Monday, January 19, 2009

The Kamchatka Project

I recently discovered The Kamchatka Project while surfing the web. If you are into salmon fishing or kayaking and haven't put Kamchatka on your list of dream expeditions, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

The Kamchatka Project website states; "In the summer of 2009 a group of expert expedition kayakers will attempt source to sea first descents of the Illmahaka and Kapaza rivers in an effort to help further a salmon stronghold in Kamchatka."

"Exploring by kayak will lead the team directly to the salmon, conservation issues and the cultures of Northern Siberia."

I look forward to some incredible photography and trip reports from these guys. Kamchatka is truly one of the last untouched wildernesses left on the planet.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kayak Fishing Day Dream

Well, the rivers have receded back down to fishable levels, the weather is absolutely magnificent, with temperatures in the upper 50's, sparkling blue skies, and blessed sunshine. It is something to be treasured in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.

I can only day dream as I stare out the window at the beautiful sunshine. What wonderful memories are being made out on some forested river right now? I don't know, but I'm envious as I sit here, staring at the synthetic light of a computer monitor.

Responsibility can be a real downer sometimes. It's hard not to be a little bit resentful, when I'm stuck here writing papers for school. Classes seem to be a little intense this semester. I guess I should have expected as much from the "writing intensive" course descriptions.

I know, in the long run, applying myself fully to school now will benefit me more later, but that does not make me envy you lucky few out their chasing steelhead any less.

Although I don't have the time to get to the coast this weekend to chase steelies, I am going to do a scouting run of the spring salmon fishing grounds. I'm going to kayak from Chinook Landing to Jantzen beach on the Columbia River in preparation for kayak fishing for springers in March.

With the river flowing anywhere from 3 to 5 knots, it should only take two or three hours for the entire float. It isn't much for kayaking action, but hopefully it will fulfill my jones and help me get a better lay of the land for when the salmon do come back in March. At least I won't have to waste time learning the run then, I'll be able to get right into the fish, which will be crucial for pre-work fishing excursions. I'll post pics of the float when I return.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

UPDATE: Major Flooding in NW Oregon & SW Washington

Sometimes a guy just can't win. I had my doubts that the Nehalem would be fishable early next week, but I couldn't imagine the entire steelhead season being flooded away. There is no road or railway open between Portland and Seattle, and the coast is toast.

A fellow kayak guide and my good friend Jeff Wong told me at lunch today he saw a dead cow float down the river, and a salmon swam up highway 56 on the way to my normal launch on the Nehalem.

Here is a photo from our local Portland news channel, KATU. This normally docile stretch of the Nehalem river, 1.5 miles below the launch I use, has now covered the entire valley in 10 ft of water.

It remains pretty slow around here, and I am starting to get twitchy. I guess a little more time spent in the basement plotting, planning, organizing, and refurbishing gear never hurt anything.

Hopefully the rivers will recede back down to fishable levels in the next few weeks, and the devastation won't be as severe as they say. I'm keeping my finger crossed.


Friday, January 2, 2009


Winter time in the Pacific Northwest can be a drag for some. When the temperature drops, the rain and snow begins, and the sun takes a vacation, not to return until mid-June, I get down right giddy.

It's not football, the holidays, or even skiing that I'm all excited about. It's the return of winter steelhead.

In my world their are few greater challenges for an angler than winter steelhead. Pound for pound they are the strongest fighting fish I have ever set my hook into. The acrobatics these fish display when hooked is incredible. On more than one occasion I have lost fish to tree limbs 5 ft above the river.

The conditions during the season add another layer to the challenge. Howling winds, frigid temps, high flows, and debris in the water make it a sheer battle of will.

You'd be hard pressed to find a more dedicated or enthusiastic fisherman than a steelheader. You have to be to enjoy fishing in these conditions!

I'm going to try my luck on the main stem Nehalem River, on the N Oregon coast, here in the next couple of weeks. There is a brief window of opportunity for me when the river levels drop and before school gets to intense, and I intend to get on the water.

I'll be fishing for steelhead from a kayak, so my inclination is to run a plug downstream off the bow, and either back paddle or anchor up. Either way is semi- chaotic once you hook up in fast water, because you are basically at the mercy of the flow of the river. The only advice I can give for that frenzied moment is to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the tree branches that you will inevitably be crashing into! Trust me, you won't see them, or care when you have a big slab of chrome ripping line off your reel.

The anchor system I use in these high flows has a carribeaner for quick release, and a float attached to the end so I can retrieve it after release. A quick release mechanism and a float are crucial when the water is flowing fast. Logs and debris floating down river, or under water and catching your anchor line, are a real issue this time of year.

Not only is the quick release important for safety, but also, you have to be able to release when you hook a large fish. High flows and strong fighting steelhead will likely snap your line if you attempt to fight them while anchored.

A good how to description of a quick release anchor system can be found at

As details come together for my kayak fishing trip for winter steelhead on the Nehalem, I'll post them. And as allways I'll give a detailed trip report with photos as soon as I return.

Until next week,