no lead sounds great to me... Bring the fish to the fly or don't catch them has always been my philosophy. Steelhead move willingly for flies year around ( except hatchery winter fish) if you need lead to catch them they are either not in fly fishing water or the water is soo warm that you shouldn't be fishing for them anyway.
There is something wrong with the do anything to catch a fish mentality it always leads to a breakdown is esthetics and ethics. There is a right and wrong way to fly fish for steelhead using a jig and a bobber is the wrong way even if it's done with a fly rod.
Same restrictions apply in the fly only water on the North Fork of the Upmqua. Bead heads are a "no-no;" only thing they forget to think about is the weight of the hook. Legally you could use a 6/0 hook?
Some people are just more concerned about catching as many fish as they can than they are about the fish they catch. The whole nymph and indicator fishery is about numbers. Thats why they used 6wts and 3x tippet when the water is 70 degrees. Thats why they fish the pools where the fish are stacked in like cord wood. Thats why they park in one run for hours on end.
It's so easy to forget that not all flyfishermen have the same ethics and reasons that we on sites like flytalk do. Most of us have strong ethics because we fish with a fly for the difficult challenge of having a steelhead come to that very fly. I'm still amazed at how many flyfishermen that I meet on the river that are clueless of what it's all about. I can remember years ago when I was a guide how many of my young clients fly fished not for the love of it but because thier boss did or they read somewhere that it was the in thing to do. Like all wonderful past times in this day and age things get over commercialized and folks get into it for all the wrong reasons.
Not long ago went up to the NF Stilly and met a couple of guys in thier late teens, early twenties fishing over Chinook in the style you just mentioned. When I told them they were Chinook and not steelhead it didn't mattter to them as they said they would release them anyway. I brought up the fine line of what's leagal and ethics but they didn't seem too concerned except for the slight look of guilt on thier faces. But they kept at it.
I guess it's just a continuous education on our part to inform and hope that it rubs of on some. Also the state could have done more to educate as they were letting fishermen use spinning rods and fly rods with strickly mono on the reel fish. then when some fished died they clamp down and all of us fly fishermen get a bad name.
I am rather opinionated about a lot of things. I think there is an Ethical right and wrong here not just a matter of esthetics. If someone is out there only to catch as many fish as they can there is something wrong there!
I don't think it's an education problem it's a charecter problem. I see the same thing when i am in Montana some people aren't happy if they dont get a 20 incher every time they go out. If someone can't appreciate just being out and enjoying the fellowship with the river then they should just go golfing and make everyone happier including themselves.
I really have no problem if someone wants to indicator fish but they should do it in a way that doesn't endanger the fish and doesn't tie up the water.. And also they shouldnt call it fly fishing.
Well said "OC." Problem with just 'guilt' is until they sign the huge ticket most people can live with a little guilt. I'ts the "socially redeaming experience" of standing in front of the judge and forking ove $300 that seperates the man from the boy.
At the top end of the Rogue they opened the water for salmon fishing (far too many!) to increase "sportman" catch. Deadline is clearly marked .... assuming your not legally blind. Day after day I'd drive by and watch person after person cast up into closed waters so they could drift fish every last inch of 'open water' they could.
"The Man" walks up, photo's and your down $150; if you catch-land you're out $300 and loose your licence. Deter anyone ...... 162 $300 tickets in 30 days.
I guess they're going to do it again late this year for salmon and winter steelhead hatchery production. Word is this time they're going to string a heavy steel cable across the deadline and cast away if you will .... just bring plenty of extra gear.
I have always enjoyed your posts and your pictures as you show a love and anthuisasm for this sport that is at times unmatched and I have always admired that over the couple years that I have been reading your posts on the Web.
I will be the first to admit that I fish indicators on the Stilly. I will not go into detail on this technique but I will say that it is an extremelly effective way to rise a steelhead. This method was brought to the river by one of the greatest fisherman I know. He fishes to catch fish and he does it better then most...but he does not just fish to catch fish. He passed on the technique to a couple really good freinds of his that worked at a tackle shop. When I started working there over 4 years ago, I was a self-taught fisherman/steelhead/flyfisherman and had yet a solid hook up to a steelhead. They passed this technique onto me and I proceded in my first summer fishing indicators bringing atleast a few steelhead to hand.
At first I scoffed at it as the Stilly was fly-only and I knew the controversy sourounding the indicator fisherman. But I was tired of not catching a steelhead and finally decided to fish it.
My ethics and how I look at fishing did not change. I still fish because I love rivers, I love steelhead, I love the people I meet along rivers and I love being outside and I LOVE catching fish. Yes I have parked my arse at the Fortson Hole and fished it hard. And I have spent many summer days and evenings fishing what used to be the Deer Creek Riffle. I always step through and I always give plenty of room to other fisherman. I do not fall into the category that you describe as I treasure the river as much as I do its fish. I do not catch one fish after another-because I cant and mainly because I dont feel right about putting the stress that one fish caught and released after another puts on the run.
The bad rap that indicator fisherman have gotten on the Stilly does not come from the first fishers to use the technique on the river but comes from alot of the old timers strong distate for this technique and also from many fishers without ethics copycatting this technique and snagging kings, not stepping down etc. etc. I dont like them anymore then you do!
I hope my rambling cleared some things up and BTW-You would much rather fish with a floating line and dry fly any day, right? So why dont you when its the middle of January and the water is running 35 degrees? Some people may say that you dont have the same ethics because you fish a sink-tip...
I can't agree with you on that one buddy, although you do make some very good points. In my humble opinion, and in no way do I mean to do anything but express my opinion, I think fishing with an indicator is worlds apart from fishing with a sinktip and/or dry lines.
In one case, you are fishing the indicator, in the others you are fishing the fly. The angler is paying attention to what the indicator is doing while letting it control the depth and drift - not the line or the angler (other than positioning the cast).
A stronger example is Great Lakes "fly fishing" with slinkies - the weight is achieving the same purpose, IT is doing the fishing not the fly angler / line. The focus is on the intermediary device controlling the fly, not the line tension and rod.
In fact the first fly lines were sinking lines, it took them a while to figure out how to "grease" them.
The other major difference is that when floated or drifted, the fly is moved to the fish. When fished dry or with a sinktip on a swing, the fish is moved to the fly. It takes years to get consistent, and the shitluck factor is huge.
In a conversation with my wife on day, I realized that I do not fish for fish - I fish for satisfaction. This doesn't necessarily have to include fish (but they sure help with the satisfaction!). I am more satisfied by moving a fish to the fly than working my fly to the fish, and more satisfied by becoming one with the fly on the end of direct rod / line tension control than aided by an intermediary device. I stuck with it and got pretty consistent, eventually. That's probably all wiped out by now from lack of practice... but that's another story.
Now I am not opposed to people fishing by any legals means anywhere, hell the laws still allow people to fish roe in native steelhead waters. I don't agree with it but I am not chaining myself to a rock to protest it (not yet anyway }>)
I think indicator fishing is a very effective way of fishing and I don't think people who fish using any means enjoy the beauty of the river any less than I do. I just wanna know who the hell is leaving their empty Schmidt cans on the bank! It sure isn't any guy with a fly rod that I've witnessed, indicator or otherwise.
What I am saying is that when the control of the fly is passed from the control of the rod and line to an intermediary device, in my (subjective) opinion it takes the satisfaction right out of it for me, and I since that's what I fish for it makes a difference to me.
Just my .02, no inference beyond my editorial intended
There is an evolution of an angler. At least for most of us, we start out with a bobber and a worm. It is not wrong, that is the way you learn as a kid. At least in my case, I soon moved on to spinners and the beginnings of a catch and release ethic.
Some of us, I would argue the lucky ones, eventually trade the spinning rod for one a little longer and designed to throw flies. These flies are little and at least early on, mostly dry. We are in heaven and watching 6-8" trout come up and smack a small dry fly is all we dream about. On most western streams summer dry-fly fishing is so productive that we are forced to catch and release most of our fish.
Still our focus is on the catch though. Those days, often early in the season, where we venture out and rise few if any fish are seen as disappointments. Conversely, those rare days where we manage to hook and land a monster of 16-18" are lived over and over in our thoughts and stories told. It is interesting to note that these rare fish are almost always killed. Sure we believe in catch and release but hey, these fish are trophies. We have earned the right to kill them.
After a few years, a subsection of us will decide we are ready for a more difficult challenge. We have heard about the holy grail of a steelhead on a fly and even though it sounds like catching lightning in a bottle, we decide to give it a try. What follows for most is countless hours casting. If we are lucky, or unlucky depending upon your perspective, we might see a fellow angler hook a fish. We might even briefly have one on ourselves. It is the rare novice though that brings a fish to hand their first time out, or their second or their tenth. Soon most of those wanting a challenge decide that this is not for them. Maybe it is the trout fisher in them that says, "if I am not catching fish, this is not fishing".
For those that keep with it a wonderful transformation happens. The goal becomes not the catch but the pursuit. Oh don't get me wrong, the catch is wonderful and without the chance of it, the pursuit loses luster. But it is the need to be on the river, the need to cover the water the best way you know how and the need to do things right that drives us. If we do all those things AND the fish gods smile our way, a steelhead might take our offering and unleash both its adrenaline and ours. This is nirvana.
As this transformation is going on, and maybe because of it, the last piece of the catch and release ethic falls into place. It is no longer about the fish, it is about the fishing. Without the fish there can be no fishing so how could we bring ourselves to kill these wonderful creatures. Oh sure, we will bonk a hatchery fish from time to time because that is what they are there for. I would bet though that most do so with at least a twinge of guilt. And many of us even let the hatchery fish go. Hey we have earned the right to do it.
All of which brings me back to the subject of banned flies and indicator fishing. While each of us has evolved from bobber and worm, we have evolved at different rates, to different points and with different needs. For some, there is no longer the need of the fish to hand. Just the possibility is enough. For others, that is why they fish. Neither is right or wrong or for that matter better than the other. As long as both are legal, both are ethical and the fish are not unduly harmed, neither method is superior.
There is no doubt that indicator fishing is a very effective way to hook fish. I have tried it a couple of times and yes it works. Personally, it is not for me though. For the same reason I prefer not to fish nymphs and an indicator for trout, I prefer to not indicator fish. Both feel like a step back to the bobber and worm days. And contrary to the oft quotes saying, "you can never go home", you can, it just is never as good as it was before.
That is why I will continue to get up early and sweat in summer and freeze in winter. Hour after hour just trying to do it right so maybe just maybe, the gods may decide to smile.
Gotta say I agree with Ryan on this one, not because I fish indicators but because of the 'attitudes' I witnessed on the river.
If a fisherman (or woman) is courtesous and fishing within the rules of the river, I say have at it! I don't fish with indicators (i might if i did more true Winter Steelheading), but know plenty of anglers who do.
And I agree that, at least for me, hooking a fish on a swung fly and tight line is far more enjoyable (and less effort) than watching an indicator like a hawk waiting for it to dip or drag.
But that doesn't mean that others might not enjoy it!
Every FF site on the web has had numerous topics about the ethics of indicator fishing and frankly I'm getting tired of the infighting. I don't indicator fish but that doesn't mean I'm a purist, I don't look down on them. Sometimes I'll watch and see where they are presenting there fly for my next time throught. I can't think of the last time that I used a tip in water above 48 degrees, have I and will I again, yes. Do I get pissed when someone is not moving through a run the way I do? Yes, because that is the only way anyone should fish. Damn straight because I do it right. (TIC)
Nflash, I've seen more salmon and steelhead lined on the Kalama and Oregon coast with heavy tip than with a weighted fly. I think Ryan was correct the technique does not determine the ethics of the angler. Is FE a bad guy for fishing three flies in the pocket water of the Rogue? Should I have thought different of Juro the first time I met him as he was fishing a short type II tip in the summer? One of the most infuriating times I've ever had while fishing was on the Thompson three seasons ago, a group of guys from a Wenachee area flyshop where fishing tips not moving through runs and corking people for the bucket when they could. That same trip I had guys fishing gear three times ask if they could drop below me and fish an area of the Graveyard that I couldn't cover. Where are the flyfishers ethics here?
The esthetics need only be pleasing to the person using that technique. Rob, the first time I met you on the river you were fishing a pretty long (by my standards) section of DWE, I was fishing a 10' 8wt type III should I think less of you? NO. You made a determination of what equipment would present the fly in the manner you felt would provide you the greatest opportunity of hooking a winter fish. This while fishing in a method you feel is ethical and esthetically pleasing.
Granted we tend to be cleaner on the banks than some but, we also number fewer and therefore have a reduced impact But answer me this what makes us right and them (indicator, gear, bottom bouncers, back trawlers, etc) wrong. I would rather a fisherman throwing hardware fishing 10lb maxima hook a native steelhead in the Deschutes than Trey C fishing a 4wt or Jim T going for another line class record.
I guess after all this rambling, I believe it is our place to live our lives and provide good examples to others without alienating them at some point in the future we may need their assistance. I'm not suggesting we stray from controversy but we must look at our own methods and motives as well. Thanks for you time!
I have been debating how to chime in on this one. The few of you that know me know that I love the North Umpqua it is the place that I would stay 365 days a year if I could. I have grown up disliking indicator fisherman because of that place. I watch them abuse the privilege we have to fish this wonderful river. I watched one guy hit a fish every 10 to 15 minutes in upper boat last year. In August that is a lot of stress on the fish and no one swinging more traditional methods would have taking that many. They shut the pool down for everyone. That is pretty selfish if you ask me. But that being said I fish ugly bugs (no indicator just dead drift style and learn to detect a take, I will tell you I am sure I missed more then I hooked because I didn’t see the take which is fine with me) and lead eyed leeches and have taken fish on them. A two fish day is a good day for me fishing this method not an 8 or 10 fish day like I know a lot of indicator fisherman expect down there. I know a lot of guys down there that will stop fishing them after one fish is hooked. This is what I took to doing.
There are more then one way to catch fish. I enjoy a deep sunk wet fly, ala Bill McMillan. Is this wrong because I am not in the first 6 inches of the water column? I don’t think so. I do make a difference between weighted flies and indicators though. I will agree with Brian I think it has a lot to do with the fisherman and how they fish. Is it right to sit in upper boat for 2 hours hit 8 fish with lob 30 feet of line then feed line feed line feed line and watch the bobber. I don’t think so. But I don’t have a huge problem with a guy working through a run with weighted fly when they keep moving down the run.
I know there are different methods to catching steelhead and all of them are valid but no one should abuse the privilege that we have to fish for these amazing fish and when that happens, people go over the top with rules and making up regulations that may seem over the top. Lets face it there are times and water where no traditional swing will take fish. It can be an other tool in the bag.
There is a huge part of me that wants to rip the indicator guys because I just don’t see it as fly fishing. It is a bobber and jig method. But who am I to say you can’t fish that way. I am here to say that on one I mean no one should abuse a resource. An 8 fish day fishing 5 miles of river for 14 hours isn’t abuse. But some things I have seen indicator fisherman do I would constitute as abuse.
Everyone has good points here. Sinktip brought up the bobber and worm as a young kid. Ya know I bet for most of us those were the most wonderous days we have ever had fishing, totaly a new sensation. Thing is if we fish that way now it just does not have the same feeling.
We all love fishing and we have evolved as fishermen throughout the years each one of us have set new standards and personnel fullfilment goals to work with. When I was Ryans age I fished for all the same reasons I'm sure he dose. They are great reasons and a progression over his days worm and bobber fishing. We all are changing constantly on how we fish be it from age or we have met some sort of personnel goal and find the fishing we are doing no longer as challenging.
Who knows what 5 years down the road will bring for any of us and how we feel we need to fish. Sometimes It scares the hell out of me to think about where I'm headed as a steelhead fishermen. The thought of fishing floating only and no hook on the fly year round. After all I'm at a stage where I'm more interested in seeing the fish come to the fly than I am hooking it and landing it. So why not take that next step and just fish without a hook. Well I can't because I'm not there yet. I probably like most of us have many stages yet to go before we meet our own ultimate goals as fly fishermen.
Maybe most of you don't think about goals and fly fishing, I'm 50 now and many years away from where Ryans at and the two young guys I mentioned in my last post about weighted flys on the Stilly. The last few years I think about where I've come from as a 12 year old fly fisherman. I for one am no better than the indicator fisherman just in a differen't place. And the good thing for most of us is where ever we are now will be a different place down the road.
There is nothing wrng with fishing a nymph and indicator.
Is it bad ethics to tie up a run for hours on end when you know other people want to fish it ? YES! Do the fishermen i am talking about know better? YES.. I have talked to them about it.
Is it wrong to use a light rod and light tippets during periods of high water temps? YES Do these guys know better? YES i have talked to them about that too.
As I said before the guys about whom i am speaking care about nothing more than putting as many fish on the bank as possible. Therefore i say no weighted flies is a good thing.
I am not going to go into the jigflybobber fishing debate. I will say this much.
I participate in a predatory, blood sport. I or my species has evolved into the alpha predator. The “sport” has evolved from a means to obtain dinner to a pastime for some of us. Please don’t tell me it is more than a pastime to you. It is just a term. I am not surprised that the progress of evolution varies among us. I will not past judgement because someone else’s predatory nature has evolved more or less than mine.
This thread started in response to WDFW’s attempt to protect Chinook salmon during low water conditions. I do believe that if the river is low and fish are stacking up in deep holes perhaps it should be closed to all angling until conditions improve. I don't understand why WDFW would try to stop certain types of fishing when simply closing the river will solve the problem. Bottom line should be protecting the fish. If you tell me I can't use weighted flies and I still want to target the fish stacked up in deep pools I will simply use weighted lines. Different technique, same results. I could easily set up a short high density tip with a long leader., a buoyant fly and “catch” fish.
The rotations of systems by year is another plan I like.
Yet I am very much in favor of selective fisheries and wish there were more controls on the way people are allowed to fish. If you let 100 guys with fresh roe loose on a river and 100 fly guys, each camp of equal skill level in their methods, the impact on the population would be pretty lopsided. Generally speaking, fly guys (for the most part) are willing to put in the time for their magic moments and are not interested in figuring out how to snag dour salmon. The roe guys would not try to snag a fish either, but they are going to hook plenty. I believe selective fisheries can have a profound protective effect on fish populations, if for no other reason than to turn off a large number of suitors who are not happy with an occasional grab.
When I lived out west I would go fish the C&R extended fall coho season at Sekiu regularly. Most shops (Olsens, Curly's, Coho, etc) would be pulling their docks and boats. Van Ripers would try to raise interest and stay open, but one year my brother and I were the ONLY ONES TO SHOW UP to fish the C&R season. In return he gave us the best unit in the resort as an upgrade, but how do you keep a business running when no one will fish for fun at Sekiu? We hammered 'em.
My point is, selective fisheries do have a way of protecting runs. In fact I could be just fantasizing but I believe that's why the North Cascade native fishery has survived into the 21st century.