Saturday, December 26, 2015

All I want for Christmas

The email came through from my Mom suggesting that a trip out west to Portland, Oregon (over Christmas) to visit my younger brother and his family might be nice...

Council was held, tickets purchased.

Moments later I was on the phone discussing winter steelhead with my brother.
No need to bring a rod, he said, NK would set me up.

The plane touched down and we dropped my family at the house and bee-lined for NK's to grab a rod and the keys to the boatyard.  NK's wife led us to the garage and handed over a Burkie for my use.  My brother said, "This has a scandi on it, where does [NK] keep the skagit heads?"  NK's wife swiveled, opened a bin and handed us the correct grain skagit head for the Burkie.  I was in good company.

Christmas night:
We were right up to the wire.  Listening to some extraordinary fiddle playing by Bacon's wife in a Portland bar, the night before we were to be going fishing.  Phones were out, river flows being checked, options discussed.  The target was identified and I took a cab home to attempt some sleep.

In what can only be described as one of my worst nights ever, the alarm on my phone would have woke me if I was actually sleeping.   Even so, there was fishing to do.  I brushed the remnant vodka from my my mouth, slid on my wool long underwear, layered and we left.

We arrived at NK's a short time later.  He asked us to call him before we got there so he could get up and see us off.  That's how you know a true friend, somebody who will hasten a day after Christmas hangover to be sure to cheerlead you in your adventures.  Good stuff that guy.

With the raft in tow, we took off into the rising sun to find a piece of sloped back into a Columbia River tributary.  We would have been on the water 30 minutes earlier if NK's 96 quart cooler hadn't decided to flip it's lid and fly out of the raft on the highway.  My brother was just off the phone with the shuttle driver when he stared into the rearview mirror and exclaimed,  "What the eff!!!?"

"What the eff" was the cooler going airborne.

It happened on a stretch of highway that required an extra 2 miles to an off ramp, and then an 8-10 mile backtrack to another off-ramp.  We finally located the (now 2 piece) cooler and did our job of not leaving litter on the highway.

We discussed the premonition and wondered if it was a sign of things to come or just getting the bad juju out of the way early.  I considered just breaking NK's Burkie over my knee at the raft launch so I could accept bad omens on my own terms.  Turned out, that was the last of it.

It was December 26th, a day when I normally spend hauling cheap crinkled wrapping paper to the recycling bin.  This year I was in the front of a raft, zipped into a PFD, clutching a borrowed rod and wondering if it was possible to dog paddle with one hand while still being able to return a fly-rod to it's gracious owner.

My brother rowed like a champ and thoughts of swimming vanished as I stepped into the first run.
Stripping off line and rolling out a short cast, I got my fishing song stuck in my head...John Lennon this time. 

I might have hummed a few bars...

..."So This Is Christmas"

Friday, December 18, 2015


It was at the garage gathering a few weeks ago that JH showed up with a mitt full of musky flies.  Beautiful ties...all of them.  After 25 years of tying I've never really sat down to tie a musky fly.

I'll say this, you aren't going to tie a dozen in an hour.  I'll also mention that materials that I've had on hand for decades were depleted in just a couple of flies.  Nothing like burning through the inventory.

Thanks for the nudge JH.