Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Those fish are spawning and we will try to get them to take a fly as we roll it past their nose."

Missoulian outdoor columnist and host of the weekly Montana Outdoor Radio Show Mark Ward wrote this article about "fly fishing" for steelhead that ran in the Jan. 27 issue.

Come on, Mark. As a somewhat credible, somewhat locally-known outdoor "personality," try not to come off as a total JONG. It's obvious you don't know jack about fly fishing for steelhead-or fly fishing in general for that matter-but at least have the nerve to sack up and tell it like it is:

"Fly fishing" for steelhead does not involve 11 foot nymph rigs, six BB split shot and two "black and red nymph flies" tethered to 15lb Maxima. Nor does it involve dragging said rig across the faces of a few thousand exhausted fish attempting to spawn in gin clear water while they sit literally trapped at the base of a giant, non-negotiable concrete wall. If you had even the most basic appreciation of the history, culture and inherently existentialist nature of fly fishing for steelhead, then you would know it certainly does not involve yahoos like you and your buddy hooking 20 fish in a day. And I swear on the grave of Roderick-Haig Brown and everything that is holy in this sport: fly fishing for steelhead does not have a goddamn thing to do with "rubbing a little crawdad smelly jelly" on your fly. Fuck.

Hey, that looks like a good hole!

But you know what all of those things do have to do with? Snagging spawning steelhead off of their redds and bragging about it in the newspaper. I mean, the quote of your buddy's you used is priceless. Really? You're lucky the Missoula PETA freaks haven't found you yet!

Now, I'll grant you that the North and South Fork steelhead fisheries have become all-out meat markets, with fishermen from all walks of life throwing every conceivable piece of hardware directly on to the skulls of the biggest fish they will likely ever see. And that's fine. Though I'll never be caught dead setting foot in the North Fork with the intention of fishing for those rotting, doomed husks of what were once magnificent creatures, I have been known to occasionally nymph the muddy ditch we affectionately know as the South Fork and get some steelhead jizz on my waders. But at least I can't
see them, and I'm not afraid to admit what it is: glorified snagging with a fly pole.

So if it cranks your stoke to rip the hatchery brats off redds as they bump their faces against the foundation of Dworshak, fine. I couldn't give a damn how you choose to fish for steelhead. Just know that it's unethical, it's sleazy and it is without a doubt anything but fly fishing for steelhead. So please don't write about it like it is, and stay the hell out of the way of me and anyone else fly fishing for them in a respectable manner.

By the way, the technique you described is far easier to chunk on a spinning rod. The rig sinks down "in the zone" faster, and then you don't have to like, fly cast and stuff.

Next time Mark, try these. They work waaaaay better than those silly flies.

And lastly, a priceless second opinion on the matter:

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