Month: March 2014

The Open Fly Podcast, Show 10 (and a word about my blog)

Unaccomplished Angler or Open Fly?

Scores of readers have written in, asking me, “What the hell?  As of late it seems the UA blog posts have been nothing more than announcements when a new show being posted on that Open Fly thing…What gives?  Are you still blogging or what?”  Actually, nobody has written with any sort of inquiry, but any of you still reading my blog may be wondering.

Let me essplain.

Blogs change over time. Sometimes they flow with a steady current of new material, while other times they slow to a trickle. A blog may meander off course from time to time, and sometimes they completely dry up—we’ve all seen that happen. Think of a blog as a river—never the same; sometimes better, sometimes worse. But always changing. And so flows the Unaccomplished Angler.

Since becoming involved in the Open Fly podcast in January, that endeavor has consumed more of my energy, and running this blog has taken a bit of a back seat. Plus, I haven’t done much fishing lately so there’s been little to write about in that regard. I’ve gotten out a few times, but I’ve done more oaring of my new boat than fishing and nobody wants to hear about my oaring (except maybe Morris). In the past I’ve filled the fishing down-time with nonsensical material, and while that will never end, I’ve not done much of that either. The podcast is important to me. We’re not doing it just for fun, although we have a rather good time in the studio. But we also take it very seriously, especially when it comes to our conservation segments.

If you haven’t been listening to the podcast, shame on you! Download the shows on iTunes so you can listen at your leisure, or listen on that Sticher radio thing, or on our website. I’m confident you’ll find something of interest, otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time putting in the energy with the show. Honestly the podcast has a lot more to offer than this blog could ever hope to achieve. That said, the UA is not going away—when I’m inspired, I’ll post more of the content all 9 of you have come to expect over the past few years. But for now, the Unaccomplished Angler can be found/heard in the studios of the Open Fly podcast…

Derek, Dave Henry, UA

 This past week found me busting out the UA Noped (a 1987 Suzuki FA50) for a jaunt down the hill on the first nice day of the season. In studio to record the tenth episode of the Open Fly were, in addition to Evan and Derek and I, guests  Sarah and Dave Henry (2 Handed Trout blog), and Ted Nugent. Again. Sarah is by far the most attractive of the group so you may be wondering why she wasn’t featured in the photo (below). Someone had to take the photo, and bring us food and beer…thanks, Sarah.

In Studio

Besides the steady supply of jovial and oft-immature banter, Show 10 featured a conservation interview with Morgan Kupfer, speaking as a representative of CCA Maryland. Morgan is also 1/2 keeper of the blog known simply as TLTFF, or not-so-simply as Tight Lined Tales of a Fly Fisherman. Morgan fills us in on challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay region and how to noodle for Snakeheads. The Guide Stories segment features Brian Wise of Fly Fishing the Ozarks  Brian tells us about his excitement in fishing some of Missouri’s lesser known fisheries: Big trout, big streamers, and western style rivers. Brian offers up a lively interview so be sure to check out the show.

By now you know where to find us. If you don’t, you haven’t been paying close attention. Do something about that, won’t you?

The Open Fly Podcast. Show 10.


The Open Fly Podcast, Show 9

Aquatic invasive species is a topic every angler should be keenly aware of, and on Show 9 of the Open Fly Podcast you’ll learn some good things including the proper way to clean your boots to prevent the spread of alien organisms. Bleach is out, water is in. Dry them thoroughly or put them in the freezer overnight.  But don’t take my word for it, hear Bob Wiltshire, Executive Director of the Invasive Species Action Network  and staff member of the Clean Angling Coalition. Bob is extremely well versed on the topic and you WILL learn something from listening to the show, despite what you may have come to believe  if you’ve listened to previous shows.

In our Guide Stories segment Derek crosses the continent to bring you The Average Angler, Colin Archer. Colin is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing guide who calls the Jersey Shore and Upper Delaware River his home waters. Colin talks about fishing for striped bass and a variety of other salt water species, as well as freshwater trout angling.  Colin is also a professional photographer so be sure to check out his website:

As always, please donate to the conservation group of the day, send us proof of your donation and we’ll enter you into a raffle to win some seriously good stuff from our sponsor, Allen Fly Fishing

The Open Fly Podcast, Show 8 (and a tying contest)

We hope you’ll agree that show 8 is Gr8. Listen on the Open Fly website or find it on iTunes or Sticher Radio.

In our conservation segment we talk with the folks behind the organization, Fish Not Gold. They’re taking on the unregulated suction dredge mining that’s causing considerable damage to Washington streams—streams that are fragile habit for many endangered anadromous fish. This isn’t just a local issue to Washingtonians, but is something folks from as far away as the New England states should be aware of. It’s an interesting and enlightening interview.


Instead of Guide Stories, on this show we talk about the evolution of the modern drift boat with Shelly Ehmer of Adipose Boatworks in Helena, Montana, and Link Jackson of StreamTech Boats in Boise, Idaho. Hear from two manufacturers that are producing  drift boats with very unique capabilities.

And listen carefully for details for a tying contest we’re holding. Tie the Open Fly logo and submit your entries for a chance to win an Open Fly Podcast t-shirt. Fire up the vices, time’s a wastin’!


The Open Fly Podcast, Show 7

Call this one the 7 Show Itch, or since Spring Training has begun for baseball perhaps the 7th Show Stretch. No matter what you call it, the 7th episode of the Open Fly Podcast is now live: listen via the website HERE, or find it as always, on iTunes and Sticher Radio.


Not The Motor City Madman

On this episode we not only have Ted Nugent’s doppelgänger in studio as a passive-aggressive guest, but we also talk with competitive angler, Jason Schall. If you have a preconception of what angling tournaments are all about, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that they’re not just about competition; tournaments raise a good awareness of conservation. Jason is a gentleman and ambassador of angling; we’re sure that you’ll enjoy his interview.

Jason Schall, not noodling for catfish.

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” On our Guide Stories segment, this week we talk with guide Bob Triggs of Little Stone Fly Fishers. Bob is an educated man and angler of considerable note. On his blog, Bob recently announced his personal decision to stop guiding for Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead. Hear his reasons why—if you’re like me (and I hope you’re not), it’ll have you thinking deep thoughts about the current status of Washington’s  famed Olympic Peninsula steelhead.  Not to fret, if you want a unique angling experience for salty fish, Bob will be glad to guide you on a trip for sea run cutthroat trouts

Bob Triggs ponders the state of OP wild steelhead.


Thanks for listening—and remember to send us comments. We love listener feedback. And if you donate to the Open Fly, or contribute to any of our conservation guests, send us you receipt and you’ll be entered into future raffles for some sweet gear.


Breaking in the Rough Rider

It’s inevitable that every new boat has its maiden voyage, and my new StreamTech Salmonfly was allowed out to play for the first time recently—almost exactly two months to the day since I picked it up. Since bringing her home, every time I’ve gone to the garage to get beer the Olive temptress has taunted me.  Two months. No man should have to endure that sort of abuse. No boat should spend that amount of time high and dry.

And so it was on the last day of February that Marck and Morris and I headed over the snow-covered Snoqualmie Pass to the Yakima River. We hoped to encounter some hungry trouts that were coming out of their catatonic winter states to feed on the first big bugs of the year: skwalas. Admittedly it was a bit early to hope for much of a hatch, but for me, anyway, the day was less about fishing and all about rowing the new boat. I would not be disappointed.

Safety First, at all times, ma’am

The first order of business was the make good on a promise I made to Mrs. UA:  that I would in fact wear a PFD (personal flotation device) on the water. Few, if any, wear life jackets, particularly on this lazy stretch of river. I’ve never done so. And while some may tease and taunt me for doing so now, mark my words—I am not going to go down in a river without a fight! To increase the likelihood that I would wear the PFD with any regularity, I chose a good vest that fits comfortably. The NRS Chinook fits the bill nicely. Now, where were we?

Oh, right—the Lower Yakima Canyon. Mile Marker 20 to Red’s.  The river was low and cold, perhaps just nudging above 40 degrees (F). The day was mild with temps in the mid 40’s and overcast skies, unlike the beautiful day in the making that we left behind on what is usually the west side. There would be no w#nd until later in the day. As we set out on our float, I familiarized myself with the boat and we all settled in for the first time. As expected, the Rough Rider rowed like a dream. I knew she would—this wasn’t my first time on the oars of a StreamTech boat as my buddy Derek Young has owned these boats for the past 4 or so years. It’s his fault.

Throughout the day, Morris, who was seated behind me in the Rear Admiral position, offered to give me a chance to fish. “Let me know if you want me to oar,” he begged repeatedly. Now, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to fish—I simply wanted to spend the day rowing. That, and you never turn your boat over to a guy that wants to “oar” it.  Sorry, Morris—next time. With me bogarting the sticks, all Marck and Morris had to do was catch fish. About the time we entered the second half of the day, two things happened: First, the w#nd began to blow; secondly,  we began to accept the fact that the fish were not eating. Both these revelations seemed to have a negative affect on Morris. Over my shoulder I would occasionally hear the gentle whimper as he dealt with wind-aided tangles that required the patience and dexterity of a neuro surgeon. Unless one were the guy oaring the boat, it didn’t look like a day that would be worth writing home about.

Rear Admiral Morris performing micro surgery

Double nymph rigs dead-drifted hopelessly through what appeared to be very fishy water. Certainly there had to be at least one fish willing to play? As we approached the bridge at Umtanum, Marck’s rod finally quivered under the force of what would turn out to be a 13″ Westslope cutthroat trout. Everyone knows that Westslope cutts are stupid fish that will eat nearly any fly presented to them, and that’s exactly why I like them. They’re native to the Yakima river, but what was unusual about this fish is where on the river it was caught. The Lower Yakima Canyon is generally home to rainbow trouts, while the upper canyon around  Cle Elum is where one goes to find cutthroats. So landing this fish was seen as a trophy of sorts. It was nice to get the skunk off the new boat, and I was relieved that on her virgin float the Rough Rider got some slime on her rails.

Marck’s unusual catch

Marck’s first fish was not the last fish that would be caught. Morris was finally rewarded just a few minutes later, below the bridge at Umtanum, with a dandy of a rainbow that would be recorded as a Yakima 16 (meaning it was  probably a 15″ fish at best).  This fish had great significance to Morris as it was the first fish caught on his brand new Sage Method rod.  Both the new boat and the new rod now had some mojo. During the next few miles before our take-out, Marck would add 2 more fish to the tally: a small whitefish, and a larger whitefish. The debate then became whose fish was the big catch of the day—Marck’s whitie or Morris’ rainbow. I’m fairly confident that we never reached a consensus on that. I’ll admit that I was quite surprised to see Marck catch any fish given his choice in hats for the day.

A bold choice in headwear

No first trip with a new boat is without incident, and mine came at one point during the day when we stopped to get out of the boat to pee fish a nice run along a sweeping bend in the river.  I expertly brought the Rough Rider into the shallows and dropped anchor. We exited the vessel and made our way down stream a few dozen yards to work a well-defined seam where light and dark water met just a few feet off the bank. I was at the top of the run while Marck dropped in below me and Morris angled out the bottom of the run.  I saw a fish rise twice in the seam but was unable to entice a strike. The w#nd quickly created a knot in my leader, and I soon found myself with my head buried in a mess of tangled tippet, oblivious to the world around me. As I contemplated with great wonder at how the two flies and indicator could have become so horribly intertwined, I heard the unmistakable sound of water lapping against a rubber hull. I glanced up, expecting to see another boat floating by. What I saw was my own boat floating downstream at a good clip. Wind-aided and just outside the seam where the current was fast, my first reaction was to soil my waders. After doing so I jumped into action. The boat was fast approaching, and based on my observations I was probably going to have to swim for it because the Rough Rider was riding on the edge of the dark water. Dark water signals an increased depth. I had no idea how deep, but I was not going to let the boat make the remainder of the float without us on board. Fortunately the river gods were smiling on me (or laughing, more likely)  and I was able to reach the boat before the water got above chest level. Disaster narrowly averted. I’ve included a technical schematic to illustrate the drama here for you:

Dramatic Series of Events

Rookie mistake: leaving the boat unattended, on a windy day, without leaving enough anchor line out.  That won’t happen again, I assure you.

Despite my brush with disaster, the day was otherwise an exception first day with the boat. It maneuvered skinny water and boulder gardens without fearing a single rock. Slime and grime were applied appropriately so that the boat no longer looks like something off the showroom floor. Morris got the cork of his new rod dirty, and I got to employ the use of my second-hand, $10 net. And Marck caught a cutthroat where he shouldn’t have, all the while wearing a UA hat. To top it off we ate for the first time at the Canyon River Lodge at Red’s. The food was excellent. Come summer time, taking out at Red’s will mean food and cold beer is just a short walk up the steps.

Successful end to a mostly uneventful first day

I plan to use the Rough Rider a  lot this year. I may even let Morris oar. Except that would mean I’d have to fish. I like rowing.