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Monday, November 25, 2013

Early Winter Steel Recon

November is one of those tough "tweener" months for a steelheader like me.  Conditions on my local flow is volatile during November with periods of the river being blown out by early winter rains or levels being bumped for no apparent reasons by the Corps.  When levels are stable enough, I'm able to get surface steelhead up to Thankgiving and beyond, but that hasn't been the case this season.  While I have had a few surface hookups in water temps as low a 44 degrees on the North Umpqua in early November, the water is often too high and cold for surface steelheading during this timeframe.

For some folks, November could be seen as a good month to take some time off from fishing, maybe do some other things like yard work, home improvements, hitting the honey-do list hard, etc - I have done some of those things, but my inner voice that says "you'll never get a fish if your line's not wet" just never stops.  I recently took a couple very early trips to chase after the unlikely encounter with a front running winter steelhead.  One of these trips involved friends Steve Turner, Adrian Cortes, and Aaron Ostoj coming my way with Steve's Clackacraft in tow.  Steve traveled from his home in Ridgefield, WA and Aaron met up with him at his home in the pre-butt crack of dawn hours and they picked Adrian up from his home in Beavercreek on the way down to meet me in Springfield.  We spent a couple wonderful days on the water, floating in Steve's gorgeous Clackacraft on day one and we bank fished on day two.  Steve even let me share rowing duties in his newly reconditioned Clacka and I proceeded to bang it into in a rock in the only stretch of moving water for miles.  Steve had a beautiful new set of Sawyer composite, counter-weighted oars that made rowing a pleasure.

While it was no surprise that we didn't enounter any steel during our two days of fishing, we had a wonderful trip spending time together, sharing in our common bond as brothers in Christ, and having the opportunity to get our winter steelhead rod/reel/line setups dialed and mentally shifting to the rhythm of winter steelheading.

When amongst these guys, I'm in some pretty fast company.  Adrian and Aaron are top notch classic Atlantic Salmon fly tyers and they both tie their magical creations in hand.  Just take a look on the "hooks, feathers, and floss" board on Speypages for a glipse at some of their talent.  Aaron also happens to be the proprietor of AO Feathers, a premier supplier of exotic fly tying materials for those classic Atlantic Salmon flies and beyond.  Aaron also dyes alot of his materials in house and all of his materials are only of the highest grade and carefully selected. Check out Aaron's wares at:

A glimpse into Aaron's fly box:

Perusing Adrian's fly wallet:
(Photos courtesy of Steve Turner)

Steve is a master behind the camera.  I have been an amateur, self-taught photographer and Steve's compositions inspire me to take my snap shooting to a higher level.  Thanks to Steve sharing his amazing photos with me, I've been yearning to purchase a used, outdated Nikon DSLR body so I can make use of my old Nikon AF lenses from my film shooting days and hopefully take some better fishing photos.  After our trip, Steve emailed me some of the photos he took while we were out on the water.  Among the photos that I really liked was one of a guy casting - the composition was perfect, all the elements and background came together for a perfect shot with the line in the air during a single hand speycast, the only thing "wrong" with the photo  - the caster in the pic is me!!  Geeze, for Steve to get me to like a photo that I appear in, now that's talent!  Steve's website:

AO enjoying a light hearted moment on the water

Steve's cool photo of amateur caster with outdated glass rod:

Fly tying master Adrian Cortez (Fshnazn)

Aaron and Adrian humoring each other while the guy with glass rod works down a run.
(Photos courtesy of Steve Turner)

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