Salmo-thon 2014

cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw-1 In between spates of rain and amongst the throngs of anglers, salmon fishing has been excellent at times.  Chinook action has been the mainstay of late.  Although it is a maddeningly volatile fishery, the payoff is always worth the effort and flexibility required to be there when the elements align.

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IMG_1868RobBDayKing2IMG_1878IMG_1894ENChromer2014Meanwhile on many nearby drainages, we have enjoyed a bumper crop of returning cohos.  And while catching them has been awesome at times, the sheer numbers of fish have been amazing.  In the upper reaches of some streams, salmon have been so thick, you could literally pet them.IMG_1776IMG_1798 - Version 2Each year, the Fall return of salmon to Oregon’s coastal rivers is an event worth celebrating.  It reminds us that the natural world is still in order. Embodied in these creatures, the Pacific Ocean still reaches deep into the crags of rainwashed valleys in the heart of the coastal mountains.IMG_1826 - Version 2Fish On!

Fall Steelhead Wrap-up

IMG_1517Another fantastic October of steelhead fishing has come to a close here in the Valley and east of the Cascades.  Fishing was solid throughout. In between steelhead adventures, the trout fishing was also productive, with lots of big fall redsides finding the bottom of the net. As we transition into winter salmon and steelhead, please enjoy these highlights of the fall season:

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Mongolia Fall 2014 Taimen Fishing Report

Photo 1Another season in  Sweetwater Travel Company’s Mongolian Taimen Camps is in the books.  After last season’s high water and tougher fishing, this year the taimen population on the Eg river proved to be healthy and resilient.  With perfect river conditions and stable weather, the 2014 Fall season reminded us why this truly is the world’s best taimen fly fishery.

Photo 2Week 1:  Arrival

This season, I was joined in the lower camp by Oregon homey and second-year taimen guide, Matt Carter, South African Seychelles veteran, James (Jame-o) Topham, Big Fish Bayaraa, and Ganzorig.  Matt, Jame-o, Bayaraa, and I decided to take Bayaraa’s jeep for the 13-hour drive out to camp from Ulaan Baatar.

Photo 3Along the way, Bayaraa shared his local knowledge of safe potable water sources.

Photo 4Once into the countryside, we climbed into the mountains and bounced our way over several increasingly “rural” passes.

Photo 5Which is not to say that there wasn’t any traffic.

Photo 6As we finally rolled into camp, the boys shook off the long drive by flexing their tenkara rods (newly acquired from the “black market” in U.B.) in front of camp.  It was great to see that the river was in prime shape and that the grayling and lenok were abundant.

Photo 7Photo 8Photo 9After a few days of fluffing the camp and boats, we were ready for the arrival of the first group of guests.

Week 2:  The Dries Have It!

Our first group was composed of the original six Texans who had diverted their trip last season when they learned of the blown-out river conditions.  Literally pulled from the airplane, they had audibled to a fall-back adventure in Alaska.  That trip had been a success, and now they were stoked to finally be wetting lines in the Land of the Giants.

Photo 12These guys were all solid fly fishermen, and they wasted little time in getting stuck into some great fish.

Photo 16Photo 15Even the pike were biting dry flies.

Photo 15aBack at International Guide H.Q., beer-fueled fly tying sessions lasted each night until the generator shut down.

Photo 10The Cyclops was an early-season favorite.

Photo 11As the week progressed, we had some amazing fishing.  One day, however was unforgettable:  I was guiding Kerry Hagen from Portland, OR, a single angler that had joined the Texans for the week.  Kerry had so far experienced less spectacular fishing than the others and wondered aloud if he was doing something wrong.  I advised him to hang in there (what else can you say?), that his day was coming.

The day was cloudy and overcast.  One of the Texans had reported finding a dozen dead mice in a weedbed near one of our favorite log-jam pools downriver the day before. Hmmm. . .  Additionally, the nightly dance-party of rodents (and the morning’s casualties) in the cabin suggested that this might be a big rodent year.

Photo 23aTying on a fresh mutant mouse pattern, Kerry and I headed down to the aforementioned log jam and waded in.  What happened next still defies description.  Kerry quickly rose, hooked and landed a nice fish in the 3-foot range, his best of the week so far.  And then, it happened: taimen began rolling and porpoising in the pool.  Kerry cast again and immediately hooked and landed another 3-footer.  In the course of the next 30 minutes, Kerry rose 7 more taimen including a couple pretty big ones, landing 5 more, all around 3-feet long. The taimen were clearly interested in the mutant mouse fly.

Photo 13Finally, the pool quieted, and we moved on, both of us shaken and shaking from the experience.  Kerry went on to raise several more fish throughout the afternoon landing so many that I was popping three-footers off the fly like they were McKenzie planter trout.  By the end of the day, Kerry had raised 20, hooked 16 and landed 12 taimen.  The mutant mouse was a little chewed up after the experience, and it had earned a new name: the “Hairy Kerry.”

Photo 14By the end of the week, the group’s official tally was an astounding 119 taimen landed.  Even though everyone landed trophy-class fish for the week, the true giants risen and lost haunted our nightly debriefing sessions in the cabin.  Truly a historic week!

Week 3:  Elvis is in the Building

Jame-o left us after the first week to head back to Norway to return to his regular job guiding for huge Atlantic salmon.  Matt, Bayaraa, Ganzorig and I remained in camp to handle the smaller group of four anglers for the week.  No matter what you are expecting when you come to Mongolia, it is still a bit disorienting when your guide ties on the first taimen fly for the afternoon session.

Photo 17This week the fishing remained strong.  One angler landed a 42″ trophy in the Home Pool in front of camp on the first afternoon.  While several very big fish rose to flies during the week, none made it to the bottom of the net.  Matt and I were co-guiding when we both witnessed the rise of a giant taimen (well north of 50 inches) to a dead drifted Hairy Kerry.  Despite our combined “fervent encouragement,” the fish was not hooked.  This was the theme of the week, with the guides lamenting the “one(s) that got away,” every evening.

Each day dawned foggy and cool with gorgeous afternoons and some amazing sunsets.  And the week settled in to its own rhythm.

Photo 20Photo 19Photo 18Photo 26Photo 27This was a mellow week, with days off for each of the guides, and trips to town and visiting local families for one of the more adventurous guests.  I got to go out one afternoon with Ganzorig and our chef, Sahknaa, looking for pike up one of the sloughs near camp.

Photo 22Photo 23Fly tying sessions every night led to overstocked boxes in anticipation of the next week in the “taimen mines.”

Photo 24Photo 25Week 4: How good is your Portuguese?

The next week’s guests hailed from Sao Paolo, Brazil, and most spoke almost no English.  I foolishly said I knew Spanish, leading many of the guys to speak nothing but Portuguese and Spanish with me, while the other guides got to speak English.  These were great guys.  Four of them were serious anglers, good fly casters with lots of experience chasing big fish in cool places around the world.  The other three guys (the “three amigos”) were total novices in all things fishing (let alone, fly fishing).

Fishing this week was tougher. While the serious guys got after it, enduring the punishment and emotional challenge of taimen fishing, the “three amigos,” had it dialed: trips to town and the inscription rock, visiting local families, riding horses, some days fishing a run or two in the morning, followed by lunch and a nap back in camp, maybe fishing another run in the evening, or wandering the gravel bar looking for cool rocks.  They rose a surprising number of taimen despite not really working that hard.

Photo 28Photo 30Photo 31The other guys put in their time. . .

Photo 29And ultimately they were rewarded with taimen encounters that will stay with them the rest of their lives. On the second-to-last day out, group leader, Jose “Big Plum” Godiano had a great afternoon, landing a pair of trophies on surface flies, one of which was the best of the season.

Photo 33Photo 34Photo 32At the end of the Brazilians’ week, I packed my gear and hopped on the chopper to head home.  Leaving the boys in camp for one last week of guests, I turned my attention to family, friends and fall fishing in the Valley.

Coming through Incheon Airport in South Korea, I was reminded that our economic society has become increasingly specialized.  What do you get for friends who already have everything?  Look for a store that caters to their specific needs.

Photo 35Once again, the 2014 Fall Taimen Fishing Season in Mongolia affirmed my faith in the fish, the fishery, and the future.  Conservation efforts implemented by Sweetwater Travel Company and  Hovsgol Travel Company, and carried today with religious zeal by Charlie Conn at the Taimen Fund, are working.  The long-held dream of establishing a fly-fishing-only taimen sanctuary on this great river system may actually be in reach.

The Taimen of Outer Monglia are settling in for another winter under the ice.  May we all be fortunate enough to meet again.

High Lakes are Holding!

IMG_0840It’s unusual in the thick of the season to get a chance for a vacation with the family.  But this summer, the stars aligned for a five-day adventure in the high Cascades.  We decided to visit the Newberry Volcanic Monument east of La Pine. Specifically, the heart of the Newberry Caldera:  East Lake.IMG_0868The fishery at East Lake is diverse and compelling: Rainbows, Browns, Kokanee, and landlocked Atlantic Salmon make up a veritable smorgasbord of species to target with a fly rod.IMG_0810IMG_0803I limited my arsenal of flies to dries and light nymphs and only fished when there were risers within casting range. IMG_0873This seemed appropriate when balanced against all the other fun activities to be enjoyed:  mountain biking, waterfalls, swimming, hot springs, collecting volcanic debris.IMG_0854Towards the end of the trip, I was still amazed at how beautiful the place was.  The white pumice beach and azure waters made it seem like a true Redneck Riviera.IMG_0832Back here in the Valley, summer fishing has been consistent.  McKenzie trouting has been great.  Steelheading has had its moments in between heat waves.IMG_0738IMG_0704Summertime, and the living is easy. . .

 

Summer Steelheading in the Heat

IMG_0592Summer has arrived in the form of hot bright days and fresh summer steelhead.  Getting on the water early has led to some nice sessions before the midday “inner tube hatch” (safety equipment: half-rack of Coors Light) gets going.  Here are some images from recent trips.  Tight Lines!IMG_0636IMG_0603IMG_0617IMG_0605IMG_0621IMG_0655

Summer Fishing in the Valley “Rains” Supreme!

IMG_0563 - Version 2Fishing has been excellent here in the Valley over the last few weeks.  Rainy weather has led to great trout action on the McKenzie, with wild Redside and hatchery “Breadside” trout rising readily to surface presentations.

Steelhead fishing has been spotty overall, but is improving as more chromers arrive each day.  And these first arriving fish are the hottest fighters of the year.

We’re looking forward to more great fly fishing in the next few months.  Here are some fresh images from the river.  See you out there!

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Taimen Fund Up and Running!

Photo15Mongolian Taimen advocacy took a big step forward today with the launch of the Taimen Fund Website.

Now it’s even easier to support the effort to protect the world’s largest trout.  If you have ever dreamed of catching the fish of a lifetime in Mongolia, here is your opportunity to ensure that the dream remains a reality.

Kudos to Charlie Conn, all of the board members, and the crew at the Taimen Fund for their tireless efforts to protect this incredible and unique species!

Springtime Redsides on the McKenzie

IMG_9884The recent run of summery weather has been great for the fishing on the McKenzie. Green Caddis and numerous other tasty bugs have the fish up and eating every day. With a moderate snowpack, and mild weather on tap from here on out, we are looking forward to another awesome summer season here in the Valley!  Enjoy a couple of shots from the last few days.

See you on the river!IMG_9900OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIMG_9879IMG_9892