Steelhead Fishing on the Willamette River 2013

The morning didn't get off to a good start. We kept having issues with the gear. Our bad luck hit rock bottom when our steelhead net mysteriously disappeared from the boat. No kidding. It was the weirdest thing. I looked over and noticed it was propped up on the side of the boat, but it looked secure enough.

I figured it might get in my brother's way as he rowed the boat, so I would put it down in the bottom of the boat after making one more cast with my fly rod. After retrieving the line, I looked back and the net was gone. I was thinking my brother had moved it, but that was not the case. It was just gone. I felt pretty bad, even though it really wasn't my fault.

About the only thing that was going well for us was the weather. It was beautiful out that morning, which is good for humans, but not necessarily good for fishing. One should never complain about being out on the river on a beautiful morning. We even stopped to pick some berries on the side of the river at one point.

And part of our mission, unbeknownst to me, was to retrieve a lost anchor that had been haunting my brother in his dreams.

Retrieving the anchor was a life or death situation.

There I was, sitting in the boat wearing a Cabela's life jacket (very stylish). I was rowing my flabby arms off.

My older brother was hanging off the back of the drift boat in swift water up to his chest, trying to free the rogue anchor from the bottom of the river. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Okay, I am probably making this sound more dangerous than it actually was. But the irony of the situation hit me pretty quickly. I was concerned for my brother's welfare as he willingly put his life at risk to retrieve the anchor.

He said that if he didn't get it, he wouldn't be able to sleep for a year, as the waters would soon rise with the autumn rains. There it would wait, beckoning at him to come and free it from the rocky bottom.

It all turned out okay in the end. In fact it was the second anchor we had recovered from the river this summer. The first one was a cake walk compared to this one.

Things gradually began to improve as the day went. I was casting my fly rod with a purple Egg Sucking Leach pattern and letting it dead drift down to the bottom. My line stopped all of a sudden and I set the hook.

I was a bit surprised to see a flash under the water and feel a heavy fish on the end of the line. I thought it was a steelhead. After a few seconds I realized that I had a good sized Northern Pikeminnow. Here is the result.

As we were finishing our drift we arrived at a very popular hole where we have caught a lot of steelhead.

Sure enough, my brother's rod went down. Fish on!!! We rowed the boat to the sandy bank and my brothers beached the fish- a bright 29 3/4 inch steelhead! It was the second steelhead caught from the boat this year.

While they were busy landing the fish, I taped the whole thing for your viewing pleasure.


And in case you can't view it here on the blog for some reason, here is a link to watch it on YouTube: 

Tight lines!

Fishing at Ollala Creek Reservoir

It took some time to figure out where to go- looking at the ODFW trout stocking schedule, but we made it up to the lake on March 22nd.

I finally decided on Ollala Creek Reservoir as it had been stocked that week and our normal favorite (Foster Reservoir) hadn't been stocked yet.

I had never been to this particular fishing hole before, so I was a little surprised at how beautiful it was there.

I went to get my fishing license before we left town and picked up some bait at the same time.

I was talking to the friendly guy behind the counter and told him I was going to get some PowerBait. And he suggested I get some Berkley Gulp in the Chunky Cheese Flavor.

I thought, It can't be be any better than the regular PowerBait. Then I looked at the price on the bottle and cringed when I saw $5.49... but the guy was so insistent that I decided to give it a try.

I'm glad I did because we were the only ones catching fish.

Recipe: Size 18 golden treble hook, small ball of chartreuse colored Chunky Cheese Berkley Gulp Trout Bait, and three medium sized split shot about 18 inches above hook.

You land fish on almost every bite with this set-up.

Kids Need to Learn

I have been concerned that fishing and hunting are becoming dying sports because there are too few youngsters coming into the sports.

All of us fishermen have an obligation to teach the youngsters to fish. My fishing club, The Harbor Fishing Club, of Mooresville, NC. runs programs each year, taking kids out to catch their first fish.

Join a club and organize fishing activities for the kids, it's our responsibility as anglers and sportsmen.

Jake Bussolini

2012 Blacktail Buck

It hadn't rained in over 100 days, but Friday morning the rain started falling. It rained all day. There was no way I was going to skip out on hunting Saturday morning. Conditions would be perfect.

The cascades would be closed to hunting for the weekend, as elk season would be under way. The only area I would be able to hunt was the Oregon Coast Range.

On Friday night I used Google maps, trying to locate a road that travels through the Siuslaw National Forest, my best alternative to my normal hunting area.

I picked an area where I thought I would find an open road and planned to head that direction early Saturday morning.

It felt like I had driven for too long but finally I found a road I was fairly sure would take me off the highway up into the national forestland that makes up part of the Alsea Wildlife Management Unit near Newport Oregon.

The heavily timbered hills stretched on for miles. The road leveled out as it cut across the side of a steep hill. A big doe crossed the road about 35 yards in front of my car. She was headed straight down the hill into the forest on the right side of the road. This was a good sign, the deer were out moving around. The rain had been a welcome event for the wildlife.

After driving down the road for about 15 minutes, I noticed a truck was following me. I was a little disappointed as I had hoped to find a spot to hunt by myself. Then I came to a fork in the road and slowed down for a moment trying to decide which direction I should go. Finally, I decided to take the right fork.

Of course I hoped the truck behind me would take the road that forked to the left, but that was not the case. It continued following me.

All of a sudden there was a truck stopped in the middle of the road ahead of me. I had nowhere to go. So I stopped, fully expecting them to get out of my way. They can't just block the road like that, I thought.

Sure enough, they got out of my way in just a few seconds. Then, I saw what had caused them to stop. In the early morning light, I could see a round dish-shaped object hovering in the air about 30 feet above the ground, with a dazzling display of multi-colored lights . . .

Just kidding. Actually, what had prompted them to stop was a large clear-cut, probably the only one for miles. I guess they were trying to figure out if they were going to get out and watch for deer as the sun came up.

I drove past them and decided to pull over and watch the same clear-cut. I had no other options. It was getting light and I really wanted to be in a good spot to watch for deer.

The car behind me drove past me and then pulled over also. I was thinking to myself, this is turning out to be a bad situation. Too many hunters and not enough room.

I backed my car back onto the road and continued on, hoping to find another clear-cut of my own. As I traveled down the road I saw another side road that I figured headed into the bottom of the same clear-cut. So, I decided to take it.

Sure enough, it came out into the middle of the big clear-cut. I decided to pull off the road just inside the edge of the clear-cut and park. Then I would walk down the logging road and look for a buck in the bottom on the clear-cut. The conditions seemed to be perfect.

I got out of the car, loaded my gun and started walking down the logging road. When I got to the edge of the clear-cut I reached down for my binoculars to take a look around and . . . they weren't hanging around my neck as I had expected.

I had left them on the hood of my car. I had to go back and get them.

In a few minutes I was back into the clear-cut glassing around. As I walked on, I looked uphill to the left and then down hill to the right. It looked like a very deery situation, meaning I felt certain I was going to see some deer.

Down to my right there was a narrow strip of trees that had been spared by the loggers, creating a fence-like barrier to my view further downhill. As soon as I walked far enough to see past those trees, I put my optics up to my eyes and scanned the ridge down below me.

My heart started pumping when I spotted a mature deer standing broadside and motionless just below the ridgeline at about 175 yards. I could not tell for sure if it was a buck or not, but based on the white patch on his neck, I was thinking it was a buck.

I lowered my binos and looked for a stump on the side of the road in front of me. Conveniently, there was a very small stump right there.

I crept up to the stump and knelt down behind it. Then I used the stump to rest my elbows as I propped up the binoculars in front of my eyes. I spotted the deer in just a moment or two. My heart was really beating hard. In fact, it was beating so hard, that I couldn't tell for sure if the deer had horns or not.

I thought to myself, just take your time and when you can gain your composure you will be able to see if it has horns.

Luckily the deer did not seem to be alarmed, even though he was staring directly towards me.

As I calmed down a little, I starting to think I could see a nice pair of chocolate brown horns between his ears, but I still was not entirely sure.

I told myself that if I would just be patient and watch him very carefully I would see his horns if he turned his head.

Sure enough, about 30 seconds later, the buck quickly turned his head to look at something that had apparently caught his attention. I saw the movement of his antlers and knew for sure it was a nice buck. It was "go time"!

I quickly positioned my rifle on the stump and took off the safety, trying to keep my heart-rate down.

At this point I started paying more attention to the bucks body. Although he was standing broadside to me, part of his body was partially covered with some tall weeds.

I placed the reticle of my Ruger M77 Mk II at the top of the kill zone, just above the weeds. I took my time preparing to pull the trigger.

Finally, I sent a 100 grain Remington Core-Lokt flying towards him, then watched in my scope as I waited for the bullet to hit and drop my first buck in three years.

It seemed to take forever. I think I could have read the entire King James version of the Holy Bible, cover to cover before that bullet got to that deer. Or at least that's how slow time seemed to be moving. In fact, I started to get impatient. It must have been a longer shot than I had thought.

Then it dawned on me, I had totally missed the buck. Thankfully, he hadn't moved a muscle. He still didn't seem too concerned about what was happening.

I couldn't believe my luck. Where had my bullet gone? Did I flinch? Then I remembered I hadn't even checked to see if my rifle was still zeroed in from last season.

Doubt began to fill my mind as I cycled the bolt. Would this be a repeat of last season when I had blown my chance at a Halloween Ghost Buck?

I put the reticle on the buck again and pulled the trigger. This time it didn't take me nearly as long as it had the first time to realize that I had totally missed the shot. Yet there he stood. In the exact same position as he had before.

What if this was one of those stuffed robotic deer that OSP uses to trap poachers, I thought. Are they watching me now and getting ready to close in on me? But wait, I wasn't doing anything illegal. This was national forest. I knew everything was on the up and up, except that I couldn't seem to get a bullet into this deer.

Another cartridge was fed into the chamber of my .243 and what do you think happened when I did my best to steady my aim and put the round through that bucks vitals? A repeat of shot one and shot two!

Yet the deer still stood there motionless. I must be missing that thing by a mile, I thought. Surely a bullet hitting around him would have jumped him by now . . .

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, at this point I was beginning to feel quite insane.

Then, a simple thought popped into my head. It was a thought that would give me a little glimmer of hope. I only had two more bullets in my gun, and I figured it was pretty unlikely that the buck would actually stand there waiting as I reloaded my magazine with another four rounds. But, at this rate anything could happen.

"Squeeze the trigger." This time I would squeeze the trigger. It wasn't enough to hold the reticle as motionless as possible before pulling the trigger if you were going to yank on it and shoot three feet over the bucks back, right?

I moved the cross-hairs over to the left of where I had been aiming, just in case those weeds were part of the problem. Now the reticle rested on the base of his neck.

I held it as still as I could and gently squeezed the trigger until it broke and the rifle bucked back against my shoulder, the barrel popping up.

I quickly looked through the scope trying to see the deer. I thought I could see it falling to the ground-  or was it running over the top of the ridge? I couldn't tell.

I felt pretty confident that I had him down, but based on my previous three shots, I was not entirely sure.

I decided to walk straight down the hill at him, right thought the clear-cut, even though there was a road that made a V to my left and back in the buck's direction below me.

With my thumb I pulled back on the Ruger's two position safety, which still allowed me to work the bolt, but ensuring that I couldn't accidentally pull the trigger.

I put a couple more bullets into the magazine as I walked down the hill, just in case. I fought the desire to run, not wanting to trip and fall. Also, I had to be prepared to take another shot if he popped up on the other side of the ridge.

When I got to the area where he had been standing, I was sure to look over the ridge and see if I could spot him first. Had to make that a first priority before I started looking for a downed deer.

No sign of any deer. I was hoping that I would find him right in front of the stump where he had been standing, but he wasn't there. Then I realized that it might have been another similar stump a few feet away.

When I looked through the ground cover near that stump, suddenly, I saw my buck.

It had been three long years. I had hunted hard every year since I had taken a mule deer buck in the Silver Lake unit in 2009. I had hardly seen a single deer except for the Halloween Ghost Buck in 2011.

It made me all the more grateful for this moment. I had taken one of North America's most elusive big game animals once again, a nice three point blacktail buck with eye guards. A beautiful animal. And there would be meat in the freezer for the coming months.

Brigham Brewer

Happy Hunting!

How Hunting Can Affect Your Hearing Loss

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss. My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss. I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can. Check out my new blog at!

How Hunting Can Affect Your Hearing Loss

Every year, I looked forward to hunting season. It was a chance for my dad and I to get to spend time together and have fun in the process. I come from a fairly large family, so it was difficult to find time to spend with my dad.

We had the right guns, plenty of ammunition and a few high-tech gadgets. However, we didn't have anything to protect our hearing. It is so simple to forget hearing protection, but hunters frequently make that mistake.

Now, I'm an adult and my dad is in his twilight years. He now wears hearing aids because of the many years of hunting. His doctor said his hearing loss isn't entirely contributed to hunting, but if he would have worn ear protection, he may still have a good sense of hearing today.

The Hidden Dangers of Firearms

Not many people know how loud guns are when they are fired. An average person speaks around 50 decibels (DB). A decibel is a unit that measures the loudness of sound. A shotgun produces a decibel level of 166. Moreover, guns are shot very close to your ear. The pressure from the gun alone could cause some damage.

Additionally, many people like to practice their aim at indoor shooting ranges. I would not recommend doing this without proper hearing protection. The indoor environment amplifies the sound of gunshots and bounces the sound off the walls multiple times before dissipating.


Earplugs are the standard choice for hearing protection. They are inexpensive and provide a decent amount of protection against loud gunshots. Many people also use them for events like concerts and NASCAR races. They are typically made out of foam to provide comfort in your ears. There are other items that provide more protection, such as earmuffs.


Earmuffs fit all the way over your ears. The lining that rests on your ears is usually made out of a foam material, but high-quality earmuffs may use a liquid lining for better comfort and protection. Some hunters don't like earmuffs because they cancel too much sound. A great alternative to earmuffs is electronic earmuffs.

Electronic Earmuffs

Serious hunters invest in a pair of electronic earmuffs. They are very comfortable, provide excellent protection, and amplify low sounds while cancelling out loud sounds. Typically, any sound over 90 DB is cancelled out. This allows the wearer to still hear people around him.

It is time we start recognizing the need to protect our hearing. Once it is gone, it is very hard to get back. If your hobbies expose you to loud sounds, you should take the proper actions in protecting your hearing.


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