Saturday, October 31, 2009

NY Steelhead

Taking a break from guiding in upstate NY. As I type a storm is currently knocking all the remaining leaves off the trees. The snow and cold temps will be here soon.

The rivers out here flow over slate bottoms. Huge slabs of rock create falls that slow the migration of steelhead and create fast fishing.
The average fish out here is much smaller than their western counterparts, but the numbers more than make up for it. Because they run from a freshwater lake rather than saltwater, the fish don't have the physiological changes that occur in western steelhead. As such, they stay on the feed as they come into rivers. You can watch them cornering baitfish in the shallows, or sipping flies off the top. Some prefer to call them lake run rainbows. Whatever you call them, this is one of the best fisheries in the country.

Check out for tons of fish pictures.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Togiak River Silvers

Just finished silver season on the Togiak. The run was down this year, but there were still plenty of fish to make everyone happy. I am taking a break in Dillingham AK right now, but will be headed out to fish the Kenai next week for big rainbows.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ongivinuk River Float

During our break between Kings and Silvers a friend and I flew up to Ongivinuk lake and floated the Ongivinuk back to the Togaik and then back to the lodge. Just the Ongivinuk leg of our float worked out to be 109 river miles according to our GPS. We floated at least another 40 down the Togiak. To the left is a picture of the Ongivinuk from the plane. I think few people float this river. We found very little sign of people during the Ongivinuk portion. Just a couple fire spots on the beach.

The plane dropped us off late in the day, so we made our camp right at the lake for the evening. The lake was full of sockeye salmon waiting to spawn. Other than that there wasn't many fish around. Below is our camp at the mouth.

The first full day we drifted under heavy sky's for several miles before finding any number of sportfish. We found some dolly varden, grayling and arctic char. Some of them were good size and some of them were just pretty, like the one below. (Its a char)

And some sockeye that chased my mouse. A little dark but still fun to see a big snout chasing topwater flies. You can't really see it in this small picture, but on the far bank there is a bear watching us.

The terrain changed a lot through the float. When we started we had high tundra with fine spawning gravel. After a couple of days the river quickened it's pace and the rocks got a lot bigger. Trees lined the banks and there were occasional rocky cliffs. We saw very few spawning salmon in this stretch, so there were few char and dollies, but a lot of big grayling.

The blueberries were just getting ripe enough to eat. Cooking up some fish below.

Once we got through the steeper mountains and fast water, the river slowed down and the gravel became suitable for spawning salmon again. The fish would stack up behind the salmon and couldn't resist an egg imitation. We started catching lots of Dolly Varden and a few large rainbows. These fish weren't as big as I had hoped, but I can't complain. Most were in the mid twenties (inches).

Above is one of the Dolly Varden. Below is a trapper cabin at the bottom of the Ongivinuk. After a week of camping I opened the door to find a sign asking visitors to make sure the wood was stocked for the stove when they left. We stayed overnight and had the best sleep in a week.

After that night we reached the Togiak river. The weather changed for the worse, bringing rain, wind and cold temps. I would have enjoyed fishing the main river and walking up some of the tributaries, but my friend was ready to get back to the lodge, so we spent the majority of the next two days rowing downstream to the lodge.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tagging on the Togiak

My girlfriend has been working for the WDFW tagging and tracking salmon over the summer on the Togiak. They use a drift net to capture the kings, stick a radio transmitter down their throats, then track them to see where in the river they are spawning. I had the chance to spend a day with them netting Kings.

As soon as a fish hits the net, they pull it in, untangle it and transfer it to the cradle. As long as the fish is in good shape, it gets a transmitter and scale samples taken.

And release.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Togiak River Alaska

I've been up in Alaska the last couple of months working on the Togiak river. King salmon season just ended and we are waiting for the silvers to show up. The numbers of kings were still down, but it was better than last year. I didn't get a whole lot of time to fish and I didn't bring my camera when I did, so no fresh king pictures.
After king season ended I got to go up river and fish with my girlfriend on one of the tributaries. We caught a lot of dollies and a couple of nice rainbows.

Chum eyeball above. Some old slides of years past below. Those were the good old days. Big salmon on the fly.

Right now I am waiting for a plane to take us up river. A friend and I will be floating back down to the lodge over the next couple weeks in search of big rainbows. Will post about that later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

India part 4: Himalayan trout house

My last week in India I travelled north again to try for trout in the Himalayas. Originally I had planned on returning home after fishing the Cauvery, but I saw some of Apoo's pictures of the Himalayan Trout House, and decided to extend my stay until the beginning of the season up north. I am glad I did. The Trout House sits in the Tirthan valley. Home of the Tirthan river. Home of trout.

Christopher and Shefali Mitra left behind Delhi life to start the Trout House. They have now built numerous cabins ranging from comfortable to too comfortable. The food was excellent. Some of the best Indian food I had, and the continental dishes would have been good anywhere. I just felt comfortable there. It's the kind of place you don't want to leave. For the first time on my trip I wasn't worried or strategizing about the fishing. I could relax and just go catch some trout.

It is a nine hour overnight bus ride from Dehli to the Tirthan valley. The volvo bus's are comfortable, but the roads are sinewy, steep, narrow, mountainous, and horrible for about half the journey. Also, Indian drivers don't really use turn signals as we would. They use the horn. Changing lanes; horn. Need to pass; horn. People by the road; horn. See a cow; horn. Just for fun; horn. Unfortunately our bus driver really liked the horn. All night long. So I doubled up on my sleep pills and dozed off late in the night.

I was dropped off in the middle of a one lane mountain village waiting for a cab. It was about seven in the morning and cold. Cold for just about anywhere, but especially cold for India. I was a bit under dressed. About fifteen minutes later I was in a cab driving up the valley to Christopher's place. Breakfast, introductions and off for this:

It was early in the season when I was there, and the river was late in rising, so the water was especially low and clear. Fun to fish, but it didn't make for the most productive fishing. I assumed that the river would only hold smaller trout, but I heard stories and saw pictures of some pretty impressive fish caught in these waters. While most of the browns I caught were somewhere around 12 in. I did see some larger browns. I also found a couple rainbow escapees from one of the trout hatcheries.

This fish was smoked and turned into a tasty spread. Originally I had asked Viku, my guide, to hold it so I could get a better picture, but he pounced on the fish and started smashing its head on a rock. I didn't have time to explain that I wanted live pictures. Oh well. Just upstream from this fish I lost it's twin after a few jumps. The fishing was particularly good this day. Viku had a friend that had come along and he had told me afterwords that he had been praying all day for the fishing. He told me I had come a long way and deserved to catch some nice fish. It worked.

Christopher's webpage is There is now a plane service between Delhi and within an hour's drive from the lodge. I may try that out next time. I can't wait to get back. Probably the coolest place I've been trout fishing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

India part 3: Cauvery river

After getting brutalized by the Ramganga mahseer for 9 days I flew down to Bangalore to meet with my friend Bopanna and fish the Cauvery at his super secret location. Bopanna runs, a fishing forum that is a great reference for fishing in India.

Bops picked me up from the airport and we drove for several hours straight to the river. Bopanna figured we had just enough time to fish a few hours in the evening before we settled into the cabin. We unpacked a couple rods and as many plugs, borrowed a boat, and set out into the calm water. Just a few casts towards the bank and I hooked into a nice mahseer of eight pounds; landed, photo, release. That felt nice. Fifteen minutes later I repeated the process with its twin. Starting to feel really good. We fish another hour or so and right before dark I hook into a nice size mahseer. My knots hold, I manage to keep the fish out of the snags and it isn't long before the fish is brought up along side the boat. The fish looks to me to be about 20 lbs. This is a respectable mahseer. I slept well that night. Over the next five days, neither Bopanna or I landed a fish over 20 inches.
There is a big difference in color and shape between the mahseer of the north and those of the south. These southern fish are a bit thicker in the middle and have a hump behind their head. A twenty pounder is a good fish. I believe Bopannas best is 43 lbs. Traditionally these fish are caught on large balls of paste bait, but my friend specializes on getting these fish on lures. These fish can get to over a hundred pounds.
Bopanna's cabin sits in the middle of several coffee plantations. It's comfortable, quiet and the river is just out the gate.
It looks like a lake, but this is actually the river. Quite a contrast between fishing in the north. This fishery is more like bass fishing. Your looking to cast around structure and under trees. Once hooked, the big challenge is keeping them out of all the snags, so stout tackle is a must.
In the mornings I experimented with the fly rod a bit. I managed to catch some fish on flys, but all were small. Still fun though. I can't wait to return next year with some proper streamers and a ten weight.
I had to work for this little devil. He took a muddler right off the surface and then came straight for the log I was standing on. I had to dive into the water and untangle the line and pull him out. I wasn't very comfortable up to my neck in muddy crock infested water.

On our last day Bopanna arranged some fishing in a nearby reservoir for murrel (or snakehead). Originally I had planned on fishing most of the week for murrel, but he had some access issues with his normal murrel fishery. It turned out to be an enjoyable day and I caught numerous small snakehead on lures and flys. While I was taking the above picture, Bopanna was working on catching the below. This is a really big snakehead. I don't remember our final guess as to the weight, but it was monstrous.
If you are interested in fishing for mahseer in India, definitely look up Bopanna at