Fish Swami Major Update
Fish Swami is about to receive a major upgrade! I have been working on a light refresh of the UI/graphics for the site, but I have also redesigning most of its back-end to support future expansion of Fish Swami to mobile apps. The goal is to be able to record fishing logs on your phone while you're out fishing, and have those logs sync automatically with Fish Swami when you're back in cell range. It's taking awhile, but the updated website changes for Fish Swami will be live early this spring. I'll post updates as I get closer to the release date....
Fly of the Year For 2008
A great new feature added to Fish Swami in 2008 was the fishing log report summary page. Fish Swami graphs a handful of common statistics on one page to show how many fish were caught each month, what the top fish catching patterns were, etc. The summary page is updated as each fishing log report is added, and previous year’s summaries can also be viewed. I used the summary page this year to determine my fly of the year for 2008.
1000th Registered User
Fish Swami had its 1,000th user register today! The online fishing log has been growing steadily, mostly through word-of-mouth and other fishing sites linking to site.
My goal is to continue adding fishing log related features to the site to help ease entering in fishing log information as well as to help glean information from your fishing logs. I would also like to expand the general fishing related information the site offers to anglers.
Since starting to collect statistics for the site's traffic back in March 2007, the site has had almost 19,000 unique visitors and 150,000 page views. My thanks to those who visit the site.
Mountain Lake Fishing Weekend
It was already 8pm by the time I finally had my pack strapped on at the trailhead. The sun was low in the sky and the air was brisk. The hike was going to take longer than the sun would light my path. As long as I was able to get close to my destination mountain lake before complete darkness, my headlamp could help me the rest of the way.
Any time fish are rising at a mountain lake, spirits rise. Whenever you fish a new place in the mountains, unless you have solid reports from someone else who has fished the place recently, you never really know if you're going to find fish or not. The sub-alpine weather, short growing season, and lack of rich insect life in mountain lakes make life difficult. So when I arrived at the lake and saw occasional splashy disturbances in the lake's silvery-blue reflection of the dusk sky, my hopes for the weekend's fishing rose.
Hydrographs for Steelhead
Go With the Flow
My alarm blared at 3AM and I rolled out of bed, stumbled into the kitchen and made some coffee, filled the thermos and jumped in the truck. A quick stop at a fishing buddy’s house and we were off to fish the Grande Ronde river.
As we drove through the darkness we chatted about where we caught steelhead last weekend, what runs we were going to fish and what flies we were going to use. Our excitement grew as we got closer to the river in anticipation of a good day of fishing. It was still dark as we wound our way down Rattlesnake Grade towards Boggans Oasis. We got to the river at first light and jumped out to check conditions and were horrified to find that the river was completely blown out! Our hearts sank and we knew it was not going to be a good day. We stayed and fished, but with no luck. The water was just too high and chocolate brown.
That was the day when I decided I needed to learn more about water gauges and hydrographs. Over the last 14 years I have learned how to identify some important river conditions using hydrographs that have increased my success as a steelhead fisherman. Here are some conditions every steelheader should know and what their corresponding hydrographs look like.
SF Boise River Genetic Study
Fish Swami has adopted a fish for the South Fork of the Boise River 2008 genetic study. The donated money is being used to offset the cost of genetic testing, which is being done to understand the origins of the rainbow trout in the South Fork fishery. This weekend, anglers are floating the river below Anderson Ranch Dam, catching fish, and clipping fins for the genetic study.
To read more about the genetic study and conservation issues regarding the South Fork Boise River, visit southforkboise.org. You can donate to the conservancy project by clicking on the Support button.
A picture of the FishSwami.com fish will be posted when it becomes available.
Spawning Trout and Redds
In the spring, rainbow and cutthroat trout begin their annual spawning process. In rivers and streams where trout are naturally reproducing, it’s important to avoid disturbing spawning fish during this time. These trout are expending most of their energy on spawning. Angling for spawning fish adds undo stress. Additionally, extra care should be taken to avoid damaging trout spawning areas known as "redds". Trout deposit their eggs in a clean gravel bed where they are left to hatch in four to seven weeks. Wading through a redd can crush trout eggs or the trout fry that remain in the gravel for weeks after they hatch. By not fishing to spawning fish or disturbing their redds, anglers can help ensure strong future trout populations. The following tips will help you learn how to identify redds, spawning fish, and the locations where spawning fish build redds in a river.
River Midge Fishing Tactics - Part 2
Midge Pattern Setup, Presentations, and Techniques
I almost always use two flies when fishing midge patterns. The patterns are usually small and the trout are less willing to move to feed, so fishing multiple flies allows you to fish two current lanes, two water depths, or two insect stages at once. These methods will need to be adapted if fishing regulations prevent you from fishing multiple flies simultaneously.
River Midge Fishing Tactics - Part 1
When I first started winter fly fishing on rivers, I had a preconceived notion that the rivers lacked winter hatches, so any fishing would have to be done with nymphs or streamers presented down deep to lethargic trout. The thought of insects hatching and trout actively feeding at the surface seemed like a distant memory. Surely no self-respecting insect would hatch when it was 20 degrees outside and the wind was howling. Snowy river banks, iced-up rod eyelets, numb fingers and frozen feet were the name of the game now.
Hand Tying Fly Leaders
The fly leader is the connection between your fly rod-and-line, and the fly. On a typical 40 foot cast the leader represents 25% of the distance between you and the fish. Having the right leader can help increase your fishing success. Tying your own leaders will help you cast your fly farther and with more accuracy, resulting in catching more fish!
Many people like to use "store-bought" leaders with a smooth continuous taper. Unfortunately these leaders aren't as effective at transmitting the energy from the fly line to the fly and the result is often casts that don’t turn over the fly very well. A properly constructed leader can be matched to the weight of your fly rod and will help turn over big flies such as grasshoppers as well as little tiny flies such as PMDs and midges. Hand tied leaders are also easier to repair and add new tippet. I find that I can use the same leader all year with a few repairs during the season. I also like nymphing with the hand-tied leader; snugging the strike indicator up to a knot, and putting split shot above a knot so it doesn’t slip.
Puget Sound Fishing at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving weekend 2007 not only afforded me a few days to visit Mom in Washington state on the shores of Puget Sound, but also allowed for some time spent fly fishing for SRCs (Sea Run Cutthroats) and chum salmon in the cold, clear, saltwater of the Sound. Being from Idaho I don't get a chance to fish saltwater or salmon too often, so I flew out to Washington not only looking forward to spending the holiday with family, but also in anticipation of a new fishing experience and the challenge of coaxing some saltwater species into my net.
Fly of the Year For 2007
The 2007 year was the second consecutive year that I have recorded all of my fishing trips into Fish Swami. One of the benefits of keeping a fishing log for all of my outings is being able to view catch statistics for previous years. Fish Swami has a very powerful statistical analysis tool that lets you query your fishing log for almost any statistic you would like to know. I used that tool to compile the following table for my top 10 fish-producing flies for 2007.
As winter turns to spring, steelhead resume migrating to their spawning grounds. River freshettes (where the water rises) and warmer water temperatures draw fish upstream and into smaller tributary streams. As steelhead get closer to their spawning grounds it becomes easier to spot them, both because of the smaller size of the river, and because they move into more predictable locations. Sight fishing for steelhead is an exciting experience. Instead of blindly fishing mile after mile of water you can actually see your quarry and how it reacts to your fly. Chances of success are greatly improved when you know the fish are present, and you can direct your cast to them. Team fishing, where one partner spots from a vantage point while the second partner fishes will help you hook-up. However, spotting steelhead takes practice and some stealth. Here are some tips on locating migrating steelhead in the river.
Fall is an amazing time to be outdoors - the oppressive heat from summer is gone, the hillsides turn gold and crimson in radiant splendor as trees present their annual parting gifts, and fishing picks up as fall hatches commence and fish gorge before the winter. Fishing isn't always great, however, but luckily when it's not, nature affords a multitude of opportunities to take photographs or simply relax and enjoy the season's diminishing warmth. The photographs that follow are from my autumn adventures thusfar. Enjoy.
Fishing a PMD Hatch
On many rivers, Pale Morning Duns (PMDs) are a relief to both anglers and fish alike. In the West, the hatch of the medium-sized mayfly can occur both in numbers and duration during the summer months. After a winter and spring of fishing miniscule midge patterns or trying to time sporadic drake emergences, PMDs can ease anglers and fish into a fairly consistent daily schedule of hatch and spinner fall. This allows an angler to spend time not only on honing patterns for each stage of the Pale Morning Dun's lifecycle, but also on focusing on specific water types to fish certain patterns.