One thing you’ll never see posted on this website is a video like this.
Let me rephrase that: One thing you’ll never see posted on this website is a video like this, of the Unaccomplished Angler.
This amazing 30 inch brown was caught near Lake Tahoe by Matt Heron of Matt Heron Fly Fishing. If I’m ever in the Lake Tahoe area you can bet I’m going to hook up with Matt and request that he take me to this river and show me where this fish lives. I won’t catch it, so there won’t be any video, which is why you should watch this one.
A few weeks back I ventured to the great state of Idaho seeking to harvest an elk to feed my family this winter (I talked about my pre-trip thoughts here in the event that you
ignored missed it). My quest for meat began with a cross-state drive to Lewiston, Idaho where my buddy Jawn lives. From my home it’s a little more than 5 hours, which used to seem like a long drive. Several fishing trips to Montana will put things into perspective, and the drive to Lewiston is now considered child’s play.
I stopped at the edge of the Palouse, which happens to be at the top of the Lewiston grade, to take in the views. From this vantage point one can see the entire Lewiston/Clarkston valley 2,000 feet below, and the great confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers and beyond. The two rivers are more like lakes than the free-flowing rivers that Lewis and Clark would have encountered when they passed through the area in 1805. Dams and two hundred years of development will do that to a place, I reckon. Still, it’s a beautiful area, though it could be made even more beautiful if a few dams were torn down.
I was careful not to get too close to the edge of the decaying scenic overlook that the state of Idaho doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with. As it turns out, Idahoans believe that if you’re not smart enough to stay away from the edge then you probably deserve to fall off. Culling the herd, as it were. We need more common sense policies like that. Idaho for President in 2012!
Anyhoo, back to the matter of hunting elk. Jawn has birthright access to private land in the hills of Idaho, the closest town being Kendrick (population: not very big). He’d been out scouting previously and had seen animals. Elk, even, which is always a good thing when going elk hunting. The property we were hunting has the stuff on which elk require to thrive (and disappear): forested land. And plenty of it, like a coupla thousand acres. There’s access to plenty of water thanks to a particular river, so it’s no surprise that elk should do well here. We’d be hunting in a GMU with a special season where any elk could be harvested. Slam dunk, right? Meat in the bank, as it were.
I had hunted on this ranch long enough ago that I didn’t remember the lay of the land. That was back before there was an internet, but of course now there is an internet so the night before our hunt Jawn pulled up Google Earth and showed us what our game plan would be. The ranch has open land where cattle graze, steep brush-choked draws, rolling slopes and yes, a river runs through it. The Potlach River. As Jawn pointed out the names of various draws we’d be hunting over the next two days, my mind kept coming back to the river. “Ever fish it?” I asked. He had, but not much. “Any Westslope Cutthroat in there?” He said there were rainbows. And steelhead spawn in the river as well. “Steelhead?!” I said out loud, or perhaps I thought I said it out loud. Could be the rainbow are actually steelhead smolts. Maybe not. Jawn hadn’t given it much attention from a fishing standpoint. It’s not a big river, but via Google Earth it looked worthy of my time. Perhaps another time. I was here to hunt elk, not cast flies. Not even elk hair flies. Had to get fishing out of my head. A good night’s rest would help with that.
I rarely get a good sleep the night before a hunting or fishing trip, but this first night was particularly lacking in ample hours of quality rest. It’s not that we stayed up particularly late–we didn’t. But on Saturday morning we awoke at an ungodly hour thanks to the fact that my other buddy, Micro, forgot to adjust his watch to reflect the fact that he was no longer in the Mountain Time Zone. I heard him get up and start rustling around in the dark, a fuzzy-eyed glance at my clock revealed that it was 2:15 am. I let him get halfway dressed before pointing out that we had another hour to sleep (needless to say that next hour went by rather quickly). After a breakfast that was eaten more out of acknowledged necessity than gnawing hunger, we piled into the truck. At 4:30 we rendezvoused with Jawn’s dad at a local truck stop, and under the cloak of rain-soaked darkness we headed into the hills. Did I mention it was raining?
In less than an hour we dropped Micro and Jawn’s dad off at one location on the ranch before Jawn and I proceeded up the road a few clicks. The plan was for them to hike in and take up a vantage point along the edge of a wheat field, while Jawn and I pushed in from the top. As we slogged through a field of waist-high seed grass toward the top of the hill, I couldn’t help but think that this must be what it’s like to walk through an automatic, brush-free car wash. By the time we reached the top of the rise our pants were soaked through, and I felt my feet beginning to get damp as well. Apparently my 10 year old waterproof boots which had never failed me before were telling me it was time for new boots. I had rain pants, but they were, of course, in my pack. Putting them on now seemed a silly thing to do, but something I did nonetheless. At least it wasn’t cold (unless you were wet). I believe I mentioned earlier that it was raining. Well, it still was.
Accompanying the rain was a blanket of thick fog that reduced our ability to see. For those not of a hunting persuasion, think of fog being as the equivalent of wind to the fly angling person. We had a vantage point high on a ridge overlooking what was allegedly a thick stand of forest, below which was supposedly the wheat field where the others had by now taken up position. We could hear scores of turkeys gobbling and yelping, and several cattle mooing as they’re known to do, but we didn’t hear any bull elk bugling or cow elk calling. And we couldn’t see anything beyond a distance of about 40 yards. Not ideal for spotting elk in the thick brush 200 yards below us.
Jumping ahead a couple of hours, we met up with Micro and Jawn’s dad and told them what we’d seen earlier in the morning, which amounted to nothing at all. They’d not seen any elk either, which was not surprising because the idea had been for Jawn and I to spot elk, take a well-placed shot and harvest an animal, while at the same time pushing the rest of the herd out below, where Micro and Jawn’s dad would hopefully get a shot. In a perfect world we’d have two animals down and the rest of the day would be spent packing meat and beating our chests in celebration. Since that wasn’t quite how it turned out, we devised another plan of attack as the rain lightened. The next few hours would see an improvement in the weather, and the hunting.
It seems as though interviews with other bloggers and fly fishing industry personalities are all the rage lately in the fly fishing blogasphere. Look no further than Eat More Brook Trout‘s “20 Questions” series of great interviews (seek each and every one of them out and read them, they are excellent). And then there’s the Outdoor Blogger Network‘s foray into the internet Q&A forum with it’s “Quick Fire Interviews” (the first of which features Fontinalis Rising and just aired recently). These interviews are good for the host blog and they’re good for the individuals being interviewed. And they’re good for the viewer. So naturally I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon with this exclusive, never-been-interviewed-before icon of the fly fishing world.
The first thing you’ll notice when you meet today’s guest is her diminutive stature (she appears to be about a size 10 or so). She’s olive greenish-colored with a fluffy tail made of cartoon marabou and what appear to be ping-pong balls for eyes. What she lacks in physical size she more than makes up for in enthusiasm, and she’s got a memory like a steel trap. She stars in her own series of children’s books and we’re very honored to have her in the studios today. Please make welcome Olive, the Woolly Booger.
Olive: Hello. Actually, it’s Woolly Bugger. Not Booger.
UA: Right. Anyway…welcome.
Olive: Thanks for having me. How are you?
UA: I’ll be the one asking questions here.
Olive: Sorry, I was just–––
UA: Moving on. I’m a very busy man and don’t have a lot of time so let’s get to it. Tell us a little bit about your books. There are 3, yes? And they’re children’s books about fly fishing, correct?
Olive: Yes, there are 3 books in the series: Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. And as you noted they are children’s books. But they’re not just about fly fishing, really.
UA: Are you calling me a liar?
Olive: Oh no, sir. They certainly use fly fishing as a backdrop to tell stories but there are important life lessons to be taught that go beyond the water’s edge…lessons about discovering personal talents, perseverance, treating others kindly, and that being different is good.
UA: That’s all fine and dandy, but what if we just want to learn about fly fishing?
Olive: Well, there’s definitely quite a bit about that, especially in the first book where I go to Camp Tightloops to learn how to become a fishing fly. In the second book readers find out what it’s like to catch a trout. It captures the thrill that comes with catching one’s first fish or their 100th fish.
UA: Do you bonk the fish?
Olive: I’m sorry?
UA: You know, do you give the fish the old “stone shampoo”…smack it over the head and toss it in the wicker creel?
Olive: Oh no, I practice catch and release and impart a message of conservation-minded angling.
UA: OK, that’s fine. But what’s your position on hatchery steelhead?
Olive: They’re excellent smoked.
UA: Now we’re talkin’. So the first book is heavier on the fly fishing thing, and the second book is about catching and releasing your first trout. Tell us about the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. Sounds like you visit an amusement park or something.
Olive: (laughs) No, not quite, although it’s a lot of fun. In the third book I find myself at the end of a broken tippet and snagged on a submerged branch at the bottom of the river. I get rescued by a small fry named Clark. He’s really nice – you’d like him a lot. He’s a steelhead!
UA: Pond Monkey?
Olive: Excuse me?
UA: Hatchery brat.
Olive: Oh no, he’s not a brat at all. And he’s got an adipose fin. Anyway, Clark and I venture downstream on a wild journey of discovery. We learn about the lifecycle of salmon, insects hatches and find out that a cold, clean water is necessary to sustain all sorts of wildlife besides fish.
UA: Sounds like an interesting story. Are these books any good?
Olive: I’m not real comfortable answering that question. I think the reviews speak for themselves.
UA: Oh come on. Humility is so overrated! In addition to those reviews you so shamelessly linked to, you’ve also earned some 5 Star reviews by official Amazon Reviewers.
Olive: Well, yes. Thank you.
UA: So, are these books for little tiny kids? You know, toddlers that like to look at the pictures, and drool and chew on the corners of the pages?
Olive: The books have a reading level of about 6 years-old and up. Littler kids who can’t read will enjoy looking at the illustrations and having the stories read to them, but the books may be a little bit long for a quick bedtime story.
UA: So would it be safe to say that they’re fully written narratives, and not typical picture books?
Olive: Yes, that would be a fair assessment. The books are between 45 and 50 pages each, approximately.
UA: Where were your books when my kids were younger? I still have nightmares of sitting through countless repeats of Good Night Moon and The Velveteen Rabbit.
Olive: That’s not a very nice thing to say. Those are wonderful story books.
UA: Whatever. Just answer the question.
Olive: If you don’t mind my saying so, you seem tense.
UA: (furrows brow) I am NOT. Now answer the question: Where were your books when my kids were younger?
Olive: My books were only published only about 4 years ago. Your kids are almost 18 and 20, right?
UA: How’d you know that?
Olive: You told me when we were talking before the interview started, remember?
UA: Next question. So, besides your books, what’s going on with Olive these days?
Olive: Well, I’m very excited about an exclusive deal with Montana Fly Company to produce fly boxes featuring art from my books. They’re also offering some nippers with my picture on them.
UA: Cool. I actually have one of the fly boxes. It’s very nice quality and pretty sweet looking.
Olive: Thank you. Yes, I sent that fly box to you, remember?
UA: We’re almost out of time. What else would you like to let all 8 readers of this blog know about Olive?
Olive: Would it be OK to mention my big screen project?
UA: Uh, did you say big screen? You’re going to be on the big screen?
Olive: Well, I hope so. I mean, it’s just a dream right now but I’ve definitely got my sights on Hollywood.
UA: Jumping on the reality show bandwagon, eh? Real Woolly Boogers of Madison County? HA-HA! But seriously, don’t you think there are enough of those worthless programs already?
Olive: Oh, I’m not looking to do anything like that. I actually want to star in my own animated feature film.
UA: You mean like Shrek, or Cars, or Finding Nemo?
Olive: Well, sorta like that. Those are all great films. I especially liked Finding Nemo.
UA: What is it with you and Owl Jones and your quests for world domination?
Olive: I’m not trying to do any such thing. I just want to share my story with everyone. And I hope that Mr. Jones hooks up with Larry the Cable Guy. That would be a hoot.
UA: Larry the Cable Guy? Wasn’t he the voice for “Tow-Mater” in Cars?
Olive: Yes he was. And that was also a great animated film. I’m looking forward to seeing Cars 2.
UA: Do you really think a producer or animation studio is going to make an animated film about fly fishing?
Olive: Well, see, therein lies the misperception. It won’t be a film about fly fishing any more than A River Runs Through It was.
UA: WhatchootalkinaboutWillis? A River Runs Through It was absolutely about fly fishing. Are you insane?
Olive: Hey, there’s no need to get nasty. If you read the book and watch the movie, A River Runs Through It simply uses fly fishing as a vehicle to tell a much bigger story.
UA: So now you’re comparing yourself to the great literary work of Norman MacLean?
Olive: Oh no, not at all. My point is that the movie I want to make isn’t a story about fly fishing. It’s much more than that.
UA: You mean to suggest that there’s more to fishing than just catching fish?
Olive: Absolutely. You’re very clever–did you just make that up? (giggles)
UA: Watch yourself. OK, for sake of argument let’s assume I agree with what you’re saying. So, who’s going to make this film and when can we see it?
Olive: I wish I could answer those questions, but I’m nowhere near that point. In fact I’m just trying to figure this whole thing out. I’m reaching out to as many different people who understand the film industry and talking to them, gathering information, following possible leads, and hoping someone nibbles.
UA: Sounds an awful lot like fishing, to me.
Olive: It’s exactly like fishing in many ways. I know there’s a big fish out there. Down deep, under a cut bank. I know if I can just find them they’ll take an interest and strike. Then it’s a matter of setting the hook and keeping my line tight.
UA: You know, the Woolly Bugger is one of the best all around patterns in the world of fly fishing. If any fly can get it done, you can.
Olive: Thank you, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me.
UA: Don’t let it go to your head. Continue.
Olive: I’m confident that my idea will make for a great film, but it’s going to be a long, upstream swim against a strong current.
UA: Another fishing metaphor. Very clever. You mentioned perseverance as being one of the lessons taught in your books. Just tap into that and you’ll make it. How can we help?
Olive: Well, see that little graphic in the sidebar of your blog?
UA: The one that says, “Help Send Olive to Hollywood?” Wait a minute – how did that get there?
Olive: I asked you to put it there a few months ago, remember? Anyway, it’s a widget. If readers have a blog or website and would like to copy and paste the code, flying the badge will help spread the word.
UA: You don’t really think that a few of those widgets floating around the internet will actually land you a film deal with Pixar, do you?
Olive: Oh, no. In fact, Pixar isn’t even on my radar–I wish! (giggles) But posting the widget can’t hurt to get the word out. I doubt the big fish is reading this blog but maybe they’ll read one of the other, better blogs that carry the badge. You never know.
UA: I think you just took a jab at me, but I’m going to let that go. Sounds like this grass roots approach is a long shot.
Olive: For sure. But why not? Some studio looking for a totally new film concept will take notice. I’m sure of it. And my film will be different than any other animated film made.
UA: How so?
Olive: It’ll be a film with an important message of conservation. We need to teach kids to become stewards of our natural resources. Mine will be a film with a conscience.
UA: Come on, Olive. Let’s be realistic. People go to the movies to be entertained. They don’t want to sit there and be preached to.
Olive: Oh, I would never preach. And besides, it’ll be a great story, with great characters. Characters like Roderick Hawg-Brown, Zane Grayling, Lefty Crayfish, Elwood and Elwha the bickering beavers and whole cast of others.
UA: Ha Ha! You said “cast”. Another clever fishing pun.
Olive: (smiles politely) Anyway, it’ll be an awesome film. People will be entertained. And a brilliant screenwriter will make sure the audience isn’t even be aware that they’re learning important lessons.
UA: Very catchy character names, by the way. I read about fly fishing and conservation matters so I caught the subtle humor. But what about people seeing the film who don’t pick up on those inside antics?
Olive: They’ll be great characters regardless of whether people know who these characters are named after. Not every subtle reference in every film is picked up upon by every audience member.
UA: Fair enough. Now back to the widget things. Not everyone has a blog or a website, and even if they did, not everyone is going to post that widget on their site. What else can people do to help?
Olive: Well, I’m hoping that people will just pass the word around. If folks like the idea for a film like this, talk about it at the watercooler. Tweet it (@olivewoollybugr). Please join my Facebook page. If readers know someone who I should talk to I’d love to hear from them. My philosophy is to leave no stone left unturned.
UA: Like when you’re looking for streamside insect larva…
UA: You know, turning rocks over to look underneath for bugs…get it?
Olive: Yes, I get it.
UA: Wow, tough crowd. So, besides Twitter and Facebook, how can people get a hold of you?
Olive: I have my own blog/website: olivethewoollybugger.com
UA: It’s a nice looking site. I fancy myself a bit of an artist and feel slightly threatened.
Olive: There’s no reason to be threatened. You designed my site, remember?
UA: Of course I remember, silly. OK, before we go where can people find your books?
Olive: They’re widely available online and most fly shops should carry them. If they don’t, they can order them.
UA: Great, well thanks for stopping by, Olive.
Olive: Wait, before we go may I ask you a question?
UA: Sure, but make it quick. We’re almost out of time and I’m a very busy man.
Olive: When was the last time you caught a fish?
UA: And we’re all out of time.