Early Season Skeena with Lani Waller

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

It is one of those years on the Skeena, a season when all the dominoes line up in a perfect row. According to my reports, the first domino – that of the commercial salmon fishery’s interception of wild Skeena steelhead was “in place.” In other words, the commercial fishing season was relatively short this year. A short netting season always increases the escapement of wild Skeena system steelhead- on all the major rivers.

In addition, Skeena tributaries have been low and clear, and this fall season has been relatively dry without excessive rain which raises water levels and scatters the fish up and down river.

The Babine River has perhaps been best of all. It all depends upon who you talk to, like anglers everywhere, most Skeena steelhead anglers have a favorite river.

As far as the Babine is concerned, Silver Hilton guests fishing on the “lower” Babine got off to an incredible start as evidenced by these photos from Chuck Rund of Grants Pass, Oregon. Chuck is a long time friend and superb steelheader who knows a good thing when he sees one. Chuck fishes at Silver Hilton during our first week of the season: September 3-10.

The early fishing on the Babine can be spectacular with floating line and skating dry flies. Temperatures on the Babine this time of the year usually average around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the river is clear almost all of these early fish are “looking up” toward the surface and rise easily and frequently to a dry fly pattern- something you cannot count on later in the year when water temperatures drop to the mid 30’s. They will still lift to a dry in low water temperatures, but not with the aggressive response of early fish. Nor will the later fish return over and over to a dry before they take it.

Chuck fished most of the week with two rods- the Sage TCX 11’9’ 7 wt, and a Sage 11’ 7 wt “Switch Rod.” These two rods are light in the hand, powerful and smooth, although beginners would be better served with longer rods, as the longer ones are more forgiving when you are first learning.

Over the past five years, I have seen however, a real movement among experienced anglers from longer to shorter rods. Shorter rods are more fun, lighter and less fatiguing over a long day of repetitive casting and searching the long runs and pools of the Skeena system. I’ve always felt that a fly rod is two things at once: a lever and a spring. Your wrist is the fulcrum and the longer the rod the more pressure the “lever” puts on your wrist. You can”soften” this pressure with under handed casting style if you are using a two handed rod, but in my opinion, it is still more tiring with a longer fourteen to fifteen foot rod.

Like most experienced Skeena steelheaders, Chuck uses the RIO Skagit lines (320 grains on these two rods) and a poly leader. These lines fish all fly sizes, shapes, including bulky dressings, with ease and comfort- the flies turn over extremely well, even when used with long leaders and floating patterns.

Chuck took fifteen steelhead and fourteen were on a dry fly. Chuck’s choice of dry flies centered around a Black Pom Skater, and a Tan Pom Skater.

For information and future booking possibilities at Silver Hilton Lodge, contact me the following email address:

Lani Waller
Executive Vice President
Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge
laniwaller@gmail.com

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Stacking up Awards

Sage Fly Fishing - Awards - IFTD

Adding to the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) “Best New Fly Rod” award won in June, Sage Manufacturing received three more awards at last week’s International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) show in Reno, Nevada. The CIRCA from Sage won both the “Best Freshwater Fly Rod” and “Best in Show” and the new 8000 PRO series won the “Best Saltwater Reel” award.

“Winning these awards is further evidence that we have the best design team in the industry,” comments Eric Gewiss, Sage marketing manager. “This is a big honor for everyone at Sage.”

The new CIRCA collection is Sage’s first high performance, slow action fly rod. Using Konnetic technology, the CIRCA collection packs more carbon fiber into a smaller diameter using new manufacturing methods. This technology results in a consistently slow yet responsive action from butt to tip and minimal torsional movement for extraordinary accuracy. Enhanced sensitivity gives anglers precision and control needed for delicate presentations making ‘match-the-hatch’ fisheries ideal for these fly rods. The two through five weight CIRCA series will be available at fly fishing specialty retailers in September.
Sage Fly Reels - 8000 Pro - IFTD
The 8000 PRO series gives anglers a new dimension in fish stopping power via an integrated secondary drag control system. Based on Sage’s proven Sealed Carbon System (SCS), the 8000 PRO features a two-stage drag control. The primary drag knob adjusts in one revolution with 1-20 numbered settings, while the secondary drag knob fine-tunes drag resistance by 15 percent with each sequential adjustment as well as prevents over-spooling when pulling line to cast. With settings A through E, there are a total of 195 individual drag combinations with a maximum setting that has 40 percent more drag than the 6000 series. Featuring a quick change spool mechanism, a broad concave palming rim and a grooved frame for securing line when not casting, this reel will be sold at fly fishing specialty stores in September.

The Other Side of the River

Sage Fly Fishing - Leah Ricketts - River Snorkeling

(Photo: Leah Ricketts via Outside Online)

Ever have the urge to just dive into that perfect pool and see what you are missing? Ya, us too. So why not not throw on a snorkel and explore every place you wish you could put a fly? Russ Ricketts and his wife Leah have made it a habit in Leavenworth, Washington. In a recent Outside Online article, Russ explains whats its like on the other side of the river, and surprisingly how much you can find.

FISHING TACKLE: I’m a fisherman, but I had no idea how terrible of a fisherman I was until I realized just how many fish there are down there. They are kept company by every lure and lead weight lost or abandoned by hopeful fishermen. Monofilament line can snare waterfowl and fish, so it should be removed whenever possible. Luckily, it generally comes packaged with other fish gear that holds some value. Matt and I picked up 52 pounds of lead in a two-hour swim. A 10-ounce sinker sells for $2.59. Do the math.

GOLF BALLS: What is it with hitting golf balls into water? Negatively buoyant, golf balls sink. Picking them up is fun and can be an easy way to pay for that sexy wetsuit (or golf lessons). Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone.

Not only can snorkeling improve your knowledge of how the river works and where to find more fish, but it can also improve the health of the river by finding and removing trash. Surely a day snorkeling the river may be a tad more wet and cold than fishing in the comfort of your waders, but not by much (especially by our northwest standards).

Read Outside Online’s full post here.

Astonishing Numbers for Bristol Bay

Sage Fly Fishing - Save Bristol Bay

The country has spoken. 200,000 people took the time to submit comments on the EPA’s Watershed Assessment on Bristol Bay, AK. More impressively, 98% of them agreed with the EPA’s findings in opposing Pebble Mine.

The Assessment concludes that Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other natural resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually. The EPA also found that even at its minimum size, mining the Pebble deposit would eliminate or block 55 to 87 miles of salmon streams and at least 2500 acres of wetlands – key habitat for sockeye salmon and other fishes. Are you concerned yet?

It appears that the country is in fact concerned, yet the result is now out of our hands. The Obama administration, with help from the EPA, must now move forward on implementing a 404C to firmly protect the region. Are 200,000 voices enough to be heard? We must wait and see.

To see some more amazing numbers and the latest news, visit SaveBristolBay.com.

Sage Reinvents the Travel Rod Tube

Sage New Award Winning Technical Travel Rod Tube

July 25, 2012 (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) – Sage Manufacturing, fly-fishing industry leader, announces the release of the most innovative rod tube design in over 50 years. Sage’s new design transforms the traditional travel rod tube to set the new standard in fly rod protection.
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Tune Your TV: Alaska Gold

Sage Fly Fishing - PBS/FRONTLINE - Alaska Gold

Your schedule for tomorrow night should be cleared. Across the country FRONTLINE, PBS’s acclaimed documentary series, will be airing an hour long special titled Alaska Gold. FRONTLINE which is praised for being “the last best hope for broadcast documentaries” is not afraid to tackle the complex and tough issues. Bristol Bay and the looming Pebble Mine certainly fall into that category and we hope that FRONTLINE is not too late to the game. Click here to watch the trailer.

With the EPA’s comment period deadline ending tonight at midnight eastern time, FRONTLINE may not be in front of the issue but Alaska Gold will certainly draw some deserved attention. Check out this link to get informed and excited before tomorrow’s screening.

In return for copper and gold worth an estimated half a trillion dollars, state and federal regulators risk poisoning what scientists describe as the last best place on earth for millions of wild salmon – and the risk from toxic mine waste would last forever.

For those Felt Soul Media fans out there, Alaska Gold is a refreshed edition of their popular documentary Red Gold. With only a handful of hours left, use this link to take action and save Bristol Bay and be sure to tune your TV to PBS tomorrow night!