Zen Fly Fishing Reader's Gallery

Photos in this gallery are of Zen Fly Fishing readers and/or their fish. Click on the picture to view a larger version. You can send a digital picture and a short story if want to post in the reader gallery.

Phillip Kim has been hooked on fishing ever since his grandfather let him catch his first fish when he was 4 years old in Korea. One thing clear about Phillip - he loves fishing! He says of surfperching: it's much too addictive... I love the beach in the morning...it's my church! I know what you mean by Zen Fly Fishing. His biggest so far is shown at the left: 2 1/4-lb, 13 3/4-inches. His best day in numbers is 50. He has come a long ways since his first day on the beach in the spring of 2003. A few months later he took the Hanley/Murakoshi surf clinic in June 2003. We have been exchanging email regularly since July 17, 2003 (I finally met him in August this year). He has a lot of time on the water having fished once or twice every week during the 2003 and 2004 seasons and it shows in his skills and knowledge. Phillip says I initially thought that the key to learning was technical improvements (reading water, casting, line control, etc) which enabled me to overcome my initial challenges. And yes it's partly true. But when I really thought about, it came down to my belief that nothing worthwhile is given to you, it is earned. I had to pay my dues to enjoy the rewards. With perch fishing, I enjoyed it so much that it was labor of love more than anything. He wears nice kayak parka and SOSenders on the beach. He caught a small striper that put up a nice fight when we fished together on August 19, 2004. He was bent a lot that day. He now uses his 8-weight Sage DS2 with an Echo composite reel, leadcore shooting line with 25# test IronSilk shooting line and he has done very well recently with Surf Mikis. Before he started fly fishing the surf, he was float tubing San Luis (both the big lake and Forebay) after taking Lee Haskin's class there. His biggest to date is a 11 pounder in the Forebay. He has also fished still waters for trout at Pyramid Lake and Eagle Lake and packed into the high Sierras for trout. Prior to fly fishing, he was a largemouth bass fishing addict for 7-years with a big bass boat and fished the Frank's Tract area and Lake Amador with a personal best of 11-lbs. He has also fished with conventional gear for salmon, tuna and albacore. Congratulations Phillip!
Written: September 22, 2004

Lee Rice got started by taking the Hanley/Murakoshi surf clinic in Summer 2001. It was such a total departure from the trout fishing. He says "It all looks like Nervous water to me!" He took about 4 or 5 trips last year and about the same number or so the previous years. His largest fish in the surf was a barred surfperch, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds caught in June 2002. His largest numbers were on July 1, 2004 when we fished together - approximately 30. He caught the barred surfperch on the left as well as this one. His first Zen days were this year but he is still learning to read the water and understand the various tides, wave action and is looking forward to catching fish more consistently. He uses a 9ft, 8wt Sage RPL rod, a Lamson Lp 3.5 reel, amnesia running line and various heads; LC-13, type 3 and type 4, 5 to 6 ft Fluorocarbon leaders and all the popular perch flies. He says: the thing that keeps me coming back to surf fishing is the constant challenge of deciphering all the variables, and anticipation of that tug on the end of my line. I guess when it comes to fly fishing that's a big part of it no matter what you happen to be fishing for. Of course there is always the beauty of the places we fish! Lee says that the key to learning has been: frequent visits to ZenFlyfishing.com, DanBlanton.com and applying all of the information. I think that to learn the subtleties of the surf environment you have to put your time in and be lucky enough to fish with good fishermen. It really is a Zen thing!! He also fishes for stripers in the Delta around Frank's Tract, Shad in the Sacramento River and rock fish in Monterey Bay. He is afloat on Bill Nash's boat in the striper and shad pictures. He enjoys fishing with Bill regularly. He fishes for trout when he can work the longer time commitment into his busy "parent of girls 9 and 13" schedule. Now that they are more independent, he hopes that means more fishing! In closing, he says: fly fishing is the total package of enjoyment. I love tying my own flies, fishing and catching with them. I love putting together the necessary tackle for the various fishing that I do, rod's, reels, lines leaders and flies. As I said, it's exciting for me to educate myself about a new fishing environment and species and to be successful. It makes me feel like I've done the right thing and it worked! Lee lives in Mountain View, CA and works for PG&E (running their print shop) in San Francisco. Written: July 7, 2004

Wayman Lee has been into perch on flies since his first trip in the summer of 2002. He got 16 perch contrary to the usual long time required and many lessons in humility. The picture shows him with a nice barred surfperch that he caught on a late summer 2003 trip. We fished together on September 7, 2003. He started fishing with Charles Carter (see below) after seeing him regularly at good local venues for largemouth bass and pan fish. I first knew of him through Charles. It was fun fishing with Wayman - it seemed like we were in lock step on catches - we had fish on simultaneously more than once. Of his surfperching, he says: Iím estimating the largest to be around 13 inches. My best Zen morning (Iíve only ever fished the mornings) was at Sunset. I landed 35 to 40 fish and probably dropped 10 to 15. By dropping, I mean not missing the grab, but having the fish on for a significant amount of time before losing it. All were pulling hard and all were dropped when I was putting good pressure on the fish. Iíve taken 3 stripers in the surf. They were all diaper stripers, but fun nevertheless on a 5 wt. Iíve only caught 1 or 2 jack smelt. I found those guys to be a lot of fun too. Wayman now uses a Sage RPL 5-wt with an integrated sinking head/running line at 250 grains. He started with a Powell AXS 7-wt and finds the 5-wt is more enjoyable for surfperch. Of the beach, he says: The combination of the dynamic environment and the abundance of wildlife (dolphins, seals, otters, pelicans) of the surf zone makes it a really cool place to fish. I plan to start earlier next season! Wayman is hoping to get his son Nathan interested in fly fishing. Wayman also enjoys local striper fishing (Frank's Tract and San Luis). His largest striper from a float tube was 15-lbs!

Charles Carter has been fly fishing the surf since the summer of 2002, and I have been exchanging ZFF email with him since January 3, 2003. Charles' first serious day on the beach put him into a nice school of barred surfperch (contrary to the usual lessons in humility and a lot of time on the water). Regarding his first day, he says: I was lucky in that we found a lot of fish... ...we got into an obvious and easily fishable hole (a rip)... ...and my friend (Wayman Lee) and I each landed more than a dozen fish, a number in the 2-lb. class. I think I caught 14 that day and Wayman (who usually outfishes me) got 16. Yes, it was luck and (I think) skills and intuitions that map over from other venues but I think that some people make their own good luck to an extent. Charles is shown here with a nice barred surfperch caught on July 27, 2003. Here's a beach striper that Wayman caught that same day. On his July 19, 2003 first Zen day, he caught 40 to 60 fish with a few nice ones and his first striper (a baby). See his report on that experience. He says about ZFF: perch fishing has really taken off this summer and your site has helped many. Your personal suggestions about where to fish and the use of LC-13 have really contributed to my best days ever. Also, see nice barred perch (big, bigger) that he caught his August 3, 2003 trip. He also has a passion for fly fishing trout, redear sunfish (see Wayman Lee's son, Nathan with a nice local RedEar Sunfish), carp and striped bass and anything else that will eat a fly. Charles is an Associate Director for Environmental and Community Planning at the Stanford University Architect / Planning Office.

These pictures show Harley and Gary C. (father and son): Harley with a nice 1 1/3-lbs (11-inches) female barred perch (caught on his tie of the Surf Miki 3) and Gary with a smaller barred. I fished with them on July 17, 2003. Gary did really well on numbers today - it was the best day ever for them. After several computer sessions reading and studying the information at ZFF, Harley got the courage to go out to try fly fishing the surf with confidence. The first trip gave him lessons in humility (he didn't feel a single bite). Gary had a jump-start and landed six perch (to 8-inches) and one jack smelt in high surf wave conditions. He has been into fish ever since. Over their first 4 trips, Harley managed bigger perch - he has gotten two that were well over 1-lb. Gary is a magnet for Jack Smelt - he has caught 3 nice ones and has managed good action on perch to 9-inches. July 17th was their 5th trip and they ended up having their best day ever because of the last cut. Gary's favorite fly is a Grub Fly that Harley tied after reading the ZFF grub fly pattern - he used small bead chain eyes and added flash wings to make a nice looking fly. Harley started with his Grub Fly, early versions of the Surf Miki and is using the Surf Miki 3 now.
Harley clearly appreciates the finer aspects of surfperching art: On their 4th trip, Harley describes a great experience: On the first good long cast, I got an immediate hard hookup just past the breaking wave. I thought it must be a jack smelt. It was a very fast fish creating slack at every turn. It was great! It turned out to be a 15-inch striped bass. I can't say it was an official catch because I did not get to touch him. It came undone right on the beach. I had backed up and it was swept away with the next wave. Regarding the first bigger barred perch that he caught: It was a very pretty site seeing the fish rising in the face of the coming wave, I could see the yellow bars glowing. After safely returning this fish I thought, so this is what it's all about, this is perch fishing. Gary fishes hard with wonderful focus! During the slower part of the day, he remarked, I don't give up easily! Click to see more pictures: Harley and Gary in turbulent swash zone, Gary casting, father and son fishing shallow trough, Harley with fish on and backing up, Harley retrieving and Gary undeterred by turbulence. They remarked that they really learned a lot today especially being able to get such an active bite in the middle of a sunny day in rough water. I was really impressed with the progress they demonstrated and the thrill they get from fly fishing on sandy beaches. They live in Central Valley, a 2-hour drive. They plan to continue fishing thorough the season once weekly. They both have boats and fly fish their local delta waters for striped bass.

This is Craig Scovill with whom I've had ZFF email exchanges since April 1, 2003. He is shown with a nice 2-lbs, 13-inches Barred Surfperch - his largest on July 10, 2003. He took ZFF advise about starting with conventional spin gear and grubbed for perch a couple of times and that really helped him learn how to grub and switch as well as locate fish. Now he uses a Cabela's 13-ft 8-wt spey rod with 30-ft of LC-13, Amnesia and a huge stripping basket. His skills have come a long ways since April! I enjoyed watching him cast, using a two-hand retrieve, respond to grabs, play fish and land them. He handled the big stick with ease - he casts all day without tiring. He uses a two handed retrieve - frequently ultra-fast. He sets with a combined strip-set and swing of his body to the right. He caught a total of around 40 fish today (mostly barred perch and 1 striper). We had one grand moment of getting a double, double. He had a small striper and a barred perch and I had two barred perch. Craig was using a beautiful shrimp pattern he calls "my little rubber leg shrimp pattern" - his hot fly. He was using a perch juvenile imitation on dropper. His largest fish from the surf is a 35-inch striper that he caught the previous week - wow! He just wrote me today to say that he got a 15 3/4-inch barred perch on July 16, 2003 - WOW!!! It took his tie of a Surf Miki 3 with legs. The most he has caught is 60 including a lot of large jack smelt. He said it was Lefty Kreh comments got him started: that progressive fly fishermen along the northeasterncoast, as well as others who fish the surf in other parts of the world, will come to realize that a two-handed rod offers them considerable advantages. We'll soon see them in more use. In addition to Kreh's thoughts, having started with grub-and-switch and knowing that perch are frequently holding beyond the reach of typical fly casting range had a big influence. Craig lives in Redwood City and works in Internet advertising. He also loves float tubing for stripers at San Luis' O'Neil Forebay.

This is Richard Hector with whom I've had ZFF email exchanges over the last year. I fished with him on July 7, 2003 and he had his best day ever. Many years of persistence and patience paid off as everything came together for him - he ended up with 63 fish (all barred perch except for 1 striper). He posted an article about the experience on Dan Blanton's Board. The barred perch shown is the largest today: 1-lb, 11-inches. On an earlier trip he caught a large barred perch at Linda Mar Beach. He didn't weigh or measure it was probably between 2.5 and 3 lbs. I took more pictures: Richard with his first beach striper, fish-on at a nice hole, fish landing, fish in hand. Richard was an early fan of the Surf Miki 3 and caught all but a few of the fish on it as well as his largest the 2.5 to 3-lber. He developed a variation that he calls the Red-eyed Miki. He uses it almost exclusively now.

This is Dave Sellers with a really nice barred perch that came in during a hot walleye bite on April 17, 2003. He caught it on a simple fly tied with Root Beer Comes Alive flash tail and wing with a bit of chartreuse angel hair and an orange head (similar to one of Rob Ketley's POS patterns that you can see at Ernieís Casting Pond in Soquel, CA.) Click to see another photo. Many of the walleyes were large females that were bearing young. Dave says that he was mentored by Rob Ketley and started fly fishing the beach last year (2002). He lives in Salinas and has a lot of flexibility as a successful wildlife and landscape artist. He has put a lot of time on the water and it shows in his performance! It seems he has had instant success. I suspect that his skills in striper fly fishing have helped him come up to speed quickly. He is one of the top striper fly fishermen on the west coast. Recently, his Seller's Striper Teaser has received a lot of attention. Congratulations Dave on a great day!

Ron Martin describes himself as a perch fanatic and fishes (catch and release) whenever he can year-around. He fished 109 days last year for surfperch. On a previous trip, I saw this grub fisherman who was obviously very good land a very nice 1 1/2-lb barred perch in shallow water just beyond the shoreward drop off in a large hole. Watching him you can see that he fishes with a Zen focus. We met and since have fished a couple times together. His biggest ever weighed 3 lbs 14 oz (that is huge!). This shows Ron (on February 18, 2003) with a nice perch when I happened along with a camera. I missed seeing the two 2-lb plus perch that he caught that day. He ended up with 18 perch (6 of the larger perch over 1 lb). He is interested in fly fishing for surfperch and has already made a fly rod. I'm sure that we can learn a lot from his experience so since this post we have completed an interview and added it to this website.

Brett Peterson is consistently catching nice perch after studying ZFF information and we had a few email interactions. This is one of several fat Barred Perch over 1 pound that he caught on September 21, 2002 from a beach in Ventura which is a part of the Channel Island National Park. You can see the email interactions and the water he fished by clicking on the links above. The key was learning to read water. He studied the water for an hour before fishing the first time on this beach. This is pretty typical of the size fish he has been getting. Some were a little larger. While he has scored using his fly rod, now most the fish are out beyond casting range with his fly rod. He has been using light spinning gear with trout patterns. Interesting! This fish was caught on a large Mayfly pattern.
Photo is by Brett © Copyright 2002 Brett Peterson (for his contributions).

Questions or Comments Contact:
Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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Last Revised: September 24, 2004

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