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.