If you haven’t checked out what’s happening on the PM, you should.

Check out Third Coast Fly’s recent PM report for some nice trophy shot action, makes me think I need to head that direction sooner rather than later.

What’s making me want to head up there you ask?

Oh you know, just your average 27″ brown teeerout hoovering up eggs behind spawning steel. DANG!


Tomorrow though, I’m actually headed down to Tennessee to pick up the new SmithFly R&D vessel, stay tuned for more info on that. Stoked!

3 Guys, 2 Days, 1 Fish – let’s hear it for steelhead.

I spent a little bit of time on the Grand River this weekend. In theory the conditions were supposed to be “favorable” for some epic fishing.

However, in reality the nice weather brought out the unwashed masses on Sunday and the tough conditions made Monday a little less than optimal.

For some reason, be it the sun or the fishing pressure on Sunday there wasn’t anything happening for ANYONE on the river. We shared a lot of boo-hoo sob stories with a lot of the people we ran into. Monday,even though it was national holiday, was devoid of the unwashed masses, but alas, also mostly devoid of fish. We ended up with only one Steelhead brought to hand over two days.
The fish in question was landed by Ron at 8:00 am on Monday morning.

Overall, that’s steelheading.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.


Pics are below.

A conehead shiner pattern fooled this one into a strong take.

Ron, hooked up.

Misery Loves Company.

Donnie lays out a nice cast to likely looking water.

Ron with fish.

Sttelhead from Wiconsin stocking found in Rocky River? That’s a long journey…

I found an interesting story of a well traveled steelhead the other day, that supposedly swam from Wisconsin to the Rocky River in Cleveland. It’s available along with the Rocky River report from Cleveland Metroparks over here, but can be found excerpted below.

That got me thinking, maybe this steelhead is a ghost crew member from the Edmund Fitzgerald still trying to deliver it’s load? Or maybe it’s just got that steelhead wonderlust?

The long journey

The Story of a Traveling Trout.   This week Mark Fascione sent in a photo of a very stout steelhead his friend caught on the Rocky River and wanted to know what strain it could be.  He thought it could possibly be the notoriously football shaped London strain, but they have not been stocked in Lake Erie for well over a decade.  Normally it would be anybody’s guess short of genetic analysis, but in this case I noted a left pectoral fin clip (the fin closest to the head) on the fish in the photo.  I should note that Michigan has stocked fish in their Huron River, a Lake Erie tributary, with a right pectoral fin clip, and it is not unusual for these fish to show up in our streams.  Using this info, I checked the <Great Lakes Fishery Commission fish stocking database>  which revealed that the only state having performed a left pectoral clip on rainbow trout/steelhead in recent years has been Wisconsin!

The strain of trout stocked by Wisconsin, the Arlee, are known to be stout fish.  Upon contacting Wisconsin DNR about this, I received the following response from Senior Fisheries Biologist Steve Hogler:  “It is certainly possible for this to be an Arlee rainbow trout. The clips are correct and based on the photo it appears to look very similar to other Arlee trout that I have seen. If it is an Arlee, this certainly is the most distant location we have had a return from. Thanks for the information.”  His WDNR colleague Tom Burzynski further added I took a look at the photo of the rainbow trout and would tend to agree with your conclusion that the fish is an Arlee-strain fish.  The Arlees we see tend to be somewhat football-shaped, also.  Looking back at the fin clip list, I’m thinking that it was stocked in 2008. Quite a journey for the fish, that’s for sure!”  Is this proof this fish is from Wisconsin?  Not conclusive, but it appears to be the most plausible theory given the evidence.  Having the wettest year on record coupled with an unseasonally warm winter could very well have facilitated greater than normal migration of this fish.  As many of you may recall, we had record numbers of stray Chinook salmon in the Rocky River this year, which I also feel is at least in part due to all the high water.

With this in mind, envision being a trout and beginning your journey in the Wisonsin waters of Lake Michigan and swimming north to the Straits of Mackinac.  After travelling through that connection into Lake Huron, you then swim through that entire lake from its northern tip to its southern end to the St. Clair River.  Spurred onward by the unseasonally warm temperatures and so much water, you then proceed to swim downstream through that river, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River system.  Upon arriving in the western basin of Lake Erie you then head east and swim through a good third of Lake Erie to arrive at the Rocky River (see map below detailing this travel route).  Steelhead have been described as “a rainbow trout with a wanderlust”, and it appears that this fish could potentially be a fairly extreme example of that.  As a final note on the subject, our current Executive Director made the move from a Milwaukee, WI, area park distirct about a year ago to head Cleveland Metroparks.  So, did this fish follow him from Wisconsin to Cleveland Metroparks?  I can’t prove that last part by any means, but I will say we welcome all the Wisconsin runaway trout that want to come here!

Supporting Cleveland Metroparks’ Fishing Fund has never been easier!   As a new offering for the convenience of donors, our Manager of Gift and Donor Development has made available a very user friendly way to donate to our  Fishing Fund online.  Check out the following link for more info or to make a donation to directly support our fisheries program:  <Fishing Fund Donations Online> 

SmithFly review in Deneki’s weekly newsletter and El Poquito in the TFM 12 Day’s of Christmas

Last week the good folks over at Deneki Outdoors posted a review of SmithFly’s gear on their Blog. And this week that same review appeared in their weekly newsletter in the top spot! Totally awesome!

It’s frankly an amazing review, and I’m eternally grateful to them for the positive thoughts. In case you were wondering, no I didn’t pay them for that and you can read their mandatory FTC CYA material over here . I did send them some samples to test out. Please visit their site for the whole review, here is one of our favorite parts though.

Your core fishing gear goes in the pouches, with each pouch loaded according to a specific fishing situation.  For example, you might make a streamer pouch that has your streamer fly box, 1x and 2x tippet, a measuring tape, a hook file, some bullet weights and forceps.  Your baetis pouch might have your baetis fly box, 3x – 6x tippet, dry shake, extra tapered leaders and nippers.  Making sense so far?

So if you’re doing some trout fishing in January and you’re joining your buddy in his drift boat, you grab your baetis pouch and your streamer pouch and slap them on the outside of your boat bag.  Inside the boat bag goes your lunch and thermos and maybe your nice camera.

SmithFly Pouch and BeltPouch attached to belt.

The next weekend you’re fishing the same piece of water but this time you’re on your own, on foot.  This is where the system shines – just grab that streamer pouch and that baetis pouch, strap them onto your wading belt, and hit the road without worrying that you’re forgetting your hook file or your measuring tape.  It’s a great concept.

I’ve been trying to sum it up like that for a while, I think they did a marvelous job of nailing exactly why the system is soo cool, and I’m not just saying that because I cam up with the idea… ok I am slightly biased since it is my little start-up business type thingy.
Secondly Look for our AD in the holiday issue of the Drake too, can’t wait for that!
Oh and check out the Fiberglass Manifesto’s 12 Days of Christmas for a chance to win your very own SmithFly El Poquito.
Things are starting to get a bit crazy around Fiddle and Creel / SmithFly world headquarters, and that’s a good thing. If only the rivers would drop so we could get and hook into some Lake Erie steelhead…


Grey skies
Cool drizzle
Fog mist
Wispy veil
Crisp grass
Brittle twigs
Tan khaki
Sage beige
Burnt sienna
Nut brown
Somber day
Quiet reaches
Ashen embers
Charcoal smokes
Leaves crunch
Chrome moves
Steel lurks
Moss glistens
Lichens glow
Meadows wave
Water moves
Currents shift
Cliff drips
Fly swings
Dry skates
Buck takes
Hen wakes
Line shakes
Tippet breaks
Grey skies
Cool drizzle
Fog mist

Straight from the horses mouth… and smelling like Maker’s Mark

Below is a statement from David James Duncan on the movie adaptation of his novel The River Why. I can’t add much to this, its just plain old good stuff as you might expect. There is an interesting link to the jeffreyfoucault.com website and I will need to investigate further sometime. I’ve never heard of him but looks cool.

David James Duncan on “The River Why” movie

A feature film based on The River Why is now appearing in film festivals. Many readers have been wondering how I feel about this. A statement seems in order.

Some background:

This movie was made by filmmakers who I fought in court for several years. One reason I conducted this expensive, unpleasant battle was that I believe my film rights were given away (settled in 2008). But the chief reason I fought so hard was that I hoped to make a River Why movie that could do something significant for wild salmon, particularly those going extinct in Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington due primarily to four lower Snake River dams. I had put together a team including producer Patrick Markey (“A River Runs Through It”), producer Matt Salinger (a maker of many independent films), and I was going to co-write with my old friend, Sherman Alexie. We planned to move the story to an Idaho river so that every salmon or steelhead would be an endangered survivor of the gauntlet of dams. Sherman would have created hilarious, heartbroken Nez Perce characters being screwed out of the fish that are their birthright, treaty right, wealth, and Eucharist by the Obama Administration’s false stewardship under NOAA — a blunder instituted largely by the inane politicking of Senator Patty Murray (D, WA). (Feel free to send her an irate letter!) In order for my team’s project to fly I needed to block the film that is now appearing. We tried our best and came close, but a betrayal sabotaged us. No sense naming the betrayer, it’s all water under the bridge (and salmon smolts blasted dead through the turbines) now. Though my name was removed from the film and I was awarded a settlement, I failed to stop what I now call, after its makers, The Marin County River Why.

My feelings today:

The makers of The MCRW were legally obligated to send me a copy of their film before it aired at the Ashland Film Festival. They did so. When the film arrived at my home I happened to be on the road, filling a gap between speaking engagements by fishing the Driftless region of Wisconsin with my musician friend, Jeffrey Foucault. A few friends and family members watched The Marin County River Why and weren’t happy. But on the day they saw it, I happened to be catching one spring creek brown trout after another on blue-winged olives amid a deafening choir of ecstatic redwing blackbirds. And when, that evening, my friends phoned to tell me their reactions to the film, I was sitting on a porch sipping Maker’s Mark, listening to Jeffrey’s stupendous music, live, watching sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and Amishmen in horse-drawn buggies pass by in the river valley below. I tried to focus on the laments and to sympathize with the sense of trespass or outrage over the movie. But I just couldn’t stop smiling at the sweet Here and Now before me. And as I lay in bed that night, the proverbial “still small voice” interrupted the owls just long enough to suggest something that hadn’t occurred to me:

Don’t watch the movie.

Why didn’t I think of that? I exclaimed to the silent voice.

What peace I then began to feel! Giving in, at the age of 26, to the word-drunk fish-crazed literary impulse that became The River Why was a pleasure and privilege and stroke of stupendous luck. The book’s main tributaries were twenty years of love for Oregon Coast streams and a skein of coming of age stories (Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Dharma Bums, Narcissus and Goldmund, Troutfishing in America) I more or less got to live in a moss-covered version of my own. The book’s success turned me from a mower of lawns living in Portland into a teller of tales living on rivers, where I remain to this day. That “Glum Gus” (as Ma rightly calls him) managed to express a love contagious enough that it continues to touch good people thirty years later is a lot of good fortune for one measly coming of age novel. I seek no better or other fortune than this.

So, to the filmmakers — and the betrayers, too: peace. And to anyone who wants to see The Marin County River Why, proceed at your own risk. But, for me personally, I see no reason to add what trusted friends tell me is a heap of canned Cool Whip to what has already been a fine piece of homemade pie. So I won’t be seeing you at the movies. But on a little river one of these days, who knows?

Behind the (Green) Scenes of “The River Why”

Below is the You Tube trailer for Greenlit a behind the scenes look at the attempts to keep a “Green” set during the filming of The River Why. Both films will screen this weekend at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.

Hollywood people are legendarily liberal and left-leaning, particularly when it comes to the environment. This film puts their commitment to the test as the filmmaker follows the Oregon production of the AIFF feature The River Why, as it attempts to keep an environmentally friendly set. A “green consultant” is hired, compost bins are secured- so, why is it all still so hard? What starts off with great enthusiasm quickly devolves in this insightful and entertaining film. Immediately following the 50 minute film, a panel will discuss choices about how we live, work and play in a “green” way. The panel, It Ain’t Easy Being Green, moderated by Jeff Golden, will include the director of Greenlit and representatives from The River Why including the film’s green consultant Lauren Selman, and local sustainability advocates who are walking the talk.

Mandolin Jam / workshop on the Klamath RIver

The Klamath River

In yet another fine example of the interconnectedness of the bluegrass (acoustic music) and fly fishing worlds, comes news of the The 2010 Klamath River MandoJam and workshops. This sounds like a great place to jam and fish in the same spot. I need to check my calendar. Steelhead and Gypsy jazz, awe SON!!!!!!!

Orleans, Calif. — The 2010 Klamath River MandoJam and workshops will be held August 26-29, at the Sandy River Ranch and Nursery.

Each summer Sandy Bar Ranch hosts The Klamath River MandoJam, an opportunity for acoustic musicians of all levels and styles to learn, play, and enjoy acoustic music in a beautiful mountain setting and supportive environment. This affordable venue features a mix of daily workshops, jam sessions, demonstrations, and fun on the river.

Sandy Bar Ranch is located on the Klamath River in the heart of the Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California. The Klamath River and surrounding mountains offer world-class swimming, fishing, rafting, hiking, biking and kayakin

In addition to Gypsy-Jazz, you may hear and play anything from Folk to Bluegrass, Old-Time, Blues, Country and Originals at the MandoJam.