The Deschutes River Steelhead Camp, Sept 14-16 & 16-18 2020

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If you are like me you’re ready to stop thinking about catching Covid 19 and start catching steelhead.

If you are concerned about the current situation spilling over to Sept, skip to the end of this article and read the cancelations section.

Sept 14-16 & 16-18 2020

The Deschutes Steelhead Camp, operated by Jeff Hickman’s Deschutes Steelhead Adventures, is one of our most popular trips. The cost for this 3 day session is $2200 / $3850 for 6 nights, and includes guided fishing, instruction, lodging and chef-prepared meals.

The Deschutes steelhead camp is a blast. Jeff’s operations, both here in the states and at his lodge in BC, have a fun mellow vibe. Just good times and good fishing, no attitude or pressure. The Deschutes is a beautiful river and has a fantastic steelhead run. We fish the lower river. The Deschutes is a major cold water tributary of the mid-Columbia, so steelhead bound for all of the rivers of the upper system stray into the lower Deschutes to take advantage of the cool oxygen rich water. You have a chance to catch steelhead that are headed for Idaho there.

The Deschutes is one of the best rivers anywhere to catch a steelhead on a floating line. Casting a dry line is a real pleasure, but when a big steelhead rockets up through eight feet of fast water to eat a small traditional fly, it’s anything but relaxing. The steep canyon walls offer us plenty of shaded water through the day to take advantage of the dry line bite, and even wake dry flies. It’s super fun fishing!

We run up river in jet boats to the campsite and use that as our base. There are only a few outfitters licensed to run jet boats on the river. The jets give us the ability to access fresh water any time we like, which is huge. After we get settled in at camp and have a bite to eat, we hit the river and fish until dark. The next two days we start fishing before first light and fish until lunch. We return to camp for a hot lunch and a big nap, then head back out in the afternoon as the shadows fall on the river and fish until dark. Then we have a big dinner (the food is awesome) maybe a drink or two, and hit the sack. The last day we fish until lunch and head back to the boat ramp.

Jeff and his crew set the camp in advance. You arrive to a big stand-up tent with cots and sleeping pads. All you need to bring is a sleeping bag and pillow. There is a screened dining tent, a tent with a camp toilet and a shower tent. There is electricity from a bank of solar cells and batteries. It’s ridiculously nice. There are also ample public composting toilets along the river if you prefer those. 

The river is beautiful and the stars at night are amazing. You can see the milky way clear as a bell. The water is beautiful. There are great steelhead runs everywhere you look and dramatic rapids. It’s fishing of

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Fish Muds

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The sky is a perfect robin’s egg blue. Reflections of the morning sun dance on the underside on the mangroves giving the bright green leaves an unnatural glow. A breath of breeze cools my face in contrast to the warm sun on my back. Sixty or seventy yards in front of the boat there is a small school of nice size bonefish moving our way along the edge of the mangroves. It is a perfect morning on South Andros.

This flat is called Dodum. Dodum flat is a large white sand flat adjacent to the ocean at the mouth of Dodum Creek. The sand of the flat is as perfect as fresh snow and the water is a uniform depth of one to four feet depending on the tide. With the tide out, it’s a great wade and with it in, you can spend a whole day poling a boat around it. Dodum is big. Picture a Wal-Mart. Now picture the piece of land a Wal-Mart sits on, parking lot and loading docks included. Dodum is five times that size.

The tide is just beginning to fall and Captain Freddy is poling Kent and me along the mangroves at the edge of the flat. We are picking up fish as they come out of the mangroves with the tide. They are nice fish, averaging five or six pounds and there are plenty of them. We’re putting good numbers on the board early.

This is Kent’s first trip to South Andros. It’s my favorite place in the world to fish and he’s listened to me go on about it for countless hours. It’s our third day of fishing and, though the fishing has been good, Kent has yet to have one of those South Andros ‘magic days’. Almost anyone who has fished this place knows what I’m talking about. When the stars line up, things happen on South Andros that make your friends call you a liar.

Though Kent and I fish together all the time and have made some truly epic trips together, it just hasn’t worked out for us to make this trip. I’ve lost count of the days I’ve spent on Andros, but for me this trip is special. This time I get to show my best fishing buddy my favorite water in the world. Any fish I catch is a surplus to my excitement. Watching Kent, a look of child-like wonder on his face, soak in the beauty of this place and feel the power of these fish, that’s what I’m here for.

“You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille,” Freddy bursts into song as

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Flat Water Nymphing

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The past few years, Louis and I have grown very fond of one specific pool tucked up in mountains of the southern appalachia. We visit it regularly because of the bounties of trout that it sustains and nurtures year round. We nicknamed it the “lazy boy pool”, because it constantly has food entering the pool and its slow moving water and deep water cover requires little energy for fish to feed round the clock. It’s loved by lazy trout and they in turn grow big and fat. Despite the large numbers of trout the pool holds, angler won’t find it to be a cake walk for catching them. To have success in this pool you have to bring your A-game. The fish have grown wise to fly anglers and the glass calm and crystal clear water adds further to the overall challenge. Trout here, get to examine your flies for long periods and they regularly dish out more refusals than eats. It’s had Louis and I pulling our hair out on multiple occasions. If we need our ego’s checked, this is the perfect place for us to do that. It never fails to reminds us we are far from having it all figured out. The slightest mistake by an angler will send wakes across the water alerting all the trout in the pool, and when that happens, the fish get lock jaw.

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Spring Fishing on Tributaries for Wild Trout

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Several of our blog followers on numerous occasions have asked Louis and I if we ever catch small trout?

Jokingly, they mention, “All we see are trophy size fish in most of the pictures on the blog”. I assure you all, we catch plenty of small fish, and Louis and I both appreciate and photograph them on the water with the same gratitude and respect. It’s just fair to say, that a large portion of anglers out there are constantly striving to catch a trophy class fish. We tend to use our big fish photos as motivation and assurance that persistence pays off. However, it’s important to note, in most cases, there’s no distinction in our fishing technique. We pretty much fish the same way for all sizes of trout. We approach the fishing spots the same, we make the same casts and presentations, and we fish the same fly patterns. It really just boils down to whether or not it’s a numbers day or a big fish day, and we’re generally happy with either. Location does play a factor though for size of trout, but remember, a trophy fish should be defined by the water it inhabits. A 14-inch trout on a small creek has just as much right to hold the trophy status as a 20-inch fish on a big river.

Right now we’re well into the Spring fishing season. Water temperatures are warming, multiple species of bugs are hatching, and trout are really happy and aggressive with their rising metabolisms. There’s really no

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New Bauer RVR Fly Reels for Trout: Video

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The New RVR Trout reels fro Bauer offer 3 technique specific options.

The new RVR reels move Bauer into the future without sacrificing the any of the design and quality that has made Bauer one of the best fly reels on the market for decades. The RVR lineup offers a reel for every trout angler, whether you are a traditional single hand angler, a euronympher or a trout spey junky.


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3 Ways to Make Your Wiggle Minnow Fish Better

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The foam wiggle minnow has been a mainstay streamer for me for trout and other predatory game fish for several years now.

When you combine its realistic swimming action and the significant water it pushes during the retrieve, its one of the best streamers I know of for calling in fish from great distances to eat. Plain and simple, the wiggle minnow will catch fish just about anywhere you visit in both fresh or salt, regardless of the water conditions you may find yourself fly fishing. Furthermore, it also fishes well on all types of fly lines (floating, intermediate, sinking) and on a wide range of rod weights. This can prove to be very valuable if you find yourself on the water with limited gear options. The last few years, I’ve been experimenting with modifications to my wiggle minnows in the effort to improve their fishability.

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4 Proven Ways To Effectively Fish A Streamer

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Every angler wants to catch a trophy trout and there’s no better way than fishing a streamer.

While it’s fair to say that there is no “wrong way” to fish a streamer, there are some proven techniques which will help make that trophy dream a reality. Presenting big, heavy flies to the largest fish in the river brings with it a whole new set of challenges, including a new way of thinking about presentation. Your presentation is no longer passive, but active, and it is the action of your fly which must excite the predatory instincts of the fish. In the end, you will find your own style of fishing streamers but here are four techniques that have been proven to bring big fish to the net time after time.

Stripping the fly

This is what most anglers think of as streamer fishing. Tossing the fly to the upstream side of a likely lie and ripping it back. It’s exciting and visual and usually productive. It plays on the predatory instinct of large trout by imitating a fleeing baitfish. I favor the jerk-strip retrieve, popularized by Kelly Galloup. A very young Mr. Galloup demonstrates in this video.

The speed of your retrieve is key. Have you ever made an impulsive purchase that you later regretted? Then you have some insight into the mind of the fish who eats a streamer. Like a bargain shopper, fish don’t like to miss an opportunity. Your fly must be a limited time offer. If the fish has too much time to inspect and think his decision through, he’ll decide to pass. On the other hand, no fish wants to engage in the pointless pursuit of a bullet train. Remember to think about the environment where the fish and fly meet. If the water is moving slowly, your fly should scorch off the bank sending the message that it’s now or never. If your fly is in fast moving water, it’s already moving quickly in relation to a holding trout. Slow your retrieve down and give the fly a twitching action like a wounded baitfish. Always remember, a predator takes what he wants. It’s your job to make him want the fly.

Swinging the fly

If we set aside for the moment, the argument over whether steelhead are trout, this is how I have caught my largest trout. If a 42-inch steelhead will grab a swung fly, you’d better believe a big brown trout will, too. I like to employ the swing when fish are following a stripped fly, but not taking it. I’ll size down my streamer and often drop a Soft Hackle 16-24 inches behind it. You will catch more small fish this way but you’ll catch the big ones too.

Swinging the fly is an effective way to reach fish holding in

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Watching Your Fly Line Tells You If You’re Fishing

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When fly-fishing in saltwater, if your fly isn’t moving, you’re not fishing.

This is one of those ideas that’s dead simple in principal and damned complicated in practice. For a fish to see your fly as food, it must have the right action, but there are factors at work that the angler may not perceive. Have you ever wondered why many saltwater fly lines are so brightly colored? It’s not a fashion statement, it’s a tool and often the key to catching fish.

Too many anglers making the transition from freshwater to salt think of the ocean like a big pond. In truth, it has more in common with a river. The water in the ocean is always moving and it’s often not readily apparent in which direction or how quickly. If you are fishing from a boat, the boat may also be in motion and not necessarily with the flow of the water. On top of all that the wind can influence the motion of the water, the boat and the fly line. It’s a lot to keep up with, but if you don’t you’ll pay the price in missed opportunities.

I’ve seen a lot of good casts fail to produce fish because the angler was not aware that their fly was dead in the water. Picture for a moment that you are on the bow of a flats boat. Your guide is poling against the current when he calls out a fish at 11 o’clock. You make a nice cast but because the boat was moving toward 12 o’clock you failed to notice that the current is coming toward you. If you strip as though you were in still water, you’ll never come tight to the fly. You will only take up the slack as the fly sits dead on the bottom and the fish will swim on by.

The opposite can be just as deadly. Suppose your guide

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Pheasant Tail Nymph Attractor

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I received some really good feedback from the post from G&G followers. One follower even tied some up and landed multiple twenty inch fish with the midge pattern one day on his home waters. It feels good passing on information to our followers, especially when I hear back that they not only appreciate the advice but are actually putting it to work on the water. Since the first post was a success I’ve decided to showcase second cold water nymph pattern of mine.

I’m a firm believer in utilizing a bright attractor nymph in my tandem nymph rigs during the winter months.  A couple years back I thought to myself why not take a proven traditional fly patterns and modify them with bright attractor fly tying materials. This way you can bank on both the proven profile characteristics and the flashy appeal. One of the first fly patterns I came up with for this idea was this pheasant tail attractor nymph above. It’s been very successful for me on the water. I generally use

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Crazy Times, A fly angler’s guide to riding out Covid 19

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I know it’s only April, but dammit I’m calling it…. COVID19 wins the “Biggest Asshole of the Year” award. 

As the latest news headlines roll across the bottoms of tv screens and are perched at the top of social media feeds, our country sits in a semi-paralyzed state as we wait to hear the latest steps to address this pandemic from our local, state, and federal governments (however strict or lax as you may perceive them). There are a number of differing opinions, models, and predictions about where our country is headed given varying levels of response to this bug. Some are confident we are overreacting, while some are certain the world is circling the drain. As a healthcare worker myself, what I can tell you is that this virus is eerily different from many of the outbreaks that I’ve experience in my career in emergency medicine. From the virality and transmissibility to the overall response thus far, it is certainly like nothing we have seen. One of the quickest things many of us can and have done to help quell the spread of this virus is to practice better hygiene and distance ourselves from one another. Taking these steps can help ease the strain on our hospitals and protect those more susceptible to infections, but with that, of course, brings other problems. The closing down of businesses have already caused a huge strain on millions, and even the businesses that remain open will likely experience a drastic decline in revenue. The fly fishing industry is certainly an industry that will be negatively affected by the measures we have taken in an attempt to save lives. During what is typically the beginning of the busiest time of the year for many fly shops and guides across the country, we are instead seeing closed doors and cancelled trips. With the uncertainty that lies ahead for our health and economy, which both need to be taken seriously, the best thing we can do is support each other. I have seen some amazing displays of kindness and gratitude during this trying time. Let’s keep that going. We’re going to need it. The isolation alone can be maddening enough. Add the loss of a job, a failing business, or illness to the pile and things can go dark quick. Below are some things you can do to help pass the time and keep your spirits up during the days ahead.

Brace For Impact

Let’s go ahead and get the bad news out of the way. This is going to change A LOT of the fly fishing landscape as we know it. Fly shops, manufacturers, offices, and distribution centers have had to shutter their doors to comply with executive orders. Unfortunately, some of them may never open back up. This is extremely disheartening considering the growth we have been experiencing in the fly fishing industry as of late. Even the shops and companies that do survive this economic plunge will look much different on the other side of this disaster.  I urge you to help support these companies as best you can during these challenging times so that when the dust settles, they might still be around. 

Support Your Local Fly Shops

Many shops have had to close their doors due to “shelter in place” orders issued by local governments. However, some shops are still able to operate and fulfill online orders. Some shops are offering “curbside” pickup of online and phoned-in orders, as well. I have seen several shops offering incentives and giving generous discounts on gear and apparel. They still want and still need your business. You’re going to have some time to restock those fly boxes, so call them up and order some tying supplies. Re-stock those leader wallets, fly boxes, and gear bags! 

Support Your Guides

I know many guides are probably getting calls to cancel trips due to travel restraints or folks that fear they’ll catch the wrong kind of bug on their trip. Or worse yet, local governments shutting down public lands, making some trips impossible. Many guides charge a deposit up front that helps cover this type of thing, but it’s not meant to live off of and pay bills. If you are thinking about cancelling, consider offering to re-schedule the trip once things ease up. Many guides also tie flies, typically for their guide service, but in a time like this they may be happy to spin up some flies for you. You can also offer to purchase gift certificates or pay up front for a future trip. Every little bit helps.

Practice Your Casting

We can all benefit from a little more casting practice. Many parks and reservoirs around me have closed their gates to everyone, leaving me with very few fishing options without traveling hours away, which isn’t exactly the greatest of plans right now. However, when this mess does pass, I don’t want to be flogging the water with my whippy-stick. So, I’ll be in the yard throwing loops at hula-hoops, dogs, and small children in an attempt to keep my form in check. 

Restock Your Box

A lot of folks have been tying all winter in anticipation of hitting the water this month to chase those first trout of spring. Well, as it turns out, a lot of us are going to have some more time to tie more flies. Spin ‘em up! Tie some new stuff. Try some new patterns. We’re all going to need flies to sling once this blows over. Don’t have the want and fortitude to tie your own? Refer to the above point I made about supporting a local guide, or two, to tie up some flies for you.

Get Organized

This is a great opportunity to get reorganized. My garage is a frickin’ mess! I have fly boxes, and boots, and tippet spools everywhere. And I don’t dare walk into my garage barefoot. There are way too many lost flies hiding amongst the clutter to risk it. My fly tying desk is also in dire need of attention. Sort through those hooks, feathers, and beads. You may also get inspired to tie something new with a once long-lost material. Dive into some hands-on projects and maybe build some fly rod storage. There’s usually plenty of these types of things to help keep us busy.

Get Outside

Staying home doesn’t mean staying inside all day, every day. If you’re like me, you are most happy when you are outdoors. Yes, The Tiger King is an amazingly glorious train wreck that’s hard to look away from, but try not to get pulled into the TV and

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