FLY FISHING: THE THORNTON ANTHOLOGY
Author: Barry M. Thornton
Publisher: HANCOCK HOUSE PUB. LTD., Jan 2001
Compendium of 45 of Thornton's best articles & columns on fishing with flies in the Northwest. Valuable info, tips on tackle, amusing anecdotes: focuses on saltwater ff for Pacific Salmon, ff for steelhead, & still water ff for rainbow trout. 16 pg color section; 5x8 inches, 192 pgs.
Fly Fishing is a compendium of forty-five of Barry Thorntons best articles and columns on fishing with flies in the Northwest. Barry focuses on three main angling opportunitiessaltwater fly fishing for Pacific salmon, fly fishing for steelhead and still water fly fishing for rainbow trout. These are the primary fishing sports in the region and provide a worthy challenge for those anglers who have been drawn to fly fishing. The anthologys lively and easy-to-read style is complemented by a vivid thirty-two-page color picture section. Full of valuable information, tips on tackle, amusing anecdotes and useful reminders, Fly Fishing will reel in readers in pursuit of trophy fish.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barry Thornton is one of B.C.s most widely read outdoor authors. Having published more than 1,000 articles and authored five other Hancock House books, Barry is a prolific and award-winning writer. He is the recipient of the Award of Merit from the Outdoor Writers of Canada and the Award of Excellence from the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association, and he was awarded the Roderick Haig-Brown Memorial Award for excellence in presenting fisheries issues to the public.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Fly Fishing is Easy: Part 1 11
Fly Fishing is Easy: Part 2 13
Fly Fishing is Easy: Part 3 15
Saltwater Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon 19
Open Water Salmon Fly Fishing 24
Chinook SalmonSaltwater Fly Fishing Trophies! 30
Chinook Salmon Fly Fishing 35
August Beach Fly Fishing for Pink Salmon 37
Beach Fly Fishing for Pink Salmon 42
Casting to the Sheep of the Sea 47
Coho on the Fly 49
Fly Fishing Tackle and 54
Coho Fly Fishing Tips and Info 55
Fly Fishing for Chum Salmon 55
West Coast Salmon Fly Fishing 58
Weigh West Coho on the Fly 60
West Coast Coho on the FlyOles Hakai Thorn 83
BucktailingExciting Saltwater Fly Fishing 86
Low Tides for Salmon Fly Fishing Success 89
Strikes from Big Fish: Setting the Hook 91
Saltwater Fly Fishing Tips for Pacific Salmon 93
Fly Fishing for Pacific Saltwater Fishes 98
Scorpion FishReleasing Them
and Other Poisonous or Sharptooth Fish 101
Oles Hakai Pass Black Bomber Fly Fishing 103
The Bald Eagle 106
Sea Birds 109
Saltwater Regulations 112
Steelhead Sprinting 115
The Special Language of the Steelheader 119
Campbell River Steelhead Fly Fishing 129
The Ideal Fly Run 136
Fly Fishing a New RiverWater Color
and Other Factors 137
Other factors to consider 139
Tips for Successful Winter Steelhead Fishing 141
Playing That River Trophy 146
Steelhead Hunting Skills 149
Walking the Dog 152
Choosing a Fly Line 156
Weighted Flies for Steelhead 160
The DipperA Steelheaders Welcome
River Companion 162
Dual-Purpose Equipment for Salmon
and Steelhead Fly Fishing 164
Steelhead Recovery Plan? 166
Fly Fishing for Interior Trophy Trout 170
Fly Casting in the WindFriend or Foe? 173
April! The Fly Fishers Month 175
Quick Tips for Successful Still Water
Chironomid Fishing! 177
Ten to Two, Ten to Two! 179
Oh No, Not Knots! 181
The OspreyFisher of Fishers 183
Fly Fishing British Columbias High Country 186
Wise Anglers Follow the Birds! 188
Loons, Gulls, Sea Lions and SealsLearned Behaviors!189
EXCERPT: Salmon Striking--Open Water Salmon Fly Fishing:
The highflying gulls alerted us to the presence of salmon. The gulls were swooping and circling about fifty feet above the water, then diving to intercept surfacing herring. There was obviously carnage occurring below, for every now and then we would spot a single herring skittering along the surface only to disappear as a silver flash signaled a feeding coho.
The water on this shoal at the south end of a Gulf island was about forty feet, too deep to anchor for proper fly presentation. But I knew of a small pinnacle adjacent to a kelp bed within the realm of the circling diving gulls. Watching the depth sounder as we neared that baitfish refuge, I was able to triangulate from shoreline points and soon threw the hollow mason brick anchor overboard on the top of the pinnacle.
We were now in twenty-five feet of water, an ideal depth for saltwater wet fly fishing. Action was obvious as salmon slashing occurred on nearby surface areas where they had chased small schools or single finger-sized herring. Gulls dove down on the water, some within feet of the boat, and on the depth sounder a dark cloud of baitfish came and went as they circled the pinnacle in an attempt to reach the safety of the inshore kelp or just to avoid the feeding salmon.
No sooner had the anchor reached the bottom and was cinched at the side rail than my partner and I were false casting to get distance for our final cast. I stood on a flat-topped fish box at the back of the boat while my partner used a flat fly-casting platform I had at the front of my seventeen-foot Boston Whaler. Both were good casting bases; while my partner had a wide platform on which to drop his line while he strip retrieved, I used a fish bucket as a stripping basket to ensure the line would not tangle when a fish struck and ran.
Within moments we both laid our #8 wet lines out over the rippling water and watched as they disappeared into the deep navy blue depths. The lines had not yet reached the magic fifteen- to thirty-foot depth when my partner hooked his first coho. The fish had obviously watched the flash of the Silver Thorn pattern as the fly sank and had grabbed the weighted fly while it twirled down. The six-pound silver salmon was at the reel instantly, tearing yards of line from the knuckle-duster fly reels spinning spool. Then it was in the air, spinning, cartwheeling and leaping as only these special sport salmon can. In minutes my partner had it near the boat and then nettedthe first of an amazing afternoon!
In my book, Saltwater Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon (Hancock House), I spend a great deal of time discussing hunting for salmon. This is the skill of reading the numerous saltwater environmental conditions that lead to successful open water salmon fly fishing.
Natures signals are many when you are on the open ocean. Some display almost as vividly as flashing billboards to guide hunting fly fishers to that best location for open water salmon fly fishing. Some signals, like specific hovering and flying gull species, compact baitfish schools and salmon surface activity, should never be ignored. They add much to the fishing experience and can be counted upon to target precise locations for the fly fisher.
It is important to distinguish between the two saltwater phases of the salmons life that the saltwater fly fisher targets. Each phase is a particular period in the salmons life odyssey and does require a different fly angling approach.
The first and most common phase is that of concentrations of estuary salmon. Estuary salmon are akin to river salmon for they have usually stopped feeding and are absorbed by the homing instinct to spawn. In this phase, salmon, whether they are coho, chinook, pinks, chum or sockeye, are best fished with an attractor streamer fly having silver and one other color like blue, pink, red or orange.
The second phase concentrates on feeder salmon. These are the schooling salmon, located throughout inshore Pacific Coast saltwater, that are on voracious feeding frenzies as they migrate south. These feeder salmon are the types that are sought after in a hunting fashion as opposed to estuary salmon, which are relatively easy to locate at the mouth of rivers. In fact, most estuary salmon are more successfully fly fished wading in beach shallows at varying tide stages, but more on estuary salmon later.
It was feeder salmon that my partner and I had located on an ebbing tide that particular summer day. It was a school of very active predatory coho with a surprising contingent of chinook salmon. The chinook were large fish, ranging from three to thirty pounds, and it was our hope that they would be attracted to our flies. The coho on the other hand were far more active, showing on the surface, slashing through the compact schools of young herring and often porpoising right up to the shore in their feeding frenzy. In most cases the coho worked in teams, and when one of these teams, ranging from three to eight fish, darted near us we had numerous double takes on this classy salmon. These were powerful salmon ranging up to ten pounds.
Casting in this area was an art in itself, requiring not extensive casting skill, rather an understanding of what was happening unseen under the deep, blue saltwater. There, in abject terror, swam the silver sleek herring, compacted into tight schools as they used numbers to confuse the feeder salmon. But, undaunted by this oldest of Natures prey survival tricks, the salmon darted in and out among the schools, snapping and slashing as they went.
It was here also that the chinook salmon, both jacks (small chinook that have at least one more year to stay in the ocean before they travel to their home rivers to spawn) and the mighty kings (the larger chinook) also fed upon the baitfish. Most of the chinook, those king salmon, were semimature and weighed in the tens of pounds. A very few were true tyee, chinooks that weigh more than thirty pounds.
The chinooks appeared to be single feeders not pack predators like the coho, but they too singled out our Silver Thorn patterns as the flies were slow stripped near the baitfish. The first chinook to take the fly was a lunker! When the fly struck and there was no give to my fly line I knew there was a very heavy fish on the end. Unfortunately, the rapidly receding fly line bounced a loop over the corner of the outboard motor and the resulting knot clicked through my Fenwick IFF98 Iron Feather guides before being stopped at the second-to-last guide. It was impossible to loosen the knot in time and I felt the 8# leader snap, whipping the 99 rod back over my head! In frustration I slumped back in my seat and tied on a fresh leader and fly.
The second heavy chinook took like a locomotive. I had little time to check the stripping basket before the salmon was through the stripped line and at the reel. Then it was only a matter of holding the rod high until the fish stopped his first powerful run. All fly line, 200 yards of Dacron backing and about thirty yards of monofilament reserve backing, was stripped from the reel before that run was complete. Meanwhile, my partner had hoisted the anchor and was starting to motor-chase the fish. I am certain we would have boated that beauty except for the flotsam that eventually tangled with the fly line. I had retrieved all backing when we reached the tide line but lost the fish when he darted through a clump of drifting kelp and eel grass. The intense adrenaline rushes we both felt with these mighty kings guaranteed repeated searches for these favorable salmon-hunting conditions.