Feb 11

The Joy of Paddling

paddling  Very little gives me as much joy as paddling. Just the ability to connect with nature is priceless. The difference between a paddle and an engine is that kayaks or canoes will not put out pollution. A canoe can glide over the top of shallow waters when a propeller would be torn apart by a lack of clearance. While in a kayak you can stream down the rapids with ease while it may take a team of people to navigate just a small aluminum fishing boat down the same river.

When you are paddling a canoe or kayak down a river there is a sense of closeness with Mother Nature. If you take your canoe or kayak down the same stream often enough you can notice the changing environment with the seasons. You may be watching an otter or beaver swimming nearby and the creature would never know. This could be why so many hunters own canoes and why so many fishers own kayaks. Paddling is a great way for the hunter to sneak across the water without scaring the ducks off.

Trying to creep into your favorite fishing spot doesn’t work well when you are roaring down stream dripping oil. An engine puts out many harmful fumes and gases when it is in use where a paddle never hurts anything. When you refuse to leave a carbon foot print with your motor boat opportunities come to you. Waldo Lake in Oregon is the only lake that banned all engines. As a result of only canoes and kayaks being used the water has remained the most pristine lake. Remember that you are paying for the gas the boat uses and the oil it leaks too.

You skim the water with stealth and ease. Over shallow gravel bars and around sharp, narrow bends that no boat could follow. While the fishing boat is stuck in the bay you get to creep up stream in your canoe to see if the grass really is greener on the other side. Blazing down the roaring Rogue River Rapids flips metal boats and smashes them on the rocks while you swiftly sway in and out of breaks with relative ease. Have you ever tried to load a boat onto a trailer by yourself? One person can easily prepare and store their canoe or kayak alone without straining.

One person can easily maneuver a canoe or kayak with just one oar. I have been in fishing boats when the motor died and we had to paddle to the dock. In the boat there can be 4 people trying to paddle and nobody can sync their strokes so the boat just spins circles. Nothing is worse than seeing the perfect pond but cant access it because your boat is larger than the gap under the tree.  After just minutes of practice even a youngster of only 12 years old can take on a paddle solo mission.

Having fun can be as easy as paddling! If you just feel like viewing the shore from a distance or taking pictures of secret creeks unknown to your buddies just jump in a canoe. Kayaking the rapids or rolling on the sea is great ways to play. Any age on any water is always a good time. When you can sneak up on the world from your canoe or kayak there is an opportunity to take the path less traveled. Paddling lets you see areas of the world that are otherwise not accessible by car or even foot. With a large community of likeminded adventures leaves endless opportunities for outdoor exploration.

May 28

Ocean Fishing

Ocean FishingOcean fishing can be done right from the shore or a boat can be taken into open waters. Swimming with a spear holding your breath or with a respirator is equally fun. Stand in the sand or wade out in special waterproof pants for a day of fly fishing in the sun. Shark fishing for the monsters from the movies can give you the fight of your life without the worry of being eaten. Over 70 percent of the earth is water and so much of this water contains fish. Always a time and place for a fun day of fishing in this world.

Fly fishing in the ocean is great fun. Gear up with a pole and reel designed to withstand the salt in the ocean waters. The noise of the fly hitting the surface of the water can send the fish into a feeding frenzy. Fly fishing the ocean is supposed to make the bait look as if it was something the fish eats regularly. Shrimp floating to the bottom are an instant meal for a hungry fish in the area. Stand on the beach or walk into the water with waders on. When you get a big hit it is time to set the hook. Now the fight is on and the fun is at the peak. Fly fishing can bring in the big fish just like any other style of fishing. Halibut can be caught fly fishing and these are some tasty fish.

Spearfishing is done under water while free diving or using scuba gear. Free diving while using a spear to fish gives the advantage of stealth. Using only air the lungs can hold in a single breath, the diver swims after and shoots a spear at a fish to catch it. Scuba gear gives the advantage of being able to stay under water for extended periods of time. Scan the reef and ocean floor for hidden fish or sneaking up on schools of fish are a few ways to have fun spearfishing in the ocean. With a line attached to the spear, it is far easier to claim the fish after being shot.

Shark fishing in the open sea is an incredible rush. Thrills from hooking a fish that weighs twice as much as you is the dream of many ocean fish catchers. First timers can charter a fishing boat for a day trip. Some of these guides promise a catch or they take you out again until you get it. Attach that giant hook and chum up the waters. Carry a good knife to cut that super strong line if you think the shark will take you under. Have some friends hold you back while you fight to land this beast. For sport, food or fun, just one catch will make the day.

With so many ways to have fun fishing in the ocean how could any person resist? Grab a spear and maybe some scuba gear if swimming is your style. Put on some waders and walk out a bit if don’t feel like swimming but still want to be in the water for some fly fishing. You could stand on the bank or even charter a guided trip. Some even provide lunch! Shark fishing in the open deep blue sea can be more exciting than the movies. Wherever you are is a spot near by waiting filled with fish. Pick the style that suits you best and the most fun. Catch that dinner or show your friends who is better in a somewhat friendly competition for biggest catch of the day.

Mar 01

Hiking Oregon’s Beautiful Trails

hikingoregonHiking Oregon is one of the healthiest ways to play outdoors. From the shaded paths of the forest to the wet trails of Silver Falls. The Oregon Desert Trail for a warm walk or a giant crater to explore provides hikers with epic opportunities to connect with nature. Most of us love the peace and tranquility of a long walk while taking in the spectacular views provided by nature. With oceans to hike and records to see nobody gets bored on a hike in Oregon.

 

If you are looking for a hike with historic value then Oregon is the place for you. Ecola State Park is where Lewis and Clark hiked for 20 miles to reach Cannon Beach. The park keeps an eight mile trail for you to actually walk in Capt. Clarks footsteps. This trail will end your hike at the tide pools where you can see ocean life up close. With sand between your toes and the smell of that fresh sea air it is hard to find a better way to relax.

 

Watchman Peak Trail of Crater Lake National Park is said to be one of the world’s most beautiful hikes. With more than 100 miles of trail you will find a path for any size of hike you need. Every hiker that I have gotten to talk with has told me this is a need for my bucket list if it isn’t already on it. Nearly a 1 mile trail that is normally open from June to September peaks at 8,013 feet where you can see all the way to the Rogue River. Conditions may call for snow shoes in June.

 

Silver Falls has trails to hike where you will see many waterfalls. The Southern Fall is the largest at 177 feet high. With 3 trailheads and the elevation variation being around 800 feet this is considered a moderate hike.  Over 9,000 acres and more than 25 miles of trails you can do a day hike or just an hour to see some majestic flowing falls. Silverton Oregon has a few black bear and cougar so it may be best to have a buddy with you at night or if you wander off the beaten path if that’s the style you hike.

 

Multnomah Falls goes into the record books as the tallest waterfall in Oregon. Total height is said to be 620 feet but it breaks into two steps. Hikers can walk on a bridge over the 69 foot lower falls then follow a path to the 542 foot upper falls. When you hike to the upper falls you will get a perfect view of the Columbia Gorge. This hike is great because this waterfall is fed by a spring year round so there is an incredible sight at any time. My friend just made this hike all the way to the top and he told me that the path starts out super easy and as you ascend the trail becomes less man made.

 

Are you the super hiker with no off switch? Oregon Desert Trail has 800 miles for you to hike. From the Oregon Badlands Wilderness near Bend to Lake Owyhee State Park near Idaho you will not soon run out of path. The record for this hike took just under six weeks but don’t worry, it is split up nicely so you can only take on a section at a time if you’re saving on shoes. Be ready for crossing water and trudging through brush on this massive achievement of a hike.

 

Short beautiful walks or long intense hikes that take days or even weeks to finish can all be found right here in Oregon. Hike alone for meditation or with a friend or family for a fun filled day of relaxing with nature. Lace up those boots and get trekking my friends! From waterfalls and ocean to forest and desert, Oregon is the place for a good hike. Can you hear the call of nature?

Feb 27

Fun with Fly Fishing

flyfishingFly fishing can be done in many ways such as on land, in a boat or walking out in waders. Dry fly fishing is somewhat less popular than other methods although it is still very much fun. Wet fly fishing is the most common method. Salt water fly fishing has methods of its own depending on where you want to be. This is an activity the whole family can do for fun day outdoors. Fly fishing competitions have a high level of excitement to them. There is a style for everyone in this sport and favorite pastime. People of all ages have always enjoyed fishing in one way or another.

Dry fly fishing is a great way to learn the art of fly fishing. It is done with flies that float. Trout are a favorite target of the fly fishing community. Casting upstream with stealth and letting the fly float down as if a bug has fallen in the water to provide a meal for a fish. A goal of dry fly fishing is to keep far from the bank because the fish like to hang out near the ledges. Stealth must be used when sneaking up stream to hunt for hiding meals and trophies. Where slow waters meet fast waters provide great target areas for a trout catch.

Wet fly fishing is the most popular method when using flies. This style of fishing comes with the hazard of catching trees or bushes behind you. If you don’t use waders to stand a stream or walk out into the pond the fly could snap off from being snagged on the environment. Wet flies can be used in fresh water or salt water too. Depending on where the water you fish the species can vary greatly so make sure to carry the correct flies and equipment for the location. Knowing a few things about the fish you are after will help you catch the biggest in the competition and the best for dinner. Pontoon boats and canoes and kayaks are used much of the time for wet fly fishing.

Salt water fly fishing, as an increasingly popular sport, can be done right on the beach. You can also put on waders and walk into the surf. For surf fly fishing they have special surf cast to ensure good placement of your bait. Most fishing gear cannot withstand the salt so make sure the equipment is sea worthy. When fly fishing in the ocean, remember to keep an eye out for birds swarming schools of baitfish. This lets you know where other bigger fish could be near by feeding. Salt water fishing is not limited to beaches and wading out. You can fly fish in salt water ponds nearby fed by high tide and tidal creeks. Boats can be made special to handle years of use in salt water.

The main thing to remember when doing any type of fly fishing is that the bait should look like natural prey for the fish you would like to catch. Learning to tie a fly will give you the advantage of being able to create your own custom bait for wherever you feel like fishing at. Dry fishing is perfect if you feel like standing in a creek for a while. Wet fly fishing is great if you want to walk a river and see what monsters you can pull out. Stand in the sand for a day of ocean fly fishing while you get a tan. There is a type and style of fly fishing for any person of any age so grab some gear and get outdoors.

If this doesn’t grab you how about some canoe fishing?!

Feb 21

Essential Canoe Gear

canoegearThe saying “Always be prepared” is not only for boy scouts. Choosing the right paddle is important. Always think about floatation devices and the clothing you will be wearing while on the water in your canoe. Helmets help ensure you will get to play on the water again. Never forget the dry bag because a wet ham sandwich is just terrible. A knife in a canoe can be a necessity. No checklist is complete without a rope.

You cannot go paddling without a paddle so take two. If a paddle were to get caught in fishing line and pulled out of your hands it could be gone forever. Paddles have been known to break once in a while and duct tape just will not fix this issue. White water canoeing can call for a T-grip shaft for better grip while a calm pond paddler might have a stubbier and rounded shaft. A more flexible shaft would be more durable but stiffer means more control. Rounded blades are great for learning because a square blade may catch on the water causing instability of the canoe.

Person floatation devices come in several forms. The most common of all is the lifejacket. Even the best swimmers know to carry a floatation device. It doesn’t matter how pro you are in a canoe when a random dog decides to swim out and jump in your boat. If that dog flips you over and the undertow pulls on you, that lifejacket is going to do its job keeping you afloat and breathing air. Proper size will prevent the jacket from slipping off or being unable to secure. A bright color will make you more visible if the worst were to happen and you find yourself treading open water.

It’s amazing how many people I see heading out on a canoe or kayak trip without a pocket knife.  I rarely leave the house without one let alone get into the boat with no trusty blade.  The uses in both emergency and non-emergency situations are simply too long to mention – I think you get the idea!  I know there are tons to choose from but just pick something small and sharp. Here’s a good list of “EDC” knives to choose from.

Helmets are only required when white water canoeing but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear one anyway.  The three parts of a helmet are the outer shell, inner padding and neck strap. Outer shells can be full-cut so they cover the ears or half cut so they are not quit so big. Lucky for us, canoe helmets have come a long way so they actually look like cool hats now. The inner foam padding should fit snug enough that no gaps between the helmet and paddlers head exist. Keep that neck strap or chin strap tight enough so the helmet cannot be pushed or pulled off. This will help ensure that you get to play in your canoe again.

Clothing is less important than some things but if you canoe year round the icy waters and wind could become harsh and ruin the fun. There are many types of foot wear that prevent slipping. Some booties are multipurpose so they prevent slipping as well as keep your feet warm and some even have a knife pocket. A dry suit is completely water proof so you stay dry and warm even in the coldest rain. Wet suits are great if you play to swim in cold water while out playing with your canoe.

drybagDry bag is essential for an outing. A water proof and water tight bag will keep the food from having the taste of a river. They come in all sizes so you can get one for any canoe when you plan to bring a camera. Many people store a rope and knife in a dry bag. If you were to run into a net that was anchored just pull out that knife and give it a cut before the canoe goes under.  A dry bag will keep that knife from getting slippery and causing you to drop it in the water. Not all knifes need stored but all canoes need knifes incase a careless fisherman catches you by mistake. Some rope becomes useless after it gets wet so store it with the knife and munchies in the water tight dry bag.

Canoe trips are incredible fun when planned and prepared for. Dry snacks with a working camera to prove that fish was 40 pounds makes for an epic day. When you are warm and dry or warm and floating that protective gear has just made your day. That knife you used to free the paddle from stray fishing line kept you from needing the helmet this time. Just make that checklist and be ready for your adventure. Observing a little safety and being prepared for the worst will keep you paddling that canoe for years of fun to come.

To sum up

Here’s a quick summary of the things I mentioned:

  • Spare paddles
  • Pocket knife
  • Personal flotation device (PFD)
  • Helmet
  • Non slip shoes
  • Dry bag
  • Rope

Feb 05

Coastal Kayaking in Oregon

coastalkayakingIf you ever find yourself bored in Oregon there are many ways to turn that frown upside down. One of the favorite ways of Oregonians is to take out the kayak. With so many rivers or lakes and even the ocean so accessible you just cannot lose. You can troll the waters for fish or just float along for a good time. From the ruff Rogue River around Glaice Oregon or the calm smooth sailing of the hundreds of miles of the John Day River you will find the setting for your perfect day on the water. Remember to bring the sun-block!

The Oregon Coast has always been a much desired destination for kayakers of all skill levels.  Many of the hotels offer special priced packages for rentals and gear with or without a guide. With placid ponds such as Devils Lake in Lincoln City, beginners can learn how not to flip over while father is fishing. You can cruise the long calm coast line while soaking up the sun from Waldport to Tillamook. Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge even has free tours that last around 2 hours with guides that show you the plants and animals of the Oregon Coast. The John Day River also has lots of guides and places for people new to kayaking and is not known for its rapids.

Some of us feel the need to take on some more hazardous conditions for that extra adrenaline rush. For this type of adventure we could head to the class 5 roaring rapids of the awesome Rogue River’s Rainey Falls. May to September is great times to grab your lifejacket and helmet for a trip on the Rogue.  The McKenzie River is one of my favorites with lots of class 3 rapids and so much pristine nature to pass while playing in the water. From April to October you can find good times on the McKenzie. Take a half a day to play or 2 days to explore, always something fun for everyone on the water.

If you are the fishing type then I recommend you take a kayak on the Umpqua River.  With 111 miles of water you can catch small mouth bass like crazy. Even trout with runs of steelhead and times you can catch shad here with a bare hook. There is a reason they do a yearly fishing competition here but if that’s not your thing the water is clean enough to just swim and play. The North Umpqua is very calm for the new kayaker who wants to learn or the pro who wants to relax. South Umpqua River is a little more ruff and shallow but it is still safe to be in the water.

Love this promo video of rafting on the Umpqua!:

 

Oregon is the place to get out that kayak. With so much variety you couldn’t ask for more. If you want to relax on the water or some fast and furious then this is the place for you. Kayaking is a way of life for many Oregonians so shops for new paddles and gear are very common. When it is hard to find yourself more than 15 miles from a good water spot you have found the jackpot. Looking for guided trips or rolling the river solo, fun is to be had by all.

Jan 28

Canoe Fishing

canoefishingFishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities around the world. Grab a rod and reel for an oceanic adventure. Tie on the fly and whip the water for a day at the lake. Drill those holes and keep that coat on for some winter ice fishing. Dinner or sport, this is good fun for everyone! Many parks are host to cleaning stations and cooking pits for you to prepare and eat the fish right near a picnic table. Catch and release is the same amount of excitement as fishing for dinner. Go with a bunch of friends and compete for the largest and most heavy catch of the day or lone-wolf it for a bit of peace and relaxation.  Be sure to check out my article on canoe gear.

 

Ocean Fishing

Ocean fishing can be done all the way from the deep sea to standing on the shore. Catching a shark that is double your size could be the biggest rush ever. Fighting, until the sun goes down, to get a sailfish or marlin in your boat. Cast into the waves with the sand in your toes and sunscreen on your nose. Guided boat tours can ensure maximum payout for first timers who want the excitement of catching a thousand pound sea monster. Some of the tastiest fish in the world come from the sea although releasing the monster back to the depths can be just as fun.

Wet or dry, you can always use a fly. Lakes, river, streams and even at the beach you can find a fly for that. When bobber fishing bores you to sleep practice surf casting or maybe reach casting for those of us who are landlocked. Stand on the bank of a river or put on waders and wander out into the water to let the fly drift down stream. Find a lake or pond to cast into while you sit on the shore and enjoy the outdoors. Fly fishing can be difficult with many trees and bushes or shrubbery behind you so if you don’t want to snap off your fly make sure to look around.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing may be a bit below zero at times but that is no reflection of how hot the fishing is just beneath the ice. Drill the hole and drop the line! When these fish get to biting, you can hardly keep your hook in the water. Fishing this hot will make you forget that it is taking place in the middle of a frozen lake. Dry suits that are properly sealed and insulated are designed to keep you warm for a day of fishing on the ice. Before you fire up the heater make sure the ice will be able to handle it without melting and sending you for an icy swim. Some places have ice that can withstand many people driving and parking on the lake with shacks to sit in while they fish!

People fish for many reasons. Many compete for prizes and awards to the person who catches the most. The ability to fill a freezer with for year with salmon, trout and cod will lower spending for food. Catch and release is a great way to see something that lives in an underwater world without leaving an impact on the species or its habitat. Get away from it all with a camping trip to a big lake for a weekend of peace and relaxation. Float a local river with some friends to find yourself a few new hotspots. You can even fish at night for catfish for the types who cannot sleep or just love fishing that much. There is a place to fish anywhere and everyone can do it.