June2011

No Shortage of Good Reviews

BREAKING NEWS– John Gierach’s latest book, No Shortage of Good Days, is available! At the time of this writing I received my copy, special ordered from Bobwhite Studios, about three week’s ago. It’s a signed edition, autographed by Gierach himself and personalized by cover artist Bob White, which makes me feel pretty cool (although I’m not).

I’m no literary critic. As a very well unknown author myself, I fear respect those who would write reviews – at least honest reviews. Unfavorable ones are the worst, or perhaps the best, because they’re honest. And there should be no other type of review, because if the review isn’t honest then it has no merit. Reviews are, however, simply opinions of the individual and should be taken with a grain of salt. And maybe a splash of tequila for good measure in case it’s of the unfavorable variety.

If you want a good review of No Shortage of Good Days, I suggest you look elsewhere. By that I don’t mean go looking for a favorable review elsewhere, just a review written by someone who writes good. Here are a few blog reviews worth your time to visit:

The Trout Underground. Make sure you’re not in a hurry, and have a full mug of piping hot coffee at hand before you commit to Tom Chandler’s epic novel review. It’s comprehensive. Well-written. It’s long. I think when Tom wrote this he was in dire need of a fishing vacation. The suspense builds over the course 3 days as Chandler teases us – offering brief glimpses into what is to follow – 5 times before actually delivering the full meal deal. Good God man! Honestly, given the attention given to the book, it’s as if Chandler worships the paper Gierach writes on, in much the way that we hack bloggers idolize The Trout Underground. He’s clever. His review is worth the commitment required.

Up The Poudre. I don’t want to publicize the name of the blogger responsible for this review for fear of blowing his cover. You see, he has wisely exiled himself to the remote hills in Colorado. If you know where the Unabomber hid out, you know where I’m talking about. He (not the Unabomber) is in hiding: posting blog updates via a satellite up-link. Eventually Google Earth’s cameras will find him, if Gierach’s henchmen don’t first. Godspeed, Sanders man. It’s an honest review, if even for having only covered 2 chapters. It brings up some interesting things to ponder about blogs perhaps taking the place of books for some people.

Casting Around. I’ll admit that when I stumbled upon this review, it was the first I’d heard of this blog. I’ve no doubt there are countless other good blogs out there that I’ve never seen nor ever will. There are just so very many blogs, and so very little time. Blog keeper Anthony Naples scribes a good review here, and by that I don’t mean it’s favorable (though it is), but is well thought out and well written.

If I were to take a stab at reviewing No Shortage of Good Days I would have to say that there’s very little that I can find to be disappointed with, and quite a great deal that I enjoyed. However, I do have a couple issues that have nothing to do with whether or not Gierach’s latest book is being redundant and giving us more of the “same old same old” as he continues to weave insight into his entertaining angle on fly fishing…No, what I have a beef with are a couple of glaring inaccuracies. First, in Chapter 2, page 14, Gierach writes:

Vince and I rented a car at the Seattle airport, drove north along the coast, and got a room at a motel in a small town not far from the river. This was a typically characterless American burg beside an interstate comprised of cookie-cutter housing developments, strip malls and burger joints: everything quick, cheap, and temporary in the interest of hyperconsumerism.

He had me until “drove north along the coast.” Allow me to veer a bit off course for a moment as I explain.

People in “Eastern Washington” which is anywhere east of the Cascade Crest according to many wet-siders, are prone to referring to those of us in the greater Seattle/Puget Sound area as being from “the coast”. People from Spokane are particularly fond of this inaccurate term of endearment. Well, I’m here to tell you that while the salt water in Puget Sound may well be the same salt water that can be found in the Pacific Ocean (connected by the Strait of Juan de Fuca), Puget Sound is not the coast. In fact I fished within 10 miles of the coast this past Spring, on the Hoh River out near Forks. It was a 4 hour trip from where I live, which is near Seattle (you know, on “the coast”).

But back to Gierach’s book. In Chapter 2, aptly titled “SKAGIT”, Gierach is bound for the river by the same name to chase the elusive wild steelhead with Dave McCoy of Emerald Water Anglers and Dylan Rose of Skate the Fly. The Skagit River empties into Puget Sound not too far the town of Mount Vernon, Washington, which should not to be confused with George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virgina (by the way, there is a street by the name of Virginia in the town of Mount Vernon, Washington). The Skagit is not a coastal river. The body of water that Gierach would have glimpsed as he drove north along I-5 was Puget Sound, not the Pacific Ocean. In his defense, it’s a confusing region because Vancouver is located  164 miles to the south and also 141 miles to the north of Seattle (click on map for clarification).

One other inaccuracy that I had a hard time letting go of occurs on page 56 of Chapter 6: BAJA. Gierach talks of the hazards of standing barefoot in the surf while casting to roosterfish.

“…and the water can be filled with chunks of dead jellyfish that have been churned into pieces by the waves. They sting your feet and bare legs painfully, but they’re harmless unless you get a big piece. You learn not to complain because the only known remedy is urine—your own or someone else’s.”

False! I questioned this jellyfish-sting remedy years ago after watching a television sitcom (I think it was “Friends”) where one character was stung by jellyfish and another character peed on them. This organic first aid treatment is nothing but an old wive’s tale, according to an ABC News Health article. Perpetuating such a myth is irresponsible journalism because it may result in scores of people needlessly urinating on each other at the beach. It does, however, make for more entertaining prose than if Gierach were to have said, “It’s a sound idea to always carry with you a bottle of vinegar to treat a jellyfish sting.”

Having said all that, no doubt Gierach’s covert band of revenging henchmen will soon be seeking me out to issue forth a bit of discipline, thus, I’ll be entering the Witness Protection Program. I hope that they put me somewhere near the coast. Forks would be nice. There’s good steelhead fishing out there, and not many stinging jellyfish to be worried about. Maybe if Gierach had gone to Forks in chapter 2, he might’ve caught a fish.

As for the rest of the book? I liked it. I’ve read a few of his other books and liked them as well. Gierach’s writing style suggests that he’s a regular dude—a regular dude who just so happens to be a legend in the eyes of fly fishing readers worldwide. He doesn’t try to impress or intimidate by casually throwing around big words (I only had to look up one word in chapter 6: abrade). The format of his books works well for me as they are a compilation of short stories broken into chapters. The older I get the more my attention span seems to shrink (along with loss of muscle mass), so novels and such, which require great commitments of time and feats of strength, are something I find myself reading less and less often. With Gierach’s writing I can easily knock out a chapter during a brief respite in my day (I was going to suggest that these quick pit stops usually follow my first cup of morning coffee, but that was already alluded to on page 76 of chapter 8: BOOK TOUR).

Will you like No Shortage of Good Days by John Gierach? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly what I’ve said here will not impact your opinion in the way that a good review might.

"Close to Home" by Bob White

 

By the way, the cover illustration for No Shortage of Good Days is worth the price alone, which happens to be $24. The illustration by Bob White is titled, “Close to Home” and was originally created to illustrate Gierach’s 100th column in Fly Rod & Reel magazine. It is available in 3 print sizes, signed by both the subject and the artist, via Bobwhitestudios.com.

The ONE

Neo? Is that you?

The internet has been all abuzz with the announcement of Sage’s new stick, “The ONE”.

I first heard about it on Midcurrent and Angling Trade, which is not surprising because I often find out breaking news at these two sites. Then I saw a lengthy discussion about it on Washington Fly Fishing. It was also discussed in a LinkedIn group, and elsewhere. Surprisingly it even popped up in the webstats for this blog: to date, 30 people used the search phrase, “Sage One Rod” and ended up landing at The Unaccomplished Angler. I found that to be rather interesting since I hadn’t posted any mention of it here. I’m sure that whomever landed on the UA, expecting to find some inside scoop on The ONE, was disappointed. And so the reason for this post is simply to address that matter: if anyone else lands here after searching for “Sage One Rod”, I’d like to be able to provide them with something of value. Of course, I can’t do that because I know nothing about The ONE other than what I’ve read elsewhere, so consider this a redirect. Here is the Press Release.

God speed, dear adorable friend

I will say that since The ONE will replace the love of my life, the Z-Axis, it must be a REALLY great rod. I absolutely adore my Z-Axis rods, and that’s a pretty bold statement since I never use the term “adore” (because it’s not very manly). I have a Z-Axis 4 weight which is my go-to rod in every possible situation. I love casting that thing. When the wind is howling and I’m chucking big junk to big fish, then I employ my 6 weight Z-Axis. I also have a 7136 Spey rod which needs no introduction as it is a ridiculously popular two-hander. I’m a terrible hack when it comes to Spey casting, but the Z-Axis 7136 makes me be all that I can possibly be, barring any talent and ability. According to the press release from Sage, The ONE will only be available in single-handed models: “The ONE rod will be available at Sage authorized retail locations in August / September 2011 with a selection of 22 single hand models. ONE rods range from 3-10-weights and will be priced from $715 to $740.” Makes one wonder what will become of the Z-Axis Spey rod models- will they remain as such?  Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps we should ask the Oracle, for she is a wise old sage. *NOTE: within minutes of this entry hitting the feeds, The Oracle chimed in with insight: The Z-Axis line of two-handed rods will indeed remain for the time being.

So, what of The ONE?  Well, it’s built using modern Konnetic technology: it’s light and strong. It’s said to be an extension of your casting arm, and deadly accurate. It’s ominously cool with it’s black blank. It has a name that is a bold declaration of it’s impending status. If you believe what Sage tells you, it will be the real deal. When first hearing of the name of this new rod, one cannot help but reflect upon the Matrix movies, in which the main character, Neo, was also known as The One. He was a pretty incredible dude with amazing abilities that made him the last hope for saving reality from virtual domination. If The ONE can give me even close to the powers of The One, then I’m definitely going to want to test this rod out some day.


Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

 

The Firehole Rangers: Day Two

As was hinted at in last week’s Drivel®, day two on the Firehole River brought with it some change. The locals had been looking nervously over their shoulders and whispering under their breath about a weather system due to arrive overnight and bring with it 6-10 inches of snow. Our biggest concern was that the Park would be closed and we wouldn’t be able to fish. Fortunately there wasn’t even a trace of snow on the ground Sunday morning and we entered the gates without so much as a verbal warning about winter driving conditions. Well, come to think of it I guess there was a small sandwich board sign that cautioned drivers of potentially slippery roads, but there was no grand warning of any kind. Yes, snow was forecasted, and the sky had a grim demeanor about it, but how bad could it really be?  Afterall, it was late Spring. May 29th to be certain.

The streets of West Yellowstone: May 29, 2011

We’ve witnessed many a wintery squall while fishing the Firehole over the years but they’ve always blown in and blown out, never sticking around for more than an hour or so. The weather changes quickly in Yellowstone, and that’s something that never changes. But as we pulled into the parking lot at Fountain Flat, the snow began to fall. By the time we had geared up, my fingers were numb. They hadn’t been this cold since I’d gone steelhead fishing 8 months earlier during a snowstorm in Catatonia.

Goosemeister, Jimmy, Marck, Nash, UA

 

After a quick team photo in which The Goosemeister appears particularly uncomfortable, Jimmy appears particularly happy, Marck appears much shorter than he really is, Nash can be seen with his jacket tucked inside his waders, and I appear much taller than I really am thanks to my Lucky Fishing Hat, we hiked upstream in the blowing snow. There was nobody else fishing on this particular morning, and with the snow driving into our faces or piling up on our backside (depending upon which side of the river we were on), it was easy to understand why we were alone.

But once you got past the blowing snow and focused on the fishing, there was cause for celebration: the fishing was good. It always slows down a bit on the second day, but this year that didn’t seem to be the case. At one point while standing mid-river and catching my 7th trout in 9 casts, I literally laughed out loud. The fish seemed a little bigger on average, or maybe they just looked bigger through sunglass lenses obscured by droplets of melting snow.

We fished our way downstream, past the falls toward the bridge. The snow continued. It was more like winter than late Spring. The Bison seemed unimpressed with us for having braved the weather. What do they know? They’re just stupid animals.

After 4 hours of this, we did something we’d ever done before on previous years: we changed plans–called an audible. It was decided that we would take a mid-day break from the weather and go have lunch at the Old Faithful Lodge Inn (thanks to RJ Berens for catching my error). This radical suggestion was met with enthusiastic response from all members, so we hiked back to the rig, in the still-driving snow, stowed our wet gear in the back of the snow-covered suburban, and drove the short distance to the Lodge Inn. I’d never been there before and was impressed by the number of cars filling the parking lot and the shear size of the structure.

While we enjoyed the respite from the weather and feasted on a fine, warm lunch, it continued to snow outside. We were fairly comfortable with our bellies full of grub and our fingers finally thawed. Lesser men would have opted to skip the afternoon fishing session, but we are not lesser men. We were here to fish, and weather be damned, fishing was what we were going to to.

Parking at Biscuit Basin, we enthusiastically geared up once again. This time it seemed more painful than ever and before my boots were laced my fingers had once again lost all feeling. The good thing about the Firehole River is that if your fingers do get cold, it’s not hard to find a thermal with a nice temperature of, say 80 degrees, in which to warm up. Just be careful not to pick a thermal that’s considerably closer to the boiling point. I didn’t, but mind you that can be an easy miscalculation.

On average, fishing was slower this afternoon than it had been earlier that morning, but the Firehole continued to give up plenty of fish, including some nice risers during a brief hatch.

Anyone who spends any amount of time recreating outdoors knows the importance of being comfortable, and you’re all probably wondering about Nash, whose waders had taken on water the previous day. Did he get everything dried out properly? Was he suffering miserably on this second, cold and dreadfully wet day? Well, thanks to an extra pair of waders that Jimmy had brought along, Nash was dry and comfortable on day two. At least he was until late in the afternoon when he noticed that his legs felt damp. It was at this point he acknowledged that wearing one’s jacket on the outside of one’s waders is the preferred method of layering in precipitous weather. Lessons learned, we hiked back to the parking lot and bade farewell to the Firehole River for another year. It felt good to be inside the rig with the heater on. As we drove off, a miserable herd of Bison passed by in close proximity. How do ya like us now, huh? Stupid animals.

That evening from our lavish suite at the Ho Hum, a beacon of comfort and Southern goodness shined in the distance and beckoned us to feast in celebration.

As we did, we rejoiced in the splendor of the two days we’d spent on the Firehole River. We had caught many fish, as we always do. Sometimes the weather is as expected. Other times it is not. That was definitely the case this year.

To read about the next day of our trip, which was written about previously, go HERE.

Let’s remove the Cascade mountains

Photo by Scott Miller

 

Last summer I posted a blog entry in which Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler and I went east of the Cascade mountains for an anniversary float trip with Derek Young of Emerging Rivers Guide Services. We left gloomy gray skies behind and headed toward better weather, which I described as the typical “Summer Ream Job” that Western Washington commonly suffers. To quote myself:

As is evident in the photo, the west side of the state is often blanketed by a layer of “marine air” (AKA clouds) while everything east of the Cascades enjoys more typical summer fare (sun, warm temps). It’s pretty obvious that Washington is split down the middle (or rather down a division of approximately 1/3 going to the west and 2/3 to the east).  The west side is home to depressing weather and Democrats, while the east has much better weather and Republicans.  These are, of course, generalizations and I don’t want to get into a meteorological/political debate here. Let’s just say the state of Washington should be divided into two separate states, and I should move east.

Well, I’m here once again to talk about this weather phenomenon. It probably is of very little or no interest to any of you, but it’s therapeutic to write about it. Our western WA weather, which I have moaned about plenty often in recent months, has been worse than usual this Spring, thanks to La Niña (The Bitch). While technically summer doesn’t begin for two more days, we’re close enough that we should be able to expect a lot better than what we’ve been having.

We recently returned from a weekend trip to the Gorge at George for a Tim McGraw Concert. After the concert we stayed in Moses Lake at the home of Mrs. Unaccomplished Angler’s sister. We awakened to sunny skies on Sunday morning. The wind was blowing, as it so often does in central Washington (thanks to the crappy weather in Western Washington). But it was sunny.  It was pleasant. If you were able to keep your car on the road thanks to the strong winds, it was a nice day for a drive.

Allow me to take you along with the Family Unaccomplished on our westward journey into western Washington: land of the Summer Ream Job. Not to worry, while I was the photographer, I was not driving.

June 19th. We left Moses Lake at around noon. This is what it looked like (note the potential high for the day):

Traveling west on I-90. As we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River at Vantage, it looked very much like summer. There were even boats on the river:

Ascending the grade toward Ryegrass, the wind continued to blow, giving ample power to the scores of power-generating windmills that now visually pollute the landscape:

While still under blue skies and strong winds, a pitstop at the Indian John Hill rest stop between Ellensburg and Cle Elum revealed our fate – a thick layer of clouds lingering over the Cascades:

As we proceeded westward we grew nearer to the clouds:

With every click of the odometer, the mileage on “Bessy” (Mrs. UA’s aging Ford Explorer) increased, as did the clouds:

Before long, the blue sky was a thing of the past (the blue you see at the top of this frame is not the sky, but rather the anti-glare tinting along the top edge of the windshield).

As we began the gradual ascent of the east slope of the Cascades, it grew darker:

Skirting the shores of Lake Kacheelus, the headwaters of the mighty Yakima River, we knew there would be no chance of making it home without using the windshield wipers. We pitied the poor fool on a Harley in front of us:

Nearing the summit, the windshield wipers became necessary as a light drizzle began to fall. Again note the blue along the top of the photo, which is NOT blue sky:

We crested the summit, where the low-hanging marine air seemed to say, “Welcome to the Wet Side”. Through the rhythmic dance of the wipers, it looked more like November than June 19th:

Descending the west slope it appeared that we might have navigate by instrumentation:

Another hour later we had dropped into the lowlands and were home. The road was wet. Everything was very lush and green, the results of ample precipitation. I wish I could have said we were all glad to be home as we drove the last 100 yards of our journey:

June 19th. This is what it looked like when we pulled into our driveway. Note the potential high for the day. I am here to tell you that we did not reach it:

So there you have it– a firsthand photo journey of a trip to western Washington. I hope you’ve enjoyed the experience, if for no other reason than to understand my misery. I suppose there are two ways to alleviate the gloomy weather:

  1. Move east.
  2. Lead a campaign to knock a couple thousand feet off the Cascades so our marine weather can be allowed to more quickly dissipate as it is shared with the central and eastern parts of the state.

The second option would obviously not be without certain devastating consequences (some but not all of them good for fish). As for option #1, I don’t believe I’m going to talk Mrs. UA into moving anytime soon. I guess I’m left with nothing else to do but continue to complain.

 

Blah, blah, blah.

Here’s a Public Service Announcement you’ll Dislike

If you use Facebook, and I do (and I am not the least bit ashamed to admit it because sometimes it’s my only social life), then you know about the “like” button. The “like”button is for those who are too lazy busy to leave an actual comment about someone’s post, but they want to acknowledge that they read it.  It’s an abbreviated courtesy that says, “I find this partially worthy of my time.” And they may have even liked the content of the comment. But it gets confusing after that.

For example, if the content of the post was something like “Steelhead officially proclaimed to be extinct!”, a person might click “like” to acknowledge that they read the post, even though they clearly did not like the content of the message. Or sometimes a person will simply click “like” so that they’re notified of follow-up comments (voyeurism). But what is really needed in this instance is a “dislike” button, for obvious reasons.  Let’s say you saw an outlandish post by someone, and you disagreed with it, you would not very well click the “like” button, but instead reach for the “dislike” button. That is, unless you cared to take the time to post a comment in reply.

There has been, for as long as I can recall, a public Facebook outcry for a “dislike” button.  It’s not uncommon to see any number of people post a reply to a comment, “Where is the dislike button?!” or simply they type “dislike”.  Well, recently I  ventured out into the world wide web in search of information on the matter, and I came up with several pieces of information–one in particular that caught my eye: Firefox dislike button add-on.

For those who live in a closet, Firefox is a popular web browser. I use it instead of Safari (Apple’s proprietary browser that ships as part of the Apple OS). I can’t remember why, but some years ago I became dissatisfied with certain page displays on Safari, so I switched to Firefox. I’ve never had a regret. But I must say, I dislike Firefox’s “dislike” button add-on.

After installing the “dislike” button add-on recently, I thought I was on my way to good times and greater accuracy when acknowledging a comment without committing to the time and courtesy required to leave a comment. I was going to be a super cool “dislike” guy. Well, not quite so fast. First off, the “dislike” function is meaningless unless all your Facebook friends also use Firefox and have the “dislike” add-on engaged. Otherwise I am disliking only to myself, which seems oddly self-abusive. But I figured I could recruit at least a few people with whom I regularly banter back and forth, and we could have our own little dislike-fest.

I immediately began to regret my rash decision. Why?  Well, first off at the top of every page there appeared one version or another of a really annoying banner ad.  With sound.  The damn thing chimed and talked to me every time I changed pages.

And who is Johanna and why does she want to be friends with me? She’s seemingly young enough to be my daughter. And I’m married. But I digress.

On the right sidebar, the stuff that’s usually there (stuff that I don’t really care about but isn’t bothersome) is replaced by another giant banner ad. These are “dislike ads”. Apparently baggage that comes with installing the “dislike” add-on. Trust me– they are aptly named, and you will dislike them.

Annoying, isn’t it?  Makes you want to “dislike” it. Well, I disliked it to the point where I had to find out how to get rid of the damn things.  Disabling the “dislike” button add-on is what must be done in order to regain serenity. Thankfully it’s an easy task, and here is how you do it:

1. Go to the main Firefox menu at the top of your screen. I will look like this if you’re on an Apple:

(if you’re on a Windows PC I have no idea what it might look like and you’re probably stuck using Internet Exploder anyway)

2. Click on the “Tools” tab. You’ll get a drop down menu. Scroll down to “Add-ons”:

3. Select “Add-ons”. This little gem of a page will appear. Other add-ons you’ve added will also appear, but the one you are after is the “FDislike 1.3.2” (or some other  numerical version). To the right you will find a happy, magical “Disable” button. You want to click that. Hell, you may as well click “Remove”.

Good riddance, Firefox. I don’t know if it’s you or Facebook, or probably the two of you in cahoots with each other on this whole Dislike Ad crap, but it’s weaksauce. I dislike it.  There is still a need for a “dislike” button, but until it is a feature built into Facebook’s interface, I’m left with actually taking the time to leave a comment when I dislike something.

And I’m a very busy man. Clearly.