In September, 2002, I spent several days fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The impetus of this trip was to film two TV shows for Outdoor America, which runs on The Outdoor Channel, and to research waters for my current book project, A Fly Fisher’s Guide To Alaska, to be published by Wilderness Adventure’s Press in 2004.
The steelhead pictured here was one of several taken by myself and good friend and Kenai area guide Brett Gesh. The Ninilchik River and Deep Creek provided outstanding wade fishing opportunities for silver salmon and steelhead. During the days Brett and I fished these streams, we had them all to ourselves.
We also did very well on silver salmon on the Kenai River. In all, we took more than 75 silvers on a wide variety of terminal gear, ranging from flies, to jigs, eggs and lures. The most productive presentation for the silvers and steelhead was the jig, more specifically, the Stuart Steelhead Bullet. These 1/16 ounce jigs were the hot item in all of the rivers we fished. Tied beneath a West Coast Float, jigs ranging in size from 1/32 to 1/4 ounce yielded fish. The details of how to fish these jigs is outlined in my upcoming book, Fishing Fast Water Steelhead, due out late in 2003.
This 13 pound rainbow was taken on Alaska’s Kenai River during the first part of September, 2002. To top it off, he was caught on film while shooting an episode for Outdoor America, and aired on the Outdoor Channel. The interesting thing, he was not the biggest of the trip. The largest trout stretched the tape to nearly 31 inches and weighed 14 pounds, a true trout of a lifetime.
Brett Gesh of Alaska Bitefinders was the guide on this trip, and he got us into some incredible trout. More than a dozen rainbows and Dolly Varden were caught between 8 and 14 pounds, with literally dozens of fish landed in the 3-6 pound class.
Because the king salmon spawn was in full swing, beads were the only thing producing. Pegged two inches above a hook, these beads were fished from drift setups as well as fly rods.
The trout I’m holding nearly ripped the rod from my hands as he burned into my backing before I even knew what was going on. When he made a pass by the boat for the first time, his brilliant colors were accentuated by the rays of light penetrating the glacial water. He was the most striking rainbow I’d ever laid eyes on.
Guide Justin Aamodt of Burns, OR with a large bobcat he called to within range and downed with a .22-250. Minutes later, he brought in a nice coyote and dropped that.
Aamodt, of Diamond A Guides in Burns, OR has access to some of the state’s best coyote and bobcat hunting land. Having been a lifelong resident of the area, he can get hunters on to large tracts of private land, where the coyote hunting can be world-class.
Aamodt’s best day of coyote hunting over here resulted in 22 coyotes being taken. He’s also called in many bobcat, and even brought in cougars, which are growing in population.
To book or inquire about a hunt with Aamodt, give him a call at 541-573-6080, or drop him an e-mail at email@example.com.
In August of 2002 I hit the Klamath River with guide Bruce Slightom. A veteran fly angler, Slightom got us into some astounding fishing. Not only did we put the hurt on half-pounders, what the Klamath is noted for, but we also battled our share of adult steelhead.
That season marked one of the best steelhead returns in recent river history, and the fact so many adult fish made their way into the system has everyone smiling, for this is a rarity here. While fishing the river we stayed at Buzzard Roost Lodge, one of the warmest family run operations I’ve ever been associated with. Home cooked meals in this cabin that literally hangs 100 feet over the river, are to die for, and with fishing so close, it makes the trip that much more enjoyable.
In September of 2002 I traveled to San Francisco and fished with good friend Don Newman, national sales representative for P-Line. We managed to pull off a triple while there, landing halibut, striper and leopard shark in the Bay.
We also spent a day fishing with veteran guide Barry Canevaro, of The Fish Hookers guide service. We tied into stripers and even managed to finagle a 25 pound chinook in the middle bay. Barry is noted for his late fall stripe fishing, where he regularly gets his clients into giant bass.
On a recent winter steelhead trip, one of Oregon’s premier jig fishing streams didn’t let us down. In March, my dad and I accompanied good friend and veteran guide Steve Fleming on the John Day River out of Fossil,1-888-624-9424.
Making a 13 mile drift from Service Creek to Twickenham, the fact that upwards of 85% of the run is fishable, made for a long day. If God were to design a steelhead jig fishing stream, this would be it. The combination of the perfect depth, water flow and overall river structure meant there was rarely a time the jigs couldn’t be in the water.
We nailed several nice, hard-fighting steelhead on Stuart Steelhead Bullet jigs fished beneath a West Coast Float. Cabela’s Fish Eagle II rods — 10 footers — further made our efforts a success. In the morning we fished steelhead, then turned our efforts to smallmouth bass in the afternoon, when the water warmed.
To book a combination winter steelhead and smallmouth bass trip, call Steve Fleming, or drop him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several people often inquire as to where they can have fish mounted, especially one’s they’ve since turned loose. Many folks have seen my fish, either in mounts or photos, and have requested more information on where I get my mounts done.
If practicing catch and release, an important aspect in preserving your fish to match the way it was in nature, is taking two accurate measurement. Get both the length and girth measurements of your fish. This will allow taxidermists to match a mold to the specific dimensions of your fish.
Perhaps the most important piece of information a taxidermist wants, however, is what the fish looked like. The best way to do this is through photos. I take several shots of a fish when I know I’m going to have it mounted. Take a couple shots of the entire fish, then close-ups of the head/gill plate, and sections of the body. These close-up shots will allow taxidermist to more closely match the spotting patterns on your fish.
If you’re looking to have a fish mounted, but don’t have the exact measurements, or photos, call and chat with Artistic Anglers, they can likely come close to matching your fish based on your description.
The taxidermist I use, and have for many years, is Artistic Anglers. They have mounted fish I’ve taken from Mexico to Alaska, which includes warm water species. Their ability to create replica mounts that look like the fish just came from the water is why Artistic Anglers is now doing the fish for Cabela’s show rooms.
In addition to a timely turnaround time on their mounts, Artistic Anglers charges only $10 per linear inch, a price they’ve stuck to for over a decade.
For more information, contact Matt Yernatich at Artistic Anglers, 5289 Rice Lake Road, Duluth, MN 55803, phone (218)721-4900. Tell Matt you learned about them here, on this website.
The 2002 late season blacktail hunt in my home state of Oregon kicked off at first light. As darkness gave way a glowing sunrise, a P&Y 4×4 tailed a doe in front of me, but never slowed for a shot. An hour later, another 4×4 trophy buck was seen, this one rattled up to with 40 yards, but I vine maple covered his vitals. The next day, two young bucks were called in, and I passed.
I hunted ever day for the next 11, passing up a P&Y 3×3 at ten yards and a monster B&C 4×4 at 20. I knew a large, nontypical buck to be in the area, and given I had the time, elected to hold out for him. But after passing on the big 4×4, I had second thoughts. He was one of the largest blacktails I’ve ever seen, and had the camera man been by my side, I would have taken him.
We were trying to capture this hunt on film for Eastmans’ TV show, and when that 4×4 came by, the camera man was not by my side. Later that afternoon, he was back with me, and everything came together.
A doe fed her way up a draw, and my buck followed. I stalked around a ridge and waited where I thought they’d pass. The doe fed her way along a row of cedars and the buck was right behind her. I ranged her at 25 yards, and oddly enough, when the buck popped in to view, he stopped to nibble a few blades of grass. The arrow flew true and soon I was admiring a record book 6×6, and it was all caught on film.
Look for this hunt to be aired on Eastmans’ show on The Outdoor Channel early in 2003. You will also read more about the details of this hunt in leading magazines in the very near future.
The trophy deer was taken with a PSE Nitro, shooting a Carbon Force arrow tipped with Rocky Mountain’s 100 grain Razor Lite boradhead.
Oregon’s run of fall chinook was astounding in 2002. The potential world record king was taken on a fly rod on the Rogue River, a 71-plus pounder, with several fish in the 60 pound class being taken up and down the coast.
I fished several streams on my own, and got into some fast actions with good friend and noted Umpqua River guide, Bob Cobb of Bob Cobb’s Reel Fishing. We took fish up to 30 pounds together, trolling both lures and plug-cut herring. Cobb offers combination crabbing and fishing trips, something sea food lovers will not want to pass up.
Calling raccoons is something people either seem to like or hate. If in areas of high coon concentration, calling can by highly productive. If in areas where coon numbers are low, you could call every day, all year and not get a response.
Once you’ve located a prime calling site with plenty of sign, get setup to call at night, when raccoons are most active. Situate yourself near water sources, where the majority of coons spend their time. Loud, aggressive calls are preferred by many. I’ve been pleased with the array of calls offered by Outland Sports. Woodpecker calls are one of the most effective, often overlooked coon getters out there.
In November of 2002, I spent 10 days on Kodiak Island. When I lived in the Arctic, eider hunting was common along the coast. There I collected several king and common eiders, but no other sea ducks.
Kodiak Island is world-renowned for its sea duck hunting. On this hunt I was fortunate to collect some beautiful harlequins, oldsquaw and Barrow’s goldeneye. All three species of scoter were also present. Pass shooting and hitting tidal flats during tide changes proved productive. Good friend, Art Peck, has hunted these waters for years, and I can see why he never tires of pursuing these breathtaking ducks.
Amid all the other fishing adventures to be had in the spring, shad are one species that must not go overlooked. Last spring I teamed up with guide Bret Stuart, of 24-7 Guide Service and hammered these monster members of the herring family. We caught them on everything from jigs to flies.
Shad are excellent fighters, and when thick in the river, one angler can expect to catch upwards of 50 fish day. The 3-5 pound tarpon wannabes are a thrill to catch, and make the best crab bait you’ll ever find. Their eggs are also good eating, and I’ve even cured them up and caught salmon and steelhead on them.
To book your shad fishing trip, contact Oregon guide Bret Stuart at 541-521-4694, www.fish24-7.com Stuart focuses his shad efforts on Umpqua River shad.
During the first week of October, I hunted Kodiak Island for blacktail deer with good friends Art Peck, Cameron Hanes, Roy Roth and Troy Graziadei. Despite rumors that deer numbers had rebounded from the big winter die-offs of 1998-99, we saw relatively few deer.
Cameron managed to arrow a record book blacktail with his PSE, CRH Blacktail bow. The forked horn had impressive width and great mass, and the fact a 2×2 with eye guards qualified for P & Y speaks of what a deer it was.
My buck pictured here was in full rut, keeping company with another doe and a forked horn that was trying his luck. Art, Troy and I spotted him while traveling the southern shore of Uganik Island in a skiff. The rugged terrain made getting a bow shot near impossible, so Art let me use his custom built 7mm-08. A shot to the lungs put the deer down. His 3×4 rack sports good mass and I couldn’t have been happier with this, the biggest buck any of us had seen on the trip.
Harsh winter storms kept us in the cabin more than we would have liked. Wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour prevented our getting out for two days. When in the field, Columbia Sportswear’s new Omni Tech rainwear proved invaluable, keeping me dry and warm. Though we saw bucks every day, no Booners were found. In another year or two, look for trophy deer quality to improve on the island of the bears.
Early March found my dad and I on the John Day River with veteran guide Steve Fleming of Mah-Hah outfitters. As water temperatures eclipsed 40 degrees for the first time this year, the bass bite turned on.
High winds prevented us from using plastics, so crankbaits were the rule. Fished along current edges and off points, these crankbaits proved themselves. My dad, Jerry Haugen, landed this 20 1/4″ long smallmouth right before dark on day two of our journey. The fish sported a 14″ girth, which is huge for this early in the year.
Fleming is an advocate of using liberal amounts of Smelly Jelly on his bass baits, be they plugs or plastics. My catch more than doubled when I started using the Craw/Anise Smelly Jelly on my Rapala.
2003 should be one of the best years ever for John Day River smallmouth fishing. To book a trip for monster smallies, give Fleming a call at 1-888-624-9424, and be sure to check out his website at www.johndayriverfishing.com.
Last spring marked one of the most exciting turkey season’s I’ve ever experienced. Having been absent from my home state of Oregon the past 11 years, my turkey hunting opportunities have been limited. But I tried making up for it all at once last spring.
When one talks turkey hunting, Oregon is not typically atop the list, but it should be. With more than 30,000 birds covering occupying every county in the state, the beaver state could well be dubbed the gobbler state. Last spring I spent 12 days, 76 hours, in the field chasing wiley toms. Though I botched more opportunities than I should have, I managed to connect on three nice toms, and all with my PSE Nitro bow.
The first bird, pictured here, is an Eastern subspecies, called in on opening day. I missed a crack at a monster tom, which my dad quickly nailed with a shotgun. That stopped my bird, and by Rocky Mountain Razor Lite broadhead dropped him at 32 yards.
The next tom, a Rio Grand subspecies, came at 19 yards. I roosted the birds the night prior, and was set up by daylight. the left the roost sooner than I expected, but walked right down the trail I’d hoped they would. A Rocky Mountain Snyper put that bird down.
The third bird came after many botched attempts. I was hunting an area I’d trapped as a kid, a place turkeys never existed. The first morning I setup to call here, eight different birds came in. A few days later I was back, and five birds inspected me that time. That night I again roosted some birds, and was in the woods early the next morning.
A locator coyote call sent the birds gobbling, and I positioned myself to call. Just as the books say will happen, the bird flew down and came strutting in. At 26 yards another Snyper found its mark, taking out the bird’s spine. Given the high density of birds, I can’t wait until the next spring turkey hunt rolls around.
If you’re looking for a fishing experience where hooking upwards of 100 fish a day is the norm, then smallmouth bass are what you’re after. Chasing these aggressive feeders in summer time temperatures is one of the most relaxing forms of fishing I know.
Be it on flies, crankbaits, topwater lures of jerkbaits, there are many ways to battle these scrappy fish. Bob Cobb, of Reel Fishing Trips, offers outstanding floats down one of Oregon’s most pristine rivers. Fishing amid bedrock habitats is the norm, and getting plenty of good eating fish for the frier is no problem.
Early in the spring, trips can be combined with shad fishing, making for a full day if fish-catching fun. To book your Umpqua River smally trip, give Reedsport area guide, Bob Cobb a call at 1-877-552-5452.
Late in the season, when bad weather drives grouse and quail into shared habitats, hunters in the Pacific NW can take the opportunity to score on four unique species at once. Whether concentrating on food, water or gritting sites, grouse and quail hunters west of the Cascades can find valley and mountain quail as well as ruffed and blue grouse on the same day.
Starting the search early in the morning is when you’re most likely to find grouse along gravel roads, gathering grit for their crop. Ruffed grouse can also be found plucking vegetation, while blue grouse are frequently found feeding on fir needles late in the year.
Valley quail will be scavenging for seeds along brushlines, either along roads or near openings in the brush. Grassy hillsides and the edges of logged units yield birds, too. Because bad weather drives mountain quail down in elevation, they can often be seen feeding on seeds in the same area as valley quail.
Here, I got into blue and ruffed grouse along logging roads early in the morning, at about 1,500 feet in elevation. Later in the morning, I doubled on mountain and valley quail in the same area, gathering seeds on the valley floor, some 500 feet above sea level.