Sunday, December 14, 2008

A winter haiku

It's zero degrees,

Outside my nostrils freeze shut,

No fishing for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Swan Falls

Ever notice how the slightest taste of something can bring you back to a time forgotten?

Sitting in my office as the clock strikes five, having just wrapped up the last-minute details on a rather oppressive report, I had just such an experience. The report I just finished was the culmination of tons of research, an extensive writing-by-committee experiment gone awry, and a series of deadlines that always seemed to move up without warning. Nothing like finding out on Saturday night that you unexpectedly need to rush a project to completion by Tuesday--and not receiving needed comments on a prior draft version until Monday afternoon.

All this is a long-winded way to say that I'm drinking beer. More precisely--OE. Ah yes, the 8-ball of yesteryear. For the uninitiated, it's a rather vile malt liquor most commonly consumed 40 ounces at a time by those who can't afford anything better. Its only redeeming quality is that it is produced by the Miller Brewing Company of Wisconsin fame.

While I began drinking before the legal age of 21, I didn't start drinking until I was out of high school. It was during this initial post-high-school-graduation period of discovery that I was initiated to Olde English 800. What a terrible concoction--I'd probably have been better off staying away. But I didn't.

A good friend of mine and I used to work together at a local restaurant and, at the time, I owned a 1970 Chevy Blazer. While it was more monster truck than effective mode of transportation, and may even have violated the neighborhood restrictive covenants when parked in the driveway, it got us around--9 miles per gallon at a time. On more than one occasion, following what typically would have been a terrible shift in the kitchen, him and I would load up on OE and take the Blazer down to swan falls. With OE in hand, we'd find a remote campsite and build the largest bonfire around. Drinking OE by the 40, we'd listen to the sturgeon jumping in the Snake River and tell stories until sun-up.

I imaging generations of 18-year-olds have similar experiences. It doesn't get much better than good friends, camping and cheep beer when you don't know any better.

Friday, December 5, 2008


In case you missed it, Oregon dismantled Oregon State in last week's Civil War. While not couch-burning exciting, it was a great win--most likely sending Oregon to the Holiday Bowl while denying Oregon State the Rose Bowl.

However, it wasn't all fun and games. You see, although I'm a proud alum of the University of Oregon, my entire immediate family either graduated from or is attending Oregon State University. Thus, I offer sincere condolences to my family. While I decided it best not to send roses given the current circumstances, please know that I am keeping you in my thoughts. As they say, time eases all pain.

Friday, November 28, 2008


A while ago I posted a rant of sorts about how economic uncertainty had affected my prospects for an exciting new job. Well, now that America is fully committed to an economic recession, the local impacts to Lander are widening.

This week, the Wyoming Association of Nonprofit Organizations announced that it would suspended all activities effective January 1 due to a lack of funding. The week before, Wyoming Conservation Voters Education Fund decided to close its Lander office effective immediately (although I haven't seen an official press release). Additionally, a month ago, Wyoming Legal Services, a non-profit law firm that provides free legal representation to low-income residents of Wyoming and operates an office in Lander, "relinquished" its federal grant for failing to adhere to government regulations and grant requirements.

On this stage--with two friends out of work because of these closures, a neighbor forced out of retirement and a Congress that can't seem to address the recession's local effects--The Wife and I found ourselves celebrating Thanksgiving among good friends and too much food. Our weekend will consist of Christmas decorating (since I insist on making The Wife wait until after Thanksgiving before subjecting me to the music and decorations), a continuation of our eternal quest for more firewood, the civil war (although a better prediction of the outcome can be found here), a little work and maybe even some fishing. Yes, I have a ton to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I ended up in Jackson for work this past Monday.
While I may get tired of this view someday, Monday was not that day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Of firewood and whitefish

After fighting with a borrowed saw last weekend, The Wife and I bucked up and bought our own chainsaw--a Husqvarna 445. I'm sure a professional tuneup would have helped the borrowed saw immensely, but it took us five hours to fill our truck with the borrowed saw. The new saw got the truck filled in about one hour.

Since we made quick work of our logging operation, we had plenty of time left over for a little fishing. I'm not sure why, but I've been slaying the whitefish recently.
The dogs even got in on the action:
While whitefish are good and all, we really wanted to get into a couple trout. You see, The Wife produces a periodic newsletter called The TroutTale--and what good is a newsletter called The TroutTale if you only have pictures of whitefish. Eventually, I got into a cutthroat and Russ gave it the full supermodel treatment.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


While installing a wood stove is a comically easy task, a stove doesn't get you anywhere without something to burn. Since our small supply of firewood consisted of an old broken-down pallet and a few cutoffs from my wood shop, we burned through everything we had in no time.

Longing for more self-sufficiency and lamenting the fact that all I do is fish and dream about skiing, The Wife announced that we would collect our own firewood. Recognizing my place, I immediately agreed. Besides, there's no better way to get in touch with your inner redneck than to tromp around the woods with a chainsaw.

Veterans Day provided our most immediate opportunity to get out. With the clock ticking, The Wife bartered home-made mustard for the use of our neighbor's chainsaw, we procured a personal use firewood permit from the Forest Service, convinced Russ to lend a hand and were off.
It had snowed the night before but, with an abundance of dead or down trees around Wyoming, finding a suitable place to collect wood took little effort.
As it turns out, one medium-sized tree is more than enough to fill our small truck. However, our borrowed saw left a bit to be desired. It fired up easily but soon became a constant battle. We tried a couple different chains, played with the carburetor a bit, and engaged in an epic struggle with an uncooperative clutch mechanism. I took a go at it, but ultimately, it got so futile that the down force caused by the weight of the saw was sufficient to cause the chain to completely stop while sawing. Ridiculous.
Despite the fact that a Leatherman might have been quicker than our saw, the day was a success and we managed to fill the truck.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mahogany Duns . . . or, Getting Outfished by The Wife yet Again

The Wife and I were up in Cody last weekend for a few meetings and, with a few free hours Friday afternoon, got to hit the river with some of the local TU members.
The river was pretty low and full of macrophites. As luck would have it, a mahogany dun hatch was underway and had the river's full attention. I caught two quick fish in the 12-inch range and missed a couple others.

While not a bad start, The Wife wasn't to be outdone. She caught this 16-incher while fishing dries right across the river from me. Thanks to Bob for the great guide services.
After an afternoon of fishing, we wound our way back to Irma's for dinner and eventually ended up at the Silver Dollar Bar. How any place stays in business while selling entire pitchers of beer for $5 is beyond me. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Winter Shminter

So, we finally got the plant stand up and running......and ever since then, The Wife has kept the house at 80 degrees. I nearly sweat to death on the first night. On the second night, I couldn't get The Dog to come inside. If we don't run out of wood soon, I'm afraid we might not make it. Please send help.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Thoughts

I held off on posting anything here for a day, figuring I could think of something profound to write about our historic election if given a little time. However, since I am utterly incapable of expressing how important the Obama election is through written words, here are a few random thoughts--

> It's true that Tuesday was a great day for racial minorities. But, more important to the majority of Americans, it was a great day for America. Obama was elected because of his promise of hope and change; I imagine the fact that he is African American is secondary to most Americans (although a nice bonus).

> I sure hope Obama is able to follow through on that promise of hope...

> Sure, the Democrats were unable to secure 60 seats in the Senate. But, they have significant majorities in both houses of Congress and, even if they had 60 seats, getting everyone to tow the party line on controversial issues would still have been very difficult.

> I don't remember people partying in the streets after any other election--especially those where the Republican party won.

> The people who went out and spent a ton of money on assault rifles over the past few weeks out of fear Obama would take away their 2d Amendment rights wasted their money. However, ironically, I was tempted to blast off a couple rounds Tuesday night after the election was called.

> The two most important issues to me are foreign policy and judicial nominations, with the economy/social justice a close third. With those in mind, Election Day 2008 was a big first step toward sensible and respectful relations with foreign nations, an accessible judiciary that promotes justice and liberty, and an economic policy that is in the long-term interest of America.
*Update - I almost forgot, some election reform/accountability legislation would be nice too.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just like Money in the Bank

Back when I used to chase steelhead in north Idaho, I periodically would hear fishing reports quantifying how difficult it was to catch a steelhead. These reports would cite some ridiculously high figure as the average number of casts required to catch the typical steelhead. While the number varied throughout the season, it always remained too high to many rejected anglers, myself included. After a day without catching any fish, I would take comfort in the thought that I had banked the day's fruitless casts toward a future day's fish.

With that said, if I get too many more days like yesterday, I'm going to cash out a fat check. Not the sort that makes a man rich--I'm talking about the sort of check that entitles it's bearer to an epic day catching gargantuan fish. You see, I went fishing yesterday and, in the course of getting completely skunked, I managed to bank a ton of casts. Being that trout are substantially easier to catch that steelhead and should require fewer casts per fish, I figure to cash in a few of these casts on a big day in the not-to-distant future.

The day wasn't a total waste though. Karta had tons of fun:

Sunday, October 26, 2008


DISCLAIMER: Normally, I try to keep this blog fairly apolitical. But, with the election only days away my natural tendencies are beginning to show. And, when events arise that demand attention, the dude abides.

The other day we learned about how the Republican National Committee spent $150K on Gov. Palin's wardrobe since her nomination. Now, we learn that the highest salary in Sen. McCain's campaign goes to Gov. Palin's travelling makeup stylist. Not the campaign manager. Not an economic advisor. Not a foreign policy advisor. Nope, it's the makeup stylist.

My friends, this post is NOT about Gov. Palin; it's about Sen. McCain. Yes, the unfortunate double standards that women live with are a fact of life and make it reasonable for Gov. Palin to have a makeup stylist and fashionable clothing. But, the spending of Sen. McCain's campaign reflect his priorities, and open a window into how he might govern if elected president.

If I was running for president with the economy in the crapper such as it is, I might invest a bit in developing an economic strategy to address some of our many problems. If I was being outspent in every battleground state like McCain is, I might hire a campaign manager that could help me overcome these obstacles.

However, I am not running for president. And, frankly, when I look at McCain's spending priorities and the state of his current campaign, it looks like he's getting pretty much exactly what he's paid for.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taking the Shocker to Cody Canal

So The Wife and I ended up in Cody for a couple days this past week. For those who have never made the trip, Cody is well worth a visit--especially after the tourist season is over.

We wandered around the Sierra Trading Post Outlet, lamenting the dearth of smoking deals that once proliferated throughout their catalogs. We ate at the Wyoming Rib & Chop House, enjoying one of the best jambalaya dishes around until discovering the havoc it can wreck on your GI tract. I'd order it again. The Wife, not so much. In the morning, we ate breakfast in the shadow of Buffalo Bill at the historic Irma Hotel--a must see. If there is one place that screams old Wyoming, this is it.

After breakfast and a few hours of work, The Wife and I headed out to help the local Trout Unlimited chapter with their fish rescue project. Each irrigation season, thousands and thousands of fish are diverted from the local rivers into a complex network of canals. In the fall, when the irrigation districts shut down their diversions and the canals dry up, these fish become raccoon food.

Thanks to the devoted efforts of local trout eccentrics, some of these otherwise lost fish are trapped with electro-fishers and returned to their home streams. For the half-day that The Wife and I helped, we rescued around 270 trout. These fish varied from a six inch cutthroat to a brown trout around 25 inches, and everything in between. The day before we arrived, they shocked up a 29 inch brown. Ridiculous.

While I did a great job manning the electro-fisher, I did an exceptionally poor job manning the camera. Once I convince some of the locals to share their pictures, I'll update this post a bit...
"I always wanted a son named Zamboni" --Sarah Palin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fishing Notes

I got out fishing last Saturday. Despite the recent snows, the weather has been quite nice and it seemed like the perfect time to rip big streamers for big brown trout. With the emphasis on big, I promptly tied on a small parachute mayfly that required binoculars to see once it hit the water and caught two smallish fish. On the other hand, my fishing partner for the day, Russ, managed to stick with the original plan of going big and was rewarded with a gorgeous fish. Yup, I am in fact a sucker for dry flies...

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one to go fishing this past weekend. The Brother of the Blog got out on one of his nearby rivers and, although he has no photographic evidence, claims to have caught a coho with his fly rod. My normal skepticism with this sort of thing was brushed aside quickly once I recalled that Josh could be the luckiest angler in the world. He accomplishes things with a fly rod through sheer happenstance that I could only do with a lifetime of practice and persistence like the world has never seen. Regardless, those coastal Oregon streams sure are epic...

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is October?

Lander got dumped on over this past weekend. Snow started falling on Friday and by the time the sky cleared on Sunday there was around 18 inches of the good stuff.

With The Wife out of town visiting the Old Country, I was without our regular camera and had to rely on my phone for the heavy lifting. Since I also chose the darkest possible moment to take the pictures, I'll apologize in advance for the poor quality...

This is Friday night, with a BL smoothie for scale.

Same thing on Saturday night. However, there is no need for alarm--the BL smoothie was safely consumed the night before and not sacrificed with the snow.

And, one bonus picture:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This should be an advertisement

Those of you who share my affinity for PBR should enjoy the above picture. It was taken unbeknownst to me by my friend Russ while we were on a recent fishing trip with The Wife. Not much better than a cold beer after a day of fishing. Too bad Russ' photography skills were better than my fishing skills on this day. . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

About the economy

I generally try to keep this blog about fishing and my other (mis)adventures, but perhaps we should add "staying on topic" to the list of things I could be better at.

As some of you may know, I've been applying for a few job openings. I enjoy my current work, but am interested in changing gears a bit. One position had seemed especially promising and was very exciting. Unfortunately when I talked with their hiring partner a few days ago, I found out that that they were going to offer me the position but had decided not to fill their opening because of all the economic uncertainty. When this happened, The Wife and I experienced our first personal impacts from the current economic downturn.

With the economy in the pooper and regular people (e.g. me) being affected, we turn to the current political climate where McCain has "suspended" his campaign.

"Why is suspended in quotes," you ask.

"Because this must be one of the most politically motivated moves ever," I reply.

Lets take a look at a few things. First, neither McCain nor Obama are on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Moreover, with Democrats in charge of the Senate and relevant committees, I doubt McCain and the accompanying press mob would actually be of much "help". As far as I can tell, McCain may be most productive by staying away until the bill leaves committee.

Second, McCain elected to accept public financing and, as such, doesn't have the financial resources of Obama's campaign. Could McCain be trying to save money until closer to the election?

Third, McCain's "suspension" has successfully diverted the media and the public from a series of other important issues: McCain's campaign manager accepting pay from Freddie Mac as recently as last month, recent polls (including those by Fox) show McCain falling behind, and Palin has had another interview that makes her lack of knowledge on important issues painfully obvious.

Finally, McCain has threatened to withdraw (or is forfeit the right word?) from the debate. Could this be because McCain doesn't want to face questions about his involvement in bringing about this economic mess in the first place? Will McCain try and postpone/cancel the V-P debate? We all know he keeps Palin on a short, well scripted leash.

In the meantime, McCain is banking on us (the voting public) not recognizing his "suspension" as a political ploy. He must think we are a bunch of idiots.

Listen, I'm not trying to bash McCain here. But, this "suspension" is crap. How long has it been since he addressed anything of substance? Since before the convention? Meanwhile, the economy is wrecked and, if I'm beginning to feel the effects of the downturn, you can bet that less fortunate people are getting screwed.

One final thought, this was a really hard post to write without swearing. Mom, you should be proud.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another great day on the water...

Holy cow it's been a long time since I posted anything on here... Gunahaftodobetter.

Instead of trying to recap the last month, I'm just going to pick things up like I never left...

The Wife and I got out fishing a bit on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, with just a hint of fall in the air. As you can tell, the water was crystal clear. We had been fishing this place off and on for the past couple months using mostly hoppers. After getting to the river around 3:00ish, there were hundreds of grasshoppers clicking about along with the occasional PMD mayfly spinners or caddis fly.

Not seeing any fish on the surface, we tied on a couple hopper-dropper rigs and got to fishing. The fishing was slower than it had been in the past, but persistence pays off. We caught a few Yellowstone cutthroat, a lost brown trout and the occasional whitefish.

I think this river may have been straightened back in the day. Much of the river is riffled and fairly shallow. To fish it, you end up hiking quite a ways, picking the best spots to cast while walking past the rest. We usually end up covering about 2 miles per day of fishing, and this day was no different.

The Wife got into a few fish too.
After fishing for a number of hours, we finally decided to turn back and head for the truck. However, with the sun starting its descent, we still had one more super sweet run to fish before calling it a day. We started fishing the run with our hopper-dropper rig and caught a couple fish, but then it happened. All of a sudden, we began to hear the sweet slurp of big fish taking small flies on the surface.

After a mild excitement-induced heart attack--not too dissimilar from the several heart attacks I experienced watching the Oregon Ducks trying to lose to Purdue the day before--I changed my fly to a small, size 16 light cahill similar to the mayflies we saw earlier. Oh yeah, we caught fish:
The last 1 1/2 hours of fishing was amazing. I caught this toad pretty quick after changing flies and numerous others followed. Kinda wish I'd moved my ugly mits out of the way because this fish had AMAZING color.

At one point The Wife missed what she thought was a large brown trout. Knowing that there could be truly huge fish in this river I tied on a big black streamer about 5 inches long after losing my light cahill. I cast across the current and began stripping in. On the first cast, a huge fish hit my fly. A split second later, my leader was toast and the fish was free. To Karta's excitement, it still jumped a couple times trying to throw my now detached fly. Without another black streamer like the one I just lost, I tied on a white one. After watching a large fish follow it for a few casts, I finally hooked lip and landed a couple cutthroat from 15-18 inches. Not nearly as large as the fish I lost...

As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


After talking with Josh a little ago and hearing about his snorkeling adventures on the Umpqua River in Oregon, The Wife and I decided we would pick up a cheap mask a snorkel, pack the fly rods and head up into the mountains for a little river fun.

It's a good thing we brought the mask and snorkel because, much to our surprise, the place we first stopped was full of suckers and didn't appear to have a trout for miles. Coincidentally, it's a good thing we waited to break out the camera because, not at all to my surprise, my farmer's tan is still in record form and has shown negligible improvement. After reassessing the situation and allowing our retinas time to recover from my paleness, we decided to head farther upriver in search of more trout-friendly water temperatures.

We had fished, and caught fish from, this particular stream before. In fact, I posted a few pictures from this small stream before and this was one of the streams I fished with Dad and Josh when the herd was out on their vacation. I'd elaborate on how well Dad and I did on that day, but I would hate to make Josh look bad...

Looking back on our pictures, it appears that I am much better at showing Karta a good day on the river than I am at catching fish.

We found a few small brown trout, but never got into anything with any size--probably should have gone even farther upstream.

The Wife putting on a clinic:

Karta taking it all in:

Driving home after once again reaffirming the fact that trout are smarter than we give them credit for, we got a pretty good view of the wildfire smoke from up near Cody and Yellowstone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Da Bears

This seems to be a busy week for bears. First off, one of my co-worker's step-brothers recently was chased by a grizzly bear up near Anchorage. He was acting rather foolishly by running by himself along a trail known for bear-human encounters and, as we all know, those bear-human encounters rarely turn out well for the human. Now, I receive this (click image to enlarge):

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Been Fishing...?

...Oh yeah.

I suppose I won't get any sympathy if I was to complain about carpal tunnel syndrome, but I've been whipping the old fly rod around a bit recently.

Although I have no pictures to prove it, I ended up in the Salmon River country of Idaho a couple weeks ago and ripped some lip. River levels were still quite high, but I found a ton of small juvenile steelhead/rainbow, a decent cutthroat and a bunch of whitefish. Nothing huge, but lots of fun.

Last week, The Wife and I ended up on the North Platte and got to spend a day floating in a drift boat. The river levels were starting to drop down to more normal base flows and the bite was on. A special thanks to Tony and Jan for the great day on the river.

As usual, the first fish is the most difficult. Also as usual, it flopped out of my hand before a good picture could be taken, but here is fish number one--a 17 inchish rainbow. To foreshadow things to come, it gave a very light take on a peacock stonefly nymph.

Here's Jan playing one of her fish. They often use these personal rafts. They seemed to be a very convenient way to navigate the river. Even has room for the dog on the back.

We caught fish like this all day long...

The Wife even got in on the action...

A little brown trout...

And the big fish of the day...

All in all, a very nice day on the river.

More recently, as in yesterday and last night, The Wife and I (and Karta) went small-stream fishing and camped out. It had been an eternity since The Wife had been camping and I was starting to get an ear full for it.

Karta LOVES fishing. Although she also loves swimming, it's pretty easy to keep her out of the water when fishing. So long as I'm catching fish on a somewhat consistent basis, she is happy sitting next to me, watching the fly float by and hoping for the opportunity to sniff a fish. And I do mean watching the fly float by. She figured out the importance of the fly in catching fish long ago.

The reward, at least as far as Karta is concerned...

More fishing...

And the campsite...

A Smoking Deal

The Wife and I had been in the market for a wood stove for quite some time. We almost pulled the trigger last fall when the cold weather was approaching, but the 2G price tag was a bit much. Fortunately, The Wife is a rummage sale addict--er, I mean connoisseur.

With a small chunk of change in my pocket, and with Jan and Ash in tow, The Wife talked me into a morning of garage sale torture--er, I mean bliss. After checking out a couple dumps, we stumbled upon a gold mine. In the corner of an otherwise unsuspecting rummage sale, I saw a lowly sign advertising two used wood stoves. Not expecting much, I inquired.

After minimal haggling over price, I ended up with this...
...a $178 plant stand.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kicking it at Big Sandy with the Rainbow Family

Thanks to The Wife's superb planning, the whole herd got together a little bit ago for a nice vacation up at the Big Sandy Lodge. They've got a few rustic cabins up near the wilderness boundary that make for pretty sweet digs.
Although the rivers were at or above bank full, we managed to wrestle in a few small brook trout. The lunker of the trip might have been 10 inches, if you were generous with the ruler and squeezed every bit of length out of its tail.
We played some nerts, and found a new winner.

A few folks, including The Wife, went for horse rides.

Of course, we also did a fair amount of hiking. Because of high water and a misleading Forest Service sign (there must be an excuse, right) and despite the fact we had a map and two GPS units, we did manage to get a little turned around. Once we realized the error of our ways, we turned off the trail and ventured where few had traveled before. Luckily, our map and off-trail navigation skills far surpassed our on-trail navigation skills and we arrived at our destination: V Lake.
The hike back, while all down hill and through familiar terrain, was not without adventure. At one point, Margie performed a perfect full gainer and displayed flawless balance beam technique.

Safe back at the cabin and reunited with the remainder of our contingent, we were free to resume the constant struggle against the mosquito squadrons of death.
A pretty good trip over all. We even managed to avoid most of the circus activities.