Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

One of the challenges of staying warm during winter fishing is doing so without adding bulk. Big, bulky clothing can certainly keep you warm but it can get in the way of casting and, more importantly, can be a real drag trying to cram into properly fitted waders. The alternative for many is to wear winter outer layers on top of waders, which defeats the purpose of anything more than waist-high waders. The answer is highly compressible winter outer layers that provide the warmth, water resistance and wind protection that spending a winter day on the water demands. In an effort to find potential candidates, we reviewed a series of winter outer layers designed to be low-bulk and provide serious protection from the elements. One of the standouts was Patagonia's Nano Puff jacket.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
As tested, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket in Forge Grey.

The Patagonia Nano Puff is the synthetic counterpart to Patagonia's Down Jacket, both highly compressible winter jackets designed to be used as the middle or outermost component of a layered clothing system. Though both jackets still work very well without a sophisticated set of under-layers, it's important to realize that the key to successful temperature management during winter activities is layering. Wicking base layers (leave your cotton garments at home), combined with the proper mid and/or outer layers allow today's technical clothing to manage moisture and temperature the way they were designed to.

Airflo Skagit Intermediate Compact

Airflo has made available a new compact skagit head that, unlike your typical compact skagit line, does not feature a full floating head. Instead, this intermediate compact skagit head is comprised of a floating portion in the back and an intermediate sinking portion in the front of the head. The line is a duo-tone line, with the sinking and floating portions colored differently, to allow for easy visibility and control of the head as you're fishing it.

Airflo Skagit Intermediate Compact
Transparent blue for the intermediate front section, Heron Grey for the floating back section.

Designed chiefly by Airflo line designer, Oregon steelhead guide and spey casting instructor Tom Larimer, the AIrflo Skagit Intermediate Compact was built with Great Lakes steelheaders in mind. Great Lakes steelheaders fish on rivers that are different than those out west, which are the inspiration for most skagit head line designs. Great Lakes rivers typically contain more complex and varying surface currents, due to the rougher more varying structure of their river beds, than their western counterparts (though this is not without exception). The result is surface conditions which make getting a fly down into the strike zone for a successful swing much more difficult.

The Lower Mokelumne.

A disturbing new study indicates that the survival rates of wild Chinook salmon may be far less than previously thought. The study, which was conducted on California's Mokelumne River, used an innovative test to determine the proportion of wild to hatchery raised fish in an unmarked population. The study's findings reveal that as few as 4 percent of the fish returning to the Mokelumne to spawn are of wild origin.

Researchers collected over 1000 chinook carcasses and tested their otoliths (ear bones) for sulfur isotopes. Testing for the accumulation of certain chemical elements in bone can tell scientists a great deal about the early stages of a fish's life. In this case, the presence of higher amounts of sulfur isotopes allowed researchers to identify differences in the early dietary influences in individual fish, and thus separate hatchery raised fish from those which fed in the wild.

Early in the removal process of the Glines Canyon Dam (September 2011).

According to a report filed in The Peninsula Daily, efforts to restore the Elwha River's legendary salmon runs are ahead of schedule. Robert Elofson, director of the Lower Elwha ­Klallam River Restoration, detailed the current status of restoration efforts and expectations for the future in a presentation entitled, "Elwha River Ecosystem: After the Dam", which was delivered last night at the Elwha Klallam Heritage Training Center. The long awaited dam removal project began earlier this year.

Only a few thousand salmon have returned thus far, but the dam removal project is still underway, with both dams scheduled for complete removal by early 2014. Earlier this week, an explosion brought down an additional 6 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam. Work on dam removal has just recently begun after a period of work stoppage to allow for a period of fish migration.

Don't you?

If you enjoy eye candy and good, entertaining writing, it's a good time to be a fly fisherman. Now, more than ever, there's a plethora of great publications -- both offline and online -- for the fly fisherman to get his or her fix on destinations, technique, fly patterns, photography, artwork ... you name it. Having just released issue #2 (which is, incidentally, sort of their third issue), Southern Culture on the Fly (SCOF) is welcome addition to the aforementioned plethora. Filled with stories, gear reviews, fly patterns and chock full of top notch photography and artwork, SCOF is not to be missed.

The latest issue is a tribute to the road trip, featuring several stories about winter fishing destinations in places most of us can actually reach, places that don't require a $2,000 plane ticket and $5,000 in outfitter fees to reach. In other words, places you might actually fish before you die.