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Mad dogs and fly fishermen?

STEVE KYLE returned this weekend from the semi-frozen and damp islands of Haida Gwaii, where he caught some steelhead and froze his tail off. Note that there is snow in the background. Submitted photo

STEVE KYLE returned this weekend from the semi-frozen and damp islands of Haida Gwaii, where he caught some steelhead and froze his tail off. Note that there is snow in the background. Submitted photo

By Bill Lynch

The sun is shining outside, and I’m writing this column from the warm and secure comfort of my home office. If I had followed my friend and fellow fly fisher Steve Kyle this week, it would be a freezing rain outside and my entire body would be colder than a well-digger’s behind.

I dearly love fly fishing and I am willing to go almost anywhere to find a good trout or steelhead stream, but even as crazy as I am about fishing, I don’t follow my buddy Kyle sometimes.

So he sent me this report Monday from Haida Gwaii, an island on the west coast of British Columbia populated mostly by the Haida people. It is more popularly known as one of the Queen Charlotte Islands. It is still winter there but that hasn’t stopped Kyle from fishing. Here is his report:

Day 1

“Hi from Haida Gwaii, Land of Enchantment:

“This place is beautiful, really beautiful and also really cold, but despite having snow on the ground, wading in water with a temp of 36.5 degrees, air temp just a bit higher and leaky waders, it was a good day. I landed one steelhead of about six pounds and had a couple of good grabs. My fishing partner landed two with the largest being about 15 pounds.

“The Copper River is the smallest steelhead river I have ever fished, smaller than the Truckee River in most parts. My guess is that it’s about 40 feet across at its maximum width, which makes long casts unnecessary, but you really need to have a large repertoire of casts or be able to make one up on the spot if you are to be successful as the trees, snags, overhead branches and sunken logs are everywhere, eager to eat even your best of casts. For the most part, the runs between the logjams and fallen trees are numerous but short in length and can be fished is just a few minutes to a half hour, max. We move from place to place along an old logging road that follows the river which makes access to the water easy.”

Day 2

“Ran out of gas tonight. Busted my ass sliding down icy goat trails to the water and climbing back out when done. Took a ferry over to another island and had a great time but nobody home in the water (no fish) – but it’s a great place and there is adventure aplenty.”

Day 3

“It’s been raining most of the last day and night but it’s warmed up a bit because of the rain which is nice but, the water is still only about 6 degrees above freezing, which keeps your toes and testicles whining for warmer climes.

“Had a dandy day today. Hooked six, kept four on … for a while, and landed one … a beautiful male of about 14 pounds. My guide, Steve, is a very nice young guy who has a degree in fish biology and is working on a master’s.

“These forest trails are difficult but outstandingly beautiful. So full of ferns, moss, spruce, hemlock and cedar that you expect Frodo and a bunch of Hobbits to jump out from behind a tree at any moment. As beautiful as they are, they require a nimble step in getting to the river as some of the trails are very steep and still snow or ice covered which means some butt sliding to get down them.”

•••

IN THE REPORT on my sojourn at the Fly Fishing Show in Pleasanton two weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the exhibitors who captured my imagination was Tenkara USA. I sent a copy of my column to Tenkara, and received a nice reply, which adds to my information about the remarkable and rapid growth in tenkara-style fishing in the USA.

Tenkara USA (tenkarausa.com) was founded in 2009 by Daniel Galhardo, of San Francisco, who became enamored with tenkara fly fishing while visiting Japan in 2008. He brought his discovery and enthusiasm back to his hometown and Tenkara USA was born. Daniel has studied with several of the Japanese masters of this art, made numerous videos and converted many diehard fly fishers to the tenkara method, including some well-known fishing writers and outdoor equipment celebrities like Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. Daniel sent me a link to a very nice video clip on the sport. You can find it at tenkarausa.com/aboutusa.php. There are a lot of other really cool videos on Daniel’s site that explain all about tenkara fishing. Check them out.

The 31st annual Al’s Ark Striper Derby takes place tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, March 15 and 16, with local registration at Steiner’s Tavern on First Street West, along with registering at Sweeney’s Sport Store, 1537 Imola Ave., Napa, and Napa Sea Ranch, 3333 Cuttings Wharf Road, Napa.

In addition to cash prizes for the largest striper and sturgeon, there are also special divisions for women and kids. Entry fees are $30 for adults and $15 for kids under 15. All fish will be weighed at Cuttings Wharf Boat Ramp both days between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Call Ron Church at 938-0133 for more information.

High winds have kept angling to a minimum this week in the Bay and on the coast. It should calm down by this weekend and there should be good sturgeon fishing on the Bay and fair to good sand dab and dungeness crab action off the coast. Halibut will also start showing up in the Bay this week.

Clear Lake and Lake Berryessa bass fishing is picking up as the water warms. When the wind stops, action will improve.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding every angler who purchased mort coast steelhead and salmon tag to return them to the CDFW in a timely manner. A tag return form can be found online at dfg.ca.gov/fish/Fishing/Monitoring/FTag.