Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Steelhead Time Capsules

Every once and a while, you can really strike gold on the interwebz.

For pennies, I was delivered a treasure trove of angling history, with 6 issues of the massive Wild Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon Journal.

Historic names and dignitaries of the sport.  Anadromous fish before social media. 

There's so much to relearn from magazines 25 years old.  Such a short time ago but lifetimes different in the way things are today with respect to tackle, lines, gear and the like...

The most interesting thing, the conflict of scarcity is the same then as it is now.  We're fighting the same battles decades later.

You'd think we'd learn our lesson...

Friday, March 8, 2019

Crustaceans On Ice...


What turns out to be a major food source in the ocean for steelhead is so much fun to tie.

Stemming from the General Practitioner and others, the variations on the prawn are a blast to create on the vice.

Hopefully I'll see flies like this one stuck in the corner of a sea liced hen or colored up buck who forgot it that they weren't in the ocean anymore and shrimp dont live in rivers.

Photo credit--Corbin Brands 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hold The Line...

We live in crazy times.

I come to look at the natural world through the lens of a conservation oriented environmentalist.  Long title, but it speaks to the thought given to what's going on around us.

Growing up the "enviro" label had such a negative word associations that I recoiled from it.

That wasn't me.  That wasn't what I was about.

That word and label gave me the feeling of people chained to trees, endlessly in lawsuits and doing frivolous things about places and species that I knew nothing about and or thought to care about.  Climate change...pfff, climate change isnt real

But changed.

Through the lens of a hunter, fisherman and outdoor recreator, I began to see the onslaught our world is under.    The more I looked I began to see the ecological web that was being tossed aside for short term gains  that in less than a generation would be flipped to become disasters that responsible parties would be held unaccountable

Remember this...Mt Polly Mine, Canada 2014.

Guess what the company responsible for this paid in damages?  Nothing.

Guess who's on the hook for the cleanup and recovery?

The thing that I hold most dear is the want to give my boys an opportunity to know the joy of what the outdoor world can bring them.  To know that there are places where we have chosen to let mother nature operate as it was intended.  To know the engine of good  operates in perpetuity and if they choose to do so, go to places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Bristol Bay, The Boundary Waters, Smith River,  and enjoy the millions of acres of public land that is their birth rite without seeing a screwed up version of what was

I've marveled at stories of yesteryear in both fish and game terms.  Upwards of 32 million salmonids returning on the Columbia River system and we're never getting that back.   Examples of examples where we've chosen non-renewability over the long term.

Look at what's happening on the Oregon Coast with antiquated logging practices stripping the hillsides of all the trees, spraying pesticides directly into community water supplies....and drastically crushing the ability streams to bear salmon and steelhead.

Look at the increases on oil and gas leases on public land.  Up 86% since 2016... and fracturing connectivity and big game migration routes

There's hundreds of examples to choose from.  On the other hand we absolutely need extraction.  I drive a big truck for gosh sakes.  I consume just like the rest of the world.  We need raw materials like wood, gas, oil and the like but I am coming more and more to this conclusion

Maybe there's some places that should be off limits.

 The Pebble Mine in Alaska, like the worlds biggest zombie has raised from the dead.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under consideration for drilling

The Boundary Waters Wilderness area is under threat from a sulfide ore copper mine

The Smith River in Montana is in jeopardy

Public lands are in peril across the country.

The list is long, ongoing and growing.

This should never be a question of economics over the land.  Recent reports are showing the might of the outdoor and recreation industries that are coming close if not eclipsing the totals of extractive industries.

So to my call to action...

It's time to hold the line.  

If you're not involved in keeping places like this wild and untouched, it's time to join the fight.

If you don't have money, volunteer.

If you have money, give it.

If you have skills that can aide in the cause, throw down.

My lines have been drawn.  I hope you can see to draw yours too.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Free Rattlesnake Creek

Free The Rattlesnake: Remove Rattlesnake Dam from Wiwoka Media on Vimeo.

Another logical and practical fish barrier is ready to come down near Missoula, Montana

Take a peek at this collaborative project lead by Montana Trout Unlimited, The Westslope Chapter of TU and others and see if you have the ability to donate to make it happen


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Palouse Prairie Co...

My first real outdoor love was pheasant hunting.  From the beginning, I found the wild flushes of the pheasant to be intoxicating and the channeled scablands of the Palouse region in the Washington state was where I spent many a fall day with my dad and friends.

There's nothing like a wild rooster climbing up your nose after your dog has done it's job.  Nothing.

Nationally,  Eastern Washington's pheasant scene really isn't on the map.  Most dream of the midwest, the Dakota's or places elsewhere but really that's fine with the hearty band of brothers and sisters that chase them here

Taking upon that spirit, there's a new outdoor apparel company on the scene that's taking that spirit to hats, t shirts, stickers and more.

Palouse Prairie Co is a new start up from here in Eastern Washington that just seems to have right.

The hat's are unique in their quality and fit and speak the the people who really love chasing birds, casting to rising trout or even spending time in the woods in pursuit of deer and elk

They're a family run business that's putting its roots down on the Palouse to really embody the life they love and I can really appreciate the hustle of a small business doing it right and putting out great product.

With multiple hat designs, t shirts, stickers and many more products on the horizon, do yourself a favor and take a peek at what Palouse Prairie Co has to offer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A New Side of Beautiful...

New experiences.  New water.  New gear....

Water turns to ice and a whole new world appears for the intrepid outdoors man or woman

Ice shacks.  Tiny Rods.  Staring at the video game screen of the electronics

The tiny taps of jumbo perch.  The new ways to set the hook and all those new lures. 

A whole new side of beautiful out there.  Go check it out.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Maybe Buckner Is Good Luck...

Steelheaders can get in their own head in a second...

It was October and when it should be the best, when in fact...was the worst.

Our crew lazily sat on the beach of the big river, b's'ing away the day and waiting for a dinosaur to pick up the stinky baits that rolled around the bottom.  We had for that day, given up on the fish that had us driving upwards of 400 miles to fish for. 

To pass the time, we resurrected a game from our youth.  The name game, baseball players only.  First guy calls out a name, lets say...Randy Johnson.  The next guy has to start with the first letter of the last name of the previous entry.  In this case, the letter J, so lets go with John Olerud

It's an interesting game because you quickly see what era you and your friends came of age.  To this day I can name the starting lineup of the 1990 Oakland Athletics.  Another friend with midwest ties was heavy on the Cardinals and Cubs.  Still others who grew up around deeper baseball culture reached way back in the vault for names like Stan Musial, Dan Quisenberry and others.

The game can pass hours quickly, and I found myself saddled with a B....

Bill Buckner...

All of a sudden, my buddy Brian about falls over laughing.  Out of a zipper pocket he brings out Mr. ball between his legs and hands it over to me.  It was like it was meant to be.

I thought maybe this could be my lucky charm.  A karma changer if you will....

Fast forward to three months without a grab and I realized that Buckner was still in my front wader pocket. 

Could it be?  Could this be the cause of my horrendous slump?  Cast the rest of the reasons aside as to why I hadn't been graced with a grab trip after trip and obviously this was the bad juju in cardboard form


I sat down on a log on the beach after landing the biggest steelhead of my life.   Hands still shaking, trying to take in the last moments of glory as I reran the entire grab to landing again and again.

Reaching into my front wader zipper pocket for some gum, I grabbed something else instead


Maybe after all, he was good luck....

Or maybe, steelhead fishing is just an unanswerable question where the joy is in  trying to solve the unsolvable

Monday, January 21, 2019


The fly stopped mid swing and everything got heavy.

Heavy for the fish.  Instantly I new that this was a giant, a class of steelhead many spend their lifetimes looking for.  It was having it's way with me and to paraphrase Gierach I felt like I was standing in a river holding a tiny stick.

Heavy for this the state of our region's steelhead populations.  The numbers suck and I would be remiss to say that I am extremely worried for the future.  Would I have a time to interact with a fish like this again?

Heavy in my breathing.  When you havent had a grab in 2 months, you can feel a bit....nervous when you're in the thick of it

Did I mention the fish was....Heavy.  For a solid 5 minutes, it chugged along in the the middle of the run and my 14 ft 9 wt was to the cork.  Bent.   I could barely move it

Heavy like a weighted jacket, the situation hung on me.  The tail came out of the 37 degree water and my father's audible gasp told the story.   This was the biggest fish I've ever had the chance to connect with.

The runs shortened and the end game was at hand. The buck finally turned over signaling defeat and OMR dipped his hand into the water in ready position for the tail grab.

"Oh my god, would you look at that....."

At that point, I couldnt hear anything else.  My Najinsky was at hand.

The weight of everything was right there, staring back at me.  I thanked everything I could think of and released that heaviness back into the river.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Just Waiting...

We arrived at our destination and got everything ready to go.

Rods, reels, bait, chairs, food, drinks and a million other things in tow.

I bombed out a cast and set the rod in the holder, and on cue he grabs his chair.

As he plops down with a big smile, he made me a proud father for the millionth time....

"Just waiting for my bite dad"

Be still my beating heart.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Cant Leave It On The Road...

Gifts, dont question where they come from...

A couple hundred cars probably passed this squirrel taking it's final dirt nap.   When I went by, I knew what I was going to do.

I've come to the portion of my fly tying life that I cannot leave a dead squirrel on the road without making some alterations and adding to my collection.

I've salvaged coyote tails, countless squirrels, hun patridge, pheasant, raccoon, and a bunch of other animals that made it way onto the tying bench.  Too funky, smells a bit weird, na.....we can salt the stench away.

At this point, I may be a hoarder.  A good squirrel tail will last a season, maybe two of intense hairwing tying.  I think i have 7 now.

Why do I keep doing this..... quote a grandmothers or two out there, "Ya never know"

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Swing And A Miss...

There's always a story behind the story.

The bird hit the ground, picked up by a happy dog and returned to an even happier hunter.

From the start, you could tell something was off on this bird. 

It's size said a veteran of the game.  The spurs said years were on this pheasant, not months.

But still, it had very little in the tail feather department. 

What's the story?

A quick inspection told the story.  A coyote took a swing, and missed

The bird got away with it's life.  The coyote got a bunch of fly tying material in it's mouth.