Monday, August 30, 2010

Desert Wanderings

Every year around this time I take about a week to wander the desert, fish, catch up with ranchers I used to ride for and just hide out for a while. Hayin's about done and I can usually wrangle a couple days chasing cows or horses to remind me of my summers when I was younger. Last year I mixed in a Deschutes/Yakima River flyfishing start but this year I went straight to the sage:

"To the desert go prophets and hermits; through deserts go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual value of retreat, not to escape but to find reality" -Paul Shepherd
One of my all-time favorite views: HWY 20 East leaving my sister's ranch East of Bend. I love this stretch, reminds me of my rodeo/buckaroo days, kinda like putting a couple clean shirts behind the seat of my truck before a fishing trip. I always throw in a couple of my old rodeo shirts just to remind me.

Right here is where you throw on Steve Earle's "The Hard Way" and just let the road, sky, and freedom take your thoughts and memories where they will.

"See it used to be I was really free,
I didn't need no gasoline to run.
You could say Jack Kerouac, and turn your back,
And I'd be gone.
But nowadays I got me two good wheels,
I seek refuge in aluminum and steel,
Yeah it takes me out there for a little while,
And the years fall away with every mile."-The Other Kind

Got into Crystal Crane Hot springs around 9PM and went straight to the big pool. No moon and the stars were bright with the Milky Way as clear as I've ever seen it. Had it to myself and I knew it was gonna be a great week. Listened to the coyote choir and the wind in the wire. Nice to see some water in Chickahominy again too.

Talked to the boys at The Riffle and thought I'd hit the Owyhee, but when I passed Jordan Valley it got a little too flat and farmy for me so I decided to head for Frenchglen and Steens Mountain. Ran into some Rock Creek boys (ranch I used to work for) and caught up on things.

Found out that one of the hands I used to cut hay with had passed away. Phil was a kinda hard-livin' guy that I really liked. He was a very patient, humble and capable man who was skilled at everything from carpentry to whatever else needed doing. He reminded me of Hank Sr. and Townes van Zandt. One spring he poured a concrete floor in Rock Creeks's ancient stone-house and actually made the thing livable, though it always had a faint skunk odor to it. Phil had one leg held together with pins and screws from a horrible truck wreck, but he could still do everything short of ride or walk a straight line.

Once he got my underage hide into the bar in Denio and bought me a few shots of Wild Turkey. My hand was messed up from a roping accident and I sat in the bar with my hand in an ice-bucket getting drunk, healin' up the cowboy way, with him. Phil was a great guy and I'll miss him, he loved this country and always came back every few summers. I was hoping to see him again and was crushed to hear the news. Drove to the top of the mountain, took this shot, and thought of a hundred other great times with him. He was just into his 40's.

"The sky was a mix, of oil and pastel."-Ian Tyson

"I'm not sayin' forget what you've lost,
I suppose there's a purpose in pain.
What we make of ourselves has a cost,
And its paid every time we take hold of the reins."- Chris LeDoux

Hiked into Wildhorse Canyon and froze my butt off all night, I was just so cold inside and felt old, empty and bitter. It seemed like the mountain was trying to make me feel as bad outside as I did inside, maybe some kind of lesson or somethin'...worst night in a long time for me.

Made it to morning and decided to go thaw out in Alvord Hot Springs and shake-off my sorrows. Of course I have shorts on for the pic, but two minutes later I was sitting in that tub naked, waving to the folks on the tour loop. Got some good memories from that pool. "If I could roll back the years,
back when I was young and limber,
Loose as ashes in the wind, had no irons in the fire.
I could ride them wild, young broncos,
The adrenaline came quickly,
And Juanita down at Mona's
Was my only heart's desire.

We were living for the moment,
And the sunlight on my silver bits,
The ringin' of my jingle-bobs was the music of my soul."-Ian Tyson

The Blitzen was low, slow and murky so I didn't fish it much. Decided to head for Ana instead.

Ana was in good shape and I spent the day catching fish on my 3Wt and a Dave's Hopper. Even managed a double with a PT-nymph dropper, which I got rid of because the fish were just slashin' that Hopper. It was close to 100 that day but Ana is bottom-draw and the cool water just made the time go by way too fast.

Those fish are fiesty as hell for their size and that mini-canyon has owls and other interesting animals to check-out between strikes. I guess its just a whole mini-canyon experience. Whatever it is, I love it and its almost like the world gets so small, outside those crumbly walls, that it just vanishes while you're wading the timeless river to the past. Almost like Everett Ruess, George Mallory or Chris McCandless could wander up and say, "I'll tell you what REALLY happened to me if you can keep your mouth shut and let me cast that Sage a few times."

Then you scramble back up to that huge expanse of sky, sage, and hot dust fighting with the fresh air and I remember why I was so curious about this place as a kid... or maybe I just need a cold drink and somethin' to eat before I pass-out.

Saw some hopeful storm clouds on the horizon and I got a nice feelin' about the approaching evening. You know how watching a desert-storm rolling in, on a hot day, just gives you a feeling that there's mercy and some good livin' ahead if you can just cowboy-up through the heat for awhile?

Rolled into Summer Lake Hot Springs and was kinda shocked to see more rigs than usual. One was a van with silver-stars painted all over it, a plastic Santa on the roof, and a girl wearing a red, sequin bikini on her way to the pool. Turns out the springs is now an unofficial stop for the folks on their way to Burning Man. Knowing a good time when I see one I joined the eccentric group in the pool while a storm built outside. Had a heavy discussion about the art of flyfishing or something like that and offered to take this artist-dude, Charlie, and his spacey girlfriend fishing the next morning.

Guess some people make art, some look at it, some talk about it, I just live my life and let myself get run over by it every now and then; sometimes I even have a camera around or at least some paper to take notes when it finds me... and it does once in a while.

Went to Paisley for dinner and got this shot on the way. Paisley actually has a fly shop now, The Happy Hooker, behind the community center. This is my best pic from the trip: Man it felt great to finally capture a lightning shot. Got back late that night and went for another soak. The hippies had taken over the pool so I went for the "When in Rome" approach and we all partied with the lightning going off outside and a hard rain to boot. For some reason that part of the trip is still a little foggy...

Saturday I fished the Little Deschutes before heading to The Riffle fly shop for their 2ND Annual Customer-Appreciation Barbecue. One of the co-owners, Corky, worked a summer at Rock Creek when he was 16, and that's where I met him. His father, Pat Wray, is a writer and his article in Outdoor Life, "I Am," is one of my favorites. He's in the orange cap, Corky is to his left.

I have tremendous respect for both of them. Corky's up for anything and gave rodeo a brief shot, he also finished a trip on a Bering Sea crab-boat. For all the talk I've suffered through about "I'm gonna go up there with you too, Ben," Corky's the only guy I've known who's actually done it. I once saw him eat a live frog on a two-dollar bet and fend off a badger with a couple feet of broomstick. The Jackass crew has nuthin' on this kid, he even kinda looks like Johnny Knoxville in this pic:

The eats: You can't imagine how good this tasted after a week of eating my own cooking. We also had deep-fried turkey that Pat's friend shot. Nuthin' better than chowin' down and spittin' shot.

The party was a smash though I guess I don't like crowds too much and was leaning toward heading home. Watched Amy Hazel cast the whole line on the new casting pool. Met Gene Trump's friend Rocky and ate twice.

Decided to end the trip on a high note and here it is: A couple of Rock Creek boys who scared their parents to death but managed to land on their feet despite many rank horses, big waves and youthful indiscretions. I guess I've experienced those things a little more than Corky, although Pat says he really gave it a good ol' cowboy-try for a couple years. I don't think it did him any harm, but he probably could stop chewing...hell, I've quit three times this week alone.
Maybe that's just my "Big-Brother" voice talkin'.

Drove back to Washington and it started to rain, kinda fitting I guess.

This is an old West Fly post from my friend Ben Kapp aka Big Ben. Ben was a Central Oregon cowboy who road bulls during the summer and caught Alaskan King crabs in Bering Sea in the winter. I can't help but read this post about this time of year. Ben passed away some years ago and I can't help but remember the old days. We miss you brother!

Friday, August 27, 2010

360 Represent!

Jay's greatest Facebook post ever wins!

Changes on the White Salmon River

(Photo: Courtesy of Wikepedia)

Two decades ago the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission instructed Southwest Washington that they had to stop planting hatchery steelhead into one of their rivers and they decided on the Wind River. A river rich in history and sought after for its early spring run summer steelhead. This off course disgusted and outraged many of the locals. Now with this about to occur again on the White Salmon River, a public meeting is going to be held on August 31st in preparation of the public reaction.

The White Salmon River flows south off the Mount Adam's glacier. This river feeds into the Columbia River at Underwood, Washington. Condit Dam located 3.3 river miles up from the mouth forms Northwestern Lake and is not only blocking natural stream flow, but also salmon and steelhead migration to the vast majority of the watershed. With the current plans for removal, there is an estimated 33 miles of habitat for steelhead and 14 miles of habitat for chinook, chum and coho salmon.

With the approximate removal of 2011 for this 97 year old dam, plans are being made to remove hatchery winter and summer steelhead from this scenario as an added benefit for native fish. Though the removal of this obsolete dam is an obvious sign of the times, the removal of its hatchery fish will effect the locals that enjoy this river for its angling opportunities. In my eyes this is a small price to pay, but then again this river is not in my backyard. The amount of stray native and hatchery fish in this fishery in the summer is large regardless due to the thermal refuge the river provides to migratory fish that swim up from the Columbia in the hot summer months while on there journey to tributaries in Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho. These fish should provide ample angling opportunities for locals, not to mention the neighboring Klickitat and Little White Salmon River. Though the dam will be removed and water temperatures will be higher with stream flow not coming off the bottom of a reservoir, stream temperatures will still allow a thermal refuge like that in neighboring rivers.

Will the removal of this dam help the few native steelhead and salmon return to this watershed, especially with native only being able to spawn in the 3.3 miles below the dam for almost a century (failed fish ladders were destroyed from floods.)? Only time will tell, but one thing in certain, we are going to try and make it happen. With scientific data indicating hatchery fish are detrimental to native species, removing hatchery fish is needed to help our native species return. We owe it to the resource to see how remarkable Mother Nature really is. Read more courtesy of The Columbian and Free the White Salmon River.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Asian Carp Video

Saw this on Dooby Brain and had to post it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tired of Puking!

Pacific Albacore tuna get hammered out there in the deep blue sea from both commercial and sports harvest. Its white distinctive taste is what you get when you buy white tuna at the store. The fish swimming off the coast of Oregon and Washington are for the most part in the 10-30 pound class fish. Larger fish are not uncommon, but you will find most of them farther south, depending on water temperatures. These fish are high in Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These Omega 3's needed for cell structure have been shown to help prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease such as strokes and heart attacks by aiding in the reduction of triglycerides.

A piss poor top water view of a Pacific Sunfish.

An underwater view of a Pacific Sunfish. Courtesy of Phillip Colla.

I have been trying for years to get into some Oregon Coastal blue water fishing. This year I took a couple opportunities to fish for them with Red Sky Charters out of Hammond, Oregon. However this land lover is going to stick with a spey rod for a while and put the 12 weight up. Being the son of a Navy man didn't mean I inherited sea legs and though been out many times over the years chasing salmon, I couldn't help but chum the blue waters off the Oregon Coast. Still it was well worth seeing my Echo 12 weight corked to the grip. On one of the trips a few blue sharks were caught and on both trips we found a few Pacific Sunfish to look at. On the first trip I even saw a small blue shark next to the boat chase a sunfish. An awesome National Geographic moment. Take advantage of the summers months and go gettum. They should be close throughout the summer and early fall.

Brad Smith fighting one of four tuna he caught that day.

My first Albacore Tuna caught on a Shock and Awe tube fly with lots of peacock.

Friday, August 13, 2010

No Sports Allowed

For those of you that do not know this leather carving scoundrel, it is Marc Crapo, aka McRowdy. His one of a kind leather work has been sought after for his ability to custom design leather fly wallets, fly boxes, journals, flask wraps, bill folds, guitar straps, dog collars and even brief cases. You also may recognize him from the Fly Fishing Film Tour, touring throughout the country spreading the word about cutting age fly fishing film from around the globe. Check out his leather work at

My first impression of Marc came from a phone conversation. Knowing that I was half Filipino, he thought it would be entertaining to speak Tagalog, one of the native dialects of the Philippines to me over the phone. Not using this language, nor understanding it well since I was very young, I was shocked that this redneck from Ashton, Idaho was speaking it to me. Not to mention I had virtually no idea what the hell he was saying in a language I very well should know. It has since become an entertaining to me and the half breed Filipino fishing crew. It goes to show you you can not always take everything you see at face value.

While not touring to the 80 or so venues around the country and carving the hide of dead animals, Rowdy is also a videographer. Working with a couple of his boys, Royce Klinger and Aaron :Chubby" Peterson, they have come out with their sequel No Sports Allowed Volume II: How We Do. A worthy video for all trout fishermen out there and something worth checking out.

NSA vol. 2 how we do... from Marc Crapo on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sight Fishing

Every since the Jim Teeny video, Catching More Steelhead, sight fishing has got a bad wrap for one reason or another. But I got to tell you watching a fish react to your offering is one of the coolest things you can do while steelheading. Dec Hogan discussed this and the different types of takes in his book, A Passion For Steelhead. Yesterday I was fishing a local with a buddy and found several fish in a tailout. With sun right on top of them and a lot of glare I was able to watch them move and not move to our offerings. There were times when the fish would simply move over and look at the fly while at other times they would move over take the fly and just barely open there mouth. I am sure that time of day, lighting and the gear guy that just walked out of the run had something to do with it, but there were not very aggressive to the fly. Fish were hooked, fish were lost, but another learning experience was gained.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thompson River Bait Ban Petition

Spreading the word for the boys up North. With years of dwindling runs of returning fish to the fabled Thompson River in British Columbia, the Thompson River Bait Ban makes more and more sense. Please take the time to read over the petition and sign if you feel it is the right thing to do for this precious resource.

To: BC Minister of Environment

To the Honourable Barry Penner, British Columbia Minister of Environment.

We, the undersigned, hereby request that a bait ban sport fishing regulation be implemented for Interior Fraser River steelhead prior to the next sport fishing opening. (Interior Fraser steelhead rivers include the Thompson, Chilcotin, Seton, Bridge, Nahatlach and all other rivers in the Interior of BC where steelhead are known to inhabit.)

The principals of a bait ban as outlined in the BC government document Bait Ban as a Management Tool ( demonstrate that such a regulation would be desirable among the angling public.

These steelhead
- are highly accessible;
- are vulnerable to capture; and
- every spawner counts.

- there is a need to protect juvenile fish;
- the steelhead population is small; and
- there is a need to spread the catchable supply of steelhead over more anglers.

According to the current BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations the definition of bait is: Bait is any foodstuff or natural substance used to attract fish, other than wood, cotton, wool, hair, fur or feathers. It does not include fin fish, other than roe. It includes roe, worms and other edible substances, as well as scents and flavourings containing natural substances or nutrients.


The Undersigned