thee streamside companion & angler's frequent respite

treatise, pomes, fine etchings & lyrics re. and not re. flyfishing (with an angle)

Friday, June 11, 2004


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

a yakima river roundup

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Olympian Leaving Tunnel on the Yakima River

photographer/artist unknown, but possibly ashael curtis

Anglers! Heed thee word!

"In angling, as in all other recreations into which excitement enters, we have to be on our guard, so that we can at any moment throw a weight of self-control into the scale against misfortune; and happily we can study to some purpose, both to increase our pleasure in success and to lessen our distress caused by what goes ill. It is not only in cases of great disasters, however, that the angler needs self-control. He is perpetually called upon to use it to withstand small exasperations."
—SIR EDWARD GREY: Fly-Fishing.

notellem -- 6/4-5/04

we were almost to friggin' cle elum before we decided where the hell we were going. for 60 some miles, we debated creeks with names so secret that their mention will vanish with CIA-type cleanliness on certain websites. creeks shrouded in mystery. creeks a long way from you, a long way from me. creeks protected like precious state secrets. well, it just so happens I know a couple and so did old Snap. Back and forth we batted names like Ave Maria spring, Johnny Cash creek, Skunkweed creek, Thelonious Springs, and of course, Rattlesnake Creek which, in-the-know lips whispered, had lately been the victim of swarms of western diamondbacks and a rash of violent vehicle break ins. Sad. What times we live in....

We drove some more and listened to some music. There was plenty of things to see out the window. Around one corner, we were actually able to see years fall from the calendar. In the space of 1/4 mile, we had travelled back in time 44 years. I made a mental note to hit the general store up the road and buy a 6 pack of beer from 1960.

There were plenty of wildflowers blooming all around which neither helped or hurt us find the road. We finally did figure out where we were and I was able to power the truck up over and around stuff.
whaddaya say? how does this look?
dunno. looks pretty good. let's check it out

so we did. we stepped onto the 1960 dirt and walked down the trail and peered over the edge. water. current. foam.
i think this looks pretty good.
yeah, let's give it a try.
already, we had slipped into the angler's clipped shorthand. of course we were gonna "give it a try" we were gonna beat this water into a froth. damn right it looked "pretty good" hell, it was a vision. but, we were just being polite to the fish gods i guess. they hate enthusiasm.

the creek is small and we are standing at the point where it emerges from its meadow stretch and enters into a canyon. we elect to head upstream and into the meadow. snap, bless his soul, volunteers to carry beer in his backpack. i drop a sandwich in my vest after rigging a 7' 6" rod with a 9ft. leader to 5x. I put a caddis on. i trust most anglers would have done the same.

upstream it was. there really seemed to be no rush. stood over snap's left shoulder while he placed casts into pools ringed by wildflowers and tall bunchgrasses. trout were where we expected them to be. behind rocks, the head of plunges, along banks. soon enough, it was my turn at the next pool. i don't remember how many of the little pocket rockets i hooked into, but when i stepped into the pool to continue upstream, trout scattered along the bottom like mice running out of the grain bin.

up we went, stopping for a beer and a smoke now and again until finally the creek ran out. too small, too overgrown. too little of everything. we walked on back and i felt the sweat roll down my back as hoppers buzzed in my head.

at the truck, we chugged water. i still had the caddis on. it was still 1960, but it was getting hotter. Seeing as tho we had so much time, we walked into the canyon to check things out lower in the creek. within minutes, we were in a slot canyon maybe 10 feet across and 50 feet tall, casting into deep, kitchen table sized pools. as an atheist, it's amazing how often i wonder in awe at god's creation.

it was at one of these pools that a 14" rainbow pulled at my fly and shot all over the pool, finally finning into my hand as I whooped and hollered. that a fish that big can just materialize that quickly seems, in retrospect, like a heat mirage. but there he was, panting in my hand as i held him, my soul gasping at the sight.

before too long, we we found ourselves inexplicably crossing a scree slope on a faint game trail, looking 200 feet down, wondering just what the fvck we were doing. yes, it was stupid, but there were golden pools and runs down there. looking at my rod, i realized i still had on the same caddis i started with. a random thought wedged in between thoughts of my body thumping down the scree slope and crashing into the riparian band running along the creek. i decided to have one final smoke before proceeding.

by the time we had fished all the way back up the creek, it was 2004 again. my doorlocks clicked open via remote control. the beer was ice cold and i sat on the pickup gate and drank one down, not all that glad to be back

Friday, June 04, 2004

Thomas Tod Stoddart -- fuck the rock on!

Here's a great little excerpt from An Angler's Rambles and Angling Songs, written by Scotsman Thomas Tod Stoddart (1810 – 1880). David Profumo describes Stoddart thus: “ … a fishing author from the Scottish Borders who devoted his entire adult life to the sport. In his journal, the redoubtable Thomas Tod Stoddart records that in fifty years he caught some 67,419 fish (not including eels). Regarded in his heyday as the literary heir to Izaak Walton, he was the presiding spirit of Scottish fishing and was dubbed by John Buchan ‘the Poet Laureate of Angling’; these days he is largely forgotten, except for a remark that has entered piscatorial mythology. On re-meeting a childhood acquaintance, Tom was asked what he was now doing in life; a little resentfully, he replied, ‘Doing? Doing? Mon, I’m an angler.’”

Fucking Ra!

"Old Lyon was in the habit of devoting the greater part of the day to the assortment of his tackle, one hour at the most being appropriated to the testing of it; and the capture of a brace of trout giving occasion to a fit of pedantic ecstasy which usually exploded in a quotation, as long as my arm, from Horatius Flaccus, or some other renowned classic. The military octogenarian was astir on his pins by day-break, up and at them, while the trout still lay snug under their coverlets. His march back to breakfast was in double quick time, and in double quick time he tucked in under his belt Tibby's ham and eggs, a relay of fried trout, scones, bannocks and wheaten loaf, with the proportional supply of milk (he abjured tea or coffee),then sallying forth, showed face no more until the verge of dusk, when in he strode with all the dignity his veteran form could muster; and, disburdening himself of his creel,shouted 'Attention' with the voice of a Stentor, emptying, as he did so, from the old-fashioned wicker-work, a dozen or two of trout so ridiculously, in point of size, unlike what we were led to expect, that Tibby, as she held out the dish to receive them, was in the habit of exclaiming, 'Ye ne'er got thae in oor Loch, Captain B. Ye hae been up the burn, I'se warrant, an' a sair day's wark ye'll have had o't."

drinking fisherman

photographer, river and libation all unknown.

Marples, "The Take"

George Marples, an etching from c. 1930.

"Fish, except by the Detmolds, have not been better portrayed in the British School than by Marples."

Raymond Carver fires up thee Webber

Thursday, June 03, 2004

a gentle reminder, offered with the kindest regards to thee angler...

"if the trout are lost, smash the state"

--Thom McGuane

a nice picean image of some trouts...

thee political song for jack mitchell to sing

we are columnar basalt.
we are sticks, wind, sunburn.
we are just sitting there

this camp has been declared.
"You are dead now, Crazyhorse,"
spoken right into the camera.

it lived up in those cliffs,
she said.
cutting a tomato on the
tailgate of a pickup

Walt Whitman clears his fucking throat...

Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sunrise would kill me.
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of me

--Walt Whitman

deschutes excerpts 4/16-18

On my kitchen blackboard, I wrote some themes: wonder, basalt, snakes, no snakes, non-commerce, safety. I wrote them in my weak script and then went to drink a beer.
Sometimes only a few words are an immense effort.

I guess these are themes only because these are the things that have lingered. They’ve stuck around during the long drive, a couple work days, a hockey game and a pint or two. Yet the only thing I see in my mind’s eye is Tiger Stadium.
I walked thru the gates with my old man, relishing the picture of my two brothers undoubtedly writhing in agonizing jelousy back home. I was a baseball nut by that time -- age 5 -- and finally, finally getting thru the gates at Michigan and Trumble made me gasp with anticipation. We walked up the long ramps outside the stadium, my old man trying to keep me tethered; me bouncing, skipping, chattering like mad. As we stepped into the grand old park, I will never forget the glowing green field, the space, defined by the stands, the bleachers, the scoreboard. My feet could not move. I stood there, agape and agog, taking in this gorgeous baseball box canyon. We sat beside one of the stately columns -- columns that would doom this ballpark in the eyes of the souless-- and I took it all in, 9 inning's worth of baseball’s comforting flow.

A river canyon in the American West is a special place. Anyone on this website knows that. It holds everything we crave -- it holds the river, deep and cold; the trout we fish for even deeper and colder, the noises of the water and wildlife scatter and join the sage wind. It is the container that holds, to paraphrse McLean, “that perfect place” that every real fisherman creates within his heart.

David James Duncan writes of the notion of wonder: “unknowing experienced as pleasure.” That is a river canyon. Wonder, think about that!

We drove into the Deschutes, according to Karl, the wrong way. The drive was beautiful and green and twisting. I floated the Deschtes with WT. We drifted and spun and bounced in the current. Reduced. Immense. Only able to say the most obvious things -- lotta water.

Water. Polish soul food. Chai. Hummous. Olives. Elk Burgers. Winston Lights. Mole sausage, finoccia, and hot sopresetta, L’il Debbie. Keg of tightrope amber. Weed. Asprin. Taco Bell. Duck and lentil soup. Greek olives. Bourbon, single malt, Busch tall boys. Hot pepper cheeze. Emanthaler.

Wet wipes

Loaded for bear: streamer rod, nymph rod (2 flies) and dry rod (2 flies). I caught a fish on my very first cast - a dumb little flip. A medium sized nickel bright 12er decided he had to eat that fly. I obliged and knew, instantly, deep down, that I was cursed. Of course, I gave a w00t! And a Ra! And hoped to keep exercising these stupid Deschutes redsides. I didn’t catch a trout for another 2 hours.

It is a good fly stream wasted. What Yak bum floating the D hasn’t had this thought?

If only the Yak were managed this well. What scud dragger hasn’t pondered this possibility?

Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sunrise would kill me.
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of me
--Walt Whitman

Nothing beats waking up on the river. In a canyon. It is possibility coupled with wonder. What a heady brew! All senses awake! Better, yes, it is shared!

We were standing along a bank broken by rocks and bars and what you’d call very small mini islands. Bugs were sporadic, but they were almost audibly popping. Big bugs. Size 14 bwos, march browns, same size -- smaller than our beloved Yak boys -- a coupla mahoganys -- bigger than our shy Yak boys. I grabbed the dry rod. I had a grind ‘em out combo on: grey parachute and a quigly. These are workmanlike flies, but they can be also be precise, sharp, trout-catching machines. I’d flogged the water to vapor with the nymph rig taking 4 trout. WT was pondering a hopeless tangle. It was go time. Get in the boat. We gotta get to where the fish are eating these bugs. We floated 200 feet, to the bottom of a slutty run. I asked WT: you want up or down. WT chose down. I ran up. Up was what I wanted. I thanked the gods. Up ! Yes!
The trout were there. Why did he say down? **** it. Cast. OK. There it is. No. Where. Splash! Strike. On! As the say in Canada, there are no ugly goals. I’ll take it. I saw the next two. Got the next 3 by ESP and saw the rest -- maybe. Call it a decent dozen. No huge ones. Still, a dozen trout is a massive number considering I didn’t move my feet. Trout ranged from 15-12 some shiny, some soot covered. Spawners, said the OR boys.

There is nothing to buy in the Deschutes River canyon. I can’t think of a better compliment.

Two grown men. Both fly fishermen. Both share a campfire. Both snake experts!
I have eaten a bowl of cheerios with a 4 foot rattler swimming around in the bowl.
Pffft. When I was 12 I played little leauge using a diamonback as a bat. Hit .359. 17 Home runs.

I started to talk about that first day walking into Tiger Stadium. I wanted to compare those columns holding the stadium up to the columnar basalt tower in this canyon and how the stadiums columns caused it to be torn down, but I was shushed quick and firm. Listen: we sat by the crack of the fire and heard rocks smashing down the walls. No, not a train. Rocks. Who said it? I can’t remember but he wondered: How great would it be if those slides trapped us in here?


winter is over. this post is older.

besides actually *getting there* there has to be some reason that it takes a coupla hours to get to your fishing spot. the more time i spend driving to fishing, the less and less it bugs me. it can be some fairly quality time. there is music to be listened to; conversations to be had, birds and landscape and weather to wonder over. and there's also a lot of nothing. a nothing that's easily chewed, easily consumed. a nothing that, if a taste is acquired, can be quite filling. random thoughts: what's the nature of obsession? did i pack the lamb sausage? will the red wing's defense be enough to offset the loss of sergi federov? am i getting old? what's old? well, guess it depends on what the subject is. **** the subject and **** the notion of age. i don't buy it. resolved: we will not buy into the consensus reality regarding age and ability. we set our own course. yeah, but hank williams died at 23! was the success of the green rockworm just a fluke last week? did i pack the tieing kit? i'd love a dog, but i don't want him to chew up my stuff. what's that buzzing sound? jezus, i don't even remember the last time i changed a flat tire. hank williams? where's my CD case. hank williams... did he fish? how could a guy that fucked up, freaked out and depressed sound so chipper? "The fish they ain't a bitin' the creeks are all dry...." He sang that like it was the beginning of an eternity of saturday mornings....i appears the swallows have all left for parts south. can't blame them...23 years old. what did he see? 23 is young and dumb. in his case, 23 is old and wasted. 23 was a death year. 23? where was I? i was on the make... what is that fucking buzzing?

Enough of this robust empty time and bingo-bango your at cle elum buying beer, smokes and a block of ice. i rolled into umptanum after dark on friday night. the hunters buying jerky and hot dogs and beer in cans in cle elum where also at umptanum. most were on the down low, trying to find the sweet spot between anticipatory glee and the brutal reality of a 4am wake up. i opened a beer and had the tent up in minutes. i ate chicken and read a novel. i felt the cold and finally, the moon rose. it was fat and full and glided up and over the canyon. a train came. hank williams, jr.: all my rowdy friends are comin' over tonight. hank senior spins.

i drank a coupla more beers, smoked a coupla cigarettes and did nothing. just standing in the dark. it was beautiful. i let all that nothing just be and sat on the side of it like an angler sits upon the bank. no talking, no punchlines, no commercials.

up early. into coffee. geared up. into waders. vlad has arrived with dog fat and dog skinny. spaghetti and meatballs. vlad: overcast. could be a good 'un for blue winged olives. me: uh-huh.

i can't say where we ended up, but there we were. i started out with that rockworm as the dropper to a light nymph rig. immediate success. 2-3-4 time to stop counting. but still, i told myself that it was indeed a fact that i would loose the rockworm. it was also a fact that i had no more. i dealt with the loss before it happened. sorta like buying a cemetary plot before one croaks. i was in touch with the loss... i got up on the tracks and moved downstream. vlad was casting directly below me, throwing fine, tight loops and landing whatever it was whereever it was supposed to be. one could get hypnotized, best to move down quickly and hope the SOB hasn't vacumed up the entire run.

more nymphing, more fish and suddenly loss. the rockworm was gone. ripped from its tether by a "small whitefish". i was prepared and decided to just get on with it and move to a dry rig. i pondered the bwo box for what seemed like hours. finally, a coupla nice lookin' lil' guys were strapped in and ready for action. bon chance, my friends! bon chance!

i don't know how a river turns on, what it's like to be living in the stream when it just goes electric, but i'm quite sure every trout in the river was scurrying underfoot, finishing up this and that in order to get to the kitchen as soon as possible. the dinner bell was ringing -- hell, the dinner bell was being pounded by the spastic, deaf and starving. within minutes BWOs were everywhere and trout were following them. popping, rolling, boiling. hank williams: "go get yer fishin' pooooooole..." i laughed out loud and began to catch fish. on it went -- noon, one, two, three, four p.m and i'd barely moved 200 yards. it was ridiculous. near the end, the trouts bellies were distended. in their torpor, it seemed they could barely levitate to the surface to suck down more flies. they floated up like fat men to the buffet and reluctantly grabbed just one more chicken wing... ok, one more... ok, one more.... no, really, this is my last one....

the fishing was so good that i had no thoughts. more delicious nothingness wrapped around frenetic activity. perfect. a zone. a painting. maybe i am getting old. my back was hurting. my gawdam ankle was killing me. i was hungry. i was tired from catching fish. my arms were wet. my left foot was filled with water. i climbed up to the tracks and saw vlad immediately. i am walking back to camp, i told him. and again, it stood before me -- 20 more minutes of that beautiful nothing. i may have hummed a hank williams tune on the way back in and i certainly saw the sheep in the cliffs, but that was it. that was all of it....