Posting motivation

Lately the motivation to update my blog has been severely lacking. Struggling to figure out why has led me to a few conclusions:

  1. I've been reading too many other blogs, and now I'm confused about the direction I want mine to take. Do I post endless photos of sunsets and grinning anglers with fish or how about flies and materials or maybe industry news and funny pics or fishing reports or shameless business and personal promotion or how about gear reviews or perhaps articles on technique or maybe profiling other anglers or yada yada yada....
  2. Time. I lack it. 
  3. #2 leads to #3, not enough fishing.
  4. Balance. I often wonder if the struggle to find balance in life, between work and play, relationships and personal time, will be an eternal one.
  5. I can be somewhat self concious at times.
  6. Obligation. I want to want to do this, and I started feeling like it was something I had to do. All in my own head, no outside pressure, but there just the same.
  7. I hate competition, and with the explosion of female talent in the fishing world I feel or anticipate comparisons where perhaps there shouldn't be. i.e. I don't want my blog to be compared to Kate's or Hannah's, or have to say for the five hundredth time that I'm not April Vokey's partner and that I'm not a part of Flygal.
  8. I'm burning out. Not of fishing. But of working in the industry, of being a part of this twisted fishing world. I sometimes think that some of my most amazing times out fishing were before I started working in the shop, before all my friends were anglers, when I knew jack shit about tackle and barely more about what I was really doing out there. When I had no expectations of myself. When I wasn't a part of Facebook and didn't know about forums and Youtube and didn't get phone calls daily ("who's catching fish, on which rock were they standing and how far did they cast what line with which fly and when did they mend and strip and can you drive me to that run and show me how to do it so I don't have to thing about it and then I can go back to my computer and post about it like I'm the expert now?") that make me want to weep.

After all that my final conclusion is that maybe I shouldn't care about anything but myself, not care about the image I portray and just do whatever the hell I want to with this. While I am a "professional" in this industry, my blog is for me first and foremost. I'm not trying to sell anything or convert anyone or promote myself... This is my space, my place, my outlet. You are invited to have a peek at it, and if you don't like it feel free to move on.

And yes, I am in one of those moods.


A Compliment...


It's one thing to have my fly profiled on a two page spread in Fly Fusion...

And it's another to have someone tatoo that fly on their body.

Thanks Dave, I'm flattered beyond words.


Too Little, Too Late?

From the front page of the Vancouver Sun:

"Wild salmon advocates expressed relief Thursday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the federal government will stage a judicial inquiry into the collapse of sockeye salmon runs on the Fraser River.

Details will be announced Friday in Vancouver by Stockwell Day, federal Trade Minister and regional minister for British Columbia.

Day is expected to name a judge to head the inquiry and to announce terms of reference. The inquiry will have the legal power to compel witnesses to testify — meaning that federal scientists will have the freedom to discuss their concerns about sockeye without fear of repercussion.

Sockeye runs spawning in the Fraser drainage have been in a two-decade decline after years of spectacular abundance in the 1980s, and hit a 50-year low in summer 2009.

That has prompted concerns, as detailed in a recent book by B.C. author Alex Rose, that sockeye are heading for a population failure on the scale of the collapse of Atlantic cod.

In his book, Who Killed the Grand Banks, Rose suggests that sockeye are beset by the same conflicting political agendas that enabled East Coast fishermen to push cod to the brink of extinction.

“Mr. Harper deserves credit for this decision. It’s long overdue,” Rose said in an interview. “After seeing the denial and obfuscation of DFO and its regime on the East Coast with the collapse of the Grand Banks cod, I’m convinced that we need to get these people on the stand and under oath.”

Documents show that while the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was officially predicting strong sockeye returns and a commercial fishing opportunity for Fraser sockeye in 2009, others at DFO were warning of a probable collapse based on grim results in ocean test fishing programs dating back to 2007.

B.C. New Democrat and Liberal MPs, first nations, commercial and sport fishing groups, conservation groups and local governments have all been calling on the government for action but until Harper’s announcement there was no evidence that the Tories intended to respond.

The reason for the decline remains a mystery, although poor marine survival rates among juvenile salmon migrating into the ocean for the first time appear to be the principal culprit.

Climate change effecting ocean temperature, declining ocean salinity, dwindling food resources and health threats from fish farms along salmon migration routes have been suggested as possible explanations — but the official position of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is that no specific cause is known.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, secretary treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, called Harper’s announcement “excellent news.”

“I think it’s crucial that they release a complete understanding of what happened with the sockeye collapse here on the West Coast,” Chamberlin said.

He wants the inquiry to look at potential for sea lice infestations and disease transfer from salmon farms to juvenile wild salmon.

“I would urge the Prime Minister to make the necessary resources available for intervenors to participate — if not, you’ll have well-resourced industries like fish farms participate and put their spin on things, and other people who could inform the whole process will be excluded.”

Craig Orr, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, wants the inquiry to look at the “disconnect” between DFO researchers who warned in 2007 of the pending collapse based on an absence of juvenile 2009-class Fraser sockeye in ocean test fishing, and DFO’s “rosy” pre-season forecasts for the 2009 sockeye Fraser return.

“An inquiry should allow them to compel testimony from the managers and the scientists, which is good,” Orr said.

Commercial gillnetter and troller Rick Burns, who abandoned the Fraser in favour of fishing the north B.C. coast four years ago, said he’s “all for” the inquiry and said it needs to be a “far ranging inquiry because there are so many factors that affect salmon.”

Phil Eidsvik, spokesman for the BC Fisheries Survival Coalition, said the inquiry is “great news for B.C. salmon.

“I couldn’t be more pleased – we have been asking for a full judicial inquiry into the management of Fraser salmon since 1992,” Eidsvik said.

“Harper has shown that he understands how important salmon is to B.C. and is putting his government under a microscope to ensure that B.C. salmon don’t go the way of Atlantic cod.”


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun"


When we can laugh at ourselves....

While I'm not a forum junkie I do occasionally read the local sites to get an idea of what's happening around the lower mainland. I stumbled across this thread on FlyBC last week and thought these were worth sharing.

Confrontation on the River

Fly vs Spey


Why do you love to fly fish?

I was asked a question the other day by a long time customer: "Why do you love to fly fish?". When he wouldn't accept any of my usual easy answers, I had to stop and think. Sure, there are plenty of reasons I love to fly fish. There are many things I absolutely love about fly fishing. But is there a simple, bare bones answer to that question? Is it like figuring out the definition of  a tailing loop - "the rod tip is travelling under the straight line path" as opposed to all the long winded causes and examples of a tailing loop? Is there a definable reason as to why? I'm not sure, because I haven't been able to find one that truly satisfies me. The closest I came that day with my customer was this: that in the act of fly fishing I feel I have surpassed the stage of being an observer of nature and have become a participant. That fly fishing has given me a connection to this earth and the "circle of life" that I have not found anywhere else. But that is only one reason.

Maybe the answer is different for everyone. For some people it may be much too complex for a short and sweet answer. There must be reasons why we choose to risk frostbite and hypothermia fishing and camping in the winter months, in snow and sleet and hail and hurricane winds or endure penetrating heat and salty winds on the flats. Why we chug gut-eating energy drinks to drive straight to our destination, whether its an hour or twenty away or face jetlag and fly halfway around the world. Sore muscles, fishless days, leaky waders, hooks in various body parts, chapped hands, the risk of drowning, being stranded, and on and on it goes. Is it the element of risk, the brutal punishment we sometimes put ourselves through that makes the reward so sweet and makes our bodies and minds feel more alive? Is it the escape from our day to day lives and the pressures and responsibilities that go along with it? Is it the chance to be alone or the chance to be with friends? Every day on the water is different, every trip out an opportunity to learn and grow and experience more. There's satisfaction in the grab, in catching fish on our own flies, in mastering new techniques and becoming comfortable with new gear. There's contenment with the familiar and excitement with the new. I could go on forever.

My life revolves around fishing, so maybe my best answer is I just plain love it, the bad and the good. Do I need to elaborate?

Why do you love to fly fish?



After seriously neglecting my blog for the past month, its time for an update. I still have not had a chance to finish up my report on Russia, but here are some firsts and personal bests from the last little while.

My first Atlantics.

My first browns.

My first sea trout.

My first Pike.

My first fly rod sturgeon.

And my biggest sturgeon yet - 8'8".


Wading Attire.

In celebration of my amazing friends, Dave and Sarah, and their wedding, I thought I would share a couple of their wedding photos.


Where can I find good Russian vodka in Canada?

So I'm back from one of the most amazing weeks of my life. Full report is pending, but for now I will say that fishing on the Rynda was tough but rewarding, food and lodging were outstanding, scenery was breathtaking and the company was fun and entertaining. I'm going to have to go back next year. Anyone interested in joining me?

Here is the report from the camp: Life at Rynda.


It's Getting Hot in Here (actually, out there!)


We are in the middle of a heat wave. Temperature records are being smashed all over the province, and the forecast is for crazy hot weather for the next week and beyond. If there is one true statement I can make about residents in BC's lower mainland (Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley) its that we are never satisfied with the weather. Ever. In the winter we bitch about the rain and cold. This year we bitched about the snow and ice and the lack of rain. In the summer we bitch about the heat. This year we say that its been the best spring/summer ever but omigod its too f-ing hot! It's always either too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, to snowy, too humid, too dry... too something. Right now its approaching 35 C for daytime highs, feeling like almost 40 C with the humidity, and my brain feels like its been boiled into mush. But hey its sunny and beautiful, so I'll try not to bitch too much.

Now if I were a sockeye, I'd have real reason for complaint. Fraser River water temperatures are hovering around 20 C right now, and are predicted to rise to close to 22 C by Aug. 5th. Which means that the risk of mortality for the migrating sockeye is huge. Astronomical, even, given that the water is only going to continue to heat up. And not only that, but early season numbers of returning fish have fallen well below the estimates, causing the Pacific Salmon Commission to cut their pre-season estimates. For example, the Fraser's earliest run of sockeye is the Stuart Run. Pre-season projections put the run at approximately 165,000 fish. This number has decreased four times in the last month, to around 85,000 returning Stuart fish. That's a 48% drop. Early summer run sockeye numbers were projected pre-season to be 739,000 fish, and that number has dropped an astounding 64% to fall to 264,000 fish. Needless to say, due to unfavourable conditions and low returns, all commercial and recreational fishing opportunities for sockeye are non-existent. At this time, the First Nations will be allowed to fish, although even they will probably have to reduce their catch.

Maybe the fish are late, but things are certainly not working in their favour right now. This does not bode well for what is supposed to be a big-cycle year for sockeye, with around 10 million fish projected to return to the Fraser and its tributaries in the 2009 season. Last years numbers were at about 1.7 million sockeye for the season, well below the yearly average of 4.4 million.

I'm not going to start posturing about what we need to do for our declining runs, or give you un educated theories on the reasons for the decline. I'll just leave you with the numbers, and the hope that this season isn't a horrendous disaster.

Now off to continue the slow bake in this inescapable heat.

And PS: I received my tourist visa for Russia - its official! Two weeks less 7 hours before my plane departs, and holy crap do I ever need to tie flies!!!!!!! Donations will be gratefully accepted!


Hello Hopper!


*fly tied by Jake Goranson*


Of Cowboys and Rattlesnakes.

Okay, so the title is somewhat misleading - I saw neither cowboys nor rattlesnakes, but I did see a cowboy hat and eight bull snakes, and the sagebrush, cactus, dust and searing heat definitely confirmed that this was desert country.

We arrived Saturday afternoon to set up camp in a raging wind storm, with dust blowing sideways and filling every corner and crevice of our wall tent, even after it was set up and pegged down. A guick casting session on the water out from camp confirmed to me that yes indeed, the wind was blowing in gale force gusts in a distinct upstream yet sometimes swirling direction. Great. Eating dinner was interesting, for if one's plate wasn't directly in front of one's body then those black flecks weren't pepper. And a mouthful of sand just doesn't do justice to that delicious potato salad. After two beer, a cup of juice and two plates of tortellini were ruthlessly wasted by Mother Nature, we sat around the campfire (which we couldn't light due to the almost guarenteed resulting wild fire) we crawled into bed feeling the tent pulse with gusts and feeling the air mattress rapidly flatten. Apparently we had a leak.

The next day was calm and beautiful, and after a lazy start to the morning my girl Sarah and I hiked upstream to start the day. After hooking nothing the day before, I had reluctantly tied on a nymph and indicator. Reaching the rivers edge, I spotted a small back eddy and nearly drooled. Off came the indicator and on went the dry. Cast, drift, strip, cast again, drift, RISE! Hooking fish consistently for the next few hours, we wandered downstream back towards camp, lost in the swirling eddies and bubbling riffles while delicately balancing on precariously perched rocks.

There's just something about those hot summer days, when the wind is warm and time is meaningless, when the rest of the world disappears and nothing else exists but your rod, line, fly and the river, and all you hear is the rush of water and your heartbeat. The sounds of trains and jetboats barely register and a boat can drift almost all the way past before being noticed. The only reason you notice the midges, caddis and stoneflies crawling up your shorts and arms is because you're trying to imitate them, and you're pretty sure you were more startled than that snake was when you hopped onto the rock it was under. Rarely do I find that rhythm for a few hours at a time, but in the summer this incredible river always provides me that escape.
Four days of fish, blazing sunshine, stars and campfires, good food, good drinks and great laughs with friends, lazy mornings and long mid afternoon swims, and one emergency cactus removal from a dog: summertime at its best.

Sarah, rocking the cowboy hat and jean skirt.


And the winner is...

FoulHooked, because at least he had the right country!

I wish I could say I was going to all of the fantastic destinations that people suggested; Iceland, Florida, Kamchatka, New Zealand... Maybe one day I will have the privilege of fishing them all, but for now I will be (providing I get my visa) headed off next month to fish the Rynda River with the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. Atlantic Salmon, brown trout and char are all on the agenda. More details to follow, but for now, check out their website here.


Counting down to August...

What do you do when you're offered the trip of a lifetime for a price you can (almost) afford with barely a month a plan it?

Jump on it!

Flights are booked, trip is paid for, now just waiting for the paperwork I need to apply for my visa.

Where am I going? Well, lets see who can guess the destination.

I'll tie up an intruder and send it to the first person who can figure out where I'm headed.


More Pitt.

A good start to the day.

Hot springs on right, the river dropped 3-4 feet since last time.

The ride down river...

And some big ass bulls.


Just One Little Question....

So where is your heaven on earth?

After Mexico in February, I was pretty sure that if my heaven wasn’t there, it was at least somewhere tropical, with warm ocean breezes and cold drinks and awe inspiring fish.

Maybe that’s my paradise, but I don’t think its heaven. Heaven is closer to home, and every time I leave it a piece of me stays behind.

The Upper Pitt River is a hidden gem within an hour of the sprawling metropolis of Vancouver. Accessible only by chopper ($$$$!!!!) or boat, the river is unpopulated and unspoiled. Glacier fed, it begins in the Garibaldi Range and flows south into Pitt Lake, one of two tidally influenced freshwater lakes in the world. The Lower Pitt River, wide, and turbid flows into the Fraser River about 40km from the ocean. While logging has occurred in the lower valley for over a century, the upper elevations of the Upper Pitt River Valley are protected within three provincial parks - Pinecone-Burke, Garibaldi and Golden Ears on the west, north and east, respectively.

Situated in the heart of Katzie First Nation territory, the Upper Pitt Valley is remarkably rich in its wild salmon and wilderness-dependent species. It supports the largest remaining wild coho population in the lower Fraser and has a unique race of sockeye that take up to 6 years to mature. It provides valuable habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon plus steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and the largest population of bull trout remaining in the lower mainland. The Upper Pitt River Valley attracts grizzly bears, black bears, deer, wolves, marbled murrelets, wolverine and mountain goats. Because of its remoteness and habitat values, the Upper Pitt Valley was selected for re-introduction of elk in 2004. The elk are now thriving.

After the river freshets, usually in May, the sea-run bull trout start returning to its glacial waters. Healthy, fat and chrome, these are not your typical bull trout. The bigger fish enter the river first, and they take hard and fight hard. While averaging a few pounds, fish up to 10 or more pounds are not uncommon. Incredibly aggressive, we fish giant streamer patterns up to 7 inches for them. As the summer progresses, the Chinook and sockeye start their runs. You are not allowed to target the Chinook, but every once in a while you get an incidental catch on your bull trout patterns. The sockeye are some of the largest of their species, and will actually eat flies. Once late September rolls around the coho return and as the river is typically extremely low and clear there are usually sight fishing opportunities for them. Over the winter resident trout populations provide great opportunities, and a small run of winter steelhead return in March – April.

Besides the fishing, there are numerous other reasons to visit the Pitt. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, with snow capped mountains, blue-green waters and lush forests surrounding you. You very often see wildlife, especially bears during late summer and fall as the salmon are spawning. About 25 km up the river lays the second canyon on the Pitt. Nestled in its rock walls are two small pools, fed with bubbling hot spring water that flows out of the rock face. You can literally drop your hand over the edge of the pool and into the river itself.

The best way to experience the Pitt is by jet boat. The river is runnable by only the most experienced drivers, as it is filled with braids, log jams and gravel bars, and changes with every high water event. Every year boats are beached and sunk, and injuries and even deaths occur. I’m not trying to scare people into not going, but the dangers are a reality that many people take too lightly. With a competent and capable guide, you can be assured of a safe and incredibly thrilling ride.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, is my heaven on earth. Where I can breathe clean, fresh air and feel the wind in my hair. Where I can cast my little spey rod with my own flies to some of the most beautiful fish ever. Where I can soak my sore muscles in a steaming hot spring, listening to the rush of the river. Where I feel the excitement and adrenaline rush (as a passenger) as the boat takes hair pin turns and slides over gravel in inches of water. Where the scenery is familiar evergreen forests and rugged mountain peaks, and the glacial tint to the water fascinates me every time.

Where I feel at home.