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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TU California Video

In spring of last year, BURL teamed up with Trout Unlimited California to produce a college outreach video in hopes of helping spread TU’s message to the younger generation and future voters. When Dave Lass asked me if I could do a video for them, I jumped on the opportunity. A lot of my viewpoints fall right along the lines with those of TU. I was stoked at the chance to help the cause and it was also a fun video to make. Dave Lass is the Northern California Field Coordinator and public lands specialist for TU in the state of California. Dave grew up in Oregon, went to College in Colorado, and now runs all operation for Trout Unlimited out of the Truckee office. He’s not a bad fisherman himself and has spent plenty of time on trout streams across the western U.S.

I had heard about Dave from my buddy, Tim Haddon, who is a guide on the Truckee. I then ran into Dave one day while fishing the Big Truckee. At first I thought, who’s this guy about to drop in on the water I wanted to fish? Then I got to talking to Dave a bit and figured out he was actually a pretty cool guy and really passionate about his work. Trout Unlimited is really helping to make a difference in the area. Their work is instrumental in helping protect the fisheries and the public lands that surround them.

Our first trip together was a float down the Truckee River. It was Dave and I in Tim Haddon’s boat. We decided to float one of the lower sections of the Big Truckee. There’s some nice fishing water down there and some decent rapids too. Half way down the float, we ran into another friend named Dan LaCount. We picked him up too which made four people stuffed into a little pack 1300 raft. The boat got a bit heavy and at one point Tim drifted us into a big tree that was lying across the river. The boat pinned on the tree and flipped before I had a chance to grab my camera gear. My whole camera bag went in the drink! It ruined my camera and I lost my good tripod. I figured we weren’t off to a good start.

The next trip we did was a float trip down the canyon of the East Carson River. This trip went a lot smoother. It was an overnighter and we spent a couple days fishing hard on the river and filming. I realized Dave was a decent fisherman and could pull his own weight when it came to helping out.

Later that fall, I invited Dave on a backpacking trip into a remote lake deep in a federally protected Wilderness in Northern California. Bernard Yin and I had been planning a backpacking trip to this location for quite some time. It’s a really intensive hike and you need to be able to trust the people you’re going with. None of us knew anyone who had ever been to this spot, so we didn’t even know if we would find fish or not. The hike was a real ass kicker, but the place turned out to be a trout nirvana. I packed my camera down there and ended up getting some of the best trout footage I’ve ever seen. The hike out was a real trudge. Bernard and his friend left a day early so they could do the hike in two days. Dave and I decided to stay and fish longer. We ended up hiking over 14 miles with a 4,500 foot elevation gain. Then we had to ride a bike another 15 miles or so to where our car was parked. It was truly the limit of what my body was capable of doing in one day. Dave hung in there and I knew from then on that he was a trooper and someone you can count on when the going gets tough.

My last trip to film for the video was a trip into another pristine wilderness to film a fully intact water shed and some wild winter run steelhead. This time Dave didn’t make it along, it was just my brother Eugene, Justin Bailie and I. We did another heart breaker of a hike into some remote wilderness in the middle of February. It was kind of a bust as far as fishing, but I did manage to get some really good shots of pristine river drainage and it’s headwaters. I also got some shots of undisturbed wild winter run steelhead spawning.

With those trips and some stock footage I had shot over the past couple summers, I was able to put together 8 minutes of some of the best fishing California has to offer. This is a free DVD that will be available at fly shops around California and viewable on You tube. If you’d like to learn more about TU, become a member, or get a hard copy of this video, please contact Dave Lass ( or stop by TU’s Truckee office.

I urge you to help support the fisheries you love so much. Become a member of Trout Unlimited today!

Mikey Wier

Mongolia 08

Return to "Secret River"

In fall of 2006, on a leap of faith, Burl Productions became one of the first film crews to travel to the outer edges of Mongolia to film fly-fishing for Huge Taimen. I was lucky enough to be hosted by Peter Mullett and his Mongolian team headed up by Chimbat Chulum who is one of the most knowledgeable outfitters in all of Mongolia. We spent the first week fishing at Chimbat’s Eg River yurt camp. It’s a great place to warm up on the waters of Mongolia and the techniques it takes to catch a Taimen. The Eg is a big river and has some huge fish, but it’s one of the more known, and therefore more often fished, rivers in Mongolia.

After a week at the Eg camp and with a few big Taimen under out belts, Petter, Gen and I decided to head overland in search of some new and unexplored rivers. On a tip from Chimbat, who knows Northern Mongolia very well, we ended up in a remote outpost in the middle of nowhere. After spending half a day negotiating with the local river protectors, we were finally granted permission to visit a super remote stretch of a little know river that lies deep in a protected canyon. We had to take one of the local officials with us so he could make sure we weren’t fishing with Dynamite and killing Taimen. We had to bribe him with food, alcohol and gifts. After hours on a small dirt path that was more like a horse trail than a road, we came to what is the coolest river I’ve ever seen.

The river was crystal clear. There were Eagles flying overhead and the only tracks in the sand were from a large cat that I assumed was probably a snow leopard. We spotted a huge Taimen in the first pool and hooked it within a few minutes. At one point I came over a cliff and looked down on a pool and there was a huge Taimen rolling around like a dolphin on the surface. Minutes later a pack of 7 to 9 fish all over 40 inches showed up and were hunting the pool like a pack of wolves. As I picked a couple off with my large squirrel popper, I watched them change colors like a saltwater fish that lights up when it’s chasing bait. To this day, it’s the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in fresh water fishing. At one point I thought I had been seeing a huge boulder on the bottom of the river. I just happened to look over as it slid 10 feet to the side. I thought I was hallucinating, but then realized it was a massive fish!! Must have been over 100 pounds!!

Apparently we were the first America’s that had ever been granted permission to camp and fish in this location. The thing that stood out about this river was that it was deep in a steep and remote canyon and it was much more high gradient than most other Mongolian rivers. This geological feature allowed us to sight fish to almost every fish we caught. It also gets allot less pressure and there were huge Taimen everywhere. In addition to the Taimen, there’s plenty of Lenok, greyling and some other fish I have yet to identify. My opening scene from SOULFISH, entitled “River Wolf”, was shot in one day!!! I saw more large Taimen in that afternoon than another film company, that decided to use the same title a year later, probably saw in an entire 2 months in Mongolia. This river is truly a Taimen paradise and may have the highest population of Taimen of any river on the planet!!! If someone told me I could design the perfect river for my taste in fishing, I couldn’t do a better job than the “Secret River”.

Two years later, we have assembled a small team to return to Mongolia and attempt to become the first group of fishermen to ever successfully float and fish this stretch of river. It’s taken Chimbat, our Mongolian guide, two years to secure the necessary permissions to make this expedition happen. We plan to float over 80 river miles of rugged remote uncharted river, through three provinces and past the confluences with 5 other major Taimen river systems. This year’s expedition will consist of Peter Mullett (Mongo Fly), Genevieve Villiamizar, Jeff Currier (Jack Dennis sports), Paul Cuanaugh, Brent Dawson (War Path Flies) and myself. Peter, along with the help and support of Outcast boats has been assembling a small fleet of watercraft in Mongolia consisting of 3 fish cat 1200’s for fishermen and an Air oaring raft for gear. We are going to be floating, camping, fishing and exploring for three weeks straight. Brent, Jeff, Paul and I leave the states on the 13th of Sept. We will meet up with Peter who will have already been there for over two weeks and begin our expedition.

Mongolia is amazing, but my last trip to didn’t come without a price. Towards the end of my trip, I got super sick. I had to endure a week of some of the gnarliest pain I’ve ever felt. Earlier that day we had seen a bad omen. From on a bluff over looking a river, I witnessed two men murder a dog and remove some of its organs. It gave me a weird feeling in my stomach, but I think it was the food I ate later that night that really did me in. Mongolia is a strange land full of mystery and superstition. It’s going to be a big deal to pull this trip off. We are going to be in some of the most remote country on earth.

Wish us luck.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Goodbye Caples Lake

28 inch Brown Trout caught by Loren Elliott on a size 14 dry 6x tippet and a 3wt.

Bye Bye Caples

Well, it’s hard to accept loss, but I’m going to have to say goodbye to some old friends. It looks like the EID (El Dorado Irrigation District) is planning on draining Caples Lake to work on the gates at the bottom of the dam. They plan on draining the lake down to below 10 feet, which means there’s most likely going to be a full freeze out and fish kill this winter. The plans have already gone through and the lake is draining right now at about 300 acre feet per day. I fished last weekend out there and it’s as low as I’ve seen it since the last drain down in 1987.

For the past 5 years, I’ve considered Caples Lake to be one of the best still water fisheries in this whole area. There’s a great population of Rainbows and browns that have a disposition to eating dry flies. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to tangle with some really nice fish out there and most of the time it’s been on dry flies. I remember each and every one of those takes in that crystal clear water and some epic fights. Some I won and other I lost. I thank all those fish for those great memories and wish them the best of this bad situation.

There are proposed plans of restocking the lake next spring with Rainbow, Browns and Mack’s. My personal feeling it that it’s going to take a while for the insect, minnow and craw fish populations to re establish themselves in the lake and for the planted fish to key in on these food sources that make Caples the fishery that it has been for the past several years. One of the best parts about Caples was that there were plenty of Callbatis, Midges and Terrestrials for the fish to feed on. This gave even the biggest of fish a reason to be cursing close to the shore and looking up. There’s not to many places in this area where you could sight fish to 10 pound trout with dry flies. Also, I’ve had chances at some big Mack’s from the shore out there during ice out. Kiss that good by for a while. We’ll have to find a new place to play for a few years.

If you interested in hearing more about the Caples Lake issue, there’s a couple websites you can check out. First is the EID’s website Also, the California Sprotfishing Protection Alliance has been monitoring the happenings and published some very informative articles. These are both great resources for finding out more info on the project and updates as well as finding ways you can help. Right now, there’s a plan to relocate as many of the big fish out of Caples as possible and move them to Silver Lake. The first day of the relocating is going to take place on Aug 26th . The operation is being run by the DF&G and they are looking for Volunteers to help out with the project. Trout Unlimited California is helping organize volunteers as well. If your interested in helping save the fish of Caples Lake and would like to possibly hold a 30 lb trout in your hands, either contact Dave Lass from TU, at or get on the Calsport website and fill out the volunteer application.

Good luck my friends!!

Mike E. Wier

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Panama part 1


“Panama? Why the hell would you want to go there? It’s just a big swamp.” That was the adverage response I got when I mentioned to my friends and family I was thinking of heading to Panama to explore fishing and surfing possibilities. The other most common comments were: “Dude your going to get Malaria.” “I heard that they kindnap Americas and hold them hostage down there.” And “Watch out for the police. They are totally corrupt down there.” Traveling through any Central American country can be sketchy and Panama is no exception. I tend to be an optimist, so I figured the rewards of un-crowded waves, Pristine Jungle and hungry fish could far out way the risk and there was only one way to find out. I figure that if you just treat people with respect and don’t act like a dumb ass, chances are you’ll probably be all right. Truth is I’m more scared of most cities in California then those I’ve been to in 3ed world countries.

I first heard about Panama from a friend who had traveled through there on a surfing trip. I did a little research and found out that the word Panama has been translated to actually mean “Abundance of Fish”. When you look at Panama on a map, it’s easy to see why. Panama is littered with rivers and lakes. It’s bordered by the pacific and Atlantic oceans and has tons and tons of little islands, bays and mangrove estuaries along both coastlines. You can actually drive from one ocean to the next in just a few hours in most of the country. The pacific Continental Shelf drops off into deep water off the coast of Panama, making it a prime stopping and feeding ground for large schools of big game fish cursing in the pacific currents. The hundreds of rivers pouring in and estuaries they make, provide habitat for all kinds of forage fish and crustations and the predators that they attract. With Panama being a relatively sparsely populated country, and commercial fishing pressure being fairly low, Ocean fish still thrive in the nutrient rich waters off both coasts. Snook, Tarpon and snappers have worked their way up into most of the rivers. Panama even has a unique niche in that Tarpon have made it through the canal and now live in the Pacific there. Peacock bass have been introduced to some of the Fresh water lakes and now thrive. Over 30% of the entire country is protected in National Parks and Preserves, including hundreds of miles of coastline and islands as well as inland jungle and forest preserves. Me being a Nature junky, Surfer and Fishing Addict, I figured it could be a great place to spend a few weeks. I talked my girlfriend Megan into going with me and off we went.

Our trip started out as most do, in Panama City. We decided to rent a car for the month. I’d heard the usual stories about robbery, corrupt cops and bad roads, but I decided it would be the only way to really get off the beaten tourist path. The busses only go to certain places and at specific times. Having Megan along, I decided hitch-hiking wasn’t an option. I enjoy the freedom of having your own wheels and on a short tip like this, one month, it didn’t make sense to try and buy then sell a car. Even the locals warned us of some of the dangers of Traveling around Panama. You can’t let fear control your life, so we strapped the surfboard to the roof and headed out of the Airport at 11 at night into the strange city. It’s a 45 minute drive to the nearest zone with any reasonable hotels.

As soon as you leave the airport, it becomes apparent that your in a third world country. There are broken down cars all over the place, trash on the streets and skinny dog wandering around in the road. It took us a while to navigate our way to the central zone where it’s safe for tourists to stay. We found a hotel and hauled our bugs up the two flights of stairs to our room. By then it was getting pretty late, but we were thirsty so we decided to see if there was a store open where we could by some water. As we walked out of the hotel and tried to cross the street, a young black dude approached us from the shadows of a tree. He asked us if we wanted to buy some Coke. We politely said no thanks in Spanish and kept walking. We didn’t make it half a block before we decided it probably wasn’t a great neighborhood to be walking around at night and retreated back to the hotel.

The next morning, I couldn’t wait to get out of the city. Most people come here to see the Canal, but I really couldn’t care less. I just wanted to get the hell out of the city and into some more remote zone. I’d been looking on the map and found a small village near a lagoon on Lago Gutan that wasn’t to far away. A small passage in the Lonely planet mentioned that there was a small pier there where local fisherman usually hung out. I just assumed that it might be a good place to try and find someone to take us fishing for the bass that lived in the lake. We had no preconceived notion of what the place might look like, but off we went anyway and the adventure began.

To be continued.....

Video by: Megan Smith

Saturday, August 9, 2008

War Path

Well, spent this past weekend fishing up in truckee with Brent Dawson from War Path flies.  Brent is commercial fly tier from the Bay Area.  He spent many years working in the San Jose Fly Shop and honing his skills as a tier and fisherman around here in California.  He does some great streamer patterns for trout and bass, but mostly specializes in salt water bugs these days.  Check out some of Brent's bugs out at  If your going on a trip somewhere exotic, Brent can most likely tie you up a specialized package for your individual needs.  His salt water patterns turned out to be my go to flies for Panama, Baja, and even worked in the Amazon.  Next month Brent is accompanying me to Mongolia for a our return expedition to dig even deeper into the Mongolian Out back.  Wait till you see the creatures he's been making for the trip!!  His Taimen flies are insane!!

Our outing started with a warm up float down the upper section of the Truckee.  Brent fished fished his olive jig head leach most of the day.  He striped and wiggled it through all the good pools and riffles producing many nice fish.  I came in behind and cleaned up on some nymphs.  The Caddis pupa turned out to be super effective as usual for this time of year.  

After fishing, we went over to Richard Anderson's house for his annual Cal Fly Fisher BBQ.  It's always a good time to see the Truckee crew and catch up on all the haps.  Richard doe's a great job with Cal Fly and has allot of support from the community.  
After the BBQ, Brent, Tim Haddon, Dave Lass and I went over to Andy Burk's house for the after party.  Tim gave Andy a bottle of Tequila for his birthday.  It was also Brent's birthday, so we proceeded to celebrate.  
Brent bought one of Andy's paintings as a birthday present.  
After a rough start the next morning, Brent and I floated the real water on the Truckee.  The lower sections are my favorite.  There's some good swimming holes, some nice white water and decent fishing.  It's tougher to get fish the lower you go, but the possibility is always there of getting some really nice fat wild brown and rainbows.  
My Outcast pack 1200 is the perfect boat for two people.  It's great to fish out of and can handle some white water.  It's light enough that two people can easily carry it to the river and load it on the truck.  It's a perfect boat for the Truckee!
All and all, it was a great weekend! Thanks for the flies Brent!!!