Monday, August 25, 2008

Jackson Hole Cutthroat

On my return trip from British Columbia, I made a pit stop in Jackson, Wyoming to meet up with some other friends from Japan (Take-san, Ongawa-san and Kawasumi-san). We stayed at the ranch home of Hamano-san located at the base of the Grand Tetons near the National Elk Refuge. It was a beautiful log cabin with amazing views! Here is a view from the back yard.We stayed in the guest cabin. Take-san relaxing before heading back to Flat Creek for more fly fishing. Saturday morning Hamano-san took us to meet one of his neighbors, Yvon Chouinard. Yvon is a famous mountain climber, author, fly fisherman and business man. He is most recognized as the founder of the Patagonia clothing and gear company.

Take-san and Koichi-san discuss fly tying techniques. We were all a bit star struck. For outdoor enthusiast, meeting Yvon Chouinard is like meeting the Pope.

I had to sidle-up for a picture. (-:

After our brush with celebrity, it was time to head to Flat Creek. Flat Creek is a slow moving spring creek that winds through the Grand Teton valley. The banks have been undercut making perfect hiding places for the skitish cutthroat. We used terrestrials flies such as grasshoppers and ants during times when there was no mayfly hatch.

But around 12:00 noon there was usually a large hatch of grey drake mayflies. This one was nice enough to pose for a picture.

Clouds of mayflies can be seen rising into the sky as they hatch from the water. This drives the trout into a feeding frenzy, a situation every fly fisherman hopes for.

It was during a may fly hatch that I caught my first cutthroat.

Notice the red marking or "cut" under the head from which they are named.

After a few photos we released the cutthroat to fight another day. I caught 4 cutthroat in total for the two days. Not a lot of fish but I was happy.

I owe a special thank you to my new friend Koichi-san, who guided me on Flat Creek.

Koichi-san is a professional fly tyer and expert fly fisherman. I learned a lot during my two days of fishing together. I hope you will visit his blog...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

BC Steelhead on the Fly

Last week I had the great fortune of reuniting with two of my good friends from Japan (Dr. Kawano and Mr. Sakai-san) in British Columbia. We met in Vancouver and flew to the Kalum River Lodge in Terrace, BC for 6 days of guided steelheading on the world famous Skeena River. The Skeena has the largest run of wild steelhead in the world and currently holds the world record for the largest steelhead.

The first day, Dr. Kawano landed the first steelhead of the trip. The guide (Andrew Rushton)estimated it at about 20 lbs. He said this is a "dream fish". The fact that it was taken on a fly rod makes it even more special. Steelhead are protected and it is illegal to keep them in Canada, catch and release only. So after a few quick photos we allowed the trout to continue his journey upstream to spawn. Unlike salmon, steelhead do not die after spawning, they return to the sea and will spawn many times in a lifetime.

Mr. Sakai-san caught this beautiful steelhead. It measured 40 inches long and had a 20 inch girth. According to the steelhead weight formula, it weighed 21 lbs. It had great coloring around the gills. A steelhead is actually a sea-run rainbow trout. So they often have greenish backs and red/purple on the sides, especially during spawning.

I caught this steelie on a single hand 9 wt fly rod. Estimated weight is 13 lbs. These fish are incredibly strong. Most anglers consider the steelhead to be the strongest sportfish in the world pound for pound. I can believe it! I landed 5 steelhead for the week, size ranged between 12 and 15 lbs.

Mr. Sakai-san doing battle.

Nakamoto-san, another guest at the lodge, caught his first ever steelhead.

Arimoto-san shows off his first steelhead.

This is a chum salmon (in spawning colors) caught on the Kittimat River.

Coho salmon.

Tony, the assistant guide caught the largest steelhead of the week, about 25 lbs!

Group photo wearing our Skeena 2008 commemorative shirts. Me, Mr. Sakai-san and Dr. Kawano

Everyone caught a lot of fish and had a great time. We have already started discussing our 2009 fishing trip. Some possibilities include New Zealand, Patagonia and Christmas Island. But who knows?

If you would like to take a trip to BC for steelhead fishing, I can highly recommend Andrew Rushton's Kalum River Lodge.