Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Tongass and Living in the Pacific Northwest

Dusk in Wrangell, Ak. Photo: Michael Davidchik

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have been blessed to be able to live near the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Cascades. From the coastal lowlands of Central California to the mighty Olympic Peninsula, I have been able to travel, hike, fish and enjoy the splendor of the outdoors. Through all those trips, the one question that had always stuck in my mind was, “What was it like before mankind started to change the landscape and encroach on its every corner.”

Sawmill Creek Photo: Michael Davidchik

Over the course of the last century, man has altered these ecosystems to the point where each hold on by a thread, and species are trending toward extinction. Rivers and creeks have been dammed, natural stream flow has been altered, riparian habitats have been destroyed, trees have been removed, altering the natural environment that has managed to exist for centuries before man moved in. Though State Forests and National Parks have been established, the effects of man, even in those designated locations can be seen.

Skunk Cabbage in bloom in the Spring. Photo: Michael Davidchik

School of Pink Salmon Miles from Downtown Sitka, AK. Photo: Michael Davidchik

The separation of what was, and what we have now became obvious a decade ago when I flew over the lush green mountains and islands of the Tongass National Forest while on my way to Sitka, Alaska. Since then, I have been able to enjoy the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the country, our nation’s Salmon Forest. Seeing a pristine intact ecosystem, and being able to catch wild native salmon and steelhead brings more insight to what we fight to maintain every day back home.

Southeast Alaska Steelhead Photo: Michael Davidchik

As a fly fisherman or even a tourist, it is an amazing experience, to be able to walk up a remote river or creek, and stumble upon a pool of salmon, then look upstream and watch a black bear eating today’s catch, then have a bald eagle swoop down and take his choice from the pool minutes later. These experiences are what you take home, and with that seeing what we have lost when we step off that plane.

Commercial Salmon Boat near Mount Edgecombe. Photo: Michael Davidchik

Totem Park, Sitka, Ak. Photo: Michael Davidchik

Fighting to help pressure this natural intact resource is an easy answer. Vital to not only the local and recreational fishing industry, tourism and outdoor industry, the Tongass needs to be preserved as a National Treasure. The preservation and cultural history of the native people of Southeast Alaska, the historical heritage of each community and the future of this National Treasure lay in our hands.  The Tongass National Forest needs to be preserved not only for our selfish interests, but also to remind us of what we work so hard to fight for back home. Today Trout Unlimited’s Tongass 77 initiative is working on preserving the nation’s largest national forest, our salmon forest at a watershed level.  By looking back on history, it is clear, this self-sustaining resource is far too valuable to loose and today's fight will ensure that generations in the future will be able to enjoy the Tongass National Forest.

Friends and family enjoying Southeast Alaska.  Photo: Mike Davidchik Sr. 

This is my submission to the Trout Unlimited 2013 Blogger Tour sponsored by, Tenkara USAFishpond and RIO, and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer is Here Though I Kinda Miss the Rain

Putting an Echo 3 6100 to the test. Photo: Brian Chou

So with the turning of the season and lack of Springtime weather that I am used to,  I found myself doing something that I missed, carp fishing. Every year I tell myself that I have to take advantage of this fishery but that addiction of swinging a fly to a steelhead always seems to get the top nod. Who can blame me or anyone who swings flies, that whole tug is the drug thing seems to fill that void or challenge lost in my ADD world. That challenge of spey casting, the flies, the process of reading water, adapting and changing with day to day river and weather conditions just adds to the process. Over the years fishing for trout and other species just never made as much sense to me. I still like doing it, but it never really filled the void. Maybe if I had the Henry's Fork or Madison in my backyard, I would change, but I don't so I can live with what I got.

The thing is that one opportunity I do have near home, or close enough to lots of  opportunities is Carp and guys like John Montana (alias) gets carp fishing like I would like to think I get steelheading. I have always admired the skill and presentation that carp fisherman have to catch these golden demons. I could not help the other day of thinking about a post John had on his blog last fall, Rain. John kinda makes fun of the whole steelheading thing though he has done a lot of it over the years. Missing a fish didn't bother him at all, but seeing one up close brought him back to why he does it when carp are no longer feeding on the flats.

So this time of year, before the carp are on the spawn I always get that itch to chase what some call trash fish, and unlike last year, this year I finally tailed one. In the process I started to really remember the good old days with good buddies, learning how to sense the take of these fish and how to make the perfect presentation. I missed a lot of fish that day, but by the end of the afternoon, it started to click again and I now find myself thinking about chasing them again.

Like John, I doubt I will do much carp fishing, like he does not do a lot of steelheading. It just isn't what fuels the fire for John, like swinging flies does for me, but I appreciate and understand why someone does. I love the fact that fishing for any species brings out different challenges and can lead to addictive behavior. 

I also found this consolation prize, a nice Pumpkinseed. I now got the urge to find some Bluegill. You got to love the fight in these little guys. I just wish there were anadramous. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Soul River challenges traditional media by embracing the unconventional to produce Soul River Chronicles, Volume Two: Conservation. Created and written by creative director Chad Brown, Conservation captures modern urban mythology with the message of consciousness and awareness of responsibility we have as urban dwellers and environmental protectors.

Conservation provides audiences with a unique film experience intended to educate and entertain by depicting the urban lifestyle experience juxtaposed with the serenity of nature.  The short story film follows a young man’s journey into conscious responsibility of understanding how his urban life ultimately impacts the outdoor environment. Inspired from the sport of fly fishing and guided by the rivers, Conservation obtains a conceptually artistic, communicative device in an unconventional manner by integrating a mix of nature, art, design and music that will speak to the human soul and invigorate spirits. “I choose to cast my line away from the norm into new minds to inspire what nature has to offer,” states Brown. Conservation is intended to speak to a young, urban, diverse demographic by providing a fresh, new voice inspiring the global message that we are protectors and ambassadors to our environment.

Brian Chou
Kourtney Newell
DJ Ben Copeland
Erica Riseberg

Northwest Exposure

Oakley. Inc, The Freshwater Trust,  Simms, Korkers, Sierra Club, hatch Outdoors,  Springbox, Aiflo Fly Lines, Voices of Erica, Primal Screen Printing and Groundwork Porrland.

This will be awesome!

Spring Cleaning #2

It is amazing over the years how many flies get trashed and though I repair, cut and replace them as time goes by, there always seems to be a pile of them I got to deal with. So finally I tackled that stack of flies. Trying to salvage hooks, cones, dumbells, etc, I managed to save not only a few flies, but lots of hooks, and even some tying materials. It's such a pain in the ass, but worth it if you like to recycle everything like me.

Wire-cutters, box-cutter, a few razor blades and sore fingers later, I got a supply of tying materials. I also believe in the mojo associated with using materials and hooks that have been fished over the years.