January2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: a science-based prediction

While analyzing Google Analytics for the month of January 2014, some rather interesting data was revealed.

Of the total visits to the Unaccomplished Angler in January, 72 were from Seattle; 43 from Denver. Common practice is to divide those figures by one-half and round down as necessary and appropriate to arrive at the final Super Bowl score: 36-21 in favor of Seattle.

 

Science doesn’t lie.

 

It’s just science.

Open Fly Podcast, Show 3

Public stream access rights in Utah. What does that have to do with you if you don’t live in Utah? Why should you care?

Valid questions. However, stream access rights can be taken away with one swipe of the legislature’s pen and before you know it, waterways are no longer public domain. Imagine not being able to set foot on the stream bed, or even slow your boat using oars. It happened in Utah; it could happen in your state.

On Show #3 of The Open Fly Podcast we interview the folks at the Utah Stream Access Coalition and hear about their fight to pass a bill giving back rights to fish and recreate on waterways. They also need your help as fighting the good fight does not come without costs. To encourage your support, The Open Fly Podcast is offering up a chance for you to win some sweet raffle goods. If you donate $5 or more to the USAC, email your receipt to theopenflypodcast (at) gmail (dot) com. You will be entered into our next product giveaway. Donate by clicking HERE.

Northern Michigan’s own Brian “Koz” Kozminski

Also featured in our Guide Stories segment of the 3rd show is Michigan’s own Brian Kozminski. Koz talks about True North Trout and what it means to be a fly fishing guide near the ring finger of the Mitten State, plus more.

Listen to the podcast HERE. And thanks for your support.

A cold day in Hell’s Canyon

Team Keystoners.

I’ve written of this trip a couple times in the past, HERE and HERE if you’re interested in reliving the past. But moving right along, year 5 of the annual Clearwater River Debauchery & Steelhead Trip is now in the books and two things stand out as being different this year: One such thing is that we were not on the Clearwater. With early numbers of fish returns lower than in the past, we opted to change our venue in hopes of increasing our catching percentages. Thus we found ourselves on the other river that flows through the Lewiston/Clarkston area: the Snake. And not just the Snake, but the Snake as it flows through Hell’s Canyon.  I’d been there twice before during springtime for Smallmouth Bass and Sturgeon fishing, but never during the winter. If you’ve never been to Hell’s Canyon, put it on your list—it’s a pretty special place. It happens to be the deepest river gorge in the United States—deeper even than the Grand Canyon. Many interesting facts can be found HERE if so inclined.

Staying at the Hell’s Canyon Resort in Heller Bar afforded us all the comforts of home and more if you factor in the pool and ping-pong tables, darts, mini-basketball and drum set. There was no shortage of indoor recreation in which to partake while we engaged in the mature antics one would expect from 12 middle-aged guys whose common bond is that we were all members of the same college fraternity 30 years prior. A quick conclusion is that we’ve all matured nicely, I am bad at darts and worse at drumming. But we were there to fish, and surely I would fair better on the river than I did in the game room. 

Premonition, or a cruel joke?

To boost my confidence, even the room in which I bunked was aptly labeled. Or was it? We would find out in just a few hours.

 

Huddled around the campfire telling lies and eating cookies.

At 7 am we boarded 2 boats operated by Hells Canyon Sport Fishing: 5 in one boat, 6 in the other; and proceeded upriver into the bowels of Hell’s Canyon. The sky was clear and cold. I’d wager a guess that the air temperature was in the mid 20’s, which isn’t horribly cold until you head into a steep canyon which hides the sun, in a boat moving at a fair clip. Truth be told, thanks to good layering, the only thing that was cold were the fingers, which happen to be an integral part of fishing. Luckily we had a heater on board that we could occasionally fire up to thaw out the digits. Not unlike a campfire, the heater served to provide warmth as well as a central place around which to congregate and boast of our fishing prowess, declare our manliness for being out in the cold weather, and eat cookies. Fortunately we our boat got into fish early on so we didn’t have time to dwell on the cold.

One of many caught by the Boane, the Great Bogarter of Fish.

Another of many caught by Micro The Happy Angler.

Not one for idle chit chat, Lenrod lets his fish do the jaw-flapping.

Jawn invited us all to go fishing with him so he could show off.

And then there was Junior Albacore, who caught more than just a fish.

The steelhead in the Snake are referred to as A-Run fish, which tend to be considerably smaller than the B-Run fish of the Clearwater. I’d say that the 21 fish brought to our boat were mostly in the 5-lb range (some smaller, a couple slightly bigger). By far the biggest fish of the day was attached to the end of my line but never made it to the boat.  As I expertly played the gargantuan anadromous trout, getting it close enough to clearly see that it was an unparalleled trophy, one of my compadres (who shall go unnamed) deftly cast his line over mine and knocked my fish loose (I quickly dismissed critics that suggested perhaps I’d not securely hooked the fish). Not one to cry over spilt milk, I sat in the corner of the boat and wept I angled on. Eventually I would avoid a skunk by landing a diminutive steelhead that, in most parts of the country, would be referred to as a “trout”. When asked if I wanted my photo taken with my catch, I politely declined. My boat mates would have nothing to do with that and threatened to bludgeon me with a cudgel if I didn’t pose for a grip and grin.

A Participant’s Trophy.

We fished until about 4pm before heading back down river 20 miles to “camp”. Due to a lack of communication we didn’t rendezvous with the other boat during the day. Team Underachievement caught some fish, including Bryan’s real nice fish that had obviously made a wrong turn in Lewiston, but their numbers were significantly lower than ours and two members narrowly avoided a skunk by landing some very nice suckers. My kinda people—clearly I’d boarded the wrong boat.

Team Underachievement: Red Pig, Bootay, Bryan, Bakes and Large Albacore.

The second thing that made this year different brings me to a more serious point: this was the first year without one of our brothers. Charlie’s Clearwater fish from a couple of years ago stands as the biggest caught on any of our trips. His title as reigning champ will stand for a long time to come, and rightfully so.  Rest in peace, brother— you were and are missed.

A great man with a great fish.

 

 

 

The Open Fly Podcast, Show 2

The second installment of The Open Fly Podcast is now live. Unofficially we’re calling this one the Sophomore Slump Buster, not because we’re already in a slump but because we have every intention of avoiding that undesirable status. And in our heroic efforts to keep the momentum going (at the time of this writing we have close to 1000 downloads for Episode 1), our second episode features a conservation segment showcasing the work of the Native Fish Society and one of it’s members, Jason Small: just an ordinary guy out there doing good things for the fish.

Our Guide Stories segment this week features Canadian Dave Henry, who tells of fishing with light Spey rods and rugy players jumping out of jet sleds. In this episode I also learn that the Fraser River in British Columbia is not pronounced “Frazier”. Cultural barriers often make for challenging communication, but I think you’ll understand just enough to enjoy what Dave has to say. Check out Dave’s website, 2HandedTrout.com , for more information.

Dave Henry on the Bow River

 

And thanks again for tuning in to The Open Fly Podcast.

EPA finds the obvious: Pebble Mine would be bad.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve heard about the Pebble Mine issue facing the Bristol Bay region in Alaska. For those rock dwellers, it’s a fairly simple issue: Pebble Mine is the common name of a mineral exploration project that is investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska that happens to also be the pristine headwaters of the world’s greatest salmon fishery. Conventional wisdom would suggest that such an operation is an outrageously bad thing, with risks for environmental disaster that far outweigh the economic and environmental value of the fishery and region as a whole.

The EPA has been studying the matter and just released their report findings. The report is science-based, without emotion or other subjective reasoning taken into consideration. Science—nothing more. And that science has declared that the Pebble Mine would devastate a pristine area that is the spawning grounds for arguably the best salmon fishery in the world. 

Trout Unlimited has been a big opponent of the Pebble Mine and considers the matter their top priority. TU issued a press release noting the EPA findings on their website: Press Release can be found HERE.

Some quick points of the EPA report show that the proposed mining operations would:

  • Cause the direct loss of up to 94 miles of salmon-supporting streams.
  • Destroy up to 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes in the Bristol Bay region.
  • Alter streamflows of up to 33 miles of salmon-supporting streams, likely affecting ecosystem structure and function.
  • Create a transportation corridor to Cook Inlet crossing wetlands and approximately 64 streams and rivers in the Kvichak River watershed, 55 of which are known or likely to support salmon. Culvert failures, runoff, and spills of chemicals would put salmon spawning areas at risk.
  • Require the collection, storage, treatment and management of extensive quantities of mine waste, leachates, and wastewater during mining and “long after mining concludes.”

What does this EPA report mean in the fight against the Pebble Mine?  Well, it’s a big step toward keeping the mining operation out of Bristol Bay. Now it’s up to the Obama administration to drive a nail into the Pebble Mine coffin.  We can only hope that conventional wisdom is present in Washington DC. You can help by taking action. It takes little of your time. Click HERE.

Stay tuned and visit Save Bristol Bay for more and ongoing information.

As a related point of interest, the Open Fly Podcast will feature Dwayne Meadows, Trout Unlimited’s Bristol Bay National Outreach Director, on a future podcast. The episode is set to record on February 6th, for release shortly thereafter. Needless to say this will be a very interesting show.