Advice for pole(s)

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bigbillybass
Hi,

I'm looking to get some poles that I can take with my while backpacking. I'm in Columbia county and have a trip planned to camp along the Nehalem HWY and Lost Lake (not the one by Mnt Hood) next weekend, so I'd love a pole that works for both these environments (a pretty big river and a smaller lake), as well as my local geography in general (lot's of small streams and ponds). I want something light and packable, so I was looking at the Redington Hydrogen 5wt 9' rod paired with their Zero reel, 4/5wt. It seems like a pretty versatile, lightweight and packable set up that'll work for rivers and lakes, which is what I'll be fishing next week if it arrives in time. I'll probably get a 2-3wt set up for small streams later, and could use advice on that too (I'm a bit skeptical of tenkara but it gets recommended a lot in Ultralight backpacking communities).

I'd like to catch as much fry-worthy fish as I can, not limited to trout but including panfish like bluegill too, but I don't have an interest in fish that are too small too eat. And so of course, the bigger the better - there's nothing nicer than filleting and cooking a fish it on the spot.

I'm more than happy to buy a few poles, namely a 2-3wt when I know I'll primarily be fishing tighter spots and an ~8wt for salmon / saltwater, but want to make sure this first purchase is sensible and won't have too much overlap with other poles since I don't want to break the bank here.


Could really use some advice and am very happy to have found this forum!
 
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Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
I think you might wind up getting more than one setup.

A 2wt is geared mostly at smaller fish in smaller waters. I’ve got any number of bigger carp, say 10-20 pounds, on a 2 weight, so it IS possible to land bigger fish on that line weight rod, but to be conservative I wouldn’t use them in places with numbers of larger trout. It is mostly because you can’t always land bigger fish as fast as you might want with the small rod, although often you can. They are best in tight places, for small fish, throwing dries, IMO.

A five is pretty good all the way around, you can fish all normal trout flies with it. Length wise, nine feet is a good compromise. A shorter rod can help some in gusty wind. A longer rod is better for nymphing.

A lot of people around here are getting into two handers, switch rods and trout spey in 4-5 weights. Those would also be great surf perch setups.

I don’t salmon fish locally with fly rods, but I’ve always done ok on coho and chum with a single hander seven weight in smaller streams, for bigger water I’d probably get a two handed 8, maybe bigger if the fish ran consistently over 20 pounds.

I am not a salmon guy though at all, so someone else might have different ideas.

Me personally, if we are just talking trout in streams or smaller lakes, I tend to go with 3 or 4 weight rods. I like single handed ten footers, but I nymph most of the time.
 
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bigbillybass
Yeah I'm definitely getting more than one rig, which meant I had to think about which role this pole needs to play so I don't have too much overlap between my gear.. I think I've got some pretty exceptional deals picked out for a Redington 5wt 9' and Zero 4/5wt reel, and I expect I'll be buying a smaller 2/3wt rod/reel sometime (probably a 2wt) when I won't be fishing such big water. I'll probably know what I want a lot better by then, too. It's possible the 5wt does everything well enough and I never feel like it's too big..

I don't expect to do any salmon or saltwater fishing any time soon, but I love salmon and I love fishing on the coast, so getting my own gear for that would be stellar, so maybe I'll get an 8/9wt rod down the road for salmon and saltwater..

*Edit: I didn't realize Chinook season is right around the corner! Might have to hop on that a little sooner than I thought. Would an 8/9wt rod be a pretty versatile pole in conjunction with a 5wt? Could I do some saltwater fishing from the shore as well as snag some Chinook (and silvers, chums, steelhead)? Would I want single handed, double handed, switch or sprey?
 
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bigbillybass
Having a hard time discerning what's eligible for catch-and-keep now and in the coming months. If I understand correctly, panfish, lingcod, rockfish may be caught and kept anytime, as well as trout from lakes and ponds. And we're coming up on some steelhead activity, are these safe for keep? Any salmon?
 
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Snopro
Add walleye, bass, surfperch to the keep list.

There are still salmon around but you wouldn't want to keep 99% of them due to diminished quality as food.

For Steelhead, read the regs carefully to see what's open and what you can harvest. It's probably going to be a bad Winter steelhead season if the trend in returning fish continues. Winter steelhead aren't known for being tasty on a plate. I let them go.
 
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bigbillybass
Hmmm.. Thanks for the advice. Are the lake trout good eating?

Anyway, seems like jetty or surf fishing is the most promising for catching and keeping tasty species year round, so I'm looking at getting a suitable pole. Do you think an 8wt would be good for surf and jetty fishing, but also decent enough for steelhead and salmon? I'm looking at the Orvis Recon Saltwater in particular, 9' 8wt.
 
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Snopro
IMO hatchery trout are gross and best left in lakes to fatten up the bass, but that's comparing them to all the ocean fish we have available and salmon/steelhead. Wild brook trout from a mountain lake cooked on a fire while you are hiking are awesome.

An 8wt would be a good all around saltwater rod for Oregon. In freshwater it would cover many steelhead, salmon and bass situations. Probably a little light for Chum and Chinook. A little heavy for Summer Steelhead and pinks. Not a bad choice at all.
 
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bigbillybass
Snopro said:
IMO hatchery trout are gross and best left in lakes to fatten up the bass, but that's comparing them to all the ocean fish we have available and salmon/steelhead. Wild brook trout from a mountain lake cooked on a fire while you are hiking are awesome.

An 8wt would be a good all around saltwater rod for Oregon. In freshwater it would cover many steelhead, salmon and bass situations. Probably a little light for Chum and Chinook. A little heavy for Summer Steelhead and pinks. Not a bad choice at all.
Are the bass good eating? Alternatively, do you have any recommendations for lakes that might have wild brook trout right now?

I'm a total noob as you can tell, just wanting some quality fish to eat to get me outta the house. I'll probably grab the 8wt soon, it'd be great to always have that as an option - and just curious, you think that's more suitable for me than a 9wt?
 
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DOKF
DOKF
Just my opinion, but I wouldn't eat any of the bass or panfish caught in Oregon. Best returned to the water for someone else to catch.
 
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bigbillybass
Why not eat the panfish? I was reading last night that they're prone to overpopulation, and this leads to them remaining small too (so retaining them may enable others to grow bigger, and improve the fishing). But of course I'm a noob! Just curious.

And why not eat the bass?
 
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Snopro
All my brookie lakes are either closed, iced over, or currently have access roads closed.

If you just want to fill a stringer Silver lake WA should do that for you with Crappie, Bluegill and Perch. A 3/4wt rod would be perfect.

You need a boat or kayak. Kokanee are a great tasting species with good Winter fisheries.
 
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bigbillybass
Can you catch any good sushi fish (aside from salmon) along the jetty or surf, without a boat? Would an 8wt be suitable for bringing in a salmon from a jetty? Think I'm gonna get a dedicated rod this month but still unsure whether to go for 8, 9 or 10.
 
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bigbillybass
Thanks for the tip about silver lake! That's not too far from me.
 
DOKF
DOKF
bigbillybass said:
Why not eat the panfish? I was reading last night that they're prone to overpopulation, and this leads to them remaining small too (so retaining them may enable others to grow bigger, and improve the fishing). But of course I'm a noob! Just curious.

And why not eat the bass?
I've always eaten trout, steelhead, and salmon from almost any clean source. I personally find panfish, catfish, and bass to taste muddy and generally unpalatable. Also, I wouldn't eat any resident fish from the Willamette or Columbia, just cuz.

When I lived in northern Canada, I regularly ate walleye, pike, and smallmouth bass (along with other local fish). But I was always catching them in clean pristine waters ... Taste was excellent.

To me, catfish are just gross, and I don't even like touching them. Just me.
 
Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
Here’s my 2 cents on the fish for dinner thing.

All of them can be good. It depends on the water they swim in.

If you want good fish, clean water is the key. Notice I didn’t say clear water, I said clean. Sometimes muddy water is cleaner in the ways that matter than clear water. Fish don’t get particulate in their flesh, but they do absorb elements and chemical compounds. Mercury, for example, is very common due to natural AND human causes. There is no “safe” level of exposure to methyl mercury. It is soluble in fat and is bad for the central nervous system.

If you want to eat fish, enjoy the experience, and protect your body, do some homework on the water shed you plan on fishing. Find out what is upslope.

Avoid large specimens of any species that is a resident of fresh water. Take the smaller ones instead. They are more expendable from a genetic perspective, and more importantly to you, have not lived long enough to bioaccumulate toxins.

Smaller fish are going to eat what will fit in their mouth, which is often invertebrates. As fish mature, they tend to transition away from minute prey and begin to focus on the bigger meals, ie other fish. This accelerates the bio-sequestration of harmful gunk in the meat of the fish.

Personally, I will not eat large freshwater fish of any species. “Pan sized” is a good rule of thumb. If it won’t fit in a 14” skillet, it’s not coming home with me.

I also have become a strong advocate of the practice of immediately bleeding any fish I plan to eat. I give them a bop on the head to send them to a confused place, and remove their gills, either with a knife or by hand. Put them into water while they bleed. Once they are bled out, immediately ice if you aren’t camping and can’t cook them on the spot.

Any small fish, from clean water, treated respectfully, can be delicious in my experience. This includes “trash” or undesirable fish.

Having said that, yellow perch are what I would eat if given my preference, followed by walleye. Crappie, bluegill, and other small species like that are pretty tasty too. Wild (non-stocked) trout are tasty, if somewhat bland. Bass are fine, but I wouldn’t eat them any more than I would a puppy.

If you want a real taste treat… surf perch. They are just amazing. Scaled and scored with diamond pattern slashes like they fry tilapia (but no tilapia will ever compare) or broiled, or steamed, or… Asian methods work very well with them.

Rockfish are super good for frying, but you must remember to bleed them. It makes all the difference.
 
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bigbillybass
Thanks for all the tips with regard to what's good to eat and not, as well as the bleeding. I had considered that clean water is preferable, but not the effects of a fish becoming larger and moving up the food chain and accumulation of toxins. Good to know, and easy enough to reason about.

My girlfriend is a bit of a surf perch fisher and enjoys surf fishing, and we so close to the coast that I think I'm going to 100% focus a rod on saltwater fishing. I'd really like to be able to reel in a saltwater salmon from the jetty too (love sushi!), but not sure how likely that is or if the rod weight required to do so would clash with what I want for surfperch rockfish and lingcod. What rod wt and length would you recommend for this?

I'm almost leaning toward a 10wt, so that renting or borrowing a boat and getting albacore becomes a possibility, but I really don't see myself doing this anytime and I'm mostly interested in jetty fishing since it requires no additional expense past rod and reel, so I'm totally willing to sacrifice that possibility with this rod if it'd negatively impact fishing for surf perch, lingcod and rockfish, but I do hope snagging a salmon with the same rod I use for the other fish may be possible. Since now this pole will be limited to jetty fishing, I'm thinking I probably want a longer rod too?

Those are basically all the use cases I could ever imagine for this pole, but 99% of the time I'll be going for lingcod, rockfish and surfperch, so I don't mind skipping out on salmon or albacore possibilities if it means I'd have less success or fun the majority of the time. Sorry for being all over the map, my intentions are becoming clearer everyday as learn more about this. And I don't mean to beat a dead horse when it comes to pole selection but this will be a rather expensive purchase for me if I get a decent rod, which I intend to do, so I'd like to make sure it's what I want!
 
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Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
I think it’s admirable that you are earnest. We live in a superficial society.

Surf perch sometimes (but not always) require longer casts, and there is often wind. A double haul on a single handed 8 or a two hand switch or Spey rod 7-8 would be all you would ever need for those guys.

A salmon might beat you up a bit with an 8 in the salt. You would probably win, if you had enough backing. I like polyethylene backing for salt.
 
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bigbillybass
Awesome, I don't know much about spey rods so I think I'll stick to the single.. I don't intend to be catching salmon often, so I'm ok with getting a bit beat up on the rare occassion I do go for them. But I love sashimi and getting a fresh salmon like that once or twice a year would just be spectacular.

I assume a 10wt would be overkill? This would make it possible to rent a boat and get some albacore (I think?), and there's one for sale near me, but it might make surfperch, lingcod and rockfish fishing worse off, which is what I intend to do the large majority of the time. And I hear they're tiring to cast all day. If an 8wt is what you recommend over a 9 or 10wt, I'll call this case closed and start shopping for a cheap (probably used) 8wt saltwater rod and reel combo (I've had the orvis recon and hydro reel in mind).

Thanks for all the help! Oh and is a standard 9' recommended, or should I go longer?
 
Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
When you are ready to go after albacore, buy that rod. It might be a minute; get something you will want to use now.
 
Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
Sorry yeah. Get a nine footer for sure if you are going single handed.
 

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