin tokens from which to buy from the company store which inflated the prices thereby increasing their profits as well.

It took decades for this to be turned around, and in the area in which I grew up; its effects remain on a pilfered landscape, and a few streams which have yet to recover.  And it is quite possible that they will never recover.  Sometimes, the impact of industry on a landscape is too great a price to pay; it is too large a burden to risk.

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Bristol Bay Aerial View (Photo Credit: Ben Bulis)

When the subject of the pebble mine in Alaska began to surface, I felt connected.  From an environmental standpoint, I saw here in Tennessee (albeit on a much smaller scale) what could happen there and was angered to the point of action.  Sometimes, and perhaps it could be argued most of the time, the best development or industrial progress is none at all.  There comes a time when we must evaluate financial gain against the strong backdrop of what would be lost.  In most cases what would be lost, is lost forever and triggers a chain of events that will impact much more than the particular region.

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Alaskan WIlderness (Photo Credit: Ben Bulis)

Bristol Bay is a massive area that is primarily wild untouched country.  This area has been home to native Alaskan Tribes for millennia and is considered to be the largest fishery for sockeye salmon on the planet. Hundreds upon hundreds of miles in streams participate in the watershed through the Nushagak and Kvivhak rivers, and smaller streams such as the Napotoli and Stuyhok.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency began a study on the area and how a pebble mine might impact it from an ecological and environmental perspective.  This was of utmost importance to the Alaskan native tribes who have entire cultures built around the lifecycle of the salmon that call the bay home.  The study intended to evaluate the development and mining of this area be its impact while in operation (which was estimated to be between twenty and one hundred years), and the recovery and maintenance of the area after the mine had closed.

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Cockpit View (Photo Credit: Ben Bulis)

Personally, I have yet to visit Alaska, but from a distant perspective, to negatively impact a location where nearly half of the sockeye salmon in the world congregate with numbers going well above thirty million fish moving inshore to spawn is beyond a bad idea, it is criminal.  If you also take into account the other fish species that live there (lake trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, pike), the sheer numbers of fish that would be effected staggers even the broadest of imaginations.  Try to wrap your mind around 200,000 rainbow trout in one watershed!

The long term economic impact would be catastrophic as entire communities who, through commercial fishing and tourism, find their subsistence would find themselves with a dwindling fish population and a constantly growing demand as well as the ever upward costs of living.  There are families who have been in an economic relationship with Bristol Bay for hundreds of years.  To fish its waters for sustenance and financial gain is all they know.  To remove or reduce it would be to (in effect) kill entire villages.

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Alaska’s Wild Waters (Photo Credit: Save Bristol Bay)

The E.P.A. assessment states that up to 94 miles of streams would be completely lost because of their location in relation to the mine footprint.  94 miles!  Can you imagine how many fish would just vanish forever?

The E.P.A. report goes on to state that reduced food resources would result in the death of many streams outside the footprint due to the loss of organic material, a reduction in winter fish habitat and by nature of design, reduce or remove vital spawning areas.

The blow that would be dealt to creatures such as the storied brown bear, or the bald eagle would also be irreparable.  A reduction in food, a reduction in habitat, and once again a reduction in the local economy and way of life.

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Sockeye School (Photo Credit: Save Bristol Bay)

When do we say enough?  When do we finally realize that once a fragile thread like Bristol Bay is severed, it is highly likely that it will not be mendable?  When do we stand and say that not only is it a bad idea for the wildlife, it is a bad idea for the people?  When do we stop and take a position that does not approve in any shape, form, or fashion the potential health risks involved in a huge mining operation?  When do we finally realize that clean water impacts every person on this planet, and that wild places need to remain wild places?

Hopefully, that time is now.

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Destination Fishing: New Zealand’s North Island

With fall approaching and the summer season ending our minds here at Fishwest have been wandering towards fishing destinations around the world. As the season is starting to cool off here it’s about to heat up in the southern hemisphere. The crew at Gin-Clear Media has put together another great video highlighting the great fishing opportunities found in New Zealand.

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Fly Fishing 101: Thoughts On Etiquette

Editors Note: This wonderful Insight comes from Ryan and the guide staff from Driftless On The Fly located in North East Iowa. The Driftless region provides excellent opportunities for anglers of all skill levels to enjoy a variety of coldwater and warmwater fly fishing situations. Without further adieu, please enjoy – JC


There is a great deal to learn when starting out, so while learning the basics of casting, fly selection, and hooking is important to the fishing process, we also try to impart some of social aspects of fishing as well.P1020265

Fishing etiquette may sound silly to some, but to any fly fishermen out there who have had their long-awaited trip interrupted by someone who lacks this sense of courtesy, they know full well the importance of this knowledge. It seems like anyone who has fished long enough generally has a story about this.

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  • Give others space. If you approach another fisherman on the stream, try to respect the fact that they want their solitude.  Often a knowing short greeting or simple nod and smile will suffice. If they want to converse, they will.
  • Do not fish directly up stream or down stream of them. Continue to walk upstream or down and find another place. You can always come back. Fishing directly above or below could spook the fish they are working on, and honestly- they were there first. We recently took our Fly Fishing Club on their trip. While working with a young man on a particularly nice run, another fisherman approached on the opposite side and began to fish our run.  The man apparently had no idea that this was wrong,  and in fact started talking to us while throwing his line over the top of ours. I instructed my student to reel in, and we had a great conversation later about what not to do. A teachable moment on the stream.
  • Pack out all trash. This includes line and strike indicators.  Leave only footprints. In Iowa, we are lucky enough to fish private land  where they permit public fishing.  Don’t do do anything that jeopardizes that.
  • Pay it forward by offering to help someone that looks like they may need it, and I am speaking more in a physical sense- climbing a slippery bank, safely crossing a fence, making a stream crossing. Fly fisherman are generally a generous community and will come to the aid of others, but don’t assume that someone wants your help, especially when it comes to technique.

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It really comes down to common sense and the golden rule while out on the stream. Respect one another and the land that you are privileged to fish and everyone wins.

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Canadian Fall Fishing: Topwater Crappie Action

I’ve come to realize that crappie take top-water flies with incredible enthusiasm. Although not a “classic” fly rod target, their surface-slurping tendencies – especially in the fall – deserve your attention…

13 inch Minnewasta CrappieAlthough the spring crappie bite can be awesome, late summer and early fall can be even better.  At my latitude in southern Manitoba – just north of the U.S. border – this time period typically runs from the last week in August through the first two weeks of September.

When the weather is pleasant and settled, crappie at that time of year turn on like crazy.  I usually fish small, shallow, flatland reservoirs and the fish swarm into the same weedy bays they frequented in the spring.  They are also drawn toward turns and points on rocky shorelines.  The rip-rap along a dam is another magnet.

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The magic really starts to happen an hour or two before sunset.  The crappies often give themselves away as they swirl after baitfish and other critters.  Better yet, they eagerly suck in #8 to #12 streamers attached to a intermediate line and a 3 to 5 weight rod.  A type II line also works well, especially if the water is 5 or 6 feet deep.  Some of my “go-to” patterns are shown in the accompanying photos.

IMG_1369Occasionally, if there are sunfish around, I will use a #12 or #14 nymph.  Both crappie and sunfish will hit a small nymph but I really believe that crappie prefer something a little bit larger.

Wait a second… Didn’t the title of this article say something about top water?  Don’t worry, it’s coming…

As dusk moves in, put away the streamers and tie on a panfish-sized popper or gurgler.  Short, rhythmic strips – and the resulting surface commotion – draw the fish in.

My favorite outfit for presenting poppers and gurglers was inspired by a Sage Bluegill.  A Sage Bluegill is probably a bit heavy for most of the panfish in my area so I’ve taken a crisp action 4 weight that is 7 ½  feet long and matched it up with a 6 weight line and a light reel.  The resulting combo loads great with a short line; it is amazing at hitting little pockets in rip-rap or any other target.  Plus, an 11 inch crappie puts a good bend in it!

IMG_0639A boat or a float tube are great for working fall hot spots but walking along the rip-rap face of a dam is also effective.  Actually, as dusk turns to night – but the fishing is still lit up – walking on shore with a minimum of equipment is perhaps preferable to being in a boat or a tube.

Crappie are a great way to say good-bye to the dog days of summer and say hello to fall!

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A Look Inside: Fishwest’s Yucatan Adventure 2014

Editor’s Note: Dave Zanardelli from Pennsylvania recently returned from the 2014 Fishwest hosted trip to Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe, Mexico in cooperation with Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures. Here is what he said to say about his experience:2014-08-22 14.18.55

Tarpon Cay Lodge, in cooperation with the Hotel San Felipe de Jesus, may be the perfect destination for the first time tarpon fly fisher. From my first impression upon arrival of complimentary margaritas to ease the travel fatigue, to the last impression of making a detour on the way to the airport to visit a Mayan ruin, everything is just about as good as it gets. Comfortable accommodations, excellent housekeeping, and the highest quality food make a visit here an experience that will remain a pleasant memory for a very long time.2014-08-20 17.58.36

Now, the important part…tarpon! Baby tarpon are not everywhere, but one is never out of sight of them   for very long. Every day provided multiple opportunities at fish, from singles to schools of a dozen or more that had one thing on their minds – eating! The fishing is not difficult, and the casting is not all that demanding. Never before has a guide on a tropical flat instruct me to make a short cast, at nine o’clock, at 20 feet! A raw beginner will have reasonable opportunities to boat fish. Of course, being a capable caster greatly increases the number of chances. And when a tarpon does eat your fly, good luck boating it! These guys jump, fight, jump, run, jump, and bulldog all the way to the boat. One tarpon to the boat in three hook ups seemed about average.2014-08-17 12.05.30The second most important factor in any trip – the guides. These guides are friendly, expert at what they do, enthusiastic about what they do, and top notch at providing instruction. Carlos and Chris are among the best fly fishing guides I have encountered.

2014-08-22 12.36.16For those of you who want numbers, here they are. In six days of fishing, I jumped between 40 & 45 tarpon and managed to boat 16 of them. They weighed from about 7 pounds to nearly 20, averaging at about 12 pounds.

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I will be back next year. Along with a companion too skeptical to go on this trip, but is now convinced of his error!

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Last Thing: The team here at Fishwest is proud to announce we will once again be hosting a trip to the Tarpon Cay Lodge in conjunction with Yucatan Fly Fishing in San Felipe, Mexico. Join us from August 15-22nd of 2015. Please check out the Fishwest Outfitters Travel Page for more details or call us toll free at 877.773.5437

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SharkWave: The Next Generation of Textured Lines

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try out Scientific Angler’s SharkWave Ultimate Trout fly line while fishing with a buddy. He had just purchased the line a few weeks back and had been obsessing about the line since he bought it, half way through the day I asked him if I could throw his setup and test it out for myself. I noticed a difference between the two lines on the first cast. Compared to the Rio line I have on my setup, the SharkWave felt like it just flew out of the guides, allowing me to make longer cast with less effort. Not only did I notice the difference in casting ability but also I could get longer drifts due to the line riding higher on the water. Both of these qualities should be familiar to those who have fished textured lines in the past. 

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The new SharkWave fly line incorporates the same technology as the other Scientific Anglers textured lines, a micro-textured surface to trap air for a higher ride and reduce friction through the rod guides and on the water surface. With the SharkWave line they have made improvements on an already great line designs, they have fused three different texture technologies from previous lines before into one.

The front taper is designed with the SkarkSkin texture that was introduced in 2007, as well as SA’s Dry-Tip technology. The micro-balloons in the Dry-Tip technology allows the tip to ride super high putting less drag on your leader and allowing it to float on the surface longer. The belly and running line incorporate the Mastery Textured divots for the same reason, less drag on the line, and they have added 30 inches of the TRP (Tactile Reference Point) texture to allow the caster to feel and hear the transition from the head to the running line.

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One thing I haven’t gotten use to yet and not sure if I like is the noise of the line. It is noisy and can get kind of annoying hearing your line on every cast you make. Usually when we fish all we want to hear are the sounds of nature, this is what a lot of anglers expect when we go out on the water. So does the performance override the small annoyance of the noise the line makes while moving through the guides? I believe so, eventually the angler would get use to hearing it and tune it out; you really can’t beat the performance of these lines. The SharkWave is offered in three different styles, Ultimate Trout, GPX, and Saltwater making it easy to find a line for almost any fishing situation you will encounter.

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Helping Restore America’s Waterways: Orvis/TU 1,000 Mile Campaign

As many of us know Orvis and Trout Unlimited have been working hard to restore waterways and wetlands across the country for years now. Whether it’s pushing for dam removal or new legislation protecting vital rivers and streams, restoring eroding river banks or oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Today they have a new campaign, to reconnect 1,000 miles of river and streams by removing or rebuilding poorly constructed culverts that inhibit spawning fish to continue their journey upstream to reproduce. To find out how to do your part check out the video and visit Orvis or Trout Unlimited for more information.

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…