Tag Archives: Salmon

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Alaska’s Unknown Floating Fishing Lodges

(Warning:  Cute kid fishing pics contained herein.)

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.

KetchikanThe 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!

Father n daughter pinksFor 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.

Untitled-1The 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.

Double header (1)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.

Kerri nets oneOn 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.

King salmonAfter 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…

Neah Bay

Northwest Black Bass – A Welcome Diversion from Salmon Fishing

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.

PENTAX ImageNear 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.

black_sea_bassOne 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.

Florida Keys

Great Days 5: Florida Keys Flats Fishing by Smith Optics

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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.

Helios 2

A Shop Favorite: The Orvis Helios 2

 

The Orvis Helios 2 is a new arrival to the shop here at Fishwest. The 905.4 is  quickly becoming one of most sought after rods in the shop collection to fish for the day. The reasons are simple. These rods are super lightweight with a nice crisp fast action. Simply put the 905.4 is a fine tuned, high performance, trout catching machine. Don’t take my word for it stop in the shop and talk to Jake or Morgan about it and see what they have to say. While you are there give this rod a test cast or two. You will surely be impressed as well.

Scott Fly Rods

A Look Inside: Scott Fly Rods

 

Scott Fly Rods is a company steeped in tradition. From it’s humble beginnings in the early 70′s in San Francisco to the present day in Colorado the staff of Scott Fly Rods has been focused on one goal.  That goal is simple: To create high quality, handcrafted fly rods.  Scott rods are a favorite of the staff at Fishwest and it’s not hard to see why. They are wonderful sticks. If you haven’t already, please check them out. Stop by the shop and cast one or two!

**Big Thanks to  Felt Sole Media for letting us share awesome video**

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The World’s First Triple-Textured Fly Line: Introducing Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Fly Lines

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***The Scientific Anglers rep for Fishwest , Greg Pearson dropped off a few of these lines for us to put to the test. We now have the 5wt GPX and 8wt Saltwater taper to fish. Scoot will have the pleasure introducing the Sharkwave Saltwater to Andros Bonefish starting Sunday. That 5wt GPX will be visiting Utah waters ASAP. After we have a chance to try these lines out we will share our thoughts and reactions. In the meantime check out what SA has to say about this innovative fly line***

The Development of the SharkWave -
When we introduced the Sharkskin(TM) family of lines in 2007, they weren’t simply the latest in a long line of high-quality innovations. The Sharkskin created an entirely new category of product: textured fly lines. These lines, developed and manufactured at the Scientific Anglers facility in Midland, Michigan, represented one of the most interesting and groundbreaking evolutions in the history of fly line technology.

The benefits of the textured lines were numerous: increased surface area allowed the lines to sit higher in the water, offering less drag, easier mending, less water spray, and easier pick-ups; the micro-textured surface trapped air to provide increases in both shootability and flotation—all while decreasing friction; and the microreplicated pattern increased the durability of the lines, allowing them to last up to twice as long.Sharkwave Coil

The accolades mounted. But we knew we could do better.
Using what we learned while developing the Sharkskin, we developed the Mastery Textured series. These lines took the high points of the Sharkskin technology and combined them with the easy feel of traditional, smooth fly lines, resulting in a textured line that performs like the Sharkskin, but feels smoother to the touch.

Then something struck us: Let’s take the best parts of the Sharkskin, combine it with the Mastery Textured series, and see what happens.

The result? Meet the SharkWave, the world’s first Triple-Textured and Triple-Colored fly line. Featuring Sharkskin texture on the tip section, Mastery Textured divots for the belly and running line, a smooth Tactile Reference Point at the AFTMA 30-foot mark, SA•ID line identification, AST dry slick technology, Improved Dry Tip technology, and Streamlined Loops, the SharkWave is unlike any fly line we’ve ever produced.

It’s fishing. Friction-free.

The Scientific Anglers Sharkwave will be available in March. For more details check out the line by clicking HERE

 

WInston BIIIx

R.L. Winston: The Boron Story

 

The Winston BIIIx was the most recent addition to my quiver this summer in a 590.4 . This rod is simply amazing for throwing dries.  I cant wait to fish this thing more and really put it through it’s paces. Once I do I will most definitely have share my thoughts on that beautiful piece of Winston Perfection. Till then check out this video that explains the intricacies and benefits of Boron infused blank construction that make these rods so special to cast & fish.

Check out all Winston products by clicking HERE

 

 

Loop Opti Reel

Loop Tackle: The Story

 

Being Scandinavian in origin means that Loop doesn’t have a huge following here in the United States however that is slowly changing because the products they offer are exceptional especially the rods and reels . Check out this video that gives a little insight into the world  Loop Tackle. We have had a chance to spend some time with Loop Rods and Reels here at the shop and they are pretty awesome. Are they on your Holiday Wish List?

Check out Loop Tackle products for your self by clicking HERE

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

Holiday Gift Ideas: Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

I know most guys complain about their in-laws, but I have to say, my in-laws give some of the greatest gifts. A Christmas or two ago, I ripped off the wrapping paper to find the Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit. Fishpond definitely hit one out of the park with this bag and it goes with me on any out of town fishing trip so that I can tie a few extra flies after a long day on the water..

What I like -

Organization – there are more pockets and compartments in the Fishpond Road Trip Kit than you can shake a stick at.

  • Padded internal storage pocket for your vice and tying tools.
  • 2 small storage pockets
  • Four large “see through” zippered mesh material pockets
  • Two 9” clear tubes for thread spools
  • One 4.5”x9”x1” molded plastic organizing box for hooks, beads, etc.
  • Nine 4”x6” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment
  • Nine 3”x4.5” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment

Before any big trip, I sort through the different pockets and make sure I have the right materials for area that I’ll be fishing. Most of the bags, boxes, tubes are velcro attached and can therefore be rearranged to fit whatever your needs are for a particular trip. It never ceases to amaze me how much I can actually fit into this case.

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag10Construction – The case is built out of the Fishpond Diamondtech fabric, which makes it extremely durable. Being constructed of fabric and with dimensions of 12” x 9.5″ x 4”, The Road Trip Kit is just the right size to squeeze into a suitcase or gear bag.

The Fishpond Guarantee – “At Fishpond, our goal is to build a reputation for unmatched quality among the outdoor enthusiasts using our products. Our soft goods are covered by a lifetime guarantee.”

What I don’t like

The thread spool tubes - Nice idea that doesn’t really stand up. The tubes hold multiple spools of thread, but have a tendency to pop open and have them fall out everywhere. I ended up using a piece of tape to keep it securely shut.

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Bottom line – The Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit is an essential piece of gear to keep you organized and churning out flies when you’re on the road. A must have for the traveling fly fisherman.

Check out the Fly Tying Kit by clicking HERE

Rivershed Boots

Product Review: Simms Rivershed Boots

Rivershed BootsI’ve been wearing the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot for about 3 years now and while I don’t quite agree with the Simms marketing angle, I sure do like the boot.

Simms describes the Rivershed Boot as, “An athletic design for anglers who want lighter boots to hike into the backcountry.”

At 62.4 ounces, it’s not clear to me what Simms is comparing this boot to. It is lighter than their Guide Boot, but only by a few ounces. I think it compares more to a heavy-duty backpacking boot—good for hiking into the backcountry, but not exactly light.

Just know that if you make this purchase thinking you’re buying a light boot, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Here’s how the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot performs:

Comfort

Awesome. The boots are fully lined with soft neoprene, and the soles have plenty of cushion for my needs. I tend to hike 2 or 3 miles whenever I fish, and I have never had a blister, hot spot, or aching feet at the end of a full day on the water.

Note: I wear extra-thick socks to fit these man-sized boots to my lady-sized foot.

Stability & Support

Excellent. The boot cinches tightly at the ankle, the footbed feels wide and sturdy, and the toe box is stiff and covered in durable rubber.

I’m not the most confident wader you’ve ever seen, so I’m always pleased with the foot and ankle protection these boots provide. I never wonder if I’m going to twist an ankle or crunch my toes while navigating a difficult streambed.

Traction

Out of the water, the StreamTread soles perform just like a serious backpacking boot. I’ve hiked on muddy trails and scrambled up and down steep stream banks without losing my footing.

In the water? You have to install the Simms HardBite Boot Studs or Star Cleats to get trustworthy traction. The StreamTread sole grips wet boulders just fine, but add a little slime and your foot will slide.

I put up with the slip-and-slide effect for a while (good balancing practice I told myself). But when I finally installed the Simms HardBite Boot Studs, they made a world of difference. No slipping. No sliding. Just a solid grip that I trust.

The bottom line: The Simms Rivershed Boot (with studs or cleats) is a great choice for anybody who wants a rubber-soled wading boot that offers comfort, on-trail traction, and serious foot and ankle protection.

You can purchase the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot from Fishwest and receive FREE shipping. (And don’t forget to buy the Simms HardBite Boot Studs or Star Cleats at the same time.)