Sunday, April 17, 2011

Four seasons on the Columbia River

An April day spent on the Columbia River may seem like a full season of weather as the morning snow turned to rain, then a concerted hail storm followed by more precip and finally sunshine. Despite the frenetic weather the fishing was fine, as large rainbows gulped my stone nymphs and woolly buggers in a consistent frenzy.

The golden stones are emerging from beneath their rocks and in spite of the cooler than average weather, have morphed into their adult form - at least a few of them.The best pattern was a number 8-10 olive wooly bugger with an orange or gold head, however a recently tied golden stone picked up a few fish too.

Turn over a few embedded rocks
to find Golden stoneflies
Crawling nymphs along the bottom requires an intermediate to fast sink line. The take may be subtle so set the hook at any pause or light pull. Soon the warmer weather will arrive, I hope, and then top water action with salmon flies, cicadas and flying ants should be the patterns of choice.

Just to be clear, despite what people say in the West Kootenay region, salmon flies are a type of stonefly known as pteronarcys californica - They are not a cicada - you know the black-blue bugs on the wall of the mall- those are cicada NOT salmon fly.Go to the entomology page at for more info.

The fishing is pretty good this time of year as large trout move into the mouths of creeks or slack water to spawn. Predatory trout will feed on eggs and insects targeting the seasonal bounty indiscriminately.
Be sure to release the spawners which are generally darker and often the males may even have a kype showing.
Photo tips: For great photo tips check out, a humorous and helpful Blog by a fellow fly fisher and superlative shutterbug - check out his recent tips on photography and how to fish and hold a beer in your waders at the same time - brilliant.
And for what it's worth, I'll throw in my own tips for solo photography.
Due to a bizarre schedule, I go fishing solo the majority of the time so I've had to learn how to take fly fishing photos of myself casting, catching fish, grip and grins etc.
It can be challenging but what I've found is that predicting the spot and shot and preparing the camera goes a long way to getting promising results.
1. Sun at your back.
Unless your going for a halo effect, be sure the sun is behind the camera thus illuminating the subject which is obviously yourself when alone.
2. The majority of outdoor magazines want to see your face for some reason, so be sure to tilt your hat back or take it off, and lose the sunglasses.
3. Set up your camera on a tripod pointed in position, sun at back, shooting a pleasing background (not the highway or house on the shore).
4. Set 12 sec. timer on camera and then in manual focus, focus on a spot where you will be releasing fish with the sun in your face and a beautiful backdrop. I focus on a log or rock then be sure to stand right there for the photo depending whether a shallow depth of field is the impression looked for or a deep one.
5. Now catch a fish.
6. Once hooked up you can "casually" reach over and click the camera while rushing to the spot as you play the fish. Make sure you have a good rod bend when the shutter clicks.
7. When you land the fish, keep it in net or handle it gingerly. Press the shutter button, rush to the spot, hold the slippery, squirming fish in a gentle but pleasing manner and wait for the click.
It's a bit of a gong show and looks somewhat ridiculous but I've had good results in my desperate attempts to get something published.
Self portrait with slow shutter speed
 to get waterfall effect
 "...My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy." - Norman McLean "A River Runs Through It."

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