Monday, January 27, 2014

The Eagle Tree

The ice has broken up in the main channel and most of the river is accessible again. I went out behind our house this afternoon to take a closer look.

The river level looks lower than before the freeze-up, and I think I might be able to slip in right here and find enough gravelly bottom to move around some. Oh hey, look at the eagle tree.

That's a lot of eagles. I've seen four or five at a time from our kitchen window before this, both adults and juveniles, so I figured it was an eagle family. But it looks like all the in-laws are here, too.

There are eight in the tree, but I counted at the same time three more in trees downstream, and two more upstream.

I believe that's the most Balds I've ever seen at one time, anywhere. Here's how I look at it: seems like there must be enough fish in the river right now to support them all, or they wouldn't be here.

I'll be testing that theory just as soon as I can grab some time to wander down behind the house, try out that new access point, and cast a line under the Eagle Tree.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dude, Check This Out: Blind Faith

Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker shortly after the breakup of Cream. Steve Winwood shortly after the breakup of the Spencer Davis Group. Add Rick Grech from Family. And, for a brief shining moment in 1969, the apex of British Blues Rock.

This was the American version of the album cover. The controversial British album cover was banned here.

To see the banned cover, click HERE.

But it's the music. Make sure you listen to "Had To Cry Today," "Can't Find My Way Home," and "Presence of the Lord."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teton Timelapse

Current View

Here's a treat: Click for a timelapse of Friday's Teton webcam.

The Light Is Returning

One month after the Winter Solstice, the sun's light is returning to the Arctic Circle.

These photos, taken by Jan Inge Larson in northern Norway, show the horizontal rays of the sun as it just peeks over the horizon, and, at higher latitudes, the "blue hour"--normally twilight, but now the brightest time of the day.

Photos and map from EarthSky.

J & FF Season 2 Trailer

"The Kingfisher" by W.H. Davies

It was the Rainbow gave thee birth, 
And left thee all her lovely hues; 
And, as her mother's name was Tears, 
So runs it in my blood to choose 
For haunts the lonely pools, and keep 
In company with trees that weep. 
Go you and, with such glorious hues, 
Live with proud peacocks in green parks; 
On lawns as smooth as shining glass, 
Let every feather show its marks; 
Get thee on boughs and clap thy wings 
Before the windows of proud kings. 
Nay, lovely Bird, thou art not vain; 
Thou hast no proud, ambitious mind; 
I also love a quiet place 
That's green, away from all mankind; 
A lonely pool, and let a tree 
Sigh with her bosom over me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Celebrate--and Stay Alert

If you haven't picked up the news yet around the blogosphere, the EPA released its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment this week and came down squarely against Pebble Mine and large-scale mining and development there. Here's Trout Unlimited's Action Alert. So, celebrate--and stay alert.

Trout Unlimited | Conserving, protecting and restoring North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds | Save Bristol Bay
»Action Alert  |  January 16, 2014
Dear Jim,
EPA just released its Final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment for Bristol Bay, Alaska. The document details unquestionable harm to salmon and fishing jobs from large-scale mining in Bristol Bay.
Trout Unlimited has worked with local communities, Alaska Native tribes, the commercial fishing industry, jewelers, chefs, restaurant owners, and sportsmen and women across the country to stop the Pebble mine. After three years of study, the EPA has released its final report. It concludes that large-scale mining in Bristol Bay will cause unquestionable and irreparable harm to fish, local communities and salmon-based businesses. Having a clear, strong scientific document means we are closer than ever to protecting North America's greatest salmon run.
Now that the science is complete, the EPA should act quickly to use its Clean Water Act 404(c) authority to ensure the long-term protection of Bristol Bay and its fishery. The science supports it, Alaskans support it, and hunters and anglers across the country support it. It's time for our political leaders to acknowledge what business leaders already know: Pebble mine is a risk we can't afford to take.
We need your help now, more than ever, to keep the momentum to protect Bristol Bay strong.
  • Visit our action center to thank the EPA and urge them to move forward with Clean Water Act protection for Bristol Bay immediately.
  • Make a donation to Trout Unlimited's Save Bristol Bay campaign. Your support will help us continue to push for lasting protections for Bristol Bay's clean water and fish.

Tim Bristol
Alaska Program Director
Trout Unlimited
Visit us online at www.SaveBristolBay.orgTwitter Facebook Youtube

"Fishing On the Susquehanna" by Billy Collins

"Abduction" by Gerard Boersma

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure -- if it is a pleasure --
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one --
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table --
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia,

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandana

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

From Poetry Soup

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rocky Ford Creek Report: A Dream of Spring

It was like a dream of Spring at Rocky Ford. The first thing I did was take my jacket off, and I never put it back on. It was warm in the blessed sun.

Marsh hawks--a brown female and a ghostly white male--patrolled the verges of the stream, and a majestic Cooper's sliced by overhead. Red-winged blackbirds chirred in the cattails, and a Meadow Lark sang its little heart out. Too soon, too soon.

The parking lot was full, and it was crowded along the shoreline. We kept shuffling and reshuffling. I fished three different spots before settling in at one of my favorites. A big fish also settled in just off the bank.

But he wasn't eating. I tried out several flies on him, including this new muddler. He didn't move a fin.

But that didn't stop me. I tried going deep, but I kept coming back to dries. It was a dry or die kind of day. I tried a caddis. I tried a griffith's gnat.

The day began to wear away and I tied the muddler back on and stuck with it.

I wasn't getting the same attention that I got the other night, but I got a follow--a big wake that bore down on the fly and then veered away at the last moment. So I continued to work it as the light faded. But I finally decided that maybe my new muddler was just too big. It was a #6. So I switched to the #12 muddler from the other day.

That seemed to make a difference. I got two swirls from one fish. Then I pricked one but missed the hookup. And then I cast it out into the channel, and before I started to strip it a big, beautiful fish took it with conviction. It was time.

I fished out the day and watched the sun go down and the moon come up.

I hit the road, and as I rolled over the high country I wondered when I would have to wake up from this dream of Spring.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Dude, Check This Out: A Taste of "Polarities" by Jazz and Fly Fishing's Joona Toivanen

I like these guys. Permanent link in the blog list in the right margin.

At the end of this brilliant improvisation there's a large menu of J & FF's best videos.

Go to for more information and to order.

Be the Snow Fly

January thaw. Temperature above freezing now for over 24 hours. Feels like Spring. Must get out. I hope tomorrow. Might have to wait until Tuesday. Maybe both. Be the snow fly: hatch when you can, dance madly in the sun until you die.

I Love the Concept of a Winter Circle

From EarthSky: There are many bright stars near Jupiter in 2014. The planet lies in the midst of what we stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere know as the Winter Circle. This beautiful photo captured January 11, 2014 by EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh in Kentucky. Thank you, Duke.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Come into animal presence" by Denise Levertov

Come into animal presence
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track and into the palm brush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

"Come into animal presence" by Denise Levertov, from Poems: 1960-1967. © New Directions, 1983.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Lovely January Day

We're having a lovely January day. Nothing major, no crisis, just a modest January day with snow showers and temps hovering around 30 degrees. Bass Lake was lovely, dark, and deep as I drove past this afternoon.

My wading boots are still in the truck bed after last Friday's trip to Rocky Ford Creek. And they'll stay there for my next trip. Which looks like it could be on Monday. Snow is to stop by then, it should be overcast and calm--and temperatures will again mysteriously top out over 40.

I'm still hoping for the river to thaw, and for the chance to swing for some steelhead, but some nice, fat Rocky Ford rainbows will do very nicely in the meantime.

The Wood Between

These are from The Wood Between, my current favorite site for when I want to enter a dream state. There is now a permanent link in the blog list in the right margin.

Andrew Wyeth ~ Moon Madness, 1982
Andrew Wyeth -- Moon Madness, 1982

Stag and Snow -- Catherine Hyde

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rocky Ford Creek Report: Right With the World

There's a giant bubble of high pressure over Alaska, and another giant bubble of high pressure over Nova Scotia, and between them is the dreaded polar vortex sucking arctic air into the mid-section of the country. I feel for you. I really do.

Having said that, however, I need to confess that as the giant bubble of high pressure was settling over Alaska it created in Washington State south-south westerly winds, sunny skies, a rise in temperatures, and a big window of opportunity to get out and fish for the first time this year--and I jumped at it.

The sun reflected brightly off the wet pavement the whole way down to Rocky Ford Creek...

And it shone brightly off the water once I was there. It felt warm, even if it was only a psychological effect.

Rocky Ford is a non-wading fishery, and it's lined with broad cattail sloughs, so you wend your way carefully down narrow paths through the cattails, which are sometimes over your head, being careful not to step in a hole or slip off the path into a black pool as big as a bathtub, until you find a more or less open spot along the bank. I was not the only one taking advantage of the day, so I had to walk past my usual spot and find another. It was a fine location, though, with plenty of room for a back cast, and big trout lazily finning by now and again in plain sight ten feet off the bank.

I started with a leech pattern, but after stripping it right past the noses of a couple of those cruising fish, and watching them completely ignore it, I changed tactics.

I hung a scud pattern under an indicator and tried a few long, slow passes down the stately-flowing stream. On one of my casts the wind helped me snag the fly somewhere just out of reach on the back of my vest or jacket, so I impatiently snapped it off and looked for another. I didn't have another. So I searched until I found a small bead head pattern with a green body that could, in a pinch, pass for a scud. I tied it on.

I can't say whether this fish took that nymph for a scud, but he liked it. The indicator dipped and kept dipping, and even with a long line out I managed to get a hookup. It had been awhile since I played a fish in open water, but it all came back to me like it was yesterday. I had remembered to bring everything except my net, so I worked him up onto the bank where I could admire him. The first trout of 2014.

When I took the fly out I realized I had been fortunate. I had caught him just by the skin of his teeth.

I felt good. The trip was successful. The new year was properly christened. I relaxed and continued to fish.

I stayed with the indicator for awhile, since it had brought me a fish. But having caught that fish I was now free to fish any way I wanted to. I went back to a bead head leech--smaller and darker than the first one--and began to cast and strip as the sun sank lower. It was good to be running and gunning again.

It seemed that I was seeing more fish rising and jumping here and there. I was thinking seriously about going up top when my leech stopped in mid-strip just a few feet off shore. I set on a good fish and carefully brought him up onto the bank.

I released him and watched the creek for awhile. There was definitely more visible fish activity. I pulled out the fly box that held some of my small muddlers from last summer, veterans all, broke in and blooded.

I tied one on, and from then until almost dark had a fine old time messing about with muddlers on a river. I started getting follows almost immediately as I cast quartering downstream and waked a muddler back against the slow-moving current. Then I started getting swirls just as the muddler came out of the channel into the shallows.

On one big swirl I saw the flash of deep red as the fish rolled and missed the fly. I quickly flipped it back out, and a big head came up and deliberately took it. I waited a beat, and set. When he felt the hook he was off like a shot and before I knew what had happened he had snapped the tippet and was gone. A fine, fine fish.

I tied on another muddler, telling myself that I would make just a few more casts.... You know that old story. But each time I figured it was the last cast there would be another swirl, or another big head would come up. Finally, though, the sun was gone and the cold was rising up from the ground. I gathered everything together, found the right path, and carefully made my way back to the truck under a newborn crescent moon.

And for those moments on a winter's evening early in a new year, as I climbed, tired and cold and hungry, into the truck for the long drive home, all was right with the world.