Fly Fusion Mobi Mag


I am thrilled and honoured to be included in the premier issue of Fly Fusion's new Mobi (mobile) Mag.
These two additional issues of Fly Fusion Magazine have been designed in a television format (16 x 9 aspect ratio) and feature only the best in fly fishing film, story and photography. We want to thank Nick Pujic, Brian Grossenbacher, Tim Pask, Adrienne Comeau, Peter Christensen, Bryan Gregson, Jim McLennan, Wil Flack and Louis Cahill for contributing to this exciting new project. The first issue contains 67 "slides" (aka 134 pages) of pure escapism, including close to two and a half hours of some of the best fly fishing film and we can't wait to hear what you think!
~Fly Fusion Team~
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A Few Lessons Learned

Bjorn feeding tarpon at Robbie's.
Good sunglasses with the right lens colour make a huge difference for spotting fish, something I usually suck at. I've had good glasses before - Maui's and Smith's and Kaenon's. I recently got a pair of Maui Jims with the HT (High Transmission) lens, and I spotted more fish than I ever have before, anywhere.
Invest in quick dry underwear. It's fantastic to have all the lightweight, quick dry pants and shirts you can imagine, but wet underwear stay wet. For a long time.
Spend as much time on your feet as you can before you go. Otherwise, after two days standing on the bow of a flats boat trying to keep your balance your feet and ankles will hurt and swell up like they've been smashed with a sledgehammer.
Short shots at fish are almost harder than long shots. Okay, not almost, they are harder.
Apparently I say "out" and "about" funny. Never knew that.
Driving with Bjorn is likely to result in some... we'll call them "slight detours".
One of the greatest things you will ever experience is hand feeding the tarpon at a place called Robbie's in Islamorada. If you ever want to feel like a little kid again, you need to go and experience this.
Fishing for Oceanside tarpon will RUIN you. You will get home and not be able to think of anything else, except the fish you saw and had shots at and had follow your fly, and getting back there to do it again.
More to come...


The Beach Boys Had It Right

After fishing drinks and stories as the sun sets on Islamorada.

When I was a kid there was one summer when my sister and I, along with the two girls who lived beside us, were obsessed with the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail. In particular, the song Kokomo by the Beach Boys. We knew all the lyrics and would sing them over and over, day after day. I just got home from a trip to Florida, and the first day after Key Largo was mentioned that song popped into my head and would not leave, that one section of chorus a little mantra playing in the back of my mind. That summer we spent singing those words resonates with me as I always envisioned these fantastical places of blue water, white sand and hot sun, where life was pure happiness at all times. I never really imagined that these places where real and that I would ever have the opportunity to visit them. The idea of traveling to paradise always makes me feel like a little girl, and that childhood fantasy of sunbathing on a tropical island with a cute guy by my side has been slightly altered to fishing flats and aquamarine coloured waters in the hot sun, and ending the days having cold drinks with good friends.
We never actually spent time in Key Largo on this trip, but we did drive through it on the way to and from Islamorada. Paradise? Yes. While the hot sun part of the dream was a little hit and miss, the fishing and cold drinks with friends part came true. Now that I'm home it still feels like a dream, albeit one I was able to take pictures of and that was shared with other people.
There is never enough time on trips like these. I almost get resentful of the time I spend sleeping, as short as those few hours are. I come home and I obsess over the shots I missed, the casts I messed up, the times I did everything right and didn't get a look, the follows that never became eats, the eats that never materialized into hooked fish, and those fish I did get to hand, so strong and beautiful. I lament over the weather and wonder if I fished hard enough. I try to remember the masses of information that were offered to me and hope I can remember it all. I close my eyes and see tarpon swimming at me. I take a deep breath and imagine I'm smelling salty air and tropical flowers. I miss the people I fished, shared laughs and great conversations with, in this case Matt and Bjorn, Davin and Eric. I desperately wish that a year wasn't 12 months long so that our next trip could be starting tomorrow.
There are so many stories to tell from this trip, so many experiences to share, and so many people to thank. Kokomo was about a fictional place off the Florida Keys, but for me now, Kokomo is a state of mind enriched by memories that I hope to have the opportunity to make more of.


Home Sweet Home

I love fly fishing. Whatever, whenever, wherever... I just love it. But there is one species that absolutely consumes me, the first I ever went fly fishing for, that has frustrated and rewarded me more than any other fish I've ever targeted: steelhead. I've fished for steelhead in a t-shirt and hot sunshine, in layers of fleece in -15C temps. I've been drenched to the bone for hours on end in the pouring rain, slept in the back of a truck for days at a time, and have driven hours to fish for a day. I've gone through slumps and hot streaks, missed takes and landed fish I shouldn't have. I've spent more time pursuing steelhead than any other species by far, with arguably much less success, and am happy for it.
There are no steelhead in Calgary. Epic trout fishing, yes. Chrome, sea-run fish, no. This is the first winter I haven't spent focused on winter runs, and it's been driving me nuts. I didn't realize just how much until I took that first step back into the cool winter flows a couple weeks ago. Brian Niska contacted me last fall to ask me to do some fly tying at the Whistler Flyfishing/Pieroway Fly Rods Cast & Blast event in Squamish, and I arrived a day early with enough time to fish for a few hours. It was warm and raining, and the river was in beautiful shape. That first glimpse of the river made my heart clench, and honestly, I nearly teared up. "This is where you belong" said a little voice in my head, and my entire soul agreed. I didn't touch a fish that night, but I didn't care. It felt like my whole body was soaking in my surroundings, reveling in being back on the west coast.
Cast & Blast is a three day event at Sunwolf in Brackendale, just outside of Squamish. Free to the public, the days were full of presentations from the likes of Stuart Foxall, Aaron Goodis, Bob Hooten, Scott Baker-McGarva, Brian Morrison, Mikey Orlowski, Scoot Mason, Geoff Pieroway, Francois Blanchet, Tim Arsenault, Pat Beahan, Harrison Perrin, Tom McHugh, JM Reid, myself, and, of course, Brian Niska. The Iron Fly fly tying competition was held on Friday evening, with Kirk Gilchrist stealing my title away with a rather unconventional fly. Saturday night was the Homegrown Fly Fishing Film Festival, with five incredible films premiered for an extremely enthusiastic crowd. It was an exceptional event, with a few beverages consumed, fantastic friends, and non stop entertainment. If you didn't make it this year, I highly recommend that you don't miss next year's event.
I stuck around for the week, as I was hosting a screening of IF4 in Abbotsford the following Friday, and planned on attending the M&Y Spey Day the next day. I fished a few days, losing a fish on an incredible river I'd never had any success on before, mostly because I was entirely unprepared to hook it and kinda stood there like an idiot while it cartwheeled on the end of my line. This river is not easy to fish, nor is it very generous to those who don't know it intimately, and I was beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time getting to know it better. Hooking a fish was a huge bonus. Towards the end of the week I was able to get out on the Vedder with Ben, who I love fishing with, and watched him hook hook and land an absolutely incredible chromer.

Friday we had a great screening in Abbotsford of IF4, and Saturday saw a couple hundred people gather at Gill Road on the Fraser River for the annual Michael & Young Spey Day. This was the first year I wasn't actually working the event, and was able to run around and catch up with old friends and customers, and spend way more time casting than previous years. Brian and Frankie had the Pieroway competition rod on hand, and a bunch of us took turns casting the big set up - a lot of work, but crazy fun. After a brief rain storm mid day, the sun peeked through the clouds and rewarded us with the most incredible golden light in the evening. I'd left my memory card in my computer, and had to watch enviously as Paula, Josh and Aaron captured some amazing casting photos. As the sun went down the remaining group gathered around a bonfire and enjoyed some drinks and conversation.

Originally I'd planned to head home the following day, but some very good friends twisted my very twistable arm, and I stuck around for the next week. Of the following seven days, I spent 5 very full days on the water, and two half days. It's been a few years at least since I fished that hard for winter fish, and the steelhead gods were not being kind. Cast after cast, some of the hardest wading I've every done, rain, sunshine and wind. By Friday I still hadn't hooked a fish, and I know well enough at this point that it's not that I was doing anything wrong, so it's tough to get angry or frustrated. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. I was pushing myself as much as ever, casting as far, wading as aggressively, covering water, fishing the right flies... I was so incredibly happy to be fishing for steel again, but just at a complete loss as to why I couldn't hook up. Luckily, I had one more day to fish, and Shane and I headed out super early to beat the weekend crowd. What followed was one of my personal best days of winter run fishing with a buddy, as far as hook ups go. Within the first hour I threw a long cast, and before my fly had gone 5 feet my line tightened up and blinding chrome was erupting on the surface. After a good run, some more violent surface thrashing the hook popped and I stood there, body shaking and heart racing. It doesn't matter how many steelhead I hook, or how often, each and every one leaves me in awe. By the afternoon I had hooked and lost one more, and Shane had lost three, two of them right at the beach. Chrome, wild, aggressive... my sleep deprivation, aching muscles and leaky waders mean nothing when compared with that feeling of standing in a coastal river, spey casting with the chance of hooking one of these irreplaceable creatures.

Sunday I headed back to Calgary, but I left my heart on the coast, amongst the evergreens and rocky banks of the rivers that are home.
Thank you to all the amazing friends who I was able to spend time with - April, Greg, Nick, Paula, Josh, Lisa, Brian, Mikey, Pat, Scoot, Stu, Scott, Sarah, Dave, Kirk, Bobbi, Frankie, Craig, Yos, Harrison, Ryan, Dave, Smalley, Paul, Landon, Jordan, Rick, Ross, Ben, Mat, Stevie, Andrea, Roger, Matt, Catherine, Vanessa, Justin, Tim, Aaron, Lawrence, Geoff, Mike, Chris and Shane - I love you all and miss you more than I can say.


Occupy Skagit

The Skagit River is one of those iconic steelhead rivers, where the elusive silver ghost teases and tantalizes anglers. It's tree lined banks and wide expanse, with snow capped peaks towering in the background, evoke heartfelt memories for many, and just walking its banks leaves you with a lingering sense that you are walking in the footsteps of the fathers of steelheading. Names like Dec Hogan, Jerry French, Ed Ward and Harry Lemire are all synonomous with the Skagit, many a fly was designed on with its waters in mind, and the concept for the Skagit head was originated here.
In recent years the steelhead returns on the Skagit have suffered, to the point that the river now closes in February, completely. No catch and release season, no fly fishing only season...the river is left empty throughout the spring. An initiative, coined "Occupy Skagit", is being undertaken to try to restore the catch and release season once the run exceeds 6000 fish, to bring general awareness to the plight of this river, and to encourage WDFW to create a plan to encourage wild steelhead recovery. A river always needs concerned, passionate anglers to protect it.
From the Occupy Skagit Facebook Page:
What is Occupy Skagit?

• A gathering on the Skagit River, April 6th in support of restoring the C&R season. The activity will involve 'fishing' without hooks in as many visible places as possible on the Skagit and Sauk; from the bridge at Concrete upstream to Bacon Creek on the Skagit, and upstream on the Sauk to the bridge at Darrington.
• This is a 'Wade In' Our purpose is not to disrupt traf
fic, be violent, disrespectful, trespass, harass, or engage in illegal activity of any kind...you know, just like when you go fishing.
• This is a parallel action to mesh with attendance at the WDFW Comissioners Meeting the following week in Olympia.
Why is Occupy Skagit?

• At the time of the ESA listing of Puget Sound wild steelhead, it was generally acknowledged by NMFS that the most robust large basin population in the region was in the Skagit; in fact on its own it probably would not have been listed. After reviewing the evidence, it is our belief that a well managed, catch-and-release (C&R) season on the Skagit would not be inconsistent with the recovery of its wild winter steelhead.
• This will require a petition from WDFW to NMFS for a permit that establishes basin specific allowable impacts (as is currently being done with Puget Sound Chinook).
Who is Occupy Skagit?
• You are. If two people do it, no one will notice. If two hundred people do it, we hope to garner some attention. Sometimes you have to dump a little tea in the harbor to get noticed.

I've been fortunate enough to fish the Skagit a handful of times, but have yet to land a steelhead. Those trips were some of my best fishing trips ever, with great friends. This historic river needs all the support it can get. Even if you can't make the April 6th "wade in", please take a moment to join the Occupy Skagit Facebook page here.