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Trout Unlimited Launches The Wild Steelhead Initiative

**Editors Note: I have yet to personally delve into the world of the anadromous fish. However after hearing coutless stories and accounts it is something I am very excited to get into.  Everyone I speak with talks about steelhead with such reverence. I hope to meet one of these beautiful creatures soon so I can speak about them with reverence as well. Please enjoy this awesome video put out by Trout Unlimited

Thanks,

JC

(Video and Article Originally From Angling Trade 11.24.2014)

On Nov. 20, Trout Unlimited launched the Wild Steelhead Initiative, an ambitious and hopeful project to protect and restore the wild steelhead and the fishing opportunities they provide throughout their native range in Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  This is a major deal, as the nation’s leading coldwater conservation organization (with the largest budget, grassroots network, and national staff) is focusing efforts on the wild steelhead cause in a big way.

The heart of the Initiative will be a new community, Wild Steelheaders United, which is being established toinform, organize and activate anglers (regardless of preferred gear type)—and anyone who cares about these incredible fish—to protect and recover wild steelhead.  In short,Wild Steelheaders United is a home to anyone who believes in the common quest to protect these fish and the incredible fishing opportunities they provide.

The Initiative will focus on river systems that have high potential to support robust, fishable wild steelhead populations, while accepting that properly managed steelhead hatcheries may be appropriate to provide fishing and harvest opportunity in rivers that no longer have the capacity to support wild steelhead.TU

The Initiative will address both habitat protection/restoration and steelhead policy and management so that all of the “Hs” (habitat (including hydro), hatcheries, and harvest) are aligned so that wild steelhead can thrive.

TU kicked off kick-off this initiative with five simultaneous events in Seattle, Portland, Juneau, Santa Cruz, and Boise.  AT attended the Seattle event, and it was a full house, with plenty of positive mojo…

What Can You Do?  Get on board, and encourage your customers to do the same.  It costs nothing more than a simple online pledge.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a Michigan steelheader (like I am) or an aficionado of the Pacific Northwest.  We need to make a statement that wild fish matter.  This is the next big movement in the industry…

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For more information please check out the Wild Steeheaders United webpage HERE.

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Films For Change: DamNation Review

One of my favorite fisheries in this world sits at the bottom of canyon in northeastern Utah in the Ashley National Forest. The unique thing about this fishery is that it would not be anything like it was today if it wasn’t for the United States Bureau of Reclamation.  Construction of the Flaming Gorge Dam was authorized on April 11, 1956 and the 502 foot dam would change the landscape and the future for Dagget County Utah and surrounding areas forever.

Flaming Gorge Dam

At this point you may be asking yourself “Why is this important?” It is important to know that the Flaming Gorge Dam makes sense for the area in which it is located. However there are countless dams in this country that do not. Dam removal and management is a hot button issue for many people and is the subject of a great documentary film titled DamNation.

DamNation is an in-depth investigation into the financial viability and environmental impacts that dams have as well as how this engineering feat has pontentially been overused in a majority of cases in this country.  The filmmakers examine some of the largest waterways this nation has to offer including the Snake, Glen Canyon and Columbia just to name a few.  A vast majority of these cases that are examined within the film are truly heartbreaking.

oldceliloOne example examined in the film  is the case of Celilo Falls of the Columbia river.This natural wonder served as the fishing grounds for a number of local native tribes. Yearly these people would harvest salmon from the river as a source of food and economic trade. Sadly this natural wonder was doomed to a preverbial death sentence in 1952 when the Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the Dulles Dam.  The dam was completed in 1957 and the Celilo falls were quickly consumed by the rising waters of the Columbia, a natural wonder and a cultural identity was quickly submerged in the name of “progress”, The situation is best summed up by Ted Strong of the Yakama Nation “Celilo still reverberates in the heart of every Native American who ever fished or lived by it. They can still see all the characteristics of the waterfall. If they listen, they can still hear its roar. If they inhale, the fragrances of mist and fish and water come back again. ”

The United States Bureau of Reclamation in accordance with the 1902 reclamation act constructed 30 thousand dams from 1950-1970. Some of these dams were and still are highly controversial.  The sad part is that a common theme with lot of these dams is that they are “just a sign of progress”. However that “progress” is extremely detrimental to salmon and steelhead populations throughout the country. In some cases entire populations have been eradicated.free_the_rivers

A growing movement within the United States is encompassed within this film. Dam removal is a HUGE issue within some parts of the country and for good reason.  I for one do not believe that every dam in this country should be removed. David Mongomery a geology professor from the University of Washington put it best. “We don’t need to remove all dams now, but we should rethink all dams. If some no longer make sense, we should get rid of them”. In the words of the influential environmental activist John Muir “Free The Rivers”.  

DamNation Serves as a catalyst to present a case for environmental and social change to the masses in a very informative and breathtaking documentary film. The filmmakers at Stoeckler Ecological & Felt Sole Media deserve all the recognition they have received and continue to receive with this film because it is truly breathtaking. It can be seen on Netflix or it is available on Itunes.  I would urge any angler, boater, kayaker, or outdoor enthusiast to check this film out.

 

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Patagonia Presents a Stoecker Ecological and Felt Soul Media Production: DamNation

Some folks see dams as a source of energy, a creator of recreation, or even the protector from seasonal floods. This can be true but during the early twentieth century there was an obsession to put a dam on any river or stream they felt could be beneficial to human progress and not considering the environmental damages that could be caused during and after the build. Thanks to the partnership of Patagonia and Felt Soul Media, they have produced this amazing video depicting the negative effects caused by dams and the impact they have on native fish populations. This video was an eye opener for everyone here at Fishwest, each and everyone of us learned something new from it and we encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to view it.

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Mongolia: The Land Time Forgot

When folks talk about fishing in remote places for most the first thought that comes to mind  is the Alaskan bush or the back country of the North West. But there’s a place in Asia where human development and time have almost been forgotten. Most of you may have heard of Mongolia and the unique salmonid found in it’s waters. For those who haven’t heard of these creatures, they are the largest in the salmonid family, and fierce predators gorging on everything from bait fish to small mammals and birds. Here is a look at what it takes to have a chance at these incredible fish and what is being done to protect it’s habitat.

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Canadian High Mountain Lakes (Gorgeous views guaranteed! Epic fishing a possibility…)

I am not a dedicated fisher of alpine stillwaters.  I have never planned a fishing trip where these destinations were the main focus.  On the other hand, I am an enthusiastic hiker who is always on the lookout for spectacular scenery. Not surprisingly, some of the most scenic trails wind up on the shore of a high mountain lake. And I am dedicated enough to tote along my fly rod

I have to admit that the fishing on these expeditions has been largely hit and miss, with much more emphasis on the “miss” portion.  Many mountain lakes –  because of short growing seasons, limited forage, winterkill, and a lack of spawning habitat – do not support large trout populations.  Other mountain lakes have a decent trout population, but while I’m fishing, which is usually close to noon in the middle of summer, the trout are hunkered down and uninterested.

Nevertheless, if there is a lake at the end of the trail, I am going to toss a few casts.  Occasionally, it pays off, like this past summer…

My girlfriend Deb and I were in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta.  We decided to hike the Alderson-Carthew Lakes trail; the word from the Visitor Info Center was that the views were stunning and the fishing was off the charts.  We set off at 9 AM, carrying day packs loaded with rain jackets, lunch, and fishing gear.

1For the first six miles of trail, the only scenery was the forest pushing in on either side of us. It was an uphill trudge through swarms of horse flies.  When the sign for Alderson Lake came into view, we were ready to stop.  About the same time, a hiker from the opposite direction told us that the trout in Carthew Lake –3 more miles up the trail – were going crazy.  So we decided to keep going.

At this point the trail started to climb into a truly amazing alpine environment. We were soon looking down at Alderson Lake and up toward the peaks that hid Carthew Lake:

2In another hour, we were at Carthew Lake.  It was how you would hope all mountain lakes would look, especially after hiking 9 miles to get there.  Better yet, there were trout rising sporadically.  The sun was high in the sky but the lake was cold enough that the trout – and whatever they were eating – welcomed the warmth.  I threw a small Adams beyond the sun-drenched shallows to the darker, deeper water.  It was engulfed immediately.

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And so it went.  Every cast to the edge of the deep water brought an instant fish.  They were native, colorful cutthroats.  Most of them were eight  to ten inches long and a couple stretched out to twelve.  I was pleasantly surprised by the size; to be honest I was expecting hordes of stunted six inchers.

Casts that fell on the shallow, clear water were even more entertaining. Although a fly that landed on the shoreline shoal was never gobbled instantly, a cruising trout would notice it within a minute.  Then I would have the pleasure of watching the entire take.

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The trout were just as active subsurface. Deb was using a spinning rod and a tiny spoon.  At any given time, she had a fish on and two or three others chasing it.

The fishing certainly wasn’t challenging, but it sure was fun.  After about an hour, we started to make our way back down the trail.   The scenery was just as gorgeous on the way back.

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Post-Script….

A couple weeks later, we were further north in Alberta, on the road between Banff and Jasper National Parks.  We hiked into Helen Lake, a tiny tarn sitting amongst the usual array of peaks and meadows.  We left the fishing gear in the car, figuring that the lake was so tiny and so high that its fish population would be zero.  Wrong!

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From the shoreline we could see dozens of cutthroat finning through the shallows and rising with semi-regularity.  It would have been a sight-fishing dream.  The moral of the story:  Always hike with fishing gear!

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Ross Reels: Made On The Water

I cannot say enough good things about Ross Reels. You have probably heard me talk about my early fly fishing memories with my dad using his Ross Reels. I landed my first trout on the fly using his old Sage 590 DS and a Ross Gunnison G2.

Not to mention I landed my first Tiger Musky and Bonefish using Ross Reel. These reels will always be held in reverence in my eyes and for good reason too.

This video gives us all a brief look on the inside of the Ross Reels. You can tell that everyone on the staff has a tremendous amount of passion and respect for what they do because that is passed on in their reels.  Look for the hidden Fishwest logo somewhere in the video as well!

You can check out all the offerings from Ross Reels by clicking HERE

Enjoy!

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Inside Look: New Boron III Two-Handed Fly Rod

R.L. Winston have outdone themselves again with the new Boron III TH fly rod. They have improved the Boron Technology in the rods and is working to set a new standard when it comes to two-handed fly rods. Making them lighter and more accurate than your average two-handed rods. Check out this video highlighting the new and improved two-handed rods by R.L. Winston.

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Great Days 13: Fly Fishing the Lost River

” A bad day of fishing beats a good day at work anytime” is what you commonly hear from others on the water. Although this statement is usually true it doesn’t really speak justice about the scenery and adventures we come across. Here’s a short film from our friends at Smith Optics, highlighting the fishing opportunities in the Sun Valley Region of Idaho and a little insight on what makes fly fishing so enjoyable.

 

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Product Spotlight: Simms G4 Pro Wading Jacket

With fall in full swing this is the time of year when the temps get cooler and the forecast calls for more precipitation. A good jacket is a must! The G4 Pro from Simms Fishing Products is the answer to your prayers when the weather takes a turn for the worst.  The G4 features a  Gore-Tex Pro Shell material and enough space to fit all your necessities while fishing. What more can you really ask for.

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Loading Up The Float Tube

I used to head out on my float tube with a single outfit and one or two spare spools.  It was great in theory but I think I actually changed spools twice in about ten years.  It just seemed like way too much effort on a float tube in the middle of a lake.

These days I head out with two or three complete outfits instead. I realize that the minimalists are now groaning, but maybe the gear junkies are intrigued?  The rods get rigged on shore and whatever isn’t in my hand is lashed to the tube with a couple of Velcro ties.  Swapping one for another takes about a minute and I have no qualms about changing things up whenever the need arises.  The last trip I took for bluegills is a great example…

011It was a July evening and I launched my tube at about 6 PM.  I had a moderate action 3 weight in my hand; a clear intermediate line ran through the guides.  This is my “go to” rod for sunfish. I can’t keep piles of running line from tangling on my stripping apron, so most casts are short and the moderate action rod lends a good feel to this.   The intermediate line is effective because the sunfish are often quite shallow.

I also had a 2 weight with a floating line on board.  If the ‘gills started rising later in the evening, this stick could lay out small dries for them. My last rod was another 3 weight set up to pick off suspended fish in deep water.

That last statement might strike some people as being a bit of a contradiction.  Generally speaking, 3 weights and deep water aren’t mentioned in the same breath.  Neverthess, you can use a fast action 3 weight to deliver a home-made shooting head capable of dropping flies to depths of 10 or 12 feet. To make a shooting head like this, cut off the first 30 feet of a 5 weight sinking line (Type 3) and then attach it to 60 or 70 feet of 20 pound Amnesia with an Albright knot.  The Amnesia, naturally, is the running line and gets attached to your backing.

IMG_0494I found some fish after only about 10 minutes of prospecting.  They were in scattered submerged weeds between a couple docks.  The water was only about 4 feet deep and the intermediate line – with a scud pattern attached – worked like magic.   Jeepers, can a 9 or 10 inch bluegill pull!  They don’t run or jump, but they put an amazing bend in a light rod.  After about half a dozen tussles like that, I decided to try another spot.

I paddled up to a line of reeds growing right beside some thick, sunken cabbage.  The intermediate line had no Mojo in this location; it didn’t seem to be getting the fly deep enough into the weeds, so I pulled out the shooting head, and did my best imitation of a Bassmaster flipping a heavy jig to penetrate cover.

I had about ten feet of the sinking line outside the rod tip.   I paddled along the reeds, lobbing a micro-leech into reedy, weedy pockets.   I wouldn’t strip the fly in but simply dance it around with the rod tip before picking up and lobbing it into the next pocket.   The bluegill seemed to like this approach and several sucked in the leech.  Although usually reserved for deeper water, the shooting head proved it had a place in the shallow jungle.

IMG_0514Eventually, darkness crept in; I kept an eye open for rising fish, hoping to pull the 2 weight off the bench. Although this didn’t materialize, it was still an incredibly fun and satisfying evening….

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Here’s the outfits I carry when I’m not going after sunfish:

Perch LakeSmallmouth or largemouth bass…  I carry a Sage bass rod and a couple of 8 weights – one with a type 2 sinking line and one with a shooting head.   The bass rod, naturally, gets used for poppers around shallow cover.  The type 2 line helps me hit deeper weed beds and the shooting head – either a type 3 or type 6 – is handy for dredging.

Stillwater trout…  A 6 weight with a floating line lets me throw dries to rising fish or dangle chironomids under an indicator.  For the bulk of my stillwater trouting, I wield a  different 6 weight with an intermediate line.  Lastly, I carry the same shooting head system that I would for smallies and LMB’s.

IMG_0484Crappies… I use the same outfits that I do for bluegill.  However, I swap the 2 weight for a specialized 4 weight that delivers small poppers and gurlers.  More details about this rod are in my Pisciaphilia article called, “Canadian Fall Fishing:  Topwater Crappie Action.”

Pike…  I am often throwing BIG flies for pike.  The outfits I use are like the bass selection above but I trade a couple of 10 weights for the 8 weights.

One final note!  Be careful if you’re paddling your tube around with a couple rods hanging off the side and extending behind you.  Don’t back into anything!