Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gear Review - Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack

When I first started guiding in Alaska, your whole life had to be waterproof. That's why I spent so much money on Gore Tex, and anything Simms that kept my gear dry. It would rain 100 out of 120 days each summer. I was beyond pleases with the performance of my Simms Dry Creek Roll Top hip pack, but like all good things, it came to an end. When I went to buy another one, the only waterproof packs on the market were a Simms Dry Creek hip pack, with a water resistant zipper, that I would hardy call waterproof. Then there was the Patagonia Stormfront waist pack, that had a crazy hard zipper to open and close, and if you didn't get it sealed all the way, it would fill with water. It was, 100% waterproof, however with a price tag of over $200, that wasn't going to happen.

Well all my complaining is now over, Umpqua of all companies has come out with a bomber waterproof waist pack. Simms has since came out with a new roll top as well, but I think this one blows it out of the water. This bag has been thought out very well. It has many features that just amaze me every time I use it. This pack has a 100% waterproof main compartment that is a roll top. I have filled it with air and sat on it, as well as held it under water for about 1 minute, that's how waterproof it is. Then something that I would have never expected from a waterproof pack, is the front compartment pocket. Now, this pocket is only water resistant because the zipper is not 100% waterproof, but none the less a great addition to the design. It is separated and compartmentalized just like any other hip pack. Then on the outside there are plenty of awesome features as well, attachment points for zingers, tippet pockets, water bottle holders, and a fly rod holder pocket on each side of the hip straps. The one other thing I love about this pack, is that you can stand with the bottom of it in the water, and not worry about opening the pack to see your fly boxes floating in a pool of water, like some other "waterproof" packs Ive fished with in the past. So far the only con I have found with this pack, is that the Whole pack is not 100% waterproof, the front pocket can still get water in it if you go swimming or wade too deep. This is of course not due to the material the pack is made out of, but only the none waterproof zipper. After many days on the water with this pack, I can honestly say, that it is my new favorite pack to fish. We can special order these packs now, but will have them in the store for purchase this spring. I am super pumped about this new offering from Umpqua. Stop in and you can check mine out!!!

Happy New Years!!!

Front of the pack has a nice tool caddy as well as a zinger attachment point.
This is the inside 100% waterproof pocket.
Just another picture with more stuff in the pocket so you can see the volume of this pack.
This is the front compartmentalized pocket. Makes it easy to stay organized on the water.
A little snow, sleet, and rain, kept everything dry all day!
Another shot of the pack in action!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last Fishing Trip of 2014

Over the Holiday I was able to get out for two half day trips while I was in NY. The first day was a high water float down a river I fished way back when, that is full of smallmouth, Pike, Pickerel, and Walleye. The river was flowing at just under 5000 cfs, normal is about 900, but instead of sitting inside and eating cookies as the girls baked them, we decided to get out anyway. No fish were landed or even seen for that matter. But it was a good time with my dad and brother in law.
The boat launch sign 4 feet under water

The next morning I was able to get away for another half day, to run down and fish the Salmon River with Joey. We fished the DSR, with all the dying fish up river, we decided that our best chance to get into fish, would be down river. We were right, after crossing the river at nearly 2000 cfs, we fished for a while and didn't get anything, so we crossed back over and headed down river. We found some nice healthy fish, One got away before the picture, but we managed to land 4 that morning. Joey fished with some of his old crew from Whitaker's the rest of the day, getting into fish most of the afternoon. He stayed up for two more days, and the fishing continued to be productive. He was fishing by himself the last day, and only had his gopro on, so forgive a couple of the pics for being blurry.

Photo by Joey McGinley - Salmon River Chrome

One another note, word has been coming to be regarding my last salmon river post, but the NY DEC think they have the cause of death figured out. Words from a friend and Client:

"I just received the December 26, 2014 issue of "New York Outdoor News" and right on the front page is an article entitled, " Steelhead Die-offs may be Linked to Alewives".  Seems NY DEC has sent some of the dead Steelhead to Cornell University's Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory for testing, which have so far been inconclusive.  NY DEC Biologists at this point are leaning towards a Vitamin B deficiency in the Steelhead as the source of the die-offs.  Seems the Biologists have seen this deficiency in Alewives which is a main food source for Lake Ontario's Salmon and Steelhead.  Also, the article said the DEC Fish Hatchery is having "water-related" issues.  It'll be interesting to see if the two issues are so way inter-connected.  When it rains, it pours!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hooks for all you Predator Hunters

We got some new hooks by Partridge in this past week. The first one is the Sea Beast, it just sounds big and ridiculous, and it is. This hook comes in sizes 2/0 - 10/0, you would have to come check out the sizes in the shop, they are much bigger than your average sized hook. The second hook is a short shank heavy wire hook, the Attitude Extra. This hook is a much more reasonable hook, but still perfect for all your predator needs. The last of the three is not new, but is still a note worthy hook, the Predator X, we have limited sizes of this one, but it is still one of my favorite hooks out there.

Attitude Extra is an awesome Musky Hook
Sea Beast, is a great Musky Fly Hook
Musky Flies tied with Sea Beasts and Attitude Extras

Patagonia Themed Muksy Fly with Sea Beast Hooks

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Fly - Rough Fishers Serendipitous Midge

As shown in my last post, this is one of my top 10 midges to fish in the winter. It is a very flashy and loud fly, so low clear water is not the best time to use it. However a little high and off color water, this little guys kills it. 

Hook: TMC 2457 sz. 18-24
Bead: Tungsten Bomb Bead - Silver 
Thread: UNI Thread 8/0 - Blue 
Rib: Ultra Wire - Small - Blue 
Body: Mirage Tinsel - Med 
Wing: Ice Dub - Golden Brown 
Collar: Ice Bud - Black 

Step 1: Make a small thread base right behind the bead.

Step 2: Tie in the Ultra Wire and the Tinsel.

Step 3: Make a thread base, tying the material back to below the hook bend.

Step 4: Tightly wrap the tinsel forward, making a nice body.

Step 5: Wrap the Ultra Wire forward, forming a nice rib.

Step 6: Center tie a clump of Ice Dub right behind the bead.

Step 7: Wrap over the ice dub, making it fold back over the fly.

Step 8: Trim the ice dub.

 Step 9: Make a small collar with the black ice dub.

Step 10: Whip finish and cut off.

Finished Fly:


Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Trout Fishing - Top 10 Midges

Midge, a fly that we all use, pretty much year round. If you live near a tailwater, I can bet you have an entire box dedicated to just midges. In this post I just want to share with everyone, my top 10 midge patterns for the Tully, along with just about any other fishery that has a healthy midge population. About a moth ago I took my Tully box apart and separated all the midges, dedicating one whole box to just midges, I have been filling it with every bit of free time I get. When the caddis stop flying and the air temps drop, you can bet that the fish start keying in on microscopic midge larva, and tiny flies floating down on the surface.

The number one midge should be no surprise, its the Zebra Midge, it is a fly that can mimic just about any midge larva out there. Just change the size and color and you are good to go.

The DP Midge has to be my number two favorite winter midge pattern. It has fooled plenty of fish on all the spring creeks around the area.

This one is a very simple variation of a zebra midge, with a glass bead on the top, making it look like an emerger. This is a great one for the dead of the winter.

The red Mercury Midge is an awesome Tully pattern, I think it works better in the early spring, but has always produced fish when paired up with any other midge pattern. 

The Purple Poison Tung is probably my most fished winter time midge, its just a little out there and off the beaten path. 

Zebra midge emerger, this guy has a puff of tan Antron coming off the back, this is a great fly for picky fish, in the winter.

The Fingerling Midge is a little on the flashy side, and works very well in cloudy water. The little bit of flash gives is a glimmer in the water.

Miracle midge, is a great little pattern then there are lots of small tan midges on the water.

The Desert Storm midge is just a bright and fun fly to fish.

Rough Fishers Serendipitous Midge. This one is a great dead of winter flashy fly. I normally use this one as my point fly, and a smaller basic midge off the back of it. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Salmon River - Might be in Trouble

Well the past few trips on the Salmon River have been very tough. Most fisherman and guides that I have talked to said the same thing, one or no fish. A few guides that fished egg sacks and soft plastics reported that they are getting into a couple fish, but all in all its been very slow. So there will not be any fish pictures in this post, only fishing and hot lunch photos.

The main reason that I am writing this post however, is to spread the word about the dying steelhead in the river. Yes dying fish have been floating upside down, and gasping for air. When anglers first started seeing these fish, it was just thought that some jerk upstream had released the fish without reviving it, many people have tried to revive them and some actually swim away. However, later down the river they flip back over and continue to suffer as they die, and end up in the back eddies with the salmon skeletons. This past weekend two DEC boats with biologist in them were floating the river collecting fish for testing. No one know exactly what is going on, but please keep your eyes open for these dying fish, as much as you might want to revive them, I would just let them go by. Hopefully I will have more information for you soon. In the mean time keep fishing, and enjoy the winter weather!!!