Fall Fishing

By: Heather Strassel @ 3:14 AM

Fall is finally here! In Oregon, the days are noticeable shorter and the trees are starting to fire just on the tips. The cool nights and hot days are more telltale than the calendar that fall has arrived.

I like the fall. Things slow down a bit. Schedules normalize as school starts up again and the sun sets at a reasonable hour. We have more time to do those traditional summer things in the fall like camping and fishing and spending time outdoors. The weather stabilizes below 80; the garden beans slow production; the grass cutting rotation can move to every 10 days instead of every 6; the spring river rapids slow to a lazy glide; the tranquility of fall slowly overcomes everything.

Even the fishing experience this time of year is different. The stillness of the river mesmerizes. Except for the whizzing of my line flying though the air before it gently lands on the water, and an occasional acorn bouncing off branches before plunking into the water, the atmosphere remains mostly soundless. The afternoon air is warm, just perfect actually, and so noticeable unnoticeable in the way your skin can’t even feel its presence.
Peace rules… that is until you get a bite and the following few intense minutes of water splashing and flinging and your heart pounding in anticipation of the catch and your thoughts jarred quickly awake from their state of rest trying to recall whether you even remembered to bring the net this time and the dog barking in excitement all mess it up. But just a little. No worries; the disturbance is quickly absorbed in the canyon walls and tranquility breathes upon the water again. As the evening settles in, giant white gnats float the air and glow in the last rays of deep yellow sunlight. A fish breaks the dark green, soft water snatching one of the low flying bugs. I guess we all naturally slow down a bit to soak up the last remnants of the warmth and enjoy what the summer gave the earth this year.

Unfortunately, the Rogue in the fall is hardly as harmless. The warmth of the summer combines with the summer fertilizer run-off, and our Rogue slickens up considerably with moss and algae making it a veritable slip-in-slide. Really, studs this time of year are a must if you fish in rubber boots and want to keep off your backside. The warmer waters also soften the rubber soles ever so slightly which when paired with the slimy wading surface make a deadly duo. You just gotta have studs this time of year on the Rogue, but that isn’t a problem I worry about. (Please don’t tell the warehouse where today’s new stud kits went.)

Fall fish are bigger and smarter than summer fish. Carefully alluding hooks all summer, their bodies have put on the inches and pounds of which real fish stories are spun. Those summer survivors that team the rivers and lakes call my name. “Come on out! Bet you can’t catch me,” I can hear them say in a most mocking tone. Little do they know who they are challenging.

If you call me this weekend, I probably won’t pick up. (Fall river canyons really hate cell phone rings.) I’ll be gone… out soaking up the weather (& hopefully not the river).

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Sandy River Spey Clave, 10th Anniversary, May 2010

By: Heather Strassel @ 12:02 PM

Check out the photo gallery below.–>

I do love fishing. Dad would take us kids fishing throughout the summer in the “drift boat” along our Rogue River. Of course back then, we gear fished and baited our massive barbed hooks with Power Bait. The excitement as I patiently waited for “bites” while my weight bounced along the rocky riverbed made my heart pound. My body flinched at each tug caused by the dragging weight; I was ready and very much over eager to feel the real thing. Finally, there was a slight lull; I could feel nothing. My hands gripped the rod, experience telling me that this was it. And then a little nibble vibrated through the line as a charge shot through my body. It took every ounce of patience to wait for the second round of nibbling; sure enough, it came and I immediately jerked up my line to set the hook.

Things now have changed some: barbed hooks can’t be used in all areas on the Rogue, Power Bait isn’t my first choice, and I fish with my husband more than with my dad; but that excitement waiting for the thrill of the “hit” still flows heavy through my veins. How many millions of people throughout generation after generation have experienced that same thrill! The anticipation of what could be gives excitement its meaning. We all love to hope and win.

This was my first time attending the Sandy River Spey Clave hosted by The Fly Fishing Shop of Welches, Oregon. I thought it was just simply great: well organized, ideal location, friendly people, abundant food, and experienced instructors! I heard more about spey casting than I could possibly retain; but with the professional brochure Welches Fly Shop printed, I could review much I learned. The teaching right on the banks of the Sandy River was definitely tops! With world class teachers to choose instruction from like Al Buhr, Mark Bachman, George Cook, Brian Silvey and Hawkeye Hawkins among others, I wondered how this event could be offered without admission! Upshore were all the tackle booths, offering colorful displays of many quality products for trial. Touch, try, and feel; what fun!

For me though, the best part of the event was observing people casting. As I watched men, women, and children work on their form, modify their rod grasp, perfect their D-loop, and cast their flys (however imperfectly executed) into the river beyond, I knew they had felt what I will never forget: the excitement of the bite!

The art form of “spey casting” was apparent in all of them, as rough or masterful as it appeared.  As a technical art form alone, spey casting in my opinion is lacking, even as impressive the perfect cast may be. It is the love of fishing that perfects the art of spey casting, making it so intriguing. We all envy the instructor’s cast because his fly might be able to reach the spot ours can’t which catches him fish while we helplessly wait.  So the people at the 2010 Sandy River Spey Clave all practiced and practiced. The repeated attempts to master the spey cast sent line after line flying through the air, but the unseen energy in each cast was what enlivened me. It was the unanimous love of fishing expressed in each spey cast that made the day on the Sandy River very good!

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