Friday, December 29, 2006

The House of Hardy - Simply the Best

I have several Hardy fly reels and love them! They are unsurpassed in simple elegance and craftsmanship and I cannot imagine using another other reel with the exception of maybe a Bogdan or Peerless.
I've included a history of the House of Hardy for your reading pleasure.

All over the globe, there are people who love to fish and in the universal language of the sport, one name reigns supreme - that of Hardy. For well over a century, House of Hardy has been renowned as the manufacturer of the finest game fishing tackle in the world - the name is synonymous with quality and excellence. Such reputations are not acquired easily, but it has never faltered throughout the company's long history.

That history began in 1872, when William Hardy established himself as a gunsmith in his home town of Alnwick, Northumberland. A year later he was joined by his brother John James, and the Hardy Brothers Partnership came into being. The high quality guns sold ranged from shotguns to pistols. However, despite their success, the Hardy Brothers' passion for fishing soon dictated a change in direction. Their favourite hobby became their profession, and the reputation of Hardy rods and reels was born.

To begin with, lancewood, hickory and greenheart rods were produced, but by 1880, bamboo had been added to the range. The Company was the first manufacturer to invent a system for building rods in hexagonal form from bamboo. The Hardy Palakona bamboo rod won the Company's first exhibition gold medal in 1881. Hardy products only stopped winning when gold medals were no longer presented at such exhibitions.

In 1891, the first Hardy "Perfect" reel was patented. This design has stood the test of time, and although there have been one or two minor alterations, the same basic model is manufactured today. Throughout its history, the Company has been responsible for some of the most radical advances in tackle design. It was the first to market bridge rings, spiral lock-fast joints, stud-lock joints, split-end joints, and "W" and screw-grip fittings for Salmon and Trout rods. It developed ball bearing reels and was the first to feature the check mechanism housed within the reel arbor and introduced the first large arbour reel in 1911.

The Company's record of innovation is a testament to the wealth of expertise invested in it. Among the three generations of Hardys involved in the firm, there have been some great anglers, beginning with John James who became World Champion Fly Caster. His nephew "LRH" became the most celebrated fly fisherman of his day: his prowess in casting reached almost legendary proportions. James L Hardy (JLH), grandson of the founder William carried on the tradition in tournament casting. He held 25 British National Professional records, 10 British All-Comers Professional records and three times has been World Professional Champion Caster. Jim retired from the company in early 1992 and as a consultant assisted with product development; his long awaited history of the Hardy family was published in 1998.

Although for the majority of its history, House of Hardy has remained a family firm, its very success decreed that it would not remain a partnership for long. In 1907 it was incorporated as a Limited Company, and in 1928 it went public. In 1933, Hardy Brothers (Alnwick) Limited extended its operations to include golf club manufacture. However, although Hardy wooden golf clubs also reached a high level of acclaim, the venture was closed in 1935 with the advent of steel shafts onto the market. Instead, the Company established itself as the absolute specialist in fishing tackle. Notwithstanding a brief interlude during World War II when it produced munitions, the Company continued to expand its range.

Alnwick, England, became famous as the birthplace of this angling institution and the annual Hardy catalogue became the "bible" for all those who sought either knowledge of, or the best of fishing equipment itself - they have become very collectible items.

The list of Hardy devotees is as long as it is impressive. No less that 10 Royal Warrants of appointment, including those of the late King George V and the last three Princes of Wales have been awarded to Hardy during this last century.

In 1967 Hardy Brothers (Alnwick) Limited became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Harris & Sheldon Group Ltd.. A severe slump in the industry in the late 1970's eventually resulted in a three day week in 1983. This was the Company's nadir. In spite of the then difficult circumstances, the company survived, with its reputation intact and was the first to patent the graphite fly rod which surpassed fibreglass in performance.

A Hardy reel became the holder of the first American Kudos Award for Design Excellence; and in 1984, House of Hardy was the first non-Japanese manufacturer to receive a Japanese Industrial Design Award winning not one but five. In the same year, Hardy (USA) Inc, was established as a marketing subsidiary to handle the growing demand in the American angling market. In 1985, the company name was changed to "House of Hardy Limited" to encompass the new and extended activities. The following year, this exceptional record was rewarded when in April, 1986, the Company received the Queen's Award for Export Achievement.

To ensure that some of the fishing tackle memorabilia in the company's possession was preserved for posterity, House of Hardy then decided to build a museum at its Alnwick headquarters. This was opened by HRH The Princess Margaret in July, 1987, and is unique. Many of the exhibits have been lent by the company's many devotees round the world as well as by the Hardy family. The museum is half of an imposing complex which also houses the Hardy Country Store in which all current House of Hardy products are on permanent display and available to retail customers.

In September, 1988, House of Hardy acquired their manufacturer of quilted and waxed garments as part of Hardy's growing clothing division. Today, the CountryWear division produces a modern range of performance outerwear - including fleece jackets and shirts.

The third division of House of Hardy was the composite tubing business of Fibatube and has since been renamed Hardy Advanced Composites. At the leading edge of composite tube technology, the division had established an enviable reputation for innovation, design, quality, service and manufacturing expertise over 25 years. Many of the technical attributes required to produce the finest fishing rods have been utilised to supply tubular components for Formula 1 racing cars, artificial limbs and the A320 Airbus.

In the Alnwick factory, the company manufactures over 90% of all parts used in the Hardy range of fishing tackle - from split bamboo, glass and carbon fibre rods to the world's most extensive range of fly reels - as well as a comprehensive family of fishing accessories. Opposite St James Palace in London's Pall Mall, House of Hardy's retail shop has been a mecca for the world's game fishing enthusiasts for over 100 years. Now that Harry Potter films use the Alnwick Castle as the prime movie set, even more tourism is expected to discover Alnwick situated in the N. E. Corner of Northumberland near the Scottish border.

Friday, December 15, 2006

In Praise of Single Malts and Fine Cigars

Is there anything better? I mean to sit down with a nice single malt and perhaps a Monte Cristo while contemplating which Hardy Brothers fly reel is my latest object of desire. Honestly is there anything better to a 52 year old, over stuffed fly fisher like me?
My son got me a nice bottle of twelve year old Laphroaig for Christmas last year and it was not until June of this year when my dear mother in law passed away that I cracked the seal on it.I felt toasting her life was a fitting reason to open the bottle. Earlier in the year my good friend and bamboo guru Mike and I sat out on his deck and enjoyed a fifth of Spey Burn with a nice Monte Cristo to celebrate his new job after three years of unemployment.
When Mike finished my Dickerson taper 8013 we celebrated with a few rounds of Laphroaig that day too.
At this stage of my life there is very little that gets me real excited except maybe for a rising trout or a running steelhead so the simple pleasure of good whiskey, a good cigar and fly fishing does me just fine.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Dude Abides

I would like to dedicate today's posting to one of the greatest movies of all time!
There is undeniably a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from this epic motion picture.

Here is some of it...enjoy

The Stranger: [opening narrations] Way out west there was this fella I wanna tell ya' about. Goes by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but he never had much use for himself. See, this Lebowski, he called himself "The Dude". Now, Dude, there's a name no man would self-apply where I come from. But then there was a lot about the Dude that didn't make a whole lot of sense. And a lot about where he lived, like-wise. But then again, maybe that's why I found the place so darned' interestin'. See, they call Los Angeles the "City Of Angels", but I didn't find it to be that, exactly. But I'll allow it as there are some nice folks there. 'Course I aint never been to London, and I aint never seen France. And I aint never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the fella says. But I'll tell you what, after seeing Los Angeles, and this here story I'm about to unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin' every bit as stupefyin' as you'd seen in any of them other places. And in English, too. So I can with a smile on my face. Without feelin' like the good lord gipped me. Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place in the early nineties - just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the eye-rackies. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man, I wont say a hero, cause, what's a hero? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here - The dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude. The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man, and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County. Which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough.
The Big Lebowski: Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a man?
The Dude: Sure, that and a pair of testicles.
Jesus Quintana: Nobody fu**s with the Jesus!
The Stranger: Just one thing, Dude.
The Dude: What's that?
The Stranger: Do you have to use so many cuss words?
The Dude: The fu** you talkin' 'bout?
The Dude: Let me explain something to you. I am not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So, that's what you call me. You know, that, or his dudeness, or duder, or el duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
Walter Sobchak: You're entering a world of pain.
Walter Sobchak: He's a sex offender, with a record. He did six months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight-year-old. When he moved to Hollywood he had to go door-to-door to tell everyone he was a pederast.
Donny: What's a "pederast," Walter?
Walter Sobchak: Shut the fu** up, Donny.
Maude Lebowski: The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
The Dude: Oh yeah?
Maude Lebowski: Yes. They don't like hearing it. And, find it difficult to say. Whereas, without bating an eye, a man will refer to his "dick" or his "rod" or his "Johnson."
The Dude: "Johnson?"
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?!
The Dude: No.
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?!
The Dude: Yeah.
Walter Sobchak: Okay then.
Walter Sobchak: Saturday, Donny, is Shabes, the Jewish day of rest. That means: I don't work. I don't drive a car. I don't fu**ing ride in a car. I don't handle money. I don't turn on the oven. And, I sure as shit don't fu**ing roll!
The Stranger: They call Los Angeles the city of the angels. I didn't find it to be that exactly.
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: No, you're not wrong.
Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
The Dude: You're not wrong, Walter! You're just an asshole!
The Dude: Nobody calls me Lebowski. You got the wrong guy. I'm the Dude, man.
The Dude: I do mind. The Dude minds. This will not stand. This aggression will not stand, man.
Maude Lebowski: You can imagine where it goes from here.
The Dude: He fixes the cable?
Maude Lebowski: Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey.
Jesus Quintana: What's this day of rest shit? What's this bullshit? I don't f****n' care! It don't matter to Jesus. But you're not foolin' me, man. You might fool the f***s in the league office, but you don't fool Jesus. This bush league psyche-out stuff. Laughable, man - ha ha! I was gonna f**k you in the ass Saturday. I f**k you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!
Da Fino, the Private Snoop: I'm a Brother Seamus!
The Dude: A Brother Seamus? What... like an Irish monk?
Da Fino, the Private Snoop: ...What the f**k are you talking about?
The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. I sure hope he makes the finals.
Walter Sobchak: F***ing Germans. Nothing changes. F***ing Nazis.
Donny: They were Nazis, Dude?
Walter Sobchak: Oh, come on Donny, they were threatening castration!
The Dude: Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Closing Coastal Hatcheries?

In the latest edition of "Strong Runs" the newsletter of Native Fish Society Bill Bakke floats the idea of closing or cutting back on coastal hatcheries and allowing a limited wild steelhead harvest.
He thinks by putting that money, and it's a bunch folks, into habitat and native fish enhancements we would be better off in the long run. Bakke contends that hatchery steelhead present more of a danger to wild steelhead than a limited harvest would.
Each hatchery fish produced by ODFW is very expensive! We are not getting our moneys worth at over $70 dollars average per fish landed.
It is also worth noting that coastal steelhead do not face the same obstacles that the Columbia River steelhead face and the hatcheries are not a part of the Mitchell Act.
Native broodstock programs have not panned out into the panacea that was hoped for and the out of basin fish are a very poor representation. Both hatchery runs yield a lower percentage of returning adults compared to wild fish and the smolt are competing with wild smolt for the nutrients in the river that are available.
I believe that if we are ever going to get our wild runs back to any semblance of where they once were we must sacrifice in order to do that!
These hatcheries are neither efficient or necessary! It's been proven many times with a long sad history that hatchery steelhead are detrimental in the long term well being of wild steelhead survival.
Look at the Washougal River in SW Washington as an example. The wild steelhead in this little river had survived logging splash dams, mining operations and pollution only to be decimated by guess what? Poor hatchery practices and processes.
This river holds a special place in my heart because it was there I landed my very first summer steelhead on a fly.
We have to at some point decide what is most important.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lamenting Summers End

I originally posted this on Westfly last October but I think it's appropriate for the way I feel as the winter descends upon not only my fishing but my soul.
Gone are the days where you can still tie on a size 20 at 9pm...sigh... I'm going to miss them. As I head into the late fall and then the winter I can't help but be a little sad. Sure I can still toss my flies in any number of rivers or lakes but the days of wet wading and short pants are gone for awhile. It won't be long until Hosmer and East Lakes are snowed in and the endless rains of December and January will make me look longingly at my three weight.
The end of summer makes me think about the trout of the spring and summer and wondering what the "off" season will bring.
I'll think about that surprise steelhead I caught on the Wilson just before the floods and I wonder how changed the rivers will be when and if they drop.I think about the big coastal cutthroat I caught on my new three weight Hoffman bamboo on my birthday or the many cutthroat trout that swam from the depths of a north coast river to smack my reverse spider. I'll think about my friends whose companionship made even the fishless trips more enjoyable.
Never thought I would see the day when I was actually sad to see the warm weather end. My long career in both an aluminum foundry and then an non air conditioned machine shop made me dread even the eighty degree days.Now being retired I look forward to all but the warmest of days. I really dislike short days when it's dark at 5PM.
So now it's close to time to think about getting my fly deep enough to entice a winter steelhead and maybe brave a mid-winter trip east for some cold weather trout fishing.
Thinking about those warm days just passed will sustain me until spring.

"Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loses much real pleasure. More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done." - Charles F. Orvis

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Second Coming

This is a worthwhile but long read by author David James Duncan about the four obsolete dam on the lower Snake river in Idaho.
These dams are a huge blockade to returning salmonids on their spawning journey and really serve no purpose.
Many years ago Trout Unlimited did a video titled "Dammed Forever" narrated by Bing Crosby on these dams.
Enjoy the article

Second Coming

Four obsolete dams are all that stand in the way of salmon surging back to the interior West.

By David James Duncan

Nature, for all its creative genius, has managed to bequeath North America just one species capable of journeying back and forth between the high altitude valleys of the continent's interior and the green Pacific swells a thousand miles away: the wild salmon. From a life spent in the proximity, and frequent hands-on company of these wonderful creatures, I have gleaned adventure, livelihood, delectable meals, deep gratitude—and a lifelong heartsickness caused by the salmon's rapid vanishing.

There are some who feel that our endangered wild salmon are "just a fish," and a fish of diminishing commercial value. Why, they ask, must we "waste money" and even threaten certain dams to prevent their extinction? Our industrialized rivers have changed, they say. Salmon haven't. Too bad for salmon. I never cease to marvel at this sort of thinking—completely oblivious to the forces that daily sustain our 78-percent-H20, solar-engined, wind-breathing, protein-needing bodies. Salmon are, among other things, one of Earth's perfect foods—for hundreds of interwoven species, not just humans. They are "just a fish" in the same sense that Earth is just a finite ship sailing a sea of uninhabitable space. In eradicating a vast watershed's major food species, we're removing irreplaceable planks from the hull of our ship for all time.

In the Columbia/Snake River system, four federal dams that provide just 5 percent of the region's electricity have wiped out 90 percent of the inland West's wild salmon in 25 years. I have asked electricity providers what difference it would make to consumers, in price or in service, to lose the dams. They answer, "No difference." There are 75,000 dams in the Lower 48. The removal of four dams would leave us 74,996. And it would leave us the salmon.

The interior West's wild salmon waken, at birth, to the pebbles and clear flow of a high mountain stream. The tiny fish bond not to a parent fish, but to the parenting stones and flow of their birth stream. For a full year, in some cases two, fingerlings cling to this unlikely madonna, imbibing her unique chemistry, memorizing all they can about her. Then, at the nautically unpromising length of five inches, they obey their blood and the parent stream's incessant downward urging and set out on a journey that makes the Odyssey look tame.

All five strains of chinook make the marathon swim from the inland West's mountains to the Pacific, but it's the way spring and summer chinook do it that really gets me. Fasting like holy pilgrims, their bodies quivering like flames, these two-year-old na•fs travel the entire distance—800 miles or more—backward. As the current sweeps them seaward, tail-first, they gaze steadfastly upriver toward the mountains, like kindergartners backing ruefully away from home toward a first day at school. They've got plenty to be rueful about: 99.75 percent of them won't live to see their birth stream again.

The smolts' migration must be swift, or they starve. There is also a limited window during which they can make the metabolic transformation from freshwater to saltwater. In the pre-dam era the Columbia/ Snake's mighty spring runoff carried smolts up to 900 miles in as little as five days. Now, with a total of eight dams, the same journey takes six weeks or more.

Gail Ater of Gouge Eye, Idaho, is one of four intrepid souls who in 1995 swam the astounding sockeye-smolt migration route from Redfish Lake, 7,000 feet up in the Sawtooth Mountains, down to the first of the four notorious dams on the lower Snake River. In the unfettered Salmon River, Ater says, the swimmers were carried an effortless 30 miles a day by "just staying afloat and watching for rocks." Then they hit the 40-mile slackwater behind Lower Granite Dam. "You hear the word impoundment differently forever," Ater says, "once you've approached one by swimming four-hundred-and-fifty miles of free-flowing river. Soon as we hit slackwater, a ten-day emotional high became the Bataan Death Swim. Headwinds, three-foot whitecaps, the same boring chunk of basalt in the distance, though you've swum for hours. Five miles a day was torture. We almost gave up."

Still far from the dam, the swimmers saw a fleet of boats approaching. It was the Nez Percé—the same tribe that kept the Lewis and Clark expedition from unraveling 200 years before—come to honor the group's gesture. The swimmers found fresh strength, made it to the dam, and were fted, feasted, and made honorary members of the tribe.

But at the point where the humans faltered, the smolts still have seven slackwaters, eight dams, and 400 miles left to traverse. And in each slackwater they encounter an array of predacious bass, walleyes, and the other smolt-devouring artists whose populations have exploded thanks to the slackwaters' elevated temperatures. Lack of current brings migration to a near standstill. The fasting juveniles waste energy seeking river flow. The John Day slackwater alone is 80 miles long. The desert in summer is a furnace. The same temperatures that give voracity to warm-water predators are, by July, deadly to smolts. Schools of salmonids can circle slackwaters for weeks, unable to sense the way to the sea.

When their metabolic-transition clocks run out of time, they become baitfish. Anglers aren't fools. The bass lure of choice in all eight impoundments is a four-inch Rapalla the green-backed color of a bewildered chinook smolt. When they reach the dams, the young salmon that travel deep are summarily crushed by turbines, 8 to 15 percent at each dam; eight dams in all; end of story. The smolts that travel shallow are hurtled over spillways, which kill just 2 percent or less per dam, but only if river current is sent over spillways rather than through turbines. To the region's hydroelectric profiteers, this means that "their" generators are being "robbed" of kilowatt dollars by juvenile salmon. Hence the long, bitter fight for the very flow of this river—and the shocking resentment, among industrial river-users, of five-inch travelers, fasting as they drift, gazing back toward long-lost, mothering mountains. Only because of the Endangered Species Act have these embattled innocents begun to encounter spillways and fish bypass systems instead of killing turbines.

The lucky, starving smolts that reach saltwater encounter fresh trials, such as a sterile shipping channel where a food-rich estuary should be, and a manmade island now harboring the world's largest colony of smolt-eating Caspian terns. But the fish that reach the Pacific, even today, put on silvery muscle fast, and for the next two to three years travel distances that put every inlander but circumpolar birds and long-haul truckers to shame. Some Idaho chinook swim 10,000 miles at sea. They've been caught off the coast of Japan, the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands. Diving so deep at times as to be untraceable, swimming too far too fast to be followed, ocean salmon maintain the ability—so troubling to those who would control them completely—to elude the radar of human knowing.

Yet no matter how far they rove or how big and strong they grow, there comes a day when they hear in their blood the song that leads them to abandon the sea and seek again their high mountain place of birth. The journey is always fatal. Every salmonid undertakes it even so. And when they've conquered the eight-dam gauntlet, parsed the currents, rediscovered the mothering stretch of pebbles and snowmelt, they begin, despite all they've endured, to make love.

But not to a mate. On the eastern edge of Idaho last fall, 700 miles from the sea, I watched a single female chinook, with great, crimson-gilled gasps of effort, turn her ocean-built body into a shovel and dig, in the unforgiving bone of the continent, a home for offspring she would not live long enough to see. I watched her lay eggs so tender the touch of a child's fingertip would crush them; eggs exactly the color of setting suns. I watched the darker, fierce-kyped male ease in front of those suns without once touching the female, and send milt melting down into her nest of stones. I watched the paired chinook circle their pebbled redd, tending it, guarding it. Only incidentally did they touch each other. Because they weren't making love to one another. They were making love to the very land and water, to broken bits of mountain and melting snows.

I left them to die, as salmon do, their clutch of eggs orphaned in a frigid gravel womb. As I write these words, winter has snapped down hard in the Rockies. Snow is mounting high. But in that ice-covered streambed nest, which the female covered with protective pebbles with her last few strokes of life, tiny eyes are even now appearing in her sun-colored eggs.

There is a fire in water. There is an invisible flame, hidden in water, that creates not heat but life. And in this bewildering age, no matter how dark or glib some humans work to make it, wild salmon still climb rivers and mountain ranges in absolute earnest, solely to make contact with that flame. Words can't reach deep or high enough to embody this wonder. Only wild salmon can embody it. Each migration, each annual return from the sea, these incomparable creatures climb our inland mountains and sacrifice their lives, that tiny silver beings may be born of an impossible watery flame.

These are the "declining commercial species" that we are eradicating from the West for all time.

The Columbia/Snake system is one of just three great refugia of Pacific salmon on Earth. Its hundreds of rivers required millennia to evolve our hardy indigenous salmon and steelhead. These wild strains are the genetic engine that gives us all salmon, even those raised in netpens and hatcheries. Dolly the sheep notwithstanding, humans do not know how to create and maintain a viable race of salmonids. Hatchery fish are, essentially, big batches of identical first cousins rapidly inbreeding themselves into genetic inferiority and nonexistence. ("Homeless seagoing spam," salmon bard Tom Jay calls them.) It is our resilient, diverse wild stocks alone that give artificial stocks a fleeting viability before technological incest destroys them.

This is why the countless attempts to "repair" vanished salmon runs with hatchery fish have failed for 40 years. It's like trying to replace Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven with Yanni, Yanni, and Yanni. Borrowing eggs from an alien species, dumping them in a river, and expecting the newcomers to magically pick up survival and migrational instincts acquired over thousands of years by their extinct wild predecessor is a hopeless industrial dream. To cite one of countless failures, the vanishing sockeye of Idaho's Redfish Lake were replaced in the 1990s with 3 million Canadian sockeye eggs three years in a row. The number of sockeye from these 9 million eggs that adapted and returned as adults: zero. A dam is not a biological treasure. A dam is an inanimate, river-altering tool with a life span of about 100 years, created by humans to serve humans. Most of our 75,000 dams were built before negative biological, economic, or cultural impacts were considered, and many have done more harm than good. Learning from our mistakes, we now weigh at least some of the long-term damages of dams against their benefits.

Historically, Americans have often been slow to retire dangerous tools, because tool retirement usually comes with a price tag. We're getting faster, though. Only by retiring tools fiercely defended by profitmakers have we ceased to be the land of thalidomide infants, asbestos-ceilinged schoolrooms, DDT trucks dousing residential streets, Dalkon Shield IUDs, and explosion-prone cars. The time has come for the four lower Snake River dams to join these other tools in retirement.

The eight federal dams that bar the journey of the inland West's salmon are not created equal. The four on the Columbia have brought both benefits and disasters. Among the disasters: the mass extinction of dozens of salmon runs; the impoverishment of hundreds of local fishing communities and salmon-dependent Indians; and the 1957 inundation (behind The Dalles Dam) of the lower Columbia's Celilo Falls—for ten millennia the greatest tribal gathering place west of the Mississippi, drawing salmon celebrants and neolithic traders from as far away as Central America. Among the benefits: hydropower, navigation, flood control, and, thanks to abundant electricity, the aluminum that became the aircraft that helped win World War II.The four Columbia dams have been retrofitted to accommodate safer salmon passage; they now assist, if awkwardly, in flushing migratory smolts to sea. With changes in operations policy (particularly at John Day) and an unbiased look at the aluminum industry's deadly waste of power, they could keep salmon mortality at an "acceptable" low rate.

The four dams on the Snake are an agonizingly different story. Conceived at the paranoid height of the cold war, they were bitterly opposed even then for the damage they were certain to inflict on the Northwest's salmon-dependent economy. Among their opponents: President Dwight Eisenhower; the Army Corps that later built them; the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and game; the region's 13 Native tribes; the West Coast's multibillion-dollar fishing industry; and the majority of the region's salmon-loving populace. But cold war politics won out. In 1955, craving a four-dam hydropower saber to rattle at the Soviets at any cost, Congress approved the dams. When they came online, wild salmon runs, as predicted, crashed.

Something few people know: The Snake River dams are of a type known as "run of the river," which offer no flood-control storage. The Northwest's far right foretells catastrophic floods with the dams gone. It's a lie. The reservoirs of these dams must be kept within three feet of the top for the sake of their navigation locks. Two more absurdities: for months at a time these dams turn only one or two turbines (the Columbia dams, on average, turn ten or more). Nor do the dams provide significant storage for irrigation. Although water is pumped from the Ice Harbor Reservoir, if the dam were removed, the farmers could place their intake pipes in the free-flowing river---a fraction of a day's work!

The truth is that, beyond their pitifully limited hydroelectric function, the Snake River dams were a pork-barrel present to the mountain town of Lewiston, Idaho, which hankered to be a seaport—450 miles inland. But the Lewiston "port" is primarily a trucking depot, and receives no ocean-going vessels. And its barges plow right alongside railroads and highways that until 1975 carried its cargo at no cost to salmon---or to U.S. citizens, who have since pumped billions into dam and port construction and operations, and $3 billion more into failed efforts to redress the dams' deadly effects on salmon.

And it's not just the Snake. Lewiston's "port" also places a hangman's noose around the fish of Oregon's Imnaha, Grande Ronde, Wenaha, Lostine, Minam, Wallowa, and Powder rivers, Idaho's South and Main Clearwater, North, South and Middle Salmon, Selway, Rapid, Lochsa, and many more, strangling the economies of towns throughout the region, along the Columbia, and up and down the Pacific Coast. In 1993 the sport fishery for just one Snake River species—the summer steelhead—generated $90 million and created 2,700 jobs, even with the run in semi-ruins. (The same year the Lewiston port directly employed 22 people.) The four dams' removal, according to the Army Corps, will create 12,000 new jobs. Economic studies say dam removal would generate long-term billions. Yet subsidy recipients and their political supporters have constructed a pro-dam propaganda machine that views any criticism of this deadly "port" as treason.

The politics of salmon recovery are as hideous as salmon are beautiful. The dams of the Snake have not just impounded life-giving current: They've created a quasi-culture of slackwater politicians whose hysterical rhetoric has instilled vague yet paralyzing fear in the hearts of federal lawmakers. But what is the substance of these fears? Who are these regional "leaders" trying to convince us to ignore biological reality and spiritual integrity? Representative Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho) asks how her state's salmon could possibly be in trouble when she sees canned salmon stacked in her local supermarket—conveniently ignoring that it came from Alaska. Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) sees in the removal of Snake River dams a new "domino theory" that will bring down all dams, everywhere, and leave us in a Mad Max-style postindustrial wasteland ravaged by biblical floods (caused, no less, by the removal of four dams that offer no flood control). Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) responds to rigorous Army Corps analyses linking salmon with jobs and prosperity by accusing the Corps of being stoned. Idaho's ruling Republicans are exploring the possibility of building a 400-mile-long water-filled pipe down which to flush endangered juvenile salmon from Idaho all the way to the Columbia estuary, like unwanted turds. The day a slackwater politician comes up with a cogent, altruistic reason to sacrifice the inland West's salmon to their agendas, I'll eat my trout flies. All five boxes.

Ian Gill is chair of Ecotrust, an organization that develops intelligent, sustainable economic opportunities for small communities. Fresh back from Lewiston, Gill said the visit reminded him of the Werner Herzog film Fitzcarraldo, whose crazed hero stops at nothing to drag a stern-wheeler riverboat over a mountain in Brazil. "There was a conquistador mentality afoot during the cold war," Gill said. "Here in Canada they talked of building a canal from Winnipeg to Hudson Bay, of reversing the flow of a major river, of building thirty-mile bridges from the mainland to Vancouver Island when ferries served. This fifties engineering mentality explains Lewiston's port, but doesn't excuse it. Do we live with fifties' acts of idiocy, or do we set to work and undo them?"

So far, we live with, and salmon die from, the idiocies: Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite dams came on line in 1962, 1969, 1970, and 1975, respectively. Their legacy so far:

•1986: all Idaho, Oregon, and Washington coho dependent on the Snake River migratory corridor, extinct;
•1990 to 1999: 20 sockeye, in total, returned to the same vast system;
•1997: all surviving Snake system salmon and steelhead threatened or endangered; •1998: 306 wild chinook returned to the system (down from tens of thousands per run);
•1999: Idaho spring/summer chinook, once the largest run of its kind in the world, down to 2,400 returning adults, leaving many key streams with no spawning for the first time in history;

The Soviet Union is dissolved. The cold war is won. Five percent of a region's hydropower is not "strategic." Its web of life is. Lewiston, Idaho, can ignore its railways and highways and enjoy a piddling wheat-barging operation---or the nation can continue to have wild Pacific salmon and a $500-million-a-year sustainable fishing enterprise. We can't have both.

A century ago the U.S. government defined salmon as a commercial species, thus bequeathing the problems of salmon not to federal fish people, but to money people: namely, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS (pronounced "nymphs"). This agency is, so to speak, the mind and the Army Corps the muscle of salmon recovery under the Endangered Species Act. But in three decades of stewardship, that mind has shown itself to be as false to salmon as Shakespeare's Iago was to Othello.

In 1993, deep into the dam-caused extinctions, NMFS scientists proclaimed that the Columbia/Snake hydroelectric system "poses no jeopardy" to the recovery of Snake River fish—an incomprehensible lie coming from the salmon's scientific defender. Outraged salmon lovers were forced to take NMFS to court, where Judge Malcolm Marsh, in a landmark decision, found the agency's science "arbitrary and capricious" and ordered it to rewrite its biological opinion, this time incorporating the expertise of state and tribal fisheries biologists.

Seemingly chastened, the NMFS/Corps team commenced the most scientifically rigorous analysis of a fish species and watershed ever conducted on this planet, accompanied by a federal promise that the study's science, being the best humanity has, would determine the course of recovery. After four years of arduous effort, the study concluded that technical fixes would never restore viable runs, and that existing strategies of river use would lead to certain extirpation of inland salmon, but that if the Snake River dams were removed our endangered salmon would have an 80 to 100 percent likelihood not just of surviving but of flourishing.

Salmon lovers were ecstatic. After 50 years of federal indecision, it was time to act. What happened instead? The study's conclusions were squelched, falsified, and politically spun, not just by the far right, but by the salmon's supposed champion. Suddenly NMFS began to raise "other threats" known all along—ocean conditions, overfishing, habitat degradation—as arguments against dam removal. This is like refusing to remove a tumor from a man because his arm is broken. It's also sickeningly familiar. Here is a 1965 tobacco industry medical expert: "Research . . . indicates many possible causes of lung cancer. . . . There is no agreement among the authorities regarding what the cause is. . . . More study is needed." And here are NMFS "salmon experts," cited and paraphrased last October by The New York Times: "The salmon involves our whole way of doing things. There is no simple, easily defined enemy." "[Salmon] could be rescued by some means short of dam breaching." "One option would be to wait."

Dangerous and superfluous dams are being removed all over the United States—465 of them as of late 1999, with many more scheduled to go—and when dams go, sea-run fish return. On Butte Creek, a Sacramento River tributary, dam removal has helped turn a 1987 chinook run of 44 fish into a 1998 run of 20,000. The pre-dam Snake system produced great salmon and steelhead runs in the 1960s despite the Columbia dams. The fall chinook of the Hanford Reach of the Columbia are thriving today, though they traverse the same Columbia dams as the vanishing salmon of Idaho. The sole difference between prolific life and doom: the four Snake River dams. Yet NMFS bureaucrats, far from defending salmon, keep using R. J. ReynoldsÐstyle PR to subvert their own best science and defend the dams. It's as if the Marsh decision and the comprehensive study never took place.

Iago is a subtle betrayer. Consider the NMFS/Corps juvenile-salmon transport program. This ostentatious technological boondoggle purports to "save" migrating smolts from turbines and slackwater by ceding the river to its industrial abusers, trapping fragile smolts in multimillion-dollar Inspector Gadget gizmos, handling and tagging them (often fatally) in the name of research, shooting them through whirligig bypass systems that disorient like Disney rides, sluicing them into overcrowded trucks and barges, shipping them like coal or plywood for 300 miles, and dumping them---with no notion of what planet they're now on—below Bonneville Dam, where a crowd of industry officials and media stand cheering on the bank while, down in the river, an unphotographable horde of predators awaits a disoriented smolt feast. The NMFS scientists then solemnly count the dead 2 percent left floating in their state-of-the-art taxpayer-duping barges, fail to factor in the 40 to 60 percent of barged smolts that later "mysteriously disappear" and the 99.75 percent that never return to spawn as adults, and call their transport program "a 98 percent success."

This is salmon-betraying drivel. Even Commerce Department biologists know that the only meaningful measure of recovery is the number of adult salmon that return from the ocean to reproduce in home streams. By this measure the smolt-transport program is a disaster. The smolt-to-adult return range needed for salmon recovery is 2 to 6 percent. The average adult return under NMFS is a dismal 0.25 percent. In the real world, employees with this kind of "success" rate are fired. In the federal world, Iago just smiles, spins the statistics of failure, and says, "Let's study it further"—and the Clinton administration has so far supported this anti-scientific subterfuge.

I would remind an author named Al Gore of his own take on this kind of delay. In Earth in the Balance, protesting the stubborn denial of global warming, Gore wrote, "It is all too easy to exaggerate the uncertainty and overstudy the problem—and some people do just that—in order to avoid an uncomfortable conclusion. . . . [A] choice to 'do nothing' in response to mounting evidence is actually a choice to continue and even accelerate . . . the catastrophe at hand" (emphasis Gore's). When migratory creatures are denied their life-giving migration, they are no longer migratory creatures: They are kidnap victims, held hostage for a ransom of unconscionable dams. The name of the living vessel in which wild salmon evolved and still thrive is not "fish bypass system," "submergible diversionary strobe-light," or "barge." It is River. And this is the last thing the NMFS/Corps team is willing to give them.
Another little-discussed factor in this debate: flagrant racism. Four dams created by cold war paranoia and sustained by a subsidy-addicted few are wiping out the sacramental fish, sustainable economy, and ancient religion of the region's Native American culture for the sake of no industrial good, service, or commodity that can't immediately be replaced by profitable, sustainable equivalents. To add insult to injury, the tribes are so hated in industrial circles for standing faithfully by salmon that they are being publicly accused, by the PR flacks of slackwater industry, of bringing about the salmon's demise by simply exercising their treaty-guaranteed right to fish.

Northwest Indians catch and eat salmon for two reasons. One is the reason cattleman eat cattle: It's who they are, what they do, and what they have. The other is the reason Catholics eat bread and wine at Mass: The grateful catching and eating of salmon was a sacrament for Northwest Indians centuries before the birth of Christ. Thus salmon-killing industrialists are simultaneously destroying the tribes' Columbia and Snake River places of worship and vilifying the tribes for still worshipping.

Under the Marsh decision the Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, and Nez Perc people are full participants in the effort to save endangered salmon. But NMFS and the Clinton administration have given their calm, reverent voices no more weight in management decisions than the voices of blacks were given in the courts of Alabama in the 1950s. And for the same reason: The four dams on the Snake are like four Whites Only drinking fountains. The Snake's life-giving flow is being denied to Indians and salmon fishers and converted into profits reserved for Anglo industrialists. If this isn't federally defended Columbia/Snake River racism, I don't know what is.

It's time we listened to the tribes. But if we don't, if reverence toward rivers and salmon is too "primitive" for our leaders, we will pay dearly. In 1855, the United States signed a treaty, a powerful legal document granting sovereign rights and privileges to Indian peoples for all time, among which are hunting and fishing privileges in "usual and accustomed places" throughout the Northwest. These rights are not, as some believe, a form of welfare. They are legal obligations to the tribes granted by an inadequately shamed U.S. government as Indian lands, languages, and lifeways were being ripped apart.

This is why, when I hear posturing corporate flacks blaming salmon decline on Indian fishing, I open Dante to enjoy his descriptions of the particularly heinous circle of hell reserved for malicious slanderers. The tribes were given hunting and fishing "privileges" over the dead bodies of men, women, and children and against their best judgment and will. When Kamiakan, chief of the Yakama, signed the 1855 treaty, he was so certain that its promises could be twisted into meaninglessness by whites that his lips dripped blood from biting them in an effort to contain his helpless rage.

Kamiakan's fears were prophetic. For a century and a half 1855 treaty rights have been dishonored and negated. Many "usual and accustomed places" are buried under slackwater. Others are on private land, with legal access illegally denied. When it isn't denied, there's often nothing to fish for. A court in Idaho recently declared that though the Nez Percé have a right to fish in usual and accustomed rivers, they have no right to ask white irrigators to leave water in these rivers. And now the Clinton administration may eliminate the last Columbia/Snake tribal fishery in order to keep the dams.

The tribes have been magnificently patient. They want the return of the salmon, not court battles. But when intelligent recovery strategies are insulted and ignored and treaty rights violated over and over, litigation becomes the only choice. If NMFS continues to allow a coterie of subsidy beneficiaries to drive the tribe's treaty-guaranteed salmon into extinction, the United States will be justifiably sued and the settlement will be huge: $10 billion, even according to NMFS, and possibly much more. The dwindling fish counts at Snake River dams should be posted dailyÑin the nation's financial pages.

In 1999 the salmon's countless defenders were powerfully joined by the Northwest bishops of the Catholic Church, who in a formal document define the Columbia and Snake rivers as a "sacred commons" created by God to be shared and lovingly cared for by all.

The bishops argue against "arbitrary policies and practices based primarily on the greed and politics of power," and call for holistic, watershed-wide solutions that take into account "the needs of native peoples of the watershed, the economic benefits of jobs and property taxes for communities provided by all commercial fishers, [and] respect for salmon and trout who are God's creatures and share the commons with us." The bishops share a crucial principle with the tribes: It is not possible for individuals or governments to comprehend, effectively analyze, or defend a living holiness from a purely quantitative point of view.

An analysis that places the loss of a fundamental biological component from a 260,000-square-mile watershed or the tribes' loss of a ten-millennium spiritual tradition on a par with the profits of wheat transporters and soda-can manufacturers is no analysis at all. Wild salmon are not "economic units." They are transrational beings whose living bodies bring far-reaching, nonquantifiable blessings to a watershed. Their self-sacrifice in migration is a literal and symbolic magnificence. Their existence puts us in touch with ultimate questions, their annihilation with ultimate consequences. As the tribes and bishops declare: Salmon are, first and foremost, a spiritual gift, so their vanishing is spiritual loss.

The very first page of the Bible celebrates the sublime creativity that has given us an inhabitable planet, our bodies, and salmon with these words: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas."

The preservation of salmon is not just U.S. law: For believers, at least, it's a biblical mandate. The extirpation of creatures whom God creates, blesses, and orders to fill the seas is a repudiation of scripture and the spiritual impoverishment of a people. The bounty of Creation is daily evidence of a living, giving Creator, and in the Northwest there is no more moving evidence of such giving than a thriving run of salmon. Speaking from lifelong experience, the sight of these massive, mountain-born, faithfully returning ocean travelers in a clear flow before me, hundreds of miles inland, thousands of feet above the sea, feels like some impossibly literal answer to unspoken prayer. Words aren't needed in the presence of such an answer. There it swims in the water before me, Genesis' blessing: the moving creature that hath life.

What we are stealing from all future generations, via the glib operation of four unneeded dams, is this literal kind of answer to prayer.What we are removing from every child's intuitive reach is the awe, faith, and gratitude that such gifts inspire. What we are squabbling over, as if it were a two-party political trade bauble, is a holiness promised to all people by Moses' beloved God.

Removal of these dams is inevitableÑsooner if we heed the tribes, bishops, and Bible; later if we heed slackwater rhetoricians and NMFS. Let's envision this process that so horrifies the Northwest's far right: Once federal approval is given, removing the earthen portion of these dams will be a piece of cake. It will not touch 95 percent of the region's power. It will cost us no irrigation, no flood control, no industry, will not harm a single cattle rancher or potato grower. It will protect Lewiston, Idaho, from its own worst minds and the rest of America from Lewiston, turning this myopic Portland-wannabe into the revamped, world-class outdoor- recreation and sportfishing destination it could have been all along. It will create thousands of jobs and a half-billion-dollar-a-year sustainable fishing industry.

It will attract tourists, fly-rodders, kayakers, birders, botanists, Lewis and Clark buffs, and rubberneckers from all over the globe to ogle the dam remnants, study the returning plants, birds, and wildlife, ride the 70 new whitewater rapids, hunt the newly revealed side canyons, fish the hundreds of new steelhead riffles, and watch the spawning fall chinook. It will bring, in the form of an abundance of salmon, a flood of health, income, and energy to hundreds of inland biological and human communities and a source of hope, happiness, and gratitude to every riverine creature from insects to kids to angels.

Poet Jane Hirshfield writes: "As water, given sugar, sweetens/given salt, grows salty/we become our choices." The Columbia/Snake, given current, creates wild salmon; given Snake River dams, creates electricity, extinction, and heartbreak.

We become our choices. I pray there are leaders in Washington, D.C., who will weigh this choice carefully: 95 percent of our electricity intact, and all of the interior West's wild salmon thriving, and our rivers again burgeoning with their living symbol of generational sacrifice. According to Genesis, God blessed the chinook, coho, steelhead, and sockeye the waters brought forth, pronounced them good, and as they took their part in the panoply of creation he upgraded that to "very good." To restore to our fellow blessed and very good creature its indispensable path to and from mountain birth-houses, we have four dams to unbuild in a hurry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Contented Angler

It has been said that the angler, like the poet, is born, not made. This is a self-evident fact. Few men have risen to the dignity of anglers who did not in early youth feel the unconquerable impulse to go a fishing. There are, of course, noteworthy exceptions, but the rule holds good. It might be added, too, that the genuine angler is almost invariably a poet, although he may not be a jingler of rhymes- a ballad monger. Though, perhaps, lacking the art of versification, his whole life is in itself, a well-rounded poem, and he never misses the opportunity to "cast his line in pleasant places.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Characters in the Stream

We've all seen them--Characters. Fellow flyfishers who have given us pause--either because they inspire us, humor us . . . or cause us to run the other way. The following is a collection of people I've seen or fished with who strike me as interesting fishing characters (some bizarre, a few possibly insane). None of these characters remotely resemble you or me, keep in mind. And it is not relevant that some of them catch more fish than you or me. That's not the point. The point is . . . well, I'm not sure what the point is, but follow along anyway.

The Entomologist This one knows bugs. All bugs. Doesn't even have to make up bug names. Can pronounce the scientific names of all bugs, as evidenced by his pointing out that you cannot pronounce any of them correctly. Has one fly box for every species of midge, caddis, and stonefly. Two for mayflies. Three for spinners. His six "summer boxes" have dozens of grasshoppers with three colors of legs, ants in three shades of cinnamon, locusts (in preparation for the 17th year hatch) and billions of beetles. He has no Wooly Buggers. Often seen peering into small streams, exploring two-inch fingerlings with the same excitement as the Rambo type (see below) fighting a 38-inch steelhead. Sometimes dons scuba gear in two inches of water, getting animated about little pink eggs. Has an uncanny knack of pulling fish out of any water, including city creeks. He can pull a 12-inch brook trout out of your bathtub.

The Connected Crowd This is the walkie-talkie/shortwave flyfisher, possibly touting a GPS and mapping software on his car laptop or palm-sized digital assistance. If he doesn't have a fly on a line, he is researching fly fishing online, and has his browser's favorites set to every flyfishing and insect database in existence. Where spotted: steelhead streams. He needs a worthy adversary. This one has the stalking skills of a sniper, that's why he brings a friend as a spotter with a walkie-talkie. Some may even be shortwave pirates on the lam, occasionally seen throwing dipoles in trees, launching their thoughts over USB and FM, watching their 6 for the FCC.

Rambo with a Fly Rod A very courageous trouting warrior. He has fished where no man has fished before. Has his proven steelhead flies pinned into the wall above his bed, to "impress the girls." Has been known to follow a small drainage for four days with a 50 pound pack on his back, with a compass or GPS in one hand and a fly rod in the other, catching 18-inch indigenous cutthroat trout, the color of which has never been seen before. Doesn't even have to lie as he sucks all the air out of the club house proclaiming his gift to flyfishing godliness. When not in the mountains, is sometimes seen with the Connected Crowd.

Average Joe This one has just started out fly fishing 10 years ago, dropped the sport for five years, and is picking it up again, and again, and again each season. Has 6 types of flies, but fishes with only a Royal Wulff, but is beginning to think about bead-head nymphs. Will dutifully listen to anything you have to save about fishing, but won't understand anything you have to say about fishing. Will automatically assume you are a better fisherman and worth listening to because . . . well . . . you're the one doing all the talking and he is nice enough to not tell you to shut up.

The Terminator Has the cunning of backyard cat. Tee shirt reads, "I practice catch and kill." Bumper sticker reads "My other car is pan-fried fish." Fish is food--no ifs, ands or buts. One thing is certain: this one is getting plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids and will outlive you or me. He wants big fish, really big fish, and catches them with one of five flies: black woolly bugger, red woolly bugger, brown woolly bugger, olive woolly bugger, and a yellow woolly bugger. Could easily beat the crap out of 12 Entomologists. Sometimes seen with the Rambo type. Show him a chironomid and he'll punch you. Mention that he should try an Ephemerella pattern, and he'll beat you up, thinking you just called him a homosexual.

No Fish Guy This is the person who is dutiful about all aspects of the sport. Practices casting on occasion, studies bugs to an extent, buys reasonable flies, kicked over a rock once to see what was underneath and then decided what he saw resembled bugs in books but nothing he or anyone else has ever tied. Catches small fish, but seems happy anyway. Also known as most everybody.

The Old Man This man fished with Theodore Gordon, so he says. He probably has. He ties Bumblepuppies, Tup Indispensables and Cock-y-bundhu patterns just for laughs and shows them to the "chironomid kids", as he calls the young kids on his once favorite lake, which he'll constantly tell you was His lake until flyfishers started becoming more numerous than the midges. Being resourceful with materials at hand when need be, he has been known to tie with dog hair, but mainly ties with starling wings and bizarre parts of mammals and birds from English parts of the world. Sometimes found crouching next to a stream tossing ancient flies to a trout named George, who has been caught and released hundreds of times with the old man's flies. The fish will soon die of old age or boredom.

The Agnostic For him there are no fish here, no fish there, no fish anywhere. When confronted with an unsuccessful day of fishing, he assumes the fish weren't present. Sometimes suspects winter kill or human intervention. If it's true that 10 percent of the fishermen are catching 90 percent of the trout, then the Agnostic assumes the remaining 90 percent of the fishermen are catching not much more than nothing (and probably using attractors). Disturbingly familiar person. Though not to be confused with you or me.

The Shop Guy This person has the finest flies, all tied by people who don't fish and who live in countries not easily pronounced. Easily recognized by the plethora of clothes and gear more expensive than the cheap stuff you have. Sometimes donning the latest design in fly vest/bag combinations complete with hydration system and possibly a radio, if not a GPS. Knows the cfs of every river and creek within a thousand miles. By definition, shop people are very nice people, but like many, won't shut up. Can sometimes be seen with the Connected Crowd.

The Woolly Bugger Guy Has only one fly box. Doesn't like the fact that 90 percent of the fish are caught by 10 percent of the flyfishers, and plans to do something about this with Woolly Buggers. Ten percent of the flyfishers are getting really pissed.

The Paranoid Schizophrenic He keeps a gun in his waders because, after all, "there are some strange people out here." After giving you a cautious glance, if he decides you aren't the enemy, he'll talk your head off. Commiserate with him on all issues, or you're fish bait.

The Well-Traveled Angler This one has been on every stream in every continent on the earth. He has fished in more places with unpronounceable names than you can find in an atlas or online. "Then there was the wild anadromous brook trout in Lake Abacikerizeryz on the northern ridge of the Ural mountains in Russia. You won't find that place even on the internet." He would rather talk your ear raw than fish. A great fisherman. Just ask him.

The Beginner After talking to the Shop Guy, this one appears on the stream with half-a-shop worth of gear: Gortex hat, coat, gloves, vest, underwear; fly rods named after exotic metals and polymers and geometric shapes; boots that actually fit well and don a podiatrist's endorsement; flies beautifully tied (unlike the crap you and I tie) by people in countries who are in the news a little too often for vague political reasons. Sometimes seen fighting a fish bigger than you and I will ever hope to catch, running up and down the river like he has just stuck the devil. Damn it.

Little Girls and Boys Will stand on the edge of a lake as patient as a young tree. Staring at a metronome would be more stimulating than looking at them casting. For kids, fly fishing is fly casting, especially false casting. Don't giggle too much. With enough time, they will eventually catch a big fish on the most technical water in three states. Of course, they will love to learn more about flyfishing from you. Act intelligent around them. Someday, if not now, they will become better than you in most ways that are important.

The Other Guy Stands in the middle of the stream, not fishing. Not doing anything. Just staring at the edge of the stream. Looks around more than fishes. Bends down on occasion. If you are lucky, you'll see him raise his arm for a single cast toward a crease in the current only he, the fish and a nearby rock know about, and then catches the largest fish in three states. He knows you're watching. He knows what fly you are going to use before you do. The only reason you see him is that he probably allowed it. Don't bother being like him. You can't.

The Liar Talks a lot. Fishes little. Needs more friends than fish. You don't need friends. You need to fish.

The Drunken Flyfisher A member of the Liar Crowd. Also a member of the Woolly Bugger Crowd. Has been seen with Rambo types. They catch more and bigger fish than you and I do.

The Hummer Guy Can blaze a trail to the last pristine lake in five states with a simple axle shift. Be careful, though; he could also be a member of the Drunken Flyfisher, the Liar, the Rambo, or the Wooly Bugger Crowds. Fishes with dry flies the size of a small bird. Catches fish the size of a small whale.

The Girlfriend Doesn't have a clue how to impart the kind of precise action to a fly that took you 15 years to learn. Doesn't understand mayfly entomology. Thinks a spinner is something you do in the parking lot. A nymph is something she'd rather not talk about. Catches more fish than you do. Don't get her started on fly fishing. Has tendency to learn quicker than you did, and manages to stay put long enough on the edge of a stream and catch the fish you missed.

The Morally Superior Doesn't even fish. Don't talk to him. When he asks why you hurt fish, tell him "I fish; therefore I am." Be careful, though. He may be right. If a fish ever spoke one word to me, I'd hang up my gear for life.

Former Presidents Write books that publishers are obliged to publish--or else! Often seen with unseen dark figures. Don't walk up to such people and ask how the fishing is going, or you'll be staring at a Glock.

The Flyfishing Worm Slinger Fishes with bait at the end of a fly line. Easily spotted by his casting style, which consists of a kind of lobbing stroke one would use to cast a tomato. Easily confused with the Rambo type, but generally smaller in build. Don't get mad. Get even. Tie a piece of red yarn on your hook and fish it like a worm. Tell yourself it's a leech if this bothers you.

The Elated One Sees poetry in everything. Irony is afoot. The rising fish and the bent supplicant branches are messages only he can decipher. Just say Hello and walk on. Or introduce him to the Terminator.

The e-Bay flyfisher Approaches the sport a little more carefully, knowing that anything bought on e-Bay will be cheap and of the highest quality, even if it never arrives. A frugal bargain hunter on e-bay will typically own the most expensive equipment but somehow still look uncomfortable in his new trappings, sort of like a hobo trying to look well-heeled in an Armani that he found rooted in a dumpster.

Any resemblance of the above to actual people you've met is entirely possible, but probably coincidental and imaginary.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The End of the Coastal Cutthroat Trout Season

It's been a mixed bag coastal cutthroat season for me this year. I started the season out with a nice 17" from the upper Nehalem then went on to hook a few nice ones on the Nestucca later in the summer. The Trask, Kilchis and Wilson were not very good this year. The Necanicum was so-so however seeing huge thirty pound plus chinook salmon plowing through the shallow riffles was amazing!
The Trask was a real bust as a lot of the structure that cutthroat like in the lower river was washed out by high water last winter.
A few weeks ago I hooked a very nice cutthroat on BAIT in the Trask tidewater and was just sick about it. I've gotten to the point that I hate bait fishing and was only doing it this time to help out a friend who is trying to put a fishing DVD together in order to sell his jigs. I cannot stand the mess of those gooey eggs and the whole "bait" mentality that prevails in Tillamook county this time of year. I swear that you could use salmon eggs as currency this time of year down there. Using bait for coastal cutthroat trout should be banned! I recently read where the owner of a certain popular NW fishing forum was using bait to hook these fish and immediately fired off an email to her asking her to please quit doing it. Was I out of line doing this? I don't think so! I will strive to get the use of bait for these fish banned.
Anyway last Friday I decided to give one last shot at some coastal cutthroat. I hooked nothing on both the Miami and Trask rivers and being somewhat discouraged about the lack of both water and fish I tried the Wilson on the way home. To make a long story short I did not find any cutts on the Wilson but did find this guy.

What a rush on a four weight bamboo fly rod and 5X tippet! He did all the usual steelhead antics and made me smile all the way home.
Fly fishing is a sport of mystery in a lot of ways and you just never know what you'll encounter.
I've had many trips where the actual fishing was not all that good but I might have seen a family of otters or maybe a bald eagle or an elk and so that makes the trip a success.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

With Apologies to Dickens

The opening sentence of Charles Dickens " A Tale of Two Cities" is It was the best of times, it was the worst of times describing the French Revolution but I think that line best describes this time of year for the angler.
Fall is a season of movement and change. The beautiful foliage that one encounters along the way to the river is awe inspiring. The leaves seem to be ablaze with hues ranging from bright red to amber gold. The call of the migratory waterfowl as they head for their southern nesting areas always stops me in my place to watch their "v" formation as they fly over.Then of course there are the salmon!
During this time of year the fall representatives of the chinook salmon
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha begin their journey to spawn in the same water where they were reared years earlier. An angler will be startled to have one of these thirty pound fish roll near them as they are fishing for coastal cutthroat trout. The chinook will be joined by coho and chum salmon this time of year and the whole river is alive with piscatorial activity....these are the best of times.
Unfortunately this is also the time of year that seems to bring out the ugliness of human greed and ignorance. With the spectacle of huge fish in low water conditions the dregs of society cannot control their urge to take advantage of these helpless fish.
They rig up their lead weighted treble hooks and virtually rip these fish off the bottom of the river. Sometimes they will be so good at doing this that they can accomplish their illegal activity while using legitimate sports fishing gear.The chum salmon come into the river in large numbers all seemingly at the same time and are easy prey to these "sportsmen". They think nothing of wading across the spawning redds of these chum salmon and I hate to say it but it's not just gear fishermen who do this.
They actually yank these fish off their spawning redds all in the name of fun. These fish are not fit for consumption and in fact are on the endangered species list. It's as disgusting a sight as one would want to see and hopefully the ODFW will one day close this fishery altogether.
So you combine all of the salmon abuse with the usual littering,physical along with armed confrontations and you know.... these are the worst of times.
You must take the bad with the good and I feel the good does outweigh the bad this time of year.
Such is the life of the angler in the fall of the year.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

He has earned the right to speak

After Pat’s Birthday
Kevin Tillman Honors Late Brother's Birthday with Plea to Speak up for Democracy

by Kevin Tillman

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin was discharged in 2005.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Snakes! Why Does it Have to Be Snakes?

The title of this entry for the unknowing is a line from my favorite movie of all times "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
So I'm walking along the gravel road above the locked gate on the Deschutes. I figured well it is fall after all and so shouldn't these rattlers be hibernating or something? Nope! My little poisonous friend comes slithering across the road in from of me and not used to seeing a lot of snakes it comes as a shock to the senses. It was fascinating seeing him crawl across the road and never taking his eyes off of me.So off he went into the brush. I think the fact that you can encounter such creatures as rattlesnakes adds to the charm of the river. I've seen snakes, porcupines, beavers, coyotes,deer,eagles,heron,ospreys along my favorite river and it never gets old. The Deschutes is truly a wild western river in every sense of the word and it's hard to pull myself away from it.
The trout were as active yesterday as I have ever seen them feeding on what looked like mahogany duns but I'm no entomologist so them may have been something else. I was pursuing steelhead so I wasn't equipped to go after trout but watching them work the foam line and slurping mayflies was a real learning experience.
A good day on the river nonetheless.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Is There Anything Better?

The 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched a playoff berth at the best place to do it....the home field of the hated San Francisco Giants.
You see I'm a Dodger fan from way back. I attended my first Dodger game at the LA Coliseum back in in 1959. I've eaten a few Dodger Dogs along the way and listened to Vin Scully even after I moved into this baseball wasteland of Oregon and I named the best dog I've ever had "Dodger". I've ridden the crest of the improbable 1988 World Series championship. I've worshiped at the alter of Sandy Koufax and wept at the death of Don Drysdale but the one thing that has sustained me throug the lean years of being a Dodger fan is one thing. My intense hatred of anything connected with the SF Giants. I hated Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Will Clark and absolutely despise that cheating jerk Barry Bonds. I've often said that my two favorite teams are the Dodgers and whoever the Giants are playing that day.
So for my beloved Dodgers to make the playoffs at the expense of the Giants is sweet! They did it in 2004 when Steve Finley hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the division for the Dodgers. I also reveled in the Dodgers knocking out the Giants in 1993 when they crushed the Giants 12-0 with Mike Piazza hitting two home runs.
To the typical San Francisco fan it is better to beat the Dodgers than to actually win a World Series. I find that sick but I cannot help but take pleasure at anything bad happening to the Giants which takes second place to the Dodgers winning another World Series.
So here's to the 2006 Dodgers....cheers

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Power of the Internet

So with nearly 9000 steelhead going over The Dalles dam on Saturday I figured "Hey there ought to be a few fish in the lower Deschutes"
"You're a friggin' genius Shane" says my loyal fishing partner John "Let's fish the lower Deschutes for some of them there summer steelheads!"
Now this is a Monday mind you! School is back in session and according to our wonderful president George W. Dumbass the economy is booming so everyone is gainfully employed manufacturing hamburgers or some such thing. Surely the Deschutes will be a veritable fishing ghost town...right?


We pull into the parking area at Heritage Landing. The same parking area where two short weeks ago had two other vehicles in it. Should have been tipped off by the guys running side-planers on the sand bar and the idiots in their float tubes in areas where I've never seen float tubes before. Oh yeah the 10 gazillion boat trailers should have been a clue also.
Well that little parking area had at least fifteen cars in it now so being the brilliant fishing tacticians John and I are we decided to head up to Maupin and summarily got skunked!!!
But hey we only saw a few other fishermen including one woman who was so worried that we were going to fish "her stretch" of water that she hovered around where I was fishing until I left.
I know, dear reader you are just dying to know what this all has to do with the internet?
With the boast of a million hits per day on the drama queen fishing website one should not be surprised that when a guy posts pictures on the lower Deschutes holding large steelhead and familiar landmarks in the background the masses will converge like a plague of locust.
I used to blow this stuff off but after seeing things first hand on various fishing locales this should come as no surprise at all. It's like that old shampoo commercial.
"They tell two friend and they tell two friends and so on....."
So I'm beginning to think that a successful fishing day doesn't necessarily have to involve catching fish but being able to fish without having to deal with the equivalent of the Mongol hordes on my favorite river

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Two Inch Rule

As the years go by the fish of course get bigger! Sometimes they even change species altogether.
That Deschutes pike minnow will magically transform itself into a big redside after a year or two. Of course it's ideal to never have witnesses to dispute ones "mythical" triumphs or at the very least make sure they are out of sight while these trout are being fought.I once fished with a guy who claimed to have hooked four, count 'em! four chinook all while I was fishing no more than 20 yards from him! Not once did I see his rod or line move...not once! Now that is what I call a skilled angler. Another fellow I used to drift fishing for winter steelhead with many years ago would violently set the hook on every snag or hesitation his terminal gear encountered. He would loudly exclaim "Damn I just missed a fish" then later while were talking about the day to another angler old Bill would proudly proclaim that he had hooked 12 or some like number of fish but just couldn't get the hook into them.
Now of course yours truly would never exaggerate such a thing *wink*

Enjoy the following essay courtesy of "The Contemplative Angler"

It is said that all anglers are liars. I deny that charge, I believe
that anglers simply view the material world in a different, more
open-minded way than the common man. We see the potential in all
things, the spirit of life springing forth endlessly. We know that the
fish we release today might, to the unenlightened gaze and the harsh
reality of a tape measure, be only ten inches long -- but we see more.
Next season it will be twelve inches perhaps, through the normal
process of growth and development; but we must first endure a harsh
winter without angling, and he was the last trout of the season. It
seems only right and proper that by March, that same 10" anemic rainbow
trout is now regaled as "the 18" brown I took on the Sugar, in the last hour of the season".
Nevertheless, there is a general code to our prevarication-- the 2"
rule. You know that when you return to the campfire at day's end,
everyone will have a story to tell about the fish they released/broke
off. The largest fish you took was twelve inches, but if you tell the
lads that, they will assume you are lying, that, in fact, the fish was
only ten inches. To counter their foolish skepticism, you report the
fish as fourteen inches -- everyone is satisfied and understands that
the fish was 12" -- because of the 2" rule. It was not necessary to
mention that it was not a trout, but a fallfish -- after all, among
fallfish it was a beauty.
Catch and Release has, of course, allowed trout to grow in the
manner described. For those who don't understand the merits of C&R,
I need only refer you to the 18" brown I took on the Sugar. That would
not have been possible without C&R.
The most marvelous case of the possibilities of C&R was brought
to me on the Manistee River near Grayling, MI, six years ago. It is
largely night fishing during the Hex hatch, and this night there was
only a sliver of a moon. A dear friend, but inveterate liar, was
fishing one hundred feet downstream of me when he suddenly whooped with
glee. A moment later I could just discern his outline in the moonglow
as he held aloft what he claimed was an 11" brown. I could not see the
fish. However, when we got to the campfire, shivering in the June chill
at midnight, I was amazed to learn that I had been witness to the
capture of an 18" brown. Fortunately, the successful angler was soon
convincing himself of his veracity through the medium of a tall glass,
and, as he was pouring, and it was his bottle, I was equally convinced.
Such is angling. It has many arts and arcane elements, not the
least of which is the 2" rule, use it well and often.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The River Why and other musings

Have you ever seen a cuter little girl? This is my grand daughter Heidi Anne Stewart.
People marvel that such a beautiful child can be related to me! I tell them that my oldest son Troy is just as ugly as me so Heidi obviously gets her good looks from her mother Heather.

I had the opportunity to hear author David James Duncan speak last night and he is as good in person as his books are. His book "The River Why" is a classic and a must read for most progressive thinkers. The fact that it is set right here in the Pacific North West makes the places and characters seem more like people we know than some obscure stranger in a fiction novel.
Another thing that makes Duncan appealing to me is the fact that he is a fly fisherman along with a rabid conservationist. He lives in the same valley of the Bitteroot river where Norman Maclean lived and where the story of his fly fishing family is set.
When you think about it the Pacific North West has spawned many talented writers and artists.There is Chuck Palahnuik of "Fight Club" fame along with the late Ken Kesey and screenwriter Gus Van Zandt. A pretty talented bunch huh?
Any of you that have the chance to read any of David James Duncan's work will not be disappointed. I just ordered "My Story As Told By Water" and will someday tackle the mammoth "The Brothers K".

I fished the Deschutes river on Monday and came away with this startling revelation! Cell phones are not water proof. Yes I was due for one of my famous "two footed punts" on the river and sure enough my cell phone made the ultimate sacrifice for my clumsiness. The river in Macks Canyon area is the toughest wading that I have done on this river and I was lucky to have only fallen once. I did manage an encounter with a steelhead but it was brief.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

That New Rod Mojo

I have believed through all my years of fishing that there is something magical about taking a new rod out for the first time. Just seems to be a good fishing catching karma going on there.
So on Monday John, Mike and I headed to the Deschutes in search of summer steelhead. We arrived at the Heritage Landing parking area, suited up and headed up river. John took a few minutes to give Mike a crash course on spey casting and away we went. This was one of those very rare days on the Deschutes when the wind was not blowing at gale force gusts. In fact the wind did not come up at all the whole time we were there and so that should have been the first clue that this was going to be a special day.
After a brisk walk up to the spot we wanted to start Mike stationed himself just above me and started fishing with his new CB Burkheimer custom spey rod. Mike's new rod is just beautiful with agate stripping guides and exotic wood reel seat.He attached a Hardy Bougle reel to it and it was truly a work of art very fitting for a bamboo fly rod craftsman like Mike.After fishing for no more than 15 or 20 minutes Mike let out a shout that he had a take and I told him the fish may be back so keep casting to the same spot. Sure enough he hooks up and the fight is on! Mike is an experienced fly fisherman but this was his first steelhead on a fly and the old "new rod mojo" was really in play here as he landed a chrome bright summer with an intact adipose fin which meant the fish would be released to fight another day. Mike of course was ecstatic and he really deserved this fish. He builds as beautiful a bamboo fly rod as you'll ever see, a true old school bamboo craftsman.
Here is Mike with his fish...Way to go buddy!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Seasons on the Deschutes

"Hope springs eternal" as we have endured the long dreary winter. The seemingly endless series of storms and the disdainful practice of using a heavy sinking line that comes no where near the vicinity of the fish. How many flies do I really need to tie after all while I wait for the coastal streams to drop and clear enough to make a fly fishing trip a little less insane? How many times can I wax my cane rods? Yes that first trip over the mountain, full of hope and dreams of rising trout. I know that when spring training for baseball starts that trout is not far behind.

The days are getting shorter and the dam counts are getting higher. After fruitless attempts to coerce lethargic summer runs to come to my fly in the 70 degree water of most rivers the first hint of fall can only mean it's time to head to Maupin. The October caddis will be doing their suicidal dive bombings into the water which will make my spey casted muddler irresistible to the steelhead don't you think?
So after a trip or two to the mouth of the river to watch the float tube daredevils cheat death at the Blackberry Hole it's time to head up river.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's never about the trout...well almost never

It's not always about catching a lot of fish that draws one to fly fishing. It's just a simple desire within myself to get away. There's no stress about who is in the pool where I want to fish because there is always somewhere else to cast a line. Sometimes though, it is about the trout.
So read the poem below with that in mind

Where the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes that scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout and whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;Leaning softly out from ferns that drop their tears over the young streams.
Come away O human child!To the waters and the wild with a faery hand in hand,
For the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand.
Excerpt from " The Stolen Child" W.B. Yeats from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Flyfishing Pilgrimage

The North Umpqua is the most beautiful river in a state of beautiful rivers! It's steelhead fly fishing heaven. Nope I didn't get a chance to actually fish it because of time constraints but the water I saw was beyond belief in it's beauty. I think I will go back next year and fish this river where the likes of Roderick Haig-Brown,Jack Hemingway, Major Mott, Mike Kennedy and Zane Grey once fished. When Mike Kennedy passed away a few years ago he was cremated, in accordance with his wishes, along with his favorite bamboo fly rod and his ashes were sprinkled into the river off of Mott Bridge.
I looked into the river from Mott Bridge and saw several summer steelhead milling around in the pool under the bridge. We are truly fortunate to have such rivers like the N.Umpqua, Metolius,Deschutes and Rogue in Oregon. Hopefully people will show the respect these wonderful rivers deserve and treat them like the priceless gems they are.
I actually did get to fish the legendary Rogue but the endless procession of rafters made any serious fishing difficult at best.

On a much more somber note I am saddened by the tragic death of the "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. He deeply cared for the animals of this planet and though his "shtick" was a little corney he was sincere in his beliefs and the world needs more caring individuals like him.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ashokan Farewell

I love this tune. I never knew it actually had lyrics until my son Devon sent me the link.
It was used as the main theme music in Ken Burn's excellent PBS series "The Civil War"
I find it haunting but sentimental at the same time and at the risk of sounding somewhat morbid I would like it played at my memorial service after I've made that last "double haul"
Anyway here are the lyrics and music...enjoy!

Ashokan Farewell (Words Grian McGregor; tune Jay Ungar)

The sun is sinking low in the sky above Ashokan,The pines and the willows know soon we will part.
There's a whisper in the wind of promises unspoken,And a love that will always remain in my heart.
My thoughts will return to the sound of your laughter,The magic of dancing, of moving as one.
And a time we'll remember long ever afterThe moonlight and music and dancing are done.
Will we climb the hills once more?
Will we walk the woods together?
Will I feel you holding me close once again?
Will every song we've sung stay with us forever?
Will you dance in my dreams or my arms until then?
Under the moon the mountains lie sleeping,Over the lake the stars shine.
They wonder if you and I will be keeping,The magic and music, or leave them behind.