If you haven’t paid the UA a visit since last November, I can’t say that you missed much since that was the last time I posted anything. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that.
Anyway, this is normally the time of year that I’d be gearing up for the annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers to our namesake river in Yellowstone National Park. It’s been that way for years, with very little change to the itinerary. Creatures of habit we are, and we like it that way.
Well, that all changes this year–we’re not going. Not all of us, anyway (I think Morris is going, not sure about Nash). But Marck, Goose, Jimmy and me aren’t.
And that can be blamed on last year’s trip (which I didn’t write about).
On our way to the Firehole last year, Morris, Marck, Jimmy and me stopped in and fished the Beaverhead with the guys from 4 Rivers Fishing Company in Twin Bridges. The next day was a down day with nothing to do but make our way toward West Yellowstone. We uncharacteristically took our time, stopping to wander around Virginia City (a place we had driven through but never stopped to see due to frantic driving schedules). It’s worth a stop to see how folks in this once-thriving gold town lived.
We then continued on to West Yellowstone and the Ho Hum, where Nash and Goose joined us after having made the Big Drive in one day. The next day we fished the Firehole, and while fishing was better than it had been the past few years, it was nothing to write home about (so I didn’t). A beauty day it was, though. A day fit for sun bathing (sorry for the following photo).
The next day we fished
my favorite river, the Madison. Then we drove once again to Twin Bridges and the following day fished the Big Hole with the guys from 4 Rivers Fishing Company.
The river was huge with runoff and we were all split up fishing different sections of the river, each boat trying to scratch out an existence. Jimmy and I were in my buddy Joe Willauer’s craft and after getting eaten alive by mosquitos at the Notch Bottom launch, we proceeded to get into some good fishing. I don’t remember the details but fishing was very solid despite really high, brown water. Fish were caught, most of them browns and many of them good sized fish.
At one point during the float Joe started droning on and on about his trip to Christmas Island from which he had just returned. He’d been a couple of times before and had had a good enough time that he continued to go back. He kept talking about Bonefish, Giant Trevally, buck-toothed fish that eat crabs, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was kinda hard to wrap our heads around that type of fishing while we drifted through flooded cottonwoods, nymphing for big browns in high water. But Joe just wouldn’t shut up about this Christmas Island place.
As it turns out, ‘Christmas Island’ shouldn’t really be called Christmas Island, because it’s not the real Christmas Island (you know, the place in the Indian Ocean with the Great Crab Migration). The “Christmas Island” where Joe goes is actually Kiritimati, pronounced ‘Kirisimas’ by the locals and then bastardized by foreign anglers who refer to it as ‘Christmas Island’. But I digress. By the end of the Big Hole float, Joe had nearly talked us into joining him next (this) year.
Long story short, in the months that followed we signed up to join Joe and some others for a trip to Kiritimati. It was a long winter (though not as long as for those of the Night’s Watch) during which the trip seemed an abstract thing. But before long the trip loomed near, and now it is upon us. On Memorial Day we’ll fly to Honolulu, spend the night, and the next day board a Fiji Airways flight, 3 hours south to
Christmas Island Kiritimati. For the next 6 days we will chase Bonefish and hope to get a shot at a Giant Trevally and maybe some of those buck-toothed fish that eat crabs. It’s going to be very interesting, and a far cry from the Ho Hum and the Firehole.
After I return, I promise to share the trip here on the blog—Maybe not right away—but eventually. After all, I wouldn’t want to post content on a regular basis.
Over the past few of months I made the decision that, since I haven’t been fishing enough to warrant writing much on that topic, I would just remain silent. There’s something very soothing in silence. Besides, how much can be written about fishing that hasn’t already been written? Even my reports about the annual Firehole Rangers trips start sounding like cut-and-paste jobs after a while. But when a recent inquiry by a
dedicated follower noted how quiet things had been lately, I decided to break my silence, to use this blog as a venue for publishing my thoughts on other matters as they strike me. It’s my blog, after all, so I can do what I damn well please. If you’re one of the 7 or 9 readers who continue to buy a ticket to the show, I imagine that—as I veer off the fly fishing topic—those numbers will dwindle to the point where nobody is reading the content other than myself and the unfortunate person who stumbles upon my blog while going down the rabbit hole of the internet. That said, the following entry is something that I feel compelled to write about. If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are still some fly fishing blogs that remain for your enjoyment. I wouldn’t know, however: once popular and plentiful, fly fishing blogs seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal.
Many of you will probably probably disagree with what I am writing about today because that’s what it seems we Americans do more and more: we disagree with one another. If you’re not American, you probably disagree with what Americans are disagreeing about, and Americans take issue with that. And in this divisive time of rampant disagreement and intolerance of opposing views, there exists a no more heated topic of debate than politics.
And this is an election year.
But it’s also Fall, or Autumn, depending upon which term you elect to use in your vocabulary (neither is wrong, it’s just a matter of preference and should be respectfully honored). Being
Autumn Fall the Leaf Season, as I sit here in my office—even with the window closed—I can hear the roar of a distant yard appliance. The sound of fallen foliage management is so loud that it nearly drowns out the the political ads spewing from the radio. Ah, yes, ’tis the season of the leaf blower.
These raging 2 cycle, gas-powered machines are as divisive as any measure on the ballot. People either love them or hate them.
Those that don’t have a leaf blower detest them for either their noise or air pollution, undoubtedly both. These same folks also probably have yards the size of a postage stamp that can be managed with a rake. More likely, they hire a service to do their yard work (and these hired hands will, without a doubt, employ the use a leaf blower so there is some irony to be found here). On the other side of the fence are those that do have leaf blowers and value these tools for their efficient means of scattering large expanses of fallen leaves.
There is very little middle ground to be occupied on the matter. Some people attempt to reach across the isle, if you will, to adopt a more neutral stance by purchasing cute, little handheld electric leaf blowers that are much quieter than their gas-powered brethren. The problem with these is that they are also a lot less
manly effective. To get the deafening power required for tackling the big jobs, one needs a backpack style, gas-burning, smoke-puking 2-stroke engine that is capable of moving acres of wet leaves (and post-Halloween candy wrappers). It’s what the professionals use. It’s what I have.
I purchased my Stihl BR320 nearly 20 years ago (BTW, BR stands for BRAAAAP) and it’s a workhorse of a machine that would make Tim Allen proud. It has never required service—other than a new spark plug and air cleaner every few years—and it always starts on the 3rd pull. Always (knock on wood). Much like the politicians flooding the media with their pre-election messages, this thing is a serious blowhard; a serious tool that generates hurricane-force wind speeds.
However, gas-powered leaf blownership is not altogether a cut-and-dried matter because, while I love mine, I loath it at the same time. It’s loud (I wear shooting ear muffs for protection) and it’s not without its share of emissions (it smokes visibly upon start up, after which the exhaust pollutants are not visible though they are still evident). As one who does, in fact, care about the environment, I’d be remiss if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt when I fire up the old Stihl. Still, use it I do each Fall when the leaves, well, they fall. I also use a rake, but the blower does the heavy work.
We have, in particular, 3 large maple trees in our front yard that yield an inordinately vast supply of foliage. These trees drop their collective loads over the span of a month, beginning innocently enough in mid October, gaining speed and intensity before finally ending sometime around the second or third week in November. A good wind storm, or lack thereof, can either shorten or extend Leaf Season by as much as a week. During the height of the madness, suffice it to say it’s an every-three-days endeavor to attempt (in vain) to stay ahead of the amassing spent vegetation. It should be noted that these leaves are nearly always wet from rain, thus requiring a bit of extra effort to remove them. Even with the right tools it’s a time-consuming and unsavory task, unless you’re like this guy:
Truth be told, the leaf blower is something I’m glad I have, but wish I never had to use. I don’t enjoy managing fallen leaves, but shy of cutting down the offending trees the leaves are just something I have to live with. Fortunately Leaf Season, as well as the election and the accompanying political ads, will be over with soon (though not soon enough). Then we can all get back to enjoying the peace and quiet, and arguing about politics for another two years.
Meanwhile, you enjoy this video. I know I did.
It has come to my attention recently that I haven’t posted in a while, so I just wanted to confirm that.
A lack of motivation to write, coupled with a lack of fishing to write about, has simply added up to me being a worthless turd of a blogger.
Maybe I’ll remedy that sooner than later.
Meanwhile here’s a photo of a nice Idaho cutthroat from last July.
It’s that time of year again, when the annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers looms large like a bull bison standing over a fallen touron. Fishing opens inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and for me it is the gateway trip to summer trout fishing, my favorite fishing season of the year. I like to be warm when I’m fishing, and summer offers that.
Late May/early June in Yellowstone is the time of year when, despite the occasional late Spring snow storm, the weather is often quite enjoyable. The herds of cow bison with their calves meander without a care in the world, grazing on new sprouts of tender green grass. The bison seem rather content, as well they should be, for it is a good time of year to be alive.
But it wasn’t all that many weeks ago that winter still had its grip on the Yellowstone area, and winter is a serious matter here: long, and very, very cold. As I’ve stood along the banks of the Firehole River in the past, I’ve tried to imagine this place during the dead of winter.
Even during a Spring snowstorm I can’t quite wrap my head around the severity of winter here. It boggles my mind to think that critters like bison can survive many months of brutal cold, where daytime temps range from zero to 20F and sub-zero temperatures are common, especially at night. And what of the snowfall, that can average 150 inches per year (more in higher elevations)? Withstanding the cold is one thing, finding enough food to keep them energized enough to survive is another. Bison are amazing animals. Their wool has incredible insulating qualities. It has to be in order for them to survive Yellowstone’s harsh winters.
According to The Buffalo Wool Company, bison wool is “Soft enough to wrap a baby in, tough enough to keep a mountain man warm in a blizzard.”
That may be true, but I am neither baby nor mountain man. Just an unaccomplished angler. I do, however, appreciate warm feet during the winter season, and as I’ve gotten older and more “wambly” (according to my buddy Large Albacore), I’ve struggled to find socks that keep my toes warm when standing knee deep in a steelhead river in Fall and late winter. Or how about a trout stream in February, when cabin fever drives an angler to such desperate measures as high stick nymphing for catatonic trout in the dead of winter? Enter the Advantage Trekker Bison/Merino Boot Socks by The Buffalo Wool Company. These babies are like buffalo blankets for the feet, and everything the proprietors say is true:
“Not to toot our own horns, but these are probably the most effective use of bison fiber. The ultra soft, very crimpy bison fiber creates warmth, is extremely moisture wicking, and keeps feet comfortable and dry. Bison offers superior breathability, temperature regulation and natural odor resistance. These socks have a stay-in-place fit, flex zones for added mobility, targeted heavy cushioning, and long-wear durability, making them an ideal addition to any outdoor lover’s wardrobe.”
These socks are super warm for outdoor winter pursuits, but they’re also comfortable to wear sitting around the house during the cold months (the very reasonable cost of the socks—$38.00—sure beats the cost of paying to run the furnace all winter long). And because they are a generous boot length sock, they also look great with sandals.
When The Buffalo Wool Company contacted me to see if they could send me a pair of their socks in exchange for mention of their product on my blog, I harkened immediately back to a scene from Dances With Wolves:
These tatanka wool socks are sweet. Good trade, indeed.