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“Wait! I want to slide off on the boat!” I called as my dad readied to tip the old boulder boat off the trailer and into the icy waters of the River. “Okay, hurry and hop in!” My dad called back. I climbed into the boat and waved good-bye to my mom as she watched us spill into the water.
Honestly, sliding in a boat from off the back of a trailer is a little more scary than it looks, but a lot of fun. I hate to compare the wonderful world of nature to a ride at an amusement park, but falling off the back of a trailer riding a drift boat is kind of like a mini jolt of when the roller coaster starts to take off. My dad chuckled at me as I shook off my surprise and settled into the seat. I rotated my seat to slightly face my dad.
“Don’t mock me.” I playfully scorned. My dad’s chuckle died off and he gestured to the oars. “I’ve been thinking, Mij. You’re old enough to have the strength to start rowing me down. What do ya say? Ya wanna row your old man down the River?” he offered, releasing the oars from his hold.
I’d actually tried rowing before but it had been on the lake. I couldn’t coordinate my strength very well when I tried it, but the experience wasn’t horrible. By the end I was able to make a smooth, straight power stroke. I figured I’d give it another shot.
“Sure. Why not? But you’ll take over if we get in any trouble, right?” I asked. My dad nodded. “Of course. I’ll guide you through it all, don’t worry,” he assured me. I nodded and we switched seats. I gripped the long oar handles in my palms and took a deep breath. At first, I was having some trouble, but it actually didn’t take long for me to coordinate my right and left arms. I was doing it! I was rowing! I was pretty confident in myself…until we approached a more technical rapid. “Do you wanna take over?” I asked my dad, but he shook his head.
“You can do it,” he assured me, “I’ll even walk you through it.” I nodded shakily, and re-positioned my grip on the oars.
“Okay, first, you’re gonna point the boat left,” my dad instructed. I swung the boat to point left and looked to him for further direction.
“Okay good, now just wait a moment,” he directed. I tensed, mentally preparing myself. The rapid was known as “Mother-in-Law” for its infamous need for perfect precision… Like a mother in law… Or so I’ve heard. The rapid was a series of moderate waves leading into a hallway between a large rock that was known for eating rafts (including the seat tube that was currently attached to it) and a flat rock wall that exited through a few more larger waves. The rapid was nerve-racking enough with someone as experienced as my dad – who rows better than he walks.
Seriously, he never touches a rock, but can’t go a week without stubbing his toes – thank you Simms for the closed-toed sandals, I salute you for keeping him out of a wheelchair. The thought of me, a first-timer, doing this was absolutely terrifying.
I took a breath and held it as I progressed the first wave. I huffed as I steered the boat into the watery hallway of rock and mountain. I stood up to urge the left oar forward in order to avoid the rock wall, but felt my feet slip out from under me as I did so. I quickly pushed my right oar forward so that the boat faced straight before my rump slammed into the foot pedal for the anchor. I yelped as my head whipped back, colliding lightly against my cushioned seat. I scrambled back up to grab the oars but quickly realized I had made the perfect stroke to ride through the waves. Breathing heavily, I turned to my dad for a response. We both burst out laughing both at my fall and in excitement that I had just nailed one of the hardest rapids on the River’s first section.
“Hey!” An older voice called from another boat to the side of us. My dad and I turned to see an old man in fishing gear and a fishing rod in his hand give me a thumbs up. “You can have any boy you want now. That was awesome.” My dad and I looked at each other and burst out in laughter again. I turned back to the man and gave him a thumbs up. “Thanks man!” I called. He winked at me as I got a hold of the oars again.
My dad decided I was good enough at rowing for him to flyfish while I commanded our miniature ship. “Hey, Dad, how old were you when you started rowing?” I asked as I turned the boat on an angle so I could see ahead of me better.
“Oh, I was probably about 12 when Grandpa started having me row him down,” he replied while making a cast. He chuckled a little like he had remembered a memory of when he was young… Which he had. “You know, when I was getting started, one of the oars hit a rock underneath the water and it swung the boat in a 180 and knocked Aunt Miranda off the boat.” He said, laughing as he told it.
“Wait, really? That’s super funny,” I commented, laughing myself.
“Oh, and this other time we had Aunt Ellie in the front of the boat, Grandpa rowing the boat – I was on the floor – and we went through Bridge Rapid when the water was super high and we hit a big wave that sent Aunt Ellie over my head and into Grandpa, and out the back of the boat he went,” Dad doubled over laughing as he finished, making me laugh too. He told me a few other fishing stories, including a time he and his Grandpa Harold caught a seagull by accident – a bird I didn’t even know lived around here – before he told me to pull over on the shore. I did so with a few powerful strokes and put the anchor down. “Let’s fish for a minute, yeah?” my dad said, drawing a wide smile from my face.
“Yes!” I gushed, jumping out of the boat and grabbing a fishing rod.
My dad and I walked far upstream, away from our boat before we picked a spot. I found a rock by the bank and cast the rod. Up. Pause. Forward. Wait. We watched the fly as it bobbed downstream, looking to catch a fish’s eye. It didn’t. I tried once more to no avail. Stripping up the fly so it wouldn’t hook any rocks, my dad and I walked upstream until we found a spot we thought might be good. I repeated the previous tactics as I settled on a rock by the flowing water. Sighing in disappointment as I was met with the same result as a few minutes ago, my dad set his hand on my shoulder. “Hey, don’t be discouraged, you’re doing everything just right. Let’s try again more upstream, and then we’ve probably got to go.” I nodded and smiled, letting him know I believed his words. We walked upstream a few more yards and stopped in a good spot where the fast water swirled with slow pockets.
I cast on the edge of the fast water and watched the fly as it quickly rode the seam. I nearly cast it again when the fly went under the water and I knew it had entered the trout’s mouth. I hoisted the rod upwards and laughed joyfully as my assumptions were correct. I had a big old fish on.
“Did you get one?” Dad asked, perking up.
“Yep! And he’s a big one too, holy cow!” I exclaimed, using my hips to steady the rod since my weak wrists couldn’t do it themselves. I stepped over the uneven rocks as I followed the big fish downstream. I was not gonna lose this big boy. I nearly tripped, but I kept the focus I wasn’t using on the fish on my feet placement. I fought him for the longest time, the big guy not wanting to give up. Jerking the rod right, I added side pressure, and led the fish towards the shore. Finally, we got him in a rock forest with micro pools weaving in and out of rocks for him to breathe in. He was a huge, thick lug of a fish, but a beautiful brown trout. The fish was a German/Lochleven mix, sort of a mutt. His true beauty was found in his imperfection. I tried to get my hand around his body to hold him up for a quick video and to release him properly, but the big brown was too thick for me to wrap my hand around. My hand didn’t fit around the fish! I chuckled frustratedly and waited as my dad showed me how to hold him: with a thumb and forefinger gripped tightly around the tail, and the other cupping its body like a cushioned porch swing in my grandma’s backyard. It took me a few tries to get it right, but when I did, the video turned out great and I’d say it was a successful release. My dad and I high-fived our wet hands and laughed joyously together.
“Awesome job, Mij, that was great!” he said excitedly.
I nodded vigorously, “Thanks! That was awesome, he was so big!” I exclaimed, horribly estimating the size of the fish with my hands.
My dad laughed at my feeble attempt and checked his phone. “Oh, we better go, Mom’ll be waiting for us if we stick around any longer.”
I nodded and we attentively raced back to the boat. We both jumped in, this time Dad taking over the oars performing his version of a rower’s power walk.
We were just a few minutes late to the ramp, but fortunately we were able to slide right in. I jumped out onto the ramp and pulled the boat so that it was secured against the concrete and greeted my mom halfway up the ramp.
“Hey,” she waved, “how was it?” I stopped a few feet away from her and nodded. “It was pretty good, I caught a huge fish and Dad had me row,” I said, holding my hands on my hips. Mom looked surprised.“Really? Wow, that’s awesome,” she congratulated.
Dad nodded, coming up behind me. “Yep. She did pretty well,” Dad said.“She even fell on her butt, huh?”
I elbowed him in the stomach and he shook my shoulder, chuckling and pulling me in close. “Yeah, but she did catch a big brown trout! Sucker was huge, wasn’t he?”
I nodded.“Heck yeah! He was so thick, I couldn’t even get my hand around him!” I exclaimed. Mom laughed and put her hands on her hips.“That sounds like fun. Why don’t you tell me on the way home?”
Article written by Mij Feathersby, courtesy of Ryan Kelley @greenriverflyfisher. Journaling daily walks around the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Faith, Family, and getting kids outside.
“Simon Furniss from Scotland; who has been a return guest on the Årøy for some years now, had been fishing with me for the afternoon session down at the home pool. I was hoping for a fresh liced salmon on the tide for him as we continued swinging big flies on a sink tip.
Once the tide had reached its peak, we made a last ditch effort to find a fish holding in the fast water at the top of pump pool, before they make their way up the river. He managed to reach the holding spot after a few casts and as the line started to swing a big fish smashed his fly at the bottom of the pool.
We tried coaxing the fish across the current, but unfortunately she got the better of us and got snagged on the sløgaard, (wooden barriers that break the current). In 2017 Simon lost a big fish, and I wasn’t going to let this one get away without a fair fight, so I jumped into the river to try and free the line. Luckily the fish was sitting in the seam of the current and didn’t move. We managed to get the line out and the rest is history. A stunning 23lb Atlantic that was released to fight another day.
The Årøy sport fishing history dates back to 1840, and has been through nine generations in the Munthe family. The river was made popular in the 1890’s by an Irish sport fisherman, Wilfred Kennedy who subdued a monster 68 lb fish in the prawn pool.
Subsequently many famous travelling anglers made a pilgrimage to this hallowed place in the 1900’s, from the likes of Charles Ritz, who wrote “A Flyfishers’ Life” which the river is featured in the chapter: “The platforms of despair.”
L.R Hardy made a commercial film in the 1930’s to test the Hardy range of rods and reels. And rumors of Coco Channel visiting the river with dukes and lords from England in the 1920’s.
With the river only a mile long, it soon gathered a reputation for anglers to challenge their skills against the strong current and massive salmon that still return to this day.”
“This was an amazing experience traveling half way around the world chasing the elusive Permit on the fly. I’ve always heard stories from all my clients who fished for these Permit that are hard fish to catch. And boy were they correct!
This trip took me from Hawaii to California to Texas to Belize City. Once in Belize City I took a smaller charter plane to the most southern city in Belize, Punta Gorda, “The Permit Capital of the World.” I had a great time fishing six full days with Captain Yogi from the Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge. Hours and hours on the bow of the boat for a two second window of opportunity to cast at these ghost like fish is all worth it when all the stars aline, getting to witness a giant Permit totally attack your sinking crab pattern. Unreal experience!
Belize is one of the most beautiful places, it’s full of different islands and lagoons. I couldn’t think of a better place to catch my very first Permit. Thank you Yogi!”
Follow Captain Chris Wright on Instagram @alohafishinghawaii. Chris is Fly Fishing Guide in Hawaii and holds 7 IFGA World Records.
In this gear review, we’ll be going over a product that is going to change the way anglers approach still-water fly-fishing: the Rapid Raft, from Uncharted Supply Co. This summer, we had the chance to get our hands on the new Rapid Raft and put it to the test through rain, scree, and hail: in some of the most rugged terrain that the Colorado Rocky Mountains have to offer. Check out our thoughts on the Rapid Raft Below…
To promptly make potential bias known, we at Flylords have been fans of what Uncharted Supply Co. has been up to long before we decided to publish this review. As anglers, hunters, and overall outdoor recreationists: we recognize that getting off the beaten path can be intimidating. Anyone who focuses on creating a smarter and safer solution for those who aim to defeat trail traffic is A-OK in our book. Still, upon assessing the performance of their Rapid Raft, we approached the task with a clean slate.
Upon removing the deflated raft from its packaging, one factor was undeniably evident. This thing was small. Arriving in a package about half the size of a shoe box, I was astonished to think that the item that sat, almost weightless in my two hands, was going to support me and my gear above 30-40 feet of frigid alpine lake water. Nonetheless, it was time to take it outside.
The contents of the package contained an extra buckle for the raft, an instruction manual (which I promptly lost), and a rolled-up, 3-pound, green brick of thick TPU-coated nylon material… or, as I should phrase it: a raft. When talking to the folks from Uncharted, I had heard its dimensions compared to that of a loaf of bread, but it wasn’t until I was holding it in my hand that I really understood what they were talking about.
Upon unbuckling the two ends of what was to be the air chamber, I rolled the rest of the raft out like one might when setting down a ground tarp or a tent. With ease, the opposite end of the raft shot through the air and neatly rolled out to reveal an orange belly surrounded by the deflated walls of the vessel. The opening to the raft, or as I referred to it already, the air chamber, was protected by a hard wall of black flexible lining, which served to protect the seal from anything getting in or out upon inflation. Off the bat, the now unfurled structure of the raft reminded me of a typical heavy-duty dry bag. Which, from an engineering perspective, is sort of what it was.
Now, it was time to inflate. By grabbing the ends of the roll top, and keeping the air chamber open, I was able to rip the uninflated raft through the air, filling it about halfway. From there, I closed the chamber and began rolling the top towards the front of the raft – which now actually resembled a watercraft that could support an angler. Once I approached the end of the neck or the rolling portion, I clasped the two buckles together and trapped the air inside.
On the outside of the, now, mostly inflated raft, there was a small plastic valve that could be used to finish off the inflation process. With the same amount of effort one might expend to inflate a light-grade sleeping pad, the raft’s walls were tight and the rig was ready to be used. Now, standing about 6 ft. tall, the raft looked and felt sturdy and ready to sit in. Now all that was left was for it to be deflated, packed away, and taken into the field.
As we prepared to head out for a weekend of testing the raft, we kicked around a few potential hills to climb, debating which one might best showcase the raft’s full scope of capabilities. Eventually, we landed on a healthy hike to a series of lakes, located just a few hours East of us, that we believed had the potential to hold some trout. So, in typical weekend-warrior fashion, we packed the trucks, grabbed the dog, and hit the road: excited to do some genuine exploring with this product.
Once we reached the trailhead, it was time to vacate the interior of the trucks and get to going. I was pleased to see that my Rapid Raft , as well as our videographer’s, fit snugly onto the base of our packs, synched tightly onto where one might normally carry a tent or pad. Not to mention, with it weighing only 3 LBS, the raft rode comfortably with us over the entirety of the hike without needing any adjustment, whatsoever.
The rest of our pack’s contents consisted of fishing gear, raincoats, camera gear, and a first aid kit. On the exterior of the pack, we carried a double-blade kayak paddle, which we had picked up from Walmart, broken down, and strapped to the side of our packs with Heli straps. When using the Rapid Raft for angling purposes, we recommend packing a paddle similar in nature to the one shown. On the water, the raft is light enough that it can be maneuvered by simply paddling with your hands, but when juggling a fly-rod and being pushed around by wind – using a paddle to get around is far more practical for getting on, and staying on fish. We’re hoping to see Uncharted Supply Co. come up with their own soon.
After around 3 miles of hiking and 1.5k ft. of elevation gain, we had finally made it to our destination. The lake, walled in by towering cliffs and fields of scree, boasted shimmering dark blue waters textured by the reflections of quickly forming storm clouds and the last of the pine trees that populated the border of the alpine zone. It took less than a minute before we witnessed the first trout breach the surface of the middle of the lake and pull down an unsuspecting mayfly to its watery demise. As if on queue, in the still unsettled ripple of the first eat, came another…and another…and another.
With excitement and haste, we tossed down our packs and began to get to work. Quickly, I released the Rapid Raft from my pack and started my way down to the water. In less than 3-minutes (less than the amount of time it took me to rig my fly rod), the raft was unrolled, filled with air, sealed, and ready to be deployed.
Now, because the raft’s floor is not inflated like the sidewalls, it can feel a bit awkward to get into at first. It takes a bit of practice to find the best method of entry, but with some practice, it can be nailed down pretty easily. What I found to be easiest, when loading into the inflated Rapid Raft, was to find a flat section of the bank, and place the tail end, just on the grassy edge. Then, with both feet forward, slide forward into the opening of the raft and push off of the bank just as your butt is about to hit the bright orange floor. However, it really boils down to user preference and whatever you feel comfortable with.
As any angler who’s familiar with fishing high Alpine lakes in the West can imagine, getting off the shore was a game-changer, to say the least. As I navigated the lake with fly-rod in lap and paddle in hand, I was able to quickly push from one pod of rising fish to the next with ease and little time wasted. Traditionally, the bane of fishing a mountain lake is being glued to the shore, watching the center of the lake, which is far out of casting range, erupt with rising fish, as you stay confined to the banks, watching cruising trout ignore your fly again and again. But now, with cast after cast, I mailed my fly to different zones of the lake that most likely haven’t been fished with a fly all year (and considering the hike, maybe ever).
Perhaps 20-minutes had passed since I got onto the water, and we already had several Cutthroat trout on the board. Next to me, our videographer, Preston paddled around in his raft, documenting the action (Note: to showcase the level of trust we had in these rafts, which were rated for 400 LBS, our camera raft was working with around $60k of camera gear in the middle of this lake).
Unfortunately, our time was cut short by an incoming storm, and with the first echo of thunder, we decided to make our way to shore and scabbard our rods for the night. Here’s a fun tip: If you’re fishing on one of these rafts, and you’re met with a surprise monsoon, the raft makes a fantastic impromptu shelter…
Rolling the Rapid Raft up was as easy as opening the air channel, folding in the edges, and rolling it back up towards the buckles. Within 10 minutes of being forced off the water, we were able to get back on the trail and make our mad dash down hill. As the cold of the evening met our wet clothes, we made our way downhill laughing and shivering, bewildered by the rafts capabilities and grateful for the unconventional adventure it had inspired.
The next morning, against our better judgment… we made our way back up the hill for one more round of fishing before making our drive back home. While the rain managed to follow us back up… it was worth it.
As an angler in the West, fishing high alpine lakes had always felt somewhat limited. Spending hours hiking up to an e-scouted lake can many times lead to disappointment. After spending 50% of your time walking the perimeter of the lake and untangling your rig from trees that seem to come out of nowhere, one can often times become discouraged, especially after still being refused by perimeter trout who still can’t be convinced to take your tackle even after the 16th fly change. Even in the high alpine zones, not being able to reach the center of the lake, or areas where foot travel simply can’t take you, can often cause you to miss out on a large percentage of the lake’s fishable water.
This is, of course, not to say, the experience is only about catching fish – but it never hurts to get a few when you’ve hiked so far. This is exactly why we are completely sold on the Rapid Raft. Because of its small, lightweight, and durable construction as well as, the ability to inflate it in a matter of minutes, it’s not a piece of gear you have to even think about packing – it should be a permanent resident in your hiking outfit. Having the ability to explore a lake, with ease, in its entirety brings still water fishing to a completely new level, and whether you’re working dry flies to actively feeding fish, or exploring subsurface with a balanced leach or chironomid , the Rapid Raft is a simple solution that is going to let you do so like never before. From our personal experience, we can guarantee that we’ll never hit the trailhead without it.
The New York Times recently featured an article highlighting one angler’s fight for water access in Colorado. The story is unfortunately as old as the concept of private property, and one that will likely never end wherever landowners, anglers, and property lines converge. We highly recommend giving the article a read and the impacts cases like this may have on public waterway access.
In need of a new YETI Cooler?? Well, perhaps you should book a flight to Alaska and hire a bush plane because YETIs are washing up all over beaches in Southeast AK.
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The coolers are washing up because the shipping containers they were housed in spilled off a container ship nearly 1,200 miles from the beaches they’re now getting rolled onto. The coolers are up for grabs, with even YETI bringing attention to the free coolers in an Instagram Reel posted earlier this year (above).
You can learn more in the article from Alaska Public Media, here!
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) might not be a super well-known name in the fly fishing world, but in the world of conventional angling, the trade organization is famous. Their annual ICAST trade show in Orlando is where new products are announced and industry deals are made. Last week, the ASA announced that they would be creating more space for fly fishing products and brands in their 2023 show. Learn more below!
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is pleased to announce its plan to significantly enhance the fly fishing sector at ICAST 2023. As the overall recreational fishing industry continues to evolve domestically and internationally, now is the perfect opportunity for companies related to fly fishing to expand their reach in the general market. ICAST is the venue to help them do just that.
At ASA, our goal is to represent the entire recreational fishing community, and fly fishing plays a key role in reaching a specific audience of anglers. Most issues related to access, clean water, and abundant fisheries overlap both conventional and fly fishing with ASA providing a powerful voice that is heard and respected by the administration, on Capitol Hill, and around the country.
Introducing fly fishing as the main category at ICAST 2023, specifically in the New Product Showcase, is yet another benefit ASA is providing to support the enhancement and expansion of the sale of all types of recreational fishing products.
The New Product Showcase will now include an expanded fly fishing presence with the following subcategories:
The winner of these fly fishing categories will be announced during the Chairman’s Industry Awards Reception along with the standard suite of New Product Showcase category winners. Current showcase definitions and rules will apply.
ICAST Fly Fishing is located on prime exhibit space on the main 20’ aisle reserved for fly fishing-specific exhibitors. In addition, the traditional ICASTing Pond will be side-by-side with the FLYCASTing Pond and adjacent to the New Product Showcase.
Also new for 2023 will be the addition of both Non-motorized and Motorized Boating Accessories to the showcase category list and an expansion of the technical apparel categories to include women and men providing more choices for these well-populated fields.
After the success of their “Stripers in Our Hands” campaign, Keep Fish Wet has announced a new grassroots campaign “to empower recreational anglers to better protect wild steelhead,” in collaboration with the Wild Steelhead Coalition.
Announcing Steelhead In Our Hands, a new grassroots effort to empower recreational anglers to better protect wild steelhead. Keep Fish Wet and the Wild Steelhead Coalition have collaborated to highlight how people can safely play, handle, and release a wild steelhead to improve its chances of survival after it swims away.
Across their native range, wild steelhead are in dramatic decline. In the United States, 11 of 15 steelhead population segments are listed under the Endangered Species Act. In Canada, certain populations like those of the Chilcotin and Thompson rivers are at imminent risk of extinction. Many river systems, including the Skeena system and Columbia basin, have seen their worst returns on record in recent years.
Recovering wild steelhead populations will require large-scale efforts to address the many threats they face. One thing we as anglers can control immediately and directly is the unintentional mortality and impacts caused by catch-and-release practices. In many watersheds, the majority of steelhead returning each season will be caught and handled by anglers. Some of these fish will die, regardless of our best intentions, and many will endure sublethal short and/or long-term impacts, such as reduced spawning success. With anglers interacting with so many steelhead, even a small improvement in catch-and-release survival can have a big influence overall on a population’s ability to sustain, or even grow, their numbers.
“With numbers so low, and populations so precarious, it is crucial that every wild steelhead is able to reach their spawning gravel and spawn successfully”, says Brian Bennett of the Wild Steelhead Coalition, “As anglers, we have the responsibility and opportunity to reduce our impact on these iconic fish, helping to ensure their survival now and into the future”.
“If we’re going to continue fishing, we must reduce our harm, go above and beyond regulations, and use science-based best practices to create better outcomes for each wild steelhead we catch and release”, says Sascha Clark Danylchuk, Executive Director of Keep Fish Wet.
As part of this campaign, Keep Fish Wet and Wild Steelhead Coalition collaborated with Maine-based artist and guide Bri Dostie of Confluence Collective to create a free-to-use graphic with custom illustrations that highlight the impacts of catch-and-release, as well as the science-based best practices that can reduce mortality.
“Scientists know a lot about how human interactions affect the fish we catch, but that information doesn’t help anyone if it stays in a journal article behind a paywall,” said Dostie. “We wanted to make sure every angler is empowered with the information they need to protect the fish they care about — and art is one way to share that information more broadly.”
The “Steelhead In Our Hands” infographic is available as an open resource for guides, fly shops, and the fishing community to use to help anglers steward the wild steelhead resource.