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Showing posts from 2012

Little Hut on the Spring Creek

One of my favorite pastimes is visiting DePuy Spring Creek in the Paradise Valley of Montana. Catching a break in the weather, when the daytime temperatures warm enough to fish, goes a long way in breaking the monotony of winter.  When cabin fever starts to set in, I eagerly watch the weather forecast, hoping for a forty degree day.  Better yet, I hope for a day without a forty mile an hour wind.

The daily ritual usually begins with my arriving at the creek early, usually too early to fish comfortably. I'll build a fire in the wood stove, knowing full well that I'll be back in short order to thaw frozen fingers, or to untangle a snarled hand tied leader that has acquired a few extra knots.  I'll pour a cup of coffee, maybe tie on some new tippet.  I'll kick back, look out the window, and admire the view of the  Absaroka Mountains.  After sufficient dawdling, I'll head back out.  Maybe, just maybe, there will be a midge hatch.  Rising trout will dimple the surface.…

The Greatest Outdoor Show (Ever)

Before the days of instant gratification, the internet, cable tv and the like, there was this thing called paper.  As a kid I remember leafing through Orvis catalogs and admiring bamboo fly rods.  There were Dan Bailey catalogs from a mythical place called Montana, a place that would later become my home.  Of course, these came in the mail, and it took awhile.  Getting a response necessitated scrawling out a letter on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of notebook paper, stuffing it into an envelope, and blowing a nickel on a postage stamp.  Weeks later, if the addressee didn't figure out that the letter came from a kid, they responded.  Getting a letter was a big deal.

On weekends I looked forward to shows like Walt Disney and Wild Kingdom.  We had network TV, there was no cable.   Outdoor programming was limited.  There was a show called the Flying Fisherman, hosted by an elderly gentleman(Gadabout Gaddis), who flew around the country and bought us fishing on TV.  I was thrilled.  Imagin…

Photo of the Year

This is my favorite photo from 2012.  Why?  Well, it captured all of the elements of this particular trip.
The river, the floating, spey casting, the guiding, and the scale of the country.  Great weather too.
As an aside.....I'm continually tweaking the blog and have added a slideshow of a few favorite images (see tab at page top)

Remembering Alaska - Part Three - Fishing

"Popcorn salmon", that's how Al Spalinger described our impending first encounter with the local silver salmon population.  Up early the next morning, we had to beat the incoming tide in order to be in position to intercept the fish.  Why popcorn salmon?  Well, you could see them coming.  Like surfers riding a wave, the swelling lagoon was alive with leaping and porpoising fish.  The water around us boiled as they passed.  Where fresh and salt water mingled, they paused and finned in the current before nosing their way further upstream.  

How to describe silver salmon.  How about finned dynamite?  Fresh? None fresher.  Hot?  Like steelhead, but beyond belief.  Aggressive?   Just drop a fly in the water and find out.  They promptly slashed at our hastily stripped flash flies.  Then it was a matter of hook 'em and hang on!  Just minutes out of the ocean, they knew where home was.  When they got barbed, they wasted no time turning tail and heading back from whence they…

Remembering Alaska - Part Two - Hunting

It's a long way to Cold Bay, Alaska, from anywhere, for anyone.  Maybe even longer for a kenneled Brittany.  I can still remember Zach peering through the kennel door as he was loaded onto the conveyor at the airport.  He likely was somewhat astonished as his kennel moved towards the bowels of the plane.  If a dog was capable of pondering it's fate, here was his chance.  We thought that we heard howling upon takeoff. 
Leg one of the trip took us from Montana to Seattle and then on to Anchorage.  Canine and humans arrived none the worse for wear.  Next day we boarded a smaller commuter plane bound for the Aleutian Island community of Cold Bay.  Zach, now a world traveller, was loaded by hand, into a considerably smaller cargo area.  A mountain of gear and supplies were stacked around his kennel.
Cold Bay was militarily significant during World War Two.  It served as an outpost and staging area for upwards of 20,000 soldiers.  A few quonset huts and the military road system are…

Remembering Alaska

This is a story that has been wanting to be told for quite some time.  It is rooted in a trip that my wife and I took to Cold Bay, Alaska years ago.  The impetus for the telling was something as simple as opening a book and finding a pair of feathers.

I bought the book at an Anchorage airport bookstore while awaiting our Cold Bay flight.  The book, by Nick Jans is about landscape and place and Alaska and wildlife and photography too.  Lifelong passions all, they've been an unending source of personal motivation and joy.  The feathers were from a ptarmigan, stashed within the covers of this book for safekeeping, only to be discovered years later.
The feathers are a reminder of brown bear trails.  Meandering through ceiling high alder thickets.  Watching bears fish.  The indescribable chill of a brown bears stare.  The sight of the Bering Sea.  Rain and wind.  The definition of green.  Volcanoes smoldering in the distance.  The trials and tribulations of flying with a dog.  The vag…

Depuy's Morning

One morning last week I took a break from the daily grind and drove over the hill to Depuy's Spring Creek.  It's a beautiful piece of water and a wonderful place to spend a few hours casting to and being outwitted by the local trout population.  In an effort to increase my meager fishing skills I've purchased a winter pass the previous couple of years that grants access to the creek.  It gives me something to look forward to on those occasional nice winter days that warm enough to fish.

On this morning I had a couple of free hours before having to get back to town.  It was good to get out and renew acquaintance with a small section of the creek that has become a special friend.

Down The River

I'm not one to kiss and tell, but in this case I will, maybe just a little.  My wife and I just completed a float down the Grande Ronde River, a beautiful piece of water that flows through some splendid country.  It's not a wilderness trip, but there are moments when it seems so.

When we planned the trip late last winter (Flywater Travel arranged the trip and took care of the particulars), I was looking for a different experience to share with my wife.  The sublime days of autumn offer wonderful camping conditions.  What better way to spend a few days than by floating through the high desert while fishing for steelhead?

I was (and still am) a novice spey caster, Jo had no experience whatsoever.  Days before the trip I could sense the angst setting in.

"Do I have to learn how to spey cast if I want to fish" she asked.

"Well, uh, uh, of course not" was all I could manage.

Better yet, "do you think that I'll catch anything?"

Being a man of truth…

Steelhead in Grayscale

On a recent outing for steelhead I snapped a few photos of the evening fishing activities.  The clouds had moved in and brought some much welcomed showers.  The lower flatter light created a subdued, evenly lit, albeit darker backdrop.  Just for grins I did a quick simple grayscale conversion in Lightroom.  I never could get used to taking a color photo and making it into a black and white.  But, as the overall scene already lacked color I figured that I wasn't losing much.  So, here goes.

Epilogue:  Just before hooking up Dan was ready to call it a day.  At Dax's urging he continued fishing his way into the bucket and was aptly rewarded.  Moral?  Hang in there and fish the sweet spots!


There are memorable moments in every day.  And, while some days have more than others, often one will stand out, define it if you will.

I took a short float yesterday.  My little pontoon had suffered a summer of neglect.  One last trip to make things right.  One more day of defining moments.

It was warm when I got to the river in early afternoon.  I worked up a sweat just airing up the pontoon.  Off came the long johns.  No need for fleece either.

The fish wasted no time showing interest in my fly.  Several made passes and grabbed at the stripped streamer, but no lasting connections were made.  One nice brown trout gave a few pulls before showing itself with a quick jump.  It then returned my fly.

Eventually the tables turned and fish stayed hooked.  Funny how these streaks happen.  Miss a bunch and then hook a bunch.  In one nice run where a back eddy seam met the faster main current a good fish showed itself.  Again, and again, and again.  It appeared and inspected the fly on succe…