Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Man Behind the Scene

July 30, 2010

blog_July_30_2010_1[1] There wouldn’t be a if there wasn’t a man behind the scene. There may even be one less fly fishing blog in the world if it wasn’t for that same man. That man is, Ken Holder from California and Jackson Hole Wyomig. I met Ken over twenty years ago. I sold him a pair of Simms wading shoes back in the late 80’s out of the Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop. I was just a young fly fishing maniac trying to earn enough for my next days off and Ken was desperately trying to land a size 14 wading shoe.

Over the years we got to be friends and one day he suggested I have website. It was the thing to do and he could build it and keep it going as a hobby. He suggested that perhaps if I didn’t have enough material to post I could share the website with a friend. I blew off the idea but Ken went ahead and got it started for me anyway. The site was pretty cool and I started adding things like my books and art and the occasional story or article. Maintaining it was a simple side project/hobby for Ken when he was blog_July_30_2010_2[1]out on the road working for United Airlines.  Neither of us dreamt that little website would turn into a huge 500 page step towards my self-employment and what is now Global Fly Fishing.

Ken works hours upon hours on the now massive website and that’s why whenever he visits the Yellowstone area I take him fishing. Today was one of his fishing days. He brought along his girlfriend Nati and asked one favor of me, help Nati catch a fish. We got an early start. The sky was deep blue and clear like the days of September even though its not. Throughout the day the clouds built up and it was hot. There were times today I couldn’t believe I was in the Rocky Mountains it was so hot. Regardless of the intense blog_July_30_2010_3[2]heat, the Pale Morning Duns and the Yellow Sallies hatched all day and the  brookies, rainbows and cuttys were out in full force to eat them.

One of the best ways for me to get a fly fishing newcomer into some fish is to put them in the front of my boat where I can keep an eye on them. I went over some of the basics of casting with Nati and showed her how to manage her line and eventually how to go about fighting and landing a fish. Once that was done we were off and I gave instruction while I was rowing throughout the day.

While all this was going on up front, Ken fished from the back of my boat. He tossed a blog_July_30_2010_4[2]5-weight and an elk hair type of yellow sally I chose from his box. In no time Ken was hooked up. While most the fish on this river are small, I heard the trout sip his fly and  I could tell by the sound it belonged to a big one. By the time I looked over, Ken’s line was headed for some sunken trees. The last thing you want is for your fish to get into a snag so Ken prevented this by turning the fish. You accomplish this by putting as much pressure against the fish as you can based on the strength of your tippet by holding your rod tip low and bent. I like to pull downstream and get help from the current. On most trout, once you change their direction from going back to their home, they will usually fight you in from the middle of the river. Ken went on to land a spectacularly blog_July_30_2010_5[2]colored cutthroat-rainbow hybrid of which I netted and popped a few pictures with my new camera.

I knew I was in trouble the way Nati was looking at Ken's fish. It was the first trout  she’d seen in her life and now she had to have her own something  fierce. Fortunately her casting was getting good so I tied on a sally for her and sure enough the fish liked the fly. She didn’t exactly start putting fish in the  boat. Like anyone learning there were a few mishaps, such as not setting the hook at all, setting too late and completely forgetting what to do when you finally do hook one. Then, Nati got so excited on her first good hook up that she nearly back flipped over the side of my boat!

blog_July_30_2010_6[3]Nati went on to land some fish and get pretty darn good at fly fishing. In fact, we had a stroke of beginners luck when she boated one of the nicest brook trout you will find in these parts. Ken caught at least a dozen trout of all sizes however he was most happy  with Nati's success and the catch of his big cut bow. As for me, it was another great day on the water with friends.

There wouldn’t be a if there wasn’t a man behind the scene. There may even be one less fly fishing blog in the world if it wasn’t for that same man. That man is, Ken Holder from California and Jackson Hole Wyomig. I met blog_July_30_2010_7[2]Ken over twenty years ago. I sold him a pair of Simms wading shoes back in the late 80’s out of the Jack Dennis Outdoor Shop. I was just a young fly fishing maniac trying to earn enough for my next days off and Ken was desperately trying to land a size 14 wading shoe.

Over the years we got to be friends and one day he suggested I have website. It was the thing to do and he could build it and keep it going as a hobby. He suggested that perhaps if I didn’t have enough material to post I could share the website with a friend. I blew off

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Never too Cold for Cannon Balls

July 27 - 28, 2010

I love to travel but it’s always good to be home. Granny and I wait many months to enjoy our summers. One of the favorite things we like to do is to float the many great rivers within a couple hours from home. This week we did our absolute favorite float, the Lower Nunya. It’s a two day overnight trip we dream about during the winter months.

I spent all Monday packing our camping and fishing gear along with organizing the boat. It’s a shame, but because I’ve been gone so much this past spring and early summer we’ve only had the boat out one time. Life jackets were buried in the garage, my bent boat plug needed replacement and the list went on. Finally at 4:30 I made it to Jackson to pick Granny up from work and off we went to the river.

We camped out Monday night and then before sunrise we loaded up with coffee and drove to the launch. As hoped we pushed off the loaded down boat before 8 am. The weather predictions were a little sketchy to say the least. High winds and violent thunderstorms were in the forecast. I packed rain gear I’d typically take for us in October and lots of extra clothes. A brisk wind kicked in early and there was every indication that the forecast was right.

We went quite a ways before our first fish of the day. The water levels are extremely low. The Nunya is affected by a dam and irrigation. It was apparent that the fish were not in the usual spots. To try to find them we started twitching huge dry flies over the deepest of pools. Then we went tight to the grassy banks. Granny can drift her fly literally one inch from the bank better than anyone in the business. At first neither efforts made much difference, but finally she got ripped by a nice 16" rainbow.

Once the skunk is out, my boat generally leads us to a steady flow of fish. It was true Tuesday. Granny took the oars and I immediately botched up two nice browns. One I never set the hook on because I was watching a moose, then the next one I simply set too soon. When I finally got a nice fish on, I lost him on the first jump. It was Granny’s turn before I knew it.

We went a long way again without a fish sighting. This is typical on this section of river because of its lack of structure and wide shallow flats. The water temps get too hot for your average trout. We like it because not many other boats float here because of the mediocre fishing, but for the most part this place is where you enjoy the wildlife, scenery and camping.

It turns out the weatherman was wrong. By 2 pm it was easily 90 degrees and the wind completely stopped. There were a few puffy clouds but no sightings of thunderheads. I was shirtless all the way until sunset. Actually I was wearing half a can of Deep Woods OFF because the mosquitoes and horseflies are miserable. We stumbled into a couple more fish. Both were cutthroats living about fifty feet apart. And both were huge – pushing twenty inches or more. That was a good thing, but the slow fishing overall was a little disappointing.

We always bring plenty to eat and drink. At 7:30 we reached one of my favorite places in the world, beached the boat and set up camp. Granny cooked up an incredible chili dinner and we drank a bottle of red. As we sipped our wine we took turns scanning rock cliffs that we see enormous amounts of wildlife every time we go. Last year we watched two bobcats play for over an hour. This week the hillside was full of mule deer, the occasional moose and numerous raptors.

A storm moved through at about 4 am in the morning. It rained lightly for an hour but then stopped. I got up early and made a pot of coffee and we looked for the bobcats again with no luck. We were fishing before 7 am and the cooler temps made a big difference. Granny got into a bunch of very nice fish in one of my favorite pools. In three back to back casts she landed a hefty brown, a rainbow and then a cutthroat. It was in that same pool that we had the highlight of our weekend as well. I always fish two flies. At least once a year I land two fish at a time (I’m due). Granny only fishes two flies when she happens to pick up my rod. She has never caught two fish at once.

That nearly changed in an instance when a slow moving cutthroat took her top fly. She hooked him and as he turned the point fly (lower fly) got nailed by what looked like a brown that would put a smile on even the most spoiled of anglers. That brown took off the complete opposite direction of the cutthroat and snapped my 0X like it was nothing! I’ve seen it happen before and was not so surprised. Granny however went crazy and wanted to fish three flies the rest of the day if it were allowed!

Dry flies and 0X sounds insane to most people. But trust me, if you are fishing the big dries typical of the Jackson Hole area, heavy tippet is a must. Most Chernobyl ant type flies will twist a tippet while casting and light tippets will completely tangle and spin up on you. Although 0X is stout, if you are twitching your flies like we often do, the fish never hesitate to take the fly because of a thick tippet. And in this hot weather you can land them fast and release the trout unharmed.

Our favorite weekend of the year did not let us down. Although fishing wasn’t fast and furious, our end result was a few nice fish, fantastic (unexpected) weather and good food and drink. The wildlife was abundant and the scenery seems to get better every year. Today it’s back to work for both of us. I’ll be back on the water with my webmaster on Friday. I’ll be floating him and his girlfriend on some secret water.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Artic Grayling

July 22, 2010

Day 13

I’m sitting at the Oslo airport in Norway homeward bound. I can’t wait to get on planes for the next 20 hours so I can sleep!

Yesterday Vladi and I fished the Trysilelva River for Arctic grayling. We slept in and started about 9 am. It was nice to end the trip with a casual day of fishing. Even though nymphing was by far the best method to catch fish I fished an elk hair caddis throughout the day. If the grayling wanted my dry they could have it and if not I relaxed on the bank and watched Vladi vacuum the river. He used three of his gorgeous nymphs at the same time and the method of nymphing referred to as “Polish Nymphing.” The method that Vladi is famous for. He tore them up! He is undoubtedly the best at nymphing I’ve ever seen.

We whacked three 13” grayling and had them for dinner as a treat from the pasta we’ve lived on for nearly two weeks. It was delicious, skin, bones and all (that’s the way Vladi does it as not to waste any meat). Then we slept two hours and drove slow and carefully as to avoid many moose on the way to the Oslo Airport. It’s been a remarkable trip!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Moment of Truth

July 19 -20, 2010

Day 10 & 11

I’ve done it again. I’m delirious. I’ve fished myself into another stupor by literally fishing 40 of the last 48 hours. But I had to. I’m running out of time.

You remember I finished up dinner with Vladi on the banks of the Orkla River at 10 pm two nights ago. I was feeling lucky so rather than go to bed; I went out for another pass through my beat. Well, I went through it a few times and went to bed fishless at 1:30 am. Of course Vladi had been sleeping since 10 pm so when he woke up to the sunrise at 3 am, he got me up to fish again. Talk about being a wreck! Naturally I went.

I fished from 3:30 am until 11 am without stopping, determined to catch a big Atlantic salmon. I fished through some drizzle but for the most part it was an amazing setting of a rising sun and glistening moss covered rocks. My fishing technique became more of a routine and my concentration level dropped off dramatically as the morning went by. At 10:10 am, during my last hour I literally fell asleep standing up fishing. I kid you not. But that didn’t last long.

I guess I was staring aimlessly at my line. My line was like a pendulum. I’d cast at the 45 degree angle and let the current swing it across the river and back to the bank I was standing on. Then I’d take three big steps, strip it half way in and do it again. Imagine doing this for a week with very little action. Then as I was gazing pointlessly at my swinging fly line and I thought I saw a huge figure moving with it. I didn’t know exactly where my fly was but the figure had to be near it. I was seeing things I thought to myself. Then I got the touch. I’ve only heard about it, but I’m told the bigger the salmon the lighter they touch your fly. This touch I could barely feel.

It was near heart failure to actually have this traditional Atlantic salmon situation happening to me. I’ve known about this since I was a kid because Lee Wulff wrote about it in his classic book The Atlantic Salmon. He gives one of the best descriptions ever written and I’ve had this event painted in my mind for most of my life. I never expected to experience it.

I let my fly dangle below me for a minute but there was nothing. When you feel this famous touch, your not suppose to panic. And you absolutely are not supposed to set the hook. You just wait for the touch to hold on and then give the fish line (A very difficult thing to do without experience). Then after the salmon takes line you don’t even set the hook, you just lift the rod up and he’s there.

This salmon wasn’t there at all. He touched my fly and left. All I could do was cast again, and again and again. Then ten casts later, when I was beginning to believe the episode didn’t happen, it happened again. But, I’d lost my concentration. I committed the ultimate sin. I set the damn hook! I felt my hook just nick the mouth of the fish and tear loose. I could picture my fly just dinging the tip of this huge salmon’s hard mouth and now he was bolting all the way back to the sea. He was gone. I was mortified.

There’s no other type of fly fishing that has you talking to yourself like Atlantic salmon fishing. I was mumbling to myself like a drunken fool. A lot of swearing too if I remember. It was horrible. I prayed for two things. Maybe the salmon is stupid enough to give me another chance or maybe there’s more than one. I got a grip on myself and cast again. I didn’t’ move my feet an inch. I just covered the same place over and over and over again. But nothing. About ten minutes and twenty-five casts later still nothing. I assumed it truly was over. I told myself three more casts then change flies. Amazingly, on my third cast an enormous salmon devoured my fly. Not knowing what to do when an Atlantic salmon devours a fly, I set the hook hard and by complete miracle he was there! It was a gargantuan salmon and as he began to realize he was hooked he thrashed on the surface. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Yes!” hoping Vladi would hear me at our distant camp. Then the huge fish started up his turbo thrusters and took off into the fast current and less than ten seconds later the monster was gone. You guessed it, I swore a hundred times and loud. The event took every ounce of energy out of me. I was feeling so weak I couldn’t even shake. That was it. I made a hundred more weak-effort casts in hopes of another big salmon in the area, but I knew it was over and it was over.

I was devastated as I rolled back into camp at 11:10 am when my permit expired. Vladi had the trailer hooked up and ready to go. As I approached he said he tied me a special fly. I really wasn’t listening. I wanted to tell my story but I was too far gone. I’d tell him later. We were headed back to the Gaula River on 2b for one more 24 hour session. I just dropped out of my waders and plopped in the front seat of his car. Even though it was two hours, it seemed like two minutes went by then I was wadering up for the Gaula 2b beat.

It was 2 pm. I felt awful. I remember saying to myself I felt worse than a hangover. I dreamt of my first nights sleep in my own bed three days from now. This was not fishing, this was torture. While waiting for my first turn I told Vladi and the crew at the salmon shed about my event in the morning. Everyone was excited about it. They could see I was sick about it but filled me with encouragement and even gave me some flies they believed in. They said I’d catch another here but I still couldn’t get my mind off the lost salmon.

With the exception of one huge dinner and breakfast and a two hour nap, I fished through the entire 24 hour session. And nothing. Only Lars caught a nice salmon. Naturally, he caught it at 1 am when I was taking my 2 hour nap. When I got to the bottom of 2b at exactly 2 pm today, I chopped off my fly and reeled my line completely in. It was over. I’ve never been so tired in my life.

I was disappointed but I shouldn’t have been. I came to Norway with a goal – catch an Atlantic salmon. I had written in my journal that I didn’t care what size he was. I just wanted to catch one. I caught two. To experience a classic hook up with a giant was a bonus. If I caught him, I may never come back to Norway. Instead, I have to.

Since getting off the Gaula River, Vladi and I drove six hours to the Trysilelva River near the Sweden border. Its Vladi’s favorite grayling river so it should be incredible. It will be our last day before I fly home. I’m so tired I can’t think about grayling fishing right now. All I do know is I’m fishing dries and my 4-weight Ross all day. I can’t wait.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Robbing the Cradle

July 18, 2010

Day 9

The weather has changed. We woke up to a downpour and much colder temps. Throughout the day we had rain and sun and lots of wind. As planned, we slept in and then relaxed and drank our coffee in the salmon shed over looking the Orkla River next to where we are camped. Than at 9 am we went and got our waders disinfected and bought me a permit. Once again, Vladi is going to be a spectator.

My permit for the Orkla River started at 11 am and like on the Gaula, it runs for twenty four hours. It was great to be on some new water. Much of the beat is fast and deep and I used my Rio StreamerTip DC 300gr to get my fly down. At the lower end of the beat the fast water gives way to a magnificent deep pool. All in all it’s an interesting beat with a lot of character. And to top it off, the scenery is fantastic. It’s very wet here and all the rocks are covered with bright green moss. There’s thick forest on both sides of the river and moose poop everywhere.

It’s about 10 pm now. I fished about ten of the eleven hours so far. I just start at the top and swing different flies all the way down to the bottom. It takes me about an hour to fish the whole beat. Then I walk back up and do it all again. There is no one else here so I have it entirely to myself. I saw only about three fish free jump all day and never got a bite. They were big boys so it keeps me going. But overall I’m losing confidence and considering quitting on the hunt for a big salmon and going inland to grayling fish.

Actually I did catch some fish today. First thing this morning I caught a small brown trout. He was stunning in colors. Then I noticed a lot of little guys chasing my fly at the end of the swing. They were too small to eat my salmon fly so earlier this evening I grabbed my 4-weight and a nymph and caught few of them. They were baby salmon referred to as parr. They were gorgeous little guys and kept me entertained for an hour. I landed another brown trout too.

Vladi and I just finished dinner. Vladi is going to sleep and I am heading out for couple more passes through the beat. I’m not sleepy and I have a feeling. We’ll see.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The First Blank

July 17, 2010

Day 8

There’s not much to say about beat 2b today. My permit lasted until 11 am so I was up at 3:30 am to make the best of my precious time. When I arrived at the salmon shed there was some encouraging news. Lars from Denmark, one of the regulars who fishes here all summer long, caught a 4 kilo salmon at midnight. But other than that no one saw or hooked a fish. To make a long repetitive story short, I fished solid from 3:30 am until my permit expired at 11 am. Vladi Trezbunia delivered me coffee to keep me awake and snickers bars for snacks. I caught nothing. During the time the wind howled and the sun got hot. At about 10:55 I got a touch at the end of my swing. It was as if the salmon were challenging me to buy just one more permit for the Stǿren Campground Beat. It wasn’t going to happen.

At 11 sharp I retreated to the camper. I was starved and tired and Vladi made me an incredible breakfast. After that we went for a drive so I could see some countryside and he could visit some friends. We went towards the coast and into Trondheim to start. Tronheim is Norway’s second largest city and is located on one of the world’s largest fiords. It was a beautiful place and nice to see the ocean. From there we went up to Stjǿrdal and then drove up the Stjǿrdalen River. Vladi worked and guided this particular river for several years. About an hours drive up the river we came to a falls and a fantastic little salmon lodge. Back in the 80’s Vladi guided many of the clients that stayed here and we stopped in for a visit in hopes he knew someone.

Sure enough as we pulled in an old friend of Vladi’s was mowing the lawn. This person, who’s name was Willie, stared us down as we pulled in but when Vladi stepped out of the car he recognized him and ran to greet him. Willie is a huge man of about thirty-five. He has lived on the property for his entire life and inherited the duties of maintaining the lodge from his parents whom inherited it from their parents and many generations of family before. Vladi was good friends with Willies father who it turns out died two years ago.

It was a great visit not only for Vladi but me too. I enjoyed an afternoon coffee that I needed bad and listening to the two catch up. From there we headed back south to the city of Orkanger and then up our new salmon spot, the Orkla River. The Orkla is another of Norway’s famous Atlantic salmon rivers. It’s not known so much for having lots of salmon but rather some of the biggest. We settled into a campsite on the river overlooking an incredible pool. Then we investigated the purchase of a permit for the piece of water by visiting the nearest house. Like all homes along Norway’s Rivers, this was sort of a mini lodge that rents cabins and sells permits for the beat.

In Norway you must disinfect your waders every time you switch rivers. Because of this rule, I wasn’t able to start fishing tonight. Unfortunately I have to go to a disinfection station and get my waders and boots cleaned and get a certificate saying I did so. Two bad things here: #1 - disinfection cost about $20 to and #2 - the disinfection station doesn’t open until 9 am tomorrow. With no fishing tonight, today is officially my first day of not catching a fish.

To kill a few hours Vladi and I scouted the beat. We only saw one free jumper but the water looks excellent. Tonight we’ll retire early after a nice pasta dinner and catch up on some needed rest. The good news is that we can sleep in tomorrow which after getting up in the wee hours of the morning five days in a row will be very nice.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site



Monday, July 19, 2010

So Very Sleepy

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July 16, 2010

Day 7

Exhaustion is catching up with Vladi and me. We crashed out at about 9 pm last night with intentions of fishing by 2 am but neither of us woke up until 5 am. After seeing two good fish caught yesterday the last thing I wanted to do was oversleep, so without coffee or a snack I bolted for the salmon shed. There were only three guys fishing and the reason being that not a fish was touched since our one, two three fish in a row yesterday. Everyone’s getting a bit run down with this intense and difficult fishing.

Today was scorching hot and there was barely a cloud in the sky. Once I got on the water I fished hard. With only three of us rotating there was little time for rest. At 6 am both the other guys cashed in as they had fished twelve hours straight and no action. From 6 till about 9 am I pulverized beat 2b by myself without any action either. There were no free jumping salmon and my confidence level was at it’s lowest of the trip. It was apparent that the hot sun was keeping the salmon run at a standstill.

Even Vladi got a little discouraged. He never loses interest in fishing. But at 9 am when my permit expired he suggested we go make breakfast. I thought for sure this meant we would head to another river but during breakfast he suggested we get one more permit and fish a section well below 2b that was included in our permit. “No way”, I thought to myself.

Back when I used to fish competitively in Europe Vladi was kind of a personal trainer to me. I was always a good dry fly guy but my nymphing skills were just average. In order to succeed in fly fishing competition in Europe you have to be able to nymph superbly. Although it wasn’t always fun, Vladi taught me well and I always referred to fishing with him as “Vladi Boot Camp”. Now I was in “Vladi Boot Camp” for Atlantic salmon. Sure enough, after breakfast we got a new permit and drove to the lower part of the beat.

The different section of our beat was refreshing. I didn’t know every rock and seam or what type of water lay around the next corner. I covered the water well for five straight hours. But there were no free jumping salmon and it was far too hot. I fished until 5 pm then told Vladi if I was going to fish I’d rather be on 2b where at least I knew there were fish. Back we went and there were about six of the regular crew taking turns. Still, not one fish had been hooked. It was the first time that there was some serious beer drinking going on and even though the fishing was lousy, everyone was having fun. Naturally I joined in and in no time we had quite the international fishing party.

By miracle, on my first pass through 2b I hooked up. It was a salmon, slightly larger than yesterdays but certainly not my dream fish. And sadly, the salmon inhaled my fly so bad that he died. I have hardly any fish fatalities in a year and unfortunately today it happened to my salmon. You are only allowed one salmon a day. I was done until midnight.

In a way it was good to be finished for the day. I was tired and that salmon was one of the most scrumptious tasting fish of my life. It’s about 10 pm and we just returned from a visit to the salmon shed. There have been no fish caught since mine. We are going to sleep until about 4 and then I’m fishing straight through till 11 am when my permit ends. Then we are switching rivers.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site