The Graveyard Shift – by Ryan Haseman

There was a time when the extracurricular parts of my daily life were centered solely on fishing in the Northwest. Almost every moment that didn’t involve school or work was spent fishing the local waters of wherever I called home. With a freedom like that, one is more willing to be frivolous with the time they have at their disposal. I would regularly make “iffy” trips that, with a little luck, might have paid out big but almost surely would bust. I spent many days driving between spots that looked very intriguing on Google Earth or my Gazetteer, only to find a yellow gate or a “no beach access” sign. In the winter months my sights would be set westward to the Olympic Peninsula. Plans and preparations would regularly be halted because of high river levels, but hey, to the fetterless, there was always tomorrow or the next week or whenever.

My days of single minded avocation are gone, not lost, but definitely put on hold for a while. They say your thirties are the most productive years of your life. While I’m not sure I’m being productive, I am certainly busy. These days my life consists of running a business, going to school to get an engineering degree and raising two beautiful girls. There is hardly a moment when I’m not scrambling for work, crunching ungodly calculus equations or chasing after children whose sole purpose in life seems to be to cover every inch of my house with toys and clothing. To get any fishing done at all with this type of schedule, it requires planning and an extremely understanding spouse. To catch fish with this type of schedule, it requires fishing in places you know there are fish.

Of course, you can never be certain that the fish will cooperate 100 percent of the time, hey its fishing. But you can certainly go to places where you have caught fish before, and you know you can get to. Using your only chance to fish for the month to run into a yellow gate, or unfishable conditions would be extremely frustrating. So this is how my “fishing life” has gone for the past few years, making safe bets on places to fish, repeatedly coming back to the familiar and productive spots that were the fruits of my untethered past. All of which is perfectly fine and enjoyable, but has also created this plateau in the fly fishing learning curve that we all have a love-hate relationship with.

So over the holidays as I fantasized of future fishing trips with my kids and friends, a welcomed email came across my inbox. It was a reminder that Doug Rose’s Christmas Newsletter was finished and available to read on his website. I always look forward to Doug Rose’s Christmas newsletter. It is a collection of essays written by respected people in the fly fishing community, a perfect consolation for the anxiety ridden winter months and fishless days. This year our friend Gary Marston made a contribution to the newsletter with his piece “Lights out on the Puget Sound.” Gary wrote about his experience with fishing the Puget Sound at night and what a great opportunity it can be to catch chinook, coho and cutthroat in the winter months when days are short and offer little daylight for the working man. This notion of a “year-round after work fishery” had suddenly flooded my head with thoughts of exploration and discovery that were once satisfied by the adaptable nature of my former life. This was not just an after work fishery, this was an after kids-go-to-bed fishery, an after homework fishery, it was an after my current daily life fishery.

Inspired by Gary’s article, I made plans. Since this was my first nocturnal fishing endeavor, I decided to fish a beach I knew well, so much for exploration right? Baby steps! I just didn’t want to be stumbling around the dark on a strange beach and wind up the focus of a south sound search and rescue mission. After picking the location and a favorable tide, I then prepared my fly box. I chose a few of my favorite daytime patterns and gave them a nighttime makeover. This hodgepodge of flies, that I labeled “the graveyard shift” would be enough to try out various tactics while out on the water.


After kissing my befuddled and somewhat suspicious wife goodbye, I left the house at 9:30PM. With a box of glow-in-the-dark flies and a UV flashlight in-hand, I set off to re-explore a beach I had fished before but would now see in a whole new light, or lack thereof (pardon the pun).  As I made my way down to the beach in the darkness, I started to think of the other beaches that I could explore with my graveyard crew. What beaches might fish well for chinook? Will there be coho at this beach? What about a night with a full moon? How much is too much glow-in-the-dark flash? A million questions were running through my head, a million answers and surprises to discover. I stepped out onto the beach and my mind was instantly hushed.

The grays and deep blues of the beach were back dropped by the black silhouette of the cedars and madrones. The calm night and flood tide had turned the water still and black as obsidian. The water was clear and to my surprise, even in almost total darkness I could see shells and stones in the water almost 3 feet down. I walked along the beach, occasionally flipping my headlamp on to navigate over a fallen tree, and reached a section of beach near a small stream that had done well for me in the past. I stripped out 30 feet of line and made a cast into the darkness. As my line landed, a brilliant flash of blue appeared on the water’s surface. It was an amusing surprise. It was bioluminescent plankton, in the middle of winter. I stepped out into the water, and watched the light show around my feet.

Now, I wish I could tell you that from then on it was a fish catching bonanza, but it wasn’t. I quietly and calmly spent the night casting my line out, not having to obsess over whether my casts were “pretty”. The darkness forced me to feel when my rod was loaded and then make the appropriate cast. Over a couple of hours I changed my fly a few times; first a modified Ferguson’s Green and Silver, then a green reverse spider and finally a size 6 euphausiid. All had glowing features that I recharged occasionally with my UV flashlight. As I twitched my euphausiid pattern through the water, my line suddenly went tight.  In about 8 inches of water, I had hooked a nice cutthroat. The cutthroat thrashed about in the water and the bioluminescent plankton went crazy. A bright blue haze surrounded the fish and made it seem otherworldly. I couldn’t help but feel like I had just caught some sort of alien fish on a distant planet.

  As I netted my first cutthroat caught in the dead of night I realized I was standing only a few feet from where I had caught my very first sea-run cutthroat some years ago.  I snapped a few pictures, and then watched as the cutt slipped quietly back into the darkness. It was a little after midnight now and I felt like it was the perfect time to call it a night. I had set out to “test the waters” so to speak, and find out if this was really possible and that’s what I did. I walked back to my truck thinking of all the other familiar beaches that had suddenly become brand new to me, and that I now had time to explore them, if not tomorrow night, then next week, or whenever.

2015 NWYCFFA

2014 Academy 010

 

As we approach the 2014 holiday season, now would be the time to be thinking of gifts for your children, grandchildren and any other youth you think might like to learn about fly fishing and conservation.  To qualify for The Academy, the applicant, boy or girl, 12-16 years old, must write an essay explaining why they would like to attend The Academy.  A letter of recommendation is also required, written by their science teacher or school counselor.  The dates for the 2015 WSCFFF and WCTU sponsored event are Sunday, June 21 – Saturday June 27th.  The weeklong event is hosted by the Olympia TU Chapter, South Sound Fly Fishing Club and the Puget Sound Fly Fishers of Tacoma.  The Academy will be held again at The Gwinwood Conference Center on Hicks Lake in Lacey, WA.  The youth reside in cabins with Ghillies (counselors), fly fishing gear is provided along with fly tying materials, all meals are included.  Cost for the whole week is $275, there are sponsorships available.  No one will be turned away because of funds.  To learn more about the Academy, go to www.nwycffa.com or our Facebook page.  The application is available on our website or contact Mike Clancy @ [email protected]

This is a life rewarding experience for our youth to learn conservation and the basics of fly fishing.  The youth of today, are the guardians of the future of our sport of fly fishing.    

Brass Reel V1

Okay, so you have seen the 3D model that has been made, now to make it a reality, or in other words...here comes the hard part.

Here are some pics of what I have started. I figured I would start with the front ring and back plate. I am using yellow brass for the material. The reel foot prawl and hardware will be out of 7075 aluminum and anodized black. I will attempt to make a green glass handle...we'll see how that goes.

My backplate will have a radial pattern of half inch holes, with 1/4 or maybe 1/8 inch slots in between. My drag system will be a simple spring and prawl with an eccentric hex mechanism to allow for 6 different drag settings.

 

 

In my 3D model, the spool is made of carbon fiber, however I have no idea how to work with carbon fiber, so it may end up aluminum.  I have started the front ring, I just have to put the pillar holes in it. I have machined a back plate but have already changed my mind on the drag system so I will be making another one of those.

 

Here is what I have so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Safety- by Denny Lewis

I have been a fisherman for 40 plus years and until recently had never experienced a near
tragic event while participating in the sport.

As a police officer you are trained and deal daily with specific emergencies and they
become second nature. You see on the news and in the newspapers frequently of a water
related fatality. Now retired and as skilled as I think I am in dealing with emergency
situations I was not prepared for what occurred a very short time ago.

I have fished many western rivers and have fished the Yakima River many times without
incident. I fish while wading and fish from a pontoon boat and sometimes use the
services of a guide when water levels are high and my wife chooses to join me.

My fishing partner and brother-in-law, also retired law enforcement and I, planned to
float a short distance one afternoon earlier this October. Nothing unusual about the day or
the weather in fact it was a very pleasant sunny day of about 60 and no wind to speak of.
(Unusual for the Ellensburg area)
This day we had decided to fish a section of the Yakima River that neither of us had
fished before. This is called the Farm Lands and is accessed from a public park in
Ellensburg. This area of the river is known for some of the larger trout in the river and
was one of the reasons we chose to float this section.
We arrived at our launch point and began assembling our boats and organizing gear and
I observed a very large sign warning of the hazardous conditions on this section of the
river. While reading this I watched a drift boat with a single occupant float by. I decided
to call one of the local fly shops to inquire about the sign and what to expect on the water.
I was informed that this sign had been there for years but there were hazards down stream
and generally what to look out for and where. Using caution we shouldn’t have any
problem with the float.

The float started out routinely enough, I even landed a couple of nice fish shortly after
launching. Within minutes I encountered the first obstacle that had been described to
me. I stowed my rod took a good look at the water ahead and maneuvered around this
sweeper without incident.

The water ahead of me looked fishable and I went back to fishing. I looked behind me
to locate my brother in law Don. He typically fishes slower than me and sometimes I
find myself a considerable distance downstream from him. I spotted him several hundred
yards back rigging his gear.

The river took a slow turn to the right and then left where I spotted another obstruction
and could hear the water rushing thru and around. I quickly stowed my gear and
prepared my setup to maneuver around the obstruction. Fortunately I was on the far right
when I entered the swifter water. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sudden merging of
the current seam from the sharp turn off the left bank and the one I was in on the right.
This sudden convergence spun me around backwards forcing me to pull on the oars for
all I was worth. Luckily I avoided the sweeper and the attached large root ball on the
right side of the downed tree.

It took me a couple of minutes to regain my composure and beach my boat where I
thought I better go back up stream to warn Don of the hazard. Too late, as I made my
way back up the rocky shore I saw Don moving rapidly in what looked to me like the
center of the river in the strongest current. He didn’t have a chance to avoid what was
coming, He got caught dead center in the converging currents and spun sideways directly
into the log jam. Don was thrown out of the boat on the up stream side. You can imagine
what I felt at that instant. I know my heart stopped for an instant until I saw him pop up
on the opposite side of the sweeper. WOW! He is alive, now what do I do to help him
out? I’m on the wrong side of the river and no way to get to him quickly.

When I was sure he was ok I yelled to him to let him know I was there and would get
to him to help, he assured me that he was ok and not injured. That made me feel a little
better. I ran back to my boat looked for a way to get across and back to him safely.

I rowed back up stream for maybe 100 yards then across to the east bank all the while
hoping he could hang on until I could get to him. I made it to shore and then bush-
wacked my way thru 75 yards of brush and heavy undergrowth. When I got back to his
location I’m on top of 8 foot bank that is sloughing off under my weight and straight
down. I backed off a ways and located a long sturdy tree branch that I could reach out to
him if necessary.

I didn’t know it at the time but Don’s left foot was hung up under the log or on a part of
his boat. He was struggling to get free and lost his grip on the log and went under again
but came right back up free from his trap. He was able to get on top of the log but was
unable to move toward shore as the log was to slippery and he fell in again. This time I
slid down over the bank and reached out to him with the branch that I had found earlier.
He was able to get a grip on this and pulled himself in closer to shore where he found
solid footing and was then able to work his way around another brushy obstruction and to
the bank.

The day ended on a up note thanks to whomever was smiling on the two of us. So many
things went wrong yet so many thing s went right for us and our families.

There is nothing like a real life experience to get you thinking how this day could have
played out. What would I do to change my way of floating rivers to insure my safety and
those fishing with me. I sat down and made a list of all the items I carry on the boat and
on my person. I will make major changes in my gear and my approach to fishing prior to
my next journey to one of my favorite rivers.

Points to Ponder

Wade and float fishing safety?

What do you carry on your person?

What do you carry on your pontoon boat?

Do you wear a life jacket ( one that maintains head in upright position—self inflating etc?

Do you even carry a life jacket?

Do you have a lunch bag or equipment bag on board?

Do you carry a net?

Do you carry an anchor--mooring (line)?

Do you carry a knife (serrated-standard)?

Do you carry ID?

Do you carry an extra rod?

Do you carry a cell phone?

Do you carry a camera (lanyard)?

Do you use a wading staff?

You wear waders and boots ( lace ups or wired ) wader belt, sun glasses (croakees)?

What type of hat do you wear (ball cap or one with chin strap)?

What about your gear vest and jacket ( what do you carry in and on them)?

Does your pet come along on your boat?

Are you prepared for any emergency – do you have the stamina and the will to survive in
cold water or severe conditions?

What do you do if you witness an accident?

There is nothing like a real life experience to make you think, what would I do in a
emergency?