SAO Pages

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

California's Sierra Nevada's - Part 2

In the last entry I spoke of the brilliant blue waters of Florence Lake, and here is a photo that shows the brilliance that those waters truly hold.  The large granite outcropping is known as Florence Rock.

Moving on in the trip, we made 5 miles the first day in the wilderness.  This would be our first planned camp and was where the trail from Florence Lake join the famed John Muir Trail that goes from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney in Kings Canyon National Park.  Our camp was at Blayney Meadows home to the famed natural hot springs and great fishing.

Below I am working on being a bug nerd.  Yes, I enjoy entomology and can be found taking a look at the world of macroinvertebrates quite often.  On this trip I found a lot of what I expected for a highly oxygenated freestoner.....lots of stoneflies in all shapes and sizes.

Here is a shot of a typical nymphal shuck that were found on rocks just about every place you looked.  I failed to get any shots of live bugs as I was to busy hiking the stream looking for fish.

The water above and below camp was strikingly different, but it was refreshing to fish such different flows.  Here is a shot of Zac overlooking a very deep run that rises to a nice lip and subsequent riffle.  In the past two trips, nice fish have been taken from this water.  As you can see, it is not the easiest water to approach due to the vertical nature of the granite on either side.  Access is limited, but that's half the challenge and fun. 

Speaking of nice fish, here John holds a very nice specimen for the South Fork of the San Joaquin.  It wasn't caught in the hole pictured above, but just up stream from where this photo was taken.  This was John's second trip to the Sierra's, so he had his eyes set on this hole and the big fish that inhabit it.

On the next entry, I will show some photos from a little further upstream where John and I did quite well on a scouting trip into water we had not yet fished.

Until next time, get out and grab some warm water species before the cold weather and Steelhead take over.

Tight Lines,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson
Head Guide
Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Friday, August 22, 2008

California's Sierra Nevada's - Part 1

Well, I have been dragging my feet a bit getting back into the swing of things since I got back from two weeks in the mountains so you will have to forgive me.  Something about that much time away makes you revolt against the routines you left.  Nevertheless, I have been hounded relentlessly about when I was going to start blogging, so before I head out for a family reunion, I thought I would try to get this ball rolling.

Above is the group that I went to California with this year.  A great group of guys consisting of about 60% fly fishing rookies.  Despite that rookie status though, they kept at it and all caught fish.....some more than others, but they all caught fish.

The cool part of this trip is that you are on the trail, not just hopping rivers in trucks.  Not that doing that is bad, but there is a different dynamic when you are in raw wilderness with a pack on your back walking through the woods to get to the next hole.  After long days there are lazy nights that allow for time around the fire and the opportunity to hear some stories that you will cherish for years.

Sharing Time and Stories Over the Campfire

One of the big reasons for my return trip to the Sierra's this year was to spend some time behind the lens of my camera.  Last year all I had was a point and shoot and this year I wanted to capture the beauty in a more refined kind of way.  It was fun, definitely a learning experience, and so much a LABOR of love it wasn't funny.  The unfortunate side of my camera equipment is that it is heavy...really heavy.  So, yeah, you guessed it....that weight went in my pack on my the tune of about 80 pounds.  Not exactly what I wanted, but 50 miles of trail later, I am still alive and kickin.

I have many photos to share and will do so over the next few weeks and months as I have the opportunity.  But for now, I thought I would just show you a couple of shots from the first night when I was shooting that last remaining light over the lake we were camped beside.  Just for your information, this lake was 5 miles long and 250 feet deep and could be empty by summers end. As you will see in future photos, its waters are a brilliant shade of blue.

Patrick Shoots Over the Waters of Lake Florence

This is one of those shots that takes you back when you see it for the first time...or at least it did for me.  Please keep in mind that no matter how nice the camera, you will never be able to fully capture the beauty of the Sierra's.....maybe in part, but not in it's entirety.

The Serenity of Lake Florence After Sundown

For those who will be seeing us at the shows, I will have a very nice photo album that has a more in depth look at this trip.

Keep checking back in the days ahead to see further installments of California's Sierra Nevada's.

Tight Lines,

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fall 2008 update from Steelhead Alley Outfitters

Here is a video to help get you thinking about the fall season.
We are really excited about the approaching Fall steelhead runs here on the Alley! As you can see we have been fishing abroad to keep in touch with the latest fly fishing equipment, honing our skills and learning new and improved ways to make your fly fishing trip experience even better. Our Summer guide season is nearly over, and we are preparing to hit the surf to cast for early run fish on Lake Erie. Can't wait till they start to trickle in during the cool late August nights.

An example of a perfect fall Ohio steelhead that took an olive sculpin swinging through the tail out of the pool.

We are booking steady for our fall/winter steelhead season, and with the experience and depth of our staff we can arrange and accommodate you on all the prime days during the season. We handle Business, club, personal, and special needs clients every season! No group is to large and each trip is customly put together with no details left out for every client, guaranteeing that your trip with exceed your expectations. Don't hesitate to call me at 419-466-9382 or email at to build the fly fishing package that is right for you.

A trophy 2007 fall run steelhead caught on one of our Ohio tributaries!

We have also started taking bookings for our spring 2009 steelhead season, and it is never to early to book your prime Ohio steelhead dates. We will once again be offering our on the water clinic, several fly tying classes, spey casting and steelhead schools, and providing speaking and slide show presentations around the Mid west. (see list below)

We have openings with Will Turek SAO's spey specialist for Late August and September Spey casting classes at Hidden Valley Park on the grand River. Check out our spey trips page at for more details.

Pink Salmon on the fly

In a few short weeks we will be hosting twenty anglers up North to fly/spey fish for Great Lakes King Salmon and Pink Salmon. This is a world class experience and must see fishery!!! If interested in joining the group vacation this September give us a shout their is plenty of room and plenty of river. With our accommodations and being inexpensive missing this trip wouldn't be right.

Senyo's tube fly Sculpins and more!!!

We are now offering individual and assortments of Senyo's custom sculpin tube flies, Emerald Shiner tubes, and Scandinavian style tubes. All tubes are constructed on Eumer products/materials and Hare Line Dubbin inc. materials. Diiachi tube hooks included with each tube fly. These are custom order only call 419-466-9382 to place orders.

You may have noticed we no longer offer individual fly sales online, instead we have decided to offer assortments only online and continue to distribute to the major fly shops across the region. This has been well received by our customers as our orders have doubled over the past year due mainly to an exclusive new line of steelhead flies. Our patterns are also available through with over 15 patterns coming in the 2009 catalog and online. If you are interested in individual fly sales for Great Lakes Steelhead flies we use and recommend these patterns are tied strictly in the USA and on diiachi hooks to order and is a top supplier of steelhead flies to noted fly fishing guides across the Great Lakes.

2008 list of Events with SAO:

September 27th and 28th Muskegon River Michigan Spey Clave:
Greg Senyo: Tying custom Great Lakes Tube Sculpins
Will Turek: Spey casting demonstrations

October 11th Orvis Dayton:
Greg Senyo: Tying Custom Great lakes Steelhead Flies
Patrick Robinson: Steelhead and trout presentation

October 12th Orvis Royal Oak Detroit Michigan:
Greg Senyo: Tying Custom Steelhead Flies
Patrick Robinson: Steelhead Presentation

November 8th Orvis Carmel Indiana
Greg Senyo: Fly tying demos
Patrick Robinson: Trout and steelhead presentation

December 6th Colton Bay Outfitters Michigan
Greg Senyo: Steelhead fly Patterns, tubes, custom patterns
Patrick Robinson: Steelhead and trout presentation

We have several tying commitments and club speaking engagements that will go out in your club news letters, and several more shop listings still not finalized and will be updated shortly. We hope to see each and everyone of you. January shows will be listed at later date with 2009 updates.

We would like to thank everyone for supporting our staff, this company, and the life long relationships we have begun to form with you. Your Fly orders, bookings, and commitment to our company is the sole reason we are able to offer the service we provide today. Thank you to the numerous fly shops for their referrals and to the 30+ fly fishing industry leading companies that have provided us Pro staff status to offer the amount and quality of equipment we use on a daily basis. Last but not least to our Lake Erie communities, the tributary land owners, and my true home, thank you for your unwavering support of our team.

SAO Staff

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

West Branch Of the Delaware River- The pursuit of trout continues!!

When you look at the history of fly fishing in the U. S. and consider the streams that were the original proving grounds for the art, the Catskill region of New York state is firmly at the epicenter. Its' list of famous streams reads like a who's who of rivers, the Beaverkill , the Neversink , and the West Branch of the Delaware are but a few of the "all-stars" that have been the subject of so much literature. In fact , these rivers have entertained the boots of just about every noteworthy angler that has tightened a line. So when the call came recently from my good friend and fellow SAO guide John Miller, to join him on the West Branch of the Delaware for a day of world class fishing , I was packing my gear before the conversation was even done.

John has been spending the spring and summer guiding the West Branch as a part of West Branch Anglers ( for many years and is nothing short of a first rate angler himself . To share a day with his expert knowledge at the helm was not something I wanted to pass up. As luck would have it , I was in the Adirondack mountains fishing its' beautiful gems at the time the call came, and traveling the few hours south to go by him on the way home would work out just fine.

The day on the West Branch generally starts a little later for John, and his clients get to enjoy a good nights sleep. While it is certainly possible to catch fish early , the hatch activity doesn't heat up until the afternoon and the dry fly fishing is best done by sight when the fish begin to rise and feed. On this day in July the water levels are low due to stingy releases from the dam. It could be a tough day.After coffee, we decide to get started early.

We will begin in the morning by wading and casting to fish that John knows are holding upstream in one of his favorite spots on the river. Later , depending on water levels , we will launch the drift boat and cover more water downstream.The day is crystal clear and bright and in the mid to upper 80's as we stealthily approach our piece of water. As we watch the surface for signs of activity , we will make a decision as to whether we are nymphing or drifting dries. It isn't long before the rise forms are visible here and there , and it is time to get going.

The fish are rising only occasionally, so John suggests a dry-dropper setup to cover both surface and sub-surface feeding. We tie on small size 18 Pheasant Tails beneath a caddis flies and we are in action. As John coaches me on the likely position of the invisible trout , it isn't long before my dry stops dead in the water and raising the rod tip produces the electric jolt of fish on! And what a fish it is , my 4 weight Helios bends impressively and in seconds I am 15 feet into my backing as the reel screams to catch up to its quarry! Fortunately for me I am used to fighting large fish, because this wild rainbow has some length and girth , but even more than that , it has some irrepressible spirit.

After some minutes , as I bring the fish to heel and the high fives are complete, I am holding a 20" rainbow that is as pretty as a painting and as tough as a prize fighter.As the morning wears on , and we work methodically through the piece of water, we manage two more hookups but no fish in hand. Hey , if it were easy would we be compelled to keep coming back for more?After lunch, John is encouraged by stable water levels, and we launch the Hyde drift boat downstream.

The late afternoon and evening is spent casting to occasional rise forms not unlike the morning. While the days hatch never really materializes in force, John has his eye out constantly for the insect life drifting by on the surface and we change to match the hatch at every slight inclination of the need. On this day in late July the water is on the low side and the fish are spooky , still we managed to land fish that are trophies on most other rivers. If you are going to fish this river , know you are running the gauntlet of skill, and your casting needs to be your A-game. You just don't get too many chances at these wily , wild trout before they are down and gone.

As the afternoon melts into a beautiful summer evening we both have our shots at 20+ inch browns and both take fish in the 20" range. The fight is exciting and long on our 6X tippet, and we earn our "hero shots" this evening.As the moon rises and darkness deepens , we pull the drift boat from this amazing river. It was a day I will long remember and no doubt return to experience again! My thanks to "guide extrordinaire" John Miller for his graciousness and his excellence. I look forward to welcoming him this fall as part of the team that will guide our own world class steelhead streams!If you are interested , you better book now as we filling up fast for the fall.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and ......... Tight Lines!

John Clouser

SAO Fly fishing Guide

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fly Fishing The Adirondacks Part II

For me , there are few places in the world where the worries and concerns of life are unable to press their hot pursuit. Places where time seems not to matter so much, and the constant din of ought and obligation are swallowed up by the awesome simplicity of raw, elemental beauty. The Adirondack Mountains of New York State is one such place. Whether I am laboring up the side of one of its' many high peaks , slipping silently by canoe through a lost pond at sunset , or just listening to the whisper of the woods, the wonder of these mountains envelopes and re-creates.

Did I forget the fishing? Certainly not!For the vast majority of those that seek the waters of the northland, the West Branch of the Ausable is synonymous with fly fishing. The reputation of this gorgeous mountain stream is certainly justified, as the thousands who flock here each year to stand in its' fabled waters and chase its' beautiful fish will tell you. So large is its legend in fact , that it overwhelms the truth that there are other fabulous rivers wending their way through this region holding numerous and large trout that eagerly await the drift of a fly.

For the angler willing to leave the crowds behind , and who is not opposed at times to crossing the boundary line of the park (affectionately known as the "blue line"), the rewards can be mighty. The Salmon , the Chateaugay , the and the St. Regis are among the largely unsung heroes of the northland and while many of their serpentine miles are outside park boundaries, they are nonetheless each beautiful gems in their own right.

On a crystalline morning in July , just before sunrise, I head north out of the park tracking the flow of my personal favorite , the Salmon River. The morning is surprisingly cool and with the heat in my car set on low , I have the windows partly open. I can't resist the smell. The fresh and pungent aroma of coniferous forest is too much for me to pass by. The mist is rising steadily off the ponds and lakes , and the loons still are calling to each other across the open expanse.

I am exhilarated by my surroundings , and by the knowledge that shortly I may have a belligerent rainbow , or stubborn brown on the other end of my line. The Salmon flows north out of the mountainous park, winding first through foothills , then rolling farm and pasture land , long reclaimed from northern forest. Eventually it will bubble over the border into Canada and join the St. Lawrence River continuing inexorably on to the sea.

As I arrive at my spot for the morning, I unfold my gear and ready my fly choice in total solitude. It is almost a shame to be the only one here as it is so lovely that I feel the desire to share it. But then I come to my senses , there are some fish to catch!On the Salmon I like my nymphing , and that is usually my first choice unless it is clear that the topwater feeding is in full swing. The color of the water is a beautiful tannic- but- clear, brown, and just about every darker , deeper spot whether slow or fast , will hold fish. I begin in a favorite bend where a shallow , wide and fast riffle dumps into an even faster deep run, then tailing out into a slow pool.

Sound familiar? My first drift produces a stiff grab on a dropper rig consisting of my own "Peacock Creature" , ( a small wooly bugger with pearl-flash wing) and a size 16 or 18 Pheasant Tail with liberal hackle. After a surprising battle on my 4-weight and 6x, I catch the sight of a substantial brown trout. In the faster water he felt a bit bigger than he is , but he is as pretty as a jewel , and as I release him I know that there is one waiting in there that will test my skill today.

The Salmon holds many fish. Granted , the average size is not monstrous 12 - 15 inches, but the big ones are there, and each visit north to this river has yielded at least one , if not more, of those for me. The challenge of tempting them out of hiding is addictive , while the action on even a slow day can be fast and usually enough to keep you occupied with the catch and release process. As the morning wears on, the list of takers grows, and this day it is heavy on browns , though an occasional and unusually larger rainbow makes an appearance.

Later in the morning as I drift a seam at the head of pool in the faster moving water the big pull comes and I go into my large-fish fighting mode. I am forced to let this one run hard against my drag and as I fight him as though he were a steelhead. As I gain the edge, I am gratified with a fat 18 inch brown that did not succeed in throwing my hook. My day is made! Though in truth, it was right from the start.Fifteen or so miles east of the Salmon River and running roughly parallel to it from south to north is the Chatueagay.

Although it is close in proximity , it is a very different river. Deep ravines, waterfalls and chasms as well as thick forest surround this jewel . As I and my friend hike down from the road above , we very quickly forget that there are towns or people nearby. Indeed the sense within this setting is of even greater remoteness than in actuality there is. With a healthy population of browns , rainbows and brookies the Chateaugay offers great opportunities to fish most anyway you like.

On a day in July I enjoyed success drifting nymphs , stripping and swinging streamers , and swinging large nymphs through fast runs and pools with a twitching retrieve. One nice brown smashed the size 8 nymph as it swung wide and paused in the current rising as it hung there. The brookies liked the streamers and large nymphs as well , cast into deeper pools and retrieved in short strips.

Pretty rainbows were taking nymphs bottom bounced through fast runs. There was really something for everyone on this wonderful stream , yet ironically there was no one else.As we slip from spot to spot along this expanse of river the evidence of the dance of nature is in full force ... a wilderness party. Hawks circle and call overhead , a fox flits into the underbrush , deer tracks are everywhere and the industry of beavers is readily evident. I am overwhelmed by its' loveliness and a eager participant in its' embarrassment of riches. At one point I glance at my watch ... what time is it? and then... What day? ... I guess it doesn't really matter.

Have a Great summer!

John Clouser
SAO Fly fishing Guide