Sunday, December 30, 2007

Borrowed Time

The 12 days of Christmas is such a nice song, it almost makes a fella forget that travelling around the holidays can be a hassle of Brobdingnagian proportions.

Day 12 of the Christmas travels wears heavy upon us. AK, to WA, to TX, back to more borrowed day until we get back home.

We probably would have had more Christmas spirit this year had we not been sick as a flophouse dog, coughing and sneezing our way through the presents on Cristmas day. What started out as an inconsequential sniffle at 58°19'59"N 134°29'49"W turned into a raging respiratory infection by the time we got to 30°29'12"N 97°39'18"W.

Merreh Gchristmu. At least that's what we said.

Hooked up with the Southern D (as opposed to the Northern D) for a laid-back session at the old home water. No matter how hard you try, you can't go home again. Signs looked good for a few stretches, with decent vis and good flow, but this ain't the 80's and the runs certainly aren't the same anymore. We lost a little gear, cursed at the flow some, then retired to the old eatin' place for a burger.

No fish, but a fun time anyway, and We got to see some of the old country and it's new inhabitants. Southern D is as bad as we are, shutterbuggin' his way though the day like a tourist at Disneyland. One of a few pics at the old stompin' grounds...
Borrowed computer, Borrowed photos, Borrowed gear...the last of 2007.
See you in the New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Christmahaunakwanzaakah Day, Dammit

Haunakah was a little quick this year.

Over by the 12th of December is no way to celebrate a season...Holy smokes, that wasn't even Winter.The whole Yiddish Calendar thingy kinda needs an update.

Kwanzaa is a ways off. We have to wait 'til the other holiday comes and goes, then we gonna get some seasonal lovin' in on the 26th. Gonna be halfway through the Boxing Day shopping when Kwanzaa starts, though. Well, maybe we'll just get all Festivus on the 23rd and avoid all that other crap.

Dammit. We'll still be hungover from Yule on the 21st. Nothin' like a little Yule goat, y'know?

As with most traditions, We here at Neil Creek tend to get a little Bah-Humbuggy around the holiday season. Many things contribute to this condition, but mostly it just fits our general demeanor when it comes to "pre-boxed" thinking and ritual.

So, Happy Holidays and all that crap. We are gonna be on the road from Dec 18th to the 31st, but we will try to post a few updates as we go along.

Fishing for a little NiCr love in WA is in the works, as is a Wassailing Session with the dynamic duo over at the Moldy Chum. We're sure that there will be at least one other unscheduled Yule session, and something tells us that the Fanz and the Right Rev will be bellied up beside us at some point too.

Stocker fishing in TX is probably a no-go, which is sorta lame seein' as how those stunted little pondmonkeys probably best exemplify the warping of intent so prevalent during Xmas season. We were actually lookin' forward to redneckin' around behind a hatchery truck with a snoopy outfit in one hand and a can of corn in the other.

Grinch or no, we still loves us a good gift. Merely warming up with her strong birthday performance, the Wife bears down around the holidays and gets her Elf on. This year, She got us one of those Patagucci Zip-front Down Sweaters, and it rules. Damn thing is so warm n comfy it's like wearing a sleeping bag around.

If you think you got a big enough toy sack to out-Santa the Wife, send all your offerings and tidings of joy to 58°19'59"N 134°29'49"W...Ho ho ho, dammit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bling Fishin'

Just got an e-missive from Killer K with a dandy set of photos from one of our trips last spring. If memory serves correctly, this is the trip he threatened to throw his "weenie stick" into the depths. For those that don't know, the Winston BIIx 10 wt. is more suited for small stockers than angry 30+ lb Kings. It may cast like a dream, but it has a backbone limper than Bobby Petrino's. Why Winston discontinued the Ibis will remain a mystery, but at least they got it right with the new BIImx...

But we Digress.

K K with 40 inches of love

Nothin' like a little saltwater flyrod bling to make a grown man weep uncontrollably onto his keyboard.

If there ever was an appropriate time for such behavior, now is probably as good a time as any. The Winter Doldrums have set in, and we spend much time gazing at photos of years past, fiddlin' with gear, and generally moping around waiting for Spring and the return of our beloved friends.

Gonna be down Sea-town way in a few days, and we'll be packin' heat. Got a message on the telex that there are fresh fish to be had in the old home creek, so we're planning to meet up with the Fanz and D, see if we can't get a result.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Art of the Tale

Most winters in Alaska, there is a run of fish at the local pub. These fish are all huge, they eat only the flies that you have, they all fight like hell and never break your line, and they all give you the phone number of a hot chick if you release them.


It is our contention that more fish have been caught in pubs than actually exist in the local watersheds. Some of these fish, it is said, raise the water levels of the rivers they swim in due to their sheer size.

If you think that fishermen in general are capable of stretching the bounds of credibility, you need to see the rare bird of the fishing tale world, the Alaska Free-Range Bullshitter.

While not our term, we wish it were. "Free-Range Bullshitter" was coined by another guy, a transplant from Outside (aren't we all?) who spent a winter doing dumb stuff to himself and his neighbors, and generally learning that mental attitude and the ability to bullshit are essential tools for Alaskan winter survival.

The telling of stories is in and of itself an artform. With subtle twists, you can take actual fish and transplant them a few islands over, thereby ensuring your relative privacy when visiting your home water. Straw castles can be meticulously built over a period of months, giving small bits of misinformation and sleight of fish to keep your water secret, hidden from the prying eyes of a small community.

Why not just shaddup, you ask?

Because we live in a small town and know (and are known) by all the fishermen that matter. Each and every one of us knows what the other's cars, trucks, and boats look like, and we all keep tabs on each other whether we are fishing or not. We all know where folks fish...and we all run into each other in the long winters spent moping around town.

A fella has to be polite, and since most of us are fishfreaks, we talk about fishing. Enter the Free-Range Bullshitting.

No one ever calls anyone on the stretching of the truth. That would be seriously bad form. It can be and usually is mentioned later, but not during the actual stretching or contorting. Points are awarded for the stretcher's ability to look another in the eye and flat-out lie about where he was fishing and what he caught. Deductions are accrued for any mention of "secret creek" or "I told (whoever) that I wouldn't tell".

We here at Neil Creek, being the pirates that we are, appreciate the fish-story almost as much as the fish, and we take pride in our ability to Hoodwink and Bamboozle. Every now and then, just to keep folks on their toes, we throw in a gem of truth for a few close heads, knowing that those folks understand the concept of reciprocity when it comes to fishing alliances and associations.

So sit back, hoist a pound, and tell us again about the one that just about ate your anchor when you got it near the boat, then we'll tell you about the one that chewed that bear's leg off in the Meadow Run.

132 days 'til we can do it again.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Beyond the Valley of the Geek

Let's get a few things straight.

In the world of flyfishing, there are a lot of everyday average geeks. Some of these geeks are hardcore Geeks, and of those a few are SuperGeeks. Of the grouping of SuperGeeks, one or two might be MetaGeeks.

In the rarified environment of the Metageek, there is a class of geekery that makes all others look like child's play.

This is the realm of the ÜberGeek.

The Gonger and his trademark goatee, presiding over another of his ÜberGeek creations.

A lot of folks tie their own flies. Some tie for others, and some even design flies to be tied by other folks. Hell, some folks are even really good at tying flies, and get paid for it.

The Gonger makes his own hooks. That in and of itself gets you the geek equivalent of an Eagle Scout Badge. Not only does he make his own hooks, but he ties ridiculously beautiful flies on these hooks, then makes and mats his own shadowboxes, in which he mounts these finished flies. When he is all done with this, he sells them to other geeks for prices approaching the cost of a decent 9ft flyrod.

If you are a regular reader, you already know the Chronicle's stance on Tradition and History...we are temporarily suspending the poo-pooing of tradition to be suitably awed by the culmination of hundreds of years of devotion by many acolytes to a single craft as displayed by the efforts of one superb tyer - the Full Dress Blind-Eye Salmon Fly.

A few of the Gonger's creations.

A few closeups.

Keeping the Art torch burning in the dim light of the fly-tying craft, the Gonger gets our vote as the guy most likely to be voted "2007 ÜberGeek of the Year."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Slow Water

My poor little creek! What have they done to you?

These yearly ice-ups never cease to amaze us. Once, while walking the wintery banks of another local, we came across a pool that was deep and slow enough that the frazil ice was compressing at the tailout, forming an ice-dam that was causing the now-slurpee consistency water to overflow into the woods. We threw rocks at the dam to see if it would release, but the ice would swallow the rocks with a soft Thsssh sound, often suspending the stones in slushy limbo. That fish can and do survive such icing is still a source of awe and respect for our finny summer dance partners.

Sleep well, friends. We will be together again come runoff.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Noteworthy Reading.

The new issue of This is Fly is out, with more interesting pics and stories from "off the tweed highway", as it were.

This issue includes stories on Float-Tubing for Tarpon, switchcasting for urban "alvacore" on Coney Island, and "22's for 22's", the art of fishing the small for the large.

We will decline comment concerning the models for the winter fishing fashion, although for some strange reason we have the urge to run out and purchase a Cloudveil vest...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


It is damn chilly outside.

The mercury is hovering at 9°F right now, a 48-hour high. Hell, this feels like a heatwave compared to the 1°F and 30mph winds of Monday.

Oh well, at least it is sunny. The View from the pullout at one of my favorite saltwater beaches.

One of the locals, doin' her best to get back to the sea.

The time of slow water is also the time of ebb on the inner sea. Just as the ice forms a barrier, the long time between falls last and springs first fish form a layer, a strata of the year and a disconnect from our finny friends.
We will be back together soon, friends. This season of cold is just the intermission, the resurfacing, halftime in the big game...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Focus, dammit.

We here at Neil Creek don't mean to be the seasonal grinches that we seem to be coming off as in our post-RoadTrip bloggin'...

For this, we are sorry. We will try to focus on all that is good and right, and not wallow in a pit of despair and woe.

In the upcoming months We will be occupying our time at the Neil Creek R&D Complex, renewing our friendship with zap-a-gap and polar chenille, and in general making the Wife freak out at the amount of krystalflash and bunny fuzz in the carpet. Time will be spent planning the Blitz Occupation of both Texas and Hawaii, Focussing on the 3 B's...Bars, Beaches, and Barbecue. Naturally, fishing paraphenalia will accompany us on our travels, but the real joy will be in going to places where the water isn't frozen, or about to be.

It is also time to go through the Official Neil Creek Archiving Device and post a few photos of the first friends whose arrival we eagerly await in late April...

Focus, dammit.

Season of the Slow

15° Outside. East wind, movin' off the icefield at 20kts.

Nothing left to do but prepare the den for hibernation.

Like most other Large Omnivorous Mammals of the Boreal Forest, when the winter chill sets in, we enter a state of torpor. Not quite hibernation, but we ain't tickin' off no 6-minute miles, either.

Preparing the layer of adipose tissue that keeps us warm is of the essence now. The increased consumption of malted, hopped beverages goes a long way towards this end, as well as the high level of red meat intake. Since almost all of the deer on our Island croaked during last year's record snowfalls, the meat of choice this year is Cow. Sure, you get funny looks when you are stalking a Chuck Roast in the meat aisle of your local supermarket, and they don't offer much in the way of Fair Chase, but the "Organic, Grass-Fed" is close enough to real meat to fill the bill.

What about Fish, you say?

Fish are Spring and Summer food. We have a stash of Halibut, some smoked King, and a few Sockeye in the freezer, but fish are for warm-weather eatin'. Fish are for movin' fast, low to the ground...not suitable for winter sustenance.

At any rate, the long dark is now upon us. Just like the other endemic mammals of our SouthEast ecosystem, it is time to hunker down, keep warm, and expend as little energy as possible.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Paying the Piper

For every long, hot, and sunny summer day in Alaska, there is an equally short, cold, and dark winter day.

These days are rapidly upon us, with this weekend bringing the threat of single-digit cold, and the daylight hours waning to just about 6 hours per day.

This is the price you pay for living in WonderLand. You get your fixes from May to mid-October, then quit cold-turkey for six mind-numbing, DT-shaking months.

Remember these idyllic scenes?

Replaced by this.

This must be what jail is like. You can see it, you know it is out see media with folks doing what you used to do, back when you were free. You spend the day trying not to come unglued, and at night when your head hits the pillow, your full-color surround-sound movie plays over and over in your brain, lulling you into a reasonable facsimile of sleep.

What keeps us going? Knowing that in 152 days, we will once again be among friends.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

RoadFood, Vol. I


It can make or break a trip. Be it Burritos, 'Slawdogs, Ribs, Cheeseburgers and Fries, a Club Sandwich, or even an AM/PM MurderBurger, it can provide just the right touch to an epic roadtrip, or turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back on a bad one.

When we were much younger, the whole family would pack it up to Eastern Washington's Yakima Valley for opening day of bird season. From the earliest time we could remember, to the last time we went with the family, there was one constant: Rossow's U-Tote-Em burgers in Ellensburg.

We have generally hazy memories of most of the hunting trips, but there are moments and memories of distinct clarity which, not suprisingly, have to do with the yearly stop at the U-Tote-Em. Sitting in the back of the station wagon noshin' on a humongous cheeseburger, trying to keep the dogs from gettin' in your food, throwin' fries our brothers, then messin' around in the little creek out back of the place...these things come into fine focus from the blur of many years, many trips.

Disregarding the "You Can't go Back..." saying, we returned recently to this burger wonderland of our youth. Still going strong, still frequented by the fragments of our family as they pass by singly and in formation, and still serving up a mean bacon cheeseburger, Rossow's is the very essence of RoadFood as it relates to the sporting adventure.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things that make us go Hmmm, Installment #7

"...Hey, Bob."

"What, Larry?"

"Aren't these wires s'posed to be easier to string up?"

"Whaddya mean?"

"Well, I been winchin' for all she's worth, and it seems like sumpin's not right..."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good Eatin' Day.

Like most folks, We here at Neil Creek have our holiday traditions, inherited mostly from our parents and the old, funny-smelling folks from our distant past. As y'all might already know, we ain't too big on most traditions, especially if they have to do with fishing or thinking...but sometimes, tradition is good. It keeps you in touch with an identity, a place you come from, and folks that did a whole lot so that you could be around to enjoy it all.

Gramps loved oysters, and every year on Turkey Day he had oyster dressing. It wasn't necessarily a hit, but by god he was gonna have it, no two ways about it. Over the years, we grew to appreciate the taste for the older-style touches in the recipe, and it is now a Neil Creek staple on the day of thanks.

We ain't gonna insult your intelligence by giving you step-by-step instructions. Assuming you weren't raised by wolves, are mostly bipedal, and can hold down a steady job at least 6 months of the year, you can probably figure out how to put together a dressing recipe.

1lb sourdough bread, cubed
1pt oysters with their liquor
1/4lb salt-pork
1/4lb butter
1 boiler onion
3 celery ribs
flatleaf parsley
some thyme
a little sage
salt, pepper

Thanks, Gramps.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random RoadTrip Photos

Going through the digital archive here at the Neil Creek National Monument and Laboratory...gots some randomness that seems to be the hallmark of the digital age. You know the stuff We're talkin' about - Things you wouldn't even think of shooting if there were only 24 pics on each roll. Now, any fool with a digital camera and a 2 gig card (that'd be us) can take 1400 high-on-quality but low-on-content pics and not even waste a frame of film.

Droppings from the Neil Creek official Archiving Device.

The drive to the river went along another river...perhaps some of you have seen this place before.

The drive to the river also included a hair-raising 129 turn grade that dropped from 4000ft to 1045ft in about 9 miles.

Junior, discovering that wet wading boots are rather hard after a night in 20 degree weather.

We'd heard that there were some other turkeys that were on this river, but I think we were mistaken.

Roll on, Big River, Roll on.

Fed up with unresponsive fish, Shaky J wakes himself across a tailout. Junior watches.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chicks with Sticks vs. Geezers in Breezers

The Chicks vs Geezers game is upon us yet again...

The first year the Geezers won handily, as most of the Chicks were completely new to the concept of ice hockey while the Geezers were merely out of practice. Now entering its 4th year, the Geezers have to get their geriatric asses in gear to avoid a 1-3 all-time record.

The brainchild of Juneau artist Bill Spear, the annual game is a benefit for the Dzantik'iHeeni Middle School's "Culture Club Hockey Program", a group of kids that without patronage probably wouldn't have access to the city-owned rink. The other program it benefits is that of the "Godfathers of the Ice", Marc Scholten and John Ingalls. Scholten and Ingalls tend to the local lake ice in an almost religious manner, shoveling, flooding, providing floodlights, anything to get folks to come out and skate with them.

If you happen to be in the Juneau area on Sunday, Nov. 25th, come on down to the rink to watch some hockey. We'll be there, in our usual spot...on the Glass, left side icing line of the home team end.

Keep your stick on the ice.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Decompression Time.

9 Days.

1800 Air Miles, fortified by a bag of pretzels, a cookie, and 2 beers.

1100 Road Miles.

4 different beds.

Snow. Rain. Fog. Wind. Flooded rivers. Low rivers. Deer, Turkeys, and Lockjawed fish.

RoadTrip '07 came to its sordid conclusion this morning. 9 days, logging more continuous ass-time in a car that we have in 15 years, all to chase one more fix.

After the initial delay, things got started in the FanzMobile, tootlin' up I-5 headed to an area that we haven't seen for 18 years. As we got close to the destination, certain facts became clear:

1.This valley got waaaay more rain that was called for...
2. That rain had made it to the river, in the form of 3000+ cfs additional flow.

Oh well. Run what ya Brung, huh?

The first few holes had less than 8" of vis, so we decided to head downstream to some feeders to see if we could find a window in the dim torrent. The next stop had some promise, a little slow braid with chums zipping over the tailout, but nary a trout to be had. Figuring it was the low vis and not the absence of our finny friends, we Fired up the AK Mojo and threw some SE love at the hole... Nuffin'.

Next stop had a little more promise.

Nice feeder, good clear flow, little bucket on what used to be a gravel bar 5 hours ago. We worked it over with the Love and got a taptap on one drift, and a wicked takedown on the next. A few headshakes, a run, 2 feet of trout thrashin' on the surface...slackline.

Mustad hooks suck.

After a few more runs and one "Hey, why is my leader moving back upstream, and what is that fish jumping for?" moment, we decided to throw in the towel, beaten down by the river, getting nothing but fin from our cold-hearted lovers.

Fish: 2.
Us: Goose-egg.

The next fishing day was called off in the middle of that night's long beer session, and it was decided instead that we would sleep in, then hit a Dim Sum joint with friends and shake off the fog of weissebier and bad bar food...

Note to the Itinerant Fisherman: Fried Chicken Feet and Tripe is NOT the way to start the day. The Pork Intestine Noodles, however...those were delicious.

Day 3 involved driving more ridiculous distances, this time to a small college town to meet up with Shaky J and Junior and hatch a plan for a full-frontal assault on yet another river. After yet more beer and bad bar food, it was decided that 6 am was as good a time as any to get rollin'.

We arrived at the river a little before noon, only to hear that the rains we had been so anticipating had, in fact, come and gone. The river was "in great shape this morning", according to our cheery host, but had since fallen 200 cfs and cleared a little...

Bad Sign.

But hey...Run what ya Brung, right?

We hit the river for an optimistic session of swinging with the 2-handers, but after an hour or so, it became apparent that these fish were not in a swingin' mood. A quick dip of the fingers provided more evidence of this fact, as the water temp was rapidly falling towards the south side of the 40's. Heedless of the signs and deaf to the murmuring of the fish, we soldiered on, swinging stuff that these finny folk would probably love to eat, had they not been wearing sweaters to ward off the chill. After 3 dumb hours of huckin' the 6126 around in a 25mph breeze, we gave up and went in search of more beer, the required fuel to hatch more plans.

In the chill of the clear night, Beer was drunk, Poker was played, and plans were hatched. No more Mr. Nice Guys. Tomorrow would be the day of reckoning for the fish, and we were abandoning all pretense of the swung fly. Dredge was the philosophy, dredge and nook and cranny with lead, weighted flies, and long leaders. No fish was safe. We were going to their home, and we meant business...but first les' have another beer.

Shaky J, finding out the hard way that Beads are Legal Tender at steelhead camp. Do not lose your Beads, lest ye be required to perform acts of silliness.

If we had more sense, we should have just stayed in bed.

When it is 20 degrees outside, dawn breaks with a particularly tinny is the song of the cold, sung in shrill tones of frozen lines, iced-up guides, stiff waders, and runny noses. As we crackled our way through the frosted grass flats that led to the river we understood that this day was going to be a knock-down, drag-out affair, and the fish were going to be hard to move.

After 2 hours of numb fingers, frozen flylines, and spitting on the guides to get the icebergs out, we reached a run that HAD to have fish in it. If anywhere on this desolate, frozen wasteland of a river had fish, this slot was it. If there wasn't a fish here, it would be a soul-crushing event.

And there were. Steelhead, mindless of the high 30's water temp, were rolling in the tailout. We threw big. We threw small. Bright. Dark. Neutral. Weighted.

Nothin' but fin.

At this point, Shaky J suffered an existential meltdown and stomped off across the desert in search of fish that were interested in eating, or moving, or anything besides flaunting their finniness to us in such blatant fashion.

We followed to the next pool, but the siren song of the fish had us turning back to the soul-crusher, not willing to admit that we could be bested by some genetically aberrant hatchery beast of suspicious origins.

We let Junior fish the pool out, then started in with the focus and intensity of the tardy junkie, looking for something, anything to get the angle to the next fix. Weight was added. Flies were changed. Then we got the takedown.

After a little meet n' greet with our new friend, we parted ways. We fished the pool out with one more takedown, then went to find the Old Man, Junior, and Shaky J. J was in good spirits, after getting over his crisis with the help of a few hookups and a fish to hand. Junior and the Old Man had no fish love, but were not to be dissuaded now that they knew in their hearts that fish were to be had.

We went downstream to some new water, a riffle/drop/pool that had all the trappings of fine steelhead H2O. Shaky J and Junior opted to leave it to us, while the Old Man went in search of his own water.

We fished through the pool with some very suspicious takedowns, as if the bottom was spongy...after one particularly odd touch, a closer examination of our terminal rig revealed part of the reason: the hookpoint of the fly had broken off at the barb. A fly-switch was in order, along with a reset upstream to further investigate the "spongy rock" phenomena.

2 casts in and Takedown. Quick headshake, pull, gone. A heartbreaker under most circumstances, we chalked this one up to hubris and inattention. With the light failing, we rendezvoused with the rest of the party to swap lies, tell stories, and drink beer.


Next morning, We dropped Shaky J and Junior off upstream with a plan to meet in the middle.
We went back to our drift of folly, only to find lower, clearer, and colder water that the day before. Switching up, we stepped in with a new game plan, one that we were sure no fish could resist.

As it turns out, they couldn't... but they weren't really the right fish.

We were under the impression that all of the smolt had left the building, so it was with surprise that we set the hook on these tykes. Scrappy, they even had a 1/0 lodged in its head, but appeared no worse for the wear. Leaving the small, we soldiered on.

Riffle...pool...glide...slot...bucket...nothing. Met up with Shaky J and Junior to listen to the tragic tale of woe, one that starts with J getting a fish to hand in the first 10 minutes, and ends many fishless hours later, cold, wet, tired, and hungering for more. All manner of flies had been used, all sorts of incantations uttered, but the first hole/first fish feat was not to be duplicated.

With the clock ticking, we changed locations yet again, to what was to be the last pool of the trip. Frantic searching, the closing time upon us...and one last cast. A no-salt, this one probably got a few hundred miles away and started pinin' for the home-pool. A fitting end to the journey, both his and ours.

Just like in the epic safari stories, as we parted ways with the river, the rains began. One last furtive look over the shoulder, one fleeting thought of connections that could be missed...and then it was time to go.

Blurred memories of the long road back, mired in the mist of mentally processing all that had taken place. A new river, a new challenge. A night, a morning road out of the desert, punctuated by a somehow-quite-appropriate fog as if we were trekking out from some forbidden hinterlands... and we returned to civilization.


We know where you live, fish. We can feel you, hear you. We know what you like, and we'll be back.

Someday, we'll be back.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Update from the Road.

Day six.

Mother Nature, She hate us.

Fog delay, then flooding on the first river, then drought on the second...

If we wasn't superstitious, we would think that she was out to get us. But, looking back, we were jinxed right from the start.

Never, and we mean NEVER, start a trip on a friday. Any fisherman worth his salt will tell you that.

We didn't get skunked, be we smelled that bastard comin' downstream. Shaky J came through, and we got fish when everyone else on the river got fin. Props, J, for the 3 cast wonder this am.

Tired, road-weary, we are halfway between the Blue Mountains and the Emerald city...a bed awaits.

Pictures and backstory by monday, peeps.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ok, Let's try this again.

After an agonizing night of waiting, our flight was finally cancelled. 15 minutes after it was cancelled, the fog cleared and the airport reopened...


The one day we try to go Outside, the weather and AK Air conspire to keep us here. This must be part of a Master Plan, hatched by Bull Trout and Steelhead in Washington, intent upon saving their finny souls from the pitchfork of fire and brimstone that is our flyrod...

Then again, it could have just been the fog.

Oh well. We're tryin' again tonight. Shouldn't be a problem (knock, knock) as the weather is fairly clear, and the cries of anguished travelers have diminished from the roar of yesterday's cancellations.

The monkeywrench of a 24-hour delay has caused a wrinkle in the "Ideal Schedule", to wit: only one day of fishing on a bull trout river in WA. The next day has now been consumed as a travel day, with a stop at some as-of-yet unidentified "trout water" on the way to the dry side.

As if we didn't pack enough crap already.

As for the Steelhead portion, it seems that the beatified gaze of Lady Luck might have fallen on our motley crew. Rain is forecast to fall in the river valley for the 3 days before our trip, and no inclement weather is expected for the duration of our stay...once again, Knock, Knock.

We get our steelhead thang on in the too-short 3-week season here...the fish are big, bright, angry, and less than 10 miles from the Ocean. The fish that we are flying to are small, dark, mellow, and about 400 miles from the ocean...but they are steelhead, and that is reason enough to go chase them.

What we want.

What we will probably get...minus the proud adipose.

We just need a fish fix. Shakin' like a junkie with an overdue score, just let our plane be on time so we can feel the sweet release once more.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Later, Baiters.

If the fog ever clears, We are gonna be so outta here...

Alaska Air has a hell of a time in the fall. Almost all of its airports are at the foot of coastal ranges, where large masses of cool air meet the great warm homogenizer of weather, the sea. The result, when you mix in a little wetlands and a river or two, is a carpet of groundfog for about 2 months out of the year.

The impact? 6 cancelled flights today, and our flight changed by about 3 hours...hopefully the rising barometer will bring a north wind, and that will push some of this fog off the runway so we can get the hell out of here.

The good news is, we wangled our way to a first-class upgrade, taking advantage of the Yakutat-Cordova cancellation.

We're gonna need the free beer to settle down. We will post from borrowed laptops, on borrowed connections, with borrowed passwords when we can, but for now, we are incommunicado for the next week and some.

Road Trip '07 begins.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kitchen Sinkin'

Whaddya do when you go to a completely new system?

When fishin' the locals, We generally don't leave the house with more than one small box, 4 different patterns, or 4 different color beads...the less crap to tote around, the better. Plus, we have the added advantage of the whole first-name-basis with our friendly neighborhood anadromous denizens, so we already know what they dig, and what they give the fin to.

Not so on this road trip.

Well, the rivers on the WetSide are pretty similar to the small coastals that we fish...just a few thousand more cfs. Those don't have us diggin' through they flyboxes like some Orvis Queen in the middle of a hexagenia hatch, hopin' that the fish won't notice that the sulphurs he has only have 2 wraps at the thorax...

We might be overthinking this a bit. 8 Different silhouettes, 3-5 color variations, topwater, midwater, rock-crushing dredgers...Big, Small, Tweeners...purple, cerise, black, olive, grey...

F'r chrissakes, they're just steelhead. And Hatchery brats, at that. B-run retards that think irrigation ditches are a pretty happenin' place to swim. How smart can they possibly be?

But if there is a smart one in the bunch, we're gonna be ready for him. We got the bases covered, Jack.

48 hours to go.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Tools of Abuse

Got the quiver ready...Had it narrowed down to 4, but in a moment of weakness we borrowed Big B's sweet little 6126 and a 350 skagit.

3 more days of gear prep. We might burn out on geekstuff before then. So many lines to choose from...

Like It or Not...

...Winter is here. Officially, with more than 50 days left in Autumn's run, Winter is sort of intruding on another season. But Winter, with it's cold and snow, is the kind of butthead that will do things like that.

Today, the RedNeck Ride goes into storage. With 200+ inches of snow last year, and 200+ forecast for this year, We ain't shoveling out another boat. Ever.

Only 3 more tying days 'til RoadTrip '07...

Friday, November 2, 2007

"Flies" - Quaint, but Anachronistic.

Here at the Neil Creek labs, we manage to consume a massive yearly Tying R&D budget, probably close to or exceeding the GNP of most small Third World Countries if you exclude Canada.

One thing that the balance sheet hasn't been showing lately is a surfeit of natural materials past the standard Rabbit and Marabou. If we fished for itty-bitty fish, we might need more...well..whatever it is that tweedbags tie their itty-bitty-fish flies with. As it stands, we fish for large, ultrapredatory fish, and these fish are caught on stuff that would defy categorization if it ended up in some hapless entomologist's net.

Which begs the question...

When do we quit calling them "Flies"?

If this was buzzin' round our picnic, we might consider moving to a different landmass.

So what should the new generation of "things tied on the end of a leader attatched to a flyline" be called?

We vote for "Kittens".

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You might as well eat the packaging...

From our friendly neighbors to the East...ok, North for some of you...

Finally, someone is getting down to brass tacks and boycotting a major player in the farmed-salmon distribution chain.

We here at Neil Creek, being former Commercial Fishers, current players in the Seafood Industry, and all-around full-time fish nuts, think that Salmon Farming is about the dumbest idea to come down the turnpike since bottom trawling (which has been subsequently banned outright in most places, and very tightly regulated in others).

Peek in at to see what these folks are doing. Unlike some other organizations (i.e. those retards misguided veggieheads at PETA), the guys at CAAR are just trying to bring some rational sense to an out-of-control ecological timebomb.

Remember the bumper stickers, kids...they don't lie.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gearin' up for the Dry Side.

We have been hunched over the tying table for a day or so now, trying to translate our current steelhead arsenal into something that the EastSide fish can understand and get behind.

"Trouty" seems to be the adjective that applies to these recipe changes. The wild spring fish of SE AK give major fin to most drab patterns, with the notable exceptions of Cap'n K's ugly little bug that he consistently kills with, and the variant that we tie after wrestling the Cap'n for posession of said fly, intensive study, and shameless ripping-off with a few minor changes. Most of the patterns we fish are ill-described as "subtle", yet that seems to be the motive for the dry-side fish.

Enter the MoneyBug.

If ever there was a mutable pattern, this gem is it. Simple, Fast, Deadly when fished right, this is the one we are puttin' our chips behind.

Grainy surveillance footage of the original...

The EastSide version. Banned in 3 states, 15 Counties, 2 Provinces, and 7 entire watersheds.