Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well balanced menagerie

I looked around my office as I pondered how to assemble words to mark the end of 2008 and the beginning of the New Year and I started to smile. My fly tying vise was sitting next to my lap top. A compass sat next to a stapler. 2008 fishing licenses sat next to my Treo. My office table was covered with flies, pliers and other tools, reels, magazines, sketches, hats (tons of them) and sunglasses plus other such sundries. Under the table sat a collection of prototypes and gear. In front of me, a variety of pants, shirts, sandals, belts, neoprene gloves and small stuff from this past year’s developments was piled high. Sitting nearby was a piece of snake skin, a pinecone and some beach stones. Other scatterings included duffels sitting next to reusable envelopes/shipping supplies and a color chart over a rod rack. What struck me as I looked around was how it appeared (to me at least) to be a well balanced menagerie. Where there was Ying, next to it sat Yang. Though many might look at the same scene and see clutter. For me it clearly marked 2008 as a busy, productive, well balanced and energetic year. I would like to express my gratitude to all of you in the Way Upstream community who have made contributions, shared opinions and been involved in 2008. There was rarely a dull moment. I look forward to 2009 with optimism. I think it will be busy, productive and energetic too. Happy New Year. Now I think it’s definitely time to clean my office.

Photos by El Pescador

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy New Gear

2009 is close and so is the arrival of a host of new gear. Team Fish has been busy and your feedback has made a difference. Look forward to a series of posts to come in 2009 on all the new and revised gear plus some unique technologies to make your fishing experience better. The S9 Patagonia Fishing line contains 15 New and 6 Revised products not to mention the rest of the product categories. Check out this upcoming ad for the New Guidewater Waders that should be in stores late next month.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Critical time

The wild striped bass is under more pressure than ever, and Stripers Forever, a free membership, internet-based organization, is fighting to end commercial fishing for wild striped bass and to manage the resource for personal use/recreational fishing. They need as many members as possible to show the politicians how many people depend on striped bass for recreation, food, and income.

If you haven't signed up yet as a member of Stripers Forever, here are a few things you should know:

Membership is free – no dues.
There are no meetings to attend.
Everything is done via the internet and e-mail.
Many top fishermen support Stripers Forever

SF’s only goal is to make striped bass a game fish, which means it would be managed for the benefit of the recreational fishing public, now and for future generations. Here is all that you have to do to join - it will take less than a minute and costs nothing:

Go to
Select Become A Member from the top of the page.
Fill in the easy to follow sign-up sheet and submit.

This is a critical time for striped bass. SF is preparing for the introduction of their Massachusetts bill to make striped bass a game fish in the upcoming legislative session. They will need every member's help to make this a reality. Help Stripers Forever successfully advocate to protect the wild striper by making it a gamefish.

Fly pattern/photo by El Pescador Photos by Dave Skok

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rivers Of A Lost Coast

Rivers of a Lost Coast from Skinny Fist on Vimeo.

The rapid decline of our planet’s fisheries is well documented. The devastated fisheries of northern California are a microcosm of the planet’s larger problems. Once a major salmon producing region, in 2008 state and federal agencies agreed upon a complete closure of ocean and recreational fishing off the California coast.

While much attention has turned to the crippled commercial fishing industry, Rivers of a Lost Coast examines the situation through the unique, little-known history of California’s north coast fly fishing community. From this rare perspective, this documentary provides a symbolic, melancholy reflection on a wild California that has been lost to the growing metropolis.

Rivers of a Lost Coast follows California’s coastal fly fishing community through the rise and collapse of one of the world’s most magical fisheries. To some, this is a story about time and place, about a California that was. To others, it is a story about who we are, what we need and where we are going.

Check out this 2 minute trailer and visit the Rivers Of A Lost Coast web site for further details. Screenings begin in early 2009.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Spotted around the globe from high alpine elevations all the way down to sea level, R1® earns rave reviews from the most active customers and ambassadors alike. Warm, breathable and mobile, it has the minimalist detailing that avid anglers and outdoor enthusiasts rely on. Award winning R1® is earth-friendly (R1® fabric made with 60% recycled polyester). R1® fleece provides excellent stretch, warmth, wicking and breathability in a variety of temperatures. Many of these traits are signatures of the entire Regulator line up. R1® comes in a host of styles, colors and sizes and is recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program. If you are in need of a holiday gift idea for an angler, skier, climber, hiker, runner, walker or someone who you want to keep warm then consider R1® as a possible option.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Liskay

Monday, November 24, 2008

Skeena Quality Waters Strategy

Members of the stakeholder Working Groups who helped develop the draft Angling Management Plan for steelhead angling in the Skeena River watershed need your input. They want to know what you like and don’t like about the draft Angling Management Plan. They want to know how the plan should be changed to better address the issues that people in the community have raised.

The feedback that you provide in this form will give the information the Working Groups need to help finalize the draft Angling Management Plan and present it to the Ministry of Environment.

Please take the time to fill out the Response Form. The deadline for completing this form is November 30, 2008.

Photo courtesy of Brian Bennett

Friday, November 21, 2008


Earlier this year, a sales and marketing group from Patagonia (Bill Klyn, Mike Thompson, Mark Harbaugh and Jason Lozano) went to Eleuthera to spend time with Dave Peterson and the Director of Cape Eleuthera Institute, Andy Danylchuk. The goal was to expose these influencers to a new kind of bonefishing trip that allows anglers to join scientists in the challenging job of catching fish that become live “samples” for research to help fill the significant gap in knowledge of bonefish spawning, predation and habitat. It was also a good chance to test a variety of sun friendly gear like Sunshade Shirts, Sun Masks, Marlwalkers and more. Visit Patagonia's blog The Cleanest Line for more detail on the trip and Core Angling for information on how you can participate in the research.

Photo by Mark Harbaugh

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"The Original" BONE-ER

Tim Borski and I collaborate from time to time and it always seems like our conversations result in interesting stories and new ideas . Recently he invited me to review some vintage photos. The following fly pattern was in one of the pictures. Tim was kind enough to provide the story behind it, images and recipe for the Way Upstream community.

Tim said, "Kaptain Korn's Grizzly BONE-ER was the first fly I ever tied for commercial/selfish purposes. It was accepted by a great old guy named Bob Kay. He and his partner, Tripper, allowed me to hang and sell it in their fly shop, Anglers Afield in Ft. L'dale. All I wanted was to see my name on their wall. The fly was for bonefish. I caught a ton of them on this pattern over the course of a couple or four years, then got better at tying."

Kaptain Korn's Grizzly BONE-ER:

Hook: #4 34007 Mustad
Thread: Black flat waxed nylon
Wing: Natural bucktail tied forward, then reversed to make prominent "bump" to paint eyes on
Body: Tan, Orange or Chartreuse Micro Chenille
Tail: Two grizzly hackles poorly tied in an asymmetrical fashion

Painting, fly pattern and photo by Tim Borski

Friday, November 14, 2008

Feathers On A Hook

Feathers On A Hook

Sometimes I tie feathers
On a hook
To fool a fish

Like I’ve been fooled
Or caught by more than
I could swallow

And like the trout
Caught and released
His mouth a bed of wounds

I’ve been had
By lures and lust
And scarred by my own greed

Poem by Alan Harawitz
Photo by Tim Borski

Friday, November 7, 2008

Micro Puff

Too many steelhead shiver-fests can leave you mumbling incoherently and sporting a thousand-yard stare. Micro Puff products are worth more than their weight (which isn't much) in Bristol Bay gold for core warmth and cold-weather sanity. This high-loft class of products provides such ultralight, compressible warmth, you won’t think twice about throwing it in your pack or vest. Durable, high-quality synthetic insulation traps heat (even when wet), the double-ripstop polyester shell with DWR is windproof and resists snow and spitting rain. Micro Puff products are made with recycled polyester content. All styles are offered in M's and W's fits/colors except for the pants (Unisex). Add Micro Puff to your layering system. You won't be disappointed. Styles include a jacket, hooded jacket, vest and pants. All fit into their own pocket or stuff sack.

Photo by Tim Pask

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chicken Head

Chris LaScola sent me the recipe for one of his money flies. He calls this one Chicken Head. You can see from the photos that brown trout love Chris is a catcher. Chris wrote, "This fly has been very productive in our local waters. The combination of weight, color and the rabbit bring it to life. I hope it works for you as well as it has worked for me."

Hook size #4, first tie on 7/32" red dumbell eyes and wrap the hook with some weight. Then tie on a piece of white rabbit strip for the tail

Add a piece of white crosscut and wrap forward stopping a little short of the eyes.

Add some red rubber to the fly and a piece of yellow crosscut. 1-2 wraps should do it. Then add a piece of crystal chenille and wrap around the eyes to finish the fly.

Now add water and hold on.

Fly pattern contribution and photos by Chris LaScola

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cause for concern

The Maryland DNR has just announced this year’s Young of the Year (YOY) index, a measurement of the number of young striped bass born each spring in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay. The index was measured at 3.2 – being the average number of fish taken in each haul of the seine – which compares to the long term average of 11.7. Maryland biologists assert that this is no cause for alarm since there is a long history of variability among year-classes. Still the graph below shows that 4 of the best 5 YOY indexes ever recorded occurred in the past 15 years yet only one year in the last seven (2003) has been significantly above the long term average, while three have been alarmingly lower. This is hardly the sign of the fully recovered fishery being trumpeted by fishery managers. The mega spawning years of 1989, 1993,1996, and 2001 haven’t been remotely approached in the last 7 years. Those big years should have produced an abundance in the spawning stock biomass, yet the recent stock assessment released by the ASFMC confirms that this too is declining. Today’s catch levels and quotas are based on a theoretical abundance of fish from the 90s. The problem is that this abundance seems to be mostly theoretical. Despite the clear downtrend in the population numbers and the distressingly low replacement rate, absolutely no one is talking about reductions in quotas. It is certainly cause for concern.

Contribution by Stripers Forever Photo by Rene Braun

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You gotta work 'em

Here's a trip report from Henry Barber and Ed Bielijec. Both these guys are special people that push the boundaries and I thought it was worth sharing with the Way Upstream community. Henry wrote "Ed and I paddled out four miles to a remote point in Cape Cod bay. We got out for the outgoing tide and we fished high slack outgoing all the way to low. We were able to find the flats off the point and figure out holes and troughs near shore to target when we came back. The seals were everywhere. I landed one blue (bluefish) and 29 stripers in our first session. Hence the seals were pissed because we were stealing their lunch. Ed didn’t fare as well but he would fix that the next night when we paddled out for a midnight session. We left in early evening for the same four mile paddle because walking the sand would have been exhausting. The fish were surfacing even in the shallows. When we got out I immediately had a beer and went to sleep while Ed proceeded to roam another 1/2 mile off shore on the flats, in the dark, on an incoming tide! He maintained that he could bounce off the bottom pretty well and make it to higher ground if need be. Ed caught eight fish on his first foray but no hogs as we had hoped. He came back to sleep until we got the high slack again around 1am. We awoke as two coyotes passed by growling at us for trespassing on their point. We headed out at the high slack tide and I landed a fish on the first cast in a hole/trough that I had marked on the low tide the day before. I had a slow night though and only landed two more fish while Ed slayed them with his spey rod all night long. I guess when you find those honey holes you gotta work 'em."

Contribution by Henry Barber
Photos by Henry Barber and Ed Bielijec

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


October's arrival meant that it was finally time to embark on a long scheduled trip that would take me and two other colleagues to British Columbia. The specific location was the Bulkley River Lodge and the task was a week long steelhead fishing assignment. I packed two handed rods, reels, a variety of lines and tips, Riverwalkers (felt), new S9 Guidewater Waders, the new S9 SST, Shelled Insulator Pants, the Insulator Jacket, the Stormfront Pack, the new S9 Hip Chest Pack, plenty of wool, a small collection of other protos, flies, tools and such. Everything fit in the regular Freightliner and the Guidewater Duffle (Large). Rod tubes were carried separately.

Flying in over the coastal mountains and drainages gave me a sense of the vastness and wild remnants still on the ground. Fall colors were in full swing and the water levels were running a bit low and blue green clear. Just the view from the air made me understand why my professed steelhead bum friends were so passionate about this species and the terrain.

We spent our first night at the Stork’s Nest in Smithers and met up with Tim Pask for dinner. Tim gave us the rundown on fishing expectations, his views on recent Guidewader Wader testing and updates on a range of environmental threats to the wild steelhead fishery we were about to experience. That would be the only path crossing with our friend Tim. His assignment was to connect with the AEG crew for a filming mission on remote sections of some other Metalhead waters.

The following morning we were picked up by Dave “Whitey” Evans and Jimmy Simonelli from the Bulkley River Lodge. We loaded the rigs and headed for the river bank where we would spend the next seven nights. Brian Bennett and I were assigned to cabin #2 which would become technology central. I wasted no time setting up because my first assignment was to get out the door and into the Bulkley River currents with Jimmy. The highlight of the day was a double hook up on a tricky wading ledge section. That would be my only landed fish on day 1 but the ice was broken and I was fully engaged.

The lodge took great care of us throughout the trip. The staff was phenomenal. Coffee arrived at the door each morning, hot breakfast followed, lunches were packed and on the boats, drinks were ready upon return and a ceremonial dinner capped off each day’s steelhead quest. After dinner Whitey would stand and begin a nightly ceremony with a toast, “Good evening, good evening, good evening everyone…” He proceeded to recap the day. The guides then provided award pins for the deserving anglers. Next would be the announcement of the “Prick of the Day” award winner which is a rather unique contest that this lodge created to make light of the events of the day. This helped form a bond between all the guests. At the end of the week a “Prick of the Week” would be crowned. Last came the next day’s assignments, “out the door and up”, “the magical mystery tour” and “in the canyon” were some of the location descriptors. Once this ceremony was completed it was time to digest the events, pix, stories and to prepare for the next day. Getting gear into the drying hut was paramount.

As the days passed I became completely enamored with the people, this place and this fishery. Wind, rain, snow, frost, sun, elk, deer, grouse, raptors, ravens, coyote, bull trout and black bear all made their presence felt as members of this steelhead environment. Friendships were formed that I hope remain into the next years. I highly recommend this wild steelhead adventure to all of you in the Way Upstream community. Keep the fly in the water and believe in every cast.

Here’s a short video of me fighting my largest fish of the trip.

Video by Brian Bennett

Photos by Dave "Whitey" Evans, Jimmy Simonelli, Pat Beahen and Brian Bennett