Setting the record straight: Oregon Coho Bucktailing

The ATF showed up at my door last week, lobbed tear gas and stun grenades, scared the poop out of my cats (me too), but luckily my family was in the back room at the Fly Shop bagging up the final dabs (almost) of my lifetime supply of TMC 700 Hooks so Chris can practically give ‘em away.

So, they cuffed me, waterboarded me, and threw me in their Van, where they proceeded to lecture me on the immorality of soaking herring, Hoochies, and flies in BEER while operating a watercraft. Hours into the torture session, they veered off into questions about saltwater fly leader construction, fly selection, choices of hooks, and so on, all related to Coho Bucktailing as described in a recent blog post, said post being accompanied by some very nice photos likely from some foreign country and what can only be described politely as rants sufficient to prompt any competent Doctor to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic medication. By the gunnysack full.  And yes, I have my very own gunny sack of the stuff.

Anyway, these ATF fellows (yep, all guys with big deltoids, short hair, black cargo Pants, and non-polarized Ray Ban shades) were obviously intrigued at the possibility of catching salmon in the ocean off Oregon and wanted more particulars as to the details.

They had mistakenly confused the persons responsible for the recent OFFB post that referred to puke, beer, and all sorts of tawdriness with only a little bucktailing on the side.

My protests of innocence, assertions that it was not me pictured with a fish in the Blog Post were soundly rejected with nary a smile or apology for their intrusion into my life.

It was best, I decided, to act as though the recent blog post was indeed crafted at my hand, pose as the writer, and pretend to posses a vast storehouse of Coho Bucktailing knowledge, myself, personally.

As I began to fictionally create a string of bucktailing laws, guidelines, and secrets, they turned off the surveillance cameras, wire-taps, and listened closely.

I told them about my last day on the Pacific, and they seemed to believe me, word for word, as if it were all true, which of course it was not all true but only parts were and parts were not but sometimes even I forgot which was what and so forth so anyway this is pretty much what I told ‘em.

September 19 started with me fishing for Chinook in the estuary.  No bites, no fish seen hooked by anyone, and only a few fish rolling, where there should have been something to indicate presence of fishy life.  Hummmm.  Once again I chose the wrong place and time to ply the waters for Kings.

So I pulled the boat, headed for the Cabin,  and resolved to sand the deck that turned moldy last winter, only to receive a call from Buddy 3 asking regarding my interest in a Dory fishing afternoon to which I said H E Double Hockey Stick yes.

So we launched from the beach in sun and lack of wind on an incoming tide and headed west into the salty brine in search of Black Rockfish.  We were distracted by Whales of some sort or another mostly the large kind that come up and spouted, and waved their flukes, and whatever and looked really cool.

Then we saw Rockfish blitzing bait just like Albacore, with dozens of the so called bottomfish leaping into the air ripping the bait and me peeing my waders excited, thinking they were silvers, which they of course were not.  Of course we did not catch any of those fish but we really did not care a hoot cuz they were so cool to see, but when we started fishing I looked down and saw Rockfish about six feet under the Dory so I let my Clouser (secret fly) into the water and watched a big LUNKER come up to eat the fly and got as excited as a kid and had to shout and make all sorts of commotion and wow how much fun was that.

Bucktailing?  Sorry.  Forgot the point.  We got to trolling our bucktails except they weren’t really BUCKTAILS but just kept our Clousers tied on and trolled along too slow (2.5 MPH) but then sped up to some unknown speed because the current was going this way and we were going the other or across or something like that and anyway then we saw some fish under the boat on the fish finder and cut the motor to cast but then the fish went away so we started the motor and I saw a beautiful Silver come up and eat my NOT BUCKTAIL and then a Chinook came up to eat Buddy 3’s NOT BUCKTAIL and we had us a double header on salmon out in the great wild Pacific Ocean and man was that fun well yes it was fun.

And then not too long after I made a long 80 ft cast and was waiting for my fly to settle into the ocean when I saw a Coho rush straight at our Dory and then come within six ft of the Port Side and head off into the deep and the fish had some funny looking flash thingy in the right corner of its jaw and then my line came tight with this very same Silver about 80 ft out leaping and slicing through the waves for a while with me laughing like an old coot having too much fun.

Remember these pointers about Oregon Bucktailing . . . .

1.  Bucktailing is effective.

2.  Tie on any old fly and drag it around the Ocean.  Hang it close to the prop wash or waaaaaay back.

3.  Stop the motor now and then.  Go fast and go slow.

4.  Fish a fly line with a leader.  Any line.  Any leader of 6 ft to nine ft is fine.

5.  Laugh.

6.  Smile.

6a.  It’s OK even preferable to eat both bananas and fried chicken the night before Bucktailing and during the fishing event as well.

6b.  Ye need not wear those silly blue gloves because the Coho don’t care one hoot about human scent on Bucktail flies.  Neither do Chinook.  Have you ever smelled a natural buck tail?  Wow those things do stink and the salmon don’t seem to care much.  Why should they care about a little human scent?

6c.  Regulations prohibit the soaking of Bucktails in Anchovy or tuna oil.  Seriously.  No foolin’.  Don’t even try it.

7.  Don’t take any fish seriously.  Say a prayer of thanks whenever you get bit.

7a.  Don’t take words of wisdom about bucktailing in a post on the Internet seriously.  Seriously.  Just don’t.  Seriously.

8. Repeat bucktailing as often as possible.

9.  Do not confuse the random event of catching an actual salmon of any species on a Bucktail in the ocean with knowing anything whatsoever about saltwater fly fishing.

10.  Stay hydrated while you are out on the ocean.  Incidents of Bucktail angler desiccation have been reported in JAMA; treatment for said condition should be administered promptly and involve hydrators including such cell-wetness enhancers like Gatorade and water or iced tea or lemonade. Sun protection is pretty important too and Chris sells Buff gloves and face-mack thingies and good sunscreen goo at the Caddis Fly shop and if you could find it in your heart to buy a dozen tubes of really cool transparent sun goo it would make me laugh like crazy and that in itself is pretty entertaining you betcha.  But then Chris would order an extra 400 bottles and no one would buy the stuff because it would be December and on the other hand, keep it reasonable, please, but always prepare for sun exposure so that your nose and ears don’t fall off after a day of Bucktailing …….

11.  Smile at yourself, cuz everyone else thinks your’e pretty funny. Or not.

Best to ya all.

Jay Nicholas, September 2013

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4 Responses to Setting the record straight: Oregon Coho Bucktailing

  1. Mrmachinist says:

    I never planned on going “bucktailing” for salmon,…..but after the last two articles on the subject I’m absolutely determined to never, ever go, no matter what.

  2. Jim Barfield says:

    According to the blog “Chasing The Scraps,” bucktailing “is not fly fishing because it’s all about the cast.” I say: You got a fly rod, right? You got a fly reel, right? You got a fly line, right? You got a fly tied on to the end of it, right? You are @#$%ing FLY FISHING.

  3. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Here here Jim! We at ORFFB reject purists or puritanism, or whatever in all its various and obnoxious forms! -MS

  4. Chris Bellows says:

    As the writer of the “Chasing the Scraps” blog I obviously disagree with Jim. Would you consider it fly fishing if you clipped the leader onto a downrigger since you are using a fly rod and a fly reel? I made the point regarding the fly cast because that is the thing missing from bucktailing, and it makes a difference in defining what something is or isn’t.

    It is not puritanism, it is about definitions.

    I bucktailed a bit this past summer on a friend’s boat and had a wonderful time after landing loads of fish on a cast fly. We enjoyed both methods of fishing, but only one was technically fly fishing.

    Great post by the way and I couldn’t agree more with #9. Always wanted to check out the Oregon Coast and posts like these only add to that.

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