Saturday, November 27, 2010

Karma caught up with Me and Bit Me on the Butt

Well, the weather is good but I'm staying in and tying steelhead flies. Trying to stay away from the weeks of back-logged grading I have to do and it is never pleasant on the water when hours of grading has to be done. It has been a nice Thanksgiving but one with an upset stomach and I guess it is karma catching up with me.

First off, I built a dubbing brush machine using the plans from and it works great. However, rather than making a "beat up old one" I bought maple and purple heart for the wooden parts of the machine. It works great, but after adding up the costs I would have been better off spending the money to purchase the commercial spinning dub machine because I spent 50% of that cost and made something that is less than 10% as good (can't get the right size channel). Since I finished the machine on Thanksgiving day I understand part of my stomach ache is more than just the normal Thanksgiving feast.

So, it is Saturday night, I'm just farting around tying up some flies and enjoying the heater and the television, when I opened up an email account that I don't normally use (and the one attached to this blog) and was shocked to get a note from Don Ordes. He was cordial and polite. I was shocked that my mindless ranting in an earlier post was read by anyone other than my one subscriber (Thanks Gini). I reread my post and realized that although I was trying to make a case for the "old ways", or what I hoped they were, I actually was criticizing another human being, and not some mindless corporation (although people are now considered corporations, it isn't the same).

Don was nice enough to post a reply on this blog and I recommend that you read it. As this is a two-posts-a-month blog I hadn't read his post until tonight. Yes, I didn't do my research. Yes, I was railing "against the man" and the fact that the world was not working for me the way I thought it should. However, picking on an individual trying to make a living in the world, without ever corresponding with or researching in detail was wrong. I thought I was picking on a corporation, forgetting that it was a one person corporation, and a human being that deserves the same respect that I demand from others.

I should have known that something was karmicly about to bite me in the butt when a day or two after the original post I asked the best tyer and fisherman on the north coast (in my opinion) who also (he and Don, not me) makes a living through fly fishing. I asked if he knew of the technique and he said yes, and told me nice things about it. When I told him that I couldn't find any information about it online except through a video, my local guru stated "more power to him." At that point I realized that I was off base and thought "crap, I can't take back my ranting".

In my younger days I would try to come up with some excuse to explain my actions. Fortunatly, I've grown up. I screwed up. I owe Don Ordes an apology and this is my public apology for posting against his right to distribute his technique in any manner that he sees fit. In fact, he does give it away for free as he freely allows others to teach his technique and has demonstrated it for years. The fact that he gave his first two CD's away for free to all really makes me an blank-head and a dumb-butt. I also apologize for implying that the information on his CD is not worth the price. With a little more research I found several public postings from commercial tyers who are discovering new and better ways to use the technique, as the technique is not static but is evolving. I'm sure I can write several more paragraphs about my stupidity. Okay, I was an ass. I can only hope that my actions fall into the old "act like a donkey once: Okay; do it again and you are a donkey" (please insert "ass" for "donkey").

Don Ordes, I screwed up and was wrong to print my post. Opinions are fine and expressing them are fine, but unresearched accusations are not (I thought they were opinions, but in re-reading I see my former words as accusatory). I did not mean to make it personal, just a rant -- and it came out as a personal attack on you. Please accept my apology for not doing the minimum of research for I would have come up with a much different conclusion -- a positive one. You have contributed good karma to the flyfishing community for almost a decade and nobody ever has yelled at authors for writing fly tying books after showing their techniques at shows , so why should the modern equivalent of CD be a different situation. It isn't.

BTW: I am not receiving any endorsements or products for this post and have not received anything from Don Ordes except a cordial personal email and his blog comment to the post.

As I like to say, I may be wrong. Well, in this case, I was wrong. It has led to embarassment and a stomach ache. Embarassment and stomache aches do go away. I just have to keep my stupidity away because that seems to hang on for a long time.

I can see a lot of wind blown flies heading for my face until I earn back my karma. I'll make sure that I wear eye protection at all times when on the water, and take some pepto for the stomach. I hope that I'll someday meet Don in person and wish him well.

Good luck all,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Attack of the brass beads

There are times when some people think way outside the box. The latest in fly tying is Dean Myers from Pennsylvania who came up the his "Chain Gang Stonefly". I found out about this great fly from Singlebarbed (, a blogger / ex-commercial tier / exalted brownliner who is a member of the Fly Fishing Underground Writer's Network. Someday this writer may become a member but a lot more thought and insight will have to be developed before my prose can be linked to theirs. However, I have been hearing things about a "great article" written about my girls tennis team. I finally looked it up online and thought, "wow", all the great jewels I sent to the journalist were used in the article and none were quoted .. just as if she came up with them herself. Oh well, I guess there is good karma in helping someone else make a buck.

Back to the Chain Gang Stonefly. I'm looking for a steelhead fly that I can tie quickly, will get to the bottom FAST, and still look something like what a steelhead would eat. I also want a fly, quick to tie, that I can use in the deep flowing water of Lewistion Lake during the hot afternoons. My fish finder has shown a LOT of fish, on the bottom, in the deeper channels (15 - 25 feet) during the heat of the day. I want a fly that will get down fast and look like a good meal to a 2-pound or larger trout. And the final point: I am lazy -- I don't want to tie in a tail and a bunch of biots and make the fly look like a "real" insect -- I want a fly that I can tie in less than two minutes and looks like something, or many possible things, htat a fish might eat.

Thus, the Depth Charge (or better yet, the DC Chain Gang to credit Dean Myers for coming up with the idea of a bead chain for a body). Nothing but 6 beads of 1/8 inch black bead chain on a size 8 Dai-Riki 075 (TMC 3796) hook, with black marabou and Black Arizona Simi Seal for a head. On the advice of Mike at the Eureka Fly Shop (our local fly shop -- support your local fly shops!!!) I'm keeping the long marabou for the lake version and a much shorter, clipped marabou "wing case" for steelhead. I'm hoping to get over the mountain this weekend and give the fly a try, both on the Trinity River for steelhead and on Lewiston Lake. I can only hope.

Take care all,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter Time -- time to tie

Well, just two more weeks in the girls tennis season and then I can get back into exercising. I'm sure I have put on 10 to 20 lbs in the past 3 months -- no exercise coaching 16 girls -- too much like teaching a class and never get a chance to hit or run. However, one would be a fool to give up a chance to work with really great young people, both as a coach and as a teacher. It keeps one young.

I have been setting up my tying bench and training my cats where they can sit on the bench and still get rubs without running into hooks or getting into my way. Either that or they have trained me to set my materials up where they want them so they can get rubs and lean their chins on the edges of my portable tying stand. Regardless of who is doing the training, it is a good time for all.

My plan is to tie 100 flies of 12 different patterns, in one specific size each, to create two "killer packs" of flies to be used on Lewiston Lake. Craig at the marina has been on me to create packs of flies that have been successful for me and to sell them at the store. I'll also need dozens that can be bought individually when one pattern becomes HOT. I figure if I tie 100 flies of each pattern, I can find 50 that are of commercial value leaving 50 "crappy ones" for me to use lol.

The six flies that I will be putting into my "stripping flies killer pack" are:

1. Blackberry Mohair Leech (size 10 4x long)
2. Black Peacock Simi Seal Leech with flashabou ribbing (size 10 4x long)
3. Sheep Creek Special (size 14 1x long)
4. Arizona Peacock Lady (size 14 1x long)
5. Purple and Black wooly bugger (size 12 2x long)
6. Black Beadhead bunny leech (for trolling size 10 4x long)

I have had a lot of success with these 6 flies and certainly know that they will work great on the lake. I'm also including instructions how to use spinning gear to fish these flies appropriately (the plan is -- spinning gear with flies out fishes bait -- fly rod makes fish appear much larger compared to spinning poles -- people become fly fishermen -- I'm not the only fly guy on the water.

Take care,

Friday, September 24, 2010

The California Heritage Challenge

Last summer I only had 5 days of fishing at Lewiston Lake, of ten weeks off of work. My summer was consumed with selling my house and moving into an apartment, tennis practices two days a week, and 10 days of running tennis tournaments. I will not make the same mistake next summer. I plan to hold only 4 weekend tennis tournaments and only 7 or 8 two practice weeks.

As I get older I'm calmer, more compassionate, and looking for challenges to recapture my youth (althoAugh getting into shape to run a half marathon is looking less and less likely). But, I have found the California Heritage Trout Challenge. An angler has to catch and photograph 6 native California trout species from their historical waters (there are 10 possible species to choose from -- the 11th possibility is Endangered and off limits) . When the photographs are accepted by the California Dept of Fish and Game, a beautiful certificate with pictures of the trout species you caught, with your name on it and the locations of where you caught the fish, is presented to you (suitable for framing). I would love to have one of these on my wall -- in fact , two different ones to represent all the 10 possible species. My goal is to catch 6 to all 10 of the species this summer -- the fun is in the planning and the reward is the top of the mountain, or 6 to 10 pictures of wild fish in their native waters.

Wish me luck,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No Pictures, But A Cool Story

Yesterday morning I was in the laboratory waiting for my class to start. A college student entered and stated "this is kind of weird, but I think there is a hawk with a broken wing around the corner". I said "No problem, I've worked with hawks before". We went to the walkway on the West side of the Life Science building at College of the Redwoods and there was a Sharpshinned Hawk sitting on a bench.

I walked up to the bird and it was alive, but pretty stunned. The student said that it looked a whole lot better -- it had it's wings out and fluttering earlier. I picked the hawk up in a manner that it couldn't bite me or claw me. It was pretty calm so I held it like a kitten and pet it's head and held it close to me to warm it up. I surmised that it chased a bird near the building's awning and flew into a window. I hoped that it did not have a broken wing and that I would have to call the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. I held it for about 2 minutes, keeping it warm and petting it like a kitten.

I started to extend the bird's wings to check for damage when the bird "ruffled up it's shoulders". I opened my gentle grip on the bird and it flew away, in front of the student who reported it. I've held owls, red shouldered hawks, and a black shouldered kite when helping biologists band birds, but this was a fantastic first and the bird was magnificent -- beautiful yellow nostrils and legs. It was a rare moment and ended happily

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slow Day, but Cool with Wind

A face that strikes fear in the heart of trout ....... unfortunately, does the same for women and small children.

I spent 7 hours on the lake yesterday. Although it was beautiful with a good, cooling wind, it wasn't a productive day -- but better than not on the water. I landed 3 smaller 12" fish, lost one, and missed 4 strikes. I fished midges mostly, moving around upstream from the Pine Cove island. The evening was beautiful. One guy in a float tube picked up 4 or 5 fish in the area, on squirrel tail leeches. He was able to troll around and pick up fish. I just flailed the water and spooked anything around me lol

However, it was a great day on the water. I'm in better health this summer and spending 7 hours on the boat is no big deal -- lots of water on ice in the cooler and the fish finder gives me pleasure watching the little fishes swim by on the screen. If the fish finder is correct, most of the fish were right on the bottom during the day and about 1/4 of them were half way up the water column in the evening -- seems to make sense.
Well, I'm back home cleaning the apartment, petting the cats, getting my truck fixed (radiator hose leaking), and just enjoying the end of July.

Take care all

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A summer of TENNIS

Well, here it is July 27 and it is only my 5th day at Lewiston since my vacation started on June 4. This has been a summer of tennis. I have been giving 3 hour practices every Thursday and Friday, running tournaments every other weekend, and spent a weekend in San Diego attempting to become a USPTA certified tennis pro (results come in the mail in 3 weeks).
I came up after the 4th of July and fished the evenings between 7 and 9 PM. The first night I caught my largest fish ever (other than a steelhead) -- at least 4 pounds and closer to 5. I saw a fish sip a fly and threw out a blackberry mohair leech and bam -- 5 minutes or more with jumps and spinning my line off the reel. It was longer than my net and I spent 5 minutes reviving it to watch it swim away nicely. That night I had a 2-2-1 (two landed, two lost on the way to the boat, and one missed strike). The next night I found a great spot and the blackberry leech netted 10 fish with 2 lost (when numbers get high I forget about the number of missed grabs). The following night I had a 4-8-? night, with the 8 fish "lost" all larger than two pounds. Most of the fish took to the air and spit out the barbless hook.
Yesterday, the 26th, I finally caught a fish on a midge. About 3:00 there was a hatch on and little surface activity. The fish were hammering a size 18/20 tungsten head zebra midge, 12 feet under a bobber, floating with the current. I ended up with a 4-5-12 -- 4 fish landed including 3 over 3 pounds, 5 fish lost on the way to the net, and 12 strikes missed (hate when they hit and run toward the boat -- can't set the hook. Attached are two pictures, one of the view towards the dam and the beauty of the area, and one "fish porn" shot of the 4-pounder landed yesterday (top to bottom was more than 5 inches -- wider than my palm. Oh yeah, last Sunday was the Pine Cove Fish Derby and they released 500 large fish so everybody is catching big ones. Can't beat the beauty and the beasts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A gorgeous weekend

This past weekend was one of the nicest weather weekends that I can remember. I fished with the Shasta-Trinity flyfishers club during their fishout at Lewiston Lake. I was told the hot fly was the blood worm so I didn't use my old faithful zebra midge. Well, the hot fly was the zebra midge.

I managed to fish 3 sessions: mid-day and evening on Saturday and mid-day on Sunday. On Saturday I hooked 4 fish (1 morning and 3 evening) although it wasn't due to my fishing. The two fish I landed struck when I was reeling in my line to switch rods. However, all the fish caught were large-- 16 inches and larger (picture is my second fish on Saturday). On Sunday I used the indicator / bloodworm combination just above the island at Pine Cove Marina. I had 5 quick hookups with kokanee, but only got one into the net. However, it was a nice fish, about 9 inches (they are small at Lewiston, but fight like half pounders).

I feel refreshed and alive again. The weekend was a good change of pace from work.
Good luck all,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting Organized: A Midge Binder

Lewiston Lake is a midge lake. The fish get large eating small insects. The problem with fishing midges is that there are a lot of variations of colors and sizes that fish will key on. One should (must) have imitations in various sizes, colors, and life stages (at least that is what the Internet articles have stated).

The good news: midge patterns are quick and easy to tie (complicated ones take 2 to three minutes -- uncomplicated ones take about 60 to 90 seconds).

The bad news: they are small and get mixed up in boxes really easily.

The solution: A great idea by Lucas Carroll at I binder made with foam board that can hold thousands of flies -- and inexpensive. Unfortunately, all of my stuff is in storage so I had to buy everything -- and, California is more expensive than New York (well, maybe not).

The Costs:

Binder (new) $4.99
3/8" foam board (20 x 30) 2.99
Super Glue (dollar store) 1.00
Cardboard Cutter 3.49
Poster board (dollar store) .50
Straight Edge (dollar store) 1.00

Subtotal 13.97
CA Tax 1.15

TOTAL $15.12

AND: any future binders will be cheaper (less the cardboard cutter and straight edge)

NOW---just have to tie and tie and tie.

Take care,

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm Back

Hello to my one subscriber and anyone else who finds this site. I spent the summer of 2009 fishing Lewiston Lake a couple of evenings a week. I have discovered some of it's secrets and am tying flies like mad to get ready for the upcoming summer. I had a blast in the evenings and released 2 to 15 fish each night (3 hours fishing)

To summarize my new found knowledge: there are large fish in Lewiston Lake -- they feed on midges -- evenings are cool and the fish are active -- instead of matching the hatch when fish are sipping under the surface, stripping a blackberry leech pattern yields great results (one leech = 10,000 midges??).

I have been preparing for the summer and have found some great ideas on the web. Pictures are on their way.

I did fish one day this year already, in mid-March. The midges were hatching but the fish weren't hitting them. In the evening one fish was actively sipping just under the surface. I stripped a sparkle chenille bead head wooly bugger over it's area and it smashed it. It was a beautiful, colorful fish, 16 to 18 inches long, sadly, with many leech marks. I didn't have my net and trying to release it my line broke with the hook still in the mouth of the fish (aarrgghh -- supposedly they hooks fall out in a couple of days).

I look forward to keeping a web journal of my experiences and the fishing on Lewiston Lake -- and starting this summer, in the lakes found in the Trinity Alps. Nothing like a little hiking to get one in shape (and it is cooler in the mountains!!!).

Take Care,