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.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sometimes, I'm Too Funky For My Own Damn Self.

Had the theme from "Undercover Brother" rollin' around in our head as we entered the Tying Wing of the Neil Creek Palace and National Monument...

The goal was to come up with somethin' funky. Somethin' to get the job done, but with panache and a certain je ne sais quoi.

We had to channel the fish bigtime today. Laid on the floor, looked at the ceiling, wondered which silhouettes would look like food, or fight, to the quarry. Pondered materials, colors, presentation options, construction, deconstruction, then finally had the mind's eye clear enough to see for the fish.

Feel the gravity of Tradition being overridden by the pull of exploration, wrapped in the aesthetic, married to the synesthetic, glossed over with a nod and wink to the final customer, the fish themselves. Is this it? Could this be the one?

Maybe so...but as always, we'll let the fish decide.

Some downright funky love, in the form of an Ed Ward-inspired topwater...

Ladies and Gentlemen...The Extruder.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

Healthier than a glazed donut, able to leap small hangovers in a single bound...

Grande Extra-hot low-foam 3-shot latte and 4 chicken wings.

Many an epic adventure has been launched on this humble yet oddly satisfying dose of protein and caffeine. Inclement conditions and bad omens have been banished with a wave of these mighty fowl appendages, lightly spattered with errant 2% milk froth and Torrefazioni dust.

What started as an experiment in protein-loading while commercial fishing has now turned into a sort of ritual. During the summer, we get after the bird about 2-3 times a week on the breakfast hour. Tasty, semi-healthy compared to a doughnut, and you get calories that last you a good 5-6 hours.

Pushin' to make chicken the official breakfast food of flyfishing America.

Why stop at Schlappen?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Evolution Will Not Be Televised

Outside of the room with the box in it.

For your fly-tying titillation, your gear-queer enjoyment...The Chassis.

So many advantages that they are too numerous to list in this short lifespan.

After years of rigorous testing and development, this is the base for pretty much all of the World-Famous Neil Creek Flies.

Preferred by 4 out of 5 fish, and coming to a flyshop near you...if you live near the flyshop that will be selling them...if we can get them to.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There Already IS a Goldmine in the Bay.

The Red Gold trailer has been out for awhile, and yeah, it's probably old news to y'all, but these things have a way of slipping back under the apathy radar unless addressed constantly.

Brian Kraft (who is a mighty fine hockey player and a TU Teammate of mine) has good, honest commentary, and Tim Bristol throws down the gauntlet with firm conviction.Tim has been living and breathing this controversy since his first days as AK's TU head, and he will not stand down until the mine is stopped with extreme predjudice.

The following, lifted in its entirety from the Juneau Empire, ran as an "oh, and by the way" story...It wasn't even on the ADN homepage, only accessible by search function. Pay close attention to the contrast between Jenkin's comments in the film, and Carroll's comments in the story, especially the last line.

CEO makes pitch for Pebble Mine

Anglo American executive addresses salmon fisheries

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE - The chief executive of Anglo American PLC, the world's second-largest mining company, has crisscrossed Alaska during the past two days, meeting key politicians and business leaders in her pitch for transforming lands in western Alaska into one of world's largest mines.

In a speech on Tuesday, Cynthia Carroll said little about projected profit or what minerals the company hopes to extract and instead addressed the most prickly subject in the debate over the Pebble Mine: the wild salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay.

The mine lies near the headwaters of the world's largest sockeye salmon streams and Carroll pledged that the company would drop out of the deal if studies find the resource cannot be protected.

"We do not want to and will not be associated with a mine that damages Alaska's fisheries and wildlife," Carroll told the Resource Development Council, a pro-business organization, at a breakfast meeting in Anchorage. "If a mine cannot be planned in a way that provides proper protections, it will not be built."

In August, Anglo American agreed to a 50-50 joint venture with the Canadian firm Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. to develop the mine, which the companies say holds world-class deposits of gold and copper.

The London-based company, the largest owner of diamond company De Beers, has pledged to provide $1.4 billion in financing for the project. In 2006, it reported a net profit of $6.2 billion and $38.6 billion in revenue.

Northern Dynasty and Anglo American estimate one of the Pebble deposits has 42.6 billion pounds of copper, 39.6 million ounces of gold, and 2.7 billion pounds of molybdenum, which is used to strengthen metal.

Opponents of the mine include sport and commercial fishermen, as well as the region's mostly Alaska Native residents who depend on salmon for a large part of their diet. They worry that pollution from the open-pit mine could cause irreparable harm to the fishery and the watershed.

Danny Consenstein, chief operating officer of the Renewable Resources Coalition, said the involvement of a large multinational corporation has galvanized its membership of 1,000.

"It makes our coalition members even more concerned, like what could have been seen as a pipe dream is a lot more real and it's making them even more vigilant," Consenstein said.

Anglo American mines platinum, diamonds, coal and other metals in at least 35 countries, from South Africa to Brazil to Canada. In North America, the conglomerate owns two Canadian diamond mines and the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine in Colorado.

On Monday, Carroll met with Gov. Sarah Palin and a few key Republican lawmakers in the capital city of Juneau. She also flew to the Bristol Bay community of Iliamna and met with Alaska Native leaders.

Carroll promised to hire locally and set up various social and education programs in the Bristol Bay region. She said the company, where she took over as CEO in March, would set up a partnership in January with residents to enhance the fishery.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Audience Participation Day, part I

Alrighty then.

We here at the Chronicles have been dreaming...ok, Fantasizing...about fishing for bonefish in some sunny tropical locale for damn near 10 years. Something about the combination of warm water, white flats, long casts and hyperactive mullet just seems so tempting that we need to experience it firsthand, not just through the FishPorn database currently known as the Internet.

As things turn out, a Fellow Pirate is going to Christmas Island and has invited the Neil Creek RoadShow to go along for Beer and Comedic Relief.

Yet another Lynn Canal Swashbuckler is going to the Bahamas, and made it known that the Chronicle Staff would be welcome in the fold for some flats blitzing.

All things being equal...and technically they are, as Alaska Air miles go a looooong way these days...Where would you go, and Why?

This is a chance for y'all in the cheap seats. Give us some feedback, mang.

Fade to Black.

It took the better part of a week, but we are finally willing to admit that this one is over.

Fini. Done. Kaput. Fossilized, even.

There might be one more raggedy fish to be had during a casting session, but the fishing year in the local flows is now one for the books.

The Neil Creek Traveling Beer Fountain and Road Show kicks off with a trip to the Old Country in November. That's right, goin' back to W WA, Warshintun state to do some Dolly fishing...or are they Bulls? Who cares, they probably haven't seen a SouthCentral bead rig and we have the feeling that we will clean up on the big'uns nestled in amongst the spawning chums in 2 big northern WA rivers that don't need to be named...

...Then off to the dry side to meet up with Shaky J and Junior to do some swingin' for those itty-bitty deformed and dark things that pass for steelhead in E WA. Apparently the pony express hasn't gotten word to the eastsiders that while dries and nymphs might catch the occasional fish, nothing cleans up on predatory steel like a 6" stringleech, so we will comport ourselves in a manner befitting an Ambassador of the modern synesthetic fishing movement and show those hicks how to catch fish.

From there it's off to the Guadalupe, Sabinal, and Nueces rivers in Central Texas to do a little Tweedbaggin' for some stocker rainbows in December. Dry Flies would be a welcome diversion, but We have a feeling that Susie Stringleech and Mr. Bead will again make an appearance...Who knows, maybe those retarded stockers will mistake a 6mm sun swirl for a kernel of corn...

Then off to the smallish flats and biggish reefs of Hawaii, where we will entertain ourselves catching aquarium fish while the wife sunbathes in February...or ImGonnaGoFreakinNuts, as this dark month is known in AK.

All in all, a good year, with another on the way.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just Another Day in Paradise.

From the friendly folks at the NWS, a polite reminder that there is a hurricane making landfall about 9 AM or so...better put on another pot of coffee and settle in to watch a tackle football game.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Whole New World of Geekdom

Just got ahold of a "sample" AirFlo Skagit Compact 600gr. 27' head.

At first glance, it looks like Tim & Co. are stealing kids' jumprope and marketing it as shooting heads for two-hander nerds.

According to JH down at the Rajeff Compound, these aren't quite done yet. Some folks in the know are still tinkering with the taper lengths, trying to get the turnover perfect. I'm not a good enough two-hand caster to tell if the tapers were spot-on, but wow.

Poor Fish. If this line will cast better than the "not quite there yet" sample I was huckin' around this morning, there is no place safe, no pool unreachable, no river unfishable.

Man, what a line. This baby really rewards good bottom-hand technique, and lets you know instantly when you speed up too much or try to apply power too early. When you hit it right, though...ssssssSSCHUNK up against the reel goes the line, straight an' laid-out, poppin' right at the very end and rollin' over just perfect.

Lines like this make me want to be a better two-handed caster, even though there aren't many places I fish that twofers have any significant advantage. Lines like this are just fun to cast, period. I could stand in a river, no fly on, and just huck this line around for the pure fun of watching the loop fly way out there, feeling the running line rip through the guides, and that satisfying thhhUNK that means you nailed it.

I have a pic of the line, but the photo isn't going to upload...I will post it later, so y'all get a feel for the jumprope that throws such sexy loops. the pic. Check check it, y'all

Even a Blind Squirrel finds the Occasional Nut.

Basking in the glow of last night's tier-A game.

Had my first 4-goal outing and added an assist for a 5 point night in our 5-3 win over the archrival (my former team) Doc Waters.

Feels good to be old, semi-to-really out of shape, and have hands that are rapidly turning to stone...and still be able to net a few every now and then.

What doesn't feel good is waking up to sore knees and a tender back, hobbling around for the next 12 hours, and needing to rest for a day before anything strenuous.

Oh, well. The price you pay for yet another night of self-abuse.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last Casts.

Lonely Larry should have been an omen.

Not much water flowing today, despite the rain that chose to pound us nonstop the entire time we were on the water. Visibility at about 8ft, which is great for a semi-glacial river but sucks for trying to sneak up on fish, which is what Big B was trying to do to Lonely Larry.

Lonely Larry was on an inside seam in the most high-traffic hole on the entire creek...not that there was much competition today...and highly visible from the bridge, the parking lot, and probably most low-flying aircraft.

We threw the best at him. We threw the rest at him. Hell, we would have put on eggs just to make sure he wasn't going to eat them, too. After a bit, Larry had enough and drifted off to parts unknown, but the message was clear.

It's Over. Go Home.

The last fish came later, after a few too many holes and more than enough walking to determine that this particular equine was, in fact, deceased. We worked hard for it, so it was nice of the Daughter of Fog to give us a special Parting Gift.

Big B looking pensive, wondering if it is all really worth it...cold, raining, and the river we are in front of probably doesn't have any fish either.

Smart Dog.

What I am about to walk out into, for a day of thrashing water that may or may not still have fish...bear in mind that "Rain" and "Wind" generally don't photograph well.

What my dog thinks of all this, where he will be for the whole day, and where I probably should be, too.

One more.

I promise I will quit, this is my last fix, but I just need one more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Like Breaking Up, or Something.

"I like what you've done with you gravel bars"...

..."No, I didn't say that...and that logjam certainly doesn't make you look...well, BIG or anything"...

"Ok, Ok...Sorry"...

"No, Don't do that. You always do that this time of year"...

"Maybe I shouldn't have come this late"...

"Ok. Call me?"...

We're gonna give it one more go tomorrow. Take a walk up and down a few of the locals, see if there are enough non-spawning fish to play with...or any trout hangin' out, lookin' for a free meal.

The weather switched around to a high and clearing North pattern, about 20kts, and the freezing level is about 1600ft...this should put the drop and clear cycle into effect, and give us one last shot at piscine love.

This is the week that starts to feel a little awkward, like drunk-dialing an ex after an all-nighter with the boys and getting caught at it. Some of these fish are spawning, so have some respect, f'r chrissakes.

The days, as well as bear tempers, are shorter...bites are fewer, with long spaces between. The River, she is separating herself, she has had enough, and it is time to leave for the year.

Just one more, I promise. Things will be different this time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Things That Make Us Go Hmmm, Installment #6

Norbert Rosing is a professional photographer specializing in Arctic images. One can imagine the photo he thought he was going to take as this meeting unfolded...not to mention the fact that he figured he would have to walk all the way back to Churchill, Manitoba, pulling his own sled.

As it turned out, this bear just wanted a little meet n' greet with the hounds.

Dunno, mebbe he was tired of the other bears calling him a weenie for hangin' out with his Seal friends.

All he needed was to hug some...thing.

Norbert capitalized on the situation by snapping this set of amazing photos, among others. The bear returned each evening for a week, playing with the dogs for awhile, then moving on.

Makes you wonder if the Coastal Brownies around here are just angry because they were misunderstood as cubs and not allowed to express their true feelings...


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Maybe time for one more...

Dang, that was quick.

The water came up on Friday morning, and by Sunday, the fish had moved out.

Today saw me n' the Big B on a local lookin' for trout, throwin' some flesh and flippin' some beads. We nooked, we crannied, we did everything but set a net in the creek and we only managed 2 trout hooked, and raised up another 2-3 without consummation. Also raised were 4 or 5 old coho, of which we landed one.

Gimme an L... Gimme an A... Gimme an M... Gimme an E.

Ugh. Lame late season fishing makes us wonder if we shouldn't have just unplugged the alarm clock and forgotten about these mythical late-season fish, the large-and-hungry...

On the plus side, we did get to play with the Redskins on a Sunday.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Geek Spoken Here.

Got ahold of a Beulah "Elixir" 335gr full-float yesterday. The world, as we know it, has forever changed.

The standby Ed Ward formula of "Line=3 to 3.5 X Rod Length" is now under scrutiny, what with the Elixir being 28' and AirFlo coming out with the Skagit Compact at 23'. One could argue that since the new compact lines are designed to be fished with leaders that are 1.5X rod length, the formula still holds true...feel free to comment, Fisha.

At any rate, we ain't the smoothest of 2-hand practitioners, but this line on the trusty 11' 7wt bIIx made us feel like superstars. Paired it up with a 14' hard leader and a practice puff, went down to the boatramp and stroked for about an hour, groovin' on the tight loop that this line so easily formed. As stated above, we ain't pretty with the long rod, but throwin' easy 80's with the 11 footer is enough to get any true geek's attention.

Got a 295gr coming on monday for the 10'6" 5/6.

Any of you geeks got the Airflo compacts? Pipe up, now. We get the hairy eyeball from the wife if we just throw hard cash around without research on the product, so help a fellow geek out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Waiting in the wings.

After 2 days of couchbound inertia punctuated only by trips to the rink (3) and flyshop (2), We overcame our own lazy self and got out to the river for a few wet hours.

Water up. Vis about 3". More rain than really necessary. Hooking big soggy alder leaves every 10 minutes or so kept things interesting for the first hour, but interest was quickly lost when the reality of the situation was grasped.

Fishing for non-feeding ultra-territorial fish with irritating patterns doesn't work so well when the fish can't see more than 3 inches.

After switching it up for different colors and sizes, finally hooked up low in a swing. This grab was followed by one vigorous headshake, then things went downhill from there. Fighting a dishrag might have been more exciting. After an intense 18-second battle, a tired hen slid on the beach.

Now normally, we like to immortalize our fellow players with a photo. Not all of them, just one or two a day. Taking a picture of this girl would be like getting a picture of your Aunt Maude on saturday morning - curlers, eye gunk, hangover and all. She wasn't pretty, she wasn't a fighter, but she was a player and looking to spawn, so after a necessary resuscitation, we slipped her back into the fold for another go at the procreation game.

We're thinkin' that the fat lady might be on call. Warming up, getting ready to end this long cycle, put this to rest and wait for the spring.

Time to get the earplugs out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

That's Some Mighty Fine H2O

Took a day off from the chase to look at some new water today.

We took a walk up a local that we normally abstain from. Lots of folks there, generally, and not enough good water to go around. But with everyone in town bemoaning the lack of silvers (Huh?), there was little pressure on the flow today.

Being as how the Fanz and I are both on Injured Reserve - Him, elbow...Me, everything else - today we were totin' 5wts, armed with the magic color as well as some flesh flies to see if we could roust the local dolly populations from their mid-spawn bliss.

Things started off on a good note, with a few fish at the first hole, but hopes eroded with every pool thereafter. Good looking water, just the wrong time of year for most of it.

You know the look - not too fast, broken but not boily surface, fairly constant column flow, a few bumps and holes to hide - Great water, but today the fish had sex on their minds, and were probably snuggled up underneath some deadfall or something.

At any rate, we got a few here and there, and got a little more interested in the flesh fly as a prospect for some major Geekage...stay posted on that one.

Dollies get all duded up for the ladies during the season of lust...check out this suited-up Bad Boy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Going, Going...

The Small Bright Hens are here.

Well, they have been here for a week or so. Just like at a kegger, the big girls show up first lookin' for some action, followed by the little pretty ones.

To us here at Neil Creek, this means that unlike the kegger, this party is almost over. When the little hens show up, you got a week or two left.

We intend to use the time wisely.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Swingin' at the 'Ho

Flyin' solo today.

The wife is somewhere south of San Antonio, the Fanz is off duck huntin', and everyone else hung their gear up for the winter.

Wrong idea, that.

New fish on the high tide, in a dreamy river-right longside hole, swingin' huge flies for eager October fish, wind on the upstream shoulder, sunshine on the downstream shoulder, the 8110 throwin' and flowin'...

Gettin' it while I can. Winter is just around the corner and before you know it, the Fish, the Sun, the Water...all these will be gone.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Peepin' the 'Ho

The Fanz and I headed out a little earlier than Neil Creek Standard Time yesterday, hoping to catch a local without locals...

Getting to the creek, we saw some jackass and his buddy throwing rocks into a pool. As we got closer, we recognized BeeGee and his partner, both local Fish&Game heads, counting fish to do stock assessment.

I was kinda disappointed...I thought I would get a chance to outfish Jim Teeny...

At any rate, fishing right behind guys throwing rocks is an excercise in futility, and we didn't feel like sitting on the bank for an hour waiting for the fish to forget about the incedent. We did the only logical thing.

We went to another system.

There is a river that we have been getting signals from for awhile, low-frequency rumbles of things going down, fish going up, that sort of vibe.

This particular river, about 45 minutes from the nearest boat ramp, had been setting off alarms recently, but we were sure that the signals were false, weak at best. Then we got the tape from the Fin-Cam...

We were wrong.

On the way up the river, Cohos were scattered in 2's and 3's through the fastwater, and a few holes had bigger concentrations in the slack.

About 2 miles above tidewater, there was a pool with about 40 fish in it, some of them in the 15+ lb range.

After a pile of fish, the Fanz had an acute boredom attack and watched me bead for dollies for awhile before making another cast and hooking yet another coho.

Magis Adipose Quam Plurimus Populus, baby.

More Adipose Than Mos' Folks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Order is Restored.

The Departure of guests, dropping river levels, and the return of the Fanz from his trip Outside should serve as a harbinger of doom for the local coho populations.

Picked up the Fanz at the airport yesterday, and we were in the game about an hour later, with less-than-desirable water levels and more recalcitrant fish than we would normally like, but in the game nonetheless.

Overnight chill sent the rivers into a deep drop and clear, leaving a perfect window between Fall Lows to get things rollin'.

Kicked it off at the local at about 11am, the usual starting time for us here at Neil Creek...gotta let the fish wake up, get a mug-up, feel civilized, you know...

Had to hoof for fin, but that's nothing new. A few of the low holes looked to be Game On, but not much came in with the AM tide.

When we got in 'em, we got in 'em. Fresh fish, in the river a day or two, more than happy to play along with the game.

The Fanz, offering supplication to the Daughter of Fog, pleasing his Totem.

Another one of...well, lots.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Things that make us go Hmmm, Installment #5

This boat was tied up at a local lightering dock today...

Still can't decide if it is the greatest marketing idea ever, or a sick joke based on the popularity of a misdirected, overhyped series on the Discovery Channel.

A quick peek at their website points to the latter, We're afraid.

$189 for a 4-hour "tour"...120 seats on the boat...lotta money made on the reputation of things being "deadly"...