Monday, January 9, 2017

Chances are good

Adventure ain't what it used to be.

That first trip to the Salmon we played how many can we catch. We’d get lazy and stretch out in warm November sun after tangling with another nature-defying steelhead.

It wasn’t meant to happen again, but exceptional years became normal. Another year followed when the river was all ours and we lost count of monotonous ten pounders, each as pristine as the wildest salmon, and twice the fight.

These steelhead made us dream of going back; to thinking well of six hours straight
along 90 West; looking forward to staying at Roger’s place; rising before December dawns to all that inevitable weather.

Until they weren’t there.
Steelhead numbers have fallen away in recent years and now we’ve got cold feet. Adventure is taking a backseat because the catching isn’t the way it was. We’d have to fish all day for no takes, maybe only one chance for the hero shot the whole trip. Those odds aren’t good, so there’s no need to long for something we never thought attainable.

It’s easier this way.  

Going now would be “like real steelheading is meant to be”, and we’d still have everything else – pretend cabin comforts, friends distracted from work, the whiskey and music, and likely more rested river than ever before. We’d have to work for a fish, to hunt the river like we always wanted to before all those fish spoiled us.

Chances are good the rewards would be greater now than ever before.


PS. I wrote this to highlight what, to my mind at least, seems like an imbalance between what I've come to expect and what I actually always wanted. Multiple fish days are great, but I got to asking myself whether they have dented my sense of adventure, and the greater satisfaction of attaining something that is harder to come by. Mostly it's my own reminder to go and find out, to put in more time exploring the river for the chance of a fish that deserves our effort, rather than waiting to see what will happen.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Floating the Glorious 12th

Here are some pictures and minimal film with detailed instruction of how one goes about getting burnt by the sun. I made it because it was a really lovely time; paddling, wading and basking in warm waters. When it's January or March I will look again and feel the warmth. At least that is my thinking.

We didn't catch much - blues mostly, and we were tired by the time we found them and I couldn't be bothered. Anchoring in a busy shipping channel isn't an evolutionary stable strategy, and when you hook a 3 pound blue the return is quickly diminishing: some seconds of violent thrill for the high probability of hand lacerations. I was tired and didn't want to be bitten. I couldn't cast no more. We'd set out at 6.15am and returned to dock, sore arsed and dehydrated, the back of 3pm.

I'm not sure what happened in the intervening nine hours. We did sight cast to striped bass on the flats, but didn't catch any. It's a lot like carp fishing in that respect. Thankless, hard, and great.  We'd get bored, walk back to anchored boats, and talk. (Next time I must bring ample gin and tonic.)

The pictures of stripers in the film are from earlier in the season when they were much easier to catch. They are meant to dupe you into thinking they were heroically caught on this particulalr trip, but they were not.

We paddled over deeps and shallows, got out and tethered our boats, waded blue flats and watched horseshoe crabs hump. We ate beef sandwiches and remarked how great it was to be away from everything a mile or more off land. We were on the ocean for half a day and it was over quickly because getting into 12 feet of plastic and shoving yourself to sea is an adventure that is worth it every time, fish be damned. At one point I was standing next to my boat in three feet of water, changing flies. I decided to just lay down in the water and feel how great it was, because I could. You can't do that in Pulaski. 

I've also been drinking really good malt whisky and contemplating what makes a good blog. I recently heard myself say that the best blogs must be time limited. They should peak and die, having found good form that must rightfully fade or become something else. Or perhaps these things come in waves? Any road, forgive us this quiet time, as we forgive those who have quiet time around us. Perhaps dormancy is better than the prattle or padding required by those that have appearances to keep, sausages to massage, platforms to maintain, and bills to pay?

I couldn't possibly say.



Friday, January 1, 2016


Brayshaw. Squirrels. Suspension Bridge. Culvert.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Jim Harrison's Face

 “I like grit, I like love and death, I'm tired of irony.......I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass.”
― Jim Harrison

Short article about a guy who's been photographing Jim Harrison over the years. And here's a nice PBS interview with some of his poetry.

Found by Brawshaw.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nothing to see here

We fished in up-state New York over the weekend. After considerable planning and effort, Andrew flew in from India. The fishing had been painfully slow, and we confirmed this over three full days exploring the river.  Few fish were hooked, and fewer still landed.

Still, as this video of nothing happening shows, it's good to get away, with thoughts trained only on food, drink and fly selection. A rest for the brain, as Todd said.

Happy Thanksgiving.