Jul 31, 2014

TAL ON TAL

Talaheim lodge
There's no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can't keep my mind from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I
Pink Floyd

Okay, David Gulmore was singing about planes, but it applies the same to my feeling as a helicopter takes off leaving me on a small gravel bar on the Taluchulitna. I had the chance to experience the Talaheim lodge on the Talachulitna river thanks to a friend who had been their previously. The "Tal" lies about one hour by small plane northwest from Anchorage. The location requires a shorter journey compared to rivers in the Bristol bay drainage yet a similar atmosphere of remoteness. The owner of the Talaheim lodge, Mark employs a staff who strive to provide to the needs of all the guests. You can't help leaving without feeling spoiled. Guides are first rate and professional. We had the pleasure of the company of Scott, Mason and "Doc" who lead us each day in the pursuit of Kings. I couldn't ask for a better trio of guides who definitely excel at flyfishing the area but are equally adept at using gear if that is your preference, not that there's anything wrong with that. Each day begins with a hearty breakfast concluding with a discussion regarding the possible fishing options and split up according to preferences. Our purpose was to swing for Kings but the trout fishery itself is equally impressive as evidenced by the dozens of "bycatch" trout that I landed on King flies during the week. The trout could definitely be described as fat and frisky, and I spent a better part of a day skating mouse patterns for 16-20 inch leopards. I'm told that the Silver Salmon season is not to be missed as well.
Talaheim lodge
Can't keep my mind from the circling skies

After breakfast, we took off in one of two helicopters to our preordained destinations. The majority of the fishing is spent on the Talachulitna or its tribs but can extend to other rivers depending on conditions. The Tal is a small to medium sized river that sets up as if it were designed by an engineer with a spey rod in hand. After our drop off, the guides inflated 2-3 person kayaks that we paddled downstream to the next run. The river float was a value added to the overall enjoyment of the trip. None of the water was particularly technical and those with less river experience were paired with the guide. Though the run this year did not allow keeping any fish, we all landed KIngs during the week along with grayling and the aforementioned trout. At the end of the day, a short helicopter ride with views of the nearby mountain range and occasionally Denali would return us to the lodge. After a quick hot shower in 2-4 person cabins with heater, I would return to the main lodge for a frosty beer from a keg or glass of wine to share fishing lies and exaggerations. Dinner each night was delicious and an opportunity to sit around a table and enjoy the company of friends and staff before retiring to our cabins and a warm comfortable bed.

Charlie reels in a King
I really appreciated that the lodge and its staff really went out of their way to accommodate our preferences whether affecting the choice of sodas in the cabin fridge, our next day's lunch, our preferred type of water to fish, or techniques for catching fish. I would not be guilty of hyperbole by suggesting that the staff attends to every detail. Their operations are one of the few that I've experienced that are a truly personalized for each guest. The Tal is a beautiful river with all the runs of salmon and a healthy resident population of trout and grayling and beautiful backdrops around each bend.  Pressure on the Tal is shared by float trips that for some reason seem to originate from Northern Europe. Fortunately, the river cannot be accessed from jet boat travel from downstream leaving the river well spaced between fishing parties. In fact, at least half of my days on the river, no other fishermen were seen.

There's no sensation to compare with this

If you want to be pampered in style without being sheltered from all the beauty that Alaska has to offer then this is the trip for you regardless of fishing preferences or experience. A few of our party had little to no experience with spey rods much less using them to catch Kings but were successful. My only criticism would be that this is not the trip to lose any weight or get any work done. But I'm willing to suffer in silence remembering fish caught, epic scenery, and laughs shared.


Gorge Fly Shop Contributor 
Charlie Chambers



Talaheim's Alaska Fishing Lodge: Marketing Video



"Fly Fish the World with Us"




Jul 25, 2014

CARPE' THE NOW


Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh. W. H. Auden 


The original intent of this piece was to regale everyone with the follow up to my insistence on practicing your cast especially before a distant trip to salt water. My plan was to recant Heminway-esque tales of fishing for tarpon accompanied by the requisite fish porn, But alas, sometimes the fishing gods rear up and hit you with the butt end of a 12 weight with moody fish that are few and far between. During this recent humiliation in the Keys, the time on the water gave me time to pause and savor each moment while being poled around into a head wind.

The time directed my thoughts to my great friend, Jeff. We've had a friendship that has a grown over the past 35 years, and I've been blessed to share a number of adventures and engaging conversations with Jeff. My dream is to one day "grow up" to be Jeff. He's had a number of bad breaks that would certainly crush a lesser man's spirit, but he always remains smiling despite his fortunes. He reminds me of Lieutenant Dan from "Forrest Gump" who defies the furies despite being tossed about during an epic storm. Jeff grins from ear to ear while echoing a throaty laugh despite all hell breaking loose around him. I've laid witness to his Cheshire Cat grin while he's been caught reeling in the wrong direction, grabbing the fly line during a steelhead run, riding a motorcycle over a mountain pass with snowflakes on the ground. Carpe' diem is an overused catchphrase with a wonderful sentiment. Jeff lives the sentiment on a nano level trying to savor each sweep of the second hand.

Instead of wallowing in self pity regarding the anorexic tarpon, and the leader that broke with little pressure, I decided to put my best "Jeff" on, and embrace my blessings. I thought about how fortunate I am to be fishing for sport not for sustenance. And not having to provide for my family with my fishing prowess was such a luxury. My family would starve and I'd have to resort to agriculture. I enjoyed the warm breeze against my face that was so much more nourishing than the AC duct in my office. I marveled at my boat mates casts that would lay out in a more perfect geometry than fussing about the placement of my icons on my computer desktop. I witnessed the skill of our guides who could keep us positioned so well in a boat effortlessly and quietly despite our large frames and steady head wind. And how the heck do they speak so calmly with fish approaching the boat and getting to witness another poorly executed cast from me? Some miracles have to be appreciated and not understood. The final blessing of each day was to sit around a table peeling shrimp, sharing a cold one and laughing the night away with great friends.

This steelhead season, I'm planning to keep the same mental attitude though I'm sure at times I'll regress. And despite how the fishery treats me, I'm always going to have a a great trip. Though moments can be fleeting, they resonate for years without any embellishment. Best to treat them well.


Gorge Fly Shop Contributor
Charlie Chambers


"Fly Fish the World with Us"



Jul 22, 2014

Who needs fireworks?

Starting somewhere around the first week in November I start jonesing for 4th of July weekend on the Deschutes. Every year we float the river with friends over the 4th looking for a good time and potentially an early summer steelhead. Launching at Mack’s Canyon is a short 24 mile float through the roadless section of the lower, lower Deschutes. I had the priveledge of working this lower 24 miles for the previous month running trout trips and knew every camp was overgrown and tick infested so I wasn’t upset when our standing date with friends was cancelled. So what to do? We hemmed and hawed around a bit about possible road trips far far away but settled on easy. A nice jet boat trip, just Marni and I, to relax and maybe fish and maybe not.


The Mayor with a July Hog.
I had been up the river on the 3rd with the Hood River “fish boy” Gabe Cunningham and the river had been kind. With my itch scratched, my mindset was that of a camper not a fisherman…or so I claimed to my wife. So we packed up our backpack size camp and headed up the mighty Deschutes the afternoon of the 4th, no fireworks just each other’s company and the river. Had I not scratched my itch the day before I might have been upset to see one group spread out acrosss the vast expanse of Wagonblast but I was just camping out so whatever. We made our way up the remaining rapids to the middle lower lower and found a nice shady camp sitting on a two hour fish, gotta love July.


Now that’s’ a small camp!
Setting up camp for us consisted of tying the sled up so it wouldn’t get blown around, setting up a couple cots, plus the BLM required toilet. Cool, how about a cold one to celebrate the Declaration of Independence. It didn’t take long to take in the sights and sounds of the river. A deer scampering into camp way closer than normal so I snuck up and tried to get a close up, no dice she busted me right away. We watched her for a while, she was big and it seemed odd she didn’t have a fawn with her. So we watched a bit then settled back into the shade.


Notice our little friend in the background, proably looking for her fawn.
The camp we chose has full day shade, is one of the hardest spots to get, buts there’s just one thing… it’s shown us a few too many snakes over the years. Marni has a pretty good eye and it’s not long before she spots a very large rattle snake making the crossing through the sand. We been walking around barefoot all day and I’m a real softy and love all animals so I grab my snake gun, a small caliber pistol with bird short and snake be gone! Nine buttons on that bad boy and just over forty inches long, good riddens. Now Marni’s in the boat and I explain to her, “it’s the same as last time, now they know we’re here”, trying to convince here no more reptilian visitors will come.


No caption needed, those are our footprints all around.
The sun dropped behind the rimrock of the canyon and I felt a gravity level pull to the river. Marni gives me a green light and says “just be back by dark”, yeah right! So I pull up my spanking new Simms G3 waders, strap on my wading belt (required for this run), and head off to where there should be a cut in to the river. Tomy surprise no one has cut a path into the not so secret spot, looks like I’m cutting trail. There I sit with my virgin stick the Winston 6126 B3X, that’s what I’m callin it BIIITH just sounds lame, sorry winston should have asked I’d of told you.

 Secret spot, this ended up being out of range for my Hero shot…
I’ve made this fish with and without clients for a long time. Standing before me is arguably the most consistent and productive steelhead run on the entire lower Deschutes and I’m all alone. So I start in, the wind is blowing July hard and I’ve given it a name, it’s “nuclear”! The B3X is lined with a 420 Airflow compact scandi and a 9’ 0x leader, same set up I used on the B2X predecessor. I’m having no problem fishing my standard twelve strips even in the wind. I wasn’t sure I would like this rod as well as the BIIX but it is easily the best casting 6 weight spey rod I’ve cast. So cast and step with the assistance of my trusty wading staff, I nearly go down a half a dozen times as I negotiate the river bottom by brail. With every passing second it’s getting darker and my chances fewer. I can still make out the fly line in the distance but I am pretty much guessing where my fly is. I make it to the wet rock which is where the magic usually happens. So I’m 45 minutes into my only run of the day, my purple green fly is making it’s way through the pool and I’m anticipating getting throttled. An hour in, I’m reminding myself how early into July this is. Somewhere in the middle of my day dream the line comes tight and my Hatch 7-Plus blows up into knuckle buster mode. By the time I get my rod up and realize I’m fishing a right hand retrieve reel this fish is three hundred feet straight below me doing cartwheeels in the tailout. The Winston is still in my right hand so I shove my fingers into the spool to slow the situation down, more cartwheels at 300 feet. I finally get things under control, rod in the left hand and a some minor drag udjustments and I start working this little piece of insanity back up above the island but this fish isn’t done. My line is running up river and the fish is doing cartwheels 100 feet up river from where my line is making a little white mouse, God this fish is hot! I finally get the running line back to the reel and start working the fish up, I’ve been hooting and hollering for about fifteen minutes and I can see the flashes coming from the camera a hundred yards upriver. I slide the most beautiful little hen you’ve ever seen right alongside me, tail it and pull a perfectly place fly from the corner of its mouth. I turn back towards the boat and heft the fish into the air with a war cry and see more flashes. Literally this was amateur hour for me, you know, “act like you’ve been there before”…not this time.

My itch is scratched again, should I wade back into shore and call it a night? I thought about it, I really did, didn’t do it but I thought about it. So I come tripping my way back to camp in the dark (no head lamp, I said it was amateur hour) about two hours from my start time. All is well so I grab a cold one.

It’s dark out with a half moon sitting just over the canyon wall straight across river. We are looking at the small group of planets and trying to decide which one is Mars. A really peaceful night, the stars had aligned that night for me. As we sat there in the dark listening to music and reminiscing about the loss of our beloved hound, Winston, a couple months ago. We relived some of the memories we’d made on this river together over the last twelve years. The night was peaceful and all was well…at least unitl a loud thud hit the floor of the boat behind me. Marni starts screaming non stop like a Freddy Cruger movie. She’s sitting in the front seat looking back and I’m in the back seat looking forward, I’ve got no idea what’s going on. The thud rewinds in my brain and I realize there is something in the boat with us and it’s big! I stand quickly spin around and trip over the cooler scuffing my knee on the diamond plate floor. The creature stands up off the floor dazed and confused, Marni is still screaming non stop. Suddenly I realize it’s a deer or more specifically, a small fawn! Suddenly the deer decides to abandon ship the opposite side of the boat and into the river it vanished. Still in shock, “what just happened here?”

So I spend the next fifteen minutes or so making fun of Marni’s survival instinct and pondering what would cause a deer to jump into a jet sled with people in it talking and listening to music? Was something chasing the deer? Was there a cougar in camp, a coyote, this is when I really started missing Winston, our 90 pound chocolate lab. Head lamp on, pistol in hand I get out of the boat and check stuff out fully knowing if there was a cat in or near camp he could see me but I would never see him. Let’s just say we slept on our cots that night with a third eye open.

What a crazy day, a giant rattlesnake encounter, a fourth of July steelhead and a deer jumping into my boat…I have seen it all today, who needs fireworks?


Contributed by: Sam Sickles
Steelhead Outfitters


"Fly Fish the World with Us"





Jul 13, 2014

Viva Las Orlando: 2014 IFTD / I-CAST Mega Show

2014 I-CAST / IFTD Show

I-CAST / IFTD - The World's Largest Fishing Show!

Last year's I-CAST / IFTD (the fishing show) was held in Las Vegas. This year we are fortunate to endure Orlando, Florida's - hurricane season, thunderstorms, hot and muggy weather, kids running rampet all in the name of... science? Maybe not quite, but its gonna be interesting. A few Gorge Fly Shop Team Members will have to sacrifice a week of their time to see what's new and improved and worthy to report back to you. Watch our Facebook and Twitter for on the showroom floor accounts of what we happen to find. Be sure to follow our blog and Youtube page for any subsequent posts or videos in the following months.


RECAP (Vegas/2014 Product):

Video Playlist

What to look forward to?

New for Sage 2015:


Domain Reel Series

New for Winston 2015:


  • BORON III TH-MS (Micro Spey)
  • Winston Nexus (Revolutionary All-Graphite Rod)
  • More info coming soon.

New for Redington 2015:

Vapen Black Rod Series
The Vapen Black features our signature PowerGrip, a custom collaboration with Winn Grips (of golf fame), as an option within our Vapen collection. PowerGrip is a non-slip polymer grip technology that reduces fatigue and amplifies power. These fine-tuned, fast action rods will easily become your go-to rod for any fishing adventure.

Vapen Black Rod Series
Redington Vapen Black Rod Series (2015)

FEATURES:
  • All water, fast action rod
  • Integrated composite cork for superior durability
  • Carbon fiber reel seat insert with custom anodized highlights
  • Machined hidden hook keepers
  • Alignment dots for easy setup
  • Durable cordura rod tube with black suede rod sock
  • Lifetime warranty
TECHNOLOGY:
  • X-Wrap graphite technology for maximum vibration dampening, strength and torsional stability
  • PowerGrip is a non-slip polymer grip technology created in conjunction with Winn Grips to reduce fatigue and amplify power.

New for RIO Products 2015:








More to Come...

Mike Prine
Gorge Fly Shop - Webmaster | Product Advertising





"Fly Fish the World with Us"




Rio's InTouch Lines - Get "In-Touch" with the other end of your fly line

It's middle July and I-CAST/IFTD mega show is just a week away. This is where all the dealers go to check out all that is new and improved for the upcoming 2015 season. We'll cast rods and handle reels and catch up on all the latest gear designed to catch more fish (or more fisherman). 



A product that I have watched steadily improve over the last few years is fly lines. I just received product information sheets of the new additions to the Rio InTouch series of lines and I think we all have something to cheer about. 

Sage Method Vs. Anything...

  © 'and' Steelhead.com Mike Prine 2009/2010

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