Member Blogs

“Fly Lines and Applications for Our Favorite Fish” by Brian O’Keefe at OFFC Meeting January 24th

Brian O’Keefe has been serious about fly fishing for the past 30 years. During the past 20, cameras have played a significant part in his outdoor lifestyle.

At age eight, Brian’s interest in fly fishing was born while spending summers in Montana with his grandparents. There he was taught the art of fly casting and fishing by his grandfather, a dry fly purist. From those first years fishing the waters of the Northwest and Montana, he has spent the majority of his free time fishing and taking advantage of all the outdoors has to offer. On family vacations, Brian would often go off alone to fish a nearby stream. His interest in photography began as a means to back up with pictures, what his family thought might be just “tall tales”.

Brian started fishing the world in the fall of 1973. He began with a solo trip through New Zealand and Australia, and a brief trek into the Himalayan Mountains to fish for brown trout. After returning from this two-year adventure, Brian spent his summers guiding in the Northwest and Alaska for trout, salmon and steelhead. During those years he accumulated quite a large collection of slides, occasionally selling one to a flyfishing publication. At age 30, he began his career as a fly fishing tackle rep. Brian is also an accomplished fly caster, earning the title of Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor from the Fly Fishing Federation (FFF). He has also placed in, and won many fly casting competitions.

Brian has traveled to some of the wildest and most remote angling destinations in the world, including: Bikini Atoll, the Seychelles, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tonga, Cuba and Kashmir. He has also traveled to more accessible locations, such as: the Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Chile, New Zealand, Christmas Island and more. In many of these locations he again chooses to venture off the beaten path, hiking, floating, sea-kayaking or taking a Zodiac into the backcountry.

Brian lives with his wife and fishing partner, Judith in Powell Butte, Oregon and continues to work as an angling and outdoor photographer, having had photographs published in periodicals such as: the Los Angeles Times; the New York Times; the Miami Herald; USA Today and many others. He has had cover shots in: Field & Stream; Outdoor Life; Fly Fisherman; Fly, Rod and Reel; Fly Fishing Salt Waters; Fly and Fish Magazine; Outside Magazine and Mens Journal. In addition to photography, Brian works as a tackle rep for Scientific Anglers in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Today, you could just as easily run into Brian on his way to a slide show presentation at your local fly fishing club, as you could in an airport on his way to some island in the Pacific.

Contact Brian O’Keefe Photography at 541-504-1911 or brian@brianokeefephotos.com for information about: stock photos; slide show presentations; photo enlargements.

 

Lone Lake Rainbows in December

Another club member and I went to Lone Lake just before Christmas for the first time. The weather was very mild and the lack of wind made it a prefect day to pursue some rainbows. I kicked my float tube across the mirror-like surface and took in the scenery. Tons of waterfowl were enjoying the quiet lake with me. But, within 30 minutes, I was rudely interrupted by two large and feisty rainbows, both over 19 inches! Unfortunately, the rest of the day was quiet and it got a lot colder so it was time to go home for the holidays…

Tom E.

Reading the Water at Beaver Lake

On November 8th, I went to Beaver Lake with a fishing buddy.  The WDFW had closed their public access on the lake, but we accessed the lake from a city park across the lake from the WDFW access.  [The city park road is about 50 yards from the lake, so one needs a dolly or be able to carry the boat that distance.]  The fishing was slow for the first hour or so.  We trolled around the lake and caught nothing but the bottom.

Mid morning the WDFW truck arrived and dumped a load of nice fish into the lake.  For those who have difficulty reading the water, that is a good sign.  Shortly, everyone was catching fish.  The problem for most was that the limit could only contain two fish greater than 15” in length; and the new fish were all larger than 15 inches.  We didn’t have a problem because of catch and release can be done with artificial lures/flies.  After about an hour, the fishing started to slow, but another truck arrived and the fishing became exciting again.  Shortly after noon, we decided we’d caught enough fish and left to get lunch.

— Dave Nielson, Club Member

Fishing with Bats

Finally picking up a few fish on a warm summer evening but it was starting to get dark.  Another cast along a nice seam and I felt a take, made a quick little strip to set the hook and my line comes flying past my ear.  I thought I had corn-rowed a little dink and turned downstream to bring him in for release.  As I turn there was a bat flying surprisingly close, about 20 feet away.  As I waded backwards he kept coming closer to me.  It seemed he was going after my 3 weight and I started swatting at him as he kept buzzing me. Why was this bat attacking me?  As I’m fencing with this guy he lands on the water next to me and I watch as he floats by.  Never saw a bat land on the water to get a drink, I’ll have to look that one up on the internet.  He floats harmlessly away and seemed to take off so I proceed to untangle the line I’ve got all over me from the swashbuckling.  I’m feeling down the leader towards my tippet, but it’s wrapped around my back.  I reached behind me and followed the tippet around to the front of my vest and thought the fly must be pinned on my vest somewhere.

As I felt along towards the fly and pulled the tippet away, I peeled the bat I thought had flown away from my vest pocket and saw he was hooked to my #16 parachute Adams!  He starts flying around at the end of the tippet and started to get wrapped around my arm.  I’m freaking out at this point not believing I caught a bat and was swinging him and my arm around wildly.  I mini-roll casted him back into the water so he couldn’t fly around.  I knew I needed to break this thing off, but wanted to keep the tag on the fly as short as possible.  Inching up the line within a foot of him I accidentally popped him out of the water and he came after me again.  I flipped him back into the water and didn’t care at this point how much line was on him, so I broke him off, lifted him off the water a bit and the little guy flew away. As my heart rate is decreasing, I realized what I originally thought was a take was actually the bat taking my fly off the water and he was hooked the whole time.  I must have flicked him into the water the first time, he wasn’t getting a drink at all (less internet research now).  When I thought I was fighting him off I was actually winding him in closer to me and he somehow grabbed on to the front of my vest to save himself from drowning.  Glad no one else was on the river to hear the expletives during the ordeal.

I posted my experience on a local fly fishing web site and immediately got some great comments, recipes for barbequed bat and the like, but also got some serious suggestions to get checked for rabies.  I hadn’t thought about that possibility.  The medical facility for my company was right next door, so I thought I’d go over and see what they thought.  After they stopped laughing, I was admitted and we called the county health department.  The county folks said it wasn’t a laughing matter, that bats do sometimes carry rabies.  “Did the bat bite you?” they asked.  I said I didn’t think so.  They said bat’s teeth are so tiny and sharp you might not know if you had been bitten.  “Did you come in skin contact with the bat?” they asked.  A bat’s saliva, urine and feces can also transmit rabies.  I told them I was so busy sword fighting with him I couldn’t remember.  The county recommended that I get the rabies vaccination since I could not be sure and I didn’t keep the bat for testing.  Eight shots the first day then four more over the next few weeks was not much fun.  I wish I had thought about what I’d do if I ever caught a bat before this happened.

Many of us fish in the early to late evening to take advantage of the hatch and so do the bats.  A bat may sense your fly, but not the 6X tippet attached to it.  Aside from eating lots of garlic, here are some recommendations on what to do if you hook a bat:

DO NOT TOUCH THE BAT or let it get close to you!

You want to break your line off and release the bat, ensuring your safety. Chances are the bat will not willingly fly into the water but if it does, lead it downstream away from you.  If it continues to fly away from you, reel in until the bat is at your rod tip.  Clip you tippet, leader or line if possible to reduce your chances of skin contact.  Thoroughly wash all remaining line, your rod and reel.   If you are bitten or come in skin contact with the bat, and feel confident enough he is well hooked, leave the water and find a way to contain the bat.  The bat can then be checked for rabies and possibly save you a lot of pain. Should you get bitten, come in skin contact or are unsure if you came in contact, call your local county health department or local emergency room.  Rabies is FATAL!

Tim Allen

Belize Bone Fishing

Couple catching fish

Two years ago, Michael and I were on vacation in Belize. We hired a guide to target a grand slam and split the cost of the trip with another couple we met who were on their Honeymoon. We felt fortunate to have met the same kind of fly fishing enthusiasts as we were. After an hour, the guide arrived  on a remote and isolated island. This was the kind of island that you could forget every care because, not only did you not know where in the world you were, but it was only you, the sky and the “Ghosts of the Flats”. Everyone was on target catching the prized Bone Fish except for the new bride. But shortly, she joined our ranks. She was standing on the bow of the boat playing the fish and was inches from bringing it in. All of a sudden a huge Barracuda flew up and sliced the Bone Fish at a  precise 45 degree angle between the head and the body. What she actually brought in was only the head of the fish. In our astonishment, I burst out, “Congratulations, you caught your first Bonehead!”

Happy writing, Carrie and Michael Dugan

Drift Boat – How Hard Can It Be?

The day began with great anticipation. Don, my fishing buddy, and I had just purchased a drift boat to fish for steelhead. With no experience whatever, we just assumed that we could learn on the river. We launched on the upper section of an Olympic Peninsula river with no difficulty and gained confidence with each passing minute. Don was on the oars for the first drift. It was after I took the oars that the fun began. We entered a section of the river which was narrow and shallow. As we gained speed, I extended the sawyer oars straight out from the boat in an attempt to slow us down. The loud sound of the blade on the right oar breaking into two pieces was the first sign that things were not going well. The boat quickly started to spin in circles as we were out of control. After we reached calm waters, Don stated the obvious “ You don’t know what you are doing, let me take over” No argument from me. With Don at the oars, we approached another narrow and shallow section. This time, it was the left blade that broke into two pieces. That was just the beginning. The anchor rope became loose and the anchor dropped behind a large boulder in the middle of the river. The boat was now swinging violently back and forth in the white water. We looked at each other for a solution to our predicament. That was a waste of time. As we were swinging close to the river bank, I noticed the water was clear and seemed only two or three feet deep. I suggested that we try to get the boat close to the bank and I would jump in and then walk the boat upstream to loosen the rope and dislodge the anchor. Water depth can be deceiving. I jumped in and was completely submerged in eight feet of water. March on the Olympic Peninsula is not exactly prime time to take a swim. The fun was not over. We tried to hike out but heavy thick mud blocked our escape. Just when things seemed hopeless, another boat with two guys showed up and loaned up an extra oar. Drained of energy, we loaded the boat and headed for the first take out we could find. We now realize how fortunate we were as that first day on the water quickly taught us to respect the power and force of rivers.

See you on the water.

John Waggoner