Author Archives: Joey Macomber

Spey Daze: Great Lakes Steelhead

This video popped up in my news feed this morning and thought it went well with a previous post about preparing for a Steelhead Trip. This video teaser hits hits home with me as it is filmed on many locations where I caught the Steelhead bug. Keep an eye out for the release of the 4 hour DVD series coming out in March.

From the Film Maker- This is the trailer for the upcoming film Spey Daze. It was shot over the course of two and a half years in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and various parts of Ontario. Though largely a film about the pursuit of Steelhead on the swung fly, the film also focuses on the past, present and current issues the Great Lakes are experiencing, how these issues effect the fishery and how they might affect the Steelhead populations that call the Great Lakes home.

SPEY DAZE Trailer from RT on Vimeo.

 

Remove Barbed Hook

If you fish enough you know that getting a hook stuck in your skin is bound to happen. I have had my share of streamers hit me in the ear, saltwater flies stuck in my leg and spey flies jammed into my back. Nine times out of ten these flies just sting you and leave a little red mark. But there are those times when those flies stick and need to come out with assistance. If you are a guide I am sure you have seen or used this trick to remove a barbed hook out of your or a clients skin.


This simple technique really helps you remove hooks of multiple sizes from all body parts. The best one that I have ever done was from a fellas nose. Simply find some heavy tippet wrap around the bend of the hook, press down on the eye and pull straight back. If done correctly that hook will come flying right out with minimal blood loss. Be sure to remember this technique. Streamer season is around the corner and you might need it.

Steelhead Gear: Must Have

Winter Steelhead Season is in full swing and while it has been beautiful in Colorado I certainly miss visiting the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Scouring multiple rivers in hopes of finding a Wild Pacific Steelhead is not for the faint of heart. You have to be a hearty angler to pursue these magnificent fish and if you pay your dues, chances are you will be rewarded with a handful of chrome.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For those of you who are thinking about making a journey to Steelhead Country, be sure to bring the following items.

A Good Rain Jacket–  This is a must. The chances of precipitation in the rain forest is about 100%simms g3 jacket and when it rains it rains hard. Have and outer shell that is waterproof and durable. This is not an area to skimp. It can be difficult to bite the bullet and purchase solid rain gear. It is expensive and if you live in Colorado you do not need it that often. But if you plan on angling for steelhead year after year, treat yourself to a good rain jacket.

Dry Bag – Key item for storing dry clothes, cameras, snacks and anything else that you want to keep dry. The backpack variety are a good choice. being able to strap a dry bag on your back allows you to trek along the river keeping your hands free. Simms and Patagonia both make excellent dry packs.

pataguuch dry bag

Base Layers – Puffy Pants, Fleece pants, Fleece jackets, Merino wool shirts and long underware ….bring it all. It gets chilly standing in the river especially when it is raining. Having multiple wicking base layers will help you stay warm in the coldest fishing conditions. Smartwool, ice breaker, hot chilis and a many other companies make great base layers. Find base layers that you like and bring several pairs. The merino wool is nice because you can wear it for a couple days with minimal odor.Sheep

 

Waders – Obviously this is a no brainer but it your waders leak consider buying a new pair or be sure to patch them very well. No matter how well you insulate under your waders getting wet is going to make you cold. Nothing is fun when you are cold so be sure to stay dry. Boot foot waders are also nice for cold weather wading conditions. The boot foot tends to not be as tight on your foot allowing you to wiggle your toes.

 

Early Spring Fly Fishing: Colorado

The warm weather has been a breath of fresh air for us here in Colorado. With temps in the mid 40s in the high country and highs near 70 in Denver, it certainly feels like Spring is starting a little early. A lot of our valley snow has melted and some rivers are turing slightly off color during the peak of the day. So what does this mean for our fishing? While it is nice to strip off the heavy layers and soak in the sun we have to take into consideration water temperature. Early Spring runoff cools the water down significantly and can slow fishing down. So do not be surprised if you find difficult fishing conditions during a bluebird Colorado Spring day. If you do find the fishing to be slow take a look at the water temp and insect activity. Adjusting fly size as wells the depth at which you are fishing can make a big difference. Trout tend to be less active in cooler water so putting your flies right on their nose can often be the only way to make them eat. We have notice that we are not seeing as many rising trout as we were a 3 weeks ago and midge hatches are far less consistent. Once our water temps stabilize this will change and fishing will get easy again. Until then take your time, find the right depth and you will find the fish. 16587023_10155051332258140_7918900563516442840_o

Take a look at our previous midge post for excellent midge patterns to be presenting this time of year. We also had a viewer mention his favorite midge pattern that he doesn’t leave home without. The D- Midge. Best of luck on the water. Screen shot 2017-02-14 at 7.33.23 AM

The Mighty Midge: Fly Fishing Video

This time of year my clients are always amazed at the size of of the fly patterns we are using. I like to explain to them that the Midge is the Rocky Balboa of aquatic insects. A midge can hatch in extremely cold water while other insects cannot. A winter midge hatch can be significant enough to bring many trout to the surface. During these hatches anglers have the opportunity to cast dry flies in the dead of winter.  While a midge hatch is not as predictable as other insect hatches it can provide some of the best early and late season dry fly fishing. Here is a short Fly Fishing Video from Lateral Line Media displaying some trout recently sipping midges in Colorado. If you cannot find the fish on the surface be take a look at our recent post about 3 essential midge larvae fly patterns.

Winter Midge Patterns: Colorado Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Colorado during the winter months can be excellent but it can also be very challenging.    Constantly de-icing your guides with freezing fingers certainly takes hearty a angler, but it allows us get outside away from the daily grind. A couple benefits of winter fly fishing is that there is less pressure and fish tend to be easy to locate.  Deeper slow moving runs hold the majority of fish during the winter months allowing anglers to spend time focusing fly selection and presentation. Midges are the dominant fare in a trout’s diet this time of year but due to the multiple sizes and colors of midges it is important to have a variety of these fly patters. Some of my favorite color midge fly patterns are Black, Olive, Red and Cream. It is amazing that changing the color of a fly so small that it can have an impact of your fishing success but it does. Doing a little research on the water will help determine what color midges are floating around under the surface. Picking up submerged sticks or rocks is a good way to find midge larvae and while it can be painful to stick your hands in 30 degree water it may make the difference in your angling success. Also try and focus on the depth of your nymph rig. A lot of times we try to go directly to the bottom with our midges and while this does work, there are times when you can be too deep. If you are starting to see midges hatch sporadically or find them on the river bank try lightening your nymph rig and see what happens. As these insect get active in the water trout will start to suspend to eat midges as the emerge. Here are a few of excellent midge patterns for winter fly fishing in Colorado.

The Flash Bang Midge is a great fly pattern that should be in every anglers fly box. The glass beadflash bang midge
on these midge patterns adds a little extra weight and also looks like a small air bubble. The Flash Bang Midge works well in the early winter as fish transition from eating Baetis to Midges. It also works well deeper into winter as a lead fly in a two fly set-up. The glass bead allows this fly pattern to be fished higher in the water column with out adding much weight making the Flash Bang an excellent pattern to present to suspended fish.

 

JujubeeMidgeFlash_CC_Brn

The Jujubee Midge is a common pattern that you will find in early every fly shop in Colorado. Developed by Charlie Craven, this fly has been taken out of many a trout’s lips and is a proven fish catcher. The Jujubee midge pattern is great for tailwaters and freestone rivers alike. The added flash gives this fly a little more flare grabbing the attention of underwater lurkers. This is another fly pattern that works well early in the fall throughout the winter.

The RS2 is a fly pattern that more times than not is my go to fly. I am not exactly sure if this is rs2 flyclassified as a midge pattern but who cares, It works in so many scenarios throughout the year and catches a ton of trout. I prefer this fly with a flash wing and in multiple sizes. The basic design of this fly pattern is nothing fancy to look at but neither are midges. RS2’s are great for Trico’s hatches in the Summer and Midge hatches in the winter. If there are any flies out of these three that you must have it is the RS2.

Fishermen & Hunters Unite

We are experiencing a wild time in our lives. Between the news, blog posts and social channels there is so much negativity on media outlets that it is driving me nuts. The finger pointing game has gotten out of hand and I feel like I am listening to a room full of children fighting over a crayon. I recently read an article that pointed out the separation between sportsman. If you care to read it you can do so HERE, but the point it got across is that we need to come together as sportsman and not as individuals.

royal coachmen

I am sure that some of you have felt superior to other sportsman regarding the technique you use to hunt game or target fish. Conventional fishermen vs fly fishermen is a good example. Fly fishermen are looked upon as yuppie elitist that wear fancy clothes and look down on those who do not embrace a fly rod. On the other hand it is thought that fly fishermen look a conventional anglers as neanderthals who kill every fish in the river. The same thing applies in the hunting world between archery hunters and those who prefer a rifle.

rapala

If we can look past our methods of hunting fishing and glance at the larger picture I think we can all agree that no matter how your choose to pursue you quarry we are there because we enjoy being outdoors. It is time to put the finger pointing and name calling away for good. Be respectful of each other, respect the land we are able to use and stop being quick to judge. All outdoorsmen have the right to pursue game in a manner that is lawful. So if you see an angler throwing Rapalas for trout in your favorite nymphing run, ask them how their day is going and wish them luck. Life is too short to be bitter, especially when you are enjoying the outdoors. We need to come together as sportsman to fight for the land, rivers and mountains we love so future generations have the same opportunity we have. United we stand divided we fall.

Fly Fishing Washington Steelhead: Swinging For Lightning

This video popped up in my news feed today and while my attention span is less than that of a goldfish I had to spend the 11 minutes to watch this piece by Todd Moen. While this fishing video was not all action, like the millions of others on the web, it captured the reality of swinging flies for Steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.

The OP still remains one of my favorite places to fish for Steelhead. The lush scenery paired with beautiful rivers is tough to match, you also do not need a passport to get there. We used to do an annual fly fishing trip to the OP to visit our friends at Brazdas Fly Fishing but over the past few years life has gotten hectic and our group couldn’t commit to the trip. This is the time of year when images of chrome bright fish start to fill my news feed, I long for the smell of the rainforest. This video brought back a lot of fond memories of my weeks in Forks, WA. Maybe this will be the year that I finally give in to my desire and set responsibilities aside for a week.

If you have never experienced fly fishing for Steelhead there is no better place to cut your teeth other than Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It will surely test your patients and psyche but can be incredibly rewarding in a blink of an eye. Take a look at this video segment and get the feel of what it is like to stand in a glacial river in the pouring rain waiting to strike lightning.

Outdoor Survival: How Prepared Are You?

Being prepared for the outdoors should not be taken lightly and as a guide you should be well prepared for any trip. Personally I thought that if I had a first aid kit, some extra clothes and some provisions I was ready for anything that might happen on a day trip to the river. Recently I got registered to guide fly fishing trips in remote areas in another state. This proved to be one of the most difficult tests I ever had to pass for guiding. But it made me realize that a lot can go wrong in the wilderness and that maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. Here are a few preparation tips to consider if you are a guide or if you are getting guided.

41borulwmzl

Symptoms: Learn the symptoms/signs of health conditions such as; Shock, Hypothermia, Diabetes, Heat Stroke/ Dehydration, Cold Water Immersion. It is important to know how to handle a situation if one of your clients experiences these symptoms. It is also important to ask if your client(s) has any type of health condition during your trip briefing.

CPR/First Aid: Every guide needs to be certified in CPR & First Aid. Knowing how to preform these basic life saving techniques can make the difference between someone living or dying.

Supplies: First Aid Kits, Water, Food & Clothing are all good basics to have with you during a trip. One of the more important items to carry are waterproof matches. These will help you create a fire quickly should you need to heat up a client who has mild hypothermia symptoms. Whistles are another item that should be carried/provided to clients. This will allow you and clients to make loud noise should you become separated in the the woods or on the river.

Trip Briefing: This is one of the most important steps when taking anyone on a guided trips. Ask questions about health, physical condition, allergies and limitations. This will allow you to make a good decision on where to bring you clients based on their requirements. It will also allow you to prepare more extensively for a client with health conditions.

Take the time this winter to educate yourself on how to be prepared for a catastrophic event in the outdoors. You will be surprised on the amount of information online that can better prepare you for an unfortunate event.

New Year Resolutions: Fly Fishing

2016 was another great fly fishing year in Colorado. We had wonderful snowpack which kept our rivers cool and our fish happy. The Trout fishing was excellent on all our rivers and we continued to learn more about the sport we truly enjoy. It is the time of year when many folks start making new year resolutions and as we look forward into 2017 there are many achievements we will strive for.  Some are far fetched and others are more realistic. I will spare you the list of 2017 resolutions but will leave you with this one. Continue learning. This year (2016) has been an incredible year of learning and maybe as we’ve get older we’ve started to pay a little more attention, giving us more insight into fly fishing. Regardless of the reasons we will continue to learn as much as we can about the rivers, environment and landscapes we live, work and play in. Not only in 2017 but for years to come. We wish you the best moving into the new year and hope you achieve all your 2017 resolutions. Have a safe and happy new year.

Hoping to see more dry fly eats like this one in the new year. Clip courtesy of Lateral Line Media.