Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hittin' It, Keystone Kops Style.

Went out to a Popular spot yesterday with a couple of friends, ex-Alaskans currently living in Washington.

While avid fishers, they certainly weren't the predatory fish-ninjas that we normally fish with. We here at Neil Creek don't pass judgment on fishing ability...everyone started somewhere, and like Hinduism, you get what you want and need from fishing...but it was kind of funny to watch 4 guys snagging up, throwing casts in trees, falling in, and generally mucking about.

The great thing was, they all caught fish. We pointed, they cast (sometimes hitting the river, sometimes not), they hooked, and it was on.

out of 14 other folks on the creek, we saw and heard of one other fish. I bet that all those folks had to do was cast for a few squirrels and fall in once or twice, and it would have been on for them too.

One of Six for the Kops.


Beauty, Beast



Oplopanax horridus.

Even the name hurts.

For those of you that don't recognize it, this is the stem of Devil's club, the guardian of many a fishing hole in SE AK. Some riparian areas are so overrun with Devil's Club that even hardened addicts like ourselves yield to the force majeure and try elsewhere.

But inside that thorny exterior there is a medicinal power that has been harnessed by indigenous folks so extensively that many call it "Tlingit Aspirin". Salves, Creams, Decoctions, Potions...Everything from coughs to major flesh wounds could be treated with Devil's Club.

Because of its tendency to grow horizontally, Devil's Club turns into a nightmarish trail-sweeper when unwittingly caught and released by the errant walker's foot. After the strike, the spines break off in the flesh, causing dermatitis and in some cases weeping sores.

Ironic, no?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall Rears its Ugly Head

Spent all day today waiting for the heater repairman to show, only to get a 3 pm call from my wife, telling me that the appointment was canceled and Monday was the earliest they could get out.

Waste of a day, but these things happen.

During my wait I managed to tie up one of the many kinky-looking leech patterns that have been floating around in my brain. I would consider this to be some minor day-salvage, but y'all decide...



Materials are a cotter pin, 30# fireline, Krystal Hackle, Marabou, Flashabou, and a whole bunch of zap-a-gap.

The first frost warning of the year was issued today. Valleys and passes are expected to freeze, and there might be a touch of the white here at Neil Creek as well...

I'm not really ready for it to be winter yet.

From Whence Thou Came

What the hell happened to the "new generation"?

When I was a kid, you found yourself a convenient Old Man who knew something about fish and fishing, and through persistence and available stolen booze, you attached yourself to him in a parasitic fashion to glean all available knowledge about said fish and fishing.

My personal "old men" were a couple of characters...a middle-aged, "recovering-alcoholic-turned-born-again" guy that, out of deference for his patience for a dumb kid coupled with his awesome ability to catch 20lb+ Snoqualmie steelhead, shall remain nameless...and a guy by the name of Bill Kunitsugu.

Bill was an old Japanese guy living on Beacon Hill in Seattle, already retired from Boeing when I met him at my young age of 14. He made an impression, because he always had time to say "Hi" on the River, and he always had a smile on his face, as if he knew something you didn't.

And believe me, folks. He did.

With Bill, between bento lunches (made by his wife, whom he met in a concentration camp during WWII) and long rides in his old "Chinook" Toyota camper, this Middle-Class White Kid got a helluva education in Adnadromous 101.

Bill was a real DIY kinda guy. He went so far as to pour his own pencil lead...as a Boeing engineer, he made it triangular, to give it a "higher hydrodynamic coefficient". Pouffed his own blend of yarn, too...had to have a wing of "just so", he said. The guy was an Anadromous Fish Killer on the westside of Washington. Cedar, Snoqualmie, Tokul, Raging, Skykomish, Skagit, Pilchuck, Sauk, Tolt, Stillaguamish, Samish, Cowlitz, Elochoman, Kalama, Coweeman, Toutle...Bill did 'em all, and did his best to show me each and every rivers' idiosyncrasy that made them all what they once were. For an old guy that didn't go anywhere fast, Bill caught a hell of a lot of fish.

Bill has been gone for awhile now but during his long life and short time I spent with him, he let me and a couple of other folks onto a few key things about steelheading, anadromous fish, and fishing in general.

He also rewarded my friendship with some true nuggets of wisdom that, although I may be a mouthy sonofabitch sometimes, I won't ever tell.

Bill knew alot, because he listened to the fish, and he understood that they alone could answer his questions.

In an age before Internet and Cellular, He took the time to Learn. During the age of Internet and Cellular, He took the time to Teach.

In Memory of Hiroshi "Bill" Kunitsugu, 1921-2006

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Tale of Two Toads

Well, every creek for a few hundred miles is in flood stage, so things are a little quiet around Neil Creek.

While out staring at the rising waters yesterday (got a few before the backeddy collapsed), I got a chance to wander around in the woods and happened upon this little guy:



Yes, that IS a nickel he is on.

According to my wife the biologist, this is Bufo boreas boreas, the Boreal Toad, and this particular guy is young-of-the-year, meaning about 5 months out of the tadpole stage.

Interesting what you find on the salmon stream, innit?

The next toad is courtesy of the Mad Z, who recently returned from his annual "Spey Pride" trip into Canada. Z preps for these trips for his entire year, then goes off and drives himself nuts on these huge rivers, waving long rods with huge flies, chasing gigantic steelhead for weeks on end. When he returns, he has Hell to pay in the form of 3 weeks backlog of work, but he claims that it is all worth it.

After seeing this fish, I almost believe him.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Can Ya Play Somethin Funky For a Brotha To Fish To?

Got after it at the crack o' 11 with Shaky J and Big B, headed for a local that is usually packed on weekends...

That is, on weekends where the weather is nice.

Once again, Brother Rain and Uncle Wind visited us here at the Neil Creek Estate, making today a pleasant experience for all 5 people outdoors.

The day started with a few fish givin' J the fin, probably some piscine commentary on his choice of flies for this particular hole. J, my man, if you read this, next time select a fly that is smaller than 1/9th total water depth of the pool, ok? Good.

At any rate, things picked up at one particular hole, except for J. He got fin, and lots.

A fella can only take so much, then you gotta do something, so we left in search of fish without attitude.

Pa always told me, "Don't leave fish to find fish", and those words echoed in my brain for about the next mile.

The rain picked up, and with it, the water level, albeit very slightly. Normally, this would be a good thing, but these fish were oblivious.

Even my repeated shouting of "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!" at them seemed to have no effect today.

After getting spectacular amounts of fin from very hard-to-impress fish (and trying to keep ahead of Shaky 'cause that Skunk on his back), We arrived back at the pool.

J got after it Funky style, hummin' a few bars and doin a little dance on the gravelbar, then Climbing up on a boulder to "get a better angle, brotha".

He did it all for the Sizzle.

Check it, peeps.



Nerdvana




This is the inside of Juneau Fly Goods.

One of the very few flyshops I have been in (and I have been in many, many flyshops) that stocks almost 100% full-on hardcore functional flyfishing items and equipment.

Here, you will not find the latest, hippest scarf (or bandanna, I guess is what they call them in Colorado). Nor will you find a "Flyfishing Luggage" section.

What you will find is stuff for SE AK. Good, dependable stuff, most if not all of it tested and selected by the proprietor, Big B.

No goofy fly-tying material selections, no pointless diplays...Just flyfishing stuff.

Plus, there is a comfy chair next to the fly-tying station that, provided you bring the correct brand and volume of beer, you can sink into and shoot the bull for hours with Big B or his sidekick, Crash.

Nerdvana.

Lucky it's in my town, or I'd have to relocate.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gettin' some Love, 'Ho-Style

Yesterday's flooded rivers are today's perfect creeks, and by the time y'all read this most of them will be locking up at higher elevation and the water is going to keep dropping...and the fish are going to get spookier...so if you weren't out today, you missed it.



Sorry.

These things happen.

Somewhat prematurely, the coho season is beginning to fizzle. Most runs are in the waning days, and some that peak soon seem to be sputtering a bit. The surviving fish are smaller than the average 'Ho, and they are coming back in fits and starts...can anyone say "Low Ocean Survival"?

Hopefully this isn't the new trend. Maybe this is some strange anomaly in large pink years, where 150+ million humpies outcompete the other salmon.

At any rate, the fish are fewer this year, but the love is still there.

You just gotta know where to look for it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gearin' up

Here at Neil Creek, we like to think of ourselves as facultative fly fishers. We do it 99% of the time, but we ain't above whizzin' hardware around when the mood strikes us.

After last nights inch and a half of rain, the mood struck.

A note on SouthEast AK's rainforest streams: The ground is so saturated around here that the creeks go up if a bear pees upstream. They do go back down quick, but they are moody, fickle little watersheds.

At any rate, last night's rain put most creeks in about quadruple flows, ending a reasonable hope of flyfishing today.

Dusted off the gear rod and went to fish pockets that weren't there 9 hours ago, and in all probability won't be there tomorrow, barring further rain.

The great thing about high water is that the fish seem very calm, almost serene. You find them in little side pockets off of the main torrent, like this one that came off of the low-water foot trail.



It is pretty cool to poke around in the streamside shrubbery when the water is way up...more like hunting than fishing, really. Shake a bush, see a coho dart out from under it. Slosh down the now-flooded trail and have fish v-wake out of your way.

The creeks are probably going to come back down this weekend and the gear rod will go back into the pile, but as the next of the fall lows moves in and the rain starts up again, it'll be back in the truck, ready to go.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

FishBum, and proud of it.

The coho season is lurching along.

Some places kick out a half-dozen fish for a decent 3-hour session, whereas other locals are White-hot for an hour one day, then tumbleweeds the next day.

Gave Sockeye a hung-over jingle at the crack of 11, then diagrams were drawn and plans were hatched.

With the Fanz on the sidelines for a few, we hit up a local that, according to the flyfishing bulletin board know-it-alls, is all but devoid of Coho.



So much for the folks that think they know what they are talking about.

We are lurching right along with the season, gradually coming to accept our waders as a second skin and smelling more like our piscine quarry with every passing day. We dig in the laundry basket and under the couch pillows for gas money, make random food decisions based on ease of use instead of nutrition, and once done fishing for the day, collapse in a heap with a bottle of something alcoholic until sleep sets in.

Fish. Bum.

And intending to stay that way.

Routine.

Wake up. Eat. Fish. Sleep. Repeat.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Places you haven't been #2,977

After yesterday's vision of hell in the form of Doink and his rental car, the Fanz and I decided to get the hell out of town.

Weatherbreaks after the Ides of September are a rarity in our neck of the woods, so we took full advantage of a 10kt NW forecast, loaded up the RedNeck Ride with a full complement of gear and took off.

45 minutes saw us at the mouth of a river seldom visited by Townies. The Fanz has a theory of an invisible ring about 15 miles from the edge of town, a ring that a lot of folks seldom venture outside the bounds of.

I think I speak for all of us in the Lynn Canal Pirates Association when I say "Thank You" to all those folks that don't come out here.

More for us.

At any rate, we had a good day of being the only folks for miles catching fish...ok, we were the only folks for miles.



We had a Brown Fishin' Buddy hangin' out for about an hour, chasing humpies in a back-slough.



We had solid takes by big fish on big flies swung deep in small slots.



We had the kind of day that only the locals have.

Sunday Blues.

Rental cars parked at the access points of my locals depress me.

Sunday saw me n' Captain K getting the show on the road at the crack o' 11, with a few hours to kill before familial responsibility overrode the Cap'ns fine-tuned predatory fishing skills. Upon arrival at the creek, there were a few rentals parked in the turnout...poorly, I might add.

After a short hoof to the creek, we were greeted by the sight of some Doink standing in the middle of the creek, whipping a spinner up- and down-stream, and generally clogging the hole and making an ass of himself.

As I stepped in to take a place a respectful distance away, he looked at me as if I were insulting him. When I stripped out some line and cast, he looked at me as if I were insulting him AND his mother.

Too much for me.

In a nice, bracingly sarcastic tone, I said "It helps if you don't stand in the middle of the hole."

He turned on me and barked, "Excuse me?"

I replied, "You will catch a lot more fish if you aren't standing in the middle of the hole."

At this point, Doink started to inch his way backwards out of the river, trying to give the impression that it was his idea.

After awhile, Doink cleared his throat and said he was sorry for standing in the hole, but he was undoing his fine lure from a snag just before we arrived, and hadn't made his way to the bank yet...to which we replied "Whatever."

To make matters worse, Doink's partner came downstream about this time, toting two dark fish that he had killed.

Now, The Chronicle is not against killing fish. I repeat, We are not against killing fish. There is a big honkin' hatchery in town that we terrorize for our eatin' fish. We love killing hatchery fish, and do it with abandon.

This particular river that we were on has about 500-700 Wild and Native adult coho return every year, of which we catch and release about 20-30 a year. After that, we don't bug em anymore. Let them eat when they are biting, don't mess with them in the skinny water when all they have is lust on the brain. Killing these fish would be like killing a dance partner, or a teammate.

So you can understand why rental cars depress me.

The out-of-town mentality of the occupants that they carry only fits in the place they are from, where kill is the rule and there is no love of the game and no respect for any of the players.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Things that make us go Hmmm, Installment #4

Got this guy today.
On a 5" White/Pearl Pink fly.
Which is rather unusual.
Not the fly, the fish. These generally don't bite small flies in the best of circumstances, much less 5" darts ripped at doublehand speed through a small slough.



For those of you who don't know you salmonids, this is a sockeye.

The "Hmmm" factor is due to the fact that this fish was caught in an itty-bitty creek 20 miles, 2 rivers, and a saltwater falls away from the nearest sockeye run.

What the hell was he thinking?

The Young Man's Game

Got a photo from Surf n' Turf the other day, and it made me feel old...

For those that haven't met him, a brief mental picture might be in order, so I will list some relevant facts:

Minnesota exile. Probably eats wheat chaff and oat hulls for breakfast. Jogs somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 miles a week. Has a lower body-fat percentage than most gerbils. Strength and Conditioning coach for the high-school hockey team. In all probability, Waaaaaaay tougher than you.

Now normally I wouldn't post someone else's photo, but this is different. This is one of the best hunting photos I have ever seen.

For those of you in flat places like Kansas or Florida, hold on to your armrests. This is what a one-day goat hunt at 4800ft looks like.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interlude

Dinkin' around with the collection the other day.

This is a Laurel F-5, serial #3, built by Mike Blohm in Laurel, Montana. Mike makes great mandos, but after about 4 or 5 builds he had to change the name from "The Laurel" to "Blohm"...something about another maker already using the name or something...

At any rate, Mike is still building, and is now distributed by Greg Boyd's House of Fine Instruments in Missoula, MT.

This particular mando cuts a mic somethin' fierce, and has a peculiar, drippy tone in the high registers. It was my go-to bar-gig instrument because it is loud as all get-out and it doesn't mind a drink or two.

The tune is "Goldrush", a Monroe tune, just not picked like ol' Bill hisself...more in the vein of Sizemore.

Sweet Release

The WeSuckian Epoch is over.

Emerging into the new period blinking and basking in the warm glow of satisfaction, knowing that we now have proof that we don't really suck, we just couldn't get a break the last few days.

the Fanz, busy not sucking...



So.

Down out of the trees, we continue along our evolutionary Homo anadromous path towards salmonid enlightenment. Walking erect, clutching and waving sticks, and drawing crude fish images on our cave walls, we enter the dawn of a new era.

That is, until we suck again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Unbelievable.

Shocked.

We here at Neil Creek are absolutely gobsmacked about the results of the latest field trip.

Yesterday we went up a dirty river with suspiciously Canadian origins, looking for a clear trib and a boatload of coho. After battling near-zero visibility fog while looking for the right channel to go up, we managed to sneak our way into the mainstem and start on the journey upriver.

Early signs were good. The river was up, which is always a good thing, and the seals were hunting a good mile or so up into the valley. Seals don't do upstream unless there is something to eat, so seeing them on the job reassured us that we were on the right track.

Pulling into the trib, the old uneasy feeling started.

No smell.

No Floaters.

No Carcasses.

After 3 miles upstream through some hairy turns (nice drivin' T), we gave up looking and pulled over.

Figuring that up might be better considering what we had seen downriver, we hoofed our way a few holes, making halfhearted casts here and there.

Nothin'.

Oh, sure, the odd cutt or little resident rainbow, with a few dollies thrown in...but no salmon.

As if some tiny neutron bomb had gone off, leaving this perfect salmon stream sterilized.

After awhile we surrendered, floating back down and half-heartedly flogging at the perfect stream with no life.



The disbelief still clung as we floated down to the confluence. A lonely coho bolted from in front of the boat at one point, but other than that, Lifeless.

As the Fanz said, "just because you get outta town don't mean the fishing is good."

So we made our way downstream, battling a wicked groundfog that obscured some nasty sweepers, Sun directly in the line of the main channel and low on the horizon, and a 20-foot tide change, of which we were on the falling end. We made it out.

We ain't goin back.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stuck on Suck

I had one of those days where nothing seemed to work out.

Started on the early incomer with Sockeye and Shaky J in tow, trying for the flood push fish.

That's somethin' to see in a little estuary.

Glassy, foggy, then a set of V-wakes pushing at you...

Mud and water flying as they get too shallow...

Comin' back around, the water a little deeper, only to beach again.

At any rate, we forgot that the tide had an 18 foot change today, and ended up sprinting in between casts, partly to keep up with the fish, and mostly to make it back to non-nipple-deep water.

Sockeye hit a few on the sub-surface stuff, but Shaky J and I were stuck on the 'wog thing, throwing at fish that were moving waaaaay too fast to care about much. We both got a few takedowns, but with 3-400 fish passing in 25 minutes, mostly we got the Fin.

After a depressing drive to a few other overcrowded places, we hung it up for the day.

But sunshine in AK is at a premium these days - did I mention that it was sunny? - so not wanting to "couchandtv-itis" it, I went back out, this time to a popular but uncrowded spot.

There, the strangest thing happened...While casting, in mid-forward haul, the running line on my flyline snapped and I got off what I consider to be my best distance-cast ever.

The head sailed about 140 feet, with a loop to die for. Tight 'n Sexy.

Luckily, the line landed in a relatively shallow section and the fly snagged, so I waited a curse-filled 20 minutes for the tide to go down low enough to get out to it and fish it out with my rod-tip.

Not wanting to give up on the day with a goose-egg to show, I stripped and nailed the two halves together and soldiered on.



Apparently, this variety of boneheadedness appeals to fish. I was visited by 3 fish in the next hour, and managed to keep them from tearing my flyline asunder once more.

After the 3rd, I figured I should go while I was on a hot streak. I didn't feel like having anything else break, and I was pushing my luck at this point.

Tomorrow, a hasty Phone call to the nice folks at Rajeff (Hi, Jamie) to see about some warranty love for their up-until-now fine product.

Then I gotta go fishin'.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Excuses #322, #325-27, #14, and #227

The rain was in my eyes.
Tides were wrong.
Water was too Cloudy.
Wrong side of the crick.
Wind was howling.
Wrong rod.

We had 2 mediocre days here at Neil Creek, saved by one dark buck earlier today. Put a lot of miles on the ol' L2's getting that fish, too. About 61/2 miles, along with 3 flies, 14 ft of mono, a burrito, and a half-tin of Skoal...

You know how some people say, "I just love being out here"?

Or our all-time fave, "Saw some great scenery"?

We're not those folks. We know the scenery because we live in it, every day. If we want scenery, we open the curtains.

Fishing hard is the name of the game. Scenery is what you drive through to get to the river.

Don't get it wrong, now. Getting the fin is all part of the game, too. If it was easy, what would be the point?

Days like this serve as a wakeup. The fish are talking to you, telling you how they want it, and you ain't listening.

Days like this just sharpen the sense of purpose.

Us and the fish. We'll be together again soon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

¡Viva La Evolutión!

Remember the Pollywog?



Great fly. Until you get a little slime on it, then it sinks like a stone.

And casts like one too.

We used to love pollywogs, but they are a capital B Bitch to tie, unless you like sitting behind a vise for 40 minutes and breaking thread spinning deerhair.

You could get 'em for about $4 a whack, but paying for flies always rubbed us the wrong way.

Another thing that sucked about the pollywog was the dye in the deerhair. Unless you wanted everything in your box to be cerise (or your hands, jacket, cork, etc.), you couldn't put 'em away wet.

Enter the Techno-wog.




Another great fly. No dye to rub off, the foam floats when slimy, casts like a dream...but you still have to tie 'em, or pay $4 a whack when you can find 'em, and they aren't exactly an everyday item in most flyshops.

So.

The next Great Leap Forward was inspired by the Fanz, who takes Thoreau one step further by saying "Simplify...and Cheapen."

Ladies and Gentlemen...the 3rd Generation Wog:



¡Viva La Evolutión!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another day, another Body of Water

For those of you not living in the current incarnation of Paradise-on-Earth known as SouthEast Alaska, here's a tidbit:

Coho runs are in full swing.

Matter of fact, they have been for awhile.

Just thought we would share that with you.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Almost...

Avoided the skunk by the narrowest of margins today.

Started off in the RedNeck Ride at about 9am with the Fanz, hittin' the high tide at a local. After a 20 minute ride, we pulled into the top hole in some pretty unsavory conditions. Last nights torrential downpour had produced todays Muddy River, and the steady 20kt Southeast wind didn't help matters much.

Saw a few scattered jumpers, but not enough to keep things interesting. Fanz managed to hook up during a discussion on where we should head next, which forestalled any movement on our part for a good hour.

After it was blindingly obvious that this set of holes was going to suck for at least the next few hours, we made our way back to the ramp and put the sled away for the day.

Following a quick snack of chicken wings and a grande latte, we headed out to another local to check on the action.

This one was up but flowing mostly clear, and after a fruitless hour of box-emptying at some showy fish, we decided to head to yet another to see if we could actually catch a fish and not just be given the fin all day.

Another hour and 30-some-odd miles found us at an incoming hole, with a few jumpers spicing things up. The Fanz hooked up 3 in quick succession, leaving us in a lurch as to why we couldn't so much as buy a fish today.

Ever find yourself digging through the box, weeding through patterns to find the Silver Bullet, the Magic Fly, as fish are boiling all around you? I don't know what it is about this condition, but a lot of folks seem to lose it when things aren't going right. We have been there. We know.

Today, we managed to avoid that. Stuck to the 2 patterns that produce in this area in these conditions, and concentrated on presentations.

Hooked up late in the game, only to lose the fish while messin' around with a big loopy knot in the running line that somehow got through the guides on the initial run, but wouldn't come back through.

Not that we need to land it after the initial hookup, but c'mon, throw us a bone here. We had a long fishless day.

Finally came to last-cast time, and after a long one we put the line on the reel and started cranking in, hoping against hope...

Sure enough.

The fish that decided we had been given enough fin to be worthy of a taste. Thanks, Fish. See you again soon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Well, that's not good...



We have a trip planned for Friday. According to this wind map, conditions are going to suck. Matter of fact, they are going to suck so bad that cancellation of said trip appears unavoidable.

Not that fishing in the wind and rain is something that we shy away from...We actually dig the wind and rain here at Neil Creek, because it keeps the crowds down.

No, the reason that we ain't gonna go through with it has more to do with trying to land a float plane in 5 foot seas. Something we haven't been party to, and based on prior experience with marginal conditions, not one we would willingly try.

I'm sure there will be other trips...but this one, based on an eyewitness account by Shaky J, was going to rule. 26 inch dollies in riffles, just waiting for something remotely round and egg-looking to come drifting down within, oh, say 4 feet of them before the mad dash and pounce.

Shaky J will get out there some other time, as will me and the Fanz. Spanky, on the other hand, is the only regular joe in the group and will probably have to plan around that Work thingy, which might be a pain seeing as how the season is rapidly coming to a close.

So the year-end blowout comes up fizzling. Sad fact, but as we were told by a pilot earlier this year, "Yeah, I might be able to land in this. And I might even be able to take off again. But I can't come get you if it stays like this."

We got away with it once. Not gonna push our luck.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The View From Outside the Box

Took out the new stick in search of Coho today...

Sage finally got one right. The Z-Axis is a sweet rod, and the 8110 is a great tool for SouthEast. Paired it up with an AirFlo 40+ 9wt full-float, wrapped that on a Nautilus FW 7+, and slapped some 'Hos around in a big way.

Met up with the Big B at a local, and we proceeded to empty our flyboxes at some very showy fish.

Nothin'.

Finally resorted to a sneaky stillwater tactic...

If you are a sensitive, tradition-bound fisher, you may want to avert your eyes for the next few lines. If you have no problem with synthesis in your fishing, then read on.

Finally cracked the code with a nymph about 6ft below a bobber (not a strike indicator), sunk with a few splitshot and swung in a seam. With a switch rod. Using the venerable snap-c.

Some days, when they want whatever you throw, you can get by on tradition alone. Other days, you gotta listen to the fish...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Other Form of Self-Abuse

That's right, Hockey.

Season (the "Real" season, as opposed to the NHL) starts September 24th. If it is anything like the last few years, pain and suffering will commence on the 25th.

Hockey and I have a long relationship marred by many rough breaks. Literally.

After 2 dislocated shoulders, 2 separated shoulders (all different incidents), a few concussions, 75 or so stitches, broken metatarsals, ankles, fingers, and knuckles, you would think that if I had any sense left I would give up the game.

But that's where rational thought sails out the window. I can't give it up. During one 11 year period of my meager existence I didn't have access to Ice, so I skated around on a pair of Fruit-Boots (rollerblades to you non-players) and stickhandled a tennis ball with a crappy street stick in some weed-infested parking lot...Like a starving dog gnawing a rubber bone, it seemed like the right thing to do, yet it was strangely unfulfilling.

Now that I have access to a rink, I can't go a few days of late fall / winter without strapping on the gear.

I've even been known to be on the ice alone, a bag of pucks and one net, just toodlin' around for hours...

At least I was drafted by a good team.


Did I mention that hockey playing usually entails much beer after each and every session? Sort of goes with the territory... Here's Surf n' Turf, a crackin' Bristol Bay guide and TU teammate, landin' a big one...


If I don't see you on the river, I'll see you on the pond.