One of our favorite e-magazines – Catch Magazine – has a new issue available online! Some of the best Fly Fishing, photography, and videos available! Worth every penny of the subscription cost!
This is a BIG issue. Really, really packed with great photography and video. Get it here!!!!
Photo by Pasi Visakivi
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
OK; I’ve slept on it, waited twenty-four hours to write; slept on it again, re-read my copy with a second cup of coffee today, did some research, and re-wrote entire sections. All in an attempt not to sound all ranty. I don’t want to rant; I want to educate. Or, at the very least, make a solid argument for my point of view.
Sunday night I checked into Facebook. Nothing major, just popping in to see what’s up. My header showed 5 recent notifications, three of which were from the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF), an international organization, based in the US, to which I’ve been a member of for most of my adult life. I had recently linked with their Facebook page to stay in touch with what was going on in their world in-between the quarterly magazine. Normally the feeds they send warrant a quick glance and then I’m off, but last night one caught my eye: “Fly fishing Alaska’s Kenai river system”. Cool, I thought, let’s see what’s up here. So I clicked into http://vimeo.com/55600424
Half through the video, I’m heated… three minutes into it and I’m boiling, and overflowing with words I want to say. These guys were doing things that make us locals want to pull out our can of bear spray and test the spray’s range and effectiveness. I knew exactly where they were fishing, almost to the rock. I can even closely estimate the time of year they were there, within a week, given water conditions and plant growth. This video was shot on one of our local, road accessible, highly used, stretches of water. I wanted to vent!
However, I work hard to be a reasonable person. And by that, I mean I try and see things from another’s point of view even when it’s drastically different than mine. So I slept on it; and spent an hour tossing and turning with my brain on overdrive before I finally relaxed enough to drift to off sleep.
It finally occurred to me that the guys in the video probably did not mean to be the idiots they initially stuck me as, but probably were unaware of how un-sportsman like their actions were, given their location. And, they’re young. Not to be mean, but I’ve been fishing over twice as long as they’ve been alive. Over the course of that time, I’ve taught myself to treat each fishery, and all fish, with respect. So Monday I backtracked into their Vimeo site and watched a couple of other videos they’ve posted: one on steelhead (with spinning rods), and another fly fishing cutthroats in a mountain lake. OK, so they’re not total idiots. They seem like average young guys that really enjoy fishing. Maybe even a little bit (or a lot) like myself a lifetime ago. I even saw one of them pick up some trash and throw it in the back of their truck. (Major points there in my book.) So I’m going to go with the ignorant defense here and not pick on these guys specifically.
Here are my points of contention; hopefully with some common thread that leads to my conclusion.
* You can’t come to southcentral Alaska (more specifically, the confluence area of the Kenai/Russian River where these guys were fishing) in late July/early August and expect sockeye salmon; at least not fresh ones. The runs are over! Yes, there are fish in the water, lots of them. Big red ones with green heads – spawning colors. And yes, you can “lip hook” them (because trust me; they’re not on a bite). But every Alaskan knows that these fish are mere days away from their spawning beds where they produce offspring for our fishing four years down the road. Leave them alone! Don’t burn up their precious body reserves by practicing catch and release, just because you can. Catch & release fishing before fish are on their beds is not illegal, but molesting (harassing) spawning fish is, and it’s a thin line! Study the life cycle of salmon and you’ll realize that once they are past their prime and off on their mission to spawn, they should never be a targeted species.
* Please treat our fish with the same respect you treat yours. Of the four fish I saw landed in the video (with the intention of being released) all were pulled up onto the rocks. (I didn’t see that happening with the steelhead or cutthroats in the other videos.) Unfortunately, even we locals are guilty of this one; especially when we mis-hook one of them while fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden during the egg and flesh hatch. (The males are really bad about being territorial.) My point being; you should be using a net when catching and releasing larger fish of any species. If you can’t pick them up with your rod and one hand, get a net!
* What really bothered me most is that, according to FB, just over 6400 people “liked” this video. That number simply astounded me! And, as it has come to light, is highly mis-leading. IFFF has just over 6400 people linked to its page, who receive any share item from the IFFF. It was this number that FB attributed to the video. Look past the FB hype and you see that Vimeo shows only 318 views (172 of which has happened since the Jan 12th sharing from IFFF) and only 4 likes. Even IFFF’s own FB numbers show only 1071 views and 36 likes, just over three percent; a number that softened my initial ire considerably. This sort of mis-information from social media sites can have the effect of conditioning young, inexperienced anglers, who are prime web users, into thinking that this type of fishing is an acceptable sportfishing ethic. I’ve seen plenty of local and national advertisements for fishing services showcasing big green headed males being held like they’re trophies. (And as a photographer, I know red sells.) But really, should we allow marketing and advertising to mis-lead anglers into thinking that fish ready to spawn are a viable target? I think not. And it’s not that I am against social media, it’s a great tool. Just take what it tells you with a grain of common sense.
In conclusion: Whether it’s my local fishery, or yours, you need to speak up and talk to anglers that are obviously unaware of what they are doing. (This saved me from a nasty swim in an Arkansas river several years ago.) I doubt the gentlemen in the video thought they were being un-sporting (they didn’t strike me as the sort that would), but no one evidently told them either. Don’t be nasty or arrogant; simply get your message across in as friendly a way as possible and hope that they’re receptive to what you say. And for heaven’s sake, try to lead by example.
I do welcome you to Alaska; “Mi casa es su casa”, or more appropriately in this case, “mi pescado es su pescado”. Bring a rod (or three), a camera, a good attitude, and have a great time. Don’t go fish crazy just because you’re here in the Great Land. And don’t always believe what you see and/or hear about fishing in Alaska. Remember, our fishing is a lot like your fishing; sometimes it’s great, but most of the time it’s somewhere between average to just plain tough. Come with reasonable expectations for your fishing experience and you’ll have a great adventure. As I tell people all the time: It costs me just as much to fish at a remote lodge, with no people and great fishing, as it does you. I just don’t have to fly to Anchorage.
When the salmon are in, so are the people. Very few anglers on the river usually means few to no fish. That’s a fact of life here in southcentral. Lance and I work hard at getting away from the combat fishing in peak periods, but sometimes you just have to deal with it.
Lastly, fish our waters like you’d fish yours, because someday I might be fishing in your waters, and I’ll return the favor.
Thanks for listening.
Hope to see you on the river – Rich
On a personal note: The International Federation of Fly Fishers is a great organization. I would encourage you to become involved with your local and national organizations that are working to protect your fisheries. If you don’t, no one will.
Fly fishermen? Obsessed? Tell me it isn’t so!
Well, I guess we are. To one degree or another we all get that way. Here’s a trailer for a new film by Mountain Made Media that you may enjoy that talks about this very problem. His obsession is big Brown Trout but that can be extrapolated to whatever YOU fish for. Feed the Obsession!
Another trailer from this year’s upcoming F3T -
Tributaries Fly Fishing Film Trailer #1
from RC Cone Plus 6 days ago All Audiences
AVAILABLE NOW – tributariesfilm.com – Starting at $4.
Fly fishing is a powerful current that unifies an even stronger worldwide community.
Tributaries is a journey to uncover the commonality among different cultures, people and water. It explores the contrasting experiences of three diverse guides — a Bahamian flats-drifter, a Patagonian trout bum and a Viking-blooded Icelander.
Watch three characters’ stories merge into one: a tribute to the world’s water.
Well, 2013 is now part of the history books. Many changes happened during the year – some good, some not so good. You usually don’t know for sure until you’ve lived with them for a while. Our trip to Florida was a case in point. The fishing was memorable but not because we were having a great time hooking and landing redfish (why we went) but because we SAW a ton of redfish – all running away from us. You’d think you could easily see 1000 fish right in front of you in 18″ of water, right? Trust me – it isn’t nearly as easy as it looks! But we caught sea trout and that was cool. Them suckers got some serious dentiture!
And there was opening week on the Kenai in June. Lots of floating, less catching. Of anything. Best fishing of THAT trip was over spawners right behind the campground! Gave me a chance to try out my new Hevi-Beads. And man did they work!?! Looking forward to more action with them!
Then the July trip up North and the killer hike to an undisclosed stream the size of Campbell Creek that made up for everything that had happened all year! Small water, big fish, and gorgeous scenery. Best day on the water in years! (Yes, we’re planning another trip there this year, and No, you can’t come along. Sorry. But everyone has to have their own personal slice of heaven. This one is ours.)
Other not so memorable excursions happened, but they were… not so memorable…
On to 2014! First and most important New Year’s Revolution is to Go Fishing More! That’s the mantra for the year. You can’t find those great places without getting out there and looking for them.
Number 2 Revolution is to get in better shape to support Number 1. A great place you die accessing is – by definition – not so great a place…
And that’s the enchilada for the year. There are others you don’t need to know about but the results from those two will show up on this blog from time to time throughout the year. Onward and Upward!
Well friends, it was a sad day in the neighborhood the last weekend in October. I finally came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to get out to fish again before winter arrives and makes the water hard.
It’s a yearly mental adjustment, that this year, was harder than most.
We’ve had a very warm and prolonged fall this year. Halloween has come and gone as I write this, and it’s still well above freezing around Anchorage. So warm in fact that it was raining on the last Sunday of the month, as I put in some garlic starts in the ground. This is supposed to be a good thing in my life as Lance & I always try to make one last trip in the middle of October with a friend of ours that guides all summer on the Kenai River.
The challenge each year is that my work schedule keeps me running non-stop until mid-October; which usually corresponds with the start of winter here in south-central, plus or minus a week or so. This year looked good for fishing. We had set a date with Damond for Thursday the 17th (Plan A). Given our extra warm fall, both Lance & I were looking forward to one last fling at fish before the dark of winter set in.
But Mother Nature can be a cold hearted wench sometimes. An ice dam from a glacier that feeds into the Snow River, which is the head water for the Upper Kenai Lake, broke (probably due to excessively warm weather) and started releasing nasty goop into the watershed in early October. Projections were that it would subside within a few days.
Damond checked in with Lance the first week in October and let him know that we were still on for the 17th. The following Wednesday Damond called again; this time with not so good news. The middle river had come up six inches since Monday and was now running the color of concrete. The glacier was actually releasing more discharge, not less. He and a friend had scoured the dunes below Skilak Lake and had even tried the inlet below the canyon (both hot spots for trout in the fall) and hadn’t touched a fish. Even what few silver salmon that had been fishable were now hidden by the silt ridden water. We could drive down, but…. (you can figure out the rest of this story).
We decided to try Plan B. Earlier in the year we had talked to Rhett, owner of Tri-River Charters, about how the Talkeetna fished in the fall; specifically October. We’ve had tough fall trips on the middle Kenai before, we were looking for options. Seems there’s a window of opportunity for good fishing when the water clears and as long as the river is runnable it’s fishable. Wednesday afternoon I called their office to see if it was possible to be run up to Clear Creek with our pontoon boats. Bad news; the answering machine picked up my call, and no one called back before the 17th had come and gone. Plan B was shot.
Plan C… Was there anywhere we could go at the last minute? It was too late in the year for the Russian to hold any fish and the upper Kenai would be as bad as the lower. We were not very familiar with the east side streams of Susitna so that would be a hunt and prospect at best, and it was going to be raining. Sufferable if you’re in a boat, not so good when you’re hiking and walking. We were toasted.
So Thursday I slept in a bit and caught up on office work.
Jump to the weekend before Halloween. I’m cleaning up the last of the flower pots from the yard and storing everything under the deck. I see my raft sitting over at its summer residence, and it seems to say: “If we’re not going fishing, you need to put me away for the winter. And buddy, the chances of you going fishing again doesn’t look real good.” Yea, yea… I know.
It’s tough when you have to face reality. I think as fly fishers we’re very good at thinking that life is going to be better than it probably will be. The fish will always be there, the weather will be better than it turns out, and the next good fish lives around the next bend or in the next stretch of water. But this time the calendar and my work schedule were tapping me on the shoulder saying: Look around buddy, winter is anytime and you need to put away your summer toys.
So, after the yard was finished, I cracked open a cold beer and hauled the raft out to the lower deck. (This was personal work, so beer is allowed.) I took off the storage bag and side pockets, unstrapped and flatten the tubes, packed everything into a tote, and then into my car, for the ride to a warm storage unit. By the time I’d finished it was starting to get dark and a bit cold for the light shirt I had been working in, and my beer was on empty.
I felt a sudden wash of melancholy. The next two weeks would be filled with travel and work, bringing me back home several days into November. Winter was late, but inevitable. And although I was physically ready, it would be a long dark wait until mid-April when I’ll have the chance to float an early-season river.
And that my friends, makes a sad day.
Well, Lance and I finally found one. One of those elusive streams in south central Alaska where rainbows live unmolested by the hordes of seasonal anglers chasing salmon, thrashing the water into froth. Just us, wild fish, and quiet. OK, there were tons of mosquitoes and flies, and lots of bear sign as well. But most of the bear scat was oldish and we didn’t run into to one, so bears don’t count this time. And if you don’t expect mosquitoes; you’re not from around here. Oh, did I mention that it almost killed us to get there. (Well maybe not kill, but severely hurt at a minimum.)
Make no mistake; I am not a Photoshop guru. Not even close! I can manage some basic retouching, and a few techniques that will spiff up your face, but for the most part I’m a kindergartner when it comes to massaging an image. This is one of the reasons I originally joined NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals); to figure out how to use Adobe’s massive software program. Associated with NAPP is Kelby Training, an online source of video tutorials that cover a wide range of subjects. It was from one of the latest Kelby Training videos that I found this technique for enhancing detail. The video was from Tim Wallace, a commercial photographer that specializes in automobiles. He was lighting a car in a garage with a single strobe. (I was interested in the single strobe concept, not cars.) The back half of the video was Tim’s work flow on layering individual shots into a finished image. And at the end of that process he discusses enhancing details in the final image. He mentioned a couple of outside plug-ins, specifically Topaz (which I have) and Nik Color Efex (which I would like to have), but goes on to say that there’s a PS technique that works fairly well. Although I could not really tell how good it worked in the video, I thought I’d give a test as I often wish I could bring out the texture and detail in an image. I had just shot some close-up flower images last week from our garden and grabbed a wild columbine flower as a test subject. It had lots of fuzz hanging on it and had only basic sharpening done on the jpeg.
The early run of sockeyes has wound down, and the late run hasn’t started yet. It’s my favorite time to be on the Russian River. Water levels have dropped over 9″ in the last three weeks, and Lance & I were hoping that there would be some hungry trout in the river now that salmon scraps have gotten slim. We parked in Pink Salmon and, after gearing up, hiked a short time to get into the base of the canyon. Lance decided to continue testing his Hevi-Bead system; I decided to start with a Helmet-head sculpin tube fly. I also threaded a very small pink bead on the tippet hoping the extra attraction might trigger an instinct. (You know, egg-headed anything.) We fished through the first two runs and down into the bottom of the canyon where it flattens out. No luck for either of us. Since neither of us have had much luck in the broad flat area right out of the canyon, we decided to hike down to the Powerline Hole and drop in just below a couple of die-hard salmon anglers.
We decided after our season opener trip that we needed to make another trek south to the Russian River to try and re-shoot some underwater footage of the salmon at the confluence. But, since we were traveling that far anyway, we’d take our heavier rods and leave early; hoping to catch some of the sockeyes that were moving into the river. It was supposed to be about the peak of the run, and given that it was going to a Wednesday, we thought we’d have less combat fishing and quality time on the river. Well, you know fishing … in Tuesday’s paper it was announced that ADF&G was going to open the Sanctuary (confluence) at 8:00AM Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »