The 2015 F3T is right around the corner, and we at Fishwest can’t be more excited. The trailers are out and by the looks of them it will be another great event, here’s the trailer for Those Moments; a film by Kokkaffe Media’s Peter Christensen, supported by Orvis and Deneki Outdoors. The tour will be swinging through Salt Lake City February 19, 2015 at the Depot, tickets will be sold here at Fishwest starting January 2, 2015. If you have never made it to F3T before I highly suggest you do your best to make it to this years. It will be an all ages show, so bring the family!
Get ready for season 6! I am always blown away by the quality of videos Todd Moen and Catch Magazine are able to put together while dealing with varying weather conditions in remote places. It’s the combination of footage and complementary music that set great videos apart from the rest and by the looks of this season’s trailer he has knocked it out of the park once again. This season they travel to Argentina, British Columbia, and Montana’s backcountry to name a few. Season 6 will be available for purchase after December 10th and the staff here at Fishwest are very excited to watch this video in it’s entirety. Hope you enjoy the trailer as much as we did!
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.
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
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.
Today marks the long awaited return of the Fishwest 5wt Shootout. Morgan and I have been so busy fishing and in the shop lately that we haven’t had a chance to get together and really put the remaining rods to the test. For that we do apologize so without further adieu here are our thoughts on the next rod in the shootout: The Helios 2: Tip Flex by The Orvis Company.
The Orvis Company has a long and storied history in the sport of fly fishing. Charles F. Orvis of Manchester Vermont started the Orvis Company in 1856. Orvis holds the distinction of being the oldest fly tackle manufacturer in America, since its inception Orvis has been producing exceptional fly tackle and is constantly pushing the boundaries of technological innovation within their fly rods.
The Helios 2 is the flagship of the Orvis line with good reason. Building off of the 2007 release of the original Helios, the H2 is 20% lighter and stronger than its predecessor the Helios. If the performance of the rod doesn’t speak for itself the ascetics of the rod most certainly will. The deep blue blank and the Machined aluminum reel seat with beautiful wood insert take this rod over the top.
As always in order to maintain fairness within the test we utilized the same reel and line combination with each rod. For this test we have decided to use the Clearwater Fly Reel from Orvis and that is paired with the Gold Taper fly line from Rio.
Without boring you to death with more details here are the thoughts Morgan and I had about the H2.
30ft: Paired with the Rio Gold Line I feel like this rod did okay loading up within this distance. With that being said you could totally tell this rod has plenty more to offer in terms of power so it took a minute to get used to casting this rod within this distance. The presentation qualities of this rod would suffer in my opinion due to the tip being a little on the stiffer side when paired with this line. I honestly believe that if an angler overlined this rod it would definitely perform much better in what I would consider “typical” trout range.
50ft: This is where the rod really started to shine. This is where the rod became more accurate and a lot easier to cast. Flies landed like a whisper. The extremely lightweight nature of the rod itself made it both easy and highly enjoyable to cast at this distance with knowing that the rod still had plenty in the tank in order to throw out the “hero” cast.
70ft: Again long distance casts were smooth as silk and as easy as 1st grade level math homework. Again the rod handled the casts with grace and precision. These casts rarely if ever get made when fishing for trout. However with the H2 in hand I would have the utmost confidence in getting the job done right in the first cast.
I was very excited to get my hands on the Orvis Helios 2 after watching some very impressive videos of the rod intentionally being broken. Being the oldest U.S. fly fishing company, Orvis rods have a lot to live up to and the 9’ 5 weight Tip Flex H2 did not disappoint. In my opinion, this rod was one of the best do it all, Rocky Mountain trout rods in our shootout. Orvis offers the H2 in either a Tip Flex model or a Mid Flex model. With many rods currently on the market being faster action tip flex rods, we chose to stick with the most similar offering for the H2. Aesthetically, the H2 is beautiful. A dark blue blank strays from the ambers, greens, and blacks that we see from many other manufacturers.
30ft: The Helios 2 did pretty well casting within 30ft which is what I would consider “Utah range” for our local readers. The rod had a little more backbone than I prefer for short casting but adjusting your casting stroke will get you into the sweet spot. The tip is little stiff for close quarters presentations but an over weighted line like the Scientific Anglers GPX or even the full weight heavy Rio Grand would get the rod loading more at shorter distances.
50ft: With 20 more feet of line, the rod started to load a bit deeper into the blank which made the feel of this rod much more apparent. The smooth taper and light weight of the H2 made it a breeze to cast and a pleasure to hold. The H2 was plenty accurate at 50ft and as we saw, it could do ever greater distances with great accuracy.
70ft: Long distance casts were met with ease and accuracy. Most of us rarely cast 70ft casts but when it becomes necessary to make serious casts, it can be done and it can still be done with confidence and accuracy. The performance of this rod with this much line out doesn’t suffer. Some rods will get it done but this rod gets it done well.
Overall Morgan and I agreed 100% on this rod. This would be an excellent “all around” trout rod. However with that being said we also came to the conclusion that this rod may be best suited overlined with a 6wt line or a line with over weighted construction like the Scientific Anglers GPX ,Rio Grand, or the Orvis Hydros Power Taper.
There you have it as always we hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on the Helios 2 and this latest addition to the Fishwest 5wt shootout. For questions about the H2 or any of the rods in the shootout please give us a call at 801.617.1225 or drop us a line at email@example.com. Stay tuned for the next installment. The “One” rod by Sage.
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.
Mines 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The dream: Alaskan fly-out lodge. The problem: Dream exceeding budget. The solution: A cruise ship.
Seems highly unlikely, right? Swapping a cruise ship for a floatplane. But it works… Even though a cruise ship won’t immerse you in Alaska’s remotest fishing, it will get you places a road won’t go. And the scenery may be even more spectacular. Better yet, the whole family can come along for about the same price.
With that in mind, my daughter Kerri and I hopped on the Norwegian Sun, a cruise ship traveling from Vancouver up the Inside Passage into Alaskan waters. The first port of call was Ketchikan, where we took in a lumberjack show. No fishing was on the agenda but the town’s main drag was a salmon river. The downtown shops overlooked glides and riffles instead of concrete and traffic. Handrails ran alongside the wooden sidewalks; if you leaned over the rail, you could see pink salmon running upstream. The whole place was a great, big fly-fishing appetizer.
The next stop was Juneau. Kerri stayed on board at the ship’s daycare. With all the activities they had planned, she wouldn’t miss me one bit. I hiked off the boat and down the street to the local fly shop, where I met up with Luke Woodruff, my guide for the day. About an hour, Luke anchored his boat where a small stream poured into the salt. We were relatively close to Juneau but could have been anywhere along Alaska’s wild coastline.
We waded the beach, sharing the water with hordes of pink salmon. They were very eager; my rod was almost constantly bent by a four or five pound pink. Although pink salmon, or humpies, register lower than cohos or kings on the desirability scale, the fun factor of any 4 or 5 pound salmonid should not be overlooked!
For a change of pace, Luke suggested hiking up the stream and trying for some cutthroats. Five minutes down the path, a mother brown bear and her cub ambled into view, about 50 yards away. We looked at each other and reversed direction without a word. Our pace was definitely brisk on the way back to the beach. A few furtive, over-the-shoulder glances confirmed that the bears were not following. Although Luke carried a 12 gauge shotgun with slugs, I was quite relieved that he never even took it off his shoulder.
The next stop for the cruise ship was Skagway; both Kerri and I headed off the boat. But this time for the mountains instead of a salmon river. Some rock climbing – guided and beginner friendly – was on the agenda. After Skagway, the ship headed up the Tracy Arm for some serious scenic fiord cruising and iceberg spotting.
The final port of call was Wrangell – another chance to fish! This time Kerri joined me and guide Marlin Benedict had his jetboat waiting just down the pier. We headed up the silty lower reaches of the Stikine River to a deep pool in a clearwater tributary.
Once again, the pink salmon were thick. We could see schools swimming by underneath the boat. Often, the take was visual and I watched a humpy inhale my streamer.
Kerri – who was nine at the time – used a spinning rod and the pinks kept it under strain. Marlin enthusiastically netted Kerri’s fish and that process intrigued her immensely. To be honest, after four or five salmon, she actually convinced Marlin to use the rod and let her control the net. In the spirit of true customer service, with perhaps just a hint of sheepishness, Marlin hooked fish after fish, and let Kerri net them.
On the trip back downriver, Marlin revealed another facet of his repertoire. He allowed the boat to drift slowly downstream and we looked for the hulking shapes of king salmon amongst the pods of pinks. It was a unique and unexpected opportunity for sight fishing watching for big, dark outlines and making a cast.
With time running out, I actually connected with a king. Kerri cheered, the reel buzzed, and my backing made a rare but welcome appearance. There were a couple tense moments involving some tree branches but eventually about 15 pounds of chinook were brought on board for a quick photo.
After that, it was full throttle all the way back to the Norwegian Sun. There were no more stops scheduled so we enjoyed the ship’s amenities for a full day and a couple evenings all the way back to Vancouver.
Being a full size cruise ship, there were a lot of amenities – far more than most fishing lodges. Come to think of it, a cruise ship actually makes a pretty good Alaskan fishing lodge…
Each year I have the opportunity to spend several days chasing Coho with my parents in the Strait of Juan de Fuca adjacent to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. While the primary purpose of this annual trip is to keep salmon on my grill the rest of the year, a few years ago we began to pursue another species as well. It is a well known fact that real men arise at the crack of ten, sometimes the Coho are only feeding closer to dawn. When this happens you had better be up and underway when running lights are required. Pre-dawn marina departures of vessels of all shapes and sizes contributes to the charm of small fishing towns and Sekiu is no exception. If the bite is early and the typical limit on Coho is two fish per angler per day, you may very well find yourself back at the dock before breakfast. The Olympic Peninsula is full of things to do once the salmon are caught, filleted out, vacuum sealed, and frozen. One could venture out to Cape Flattery, the most Northwest point in the continental United States. Visit the crystal blue water of Lake Crescent, or just hike around in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Once these things are done, as most anglers are apt to do, it usually returns to some kind of fishing.
Near Neah Bay there are hours of entertainment to be had catching strong fighting and great tasting fish. Using an ultralight spinning rod and a small plastic tail jig a person can burn an entire day catching Black Sea Bass near the kelp beds. These fish typically range from 2-4 pounds, put up a great fight, and are simply a blast to catch. The catch limit is pretty high (check the regulations if you go) and they taste great. We would position the boat near the kelp bed and allow the boat to drift with the wind and/or tide along side of the bed casting into the channels between the branches of the kelp. These fish tend to school so when you catch one, there are sure to be more. Anyone that has spent a couple of hours filleting out a mess of crappie knows that it takes about the same amount of time to clean a small fish as it does a larger fish so it is definitely worthwhile to put the smaller fish back to grow up a bit and keep the larger fish. However, if you want to take it to the next level, you can keep a few smaller bass to be used as live bait for Ling Cod, a bottom dwelling beast from another age. Ling is a great eating fish and they fight really hard as well.
One year as I was packing for this trip, it occurred to me how much fun it might be to catch black bass on a fly rod. My four piece five weight was summarily tossed into my bag along with a couple of Clouser minnows. When we arrived at the kelp beds I went forward to fish off the bow since fly casting from the rear of a Grady White would preclude anyone else being able to fish. Being on the bow, I was higher than I was in the stern and could clearly see deeper into the water. This also allowed me to more accurately place my fly between the branches of the kelp and see its descent into the darkness below. I was using a sinking line to get the relatively weightless fly into the fishes realm. No sooner had the fly dropped below the first kelp petals than a strong two pound bass darted from the cover of the kelp and took the fly with an aggressiveness that shocked me. I set the hook and the fight was on. Since I am unaware of a method to quantify laughter, suffice it to say that I laughed a lot while catching these fish.
After a good fight the fish tired and I was able to bring it closer to the boat. The smaller fish I was able to hoist from the water using the line, but the bigger fish presented a problem. Since I was balancing on the bow of the boat and the net was at the stern, I had to lead the larger fish along side of the boat to be netted by Captain Jeff. I soon found that the deeper my fly went, the bigger the fish that ate it. Several times while the fly was sinking, a smaller bass would dart out from the kelp and follow the fly only to be chased off by a much larger fish from the depths below. It is a good day when fish are literally fighting over your fly. This type of fishing allows for one of the things that makes fly fishing so great, the ability to see the fish take your fly. Allowing this revelation to sink in, I decided to fish with streamers more often on my home waters.
While all four of us were catching fish, the fly rod was consistently taking the larger fish. Hooking and landing a four pound Black Sea bass on a five weight fly rod makes an impression on one’s soul and brings a smile to my face even years later.
If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory. Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again. If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.
Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.