Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fly Fishing

I got some fishing kit for Christmas so I was keen to get out and have a go. This area of southern Oregon is full of fishing rivers, but from my experience yesterday, not many fish…

I went out with Keith who’s a veteran of the waters and try as we might, there was nothing to be had. Apparently, this is a bad time of year to try. There is a 2 week window in late winter when the Steelhead are catchable, but this is not it. Steelhead are born in the river and head out to the ocean, they come back to their river to spawn and are known as Steelhead. Their less adventurous brothers and sisters that stay in the river are called Rainbow Trout. The former are a lot bigger and more feisty, 2 facets favored by anglers.

Typically you can’t keep the fish you catch unless they were spawned in a hatchery, these are distinguished by their clipped adipose fin. At some times of year you can keep them, but that’s defined by the wildlife authorities.

Oregon - Keith Fishing

Here’s Keith showing how it should be done





So, for the uninitiated, the principal of fly fishing is to get the fly or lure to the where the fish might want it, this is called ‘presenting’ the lure. In the hope that it’ll try and eat or attack it or ‘strike’. The fly has to be something appealing to the fish, which in this case was a piece of day-glo yellow fluff with a bead to act as a head. I didn’t know any animals eat fluff, but Steelhead are sometimes aggressive enough to try.

With other fish it’s important to ‘match the hatch’ and fish with flies that resembling winged flies, or their nymph or larval siblings that the fish would normally eat. Whether you make them float or sink depends on what the fish are eating at the time, but you want to make your lure look and behave enough much like their dinner that they just can’t resist.

To present the lure in the right place, you have to cast it using the long flexible rod and the weight of the line. It’s not easy, and casting is a complicated and fine art requiring a lot of practice to get it in the right spot. I’ll keep practicing and hopefully have more luck next time. I’m assured that spring will bring many fish, so until then…

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