30 30

Opening day of the 2015 King Salmon Season in Port Angeles Wa. found us mooching for Kings and we were not be disappointed ! Within the first half hour after launching Greggies new(to us)Pacific Mariner we had landed a beautiful 30 lb. wild King Salmon that we quickly released after a quick video and a smooch ! Greggie had a big King up to the boat but before 
I could get the net the hooks pulled out and a little while later i had another big fish on but the hooks pulled before we could get it to the net. We had a few more good bites but no fish for the BBQ and we couldn't wait to get out of the  sun and gear up for tomorrow morning.

30 lb. wild King about to be released

30 lb. wild King about to be released

Day two of the King season found us back on the spot and full of anticipation and confidence after yesterday's banner morning bite. All good things come to an end to dam quickly if you ask me and all we could catch were very small Kings that we had to release to grow bigger for next season ! Wouldn't you know it, just about when we were ready to reel in and head for home I got stuck on the bottom and thought I was going to have to cut the line until the line started moving and after a short but not so sweet  battle a nice 30 lb. Halibut comes swimming up to the boat ! Delicious was my first thought until Greggie reminded me that the Halibut season was over with and we had to release another 30 pounds of great eating !                               We're taking a break today but we'll be out there tomorrow bright and way to early with hopes and dreams of big Kings for the Barbee.                                                                                           

Bye bye Butt !

Bye bye Butt !

Stay tooned http://oysterchannel.com for more King Salmon Season stories.

Pink Flamingos and Halibuttin

You're probably wondering what do Halibut and Pink Flamingos have in common? Nothing other than the fact that the halibut fishing this past weekend wasn't very good for me and the Greggy so I'm hoping the fishing at Omak lake in Eastern Washington will be much better. And I'm hoping that my new Omak Lake flies will work better than the super baits we used for halibut this past weekend. We never had a descent bite for two days so yes, I have no Halibut Hero photos and no fish in the fridge.

A couple of Pink Flamingos with a half dozen Burnt Orange Leeches

A couple of Pink Flamingos with a half dozen Burnt Orange Leeches

I was going to call my new flies Pink and Black Fender flies named in memory of the 1951 pink and black Ford with fender skirts that used to drive by our house five days a week in Stratford Connecticut when I was a kid. The reason the Ford stuck in my mind for so long was the driver looked to be in his late teens with jet black hair slicked back into a ducktail style haircut, with a beautiful girl sitting so close to him that it looked like she was sitting in his lap ! To a 8 or 9-year-old kid this was just about the greatest thing he could imagine and many afternoons in the summer we would wait with anticipation for that 51 pink and black Ford to drive by our house !

So now almost 60 years later I'm looking forward with great anticipation to trying out my new pink flamingo flies that I decided to name after my pet flamingos and let the memory of the 51 Ford linger a little longer. I don't know what it is about Flamingos but I have a couple who live in my upstairs bathroom where they are well fed and inspire my fly tying.

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

I'll be blogging from the road this weekend so please stay tooned http://oysterchannel.com for photos and fishing stories of the giant Lohanton Trout of Omak Lake. 

Butt Cheeks

Now that I got your attention let's proceed to the fascinating fishery of "The Butt". And I do mean Hippoglossus Stenolepis, the Pacific Halibut, a species of righteye flounder native to the North Pacific Ocean and hopefully Puget Sound where we will be fishing with his awesomeness Capt. Greggie of the http://oysterchannel.com and his first mate his oftenmiss. Our fish names came after the 2014 Halibut season where Capt. Greggie had the awesome ability to put his first mate on not one, but two giant halibut  that he proceeded to break off the steel wire leaders at  last year's annual Port Angeles Halibut Derby.                                                                                                                    We're rigged and almost raring to go for tomorrow morning's 5 a.m. launch, hoping the wind doesn't blow us off the halibut grounds before we get a big one. I'm using a giant glow-in-the-dark wiggle tail jig tipped with a herring strip(I'm not making this up) soaked overnight in our secret sauce, while Capt. Greggie is opting for the classic herring on a hook bait.                                                                       I'm already thinking of a new stir-fry butt cheeks recipe for my favorite part of the giant flatties. Some stir-fry veges with garlic and fresh ginger, a little Asian fish sauce, some soy with a splash of dry sherry and pop in those cheeks for a couple of minutes and you've got one of the true delicacies of the Pacific Northwest.

Big Butt

Big Butt

Stay tooned for the battle of the giants, hopefully lurking under our boat just waiting to be stir-fried ! http://oysterchannel.com


Shoofly Newfly

Went fishing at the government cut yesterday with my friend Vic Cutter. Vic had three or four bites and landed one small cutthroat, I had seven bites and landed one small silver and two small cutthroat on this new fly that I tied for fishing Omak lake in Eastern Washington. It looked like a good pattern for Sea-Run Cutthroat so I gave it a try and the fish seem to like it. I'm sure there's already a Shoofly fly so maybe I better call it a Puget Sound Shoofly fly ?

Delia's Puget Sound/Omak Shoofly Fly

Delia's Puget Sound/Omak Shoofly Fly

Over the last 25 years or so of cutthroat fishing I have often heard Fishermen say that a green woolly bugger is often a go to pattern in Puget Sound. I think one of the reasons may be that it imitates a rockweed isopod, more commonly known as the pickle bug. I'm getting desperate… Pickles, pastrami, pizza, pepsi, patience, i'll try anything these days if it gets me a bite or I can take a bite. You know the fishing's getting tough when you start spending more time thinking about where to go for lunch or dinner after too many slow days of fishing.

Halibut season is just around the corner, I can't wait for the hours and hours of sheer boredom for maybe 15 minutes of sheer chaos. But, there's nothing like a fresh halibut steak on the Barbie especially in the middle of the winter when the only fishing you're doing is on television or in a good book !  Butt Up !

Stay tooned for tales from down under the boat http://oysterchannel.com

BOB & GOB Flies

That's the abbreviation for Black Omak and Green or Chartreuse Omak Buggers.These flies are a combination of a woolly bugger and a leech style pattern that I've been tying in many different colors for an upcoming trip to Omak lake in Eastern Washington. This lake is famous for Lahontan trout that often grow in excess of 8 to 10 pounds and will take flies, but as is always the case, having the right fly at the right time and all the conditions being right is the key to success, along with some good luck ! That's why I bring a lot of keys in a variety of sizes and colors when I go fishing for anything that swims. We're heading over the mountains the middle of May and I'm hoping to have some great fishing photos and stories to share with you.

Black Omak Buggers

Black Omak Buggers

Green or Chartreuse Omak Buggers

Green or Chartreuse Omak Buggers

Stay tooned for more fish tales http://oysterchannel.com

 

Head First

There has always been a bit of controversy over how a trout takes a baitfish…head or tail first ?     Yesterday I went out for a couple hours of Cutthroat fishing at one of my favorite spots on North Hood Canal hoping that the Sea-Run's would finally be returning to their home waters chasing chum fry in some of our local estuaries. Fortunately I was not disappointed in the numbers of fish I found although most of the fish were very small, I was happy to see hundreds of small cutthroat chasing chum fry and some of my small soft hackle shrimp patterns.                                                 This is one of the cutts that couldn't resist one of my Delia's White Ghost patterns.

As soon as I landed this small Cutt she regurgitated this very small candlefish that obviously had been a recent snack. There were no obvious attack marks on the candlefish so I'm assuming it was inhaled in one gulp.

small candlefish

small candlefish

There were large schools of small cutthroat all over the  place and every so often I would see a larger fish come partly out of the water chasing small candlefish and small chum fry as this next photo will show. I usually don't like to fish on the small schools unless I see larger fish as is sometimes the case and on my next to the last cast of the day I hooked a 12 inch silver salmon that regurgitated this chum fry. It's quite obvious this fry was attacked head first so on this particular day we can safely say it was a head's up experience.

Head first chum fry

Head first chum fry

Dog's Best Friend

That's Tipps in the photo with her friend Larry Peterson gently putting her in their boat getting ready for a day of Cutthroat fishing near the Hood Canal Bridge.

Tipps and Larry invited me along on what started out as a beautiful, calm , warm spring day with all three of us having high hopes of running into some hungry Cutthroat Trout. We started trolling flies along the Jefferson County side of the Hood Canal Bridge and it wasn't long before I hooked a fiesty 14 inch Cutthroat that fell for one of my Green Delia's Cone-Head Squid patterns. Tipps kept giving me the dog eye and I knew one fish was not going to make her a happy camp dog but it took a lot more trolling before I final connected with a beautiful measured 18 inch Cutthroat that finally got the dog off my back !                                                                       At this point I could see that if Larry didn't get a fish soon one of us would be walking home and it wasn't going to be me as Tipps was happy with me and her tail was wagging like a dog on some road kill. I always bring 4 or 5 hundred extra flies but some guys want to use their own flies and I totally respect that but the look in Larry's eyes told me it was time to break out the extras and get Tipps in a better mood !                                                                                          Fortunately it was one of those days that the Green Cone-Head Squid was working and after a few minutes Larry hooked into a nice 14 inch fish and all was right with the Dog. We had been out on the water for quite a few hours and the wind had been gradually picking up to the point that white caps and sore butts had all three of us a little concerned, especially now that we had trolled all the way to Bangor and had a long boat ride back to the bridge with the wind in our faces. The white caps kept us from beaching the boat and having a picnic lunch but fortunately for Larry and me, he had snacks for Tipps and she hunkered down with her snacks while we bounced and plowed our way back to the boat launch and calmer seas.                                                                

The fish that kept the dog at bay

The fish that kept the dog at bay

I don't know if Tipps will invite me again, I think she expected more out of me and my flies but I tried to tell her that it's still fishing not always catching, but I've heard it said that there comes a time when you can't tell a dog anything ?                                                                                       stay tooned for more high seas adventures on http://oysterchannel.com

Peace of (my)Mind

I thought it might be interesting to post a recent communications between me and a recent fishing transplant to our neck of the waters of North and South Hood Canal. You will read, and if you have been following my recent blogs that the fishing has been very tough this winter and now spring seems to be starting off with a whimper, mostly from me whining about the lack o' fish !                                                                                                                                                      

Hi Jeffrey, I'm hoping you can save me a bit of time...as I drive north/south on 101 on the west side of the canal every week I have been stopping at state/county beaches just to see what might be around. So far I've tried Potlatch State Park south of Hoodsport, the beach just north of Lilliwaup, below the old hill slide, the tiny little park just north of Brinnon by Hyelvicks, and by the shell fish lab at Point Whitney. I have put a line in the water at the first 3, but didn't do so at Point Whitney, although I was tempted to walk north on that beach.

I've seen no one else around/fishing at any of these places. So my question is, either from first-hand knowledge or second-hand hearsay, do you know if any of those spots is likely to produce if/when conditions improve? I guess that if I'm going to make the stop I'd like to at least know if there is a chance or history at that particular beach.

Thanks in advance for considering.

Steve

Normally this time of the year I could not only save you some time but probably steer you in the direction of some good fishing, but…I fished this past weekend with my friend Vic Cutter and we started at Twanoh start park with no luck other than a 6 inch Cutt Vic caught, then headed to Johns Creek on Henderson Bay in Shelton where Vic got a small cutt, and missed a few more bites. I had a couple of good tugs and that was it. Met 3 guys who had been fishing for 4 or 5 hours and caught maybe 10 fish all day , mostly small with one about 15 inches. One of the fellas introduced himself as Jim, asked how we were doing and gave me one of his flies that had been working for them most of the day. It was a version of Bob Triggs Chum Baby only tied with blue squirrel tail and a bright green bead head. I fished his pattern for another half hour with no takers. We then headed up the canal and fished Potlatch State Park, no luck, Lilliwaup, no luck, and finally called it a day. We didn't try Point Whitney but we would have if we weren't tuckered out. A full day for two guys over 65 and still alive !

You are fishing in all the right places but there are two major factors and about a thousand minor factors to consider. Major one is the lack of bait in the Hood Canal and Puget Sound this year. I believe if there is no bait the fish may not be there or at least not a lot of them. The other major factor is Hood Canal is such a large area that the Cutts are always on the move until they find an area that has some kind of food they can feed on and will often stay there until the food leaves or they eat it all ! So it's always trying a number of places until you luck out and find them or your luck runs out, but there are historic spots and you are fishing some of them.

I have seen winters on Dabob Bay where Candlefish, Herring, Stickleback Perch, and then Salmonoid fry were in some of the bays all winter and we had 2-4 months of wonderful fishing. Last year we started to see a lack of the usual different kinds of baitfish and the fishing was definitely slower than the year before , but this year with hardly any baitfish showing up in the North Canal Bays I fish, there is a definite absence of any large schools of Cutthroat we should have been seeing most of the winter and early spring.

I have heard ghost reports and sightings of Cutthroat at Disco Bay recently and that would be my next place to fish. I would start fishing on the outgoing high tide and start behind the railroad cars and work your way along the shoreline  heading out of the bay. Start fishing close to shore and then work your way out to the extent of your cast, move a few feet along the shoreline and repeat until you find fish or peace of mind ! I think I may have lost some of mine with such a lean cutthroat year .

take care,

jeffrey

Lilliwaup on the evening incoming tide

Lilliwaup on the evening incoming tide

This is such a beautiful beach with lots of cover for bait and Sea-Run Cutthroat, it's a shame that no one has been home lately. I've heard numerous Cutthroat fishermen say the fish are up in the creek and rivers having sex and after a smoke and a change of colors should return to the Salt hungry and on the prowl ?

Stay tooned http://oysterchannel.com

   

Chumpox Testing

Variations on a theme is a theme well worked in the school of fly design and fly tying. Lately with our lack of success fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat many fly tiers and fly fishermen I know have been searching through their fly boxes and spending long hours at the tying bench in search of new and hopefully effective patterns. These are my latest color and material variations on a theme.

Delia's Chum Fry Epoxy Flies

Delia's Chum Fry Epoxy Flies

As you can see in the photo I'm trying natural,grey, green and wood duck died Mallard Flank feathers for the topping and tail materials on some of them and using a grayish rabbit fur for the tails on a few of them. The Chum Fry on the naturals really flutter to push the fish forward and i'm hoping this might be a key when the Cutthroat are feeding on the Fry ? I water tested the patterns with the rabbit fur and they have a lot more movement than the Mallard feather tails but I do like the spotting on the Mallard feathers as it mimics the complete spotting of Chum Fry from nose to tail.                                                                                                               Tomorrow morning my friend Vic Cutter is picking me up early enough to grab breakfast somewhere on the Hood Canal and then start at Potlatch State Park and work our way to Henderson Bay in Shelton on our weekly quest for what has become the elusive Sea-Run Cutthroat.                                                                                                                                                     Check in with me in a couple of days for a complete report and hopefully some fish photos with mouths full of chumpox flies !                                                                                                 

Stay tooned to http://oysterchannel.com

Triple Triggs

This is what happens when a fly tying fly fishing sea-run cutthroat fisherman can't figure out the right fly, and more importantly, can't catch any fish with any of his own tied and tested patterns. That's a hard bait to swallow even with a slug of cheap rot-gut whiskey that I sometimes carry with me in my dad's really old hip flask. The same one I remember seeing him take a nip from while waiting for the evening hatch on the Housatonic River back in the 1950's while I struggled to cast that really heavy full sink line on a very old, very soft, fiberglass fly rod.

Bob Triggs Chum Babies S,M,L

Bob Triggs Chum Babies S,M,L

Here it is over 50 years later and I'm still struggling, only this time it's with trying to figure out what fly design might work best when we finally find some sea-run's. I usually design and tie most of my own fly patterns but the few times that we have found the fish this season, my own patterns have not worked nearly as well as in the past so I am tying and trying other well known regionally tied patterns such as Bob Triggs Chum Baby. I wish I could report that his fly was the key to my success but unfortunately it wasn't , even when I was standing next to Bob casting into what looked like a perfect salt water seam off the point at Government Cut this past Easter Sunday right after Sunrise Services.                                                                               I'm hearing lots of reports of a very slow winter sea-run fishery and so far with the exception of a few isolated hot fish days the Spring fishery still hasn't turned on. The Chum Fry have finally showed up at some of my favorite spots but the Cutthroat haven't yet and I'm hearing the same from some of my fishing friends.                                                                                                  I've spent more time at the tying bench this winter than I have on the water, and my fly boxes are full of old and new designs, but when push comes to fish , I'd still rather be fishing. I've got thousands of flies, probably enough to fish a life time again, but time is truly of the essence as far as fishing time on the water goes.

Would love to hear any fishing reports or fishing stories, lies or otherwise from some of you local Puget Sound Fisher Folks.  Please contact me at http://oysterchannel.com                                         

Stay tooned

Boobies to Chum Implants

Desperate times require desperate measures and exasperation can stimulate imagination. The Sea-Run Cutthroat fishing in much of Puget Sound has been very slow this winter and when we have found fish it seems like many of our tried and true patterns have not been working near as well as in past seasons. So with more time being spent in front of the tying bench a number of my fishing friends have been working on new patterns trying to figure out the next latest and greatest Chum Fry pattern. After finally seeing large schools of Chum Fry at one of my favorite spots in South Sound and getting a good idea of what they look like in the water this is what I came up with. I'm temporarily calling it my Chum Implant Fly because I implant the Mallard flank feathers in the UV Epoxy to give the fly the look of transparency that I see in the live Chum Fry.

Experimental Epoxy Chum Fry Fly

Experimental Epoxy Chum Fry Fly

Went fishing with my Friend Vic Cutter on Easter Sunday and  met up with Bob Triggs and Jack Devlin for Sunrise Service at the Government Cut on Indian Island. After much casting and communing and no catching we took a long lunch break to discuss the finer points of Cutthroat fishing and Cold Cuts. All four of us were originally from the East Coast and before long we found ourselves in deep discussion about real pastrami on jewish rye, chopped liver on rye, bagels lox and cream cheese sandwiches, knishes, cold cuts, and Egg Cream sodas. The memories were delicious ! After that we were all ready to drive the 3000 miles for real East Coast thin crust Pizza.                                                                                                                         I haven't had a chance to test my new epoxy chum fry pattern but I'm optimistic that maybe the Cutthroat will soon be done having sex in the rivers and creeks and head back to the salt waters hungry for our flies. I know there's nothing like a good meal after a few hours or days of carousing.                                                                                                                                          Stay tooned the good fishing's just around the next bend in the river.                                             http://oysterchannel.com

 

Big Bait Big Fish

You often hear that in the world of fishing so I'm wondering if big booby's will catch bigger fish, hopefully bigger than the cutthroat I caught yesterday on the smaller booby's?

one size A and two double B Booby's

one size A and two double B Booby's

For me, bigger booby's are usually better but they are brutal to cast especially if there's a wind blowing.                                                                                                                                                      Finally saw some chum fry in the water yesterday but no fish were feeding on them.I tried, I cried , I went home and tied. New bait fish,chum fry salmon fry patterns in the works.

stay tooned for new pattern and new ideas !

http://oysterchannel.com

Booby Tuesday

Yesterday I must have caught 40 or 50 huge sea-run cutthroat trout with half of them in the 20-25 inch range, all on my Delia's Cone-Head Squid, and never moved more than two feet from where i started fishing ! Can you believe it ? That should  get the local fishermen's blood boiling ! April Fools fisher folks, here's what really happened...

This is the time of the year when the estuaries and beaches of Puget Sound should be thick with chum salmon fry and the sea-run cutthroat trout should be slashing through schools of these critters gaining weight and size daily. It's the time of the year when I usually go out fishing my home waters every chance I get, and it's not unusual for me to fish five or six days out of the week, as one of my ex-fiancé's will testify. 

Many years the chum fry will begin leaving the rivers and creeks by the middle of February and hang around the estuaries all of March, growing daily until they are ready for their journey into the big waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean by mid April. So far this year in South sound I have seen nothing, nada, zero, zip, as far as Chum Fry are concerned and unfortunately the same goes for the cutthroat. Our native sea-run cutthroat trout need a lot of food to sustain their appetite and grow healthy. When there's no bait there's usually no fish as I can attest to on my home waters here in North Sound.

My friend Vic Cutter and me have been fishing from Sequim to Shelton with numerous stops in between and the only place we've had any luck has been some of the beaches in the Shelton area...until yesterday that is. We've been getting some of our usual spring rains and yesterday, in the late afternoon I went out to one of my favorite spots in between showers and finally hooked into some beautiful sea-run's. Unfortunately there are times as we all know when size does matter and the biggest fish I could land yesterday measured about 10 inches, but there were quite a few and for a little while I had a lot of fun fooling these critters with one of my new booby patterns. They are new to me but the design comes from over the really big pond in England where it's a very well-known and well-fished fly.

A Bunch of Boobies

A Bunch of Boobies

I didn't notice any chum fry being chased by the trout yesterday and I'm hoping that maybe today there will be more fish around, but like I said earlier, there are times when size matters and it's been a while since I got a big one!

Grow Sea-Run Grow

Grow Sea-Run Grow

Stay tooned for today's fishing report, I'm going out on the afternoon tide and hope yesterday's fish have grown 4 or 5 inches overnight feeding on huge schools of chum fry !

Last Bites

It wasn't the food network pretty but it was delicious. Homemade biscuits and gravy with local farm raised pork sausage, a side of Italian plum tomatoes baked in olive oil, with three eggs easy over on top. Last night's perfect rainy day supper.

first bite

first bite

last bite

last bite

I'm having my friend Bonker Bill and my son Max and his girlfriend Megan over tonight for a dinner of  homemade pork tomatillo, mexican BBQ chicken legs, mexican coleslaw, and refried beans. Time to start cookin' I'm getting hungry !

Stay tooned I've got some fishin' stories to tell next time . http://oysterchannel.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Doug Rose

March 7, 2013   On A Day Like Today

I haven't written much lately in my journal but i have been writing on my blog about the cutt fishing and  will get some of the stories put into the journal soon.

Today has been a sad day as I have been talking with some of Doug Roses fishing buddies about Doug's battle with cancer and spent a few precious minutes with Doug and Eliana this afternoon. He is  pretty much bed-ridden and had a difficult time finding the strength to  talk with me. Right now i cannot find the words to say much more.

So i went fishing for a couple hours to one of our favorite places on the planet where i have shared many a tide talking and fishing for Cutthroat with Doug. The fishing lately has been on again and off again with fish being seen but not as many caught as there were a couple of weeks ago, but it was a good outgoing tide, not a lot of wind and I needed to Zen out. 

I had my cone-head squid with the new and improved UV cactus collar(Ha!) and started casting into the seam of a small back eddy that often holds fish on this kind of tide. Took me about 15 or 20 casts  before i felt the tug and set into a beautiful 15 inch fish that fought like a trout on steroids ! More casts later than i like to admit i caught two more fish in the 12-14 inch range and decided to tye on this new sand worm style of pattern that European fly fishers use for sea trout. I could see where it could look like one of our local worms that we know cutthroat feed on when they get the chance so i started casting with optimistic uncertainty that seems to go along with trying out new patterns. 

It wasn't more than a few casts until I felt a light take, kept the retrieve steady and set into a nice 14 inch cutthroat on the newworm fly ! I was excited and couldn't wait to get  the fly back in the seam line where the fish took the worm and i was into another fish about the same size as the last one. For the next hour I  moved  down the shoreline as the fish drifted  with the outgoing tide and caught about a dozen  fish from 12-15 inches and probably lost at least 15-20 strikes. I had to fish the worm with a slow retrieve with pauses, unlike the dead drift or fish across the current with varied lengths of retrievals that i normally  use for Cutthroat  fishing. I couldn't figure out how the fish were taking the fly and i think that's why i missed so many fish, that and  the fact that they seemed to take the fly very lightly most of the time. It's always great fun to tye a new pattern and have such good results when you fish the fly.

I was thinking of Doug much of the day and how happy he would be on a day like today.

Doug Rose and Friend

Doug Rose and Friend

13 for the 13th

And possibly for the 13th time this winter our recent cutthroat adventures have not been the best of fishing times nor the worst of fishing times but still a far cry from some Winter Cutthroat seasons.

It's been one of the toughest Cutthroat seasons for me and a few of my fishing buddies that I can remember since I began writing a fishing log 25 years ago. With just a little exaggeration I can honestly say there have been years in the past when one day of  great Cutthroat fishing produced more fish than I have caught so far this winter season ! It can be disheartening, frustrating, confusing, interesting and any of the other ings we can think of but the bottom line is, it's fishing and catching is the icing on the cake…I guess my sweet tooth is acting up and I'd like a big piece of chocolate cake right about now or a nice fat Cutt on the end of my line. Recently my friend Colin Flanagen called and told me about a great Cutthroat day on Oakland Bay in South Sound where he caught 20 sea-run's and landed a measured 22 inch Cutt on his version of my Delias Cone-Head Squid pattern. Armed with a thousand or so of my favorite patterns my friend Vic Cutter and I drove down to Oakland Bay this past weekend and spent a few hours casting to some very large and plentiful numbers of sea-run's. 

It couldn't have been a nicer day with a perfect light breeze over my left shoulder making it easy even for a beginner to make 50-60 foot casts to rising trout  time after time after time. I wish I could say that we caught trout after trout after trout but it was not to be and after at least 3 hours  and what seemed like thousands of great casts we had 2 small salmon and 2 small Cutthroat landed between the two of us. Usually, but obviously not always, we will find the right fly after a few fly changes and  get on with the fishing and hopefully some catching. After changing flies at least 12 or 13 times each we finally gave in, waved goodbye to the Bay and laughed when the last big Cutthroat gave us the Fin as we headed across the marshland and the drive home.

13 Fail-Safe Patterns ?

13 Fail-Safe Patterns ?

I've often heard there are many ways to grow old and one of the best is gracefully. I believe this to be true but I think one of  the keys is to figure out how to deal with the ups and downs of life and maintain some semblance of order and grace. Fishing, especially fly fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout is a way to sometimes find grace in my own living and to focus and center on what is important at the moment. I was having a  bit of a problem as we walked back to the car in finding the grace in the moment until Vic reminded me of what a beautiful day it was and the fish were there, maybe just smarter than we were today.

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Remembering Mim Delia

Coincidence

I've heard it said that there are no coincidences, that everything in life has a reason or an explanation. I'm not so sure I always believe that when out of the blue an event or situation from the past is somehow connected to the present. 

Recently a friend from my past who I haven't seen in nearly 40 years sent me an email and we've been corresponding back-and-forth for the past few months trying to catch up on what we have both been doing for the last 40 years. A few weeks ago I wrote and asked her about her parents ?

This morning I received an email from my friend telling me that her mom had passed away in the late 1990s and that her dad was still alive and doing well in his late 90s. The interesting coincidence is that today is the anniversary of my dear, sweet, mom's passing 12 years ago and I thought it was quite interesting that I would find out this day about the passing of my friends mother.

Coincidence ?

Mom ice fishing circa 1946

Mom ice fishing circa 1946

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Reality Check…A Birdseye View

Nothing and I mean nothing, has been going right lately and I feel like if it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all ! Ever feel that way yourself ?

The last few days have felt like Spring is just around the corner. I saw my first Robin a few days ago, many of the trees are budding, and you can see little shoots from the numerous wild plants along the roadsides.

Yesterday, for a good part of the day the Robins and a couple of Flickers kept flying into my kitchen and living room windows. This went on for a good part of the day and I was wondering if it was the angle of the sun this time of year that made the birds reflection seem like another bird and they were protecting their area? It was very strange and I think my cat thought the same thing when I noticed her waiting patiently near the windows for a live dinner.

My bedroom is on the second story of my house and things got even stranger this morning when the birds started crashing into my upstairs windows, one of them even sat on the outside window sill and kept picking at the window. My immediate reaction was typical... Stop this behavior you're going to hurt yourself! And then it dawned on me, that's what I've been doing with my own life lately, banging my head against the reflection in the window and wondering why it hurts so freakin much when I do it again. 

For whatever reason in life it's been a time when it seems like I've been practicing my vices more than I have been practicing the things that bring me joy and happiness in life. I know many of us go through the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of life and hope at the end of every day, week, month, or year, that we end up on the positive side of the menu.

Most often I turn to my friends for help when I start to feel I'm abusing myself too much and not paying attention. But abuse is a funny thing, it seems we rarely abuse the things that make us happy and that may help us to make others happy, it's usually almost just the opposite, we abuse the things that in the long run don't make us happy at all. 

Sometimes it's really embarrassing to have to admit to our friends that we have been abusing ourselves and need a little help from our friends to get back on course. Funny how a little thing like the birds was just what I needed to realize It was time to confide in a friend for a little reality check and to find true North again.

Usually, when things are not going right I grab my flyrod and head out to the bay for an hour or two of practicing my Zen. Even though I often say it's not about the numbers or the size of the fish you catch but just the opportunity to be out on the water, lately the fishing has been so poor that I would really like to catch a fish ! It feels good to get a tug on the end of my line and it often brightens a cloudy day and can be a real mood changer. I've been trying quite a bit lately but the fish are nowhere to be seen and last night offered no fish again so I had to look elsewhere for the tug.  

A Sunset Tug

A Sunset Tug

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Derby Days

Recollections of a derby doer. We've been fishing the Discovery Bay derby for so long that many of the friends that we fished with in the past have gone on to the big derby in the sky... Or moved on to more socially acceptable hobbies that don't have their friends and loved ones worried about their safety and sanity this derby weekend. 

This derby seems to bring out the best and the worst in the competitors. I remember fishing this derby with my brother Russell Delia in the early 1980s, fishing in a small 12 foot aluminum boat with an old Honda motor that I swear we had to keep pulling just to get up to trolling speed. We were fishing on the Beckett point side of discovery Bay when the wind came up so fierce that we had to beach the boat and wait out the storm. We built a fire, and soon were roasting oysters and drying out our soaking wet clothes when we heard the familiar sound of the Port Angeles based US Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The chopper pilot flew into our makeshift campsite and while hovering just above sea level gave us the thumbs up or thumbs down sign. We were fine and waved him off thankful that there were men like this willing to sacrifice their own safety for us.

And then there was the time I was fishing with my ex-wife on the same side of the bay near Beckett point fishing in my 12 foot aluminum boat when a pod of orca's came swimming right up behind our boat pausing long enough to look us right in the eyes ! I think that was the last time my ex ever went salmon fishing with me ?

I remember one year on opening derby day with just enough morning light to make out the outline of a boat in front of us as we watched two fishermen land a huge salmon at Diamond Point within about five minutes of the opening gun. Being the curious fisherman I am we motored close enough to the boat to ask the fisherman if we could see the fish. When they lifted the giant salmon I could tell right away that something wasn't right, the gills were a dark red not the bright red of a freshly caught fish. Later upon inspection by derby officials the fish was found ineligible for the derby and the fishermen were eligible for prison.

Another year I was fishing with a friend who I don't fish with much anymore after he missed netting a really big salmon I had hooked and played until we were both exhausted but couldn't move the fish close enough to the boat for him to make a good net. We estimated that fish to be at least 20 pounds, and that year a 16 pound salmon won the Derby !

Last year fishing out of the oysterchannel.com's small salmon mooching boat we took three waves over the front of the boat coming into the Sequim Bay Marina, saw a couple of large salmon swim by the windshield, and pretty much decided at that moment that we might find a new hobby !

Well here we are again in the 2015 Discovery Bay salmon derby, now renamed The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, still trying for the big salmon in the sky. We were young when we first started fishing this derby and now we are senior citizens trying to stay warm, trying to keep the waves from capsizing our boat, and trying to have as much fun as humanly possible while sitting in a small, cold 16 foot metal boat, dragging a dead herring, hoping, as usual to hit the jackpot.

Derby Update- Well the parties over, the rods and reels, boats and motors, tackle and other gear are washed and put away until the next derby or salmon opening somewhere. As usual, it was a tough one for me and the Greggie, but looking on the bright side, we survived to fish another derby and as usual, spent three days in the prison boat working on solutions for world peace and food for all…just not salmon fillets on our table this derby.

Day one of the derby found us mooching  herring off Protection Island in about 90-120 feet of water with blue skies and hardly a breath of air. After two missed bites i finally landed a beautiful wild 12 pound blackmouth salmon that had to be released to grow bigger and be released again. Greggie missed a bite and landed a large Starry Flounder.

Greggie at position #1

Greggie at position #1

Day two found us hunkered in along Eagle Creek along with many other fishermen not crazy enough to fish off Protection Island in gail force winds. More Starry Flounder and no salmon bites. The best part of the day was the delicious, hot breakfast burrito delivered to our boat from salmon fishing friends Cindy and Mike Pollard. These folks are fantastic salmon fisher folks and know how to have a good time salmon fishing and eating well on the water.

                             he ain't heavy he's my flounder.

                             he ain't heavy he's my flounder.

Day three the weather cooperated and once again found us mooching off Protection Island exactly where I caught my salmon opening day. We watched and listened to a baby sea lion as she poked and jabbed at her humongous  sea lion mother begging for breakfast. No hot breakfast burritos this morning, this was the last day of the derby and all the fishermen were in the serious mode so it was choco-covered donuts and stale store bought cold tacos. 

Greggie was first to have a good bite and brought up a torn up herring covered with salmon teeth marks and no salmon. I was next with a repeat of Greggie's bite and no salmon ! We each had another good bite and still no salmon and not much time left on the salmon derby clock. Greggie had the final slap in the face bite and still no salmon and not enough time to bring in the big one even if we had the derby winner in the boat.

We headed in and joined the other fishermen to enjoy the hot chili, hot dogs, and hot burgers served up at the Gardner Boat ramp and Derby Headquarters. Sitting behind us were the two 2014 Derby winners Larry Quesnell and Jerry Thomas from Mt. Vernon, Wa. I couldn't help but notice the smiles and jokes from nearby fishermen and wondered if the dynamic duo had once again for the third year in a row won the derby ? The 18.95 pound salmon that Jerry had caught at 10:30 Sunday morning off Diamond Point was in fact the Derby winner and against all odds of let's say about a billion to one, these two great salmon fishermen had done the impossible and won the derby for the third consecutive year ! You can read their story in the Port Townsend Leader and the Port Angeles Daily News, I just don't have it in me to relive the story of their triple triumph again... it hurts too much.

Jerry Thomas and Larry Quesnell 2015 Peninsula Salmon Derby Winners

Jerry Thomas and Larry Quesnell 2015 Peninsula Salmon Derby Winners

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I Cried Because I Had No Shoes...

And then I met a man who had Parkinson's disease. Growing up in an Italian Polish family whenever I would complain or whine my mom would remind me of that old Italian proverb about being grateful for what we have because there would always be someone else who had less than we did. 

Yesterday I went to the Lynnwood, Wa. fly show with some fellow fisherman to learn about the latest fly tying techniques, find some new materials, look at some flies,and hopefully see some old friends, and make some new ones. I had no idea that this day would end up being about the determination, stamina, and strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

We accomplished all of our goals at the fly show but for me the highlight of the day was meeting a fellow fly tyer by the name of  John Newbury . John has been a fisherman  for most of his life and has been tying flies for over 36 years.  A few of his awards are: The Wa. State Federation of Fly fishers Conservation Award, Induction into the F.F.F. Washington State Fly Tying Hall of Fame, the Federation of Fly Fishers Lew Jewett Award, and in 2009 the prestigious Buz Buszek Memorial Award, one of the highest awards a fly tier can receive for his significant contributions to the art of fly  tying. 

John Newbury with his beautiful flies.

John Newbury with his beautiful flies.

John was one of the featured  fly tiers at the Lynwood Fly Show and I had to stop and look at this man's beautiful flies. We immediately got into a discussion about all things fly tying and fly fishing. John has Parkinson's Disease so for the first few minutes of our conversation I had some difficulty in understanding some of the information this enthusiastic and magnetic man was telling me. It wasn't long before I found myself mesmerized by his vast knowledge and willingness to pass this information on to fellow fishermen. I could sense some of his frustration in not always being able to  say the words that his brain was telling him but I was also in awe at his determination to forge ahead and be the personality he was. It was truly one of the most inspirational and humbling human encounters I have had in a very long time. Not once did John complain about his Parkinson's, only that getting old sucks !

A closer look at John's Flies.

A closer look at John's Flies.

A few years ago I joined the ranks of what our society politely calls senior citizens. Part of the membership is learning to use new phrases such as, getting old sucks, no one told me getting old would be this hard, or if I knew getting old was this hard I never would have joined the club, and do it now before it's too late. It's all part of the bucket list membership, and like all the club members will tell you, no one gets out of it alive.   

Yesterday at the fly show I was reminded of how important it is that we live each day to its fullest and that we try and live it as gracefully as possible. When you reach the ranks of the senior citizen you hear this all the time and you often find it's easy to forget and many of us spend too much time complaining and whining about being old and not being able to do many of the things we loved to do when we were younger. We should all take a lesson from John Newbury in growing old gracefully, with determination and purpose. I've never had a lot of heroes in my life but John is right up there at the top of the list.