December 30, 2009

The Lobby

I took this shot from just upstream of the Meenach bridge which is witness every first Sunday in May to thousands of running shoes pounding their way across the bridge as they propel their owners around the Bloomsday course.
I hadn't fished this secluded slot for several years. Not that I was avoiding the somewhat treacherous hike, especially in the coldest months, when the ground freezes and all downhill trails in the constant shadows become slides, but because for several years there were no fish residing in the quiet currents here. I think it had to do with the critically low flows in late summer which forced the fish to vacate while they had the chance. I'd drop in occasionally through those years only to find out that the entire length of this idyllic channel was sadly, still uninhabited.
The main stem of TDR is flowing past to your right as you look at the picture, just on the other side of the vegetation. In the late summer, as the flows decrease, the water level in the Lobby drops, and becomes quite languid. While it still looks fishy, it's only an illusion. It was so low for those past few years that the water was barely knee deep. I remember those years, walking upstream, the vaulted ceiling of leafy trees above me shielding the sun, wishing that there were fish here.
Well, good news. They're back. Browns, mostly, with a few rainbows, too. Last week I made the trek in and was delighted, no, amazed, to see noses as I made my way upstream from the bridge. Brownie noses. In wondering why there are fish here again, I was lead to think that the recent changes in flows as mandated by Avista's new contractual agreements with the feds is partly responsible. There is more water in the system in late fall, starting with this year, and since Brown trout spawn in the fall, I theorize that this may be a spawning area that, because of those higher flows, is again available to them, which is necessary because there is only one creek(Hangman, or Latah, for you non-natives) for the trout to access for the purpose of the spawn. The hope then is that they'll just kind of hang out here, maybe even take up residence again.
Whatever the reason, it's so nice to once again look forward to hanging out with my new friends for a few hours each week in the Lobby.
There's always, if you're a brownie, good eats in the lobby.

December 28, 2009

Winter Dries

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

You've got about 10 minutes to work with once you bare your hands in 15 degree temperatures. After that, the digital opposibility that separates you from 99% of all other living creatures is nullified, and even if the eye of that fly is 4 inches in diameter and you're tying a rope to it, it's going to be a struggle. And never mind your already shaking hands as you watch the noses of several Browns breaking the surface every second or so, chowing down on any and all of those Blue-winged olives whose wings will not dry quickly enough to let them struggle skyward, away from sure death. Plus, you know from past visits here during this time of year that this smorgasbord is going to be a very short-lived, albeit heavily attended affair. Lots of targets. No hunt and peck. More like flock shooting. Try not to mess up your backcast. Don't hurry your delivery, even if every fiber in your being tells you differently. Lay it down softly in the middle, drag free, and stand back, because you also know in the back of your mind that at any time, as suddenly as they appeared, they will be gone, and gone with them will be those noses. The surface will become glassy and quiet again, with no sign of the feast that took place just seconds ago.

December 24, 2009


In the spirit of this 'holiday' season, I offer a thoughtful (in my mind) token to those of you who have nothing better to do with the few precious moments you may have in between wrapping and decorating, preparing food, and getting hammered. You may decide to spend them reading this. If you do, please keep in mind that life is all about learning from our mistakes. Sadly, however, there really are no guarantees.
Have an engaging period of time.

December 21, 2009


Home is where one starts from.
T.S. Eliot

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

It's not a drenching rain. Just enough coming down to force a periodic drip from the brim of my hat onto my glasses, leaving trails on the lense as gravity pulls them to my cheek. Light is fading fast. It will make the going back to shore from here a bit of a trial if I wait too much longer, but I'm enjoying the monotony of the cast and the swing more than the thought of my hike back to the car. The dense convolutions in the current make for a different arc in my fly line with each successive roll cast. I try, as I monitor the swing, to imagine what the bottom of the river looks like; what's causing the upwellings and swirls. The water is higher today. The current is stronger, more consistent. I can see where in the summer I could wade and fish without difficulty, but those rocks are now next summer's dream, should they still be there after run-off, which is another facet of this river I look forward to. With only a few exceptions, my explorations will reveal to me new sets of hydraulics, which in turn will dictate new lies for the trout. More so here than in probably any other river I have ever fished are the residents so constantly on the move. They are, without a doubt, a hardy bunch, but I know they have to be in order to survive such a hostile environment as this. They are at the mercy of change at all times of the year, subjected to the whims of the people's needs, rather than their own. Pawns in an ongoing chess match pitting aesthetics against utilitarianisms. Afterthoughts. More or less left to their own instincts, a willingness to engage and survive. Darwin was right. What a perfect illustration of that. Then, as if on cue, I feel a sharp tug, and a dark-backed rainbow soars into the misty dying light of this rainy afternoon, throwing my soft hackle as he somersaults upside down and backwards into the water. I stand and watch my fly line now hanging limply directly downstream, suddenly aware of how far I've come from to this very same place where I started, however many years ago. I am aware of the connective tissue that has insinuated itself between me and this water. How it has been my teacher, teaching me so much more than to fish. How it has emotionally become my home. How as far as I may travel from it, it's place in my heart will never be challenged, will never be replaced. And then again, for not the first time or the last, the wetness on my cheek is not the rain.

December 15, 2009


Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
Pablo Picasso

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
Henry David Thoreau

And maybe this one, also; Knowledge makes vivid the art of imagination.
That one's mine.
I really enjoyed taking liberties with the leech pattern. And to really see this, you should double-click on the image. After observing them swimming, then subsequently tying, and then testing my artificials in the bathtub, I realized that I'd been busy creating an art form. It was indeed a gift. My goal had ever so subtly been altered, because the desire to be visually pleased with that which now swam so authentically in the tub superceded any expectancy I harbored with regard to the interest that may or may not be exhibited by trout, although I must confess to a growing conviction that I may have increased the odds. After all, he who fishes with confidence is most likely to know success. And in the wake of my visual appreciation of the artificial's performance in the tub, I can not help but to be made that much more confident of their success in catching the eye of the trout.

December 9, 2009


Writing is the supreme solace.
W.Somerset Maugham

This idea had been percolating for several months. Actually longer than that, but I'm pretty good at putting things off. Off to the point that when this idea of mine would bob to the surface (again and again), I could usually find some way to artfully dodge its existence. But, as adept as I've become at the GREAT PROCRASTINATION, it was not a very comfortable place to reside. See, there were always these persistent questions, and, more importantly, nudges from within and from others, that I was not allowing myself to bring in to the light.
In the beginning it was like keeping a secret; I have this ability and yet I'm going to keep it to myself and that's fine with me and everyone who doesn't like it, well, you just all really don't understand...
... or something like that. More to the point, it was I who didn't understand. But, and I say this humbly, I have had, of late, another in an endlessly, blessedly long line of epiphanies (such a great word).
And so, in light of this most recent awakening, yesterday I sat down, composed an e-mail, and sent it off to 2 gentlemen who are outdoor writers in the employ of our beloved local paper. This e-mail concerned TDR, or for those of you just off the bus, the Spokane River. I didn't really even have an agenda(outwardly), in writing to them, other than to kind of 'touch base' with them in regard to an idea I'd been tossing around having to do with my years of flyfishing experiences (solitary) on said river; how one 'touches base' with a couple of guys who haven't heard from or spoken with me in years may be a stretch, here, but that's what I'll call it.
So I wrapped it up, sent it off, shut down Mr. Mac and got busy doing whatever it is I do next. Tie some flies. Next day, I check my Inbox and I've got mail. And there's a response from each of them. And they both loved the idea. And I've been referred by Mr Liere to Steve Probasco, the editor of N'west Flyfishing Magazine to do an article. Rich Landers, the outdoor editor of our beloved Spokesman-Review and I are going to have a meeting in January to discuss The 4 Seasons On The Spokane River, an article he wants me to put together.
And so here I go. I feel like a little kid. Giddy. Excited to get the hell going. It's like the years of invisibility (due to my insecurities) were really gifts, because during all those years I was still busy, honing the skills that evidently impressed these two gentlemen enough for them to respond the way they did.
Hold on... my bus is here. I'll keep you posted.

December 4, 2009


Once you articulate an agenda, you have to follow it.
Brian Mulroney

Or, in this case, once I have articulated a leech pattern, the trout should follow it.
And eat it.
That is my agenda. Pictured is a prototype. There are several more in the offing. I am excited about the prospects for their success.
A report will follow soon.

December 1, 2009


Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.
Saint Augustine

The concept reveals again
my folly,
but I dig anyway,
possibly reveling in the
swirling like dust.
I'm losing sun
but I go on, more
mindful, now, of my
Escape to these dreams,
of saving the grace
of nurture and sweetness
but this special place
has become
my folly,
as I dig, still looking,
still amazed, yes,
but still looking...