Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Before the runoff

I just returned from a trip to Big Timber, MT. The goals were to get some product testing (both Patagonia and competitor gear) in before the runoff and to work on some new design projects with a designer in Bozeman (more on that later). I couldn't have asked for better conditions. It was nice one minute and a full on snow accumulating blizzard the next (the two inset photos were taken 20 minutes apart). I should clarify that by "nice" I mean that the sun was partially out and the wind wasn't gusting too bad. The temps never really climbed above the mid 40's and it was high 30's on average. Mornings were below freezing and guides did ice up on occasion. Wool grid neoprene (wader booties and gloves), new wader designs, new jackets, new outsole ideas and a host of current gear all were put through the paces.....and the fishing was good too. My companions for the trip were new friends John Frankot and Alistair Stewart. We holed up at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber. We contracted the help of guide Lee Kinsey for a couple of days. He's a wealth of information having grown up in the area. I highly recommend a pre-runoff trip if any of you in the Way Upstream community have the desire. It's good for the soul. Don't forget your warm gear and a range of flies. Size 20 dry bugs and small emergers were just as important as stonefly nymphs and big stuff for exploring the carved out depths.
Photos by El Pescador
"Car Pool" photo by Alistair Stewart

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Complete Angler - Chapter 2

James Prosek (artist/writer), Fritz Mitchell (producer/editor) and Peter Franchella (cinematographer) produced a Peabody Award winning film documenting Prosek’s travels in the footsteps of the 17th century English writer, Izaak Walton.

Way Upstream now brings you Part 2 of the mini-series - The Complete Angler. In this chapter James goes to Ireland to experience what may be the earliest form of fly-fishing, dapping live mayflies impaled on fine-wire hooks for brown trout on the lakes of the Connemara region. He visits with a boy who collects and sells live mayflies to the fishermen, and salmon fishes along the Eriff River.

Way Upstream Productions Copyright 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time to flourish again

By Winter's end, there’s a part of you that can feel like you were plucked from your dinner table and yanked by the mouth into a long struggle with some otherworldly being that grabs you with a big hand and holds you in the air, exposing you to bright lights beyond any you have ever witnessed. But then Spring comes in with its warmth and heals that part of you in an instant. The hand releases you back to your dinner table. A price was paid. Time to flourish again.

Words and photo by El Pescador

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grand River Special

Here's another Jerry Darkes "crossover" fly pattern to share with you. He calls it the Grand River Special. As Jerry puts it, "this is really a glorified Zonker". This fly's color scheme is geared to be productive in the tannic colored water which often happens during Fall rains when the leaves are falling or in cloudy water from Spring runoff. Jerry chases steelhead with this fly but it can also deceive other species like the atlantic salmon pictured above that Jimmy Balogh (Hydrus Expeditions) caught in Canada this past November.

Here's the recipe for the Grand River Special

Hook: Daiichi 2461, #2.
Body: Boa Yarn, also called Eyelash Yarn (you'll probably have to go to a craft store to find it). Use a section where the color transitions. The version pictured goes from yellow to orange.
Wing: Barred sand variant Zonker strip, with some gold Crystal Flash mixed in
Hackle: Gold barred variant schlappen
Head: Smallest gold cone
Atlantic salmon photo courtesy of Jimmy Balogh
Fly photo and contribution by Jerry Darkes

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Insect Vision

Here's another image from a growing Tim Borski/El Pescador collection. This is a Warholized shot of Tim's son inspecting and being inspected by a large praying mantis.

Original photo by Tim Borski Image by El Pescador

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Riverwalker Vest

Course was set before Spring 2008 to create a 21st Century version of our classic mesh vest, which we introduced way back in ‘87. The result is the Riverwalker Vest (M's & W's). This vest incorporates pack-like storage pockets with detailed vest construction (just try counting all the bar tacks). Convenient, easy-to-use curved and straight coil zippers with two molded pockets offer easy access and a clean, fly-line friendly exterior. The Riverwalker Vest is a lightweight (M's 17.5oz and W's 17oz) and highly functional piece of fishing equipment. Mesh (our signature version) and stretch nylon construction; specifically designed storage for fly boxes, tippet, tools, etc.; integrated attachment points; removable fly patch and built in rod holder are all contained in it's framework. This vest has two center clip adjustments for a more form fit when desired. There are two vertical zippers on either side of the back allowing access without having to take the vest off. There is also a single horizontal pocket on the back intentionally placed high for additional boxes, spare spools, food or whatever. The collar is padded and covered in a wicking and odor resistant looped poly fabric and the shoulder pattern helps support the load. There's also a burly webbing loop placed on the back below the collar for carrying and hanging this vest when loaded. The W's version is designed to have a feminine fit. With all the attention that the Guidewater Vest has received I though it might be a good idea to shed light on it's product line companion. Both M's and W's Riverwalker Vest come in Forge Grey.
Detail photos by Rene Braun
Photo of Chris Owens with taimen courtesy of AEG

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Complete Angler - Chapter 1

Several years ago, James Prosek (artist/writer), Fritz Mitchell (producer/editor) and Peter Franchella (cinematographer) produced a film documenting Prosek’s travels in the footsteps of the 17th century English writer, Izaak Walton—“research” for his senior thesis at Yale. The film focuses on Walton’s book, The Compleat Angler, a book that many have heard of but few have read. Through Ireland and England, Prosek fishes the same rivers and streams that Walton had. He discovers the art of “dapping,” a method of fly-fishing still practiced now, as it was 350 years ago in Walton’s day. He fishes streams flowing under and around London—spring-fed tributaries of the Thames once central to water meadows, but now surrounded by parking lots and high-rise apartment buildings. And he makes his way into the world of private river-ways, fished by the upper-class who own the land through which the rivers flow. He fishes with English gentry, guides and boatmen, discovering a common bond among anglers that erases social barriers.
Izaak Walton was a simple tailor whose genial nature won him the company of kings. Walton was a proto-conservationist who advocated for the pastoral simplicity that the countryside offered. He wrote the Compleat Angler in the mid-1600s during the English Civil War when different Christian denominations were vying for power in London. Through the course of the book, Walton instructs his fishing companion not only in the technical aspects of hooking, cleaning and preparing trout, chub, pike and eels, but in finding spiritual sustenance in the forest, meadow, and on the stream.
Way Upstream now brings you the video mini-series of the original, Peabody Award winning film - The Complete Angler. The mini series will be composed of the seven individual segments that make up the film. Here’s chapter one, where you'll see James leaving Connecticut for Ireland and England, catching a few trout in his home streams and musing about his youth, fishing, and some Waltonian ideals. He visits the library at Yale and examines a first edition of Walton’s Compleat Angler from 1653. Then he sits for a reading of W. B. Yeat’s poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus, by Harold Bloom.
Paintings by James Prosek

Way Upstream Productions Copyright 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

The hole story

All of us who wear waders have heard of an old saying which goes something like this “Every pair of waders either leaks or is waiting to leak.” Why is this a commonly held belief? It may be because of the fact that we ask waders to allow us to trudge unscathed through brush and thicket containing Mother Nature’s myriad of thorny and pointed creations. Maybe it has something to do with the fact we kneel down on rocky banks and in stream beds with them or sit on whatever we feel like sitting on while wearing them. It may also have something to do with what I call Vampire flies which like to feed on blood. These flies seek to embed themselves into flesh but sometimes (if you’re lucky) they only find your hat, wader or jacket. Barbed wire is a cousin of the Vampire fly and has been known to draw blood but prefers to just tear into stuff. Lastly, this leaky belief could also be connected to how we treat our waders which often means “riding them hard and putting them away wet.” Whatever the reason, leaks do happen even to the best of waders. The good news is that they are often easily repaired (all Patagonia waders come with a repair kit). Patagonia’s Creative and Quality teams have put together a little instruction guide for wader repair that just may prove useful to you someday. Brian Bennett (Fly Fishing Sales Manager) has taken this guide and turned it into a modern day “e-zine” making it accessible and easy to research because rarely do anglers keep all the little pieces of paper and tags that come with new waders. Check it out and may your waders always keep you dry.

Thorn photo by Brian Bennett
Vampire fly photo courtesy of Justin Crump

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Let em flow

I spend a fair amount of time in Southern California and have always heard talk of how steelhead once thrived in the ocean flowing coastal rivers of SoCal. The talk is pretty similar to the atlantic salmon stories I've heard in New England. Unfortunately we all no that dams, development, farming practices, poor planning and habitat loss have caused once plentiful species to dwindle or die out. So when Malinda Chouinard forwarded an email from Matt Stoecker I thought it was worth sharing. Here was proof once again of the tenacity of Mother Nature in the face of a formidable opponent - us. Let the following message and pictures serve as a reminder that there is always hope and that we must be part of the solution to environmental crisis.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them"
- Albert Einstein

Original email from Matt Stoecker (Stoecker Ecological)
March 31, 2008

Hello all,
I wanted to share an amazing experience I had a couple days ago with you. On a small creek near Santa Barbara I had the rare opportunity to spend some time swimming with and documenting the seldom seen southern steelhead. Attached are some of the photos taken. The two adults back from their adventures at sea are in the 26-30 inch range and the small "juvenile" steelhead are possibly ready to head downstream to start their ocean odyssey.

Unfortunately these fish were prevented from being able to migrate upstream to adequate spawning habitat due to a large road crossing barrier that prevents passage. Fortunately, if all goes as planned this barrier will be removed this summer after seven years of studies, designs, permits, landowner agreements, and fundraising from many individuals.

Right now, all over California's watersheds there are thousands of steelhead and salmon stuck below migration barriers us humans have built, many of which are obsolete, poorly planned, and safety hazards in need of replacement or removal so these amazing fish can swim home and our rivers can run free.

Let em flow,

Photos by Matt Stoecker