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Category Archives: Whopper Stories

Send Pics

I was talking with a old friend of mine the other day, and she asked me to send her pictures of me. Now, she is well aware my passion is fishing. Most of the pictures I have are of fish, and not me.

When I brought to hand a sea run German Brown the other day, I was a little miffed I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture. I often leave the phone in my rig when I intend to wade in the river. I dropped one to drown, just enough to quit working before I could retrieve it from the bottom. I dropped it because I was attempting to take a photo of the half pounder steelhead I just brought to hand. I would have taken an adult fish all the way to the bank, but the half pounders I just bring to hand while remaining in the drift I am working. The little buggers are all cold, slippery, and wiggle a bunch, thus trying to balance the whole thing and snap a pic was far too much for me. Ker plunk goes the phone.

Therefore I have very few pictures of myself to send on to my friend. I fish by myself a lot. My picture taking skills are at the bottom of the curve. Unless I have someone else to snap it, I don’t get one to pass along.

So I am asking for readers to upload any of their favorite pictures they wouldn’t mind other folks looking at. Over at the right side of the massbassin menu is a drop down window to do this with some pretty easy instructions.

My wish for you is to have a great holiday season. If you have some time and, would like to hook into some nice steelhead, the winter run steelies are just beginning to enter the Trinity River here in California. These fish are the largest, and strongest of any run in the Trinity River basin. Way worth the time to stalk. Just drop me a note if you need more information. I will be happy to help if I can.

Mr Hook

Bugs Bugs Bugs !


Sweet !

Sweet !



I had hoped to get some of my own photos of the 2013 hex hatch, but when it began I was so busy casting I forgot all about it! Sorry.

I did find this video on You Tube though. It shows a similar hatch on a different water, but looks much the same except for the volume of the bugs in their final life cycle.

Perfect time for the hatch

Perfect time for the hatch


Sweet 20"

Made the reel sing

This picture is of the first Fall River rainbow I brought to hand during the hex hatch.

We met our guide at the Circle 7 on a shirt sleeve warm summer’s evening shortly after 7:00 while he and a fellow guide were discussing tactical strategies with a foot on the back bumper of a pick-up, and a cold beverage in hand. We just love fishing!

Following a “Best of Luck” send off, we loaded the john boat and headed down river. Although the hex hatch tends to move up the river a little each evening, Cody had been studying the manner of the hatch moving tendencies for a “best guess” where the hot spot would be for this evening. The excitement builds.

My fishing pal describes to Cody what he and I experienced the evening before as we motored past. We went quite a few s-turns beyond the section of water we fished previously.

Cody pulled up in the middle of a straight section between s-turns, and anchored the john boat. He told us we were a couple hundred yards down river from where he wanted to place us during the hatch, and that we could try a couple of nymphing patterns, and deep water techniques while we waited. There were a couple of fish slurping bugs on the top leaving the characteristic rings that get dry fly anglers blood pressure up. We cast some big hex nymphs in their direction for quite  a while and only got one grab. Missed it though.

Bugs were just coming off all over the place as the light diminished from seeing clear to, have to look closer just to see anything clearly. The big hex duns were appearing on the surface to dry their new wings more frequently, and the fish rings went from slurping, to gulping with a splash, then outright jumping high in the air. Really spectacular!

Just before the outright jumping aerial displays began Cody had moved us up to just below the long grasses and low brush on the inside of the turn maybe thirty feet from the bank. He said that from this position we could cover fish feeding near the shore, or out towards the middle of the sluggish moving Fall River and that we should begin casting to rising fish right away. We did of course!

For the next nearly an hour it was nuttin but whoops n hollers, flailing elbows n arms, and the occasional word(s) best left unsaid in polite company. Yep,big fun! I was so busy doing what I was doing, I don’t even remember what my pal was doing. Pretty sure he hooked up a couple of times, but never boated a fish.

When it was too dark to go on, my friend tangled his leader all up, and Cody said pass it back to him. He asked for the light we had brought. It was one of those bazillion candle power jobs. Cody grabbed the trigger and shone the light up above us, and I will tell you what. There were so many bugs flying around that it looked like a heavy snowfall in the foothills. Cody said, “that’s nothing, look at this” and put the light on the river’s surface. The entire river was covered with bugs, bugs, bugs! I mean it was carpeted so as to barely see any water! How a fish could pick our imitation from all the food is beyond me. But they did, and that is what counts for dry fly fishing to be Ketchinnee!

Mr Hook


Desert Lure

Everyone has their own reasons for liking, or not liking the desert. Enter your happy place and  let imagination take over to discover your own personal desert lure.

Here are some examples for like the desert. The colorful sweeping panorama. The presence of fauna and flora, seemingly so exotic from non-desert geographicals. Maybe the simple scent of dryness.

On the dislike side maybe the lack of moisture at first glance everywhere you look. Too hot seems to be a big one. So little green. You add your own items to these lists.

My best like of the central Oregon high desert was the dryness. Living in the Portland area during the fall, winter, and spring requires your feet to always be wet. You get used to it, and go about your business. However some little niggling thought about getting dry encroaches into your thoughts as spring wanes and summer waxes like the cycle of the moon. Being dry (except when in the river) was my trigger to head over the hill to Maupin and the Deschutes. The local Redside rainbow was a perk after I started hooking them.

Now I am telling you my trigger was being dry, but trying to hook some of the fabled Resides was my desert lure, and the lack of angling success made me focus on the dry angle instead of the catching fish angle.

This photo is with permission from photographer Dylan Rose, and Emerald Water Anglers. This fish looks exactly like my first!

Pretty native

Redside Rainbow

Hooked One!

The section of the Deschutes I was exploring is an “Artificials Only” section of water. Initially I brought my spinning gear, and tried a few lures with no success. I began to just take my fly gear after those first couple of times. What the heck was I supposed to use?

The fly guys I was talking with pretty much all said little bitty flies were the ticket. Heck I had only begun to use nymph patterns, and was far more familiar with dry flies. I couldn’t see the itty bitty things on the water, and had no idea of what the take even looked like on this massive volume of water. I had to find my happy medium.

While examining the fly selection in GI Joes one afternoon, and talking with another shopper about the Deschutes, I saw a crawdad imitation. It was much larger than anything everybody was describing to me but what the heck. I had seen all kinds of crawdads in the river where I had been camping, and knew crawdads were a common food source for most fish. I bought one.

My next trip to Maupin featured the same old swing technique I was familiar with, and the same old results. Fish zero, and angler zero. That evening another angler I was friends with put the bone from his steak in the river right at the shore under some little bankside willow trees. After five minutes, or so, we went over and looked where he had placed the bone. The bone was crawling with crawdads, and fish were dimpling the water only a few feet from shore! I figured now would be a good time to try the crawdad.

My first couple of cast and retrieves featured swarms of smolt pecking at the crawdad imitation. It was too far for me to cast to the seam of faster water from where I was, so I moved upriver a little to present into the area where the smolt were active. A couple of casts here taught me how to make the presentation, and how to duck from casting my first weighted fly! Bap, right in the back of the head. (Dirty word, dirty word)

I can keep going here, but I am remembering this as if it were yesterday instead of 30+ years ago, and this post is getting a little long. So to sum this up, I did learn to cast, swing, and steer a weighted fly. The learning curve for this was pretty easy, and the reward was a voracious strike on the crawdad imitation. I brought to hand my first Deschutes River Redside trout. The way it batted, and stripped line, I thought the fish may have been a whopper. In reality the fish was about 15 inches long, and as pretty a trout as I had ever seen. The moniker Redside was evidenced by the blood red stripe from nose to tail nearly as wide as the fish itself. Spectacular! Yay, I finally had a story to tell about Ketchinnee, and a new Desert Lure.

Mr Hook

Silvers to Redsides

I was ready for the run of silvers come the next season. I had studied the possible tributaries running into the Sandy River with great care, and came to the conclusion that the only place they could have gone was up one or two small creeks, I had identified, where the school of silvers disappeared the previous season.

One of these small creeks was home to the Sandy River Hatchery. Of course that is where they were going to go, duh. At that time I really didn’t have any experience with the biology of the fish other than how to pursue them. The revelation I received from chasing the school of silvers would open new avenues of learning to me, and I began studying more of the biology of the fish I was trying to catch. These fish were hatchery spawned for the most part, and would always return to the water they were imprinted with as fry.

I did catch the run at a holding pool below the hatchery. There were six or seven of the other lockjaw guys I had been fishing with the past couple of seasons with brazen smirks on their faces, but they welcomed me into the drift warmly.

Finally Found It

The pool I happened upon was about 120 feet long by about 40 feet across at it’s widest, and just seethed with fish! I did have both rods with me, and there was one of the fellows fly casting, but after looking at the fly he was using I knew there wasn’t anything in my box even close. I decided on my spinning rig with a 1/2 oz Steelie lure. This lure is a dimpled brass spoon, and I liked the lure with two fluorescent orange stripes that sold for $.89 a copy. Cheap lures are a plus when drifting snaggy places. Steelie 2

I casted out into the tailout of the pool and felt a couple of thumps as the lure settled into its motion just above the cobbled bottom. Three cranks on the reel and whamo. Fish ON! It went like that for a couple of hours. Just crazy fun. There were so many fish there it was almost impossible to not hook one, be it snagged or legally in the mouth. My smirking fellows just kept smiling, and welcomed me into the fold!

Deschutes River Redsides

Stories of the beautiful, powerful Redsides rainbow trout had reached my ears throughout the summer preceding my Sandy River silvers pursuit. These tales came from fellow fly fishers I came into contact with in the sports shops around Portland, and the tales intrigued me so much I began cruising over Mt Hood into the desert to fish for them near Maupin Oregon.

Maupin is on the lower Deschutes River not far, maybe 70 miles, from the river’s confluence with the Columbia River near the Dalles. Maupin is a community dedicated to the tourism offered by the lower Deschutes. White water rafting, and fishing are two of the most prominent recreational features, and there is even a fabulous handicapped fishing access facility and park there.

A BLM access road runs right next to the river all the way to Sherars Falls which features a class 6 rapid, and Native American traditional fishing. The entire river between Maupin and this massive rapid is fishable, and pretty easy to access for bank side anglers. Much of the run is also wader friendly, but Not All. The current is extremely swift, and the cobbles large and uneven with sudden pockets of deep water that is hard to see.

The next installment of this story will feature how I finally began hooking fish. It did take a few trips to get hook ups, and taught me how to begin nymphing techniques to fool these beautiful rainbow trout so I could answer yes when asked; Ketchinnee!

Mr Hook

So Begins Steelhead Fever

Fresh Steelie
Object of Extreme Fever


The experience of bringing an adult steelie to hand was so overwheming it was as if I was caught in the throes of an extreme ailment not unlike a fever. In order to quench the malaise an angler just has to go fishing right? Otherwise how could I shake the sleepless nights, or the constant thinking of when and where to go next? How could I find the money for more gear. and when will I stop getting the sweats? Almost as bad as the beginning of a love affair!

Too hot to register

Phew !!

Well I did all of those things and more trying to recapture the euphoria of hooking another steelie on my fly rod. But do you know what? I wouldn’t bring another steelhead to hand by fly casting for a very long time. I did manage to catch plenty of other smaller trout, and some of them were quite lovely, but the raw thrill of a steelhead would elude me.

What to Do

 I did catch more steelhead, and began to be pretty knowledgeable about how and where they would be, but hooked by a fly just couldn’t make it. I would bait cast when the frustration set in. I always had two outfits with me and resorted to the spin reel set up. I found worms, sand shrimp, and roe would always get results. Then my dad sent me these thingys made by a friend of his at work called Glo Bugs.

The Glo Bugs worked great with pretty much any color in the assortment dad sent. I even tried to use them with the fly casting outfit, but the darn little yarn thingys wouldn’t get down deep enough. As a matter of fact the thingys actually floated on the top. I was pretty certain the Glo Bugs needed to get down, so I just drifted them with lead. I tried putting shot on my fly leader too, but only succeeded in bonking myself in the back of the head with it! “*$@*” was a topic of foul air when this happened!

At least my steelhead fever was quieted down from using other angling techniques, and I really began studying the fish I was pursuing. This course of study lead me back to the salmon fishing I did with my dad earlier in life. The rivers I was fishing has a run of salmonid called a Silver. In some other areas these same salmon are called Coho. These salmon were much different than the Chinook salmon I had caught on the Sacramento, and Trinity rivers. These fish traveled in a large school that was in one spot one day, and then gone a couple days after. I learned to chase them up river.

The blue link for Coho above will take you to a NOAA site for the fish.

Identification points for this fish

How to tell a Coho from a steelhead

The first year I tried to follow the silvers up the Sandy river, I lost them after about a week. No matter where I went on the Sandy could I find them, and none of the other guys would say anything. They had major lockjaw. The second year was different, because I spent the time to study the watershed, and found a tributary to the Sandy. The salmon went up that creek to the hatchery they were spawned in.

That is all for now, but I will follow this with a little more of the Silvers, and an introduction of the Deschutes River Redsides trout in a few days. Stay tuned for more whopper stories here at Ketchinnee.


Beginning Bigger Water


First Big Water Fly Fishing

This water rages here but I learned

After the small water, massive boulder and trout filled creek I began with, the challenges of higher water volume soon became apparent. I wanted the opportunity to catch larger fish. The picture above is very near the exact place I first started on the Sandy River. This photo is courtesy of

The Sandy River is fed by snow melt from the majestic Mt Hood where the river begins its journey to the mighty Columbia near Portland, Or. During the winter months when the snow is falling, and not melting, this portion of the Sandy is clear as can be. But during the spring and summer seasons the melting snow makes this section of the Sandy a raging, turbid (muddy really), torrent. It is really tough to fish during these seasons.

Of course I would be attacking this water with my new found fly fishing techniques during the summer runoff. The only fish I managed to fool were juveniles no larger than the ones I was catching in the little creek. That didn’t deter me though. I persisted to try different patterns in the muddy tumultuous flow to little avail.

Driving to the section of the Sandy I was working I was passing the Salmon River near Brightwood OR, and wondered at the clear cool river that runs beneath the highway 26 bridge. So I decided to try it out.

Ok so this is much different! I have vegetation to deal with on the banks, and that is completely opposite of where I had been casting. Lost two flies on two attempts. Grrr, darn little things are expensive, and I just lost my two favorites. Now begins my first wading to avoid the tree traps on the bank. Not much fishing going on here, but a huge amount of learning.

A couple of more trips to GI Joes for flies, and numerous trips back to the Salmon River, I started to catch fish. The trout I caught were somewhat bigger than from the first creek, but not much. I was wondering if I was making a mistake about this fly fishing thing, and maybe go back to my spinning outfit. Then it happened. My rod went thunk and the line straightened right out. I thought I had a snag. Looking back I wonder at how I could have possibly thought it was a snag. I had floating line, a mosquito pattern that was meant to stay on top, and the water flow was at least 4 feet deep. Duh!

I lifted the rod and the reel began to go zing, zing, zing. Then the rod started to buck. Oh boy, I have a fish. Somehow, despite my best efforts to lose the fish, I landed a fabulous steelhead about 7 pounds. I was so excited I killed it and took it home. I didn’t have a camera, and darned if I could find someone who would take a picture of me. It sure would have been a great testimony to show when asked Ketchinee.

Next; Steelhead Fever

Humble Beginnings

In 1979 I had relocated along the wind blown banks of the Columbia River, and underneath the shadow of Mt Hood in Oregon. This is where I would begin my road to fly fishing. I had found a small creek on the north western slope of this magnificent peak that was just chock full of trout. None of them were very large, but they were everywhere in this little stream, and I began to learn their feeding habits.

Daunting view of the snow fields

Great outdoor recreation magnet

Reason to Begin Fly Fishing
At first I tried a spin cast set up with a Pautzke egg and a split shot. It worked kinda, but the shot was constantly getting stuck, and to retrieve the rig I would have to spook a hole wading out to get it. So I began casting the egg without the shot.

I noticed that the motion of casting an egg was much like fly casting, and decided to get a fly outfit and try that. I had a lot of fun that day with the egg toss, and caught who knows how many fish. This would be great place to learn fly fishing!

First Equipment
Off to Payless Drugs I went to shop for a fly casting outfit. I really didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so I settled for a combo rod and reel. The rod was an Eagle Claw, and the reel was a Phleuger. The combo pack was under $20.00, and the line was over $30.00! Imagine my surprise.

Gear Set Up
A couple visits to the Multnomah County library helped me to get the fly line on the reel, and a home made tapered leader attached to the line. I didn’t even have backing material, just the 90 ft floating fly line. Heh, heh. Gotta giggle looking back.

Flies and Catching Fish
Next stop was GI Joes discount sporting goods for some flies. I chose some dry flies to begin with, and headed to my honey hole stream the next morning! I caught a bunch of fish despite myself, and ended up losing every fly in the cup.

I caught fish with each of flies I had bought mostly because of the number of hungry trout in the creek, but learned how to drift the offering into the feeding zone. That was the first lesson for me. It didn’t matter what technique, or equipment was used, what mattered most was presenting the bait or lure in a manner that entered the feeding zone. Learning the flow of the stream was key.

I will have another installment about this key to catching trout in a few days time. Be sure to check back in for it so you can use this information to be Ketchinnee.


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