Monthly Archives: November 2010

Play Kayaking’s Lost Move: The Pirouette

Todays play boats are unrecognizable compared to the early days. There are so many different shapes and sizes now, you can literally choose your boats’ specifications based on which wave or hole your surfing that day.

When I started kayaking 30 years ago, I was 13 years old and there weren’t many choices. In fact, my first boat was a handmade fiberglass boat specifically designed for a child. In retrospect, this boat was way ahead of its time; it was short, stubby and had a decent amount of rocker…but I digress.

My first real boat was a black Perception Dancer. This boat was revolutionary in its time, it was considered short even though it was around 13 feet long!

Of course you couldn’t do most of the tricks you can do in todays play boats, but one of the tricks you could do with these long cylindrical boats was the pirouette.

The pirouette along with back-surfing and hole spinning was the pinnacle in play-boating prowess. It was also the most fun of any of the moves.

Since todays shorter boats aren’t conducive for performing a pirouette most kayakers have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, let me explain the technique:

The object was to find a decent pour-over that was strong enough to put these high volume boats into an ender. of course if you’re relatively new to kayaking you may not know what an ender is either, but I think you can figure it out.

Here’s some help, just in case: The nose of the boat is buried into the oncoming water, the nose knifes deep and the tail raises up putting you in a vertical position. If you do that in todays play boats you will immediately end-over and probably perform a loop.

However, the older boats were so long they wouldn’t end-over, they would shoot into the vertical position and basically bob downstream while the kayaker tried to maintain the upright position by leaning back or forward. This was the classic ender and the beginning of the pirouette move. Continue reading Play Kayaking’s Lost Move: The Pirouette

Best Gifts for Whitewater Rafting

It’s definitely the off-season in my neck of the woods for rafting, but that only means it’s time to gear up for the upcoming whitewater season.

Christmas is the perfect time to pad out your rafting gear. So what should Santa bring his whitewater rafting good girls and boys? Here are 5 essentials:

  • Dry Bags- is your dry bag on its last leg? Is the bottom covered with more duct tape than rubber? Dry bags these days are very well made, but they still wear out. I’ve owned many dry bags, in fact my first was a Navy surplus black bag that worked beautifully for over ten years. Dry bags come in all sorts of sizes these days, so even if you don’t need a full size personal bag how about a small or medium-sized one for a quick access day bag? My most recent dry bag is made by SOTAR. It is well made and is relatively inexpensive. NRS also has good dry bags.
  • Sleeping Pad- How long has it been since you upgraded your sleeping pad? For years I used a tiny Therm-a-rest pad, I had the smallest version possible to accommodate my self-support kayaking trips. I could only afford one pad back then, but now I can actually afford 2. There are some awesome therm-a-rest pads out there and the company is second to none in customer service. In fact when I was a poor starving river guide I bought the pad, and whenever it needed repairs I’d send it back to them and they’d replace the pad free of charge. I don’t know how they ever made any money, I never bought more than one therm-a-rest in over 10 years of guiding!
  • River Knife- If you’re like me you can never have too many river knives. I’ve never had to use one to save my own or anyone elses life, (I usually use them for spreading peanut butter) but when you need a knife you better hope you have one handy. My favorite river knife is the simple yet reliable spyderco knives. I have the serrated knife-edge for sawing through thick rope or even tenacious kayak plastic. I’ve had my knife attached to my life jacket for over 15 years now, and only the color has faded. It’s performance is still awesome, it cuts effortlessly and stays attached to my jacket through thick and thin.
  • Life Jacket- It may be time to update your life jacket. There are a lot of choices out there, but I choose the PFD that works for both rafting and kayaking. I’ve had my Kokotat life jacket for many years and it never seems to lose any of its functionality. It’s by far the best, most comfortable life jacket I’ve ever owned. I love the pockets, the ease of fitting and the safety features…don’t do class V without it.
  • Raft Pump- Finally a raft pump that is small enough and sturdy enough to stuff into the load but will pump up a raft in no time. Oh yeah and it’s super easy to operate. Even if you have a pump you’re happy with, I bet you’ll switch to this one after you try it.

So if you’re stumped on what to get your river person this year, these 5 ideas are a great start. Already got it? well a rafter can never have too many beer huggies!

Duck Hunting: Working for It

When I was a kid duck hunting was pretty easy. I didn’t think so then, (waking up super early and missing Saturday morning cartoons sucked) but in retrospect I had it easy.

There was plenty of water in the Klamath marsh and all we had to do was get in the boat, navigate some water, throw out some decoys and sit in the boat drinking hot cocoa waiting for shooting hours. The hardest thing about the whole hunt was picking up the duck decoys at the end of the hunt.

As the years passed the duck hunting opportunities dropped off as the water levels continually dropped. Eventually we could no longer hunt the upper reaches of the Klamath marsh, they’d turned into pasture land. We were pushed onto the main lake, forced to hunt in spots we were unfamiliar with. No longer were we shooting decoying mallards and pintail, now we were lucky to get a flight of Scaup to come into the decoys. We became pass shooters.

More recently the lake in early season became too low to navigate. We were forced to look elsewhere altogether or give up hunting on the disappearing Klamath marsh.

Luckily we were tipped off to a spot that still holds lots of ducks and has decent water conditions the entire season. Weve been hunting this spot for the past 4 years and we’ve got it pretty well dialed. I’m not going to tell you where it is or how to hunt it…we worked too hard to give away our secrets…sorry.

I will tell you that duck hunting is no longer easy. Instead of a cushy boat ride, we now have to ride our mountain bikes along a dirt trail with all our gear strapped to our backs. That means: decoys, gun, ammo, food, water, waders, coats, and whatever else you may need in the field. It’s a lot of weight and I’ve yet to find a decent decoy bag/backpack that rides well on my back. Continue reading Duck Hunting: Working for It

Steelhead Outing on the Rogue River

I took Thursday of last week off and headed out early with my brother and dad to the Rogue for a full day of steelhead fishing.

I was excited because I hadn’t put a full day in on the river in a long time. I’ve been fishing all season, but mostly from the bank for an hour or two. I haven’t put in a whole day of hard fishing for quite a while. I was stoked and excited at the proposition of getting into some steelies.

The fishing reports from the previous week were all positive, with many anglers seeing 7 and 8 fish days.

We met up at Touvelle park and headed upstream to Dodge bridge. There were a few other trailers at the put-in but the pressure looked  fairly light. It was cold and the river seemed a little off-color, but we were confident.

My brother has a drift boat that has a casting station behind the rower and in front. It’s a sweet setup, perfect for two fly fisherman to cover a lot of water. Cover a lot of water we did, but by midday we still hadn’t touched a steelhead. The water looked perfect, and we skillfully plied the waters but we found no fish.

My brother introduced me to a new indicator, the thingamabobber. It’s an air-filled ball that you attach to your leader. I really like this thing, it is much lighter and easier to cast than the indicators I was used to. The indicators are brightly colored so seeing them is a breeze as well. The bright colored balls brought up some funny conversations though, (ie. Pulp fiction, red ball in Bruce willis’ mouth). Continue reading Steelhead Outing on the Rogue River

Nymph Fishing for Steelhead on the Rogue River

The Rogue river is famous for Steelhead fishing. It has good-sized runs of both summer and winter steelhead.

The best months to steelhead fish on the Rogue are September, October and November. During these months there are both late summer steelhead and early winter steelhead.

During the month of October, most of the Rogue is fly fishing only. This means steelhead can only be fished with artificial lures, this means no bait, and no weights.

The most productive method for catching steelhead is to nymph fish. Dragging streamer flies on the surface can also be effective, but I have much more success nymphing; particularly when the Salmon are spawning and working the redds.

Here’s how it’s done: use a nine foot leader made up of 6 pound test. Tie on a heavy “ugly bug”, or something dark and fairly large. Then tie about 18 inches of 6 pound tippet onto the shank of the fly and attach another, smaller fly pattern to that. I like to use a number 8 or 10 Prince nymph. I’ve heard of fisherman tying the second fly from the eye of the first fly, but I’ve never tried it. It seems like it would get tangled easily.

Now you’ll need to attach the strike indicator. Decide what the approximate depth of water you’ll be fishing is, and put the indicator about a foot higher up the leader than that depth. For instance if you think the water is 4 feet deep put the indicator 5 feet up from the highest fly.

My new favorite indicators are thingamabobber indicators. These are air-filled balls which are extremely easy to cast and easy to attach to the leader. Yes, they resemble a bobber in every regard, but since were steelhead fly fishing were calling them indicators.

Continue reading Nymph Fishing for Steelhead on the Rogue River