Friday, October 31, 2014

Steelhead and salmon fishing the lower Umatilla River

A fishing report from Tyson - 31 October

The Umatilla: We met in Walla Walla at 5:30 and headed down to the Chinaman's Hole. There were already a few locals there. We wandered out into the water with a beautiful sunrise behind us.

Looking upriver -towards 3 Mile Dam- from Chinaman's Hole
Tom immediately hooked up with a King salmon on a purple egg-sucking leech. He landed the fish, and as it was still fairly bright he decided to keep it. 
Tom with his early morning Fall Chinook hookup

Diane put on the same pattern and proceeded to hook and lose two fish in the next couple of hours.
Diane at the head of Chinaman's Hole

We wanted to find some other water, so drove down into town by the walking bridge.

We decided that wasn't going to work for us, so we headed back to the Chinaman's Hole and looked at some water towards the top of the falls. We tried a couple of holes but no luck.

Umatilla River flow of 31 October - 210 cfs
By then--probably close to noon, we headed back down to Chinaman's Hole and tried our luck there for another hour or so. No luck, and with the rain picking up, we called it a day. 

The Umatilla River's current and historical steelhead and salmon run recorded at Three Mile Dam.

Thank you Tyson for this report and pictures of the day. 

Tight lines and good fishing
Walla² Fly Fishers

Tom Craig – President
Dave Stemmer – Vice President
Doug Coe – Treasurer
Dale McKain – Secretary ~ Blogmaster 
Gerald Newell - PROJECT HEALING WATERS Coordinator

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Rambles of a Wandering Western Angler” an evening with John Shewey

This evening it was the pleasure of the Walla² Fly Fishers to have John Shewey and his best fishing buddy Tim Blount present at our 2014 Fly Fishers' Banquet. We had 35 fly fishers in attendance.


The P.M. activities started with John sitting up a fly tying station, and first fly of the day was his most famous summer steelhead catching fly, the Spawning Purple.

As John was tying this Spawning Purple we reminisced of the time at the Northwest Fly Tyers' Expo, he got in a match against the clock to see how fast he could tye a Spawning Purple. He said he had his tying time down to about 6½ minutes per fly, when on the stopwatch.

Through this afternoon, John greeted our members and guest and discussed flies, fishing, and other important things concerning the pursuit of happiness.

Watching John tye his flies
While visiting with us this evening John tied a couple more of his favorite steelhead flies which included a Max Canyon and the Parmachene Belle

John tying the Max Canyon
Jerry thinking about fishing the Max Canyon

The next hook in the vise holds the Classic fly - Parmachene Belle

John tying the Parmachene Belle
Diane, also a fly tyer, checks out this Parmachene Belle

John's picture - Parmachene Belle and his steelie hookup

John is probably the first angler in 70 years to take a steelhead on a Parmachene Belle...namely because he is probably the first guy in 70 years to actually use what was, from 1890 through the 1920s, a very popular steelhead fly!
Two of John's tyes for the afternoon - the Spawning Purple he gave to a club member
these two will become door prizes.
Our club's lead fly tyers... John, Herb, and Diane

This writer was able to sneak a look at John's steelhead fishing fly box - a look at what catches fish for John.
Thank You Judith O'Keefe for this private snapshot of a "working man's" tools of the trade.

John made the statement that the most successful fly one can fish with, is the fly that an angler has the most confidence in and uses most of the time. That is a fact.

As John was "working" at his tying table, the club membership was just milling around, socializing, and checking out the Silent Auction Table for our club's funds raiser.
Our No Host Bartender served us well, with lots of Waterbrook wines

Around John's tying table and the Silent Auction table
Our Silent Auction table held a lot of nice donated items.Funds made from our Banquet will go to help our club's chapter of Project Healing Water Fly Fishing, Inc.

 We wish to Thank the individuals and businesses that made donations to our Silent Auction Table. With funds raised we will help Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. and the veterans we serve at the Walla Walla Veterans Hospital.


This evening John brought with him his #1, and long time fishing buddy Tim from Burns, Oregon. These guys met while working the same fly shop together, many years ago and have stuck it out through rain, sleet, and warm sunshine to fish the western US together. Tim we are glad to have met you this evening, and hope you and John will have many more stream miles to share together. You are two lucky fellas to have the opportunity to travel and fish the places you do, catch the fish you catch, and met the people looking for you. Tight lines and good fishing.

After John's fly tying expo, and the rest of us socializing, we bellied up to a wonderful buffet dinner, prepared by the Walla Walla Country Club kitchen.
Our dinner this evening was an assortment of salads - green leaf salad, fruit salad, potato salad, pasta salads, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, various cooked vegetables, grilled beef steak, baked salmon, with a dessert of apple crisp and ice cream. And there was plenty of food for a second round for those that wanted a little more.

Our Walla Walla Country Club dinning room scene looked a bit like this for the evening.

After dinner President Tom and VP Dave, made presentation of our Door Prizes:
President Tom - VP Dave

1) a 2015 Out-of-State Fishing License (Oregon or Washington) - Jerry Newell won this prize
2) two dinner tickets to the Northwest Steelheaders' -annual Crab Feed Banquet- in May 2015 -
Patty Newell won this prize
3) the two flies hand tied by John Shewey this evening
4) four subscriptions to Northwest Fly Fishing magazine, given us by editor John Shewey
5) a book of  John's - Steelhead Flies
After the door prized handouts we closed the Silent Auction Table and everyone making the highest bids on a lot of nice thing, got to claim their goodies.

With all of this said and done, Secretary Dale gave an introduction for John and his presentation. 

John started his tale with his early days of fly fishing as a kid in Eastern Idaho. His home was surrounded by BLM and US Forest Service lands with a lot of fly fishing opportunities easily accessible from his home. - Lucky kid.

John is a true dog lover, with his favorite breed being the Weimaraners.
His best Ole Dog was Jake, and John shared a number of tales of the adventures of he and Good Old Jake.
Good Old Jake
John's current pair of puppies are Josie and Java

In John's presentation this evening he made mention the number of times that he had taken his dogs fishing with him, and paid the "price" of having a dog along on a fishing trip. He told us of skunk encounters, dogs enjoying others' picnic tables, disturbing nice fishing holes he was about to slip into, etc., But after all, the dogs are man's best friends along with a fishing buddy like Tim.

John's sharing of his fly fishing experiences for this evening was a PPP of places he had been, people he had met, fish he had caught, friends he had made.

"I fish because... I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariable beautiful and, finally not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally important - and not nearly so much fun."
- Robert Traver


 Most of John's presentation was a history of his wanderings, and chasing of fish in the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest.

Redband trout
Cutthroat trout

Brown trout

Dolly Varden ~ Bull trout

Golden trout


Then there is John's favorite freshwater ~ saltwater ~ freshwater specie he loves to chase... the Pacific Northwest steelhead. By most state fish departments in the  Pacific Northwest a 20" -rainbow/redband- trout is classified as a steelhead, unless it is found in stillwater. John, explained to us the difference between a 8"- 20"  Redband trout found in Oregon and Washington waters and much the same 20"- 40" Pacific Northwest steelhead. There is no genetic difference between the two, but a resident Redband lives in it natal waters for life, while a steelhead runs to saltwater and grow much larger. Steelhead can and will make the trip to "salt" more than once, returning to their indigenous waters to spawn a number of times.
a resident Redband trout
a having gone to saltwater and returned "Redband" steelhead

John's favorite fishing range for trout


surf perch
John is also an avid saltwater fly fisher, who enjoys going into the surf to chase surf perch.


John has now authored 22 books. His 23rd and latest book Classic Steelhead Flies is currently due to come off the press in January 2015. Check out the link for a preview of what is coming our way.

If you are a fly tyer and enjoy books to enhance your art, one of John's finest works is his book Spey Flies & Dee Flies: Their History & Construction. It is the most thorough and up-to-date book on these traditional flies and methods and materials with which they are tied. Includes: in-depth historical information cited straight from the letters, books, and other writings of the first tier; step-by-step photos and instructions for flies and useful tying techniques; hackles and other materials; hackling, ribbing, and winging techniques; tying traditional Spey and Dee flies; Pacific Northwest Spey and Dee fly tiers; tying contemporary Spey and Dee flies; fishing these flies; beautiful color fly plates. This book is out-of-print and the first edition now goes for a premium price.

Want to learn more about fly fishing the
Pacific Northwest - look into John's repository
of 22 well written book on the subject.
The Walla² Fly Fishers wish to thank John and his friend Tim, for joining us this evening and sharing some of their fishing adventures and fly fishing knowledge. We also wish to thank the businesses and individuals that donated to our banquet's door prizes and silent auction items. We wish to thank the Walla Walla Country Club for opening their doors for this event and the very delicious dinner they served.
It was a very fine, and most enjoyable evening.
Again, Thank You one and all.

P.S. 23 October 2014 - Treasurer Doug's Banquet expense / income report...
33 paid dinners - 2 guest dinners
$677 received from auction/sale
Cost of meals @$30.45
Expenses for John Shewey:
Speaking fee $500
Hotel $75
Fuel $100
We spent about $70 more than we took in.

Respectfully submitted,
Dale McKain
Club Secretary


Tom Craig – President
Dave Stemmer – Vice President
Doug Coe – Treasurer
Dale McKain – Secretary ~ Blogmaster 
Gerald Newell - PROJECT HEALING WATERS Coordinator