Month: May 2016

Idiots invade Yellowstone

The annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers is fast approaching, and while some may disagree, the idiots I’m referring to in the headline of this blog post are not the Rangers themselves.

As is always the case this time of year, my thoughts, and those of the others in our group, are consumed by Yellowstone. This year, however, Yellowstone is not only on the minds of the Firehole Rangers, but also at the forefront of the media. Yellowstone is a splendid place, but unfortunately the past few weeks have banner bad news weeks for Yellowstone.


yellowstone-bison-calfFirst it was the story aboot the bison calf that appeared “cold”, thereby compelling a man Canadian citizen to load the newborn calf into the family SUV and drive it to a park facility. Seriously. After the calf could not be reintroduced to the herd due to having been slathered with vile, human scent, the young critter had to be euthanized. Here’s one link to the full story on ABC NEWS. Thanks, Canadian person, for being directly responsible for the demise of America’s newly-declared National Mammal.

The Firehole Rangers see bison in all shapes and forms each year, and more often than not the weather is less than inviting at 7000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. The bison often look wet and cold but never once have we imagined that someone could be so unbelievably stupid as to actually put one in their car. Oh, Canada…

Yellowstone Bison calf cold

A bison cow with her cold calf that we did not put in our car.

The following week 4 more Canadians engaged in behavior unbecoming an intelligent mammal by leaving the boardwalk at the Grand Prismatic spring and stomping across the delicate crust to the edge of the boiling spring to take the ever-important selfie. Huffington Post reports on that incident. High Life Hosers.






The Rangers have been to Grand Prismatic spring and never once, out of respect for the delicate environment (and personal safety), did we entertain the thought of stepping off the boardwalk. The closest thing to illegal behavior we witnessed involved a group of non-Canadian foreign tourists, one of whom had dropped the lens cap to his camera onto the crust of the geyser. But rather than quickly stepping off the boardwalk and easily retrieving the lens cap, this tourist group went to great lengths to avoid breaking the law. It was worth the price of park admission just to watch that drama unfold. Butt to their credit, they followed the rules.


No pants were torn, nor were any laws broken

Lest one should think the idiocy of park tourists stops with the two aforementioned events, there’s more! In April a visitor was caught on film doing something that’s hard to fathom. Apparently the woman (possibly Canadian, but as of yet unconfirmed) decided that Yellowstone is a giant, free range petting zoo as she not only violated the rule that clearly says to not approach wildlife, but she actually touched the animal. And not just once. Watch the video here. Note that the bull shakes off her touch several times (I counted 6). That was one patient bison. Not sure what she was smoking, but Darwin was watching closely and for whatever reason chose not to induct this moron on that day. The commentary in the video is spot-on.


The Rangers fish amongst bison every year that we visit the park. The massive older bulls, seemingly the size of black delivery vans, are often seen peacefully lounging by themselves while the younger bulls galavant in small bachelor groups. The cows with their newborn calves are grouped into larger herds. Without fail we see them while fishing the Firehole, and we always give them a wide berth. While bison appear docile this time of year, it doesn’t take a Canadian rocket scientist to acknowledge that these huge creatures could quickly dispatch of a comparatively small, slow, weak and often overweight, upright-walking mammal with opposable thumbs and what is more and more in question—a highly developed brain.  Sometimes while we’re fishing the bison will approach our general direction, seemingly unconcerned by our presence, and certainly less impressed by our my fishing prowess. On a few occasions the beasts have been close enough to reach out and touch with a good cast. Even that is too close for me.


Fishing amongst giants

The warnings are clearly posted throughout the park in plain English. If by chance park visitors can’t read English, illustrations make the warnings pretty clear: “Don’t be an idiot”. I can think of a lot of more pleasant ways to die than by being gored mercilessly by an American bison.


Breaking through the delicate crust of a boiling geyser and quickly turning to human stew isn’t high on my list of ways to go, either.


Sign says: Don’t be an idiot



Note: Lest one should think this is an anti-Canada rant, rest assured I like Canada and have said as much, publicly, HERE.


Synthetic skivvies, for when you miss the takeout


If not for Jimmy being asleep at the oars (likely daydreaming of cotton clothing alternatives), I’d never have known there was such a thing as skivvies made from anything but good, old-fashioned cotton.

It went something like this:

Me, Jimmy and my much older brother, Hal, floated a section of the Yakima River that I had floated the week before with the Brothers Albacore.  On that previous outing, on a beautiful day, we caught no trouts. In fact, not a single bump was had by any of us, unless you count Junior Albacore’s whitefish. Nothing wrong with that, particularly on a day when nothing else was happening, but a whitefish always seems like salt in the wound. Especially when it’s ass-hooked. For whatever reason, anglers seem to get their undies in a knot when they catch whitefish.

A week later and here I was on the same stretch of river, and things, which included beautiful weather, were shaping up to be pretty much the same as they had been the week before, save for the lack of a whitefish, ass-hooked or otherwise. Suddenly things turned on as Jimmy landed two smallish rainbows in the 10 inch range, followed by Hal’s 5 year fish (defined by my experience on the Yakima as a fish you can only expect to catch every 5 years). It was a solid, thick, 14 inch fish that, by the end of the day, was closer to 16 inches. A great fish that put up a very good fight. Being that we were in my boat and I was on the oars when all three fish were caught, I’ll take credit for that.

A 5 Year Yakima Fish

A 5 Year Yakima Fish

Then Hal and Jimmy took turns on the oars and things got quiet again, and remained so until the end of the day.

But the excitement wasn’t quite over just yet.

As we approached the Thorp takeout, I was fishing out of the front seat while Jimmy was on the sticks. I noted that the approaching bridge marked the location of our termination point. Right under the bridge. By the time we approached, it was clear that Jimmy wasn’t going to get us there, and we drifted quickly past. Fortunately the river is neither terribly deep nor fast here, but by the time the anchor was deployed we were 50 feet downstream of our intended goal. We hopped out of the boat into knee deep water and began to push and pull the boat upstream. The water was cold, and seemed to grow colder as it neared—and then passed— the inseam of my nylon convertible pants. Shrinkage ensued as we continued to trudge through hip deep water, not unlike Lewis and Clark as they pulled their keelboat up the Missouri, toward the ramp. When we reached our destination I acknowledged the sogginess of my cotton skivvies and mentioned that I was going to be going commando for the drive home. That opened up a conversation about synthetic underwear, the likes of which I had no idea existed. Jimmy, as it turns out, is a quite the afficionado of fast-drying, moisture wicking synthetic fabrics. And apparently one can purchase underwear constructed of these space-age materials!—who knew?! About that time Hal chimed in and between the two of them the discussion about high tech clothing reached feverish levels. As they jubilantly touted the merits of lightweight smartwool shirts I glanced down at my wet cotton t-shirt and slogged off toward the truck and trailer parked a short ways away.

Back at the truck I wrung out the bottom of my t-shirt and stripped down to my birthday suit, peeled off my waterlogged, cotton, tighty whities, and slipped back into my cold, wet, nylon trousers. By the time we had the boat loaded onto the trailer, gear stowed and were ready to hit the road, my pants were dry. The bottom of my cotton t-shirt, while no longer dripping, was still wet, and would remain damp when we got home a few hours later. My cotton skivvies were tossed into the back of the truck. They would be dry by the next morning, at which point I could put them back on and get another day out of them. Logically at that point I would turn them inside out so they could server another 24 hour period.

And so there you have it—tighty whities aren’t just made from cotton anymore. I suppose if Jimmy hadn’t overshot the takeout I wouldn’t have ever pondered the need for such a thing as synthetic skivvies. And while I don’t plan to go out and replace all my cotton, I can see they have a place in a world of wet wading.

It should be noted that Jimmy’s wife bought me my last 6 pack of cotton underpants. Maybe she’ll buy me the quick-drying variety next time.

Either that, or Jimmy is never rowing my boat again.



Fly Fishing logos

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on the UA.

That could be due to any number of factors: lack of fishing and therefore fodder for scribing, lack of inspiration, too busy to take the time to post anything, etc. Whatever the case may be, I figured I better post something new, exciting and different.

Let’s talk about logos. Fly fishing logos, to be precise. I have designed a good number of logos for all manner of businesses over the past many years, and every once in a great while I get a chance to design a logo that pertains to fly fishing. When that happens it’s like getting paid to play.

I recently was privileged with the task of creating a new logo for John Hicks, a good man who is the shop keeper at Sea Run Pursuits, a guiding outfit here in the great state of Washington. John is a passionate angler of sea run (anadromous) rainbow trouts, also known as steelhead. Here is his new logo:



That got me to thinking so I decided to dig up all (or at least most) of the fly fishing related logos I’ve done and showcase them here.  Many are on my portfolio (Itchy Dog Productions)  website but I’ve not been diligent about updating that page. I also post project examples on my Itchy Dog Productions Facebook page from time to time.

Here are a few others.


OldGuysFlies_logoOld Guys Flies.  Tiny, High visibility (normally that would be mutually exclusive but not in this case) flies for those with challenged eyesight. These flies are a division of MK Flies, for whom I also did a logo, which makes for a good segue…


MKFlies-logoMK Flies is the home of the very talented tier of flies, Aileen Lane. Stop by and give her site a look.


EmergingRivers-logoEmerging Rivers Guide Services is owned by 2011 Orvis guide of the Year, Derek Young. Derek’s home water is the Yakima River, in central Washington. In addition to being a great guide, Derek is a passionate conservationist. He started and is currently president of the Yakima Headwaters chapter of Trout Unlimited.



Evolution Anglers is the website for Joe Willauer, longtime trout and steelhead guide with whom I’ve fished many times. He’s now a self-professed “hobby guide” because he traded in his waders for a suit and tie (or at least business casual).  But Joe can still be found on the oars in rivers around Twin Bridges, Montana.



Exterus Outdoor Development is the soft goods brand of Allen Fly Fishing. I used to know a guy who worked there but he doesn’t work there any more. I still know another guy who works there, though.



Mystic Waters Fly Fishing is a Kenai River (that’s in Alaska) outfitting company owned by Fred Telleen and Stacy Corbin. Salmon and ginormous Alaskan rainbow trout are the game when they’re not in Montana during the off season. They also have a Facebook Page.


OpenFly-LogoThe Open Fly Podcast. If you read my last UA blog post you know that the Open Fly is now closed. But don’t let that deter you from listening to the archived shows.


Outdooress-logoAh yes, the Outdooress. Remember her? At one time it was a very popular blog kept my the Outdooress herself, Rebecca Garlock. Don’t know where exactly she ran off to, but she is missed. She must be paying her hosting fees, however, because the site is still up and running.



Up the Poudre is another blog whose shopkeeper continues to pay the bills but hasn’t been seen in years. Too bad, too. Sanders was a splendid scriber of words and his thoughts were always engaging. I hope Sanders, and his bulldogs, are well.



ROAM Outfitters is a Bozeman based guide and outfitter owned by Brett Seng. I don’t see a ROAM Outfitters website where you can book a trip, but you can find Brett elsewhere, such as through ShuttleSnap or Brett Seng Photography.



The Sandy River Spey Clave takes place every year in Oregon. In 2014 I designed the logo for the annual event.


ScandalousSticks-logoScandalous Sticks is (or was?) a custom rod building business owned by Stephen Vance of Idaho. For some odd reason, the website is in Japanese, which makes me think that Mr. Vance no longer owns the url so I’m not posting a link to it here. I don’t even know if he’s still building custom rods, which would be too bad if he isn’t.


SteelheadFlyAnglers-logoSteelhead Fly Anglers was a guide business owned by Brian Paige of western Washington. Brian still fishes, but he has a full time job that keeps him from guiding any more. He’s a great angler and teacher, and I’ll forever be indebted to him for learning me how to Spey cast and putting me on my first wild steelhead on the Sauk River years ago, when you could still fish the Sauk during the early spring season.


TumbleweedFly&Tackle-logoTumbleweed Fly and Tackle is a retail shop in Prewitt, New Mexico owned and operated by David Goodrich. He didn’t always live in NM and fish for Muskies in Bluewater Lake, but he does now. Next time you’re in Prewitt, look him up. Where the hell is Prewitt, anway?


OK, time to get serious about fishing. The Rangers set out for their annual Yellowstone trip in about a month. I better start packing.