comments and discussion encouraged

Thursday, June 16, 2022

What is a bead kook?

I love the word Kook.  I first heard the term used with regularity when I moved to Tahoe and immersed myself in the world of ski and snowboard culture, and the term itself was adopted from the world of surf culture.  I really fell in love with the term, so I incorporated it into the fly fishing world, where there is no shortage of kooks.

In the Urban Dictionary, a kook is defined as one who pretends to be someone who they are not and/or someone who tries to fit in, but with exaggeration.  Kind of like a poser.  There is really nothing wrong with that, unless the kook starts to interfere with someone else's fun.  For example...

This is a kook surfing...

In surfing a kook is defined with someone who interferes with others surfer's fun because he/she doesn't know anything about surf ethics, or doesn't have the right surf level of experience for the specific surf wave they are attempting to ride.  

This is a ski kook...

An important thing to point out is that if you are new to skiing, surfing, or fly fishing,  just because you are a beginner doesn't mean you are a kook.  Everyone was new to these undertakings at some point, and we have all done kooky things along the way.  Beginners need to just have some proper guidance, so they learn what waves, runs, or rivers that they should fish based on their skill levels are, and understanding of local etiquette and cultural history of the venue.  And most importantly, respect the folks who came there before you.

When speaking specifically about steelhead fly fishing, bead kooks have slowly taken over.  Numbers obsessed guides have popped up all over Pacific Northwest rivers, lobbing their kooky ass bead rigs on their 20 mile floats, grinding pencil leaded bare hooks through every inch of steelhead holding water.  Nothing wrong with side drifting bobber rigs, but I take offense to a rig that has absolutely no fly in the equation whatsoever.  Seriously, zero flies on the fly rig at all, just various plastics, lots of lead, and bare hooks getting lobbed from one side of the boat to the other, then dead drifting through every inch of water until you hook a fish somewhere, often outside the mouth.  How is this fly fishing?  Only a total kook could call it fly fishing.  

Here is a diagram below of a bead kook would rig...


If you are kooking out on a guide day, you might not even know it, you may just be misguided...literally.  So, if you are a beginner or novice fly fisherman going out with a guide, you might need to do some homework before you book the trip to avoid this uncomfortable parking lot conversation...

Client: Hi (insert millennial name) so, what flies are we using today?

Guide: We are going to use what works best to hook as many fish as possible today man.  We will be pulling color all day!

Client: Cool!  So, what flies do you think will be most successful?

Guide: Eggs.  The egg grab is on fire.  

Client: Egg fly patterns?

Guide: Patterns?  Yeah, uhm, sure.  So we are gonna throw beads.  My beads look more like eggs than anything else.  I paint them to match the exact color of the real eggs in the river.  

Client: Paint them, beads?  Like necklace beads at the craft store?  Do you tie them on to a hook or something?

Guide: No, but I paint them.  Revlon Red number 2 crossed with Bamboo Shoot is crushing it right now.

Client: Ummm, ok.  So you paint them, then tie them on the hook and make some sort of a fly out of it?

Guide: No, actually we peg the egg above the hook with heavy mono or toothpicks.  They eat the bead, then the hook below it hooks the fish.

Client: So, it's not a tied fly?  what's on the hook?
Guide: Nothing, well a snelled knot is on there.
Client: So, where's the fly?
Guide: Fly?  The bead is the...wait, no, the hook is, wait.  Whatever, who cares?  We're gonna crush em, but we gotta get going...

Client: I'm confused, I thought you were a fly fishing guide?  I thought we were fly fishing today?

Guide: (sighs, annoyed) Dude we are fly fishing today.  (points) Just look at the big sign on my truck and Clack that says (insert millennial name's) fly fishing guide service.  I'm a fly fishing guide.

Client: But we aren't using flys, at all...correct?

Guide: Whatever, again, who cares?  I'm gonna, I mean, we're gonna get em.  C'mon, we gotta jam dude.  Don't worry about all these little details.  We gotta beat everyone to the boat ramp and make it to the Sanctuary Pool first.  It's right below a creek, and the fish are hella stacked in there just chilling. The spey fags yell at me for fishing there, just because they are jealous of all the chrome I've been slaying in there the last 11 days in a row.  Its' a super long, really slow drift, but ultra exciting when it's bobber down time bro.  Then we will just motor back up the run and hit it 15, 20 more times and then just motor back up to the put in and take out.

Client: Wait, I'm confused again.  I thought I booked an experience where I was going to be on a drift boat trip fly fishing.  But you're telling me that we aren't going to be using flies at all, and we are putting in and taking out at the same place, and not drifting to a takeout?

Guide: (defensive) Well yeah, it's the best program on the river man.  Or I guess we can just burn out a 20 mile float, but we should have already left if we were going to do that because I can't stand being behind anyone.  

I'm not making this shit up.  Similar conversations are happening every day on steelhead rivers throughout the PNW.  Bead kooks masquerading as fly fishing guides have overrun our boat ramps with their kooky ass bobbers, beads, and bare hooks.  What can be done about these total KOOKS?

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The February Room Podcast

Justin Karnopp has a great podcast called The February Room.  Although he spelled my last name wrong here, I was very stoked to be asked to be on it.  He's a super good host and shares some classic stories of his own with us.

  I talk about the day in Mexico when I thought I was being abducted, then saw my first permit while bone fishing, and then got my pocket picked by a little girl.   We also discuss some more serious issues like the chronic mismanagement of wild steelhead in Southern Oregon by the ODFW.  Check it out here:


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

ODFW management plan includes the harvest of wild steelhead on the Oregon Coast

On December 17,2021 the ODFW Commission adopted the Rogue–South Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan. The plan allows and in some cases, increased wild winter steelhead harvest. They made this decision despite having absolutely no data to support it and the majority of public comments strongly against it, including a petition signed by over 25,000 people.  The governor appointed commission voted 5-2 vote in favor of the slaughter part, often citing that the "local" people on the coast like to murder fish, and that they don't want to take that privilege from them, which is ridiculous.  The Rogue River is 215 miles long, so what about the people who use it for the rest of the 210 miles above the coast?  

Conservation is defined by limiting the wasteful use of something.  How can they seriously call this a "Conservation Plan?"  How about making management decisions based on science and data other than people with pitchforks and torches yelling nonsense at a county courthouse?  Why are our management agencies making decisions based on some local, archaic, redneck politics?  What the hell is going on?  

Since some of the funding for this "conservation" plan is allocated by certain county commissioners (pitchfork holders) who think murdering wild steelhead is family tradition and their god given right, it seems that ODFW feels financially compelled to acquiesce to the torch bearers agenda instead of actual science and data (which they do not have)...which is absolutely horrifying.  What year is this?  What planet do we live on?  What do you think?

This is a piece I wrote for The Drake magazine on the subject a few years ago.  Since then, the new management plan is out, and they raised harvest limit from 3 wild fish per year to 5...

To view the piece on the Drake's sight, click here:

Can’t We Let Them Live?

Why does Oregon still allow wild steelhead to be killed? by Dax Messet

As a longtime Oregon resident, angler, and guide, I spend 40-60 days a year during winter steelhead season on the rivers of the Southern Oregon coast. I interact with anglers that use all types of methods, and every one of them I’ve talked to has noticed a significant decline in encounters with wild steelhead. How can this be explained? There are only 12 rivers left in the Lower 48 where anglers can still legally harvest a wild steelhead. All twelve of these are in my home state of Oregon, and ten of them are in the Southwest Zone, where myself, other guides, and a huge contingent of recreational anglers annually chase the legendary winter steelhead run.

On January 17, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 to deny a petition that would have temporarily  prohibited the killing of wild winter steelhead throughout the Southwest Zone. A similar petition was denied in 2018. Why? According to a statement posted on the ODFW website, staff recommended denial because they “do not have a conservation concern for wild winter steelhead on the south coast for 2020.”

Why not, for once, be preemptive instead of reactive?

Which begs the obvious question: Why wait until there’s a concern? Why not, for once, be preemptive instead of reactive? Have we learned nothing from lessons on the Columbia River?

Many of us don’t need to hook a steelhead to enjoy our angling experience; but we do need to know that we at least have a chance to hook one, even if we plan to release them afterward. Based on ODFW’s own data, wild steelhead populations are decreasing, while harvest rates are increasing. You don’t need to be a fish biologist to recognize that this is an unsustainable situation.

When I reached out last year to the ODFW district biologist in my area, in order to share my concerns, he was unwilling or unable to provide me with any data that supports the ODFW decision to still allow the  harvesting of wild fish, which at the time was five a year per angler. Instead of providing me with data that supports the continuation of a kill fishery, he explained how important is was to provide “opportunity”—which supposedly sells licenses and provides community revenue—and how habitat for wild steelhead affects their population more than harvest.

Somewhat surprisingly, it’s not just the catch-and-release flyfishermen that want the legalized killing to end. Last year, legendary gear-fishing guide Harvey Young started a petition that asked the Commission to require the release of all wild steelhead in the region, citing numerous reasons why catch-and-release would benefit anglers and businesses in southwest Oregon. In September of 2018, the petition was brought to the Commission meeting in Salem, where the Commission argued that there is “no conservation concerns for wild steelhead in the Southwest Zone.” (Sound familiar?) Ultimately, they denied the petition, but they did lower the annual harvest limit from five to three per year.

Harvey’s petition is back, now with nearly 25,000 supporters and growing. Along with signing the petition, concerned anglers have written dozens of public comments to the Commission, and many of these anglers were in attendance at the January meeting in Salem. So much emphasis by ODFW seems to be placed on the reasons why or why not wild steelhead numbers are down. They continue to argue that the problem is more about habitat than harvest—and they could be right. But those of us who signed the petition aren’t as concerned about the “why.” We aren’t saying that over-harvest is necessarily what made the numbers drop, we’re just saying that they have dropped, period, and until we know the cause, we shouldn’t be killing any more wild steelhead.

For too long, Pacific Northwest states have managed steelhead fisheries right to the cusp of being threatened or endangered. I understand the importance of providing angler opportunity, but not at the cost of the long-term sustainability of wild steelhead on the beloved rivers of the Southern Oregon coast.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Remembering the Sandy River Spey Clave, and Spey Moses

This is the intro to a presentation I gave at the legendary Sandy River Spey Clave.  I really miss this event, as it was a gathering of some really special folks in the fly fishing industry.  Jonny Hazlett took me to my first one, and it was instrumental in my growth as a spey caster for which I am forever grateful.  On top of being able to try every rod and reel on the market, meet and mingle with awesome people, and drink alcohol hidden in coffee cups, a highlight was watching the best in the industry give killer presentations.  It featured the true icons in the spey world with folks like George Cook, Scott O'donnell, Simon Gawesworth, Mike McCune, Charles St. Pierre, and other characters who I am grateful to have become mentors and great friends with over the years.  

The 10 Commandments of Spey presentation I gave is not on the level of those dudes, but I was hoping to do something a little different that would be both humorous and instructional.  Not sure if everyone found it to be either, but it here it is...

Intro at the Sandy Clave:

here is a preview for the presentation from 

and here is a video of the very first appearance of Moses demonstrating a spiral spey on the Upper Rogue River...

and a pedestrian snap t