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Brian O'Keefe

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KWF Builds Momentum at ICAST/IFTD

The Keepemwet Fishing team spent last week at the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, ICAST/IFTD, in Orlando, FL.  The highlight of the show for us was hosting a panel discussion on the branding of catch-and-release.  We were joined by Brian O’Keefe, Jako Lucas, Jennifer Lavigne, Mark Harbaugh, Dr. Aaron Adams, Capt. Tony DiGiulian, and Dr. Jake Brownscombe to talk about fishing, fish science, and the roll of anglers, guides, and the industry in creating sustainable fisheries.  You can watch a recording of the discussion here.

The show was also an opportunity to for us to meet with current partners and establish new connections with likeminded individuals and companies.  While Keepemwet Fishing did not have a booth of our own, some of our partners were kind enough to give us space at their booths.  A huge thanks to Patagonia, Nautilus Reels, Thomas & Thomas, Alphonse Fishing Co, KastKing, Smith, Sight Line Provisions, and Ed Anderson for lending us some real estate.  We also debuted our new principles cards, which we will make available to a wider audience soon.  

 

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Ambassador Profile: Brian O'Keefe

"Keepemwet Fishing should have been in our world 20 years ago, I am really glad it is here now. I like to grill hatchery steelhead and the occasional mutton snapper, but our native and wild trout, especially, need tender loving care.

I think Keepemwet Fishing is a growing and important component of todays flyfishing culture and just starting to grow fins. After educating anglers on the proper landing, handling and releasing of fish, there are other channels to wade, like spawning bed etiquette, for starters. No other part of angling is more important than fish health. Catch and release fishing is really a little barbaric, even Jacques Cousteau called it perverted. Too minimize stress on our beloved catch, every effort should be made, by as many anglers as possible, to get ‘em in and get ‘em off, as humanely as possible. Do we really need to see more 10 inch to 15 inch trout, or any size for that matter, in a death grip, inside a drift boat on Facebook?" 

Brian O'Keefe- Fishing Bum With A Camera

I have had so much fun pretending to call fly fishing photography work, that I still describe this endeavor as a 'hobby out of control'. I sold my first fly fishing photograph when I was 16 years old, and let me tell you, that was a fairly long time ago. Since then, it has been my absolute pleasure to work with some of the finest publishers, magazine and photo editors and graphic artists in the world. I consider the following publishers of fly fishing photography some of the finest, and thank you for using me as a contributor: Field & Stream Magazine, USA Today, The Drake Magazine,  Outside Magazine, American Angler Magazine, Orvis, Patagonia, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Outdoor Life Magazine, Catch Magazine, Fly Rod and Reel Magazine, Northwest Flyfishing Magazine, Voyage de Pesch Magazine, Oregon Tourism, Chile Tourism... I could go on and on, especially with the addition of blogs and all the websites for fly fishing lodges, products, travel companies, etc.

It has been a good ride and thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. I am more of a shoot from the hip photographer. I rarely use a tripod and I usually have to put down my fly rod or the oars to organize a shot. My style is basically editorial in nature and natural. I do not use professional models or fancy lighting. If I did, I couldn't call this a hobby out of control. I have a very deep collection of images. From my backyard pond, here in Oregon, to far flung destinations like Alaska, the Bahamas, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Tonga, England, Mexico, Belize, Sierra Leone, Christmas Island and many more. Every decent fly fishing photographer has these kinds of lists, also. But, I have a little more time on the water than most. For example, I have made over 50 trips to Alaska and over 30 trips each to the Bahamas and Belize. Let me know what you are looking for, I'll probably have it.

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Guest Blog "When Life and Luck Collide" - Brian O'Keefe

(I couldn’t resist not sharing this experience from yesterday)

After a little errand running around Bend, and spending a little time with my mother, I drove up into the Deschutes National Forest in search of some big bass.

I had my 8 weight and flies/poppers, a couple donuts and some lemonade. No boat, my destination had some decent access via just wading. Simple, mind clearing stuff. Catching a few bass would be a bonus. The weather was decent but a cold front was moving in.

It was too sunny for poppers when I got there, so I rigged a big, white, wool-head streamer (Kelly Galloup style). It kind of floated and kind of dove down a bit. The bass liked it. I got a couple nice ones and a couple mediums. I walked back to my truck, which was parked on a very remote un-named/numbered Forest Service road, and this was at least 10 miles from pavement. As I loaded up my rod and had a donut a wild eyed young man walked down the road and I could tell he was going to enlighten me on his situation, good or bad. He was about 25 years old, in shorts, tank top and flip flops. I was thinking, "Dang it, some yahoo lost his dog, or something…” In a couple minutes this young man tells me he has a flat tire and his wife and kids and dogs are waiting, etc, etc. He has a spare tire but no jack. There was a reason why he had no jack, but I forgot. I have him jump in and we drove 3 miles to where his truck was. On the drive I find out where he lives (LaPine - sometimes not a great town to put on your resume), and that at one time he lived in Gates, Oregon (North Santiam River -where I lived 2000 to 2004) and he had spent 6 years in the Marines. I noticed the assault rifle tattoo.

By some miracle he drove a Chevy Silverado, also. His was about 8 years older than mine, but at least we hoped the jack, spare tire lowering rod, lug wrench, etc would be compatible. They were to a degree, but it still took over an hour to get the spare tire lowered and the tires changed. I am usually the guy crawling under the truck, getting dirty, ‘jerry/jury-rigging’ stuff and busting a knuckle or two. I was in my waders, so Ben insisted I stay upright, read the owners manual (I think he had me do that to stay out of his way!). Ben was all Marine. Super fit and tough. Under the truck, banging on things, wedging logs, jacking, etc. He was head to toe dust and all the while kept calling me sir, and thanking me so profusely it was embarrassing. He has no idea how many times I was the guy with the flat tire (three times I’ve had two flat tires at the same time), or stuck in the mud/snow, or had lost keys (broke more windows than I’d like to admit). Finally, the tire was on. It took 90 minutes. His wife and kids were a mile away waiting. Ben had built them a big fire, as a cold front was bearing down. Ben shook my hand and I didn’t wince to loudly from the rock crusher grip.

While Ben was working, I noticed the ‘All Gave Some and Some Gave All’ Marines bumper sticker. I noticed several dog tags that hung from his mirror. I’m pretty sure they belonged to fellow Marines, lost in action. He said he had an older German Shepard, which I think was also a war vet. It’s funny, to Ben, I was a life saver, as the location of this mishap was not favorable to a good outcome, the luck of having the same rigs was improbable, him finding me (and me quitting fishing at just the right time), the weather getting cold and nasty, was almost too Hollywood. When I drove off, trying to recover from the death grip hand shake, I realized I was the lucky one. Ben was the real deal. He made my day.

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Guest Blog "Popper Bass" - Brian O'Keefe

It seems a bit early for topwater action at the lake, but I’m not complaining. There seems to be quite a few bass in the two and a half to three pound range, slightly smaller than years past, but there are still a few lunkers. On Monday, under blue skies and on glass calm water, the day fishing was tough. The bass are all over the Lava Flow, back in the coves and on the points.

But, they are spooky. Even sneaking on the rocks and using small leeches, they would bolt. Same with the fish in the reeds. They would spook on the cast, before the fly hit the water. The good thing about spooking a lot of bass in the daytime, you can go back after the sun goes
down and slam them on big weedless poppers.

Plan on fishing right up to dark. Quite a few mosquitos, even 200 yards off the beach. I put my waders on, in my boat, they were so bad. Quite a few flying ants in camp, but I did not see any on the water. Sandhill cranes, eagles and osprey are working the shoreline, also. Here are a few point and shoot photos.

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