Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's a Wild Thing.

Last Thursday night we ponied up 30 clams to do a little eatin' on behalf of our friends, the Wild Salmon.

To some, this presents a paradox...why eat the very thing that you spend so much time, effort, and money to save? Aren't Wild Salmon going extinct? Aren't they endangered everywhere?

Yes, some stocks are endangered. Some are on the verge of extinction. Yet in other regions, Wild Salmon are THE economy, and their protection and conservation for future generations of user-groups is first and foremost, regardless of what toadies for multi-national mining conglomerates are paid to say.

The recent closures and delays in the coastal CA and OR salmon fishery were implemented due to low return forecasts, and among the biologists there was much hand-wringing over "dead zones" in the ocean, as well as "depressed ocean survival". While we are certain that these extant conditions have contributed to a massive stock collapse, there are other factors that don't get the airplay that they should...


Water Export.

Habitat loss from collateral damage of other resource-extraction industries.

Habitat loss through Civil Planning...or "Reassignment", a catchy little euphemism.

Detrimental Management Practices.

The laundry list goes on and on. For some, the battle is over. "Why try to stop progress?", they say..."We'll save the Wild Salmon by eating farmed"...

Why Wild is a new arm of TU aimed at getting all of the user groups and stakeholders on the same page, forming a community dedicated to saving Wild Salmon and Steelhead stocks for future generations. By promoting the eating of Wild Salmon, the organization aims to increase awareness of the problems facing wild salmon, and offers support in the form of financial incentive to save them.

(Image from the WhyWild website)

It sounds counterintuitive, but we have a feeling that this one could unite Sport, Commercial, and Industry interests like nothing before. Check 'em out at the link above, and keep an open mind...

On another note, the siren song of the auction table proved overpowering that night, and we left a whole pile of clams on it to be the proud new owner of a commemorative twig from the kind folks at R.L. Winston.

We need another flyrod - especially a 7wt - like we need a hole in the head, but this one was a particularly sexy wand. Donated by Winston to TU Alaska, with the proceeds going towards the fight against the Proposed Pebble Mine, this pretty little BII-x inked "Saving Bristol Bay, 1 of 1" will join its brethren in our stable, to be used and enjoyed.

It's a Wild Thing. Belly up and vote.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Power Tools

Kings, Beware.

This ain't no Party, this ain't no Disco.

This ain't no Foolin' Around.

66 days.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rabbits, and the Last of the Corned Beef

Springitis has set in at the Neil Creek Mansion and National Monument.

The Wife is going nuts because her garden is still covered with snow...matter of fact, it's snowing right now...and she can't get her hot little hands in the dirt and get all green-thumby yet.

Meanwhile, We sit around looking at the snow, thinking about how many more weeks of this stuff we will have to endure before we can finally be with the fish again.

Makes for a joyful household, it does.

Our pain was lessened last week with the arrival of St. Paddy's day, which seems to be the last reasonable excuse left as to why two otherwise healthy 30-somethings would cook and consume 6 lbs of salted, preserved meat in a matter of days. Did we mention the part about the beer?

At any rate, several snadwich and beer sessions were required to kill off the corned beast. We are happy to report that it was last seen hiding between two slices of rye, severely wounded, on a plate near a tankard of ale.

Maybe the boys over at The Drake will appreciate this...

And as for the whole bunny-egg-jesus thingy today, We think that Bill Hicks said it best...enjoy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Geek Season

Closing in on the start of spring fishing, and the inner geek has risen from the slumber of the off-season.

Recently, we were given the opportunity to geek on salmon and steelhead hooks, and we now have a clear, albeit spendy, choice. But first, a little backstory...

The Mustad 925xx series hooks were at one time the pinnacle of western-states steelhead and salmon fishing. We might be going out on a limb here, but we would hazard a guess that more WA, OR, CA, and BC fish have been caught on those old workhorses than on any other "octopus" or up-eye, continuous-bend style hook. Not really any mean feat when you are the only game in town, tho...

About the time we started flyfishing, a few other brands of hooks were being stocked in specialty stores around the PNW. Eagle Claw came out with a better model octopus than the L182, which looked as if it was made out of rebar; VMC 8x99 hooks had a sexy-as-hayull straight point that was murder on fish; Owner introduced the cutting-point; and Gamakatsu came out with the red Octopus hooks that were so snazzy, all the sporting goods stores in SW WA had to lock the 100-paks in the back so the unemployed millworkers wouldn't steal 'em.

Needless to say, when we started tying our own dastardly creations, there was a surfeit of fine hooks available. Some seemed to work out better than others, some were perfect for only one pattern, and some...we won't tell you which, but they start with an M...pretty much suck out loud.

To add to the confusion, about 8 years ago, several hookmakers began turning out specialized "drop-shot" hooks, fine-wire, up eye creations that tournament bass fishermen had been messin' with for years. Some were continuous-bend, some came in 10° up-eye, and others had this weird jack-leg thingy to keep 'em away from the mainline. The bitchin'-est hook of all the drop-shot hooks is the Gamakatsu Finesse Wide-Gap, and its speedy transition to the PNW-BC-AK steelhead and salmon angling world comes as no surprise.


The Geek Tribunal of One has reached a decision, and we here at The Neil Creek Chronicles are happy to announce that we have selected the Gamakatsu Finesse Wide-Gap as our official go-to hook for all stinger-style salmon and steelhead patterns.

The floor is now open for questions and discussion...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let's Get This Over With

Weeping just won't do.

The vacation is over, and it's time to face the snow and rain again. If we lived in, say, SoCal or FLA, this would probably be a much easier transition, but going from 83° and blue skies to 29°, overcast, and snowing sorta sucks...

...Which might explain our lethargy this week. More writing deadlines loom, hook geekery is in the air, and yet we sit paralyzed, struck dumb that our beautiful tan is now peeling like a stripper on payday.


One violent outpouring of reminiscing, one cathartic display of photographs and memories, then we can get on with our lives, despite the fact that we are no longer at sunny 21°52'43"N, 159°28'08"W. If there is one thing that keeps us sane about this sorry state of affairs it is this fact, people:

Steelhead is now less than 40 days away.

Even though warm waters, sandy beaches, and blue skies are super-cool, they don't have a damn thing on Chrome. And if there ain't Chrome, we ain't livin' there.

Let's get this over with.

Fish Storm...these Convict Tang really seem to piss off the other reef-dwellers when they sweep in, munch everything off the coral, and go about their merry way.

Bird of Paradise

Peacock Flounder

Yellowfin Goatfish

Yellowspotted Jack


Mac Salad, Poke, and Seaweed...The Holy Trinity +1

Mmmm Poke

Sandwich Isles Soul Food - Ribs, Rice, Mac Salad

Green turtle

Grubby Greenie

We snorkeled on a turtle cleaning station one day...there were about 10 turtles waiting to have their carapaces cleaned by an attendant horde of Convict Tang.

Found a Pufferfish trapped by the low tide...Fugu, anyone?

Convict Tang

Redlip Parrotfish, initial phase

Christmas Wrasse, Terminal phase


black Triggerfish

A band of Trumpetfish

Another cleaning station...Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse attending to a Convict Tang and a Bluespine Unicornfish while a Hawaiian Seargant waits behind them.

Surfer...not us.

Ho'ai sunset

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Return from the Sandwich Isles



Don't really feel like writing just yet.

Enjoy some photos...more to follow.