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Mom Gets a Good One

My Mother came out for a well needed break to spend some time out west and we were able to get on the water for a couple of days together.  It has been a tough summer for the Dawes family, but my mother has been a rock through all of it.  She found this beauty towards the end of the day on a new hopper pattern.  The South Fork of the Snake continues to impress day in and day out. Three years of high water have made a real impact, PMD’s in Septemeber?  Hopefully the temps stay warm enough not to freeze the hoppers as they are on their way.

Mom wanted to see a Moose and we happened to run into this fellow on our motor out.

We miss you Dad


Early Morning Dreaming

Woke up this morning way to early, dreaming of Golden Dorado.  I talked to Tim Rajeff yesterday about some business and the conversation quickly turned to  the more important topic  of the Golden Dorado.  Tim had been to the area in which I am heading this October and we started talking flies, make sure they push water, and make sure they are big is what he said.This should push some water………….Off to work


Tarpon Lessons

Last month I had to the oppurtunity to head back down to the keys to fish with my good friends Tom Levandoski and Capt. Chris Mcreedy.  This was a Tarpon trip and all Permit desires were set aside for the week.  As weather seems to be a trend in 2010, the trend continued.  For the first 3-4 days the weather did not copperate, mostly in the light category, tough to sight fish without light.  The second half of the trip the light copperated but my angling skills did not.  The last day however the tides turned in our favor and we were able to put plenty of fishin the air.

As fishing goes, I learned plenty of invaluable lessons that will not be forgotten anytime soon.  I had not been fishing strictly for Tarpon in the Keys for the past 5 years as I have been spending most of my Tarpon fishing days in Mexico and mostly fishing for Permit in the Keys.  The angle in which the Tarpon sees the fly, or the angle in which you cast can be the difference in getting them to eat or not.  While this is inevitably something one would always think about, I had not put enough thought into it until the Capt. and Tom had a little talk with me about it.  What I came away with is that you can make a Tarpon eat a fly, but the angle in which you do so is more important than I ever thought.  The Keys are surely the Superbowl of Saltwater Fly Fishing, and offer some of the best fishing in the world and some of the sports biggest lessons.  What a difference it turned out to make and the lesson will surely stick with me.

It was also the first time I have ever fished out of Sugarloaf Marina, and what a surprise that was.  If you have never been, make sure to grab a cold one at the end of the day and sit at the bench and listen there is a lot to learn there on many fronts, not to mention non stop comedy, and introduce yourself to Johnny Jackson.

On the second to last day Andy Mill had dropped off a copy of his new book Tarpon with Capt. Bob Paulson and I had a chance to look through the entire book.  This book is the finest piece of work done on Tarpon I have ever seen, and when it comes out it will be coffee table sooner than later.

BP ——-What a Joke


Stop Teton Dam

While the rest of the country is spending time and money looking for ways to remove dams and allow native fish to swim freely, Idaho is considering rebuilding a dam that has already failed.  What a joke……

The Teton Dam, a federally built earthen dam on the Teton River in southeastern Idaho, collapsed during its first filling on June 5, 1976. The largest dam disaster in US History, it resulted in the deaths of 11 people and 13,000 head of cattle. Total damage estimates have ranged up to $2 billion. However, now rebuilding of the Teton Dam is being revisited. Over $400,000 has been dedicated by the state of Idaho to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of rebuilding the dam.

To rebuild the new dam it would roughly cost a billion dollars, and would wipe out one of the most amazing places, fisheries etc. in the lower 48 again what a joke…….

Putting a boat in upper Teton Canyon

Watch the movie that TU did recently on the Teton Canyon to learn more

But maybe I should be looking at the bright side, if they do rebuild the dam  maybe we can get a pile of good meth, some jet skis, and maybe even some high speed intoxicated boat crashes on the new reservoir.

Here is a recent article from the Rexburg Standard Journal…..

Water study to look at more than rebuilding Teton Dam

April 28, 2010
Rexburg Standard Journal (ID)

Several stakeholders are supporting the broadened focus of a federal water supply study that will look at more than the Teton River and rebuilding the failed Teton Dam.

“We’re supportive of that,” Fremont Madison Irrigation Director Dale Swensen says of the broadened scope of the study.

Friends of the Teton River Executive Director Lyn Benjamin also praised the new scope of the study and the work of Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and Idaho Rivers United in encouraging the broader look at water supply issues in the Henry’s Fork basin.

“I recognize that farmers I work with need water, and they recognize that fish need water,” Benjamin says in an e-mail concerning the topic. “Hopefully we’re going to do some decent science and some economic science to support the decisions that get made.”

“We applaud the BOR for launching a more thorough study of our water options,” says Kim Goodman Trotter of Trout Unlimited. “We look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to find the best solutions for Idaho.”

Initially, the Idaho Legislature appropriated $400,000, to be matched with an equal amount by the BOR to do the study that would look at feasibilities of rebuilding the dam that spectacularly failed in 1976.

Bureau of Reclamation Pacific Northwest Regional Activities Manager Robert Schattin explained last week at a Henry’s Fork Watershed Council meeting how the study was expanded to include the whole Henry’s Fork basin, including the Teton River.

The Henry’s Fork study will focus on conservation and changes in water management, as well as water storage alternatives.

Schattin, in a phone interview this week, says his agency was influenced by letters and conversations with Trout Unlimited and other groups interested in broadening the study, largely because the BOR itself was headed in that direction.

“I know they met with the regional director and submitted a letter to broaden the goals,” Schattin says. “That was the way the bureau was headed anyway.

“It will provide a good opportunity for more success,” he says of the widened study.

Swensen concurs. “We thought focusing solely on (studying the) rebuilding the Teton Dam – which we support – might eliminate other important water-supply alternatives,” he says. “The bureau is on the right track.”

“Aquifer recharge, conservation and optimization need to be in the mix for meeting our water supply needs,” Trotter says. “These could go a long way to meeting our water needs and at far less cost than a big dam.”

The other options could have the added benefit of preserving wild rivers, recreation opportunities and outdoors heritage, she says. “Teton Canyon is an amazing wild place that we need to save for future generations.”

Other funding, study

To accomplish the broader reach of the study, the state has pursued regional BOR funds through the Secure Water Act-Water SMART program with an application deadline of June 4, Schattin says.

With funding secured, the two-year water supply study will proceed with two working groups focused on two aspects.

The water supply/storage group will look at watershed hydrology and potential on-stream and off-stream storage sites using previous studies and expanding upon them. Both above-ground and aquifer storage will be considered.

The water conservation/optimization group will look at opportunities with the Fremont Madison Irrigation District for conservation and water management.

The objectives will be to help in future planning efforts and to provide specialized information that help in future decision-making at the state and local levels, the framework document for the study says. The framework also says the study results will identify opportunities for the development of the water supply, improvement of water management and sustaining environmental quality.

Trotter’s organization, Trout Unlimited, will continue to be involved as it has since it first opposed the original construction of the Teton Dam.

“Rebuilding Teton Dam is still an option that is being considered as part of the Henry’s Fork special water study, so we will be following this closely to ensure that other more reasonable options will be vetted as part of the study,” Trotter says.

“Teton Dam would be a huge, expensive boondoggle. A broader scope will ensure that eastern Idahoans get the best study of water supply options available.

“In this time of budget constraints, Idaho shouldn’t be spending a lot of money to study old ideas like the Teton Dam that several previous studies have found doesn’t make sense economically,” she says.

The BOR also has assigned a hydrologist to be a liaison with Rob Van Kirk of Humboldt University, according to Schattin.

Van Kirk and his university team are in the second year of a three-year Department of Agriculture-funded study looking at the relationships between surface and groundwater in the context of land use and development in the Henry’s Fork Basin.

The BOR has established a Web site that details the study. Schattin says information will be added to the site as it becomes available. The site is


Carter Andrews Panama Update

I got a great report from a recent trip at Isla Secas in Panama from David Decker, who was fishing with Jeffrey Cardenas and Carter Andrews, sounds like one of those days!!!!  Read below………………………………………………………….

With the sun climbing out of the Pacific, Jeffrey and I stepped aboard the gleaming See Vee.  For avid anglers like us, the morning greetings from Carter, Kid and young Billy could not have been more welcome and their hopes for a productive day mimicked our own. We were anxious to begin our search for signs of yellowfin tuna feeding near the surface.

Cruising over the soft swell and heading to Hannibal Bank, all eyes were trained on the horizon for birds and any debris that might signal tuna on the feed. Carter flipped on the radar to help us find flocks of gannets and man-o-war birds beyond our vision, then sure enough, there it was, a solid red blob about 2 1/2 miles away identifying concentrated bird action.

Kid pushed the throttle down and in no time the birds, wheeling and diving, were on the bait. The smooth surface of the water under the birds was erupting like bombs going off.  Tuna were slashing violently at the bait balled up above them and below the birds.  As the center counsel glided into casting range, Jeffrey  and I were stripping out line from reels as fast as we could. I was in the stern and Jeffrey in the bow, making ready for our shot at this wad of tuna making sushi of the hapless anchovies. The boat settled and we both made casts as far as we could into the feeding frenzy, strip, strip, strip, no hook up.

As sure as we were that the tuna had made an exit to the depths, Carter quickly noticed that the bait had taken up residence under the boat and the tuna were still below them flashing through the deep blue water.  We had no way to get a fly to the fish.

Kid was on the helm up top and took the direction from Carter to back away slowly from the bait ball to let the tuna push them back to the surface and our flies.  Sure enough, after only seconds the big yellowfins were back on the surface churning the water white, murdering anchovies that now had nowhere to hide.

Frantically casting into the mob accomplished nothing.   After only one cast, the bait had hustled back to the shadow of our hull with the tuna down deep still feeding full bore.  Again, Carter gave the gentle command to Capt. Kid to back out slowly, and again the mayhem commenced again on the surface.  Kid bumped us forward into range so Jeffrey and I launched shots into the chaos of silver rockets with no hook up.

The bait maintained their refuge under the boat and once more Carter implored the helmsman to back away, leaving the bait ball at the mercy of the tuna, putting us anglers in range.

There are occasions in fishing when you are part of something that is beyond description,  time stands still and the world is so vivid that you can feel the stars lining up.  And they did.  Jeffrey’s rod bucked wildly and his reel was singing that tune that we seek with abandon, he was solidly attached to a yellowfin.  My cast was a bit behind his, but after coming tight on the second strip the line in my hand was as taut as it possibly can be before hitting the reel.  Sweet music and shouts all around, we had a double!

The beginning of a battle with these turbo charged fish is elation and excitement on par with nothing else I have experienced. Both tuna had made long, high speed runs into the backing and the depths below.  The energy coming back up the line was electric.  Neither fish were giving up easily and had their way for nearly an hour.  At 90 degrees in the shade, the tussle was taking its toll on our every fiber, gaining and loosing line but always putting maximum heat on… then slowly the fly lines were in sight.  Jeffrey was really putting the hickory to his yellow fin yellowfin as Kid and Billy hovered nearby with the gaffs, ready to finish the job.  Words of encouragement and coordination drifted back to me as Jeffery’s tuna came closer, one reel turn at a time, in the long spiral inching towards the sharp hook of the gaff.  I was still struggling with my fish as he retook the fly line back out of sight.  My arms were numb, my hands refused to operate properly, my back was feeling the strain.

Into my dreamy world came the sounds of victory from the bow as Jeffrey’s big tuna landed on the deck, banging it’s tail wildly.  All hands were whooping it up on the conclusion of the first half of the double.  Not for me yet as I was still in the saddle and showing signs of wear and tear.  With coaching from Carter and Billy, I was pushed to put the heat on this stubborn combatant that I had yet to even see.  Sweat stinging my eyes, dry throat, aching muscles all made me doubt that I would ever best this beast from the deep.

Pumping, reeling, pumping, reeling, a little at time, I was gaining and the fly line was in sight through the clear water below re-energizing my effort.  After what seemed a long time Kid from the tower hollered, “color, we got color”.   There he was, still 70 feet down, slowly gliding in a long arch.  He was near the end of his resistance and now only a couple dozen turns of the reel from the big hooks held in the hands of the crew.  Carter and Billy stood, leaning on the shafts of the gaffs, peering into the blue, patiently waiting for their opening to close the deal, ever prodding me to stay with it.  I looked at my hands that I could not feel and willed them to turn the handle of the reel a few more time.  The glimmering tuna came out from under the stern and leveled off near the surface, I could plainly see his big eye looking back at me, the gaffs sunk deep and the tuna was hoisted over the gunwale onto the deck, still fighting back.

Jeffrey  was there congratulating me as I was him.  I only wanted to start breathing again and regain my composure.  We were joyous in our fine fortune and what we had shared together.  Cleaned up and washed off we were back to looking for birds.

Islas Secas, Panama, April, 2010

David Decker



The best day ever…………hhmmmmm?

The other day I overheard another best day ever conversation.  I am always intrigued by this topic as it often holds very similar qualities amongst a broad spectrum of fishing.  Surprised seems to be the most intriguing common thread when listening to others talking about The Day.  I know in my own personal experience my best days of fishing in salt or freshwater have more often than not been a surprise and definitely unexpected.

After listening to the conversation I starting thinking about the topic of the best fishing day I have ever experienced and the answer came very quickly.  It was an experience than I am almost positive will never some around again and it was a surprise to all that were there and completely unexpected.

It was the December 13, 2004 and I was on Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, I had been fishing there for 10 days and Alphonse had already lived up to it’s expectations.  I was fishing with Dan Oas and Paul Boyers on their day off, as both were guiding at Alphonse at the time.  It was hot, I mean real hot and there was not a breath of wind in the atoll.  Waiting at the mother ship for the other clients and guides to head out for the day, we were undecided as what we were going to do for the day as we were going to wait and see where others were going to head as to not interfere with their plans.  After everyone headed out we agreed to head out to look for some permit.  The atoll resembled a sheet of glass and on our way out from the mother ship we stumbled upon some milkfish.

Quickly Dan had one hooked up and we chased it down and landed it, not before a battle with a very large lemon shark that looked like it could have engulfed the skiff and a broken rod while the milkfish was landed with the shark looming below the net.

On our way out again to look for some permit we encountered weird surface activity that immediately reminded me of Tarpon daisy chaining in the Florida Keys.  Upon further inspection, to our SURPRISE, they were milkfish daisy chaining and there was not just one daisy chain, they were as far as the eye could see.  Milkfish were everywhere.

We took advantage of our pleasant surprise and had several doubles, more broken rods, two anglers fishing on the front of the skiff, swimming between coral heads when hooked up as to not screw up the other angler as the hooks ups were coming often.  There wasn’t a lot of talk that day, it was as if all three of us quietly understood we were witnessing something few had ever seen, and even a couple of hours into the phenomenon we knew we would most likely never see something of this magnitude again.

I could go on about this day for days, but all said and done all of the other boats were outside the atoll and we were the only ones witnessing this event.  When it was time to head back to the mother ship, there was a moment of silence as we stared at each other and smiled, we did not talk about this day with others when we returned to the mother ship, and simply put we were still in shock.  I do not know how many milkfish we landed or jumped that day, but days later upon refection the three of us estimated we had put at least 35 milkfish in the air that day.  While drinking a beer at the bar after this day, one of the other guides pulled two of us aside and said, “What the hell happened out there today to you guys, and you better tell me because I know something happened”  We must have had a silent fishy glow about us that was giving off a scent of The Day we had witnessed……………..That was the best day of fishing I have ever had

The next day was my last day and I managed a little icing on the cake


Back from the March Merkin…….Still Cold

The weather during the March Merkin this year was brutal to say the least.  On Sunday we had water temps at 74 degrees and by Wednesday they were getting down to 64 degress.  Despite the poor fishing a good time was had by all and there were plenty of the normal questions marks that permit seem to leave in your head, they were just amplified by the bad weather.

Congrats to Capt. Scott Collins and Angler Greg Smith for catching the larger of the total two fish caught, and congrats to Capt. Bob Paulson and Angler Mark Hoskin for catching the other.

Pre fishing on Sunday Capt. Don Gable,  I hooked three, fly pulled on one, I f-ed up the other (about 25lb) and broke em off and we got the last one pictured below.  6 or 7 other fish were caught on Monday and then the weather turned.

Thanks to Jon & Shirley Ain for putting on a great event……..Next Year


Off to the March Merkin………………..

I must say the March Merkin is one of those events that I truly enjoy attending each year.   It might have something to do with that fact that 25 anglers and 25 guides all gather to fish for permit, and everyone is as equally sick in the head about permit fishing.  I also think it is a great opportunity to learn more about the entire sport of  catching permit on fly, which seems to be constantly evolving and lacks the resources to learn without spending time on the water.  The guides and the anglers at the merkin are an incredible resource to learn from, and while competitive, the event holds a very laid back manner.

50% of the proceeds go to the Don Hawley foundation, for the benefit of Florida Keys Guides who have experienced financial hardship, and the other 50% of the proceeds goes to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (permit should be in that name somewhere, right?)

I am fishing with Capt. Don Gable again and we always  have a good on the water together, so hopefully the water warms up a little and those little black tail bastards get happy quick!

“nothing can ruin a good day of permit fishing, like permit” -Capt. Chris Mcreedy


Panama “Fantasy Islands”

Just got back from visting Carter Andrews new fishing operation in Panama, out on Isla Secas.  Did someone say “Fantasy Islands” because that is where this fishing operation is.  I have been to a

my pad, Isla Secas

lot of fishing lodges and I must say I have never seen anything as unique as this.  Seven plush yurts admist 16 private islands of mountainous volcanic jungle, private air strip, unreal food, diving, surfing, in the middle of the Pacific, oh and then there is the fishing………………………………………..yea can you say Fantasy!

Jed Mixter & Rooster

Dorado taking the fly

Big Fish

Ned Hutchinson from Cloudveil with another nice Rooster

welcome to fantasy islands


INDIA – Wow……….

Where to start with this trip is a mystery as it could take weeks to tell all the stories from this month long exploratory trip from to India in 2006.  Might as well start with one of the highlights and then I will digress in other segments about getting skunked by the mighty Mahseer, HE-MAN 9000 beer, Calcutta, Catfish the size of small vehicles, fishing the gates of hell etc.  This tale was written by Clark Smyth, owner of Rock Creek Anglers, long time friend & traveling partner………

“After many unsuccessful days aboard the large canoe, and after explaining why the canoe was not working and what type of craft and location Mike and Clark were looking for, Benny convinced a local fisherman to borrow his small canoe (roughly 6 feet in length).  They also obtained a ten-foot mangrove branch that could be utilized to poll the small canoe.  On their last day on Havelock, Benny operated the larger motorized canoe, “the mother ship” which would tow the smaller boat to shallow mud flats only a couple of hours away.  During the run to the flats, Mike convinced Benny to hand-line troll with tarpon flies and Clark trolled with his fly rod.  Both techniques proved deadly and a large number of Giant Trevally were boated and subsequently either released or taken for table fare. Once arriving at the flats, Mike agreed to poll Clark in the small canoe.  Standing up was tricky due to the small size of the boat, but after a little practice Mike and Clark agreed they had a viable flats fishing vessel.  They had rigged a ten-weight rod with a crab fly.  In their first, and subsequently last, afternoon of viable fly-fishing with familiar techniques, Mike polled Clark to multiple shots at Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally and Triggerfish.

All fish that fervently ate whatever fly was put in front of them.  Amazed by the fishery and unsure of other species of fish in the area, the two anglers started seeing a few Giant Parrotfish, which grow up to 100 pounds.  Mike had told Clark about guides in the Seychelles targeting these fish however only a few were landed because they were strong, fast, spooky fish that usually wind up cutting the leader on coral outcroppings.  So, at the end of the day, the two sun-scorched anglers, tired from their balancing act on the small canoe, and satisfied with their days efforts, started polling back to the “mother ship.”   Having almost reached their destination, and in synchronized amazement, Mike and Clark saw a school of fish tailing fast across the flat.  The tails belonged to a number of 50-pound Giant Humpheaded Parrot Fish.  They were moving in a shoal of about thirty individuals, reminding both anglers of a large school of tailing Permit.
As Mike picked up the pace with the pole, he started shouting, “cast, cast!”  At about eighty-feet the fish were in range, some of them had their backs out of the water.  Clark placed the size 4/0 merkin tied to 40-pound fluorocarbon just in front of the shoal of tailing giants.  As Clark waited for the fly to reach the bottom, Mike again shouted “strip, strip!”  Immediately, the fly line raced out of Clark’s hand and simultaneously the small canoe jolted toward the school of fish nearly knocking both anglers out of the boat.  One of the giant fish had taken the fly.  Slowed by the resistance of the 10-weight, the colorful fish fought to keep up with the rest of the school.  Clark set the hook with all he could muster as he dropped to his knees for more stability.  The fish was pulling the small canoe fast enough that the small craft was taking on water.  Mike dropped the poll and began frantically bailing water as Clark gave the Parrot all the 10-weight could muster.  Both Mike and Clark were asking each other what they should do as the fish raced toward coral outcroppings and rock piles.  Soon the commotion turned to a nervous laughter and the two realized that Benny, in the nearby “mother ship” might be able to assist in landing the fish.  The giant who was only slightly smaller than the sinking boat to which it was tied was pulling the small canoe out to sea. Both Clark and Mike started bellowing for Benny to help.  However, Benny was fast asleep in the bottom of his dugout.  Realizing they were on their own, Mike again risked falling overboard and attempted to slow the canoe with the poll before the hooked fish dragged them to deeper water.  The fish was strong, powerful and very fast.  It appeared to be winning the battle as it made an effort to stay with the school, still tailing in the shallow water. Time and time again the fish tried to find shelter in the coral, but Clark, with the aid of Mike and the poll succeeded in keeping it in open water.  Clark lifted the rod as high as possible to avoid the leader from being cut. Finally, the fish succumbed to the angler and calmly floated next to the small canoe.  Blue-green in color and breathing heavily the Giant Parrot Fish had been landed.  Reaching down in an attempt to tail the tired fish, Clark inadvertently put a funny angle on the leader and the fly easily popped free of the hardened “beak” that Parrotfish use to break coral.  The fish slowly swam toward the bottom as Mike and Clark, both trembling, looked at each other and started to laugh.”

We never got a picture of this fish, we did however drink beer at this beach……