History of the Kalama - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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  #1  
Old 01-26-2002, 09:12 AM
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History of the Kalama

The Kalama River and city of Kalama took it's name from a full-blooded Hawaiian named John Kalama born in Hawaii in 1814.
John came to the northwest in the early 1830's while working on a trade ship but settled with the Nisqually Indians near Tumwater. Records say that he sang his native songs and joined the Nisqually festivities. He must have been a hit because he married the chiefs daughter.

On their annual trip to the Cowlitz (then the wild, untamed do-the-Dean justice Cowlitz) for smelt and berries, he got interested in the mouth of a beautiful little river and settled there. He lived by the mouth of this river - hunting, trapping and fishing and the area soon became known by his name "Kalama".

Pretty interesting, it always sounded so NW indigenous to me, had no idea it was Hawaiian.

A century and a half later, a brewery was created at the mouth of the river. They took a symbol of Egytian history, the Pyramid, and prefected a German brew known as Hefferweissen using the abundant pacific northwest hops, wheat and barley.

How does this all tie together? I caught my first WA summer run on a fly on the Kalama river on a bright early summer morning, one of the hottest fish I had ever hooked, and stopped to pick up a cold one on the way home. It was also the first Pyramid Heff I ever had. I'll never forget 'em.
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2002, 11:30 AM
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Now that brings tears to my eyes

the way you tied all that together.

WAIT A SEC!!!!!!!!!!!

Mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, that's not fair. I only got a PBJ, and a Coke (back before they did the switch, then switch to Cclassic coke). A cold beer woulda been nice (but I was a BIT under 21, so may be why I only got a Coke).

I've lived here all my life, aand I had no idea about t Kalama. I thought it was a name of an Indian tribe down south, sure settles well with the COwlit, Puyallup, Nisqualy, and the likes.
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Old 01-26-2002, 12:36 PM
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Great story never would have thought the origin of the name was Hawaii.

Did you catch the summer run on the Kalama Special ?

One of the first steelhead flies I tied twenty years ago.
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Old 01-26-2002, 01:48 PM
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The fly was an original pattern I concocted in my early steely fly tying experiments influenced by three things: (1) caddis pupa which I found all over the rocks (2) the almost surreal pinkness of pacific ghost (sand) shrimp and (3) a yarn fly that a local used on his conventional gear behind pencil lead that just plain spanked the late May / early June summer fish.

This fly is on my must-have short list with the bunny rat, purple magic, sedge muddler, etc. Doublespey knows about this one; Leland it's the one I had on when I hooked up that evening at D/P as well. It's evolved quite a bit since that hot summer fish.
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Old 01-26-2002, 02:07 PM
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No wonder large pink flies work in PNW, when they are used to feeding on ghost shrimp in the ocean, in the great lakes there is no equivalent, however they will hit pink marabou type speys and streamers at times, probably just out of aggression and not a feeding response to a past nice pink ghost shrimp dinner.

Here in the Great Lakes they are keyed to smelt and alewifes in the lakes, but mainly to small natural type flies and nymphs due to their parr stream feeding on insects and the Big Lakes "Scum Line".
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Old 01-26-2002, 02:44 PM
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Hal -

These particular flies are pretty small, but that in no way reflects upon your point. As far as small fly preferences in the midwest, I wonder how much of that is based on factors other than the fish themselves?

Here's what I mean:

a) they hit plugs, spoons, spinners - which are way bigger than western winter steelhead flies

b) most midwest "fly" setups use weighted drift rigs, which don't work with larger traditional steelhead flies

c) western rivers are warmer and steelhead move for a swung fly more in typical water temperatures

d) drift guys have the advantage in the coldest months while the fly guys have the later season fun... for instance the winter season is Feb-April in western WA while the drift guys have been hammering them from Thanksgiving on

e) conventional wisdom, in other words the well-known techniques imply nymphs verses large swung flies, etc

Of the above factors I think water temp is the biggest factor and conventional wisdom is #2, although I really don't know for sure.

What are your thoughts on these?
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Old 01-26-2002, 03:19 PM
Leland Miyawaki Leland Miyawaki is offline
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Juro,

So far, ol' Doublespey hasn't given me any pink shrimp, even after I gave him my popper and showed him my secret blackmouth spot at the Narrows.

Leland.
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Old 01-26-2002, 08:38 PM
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JURO,

I TOOK YOUR COMMENTS AND DID MY RESPONSES IN CAPS. CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT IN COLORED TEXT.

HAL

Here's what I mean:

a) they hit plugs, spoons, spinners - which are way bigger than western winter steelhead flies.

TRUE WHEN THEY ARE CLOSE TO THE LAKES IN THE LOWER PART OF THE RIVERS IN THE DEEP DARK HOLES. NOT SURE THOUGH ABOUT UP RIVER STREAM SECTIONS, OTHER THAN THE DEEP HOLES.WHICH IS SHALLOW WATER

b) most midwest "fly" setups use weighted drift rigs, which don't work with larger traditional steelhead flies

UP TO FIVE YEARS AGO THAT WAS TRUE, MOST FF USED FLIES WITH SLINKY RIGS TO GET THE FLIES DOWN QUICK IN THE SHORT RUNS AND DEEP POOLS MANY OF THE MICHIGAN STREAMS HAS. WE DID FISH TRADITIONAL STEELHEAD FLIES ON THESE WITH SUCCESS. NOW MANY FF ARE DOING INDICATOR FISHING WITH FLOATING LINES, SINK TIP NORMAL WET FLY TECHNIQUE, AND SPEY RODS WITH SINK TIPS. PNW PATTERNS ARE NOT USED TO MUCH, MAINLY EGG FLIES AND NATURAL NYMPHS, SOME SPEYS & STREAMERS. MAINLY NYMPHS THOUGH

c) western rivers are warmer and steelhead move for a swung fly more in typical water temperatures

TRUE, MOST OF THE TIME SPRING AND AUTUMN THE WATER IS IN THE FORTIES MAX. SUMMER IT IS 50-60S BUT OUR SUMMER RUNS ARE MORE DIFFICULT TO FF THAN IN THE PNW RIVERS. NOT AS MANY AND YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE AND WHEN THEY ARE THERE. KEY IS TO FIND COOLER FEEDER STREAMS AND UNDERGROUNG SPRINGS INTO THE RIVERS WHICH PROVIDE COOLER TEMPS. SUMMER RUNS WILL BE LYING CLOSE BY IF THEY ARE THERE. HOW DO YOU FIND UNDERGROUND SPRINGS ? THE OLD FAISHONED WAY, LEARNING THE RIVER AND EARNING IT. I KNOW OF SEVERAL, BUT SO DO THE GUIDES.

d) drift guys have the advantage in the coldest months while the fly guys have the later season fun... for instance the winter season is Feb-April in western WA while the drift guys have been hammering them from Thanksgiving on.

FF CAN REACH THE SH ALL 12 MONTHS IN MIDWEST RIVERS, NO ADVANTAGE TO THE DRIFT FISHERMAN HERE. WHY CAN'T FF FISH EARLIER IN PNW ? MUST BE BECAUSE OF THE FISH BEING LOW IN THE RIVER SYSTEMS AND NOT GOOD FF WATER. NOT A PROBLEM IN MIDWEST. FF CAN GET THE FISH IN THE LOWER PART OF RIVER. MATTER OF FACT 50 MILES INLAND IS FAR IN THE MW. MOST FISHING IS DONE WITHIN 50 MILES OR MUCH LESS TO THE RIVERS MOUTH FROM ONE OF THE GREAT LAKES. THESE FISH CAN GET FROM THE LAKE TO THE PRIME RIVER SECTIONS IN 1-2 DAYS EASY WHEN THEY WENT TO MOVE.

e) conventional wisdom, in other words the well-known techniques imply nymphs verses large swung flies, etc.

TRUE, I HAVE NEVER TRIED LARGE FLIES BEYOND SIZE 4 HERE. MAYBE A 1/0 OR HIGHER SPARSELY DRESSED WET WOULD WORK HERE IF THE WATER IS COLORED. I DON'T SEE IT WORKING WITH GREAT SUCCESS IN OUR NORMAL CLEAR SPRING CREEK TYPE CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN WATERS.

Of the above factors I think water temp is the biggest factor and conventional wisdom is #2, although I really don't know for sure.

What are your thoughts on these?

IN CONCLUSION I THINK OUR WATER CLARITY, LOW WATER TEMPS, SMALLER RIVERS, AND THE LAKE MICHIGAN SCUM LINE ARE THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO OUR SMALLER FLY SIZES AND LIGHT LEADER SIZES (4&6LBS FOR WINTER RUNS, SUMMER RUNS 8 TO 12 LBS).

SCUM LINE IS A LARGE AREA IN THE MIDDLE OF LAKE MICHIGAN WHERE THE CURRENTS MEET AND CREATES A HUGE SCUM LINE WHERE LARGE AMOUNTS OF INSECTS AND PLANKTON ETC ARE MERGED. THE STEELHEAD CONVERGE ALSO ON THIS AREA AND THE LAKE MICHIGAN CHARTERS GO FOR THEM IN 200 FEET OF WATER. THEY SAY THEY CATCH THEM ON DRY FLIES AT TIMES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE. NOT MY TYPE OF FF. THEY SAY THIS HEAVY FEEDING ON SMALL DROWNED FLIES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE. KEYS THEM TO THE SMALLER FLY SIZES.

IS IT TRUE I DON'T KNOW.

I DO KNOW, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY DAYS WHEN I WAS NOT CATCHING ANYTHING AND THEN WENT TO A SIZE 8 0R 10 FLY AND 4 POUND TEST AND IT MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE SAME PIECES OF WATER I WAS GETTING NOTHING ON IN THE LARGER SIZES.

ALL I KNOW IS WE HAVE A LOW PROBABILITY OF LANDING THE BIG ALPHAS 15 - 20 LB WILD STEELHEAD ON THIS GEAR. HAVE HAD SEVERAL OF THEM JUST TEAR ME UP. SMALL RIVER, LOG JAMS, MANY DEEP BENDS TO CHASE THEM THROUGH ETC.. GOT TO HOOK THEM IN THE RIGHT AREA OF THE RIVER TO HAVE A CHANCE OUT HERE. IF THERE IS A LOG JAM NEAR THEY WILL BE UNDER IT IN A HEARTBEAT.

GREAT MEMORIES THOUGH FOR SURE, THATS WHAT KEEPS US GOING BACK


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  #9  
Old 01-26-2002, 09:07 PM
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River histories are amazing...the stories about the early history of the Stilly and Deer Creek fascinate me.

The story about the Kalama is very intresting...I had a g.f who lived in Hawaii and one day I took her for a drive up the Kalama River Rd which she loved. Anyways, we got into this arguement about the origins of the Kalama. She was convinced it was Hawaiian and I was convinced it was Native American. She gets home asks her mother and calls me and was like 'HAHAHAHA...and told me the story about John Kalama."

And in regards to Juro's pupae pattern...that fly rocks!! It is so simplistic but I watched this fly swim this past fall and it looks killer in the water.
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  #10  
Old 01-26-2002, 10:34 PM
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To use color just click color and type in the box.

The reason the drift guys have the advantage is probably the same reason small nymphs work in midwest streams - the fish just won't move for the fly as well in cold, clear conditions. This never stopped me from trying, and sometimes I've had some great hookups as early as Nov. 6th from chrome bright winter fish; but not with the same consistency as I would using a swung fly in Feb/Mar/Apr. I don't fish indicators and don't use weighted flies or any weighted devices on my line other than a sink tip as an integral part of the line itself when it comes to steelhead.

I would imagine being the opportunistic fish that they are they will eat yellow perch, shiners and juvenile bass actively as well. I read that Lake Michigan steelhead are caught in the big lake using sideplaners and plugs to imitate alewives. I think it's safe to assume they don't reach those sizes on a bug-only diet, but the scum line is a fascinating theory. It must draw hordes of alewives too.

Q: How do folks fish these small nymphs and globugs (swing, deaddrift, upriver, etc?).

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