Apr 6, 2011

Western Rivers Finds Steel On The Hood

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of guiding Don Elder and Anne Tattam, both of Western Rivers Conservancy for an afternoon of fishing on the Hood River.  These two individuals work tirelessly for the cause of wild river preservation.  They do this by aquiring land and placing it in the hands of parties that are able to manage vital habitat responsibly.  As it turns out, Western Rivers was able to facilitate the purchase of habitat along the stunning West Fork of the Hood River, to to help ensure a healthy ecosystem in the upper basin.  You see, our home waters still boast a robust run of wild, winter steelhead and this is a resource that we all want to see thrive for generations to come.  Not only concerned with preserving healthy habitat, Western Rivers also sets goals of preserving access to anglers - for it's all of us; those who fish and care deeply for these watersheds who will help manage the beauty and the miracles that earth has provided us.

So on this day, it was only fitting to see Don and Anne out there, sliding through various runs, and exploring the fruits of their labor.  The water was high, but on the drop.  And after winning a best out of three round of rock-paper-sissors, Anne positioned herself into the top of the run and began methodically swinging her fly through about 3 feet of visibility.  About a quarter of the way into the run, the planets aligned...

Contact led to some furious reel spinning and a spell of daunting head shakes.  On the far end of the line swam a formidable fish - one of might, a champion of both river and sea.  The battle was a memorable one. Time stood still - there was only connection, with the river and its blood.  It was a long moment and he finally came to open arms... A fine fish.  A wild buck.

Being a strong proponent of switch rods on our area waters, I toted along a couple on the outing and Don and Anne were only too happy to oblige.  Both sticks casted beautifully and gave us the opportunity to get up under the tree limbs and shoot line where it needed to land.  The amazing part about these sticks is that even though size is scaled down, the capacity to throw some serious line is there.  I like to think that these sticks work to make the spey world more intimate.  Light in hand, and easy on the shoulders, they are a pleasure to cast.  Coupled with the right line, an 11ft 8 or 7 weight switch is the answer to all my pursuits here on local waters.  If you ever get the chance, try the 8110 Sage Z-axis lined with the new Airflo Skagit Switch (480 grain).  Also, a little easier on the wallet, the 8113 CPX Switch does little to compromise performance.  Try this rod in the Airflo Skagit Switch 480 gr. as well.  The 7 weight versions of these rods are equally triumphant and I like to line them with the 450gr switch head.  That said, if your casting style demands a slight overlining, bump up to the 510gr for the 8wt and the 480 for the 7wt.  If this is the case, your movements will be much slower, allowing the added grain weight of the line to do the loading for you.

Thank you Western Rivers for your thoughful care in protecting this most valuble resource.  I hope that we may all find it in ourselves to act responsibly out there, and may we never take this remarkable gift for granted.  Her rights need to be respected...

Have a good time,


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