Fly-Fishing

Separated at Birth, 2?

 

A while back I was struck by a certain resemblance between pop music fad Justin Bieber and a much younger Brad Pitt. I posted about it in an entry titled, Separated at Birth. My thought was to turn the idea into a series, whereby I would discover uncanny resemblances between fly fishing personalities and their more famous Hollywood counterparts (you’ll have to give me a little leeway with the whole Brad Pitt thing—he’s not exactly a fly fishing personality, although he did star in A River Runs Through It).

Recently I was reading the latest “20 Questions” over at Eat More Brook Trout, in which Chris Hunt interviews Trout Underground founding father, Tom Chandler. Before I’d read further than:

“Tom Chandler is, if nothing else…”

It hit me, like a brick upside the head:

Tom Chandler is, if nothing else, Robin William’s much younger identical brother. And word has it they’re both fly fishermen.

One of these is Tom Chandler.

 

Dangerous Wading with The Bachelor

I don’t watch “The Bachelor” on TV so I would not have known about this if not for some impressive internet sleuthing on the part of Montana Fly Company’s Facebook page. Apparently Ben Flajnik (the guy who is The Bachelor) grew up in a fishing family so he took his harem to a lake near Park City, Utah for a group date and they did a bit of angling. You can read the riveting story here if so inclined.

I suppose there are worse places The Bachelor could have taken his gaggle of gals. But as much as I approve of fly fishing as a wholesome activity for anyone, there’s something wrong with this picture: Where are their wading belts?! Not only is it unsafe to be wading perilous waters without their belts, but wading belts offer a slimming effect.

And I believe PBR in cans would have been more appropriate than whatever they’re drinking out of their fancy glasses, not to mention that glass is to be discouraged when fishing. Glassware, that is- not glass fly rods. I don’t want to get in trouble with Cameron Mortenson over at the Fiberglass Manifesto.

 

Elk Hunting: Part I of II or maybe III

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.

F#g.

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.

Part II

Part III

 

Rugged Eddie Bauer Man

As I pack the last of the things for my trip to Montana and Idaho, hoping that I remember the critical items before getting there, I wanted to leave my 8 loyal followers with one last, worthless post.  If for some reason I don’t return, I want to be remembered for having left you all with a blog entry that is so unworthy of your time that it’s not even deserving of a “Weekly Drivel®” designation (and thus is appropriately filed away under the category of “Pointless Wastes of Your Time”). I should probably have deleted this before ever publishing it, but hey–a guy needs traffic for his Google Analytics, right? That, and I like to keep the SPAMMERS employed.

Eddie Bauer, the rugged man

Eddie Bauer wasn’t always just a clothing retailer. Seriously. My first fly rod was made by Eddie Bauer, back in the days when you could actually buy outdoor recreation gear at the one Eddie Bauer store in Seattle. Back in the mid 70’s I had a backpacking tent made by Eddie Bauer, and down jackets and sleeping bags filled with Premium Eddie Bauer Goose Down were the shit–the seriously good stuff (which I never had because I was allergic to down). You see, Eddie Bauer (the man) was an avid outdoorsman, and the company reflected that passion. I won’t go into detail about him here because I don’t know much about him other than what is provided on several websites. Suffice it to say Eddie Bauer was serious about his love of the outdoors: he was an avid hunter and fisherman and it would appear that he was a fly fisherman as well because he sold trout flies and made fly rods. He also sold tennis racquets and badminton shuttlecocks. Hey, he wasn’t perfect – nobody is. At least he didn’t sell golf equipment. While an article int he latest Angling Trade talks about the similarities between golf and fly fishing that provide potential new ventures for the fly fishing industry, I prefer not to recommend hybridization. But I digress.

In the many decades that have passed since Eddie Bauer (the man) sold his company, Eddie Bauer (the company) has wandered farther from its roots and has become synonymous with clothing. While a far cry from the outdoor industry that gave rise to the success of the brand, the company is holding onto the proud, rugged history of Eddie Bauer as evidenced by its summer catalog Summer Resource Book. Gracing the pages inside you’ll find Rugged Eddie Bauer Man. And he is just that: rugged.

Here he can be seen climbing the mast of a sailing vessel, holding on with one hand while he looks down with contempt toward his undisciplined crew. Clearly he is a man of few words, and even less humor.

And why shouldn’t he be? Afterall, there is nothing funny about carrying a large cargo net and a gasoline can, and getting your new shirt covered with grease and grime. It’s serious work. It calls for a serious man. A rugged man.

Here, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man can be seen looking at a thick rope. He appears lost in thought, as if deeply troubled. If he were to speak, one could imagine the few words, “Who the hell tied this knot?”

But lest one should think that Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is all work and no play, we see him here–embarking on a recreational endeavor. His face still wears the stern expresson of a humorless man, but he does seem a bit more relaxed.

But no matter what he’s doing, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man does it with serious conviction. Maybe serious is the only way he can be. And we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?

We can only assume that like Eddie Bauer, Rugged Eddie Bauer Man is also a fly fisherman. And a seriously good golfer, too.

The rugged Eddie Bauer Man

 

You have my apologies for this blog entry.

The Photographer’s job is not to catch fish.

It’s a little unnerving to have a professional photographer constantly lurking about, snapping photos from all and strange angles. Knowing that one may be under the constant scrutiny of a camera’s lens makes stealing a quiet moment to pick one’s nose a delicate proposition (not that it happened–I’m just illustrating a point). But a photographer’s job is to tell the story that otherwise may not be told. It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words, and it’s true: photos tell a story in ways that words simply cannot, even if you’re a gifted writer, which I am not (and that is exactly why I always carry a camera). But I am not a real photographer–I simply carry a point-and-shoot to capture some images from the day which also help me recall moments worth writing about. And frankly, people like to look at pictures much more than they like reading words. Pictures are always more interesting, and I have no doubt you will look at the photos posted here. That being said I shall throw out some words for you to read if you wish.

It was a day that was all about photos. It was a day intended to be an opportunity for Jason “Orad” Small to photographically document a trip to be used as part of a presentation to be given by 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year, Derek Young (Emerging Rivers Guide Services) the following day. Everyone’s role for the day was clearly defined except mine. I’m still not sure why I was brought along for the trip, except to take photos of the photographer taking photos and catching fish.

The water was hovering around the 45 degree mark as we mixed some tasty Bloody Marys on the tailgate. Pickled asparagus purchased that morning at Owen’s Meats in Cle Elum were nothing shy of awesome. If you’ve never been to Owen’s Meats, you really owe it to yourself to stop in for some of their products. Seriously. We did not have a particularly long float ahead of us so we were in no great hurry.

Photo by Jason Small Photography

Photo of the Photographer taking photos of bloody marys

 

We hit the water around noon and  started out the day nymphing the typical setup: a Pat’s Stones with a Copper John or Pheasant Tail dropper. Pink Thingamabobbers all around.  The hope was that around 1:17 in the afternoon, the March Browns would start coming off and we’d switch to dries.

As the Photographer, Orad wasted no time in getting the skunk off the boat by landing a nice, thick, post-spawn rainbow that looked as healthy as a fish can get. Likely an 18 inch fish, she was what they call a “Yakima Twenty” (always round up). This fish put a taco bend in the Orad rod as she ran upstream, downstream, under the boat and every which way but loose. A short while later Orad caught another rainbow in the 12 inch range. Apparently he forgot that he was fishing out of the back of the boat (second seat) and was supposed to be the designated photographer and not the the primary catcher of trouts.

Photo of the Photographer catching the first fish.

Photo of The Photographer and The Guide.

Photo of The Photographer's first, fine fish of the day.

Later, Derek landed one of the more spotted trouts I’ve ever seen on any water. Seriously, this thing looked like a Leopard variety rainbow from Alaska.

Photo by Jason Small Photography

Photo of the Photographer taking photos of The Guide's fish.

 

Photo of Mr. Spotty, The Guide's fish.

Shortly thereafter I set the hook on a fish that I’m pretty sure was a Yakima River steelhead, although Derek maintains it was a cutthroat, but I’ll never know. Let’s just say that Orad is better with a camera than he is with a net.

The Guide's Photo of the Photographer and his net.

 

That was the last fish touched on the day. Yet we did not see any fish rising, nor did I see any bugs popping. This provided ample opportunity for Orad to capture the other side of fly fishing: the side of fly fishing that doesn’t involve catching fish. You know- behind the scenes sort of drama that looks cooler than it really was because of good photography.

For example, this photo makes me look like I’m a decent caster…

Photo by Jason Small Photography

 

And this photo makes Derek’s hair look shorter than it really is…

Photo by Jason Small Photography

 

And this photo makes the act of pinching a barb look  interesting…

Photo by Jason Small Photography

 

And this photo has a certain action feel to it, when in reality there was nothing going on…

Photo by Jason Small Photography

 

And in this photo the Lucky Fishing Hat was not flattered by Orad’s wide angle lens, and I am left questioning whether to ever wear it again.

Photo by Jason Small Photography

 

At the end of great day on the water we paid a visit to The Brick in Roslyn for some excellent food. I can honestly say that the French Dip Sandwich was the best I’ve ever had, and would have been better only if I’d have been able to get a Budweiser to wash it down.

Photo of my food.

 

The next day I was late for Derek’s presentation at Orvis. Apparently it started at 1PM and not 1:30 as I was told. But all was not lost because while I was at the shop I picked up a few Pat’s Rubberlegs to replace the ones I’d sacrificed the day before. I’ll be needing them in a week, and if they don’t produce I’ll simply take them back to Orvis. Leland Miyawaki, the fly fishing manager, is very good at handling returns.

I hope you enjoyed the photos more than the words. I know I did. Enjoy more of Orad’s work at Jason Small Photography.