Plastic steelhead

A good friend of mine recently caught a hatchery steelhead on the Vedder River with its digestive tract full of plastic shards. Now I know this is nothing new and, like many, I’ve seen and heard a lot of different stories about fish having all kinds of things in their guts; from tampons to plastic worms to bottle caps and everything in between. I’m also sure lots of people will shrug and say, “so what you hippie fuckwit” but it is a reminder of how much pointless plastic and garbage has a ubiquitous presence in our environment, our bodies, and in the many wild creatures of our world. While humanity is now just a greasy horde of stinking mud caked cattle, shunted from one cattle pen to another with a different corporate logo branded on our flanks, we have always had and continue to have a responsibility to treat our own habitat with a modicum of respect, even if in the end it’s only for our own benefit. A single hatchery steelhead may not matter, but a floating pile of plastic garbage in the ocean the size of Texas is something that should give one pause, and inspire some sort of thought as to our own role in this world. 

Or hey, fuck it, go to Target and load up on some sweet deals on plastic shit. Go on you deserve it.

Belated December FOTM: Knudsen’s cutthroat

December is a strange month in many people’s lives balanced on a teetering edge between family, happiness, and kindness, and gluttonous decadence and sheer lunacy, a feverous and frenzied month of unrestrained and psychotic over consumption with no real connection to the world around us, and yet in the midst of all this….there is fly fishing.


Like many others, I don’t usually get out to fish much this time of year, but if conditions are favorable, this is a very good month to be out trout fishing on the coast. Sea run cutthroat and a number of other trout and char can be found at the beach, lake, and stream, and are often feeding, aggressive, or both.

I’ve never found a great deal of enjoyment in nymphing eggs for sea runs, (although that’s totally cool if you do) so here is a traditional old red/yellow sea run pattern that still works now as well as it ever did. Most of you will know who Al Knudsen was, or at least his famous spider pattern from the 30’s. This pattern should also be familiar as it is from Les johnson’s bible of cutthroating, but I doubt many tie it much less fish it anymore. So go for a change up this winter, whether you need an anti modern fix, favor traditional patterns or are just looking for something different. There is a reason a lot of old patterns are simple red/yellow combinations, but you wont find that out unless you actually use these patterns instead of just carrying them around in your fly box.


Hook: Wet fly 6-10. I like the tiemco 700 size 8

Thread: Black 6/0

Tail: Red hackle fibers

Tag/tip: medium silver flat tinsel same as used for the rib (3-4 turns)

Rib: medium silver flat tinsel

Body: yellow medium chenille or wool

Hackle: a couple wraps of red schlappen or hackle tied down as beard

Wing: small amount of red buck tail under white bucktail

In spite of my gloomy opening hope you all (had) a good christmas

On Go Pro cameras and moral decline

I find it really interesting that there seems to be a consensus amongst otherwise completely reasonable, and conscientious anglers that go pro cameras are the devil itself. As if the shitty behaviour they record exists because a camera is running. Do you think that the lame hyperbolic extreme sports Ya brah behaviour displayed on go pro videos and Facebook and blogs these days is new or truly there because of the technology that is now so readily accessible? I don’t. You see, I remember before all this technology was there too and what I remember was that salmon and steelhead fisheries here in BC were hyper competitive kill fests and full of crowds of people who would kill anything that swam. People booting Chum, Chinook, Coho, Steelhead out of spite, holding fish out of the water for pictures for 3 minutes and getting cheered on. People picking up wild non-retention salmon up by the gills, cutting off adipose fins, fishing with barbed hooks, flossing, snagging, bragging, the ever present jealous stares directed at the one guy in the pool who flossed a nice bright spring, clueless fuckheads taking 4 minutes to pull the esophagus out of a wild sea run cutthroat they caught on worms, then throwing it back dead, rebaiting and casting back out as if it doesn’t matter. It’s not new, if anything these behaviours are less acceptable now than ever. There is an illusion that is being presented as if the decades long gone were better and that the hyper exposed world of fishing we live in now is in a state of moral decline. Nymphing for steelhead is not moral decline. I have a popular fly fishing magazine with a major article on Steelhead nymphing the west coast rivers from the early nineties. It ain’t new, it’s just a different type of fly fishing. Honestly, put it into perspective, a bunch of people fishing with dink floats and roe, or a bunch of people fishing with globugs is same shit different pile. There is nothing wrong with it, and if there truly is then really nobody should be fishing these rivers or these fish. You can’t honestly bitch about gear guys fishing so why are you bitching about nymphing. Just put aside the anger and disdain for all things new for one second and look around. The world of fly fishing and anadromous fish is in the terrible state it is because of indifferent unsustainable resource extraction and a too large world population, governed by and large by a bunch of greedhead mega politico-corporations. Within that wonderful context anadromous fisheries have in the past, and in many cases continue to be, managed by a generation of people who thought nothing of catching and killing the most celebrated anadromous fish that swim on this earth. None of this is because of graphite, fluorocarbon, tungsten, buffs, blogs, the Internet, or go pro cameras.

Here’s a positive thing for you to consider about go pros. They allow you to capture the moment as it is, without lies, you can release a fish without touching it and still get a true record of it, I think that’s great. Don’t like all the videos out there? Don’t fucking watch them. If you aren’t having fun fishing then truly what is the point. Don’t like people fishing for depleted stocks? Stop fishing for them then. Fly fishing needs to lose the giant chip on its shoulder that has nothing to do with conservation and everything to do with empty hubris. Open the holes on your face and see that anadromous fish stocks on the southern coast have already been in essence destroyed; promote conservation and values that respect, restore, and protect what’s left, enjoy what you have, and lose the ‘my shit don’t stink’ attitude.