Monday, March 31, 2014

Centrarchid central

Yesterday was the warmest since October
and oh, what a fine day it was
Swiss cheese lake top in only a sweater
Three hours absent the humanoids

Wax worms enticed bluegills to the take
While a fathead waved to a crappie or two in the next hole over

Not a puff of wind to cool a sun scorched face
below the ridge above the lake
where the yearlings died

Twenty round fillets from 10 ten stout sunfish
Fifty one degrees
Ahead of the next winter storm
What a killer


                                                            And the dogs became as Jesus

First week of spring and a technicolor skunk

So as the big ride continues, we find ourselves tilting into the end of the first week of astrological spring. It's a bit late again this year, with morning temperatures in the single digits on either side of the doughnut. Not helpful for the humans who are about at the breaking point. Warm weather, sunshine, bare ground, dry roads, open water - all sorely needed by those who have endured a historically nasty winter. Perhaps the second week of spring will bring it.

But then there are a few hopeful signs. A fresh raodkilled skunk is a sure harbinger of wonderful things to come. There a lot of trumpeter swans about and the eagles are back in force. The crows are here again and there are some new arrivals at the backyard feeders - goldfinch, housefinch and junco. Another sign of spring is the condition of the snow pack, hard as iron every morning, allowing for snowshoeless free ranging into all kinds of exploration. But then that fluid mantle is soft again by mid afternoon. The dogs are restless to take a big hike.

Access to and from and onto the lakes has improved considerably and a few panfish are coming up the hole.

Reading the news and the blogs about the corporate assault on the remaining little bit of the natural world should be just depressing as hell. And working daily on the other side of that should be a drag, especially at this limbo time of year, but somehow I seem to be finding a little humor amidst the potential catastrophe. The two vexations that currently chap my ass are this one and that one. Both designed to impact headwaters areas, when the spilling occurs.

Haven't heard a good protest song aired on a radio station since about 2002 when John Fogerty and few other brave souls spoke out about Dubbya and the Invasions, but then the Dixie Chicks got crucified over all that and it pretty much ended the idea that you could get any rational argument to be musically broadcast to the masses.
So the skunk emerges from beneath the snow, from within the warmth of its hibernation den. Smelling the sweetness of spring in the air, it hits the cruise across the crusted snow, encounters the highway and gets rubbed out by a speeding vehicle - sort of a lateral drone strike of the commuter kind.  Is there a metaphor here?  Wainwright claimed (wink wink) when he wrote it back in 1972 that there wasn't a political message to the song.  And maybe there is nothing political in it's message today. And maybe I just like the song.........

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Madness

Thirty three degrees and dripping
Sixty miles south the snow fall totals eight inches and more
Dodged, grazed. glanced, and wonderfully passed by
On the ice again after too long away
One hour, one bite, one crappie
It still works

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Canis familiaris

The gulf of time that separates these three knuckle heads from their wild grey brothers is likely tens of thousands of years. The grey brothers relish beaver, when they are available - not snugly locked up in an ice bound fortress of mud and logs and sticks. The modern brothers know that there are at least four beaver in the lodge - and they want them. I imagine this exact scene on a wilderness lake somewhere with the grey brothers thinking of spring time beaver kits for dinner.  The gulf of time doesn't seem that great.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

There used to be a hand crafted wooden sign above the door of the PUD Camp which read in routered lettering, "Produce Your Minnow". I had never been entirely sure of its meaning, but suspected that it had something to do with the male anatomy, seeing as how it was so prominently displayed at the entrance to a rowdy fishing camp on a fabled river where, over many years, legions of sports had pitted themselves against coveted anadromous fish, harsh weather, the final four, The Famous Grouse, Hendrick's gin (shudder), and well, each other. Several years ago the old A frame got a much needed exterior makeover and the sign no longer welcomed the sports with that quizzical greeting. I foolishly asked one of the owners of the place what the sign actually meant.  I should have known that the response was going to be classic Andy Warhol.  "Hmmm, what do YOU think it means, Hmmmmm ?" I know now who produced the sign, but the author of the phrase remains anonymous. 

Flash forward to the recent steelhead fishing trip to the OP. The car trip from Portland was about a six hour journey, accounting for stops along the way for lunch, forgotten gear, photo ops, etc. etc. The rain poured down and each river we crossed looked higher and more turbid than the last one. Water everywhere, ocean to the left, watersheds and roaring rivers to the right and a sky full of absolute buckets of unrelenting rain!  By the time we reached the rainforest it was getting dark, and the Captain of our little expedition of five PUDs, was determined that we reach a particular gravel bar on the Hoh before night fell and obscured our destination from view. Reaching said gravel bar at the last glimmer of the day, we bailed out to behold another fabled river. This one shrouded in fog and moss and legends and mystery. Just above the sounds of the flowing water and the pouring rain, someone said "Produce your Minnow". Message instantly received, the waters of men and mother nature mixed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wheel rut to dog trough. Presto!

                                               119 days since the boys have had a drink befitting a dog.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Winter Respite

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse
out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become
Comfortably numb

           -Gilmour and Waters 1979

Music evokes memories buried deep in the recesses of our personal history. Perhaps it was the dose of CSN&Y on the car stereo during the long ride up to the Peninsula that propelled me back to the days of fishaholism. Perhaps it was finally getting out to the coast to tick off an entry on the bucket list. Perhaps it was the surreal change of season that air travel can deliver in a few short hours. Memories of college days, pounding every piece of water to a froth flowed freely from the long dead past. Rabid pursuit of another notch in the cork handle. Another steelhead captured and consumed. Little time for books and relationships or sleep. Constantly on the hunt for another fish to catch. Never satisfied. Another brick in the wall.

That restless youth was not on board the plane that touched down in Portland. His seat occupied these forty odd years later by an old grey curmudgeon. The youth would have slept little, smoked, toked, and drunk to excess, and fished incessantly. Confident and invincible, he would have burnt his enormous candle down to the smallest nub before meeting an inevitable and necessary crash. He did not know that the word reboot would exist.

The curmudgeon thought deeply about those heady old days of feverish fishing, political change, the war, rock music, free luv.......... there was time to consider all this, as the rivers were out of shape. High water. In the woods.
Good company and bad weather kept the curmudgeon closer to the cabin and farther from the water than he wanted to be. He slept well each night, ate sensibly and consumed only a modicom of alcohol. He then discovered that the child was still alive, deep down inside. Much time was spent hunting for chrome, but little was had. He kicks himself daily back home now in the frozen Northland, thinking that if he had listened a bit more intently to the youth in his head and fished another hour each day, perhaps, perhaps, just maybe another steelhead would have moved up into his drift.

So now that the OP experience has passed, it is indeed as a fleeting glimpse. Memories to be tightly grasped.
 The boys with big wood
 The flatlanders get silly
 LU with a beauty hen fish
The Captain plots the next strategy

Dreamy day