Month: January 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: a science-based prediction

While analyzing Google Analytics for the month of January 2014, some rather interesting data was revealed.

Of the total visits to the Unaccomplished Angler in January, 72 were from Seattle; 43 from Denver. Common practice is to divide those figures by one-half and round down as necessary and appropriate to arrive at the final Super Bowl score: 36-21 in favor of Seattle.


Science doesn’t lie.


It’s just science.

Open Fly Podcast, Show 3

Public stream access rights in Utah. What does that have to do with you if you don’t live in Utah? Why should you care?

Valid questions. However, stream access rights can be taken away with one swipe of the legislature’s pen and before you know it, waterways are no longer public domain. Imagine not being able to set foot on the stream bed, or even slow your boat using oars. It happened in Utah; it could happen in your state.

On Show #3 of The Open Fly Podcast we interview the folks at the Utah Stream Access Coalition and hear about their fight to pass a bill giving back rights to fish and recreate on waterways. They also need your help as fighting the good fight does not come without costs. To encourage your support, The Open Fly Podcast is offering up a chance for you to win some sweet raffle goods. If you donate $5 or more to the USAC, email your receipt to theopenflypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com. You will be entered into our next product giveaway. Donate by clicking HERE.

Northern Michigan’s own Brian “Koz” Kozminski

Also featured in our Guide Stories segment of the 3rd show is Michigan’s own Brian Kozminski. Koz talks about True North Trout and what it means to be a fly fishing guide near the ring finger of the Mitten State, plus more.

Listen to the podcast HERE. And thanks for your support.

A cold day in Hell’s Canyon

Team Keystoners.

I’ve written of this trip a couple times in the past, HERE and HERE if you’re interested in reliving the past. But moving right along, year 5 of the annual Clearwater River Debauchery & Steelhead Trip is now in the books and two things stand out as being different this year: One such thing is that we were not on the Clearwater. With early numbers of fish returns lower than in the past, we opted to change our venue in hopes of increasing our catching percentages. Thus we found ourselves on the other river that flows through the Lewiston/Clarkston area: the Snake. And not just the Snake, but the Snake as it flows through Hell’s Canyon.  I’d been there twice before during springtime for Smallmouth Bass and Sturgeon fishing, but never during the winter. If you’ve never been to Hell’s Canyon, put it on your list—it’s a pretty special place. It happens to be the deepest river gorge in the United States—deeper even than the Grand Canyon. Many interesting facts can be found HERE if so inclined.

Staying at the Hell’s Canyon Resort in Heller Bar afforded us all the comforts of home and more if you factor in the pool and ping-pong tables, darts, mini-basketball and drum set. There was no shortage of indoor recreation in which to partake while we engaged in the mature antics one would expect from 12 middle-aged guys whose common bond is that we were all members of the same college fraternity 30 years prior. A quick conclusion is that we’ve all matured nicely, I am bad at darts and worse at drumming. But we were there to fish, and surely I would fair better on the river than I did in the game room. 

Premonition, or a cruel joke?

To boost my confidence, even the room in which I bunked was aptly labeled. Or was it? We would find out in just a few hours.


Huddled around the campfire telling lies and eating cookies.

At 7 am we boarded 2 boats operated by Hells Canyon Sport Fishing: 5 in one boat, 6 in the other; and proceeded upriver into the bowels of Hell’s Canyon. The sky was clear and cold. I’d wager a guess that the air temperature was in the mid 20’s, which isn’t horribly cold until you head into a steep canyon which hides the sun, in a boat moving at a fair clip. Truth be told, thanks to good layering, the only thing that was cold were the fingers, which happen to be an integral part of fishing. Luckily we had a heater on board that we could occasionally fire up to thaw out the digits. Not unlike a campfire, the heater served to provide warmth as well as a central place around which to congregate and boast of our fishing prowess, declare our manliness for being out in the cold weather, and eat cookies. Fortunately we our boat got into fish early on so we didn’t have time to dwell on the cold.

One of many caught by the Boane, the Great Bogarter of Fish.

Another of many caught by Micro The Happy Angler.

Not one for idle chit chat, Lenrod lets his fish do the jaw-flapping.

Jawn invited us all to go fishing with him so he could show off.

And then there was Junior Albacore, who caught more than just a fish.

The steelhead in the Snake are referred to as A-Run fish, which tend to be considerably smaller than the B-Run fish of the Clearwater. I’d say that the 21 fish brought to our boat were mostly in the 5-lb range (some smaller, a couple slightly bigger). By far the biggest fish of the day was attached to the end of my line but never made it to the boat.  As I expertly played the gargantuan anadromous trout, getting it close enough to clearly see that it was an unparalleled trophy, one of my compadres (who shall go unnamed) deftly cast his line over mine and knocked my fish loose (I quickly dismissed critics that suggested perhaps I’d not securely hooked the fish). Not one to cry over spilt milk, I sat in the corner of the boat and wept I angled on. Eventually I would avoid a skunk by landing a diminutive steelhead that, in most parts of the country, would be referred to as a “trout”. When asked if I wanted my photo taken with my catch, I politely declined. My boat mates would have nothing to do with that and threatened to bludgeon me with a cudgel if I didn’t pose for a grip and grin.

A Participant’s Trophy.

We fished until about 4pm before heading back down river 20 miles to “camp”. Due to a lack of communication we didn’t rendezvous with the other boat during the day. Team Underachievement caught some fish, including Bryan’s real nice fish that had obviously made a wrong turn in Lewiston, but their numbers were significantly lower than ours and two members narrowly avoided a skunk by landing some very nice suckers. My kinda people—clearly I’d boarded the wrong boat.

Team Underachievement: Red Pig, Bootay, Bryan, Bakes and Large Albacore.

The second thing that made this year different brings me to a more serious point: this was the first year without one of our brothers. Charlie’s Clearwater fish from a couple of years ago stands as the biggest caught on any of our trips. His title as reigning champ will stand for a long time to come, and rightfully so.  Rest in peace, brother— you were and are missed.

A great man with a great fish.




The Open Fly Podcast, Show 2

The second installment of The Open Fly Podcast is now live. Unofficially we’re calling this one the Sophomore Slump Buster, not because we’re already in a slump but because we have every intention of avoiding that undesirable status. And in our heroic efforts to keep the momentum going (at the time of this writing we have close to 1000 downloads for Episode 1), our second episode features a conservation segment showcasing the work of the Native Fish Society and one of it’s members, Jason Small: just an ordinary guy out there doing good things for the fish.

Our Guide Stories segment this week features Canadian Dave Henry, who tells of fishing with light Spey rods and rugy players jumping out of jet sleds. In this episode I also learn that the Fraser River in British Columbia is not pronounced “Frazier”. Cultural barriers often make for challenging communication, but I think you’ll understand just enough to enjoy what Dave has to say. Check out Dave’s website, , for more information.

Dave Henry on the Bow River


And thanks again for tuning in to The Open Fly Podcast.

EPA finds the obvious: Pebble Mine would be bad.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve heard about the Pebble Mine issue facing the Bristol Bay region in Alaska. For those rock dwellers, it’s a fairly simple issue: Pebble Mine is the common name of a mineral exploration project that is investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska that happens to also be the pristine headwaters of the world’s greatest salmon fishery. Conventional wisdom would suggest that such an operation is an outrageously bad thing, with risks for environmental disaster that far outweigh the economic and environmental value of the fishery and region as a whole.

The EPA has been studying the matter and just released their report findings. The report is science-based, without emotion or other subjective reasoning taken into consideration. Science—nothing more. And that science has declared that the Pebble Mine would devastate a pristine area that is the spawning grounds for arguably the best salmon fishery in the world. 

Trout Unlimited has been a big opponent of the Pebble Mine and considers the matter their top priority. TU issued a press release noting the EPA findings on their website: Press Release can be found HERE.

Some quick points of the EPA report show that the proposed mining operations would:

  • Cause the direct loss of up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams.
  • Destroy up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the Bristol Bay region.
  • Alter streamflows of up to 33 miles of salmon-supporting streams, likely affecting ecosystem structure and function.
  • Create a transportation corridor to Cook Inlet crossing wetlands and approximately 64 streams and rivers in the Kvichak River watershed, 55 of which are known or likely to support salmon. Culvert failures, runoff, and spills of chemicals would put salmon spawning areas at risk.
  • Require the collection, storage, treatment and management of extensive quantities of mine waste, leachates, and wastewater during mining and “long after mining concludes.”

What does this EPA report mean in the fight against the Pebble Mine?  Well, it’s a big step toward keeping the mining operation out of Bristol Bay. Now it’s up to the Obama administration to drive a nail into the Pebble Mine coffin.  We can only hope that conventional wisdom is present in Washington DC. You can help by taking action. It takes little of your time. Click HERE.

Stay tuned and visit Save Bristol Bay for more and ongoing information.

As a related point of interest, the Open Fly Podcast will feature Dwayne Meadows, Trout Unlimited’s Bristol Bay National Outreach Director, on a future podcast. The episode is set to record on February 6th, for release shortly thereafter. Needless to say this will be a very interesting show.

There’s a new podcast in town

There are countless fly fishing-related podcasts from which to choose, if so inclined. I say “countless” because I’ve never counted them—I actually have no idea just how many there are. However, there’s only one that began just a few days ago in little old Duvall, WA: The Open Fly Podcast. And there’s only one podcast with standards so low that I’m allowed in the studio for recording sessions.

Inside the lavish studios of The Open Fly

The Open Fly was the brain child of Evan Burck, a neighboring buddy of mine who is a big wig at Allen Fly Fishing. Evan is a fishing machine and despite lacking the social skills necessary to thrive in every day life, he is a pretty smart dude. With a background in audio recording, he is the technical brains behind the podcast.

One of Evan’s first intelligent moves was to bring Derek Young onboard as a co-host. Derek has the social skills needed to carry the podcast, and with his background as a fly fishing guide—Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year for 2011, mind you—the show has some added credibility. Derek is owner of Emerging Rivers Guide Services, by the way.

The obvious question then becomes, why me?  Clearly a lapse in judgment on Evan’s part. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that he needed a logo for the new podcast (and didn’t want to pay someone to do it). There’s also the likely possibility that Evan and Derek needed a punching bag for the studio. Whatever the case may be, here I am: the Village Idiot of the Open Fly Podcast.

Despite the fact that we joke around a fair bit, we’re very serious about bringing a solid show each week, with conservation being a foremost and important consideration. Our first episode features Shane Anderson of North Fork Studios. Shane has produced a great documentary, “Wild Reverence: The Plight of the American Wild Steelhead.” This is a movie that needed to be made and shines the light on a very important topic. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Wild Reverence in the coming months as Shane promotes his film across the country at film festivals. Shane is passionate about fishing and conservation—it’s a great interview.

Another weekly segment is Guide Stories, in which Derek welcomes a different fly fishing guide to tell stories, share tips and generally endure the hot seat.  Our first episode features Hutch Hutchinson, regional business manager for Orvis, Federation of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructor, and highly experienced guide. Not to mention a super nice guy.


Hey, Hutch—your fly is open!

If a good show isn’t enough to entice you to tune in, we’ll be giving away free stuff each week, too. Listen to find out how you can win an Alpha III reel size #4 from Allen Fly Fishing this week.

Our first episode, and any future episodes, can be found here : The Open Fly Podcast
And now available on iTunes: Click this link

Please give us a listen and pass the word. And remember, your Fly is Open.


Don’t choke on your chicken.

Don’t try this at home.

I’ve long been a fast eater, prone to taking rather large bites—particularly when it comes to carnivorous feeding. And chicken has always been akin to dessert for me. As a matter of fact my dad used to call me a ‘chicken hawk’ because I loved the bird more than cookies or candy. From a very young age I could strip a chicken drumstick clean to the bone, knuckles and all, before quickly moving on to the next appendage. I stopped shy of eating the bones themselves only because I was told they can splinter and become dangerous. Admittedly it is was hard for me to think of chicken as being dangerous. Outrageous! Chicken has always been nothing but pure goodness, and each time chicken was served in our house there ensued a veritable feeding frenzy. And that never changed as I became an adult. I am not inclined toward violence, but do NOT get between me and a cooked chicken.

I’m a chicken hawk.

And so it was on New Year’s Eve day, when I happened upon a roasted poultry carcass in the kitchen, that my eyes lit up and my salivary glands began to do their thing. A low growl emanated from deep within as I enthusiastically commenced to hoark down large hunks of dark meat like it was going out of style. Before the first bite had passed through the pipe into my stomach it was followed immediately by another chunk. Having not eaten much all day in my haste to strip the house of Christmas lights and perform other assorted outdoor chores, I was ravenous. Chicken. Grrrr…Don’t get between the UA and his chicken (I may be repeating myself).

Nom nom nom.

As the sensation of pain/pressure built in my esophagus I realized, Houston, there may have been a slight problem. I didn’t feel as though I was choking, per se—certainly I wasn’t panicked or I’d have gestured to Mrs. UA to commence with the Heimlich Maneuver. Of course she’d have thought I was being inappropriate, again, and would have dismissed my antics. I remained calm, likening the situation to a sweeper blocking a river channel. I reasoned that flood waters tend to remove woody debris, so I reached for a glass of water to help clear the blockage. I tipped the glass to my mouth and…

Imagine this river is my throat and that tree is made of chicken.

The next thing I knew I was seated in the family room recliner, being instructed by Mrs. UA not to get up, “The EMT’s are here.”

Thanks to Duvall Fire for their rapid response.

I had no idea why I was sitting in the chair, how I got there, or why a very tall, handsome man dressed in a firefighter’s uniform was seated before me, asking questions as Mrs. UA swooned in the background. I answered the inquisitions as best I could, apparently repeating myself several times. It should also be noted that my head seemed to hurt and as I reached to remove my hat I felt a growing bump on the back of my head. When I pulled my hand away, there was a small amount of blood and hair, attached to a small chunk of scalp. Slowly it came back to me…

I have a new bald spot.

Up to this point Mrs. UA had no idea what had happened—all she knew was that she had heard a loud crash as the water glass hit the table. Turning to see what the commotion was all about, she observed me falling backward at a 45 degree angle, headed toward the floor. I didn’t crumple into a heap, nor did my knees buckle. No, I toppled straight over like a short tree, my head luckily breaking my fall as I hit the hardwoods.

Series of events.

Mrs. UA had initially feared the worst, that I’d suffered a stroke. I was conscious but not alert as the 911 dispatcher calmly had my wife conduct a couple of simple tests that ruled out a stroke. Perhaps I’d had a heart attack? Mrs. UA had no idea until I told the EMT what had happened: I had passed out trying to flood my blocked craw. Apparently I repeated myself several times when the EMT’s first arrived, but I have no recollection of having done any such thing. Apparently I repeated myself several times when…oh, wait.

I was still feeling rather fuzzy as a series of questions came my way, one of which was whether or not I had recently taken any medications. To that I responded affirmatively, “I took a couple of Tylenol earlier today.”

“Why did you take Tylenol?” asked the EMT.

“Yesterday I drove 12 hours round trip to Oregon. My neck and back are just a little road weary,” was my response.

“What were you doing in Oregon?” questioned the EMT.

“I had to drive to LaGrande to pick up a new boat…are you a fisherman, by chance?” I inquired, still a bit loopy.

Turns out both he and his partner were, so I insisted that they open the door to the garage to see my new toy. They instantly became my new best friends, as this is what they saw…

My new toy: Stream Tech Salmonfly

After a quick ride to the ER where the doctor checked my blood sugar levels, hooked me up to an EKG and ultimately did a CT scan, it was determined that other than a mild concussion, I was medically normal. Mrs. UA took me home where we enjoyed a rather low-key New Year’s Eve. The next morning I awoke with a headache, which isn’t terribly uncommon on New Year’s Day. But instead of alcohol, it was chicken I had to blame for the way I was feeling. Since then Mrs. UA has had me a on a short leash come mealtime, watching over me carefully to make sure that I take small bites and chew my food 20 times. Chicken still excites me and I’ll have to exercise caution and dig deep for self discipline whenever confronted by the tempting bird.

But really this isn’t about me—it’s about my new boat.

UA in ER after EKG and CT scan. I’m OK, FYI.

Rafts and rod tubes

This is not a raft.

Most hard drift boats manufactured in the last few years come equipped with integrated rod tubes for protecting fly rods (at least part of the rod, anyway) whilst in transit downstream. This is an invaluable feature as it’s important to have a safe place to stow the sticks when you’re, well, on the sticks. Rafts, conversely, do not have the ability to include said built-in tubes and without such a protective feature one risks damage to, or loss of, the rods. Therefore many folks rig some sort of protective sleeve or tube for this very purpose.  I recently got myself a Stream Tech Salmonfly drift raft and this matter of creating protective rod storage was my first priority. While researching how best to do this I encountered many different solutions, including some pre-fabricated tubes. Here are some sources for ideas that I encountered:

• Raft rod storage ideas

• Fly rod holders for fishing frame

• Rod storage on rafts

What follows is my personal solution.

I opted to start with a 10 foot section of 1-1/2 inch gray PVC conduit. My intention is to stow one single-handed rod per tube. If you want to have a tube to accommodate more than one rod you will obviously select a larger diameter PVC blank. All but two of my single handed rods are 9 foot. I also have a 10 foot 8 weight and a 7 foot 3 weight. The 10 foot tube will accommodate all these rods.

Step 1: Determine the bend. Position the length of PVC where it will be attached to your raft frame. Mark with a pen or pencil the point at which you wish to bend the tube to conform to the contour of your boat. NOTE: Do not leave the PVC conduit in place on the boat when proceeding to Step 2. Heat guns and inflatable boats do not make for good bed fellows. Place the conduit on the ground—a garage floor works nicely for this.

Step 2: Heat the PVC. Commence doing this only after the conduit has been placed a safe distance away from your boat. There are several ways to heat PVC. Electricians use heat blankets and heat boxes for bending conduit, but if you don’t have access to one of these commercial tools a simple a heat gun will suffice nicely. I happen to have a heat gun that I bought for welding loops into fly line. Begin by holding the heat gun approximately 6 inches from the PVC. Grasping the conduit with your other hand, rotate the conduit so that you are applying heat evenly. It doesn’t take long before the PVC begins to soften—be careful not to overheat or burn the PVC by holding your heat gun too close. Once the PVC is pliable, bend the conduit as desired. If it isn’t bending as you had hoped, apply more heat until you get a nice smooth curve to the material. Hold the conduit in the bent position as it cools. After it has cooled, re-position it on your boat to check for fit. If you have bent too much or not enough, remove the conduit from your boat once again and apply more heat. Adjust the bend accordingly. Once you’ve achieve the shape you want, let it cool for a few minutes.

Step 3: Mark the slot to be cut for your fly rod. Position the now-bent tube on your boat once again. Using a straight edge (I used a 3 foot carpenter’s level) mark the cutting lines for the slot. My slot is 1-1/4 inches wide, which accommodates standard cork grip on a fly rod. How long the cutout for your slot will be is entirely up to you. I wanted to be able to stow and retrieve rods from inside the boat so I made the slots 38″ long. If you don’t mind having to get out of the boat in order to access the rod tubes, your slot can be much smaller. Once you have marked the side cuts for the rod slot, mark the end cuts. I opted to leave 2-1/2 inches at the stern end of the conduit to accommodate a rod with a fighting butt.

Custom-shortened jigsaw blade for shallow cutting.

Step 4: Cut your slots.  NOTE: Again, it’s imperative to remove the conduit from your boat before you begin this task, as saw blades and inflatable boats do not mix well. Depending on the tools you have at your disposal you will cut your tubes accordingly. My tool of choice is the old jigsaw. However, a standard jigsaw blade is too long to allow for making a shallow cut into a conduit that is only 1-1/2″ in diameter. My solution was to shorten the blade by snapping it off to a desired length. I used C-clamps to secure the PVC to my work bench so that the conduit would not move while making the cuts. Despite going slow and steady, the cuts are not as precise as if they’d been made on a table saw. However, they’re pretty darn straight. Once the two long cuts were done, I used a hack saw to make the perpendicular cuts at each end of the slot.

Step 5: Sand your cuts.  The sharp edges of your cuts will need to be rounded so as not to slice your hands or damage your fly rods. Using sandpaper you will also be able to remove any PVC burrs and rough spots.

You are now done with the fabrication of your rod tubes. Fasten to your frame as needed. You may elect to use a velcro strap or a small ball & bungee chord to place around the tube near the reel to hold it securely in position.

This project cost me $4.95 for each length of PVC and took less than an hour to complete. Your mileage may vary, but I worked slowly and methodically, measuring twice and cutting once as opposed to the alternative.

For stowing Spey rods I plan to fabricate similar tubes using 2-1/2 inch conduit in 8 foot lengths. The 13+ foot long rods will be broken down in half before being stowed so there will be no need to bend the conduit.