Monday, June 30, 2008

Gear Revisited

Way back, during the leeches infant stages, I wrote about salmon fishing with bullshit gear and half-heartedly vowed to not fuck around with the wrong tools for the job. Like with most dipshits I clearly need more than one self-imposed ass kicking to learn a lesson. As I was rigging the jig rod for a trip down a local river for steelhead I glanced into the gear box to see what was lying around in the way of jigs. I had two, one big ass lead head with no paint and one quaint little pink headed jig, just what I was looking for since I would be tipping it with the ever legendary pink worm. The problem was the hook, it was a sickle hook, one of those stupid angular things notorius for has happened to me once already this winter and I watched as it happened to someone else as well. So as I reached down and grabbed that stupid fucking jig, I really shouldn't put this stupid fucking jig on. But I did anyway. We launched the boat shortly thereafter and as soon as we cleared the bankies, Kari flipped the bobber out. About 15 seconds later the bobber went down, I was sure she was snagged but when I looked back the rod was bucking hard. Then there was a 10 pound CHROMER out of the water. I survey the surroundings, see there is no logical place to land the fish and drop the anchor. The fish came up real slow and calm like between the boat and the bank and I thought...we need to get the fish in the boat before that stupid fucking jig hook bends out. So I grab our net, useless from the boat with its 1 foot handle, and jump into the water. My fat ass does not slide smoothly into the water when I get in, its more like a small astroid impact. So about a half second after impact the fish screams straight downstream and then was gone. Instantly I thought, STUPID FUCKING JIG! I was really hoping the line broke, though I'm not sure if I would have felt any better, but then I saw the jig was still there, grabbed it and what I already knew was re-confirmed. Now, when shit like this happens you know its not the end of it. The image of that straight hook is pretty well singed on the minds eye and you can't really see or envision anything else. This is detrimental to ones mojo. We fished the rest of the day, mostly swinging flies, then we fished Saturday evening on a small coastal stream for steelhead with methods not to be disclosed, then we swung flies yesterday at the river where the stupid fucking jig incident occured, all the while taking the mental beatdown and knowing I brought all of it on by tying on that stupid fucking jig in the first place.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cacti Country

Howdy fellers! I been bravin the heat down in Tucson, AZ for the last 4 days. No fishing, not much of much at all. Kari had to come down here for the National Environmental Health Association conference and I got to play tag along since her place of emPLOYment couldn't spare any extras. We are in the Phoenix airport now, enjoying some nice tall Dos Equis before we board for the last leg. I can't fuckin wait to get back and outta this heat, broke a hundo every day, but the humidity was 15% tops, so it wasn't so bad...much better than I thought actually. The desert was pretty incredible, the number of plants and animals able to make it there was astounding, as were the Saguaro cacti...the largest one we saw was about 35 feet tall, with several in the 20-30 foot range. These things are apparently able to suck up over 200 gallons of water in a single day of rain, enough to sustain it for a year, thats strategy at its finest. I saw one little trickle of a stream, the only water...aside from the pool...that we saw in the whole of our stay. The conference, well, thats a whole'nother story all together...if I am feeling bored I will tell ya more about it, but don't hold your breath.

On a much brighter note, I fished a Portland area river last Saturday...swinging again, finally. Towards the end of the day (about hour 9 of 13) I hooked up and landed a little fuckin gomper steelhead, chrome as heyull and about 23 inches long, the smallest Oregon steel yet, but gotdamner he tasted fine! Probably going out again tomorrow, levels on area rivers are finally coming into shape and they've been kickin out fish...I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, June 20, 2008


The picture is terrible cause all I have is a cheap ass 1 pixel camera on my phone, but use your imagination and you'll get it. Bottom left: satueed morels and onions with parmesan, bottom right: sauteed king boletes with tomatoes and parmesan, top mid: boletes with fresh onion and mozzarella...all served on fresh local bread, quick broiled and consumed in rapid succession. try it!

troutin' and redneckin' it

In the past week I've been out twice for native resident cutthroat in small coastal streams. Prior to those outings I didn't think resident cutts over 10 inches were a real possibility, but I stand corrected. The first day we landed four over 10, the largest about 12". On dry flies and little baby 3 weights it was a blast. The second day we caught no large fish, but still managed quite a few in the 8 inch to be out troutin' again nonetheless.

Redneckin' it, or, doin it dirty mcdirt style: Went to Foster Dam on the S. Santiam two days ago to try to bank a steelhead for the table. The river is finally starting to fall a bit and there are no shortage of fresh fish around, I know this because the yocales slayed on em...unfortunately I live too far from confederate flags and monster trucks to be a yocale myself. I hooked one and lost it rillll quick like, while the boys huckin their 1 oz. bobbers with 1/8th oz. jigs seemed to be raking them in with abandon. Steelhead must like the smell of oil, confederate flag dust and bud light all mixed together.....?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

morels and boletes oh my!

Well friends, the lack of camera certainly was a stinger this weekend. Your lucky I don't think a picture is worth a thousand words, cause there should be about 10 of em going up now and being that there isn't it would take a lotta words to make up for it. So I'll try to keep it within reason.

We pulled into Camp Sherman at about 3 on Saturday afternoon. The campgrounds on the Metolius had a few people in them, but weren't terrible. Still, privacy was not an option along the river. We got to lower bridge, where I wanted to camp, and Kari decided she didn't want any part of 7 AM generators and relatively constant camp company. So we just kept driving, took some backroads to forest hwy 12 and found ourselves a super nice, free and completely empty camp along a nice little creek. We parked and decided to stroll around, look for shrooms and pick out the best site for camp. We were about 20 minutes into our mini-foray when Kari found a morel, a nice natural apparently associated with some young Grand Fir. There were a few nice freshies and some blown out, dried out oldies. I was surprised to see naturals as low as we were and was actually looking for King Boletes when she found that first morel. We foraged for about 2 hours that evening and came back to camp with about a dozen nice morels and 8 nice boletes, even though there was obvious sign that the commercial pickers had been through for the boletes already. That reminds me now of how fucking annoying it was to know that we were playing clean-up the scraps behind the commercials all weekend, everywhere we went. I can't wait to, hopefully, someday find an untouched area for boletes and burn morels, I think it would be quite epic....though I should quit whining, now.

The following day we started with a another mini-foray near camp, got a couple more naturals and one or two boletes. We also flushed a ruffed grouse, the first I have seen in the cascades. It was about 20 feet away in somewhat dense young fir. I had forgot how much I thoroughly enjoy that split second of surprise, with a twist of adrenaline for good measure, that you get when a ruffed flushes...I kinda wished I had a gun because I instantly thought of grouse and morels on the camp stove, but that would be plain old overindulgence. Maybe he could have at least flew into a tree and killed himself, then I couldn't very well just let it rot? Overindulgence would certainly be trumped by resourcefullness and minimization of

We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the GW burn, once again playing clean up behind the commercials, but the beauty of the burns are that the commercials can pick and pick to their hearts content and barely put a nick in the morel population. In about 5 or 6 hours the two of us pulled 7 pounds, while finding only three or four individual trees that didn't already have footprints surrounding it - to see the little spots like that, that hadn't been touched, was astounding. Even the areas where they had obviously picked yielded a few beauties right next to bootprints. We tried as best we could to maintain self control and take only the large morels but we definitely took a few minis, it was hard not to do. Imagine stepping around a tree and seeing 20 or 30 morels, all of them too small to harvest, and in the mix there are nice cut stems from the commercials. Do it around about 5-10 trees without finding a harvestable morel and like I said, it's tough not to cut at least one, a morel you would have definitely left had it been standing next to a three incher, but at the same time needed to quell the frustration and boost the moral (cheap pun intended). A unique (to me) observation in the burn was finding them around hardwoods. We were in a pretty boggy area near the head of a small stream and there were what appeared to be big cottonwoods. I had no idea cottonwoods grew that high and am still weary of saying that is definitively what they were, but I spent a lot of time earlier this spring staring at cottonwoods and am pretty certain that is what they were...anyways, there were loads of morels along the root lines. We were balance beaming it along down trees to save us from sinking knee deep in dirty ass fire mud. At the base of the standing trees you could walk around them on the root system, then jump on another down tree and follow the maze to the next standing tree. This yielded A LOT of shrooms and it was pretty fun, except for this one time, I reached what appeared to be a dead end to the balance beam maze and had already come over some really dicey shit that I didn't want to do-over. As I was standing on a down log, part of it buckled and I just about dumped my whole bag (this was at the end of the day, on the way out) of morels in the mud. I got lucky and somehow managed to keep the bag inhand, the morels in the bag and my balance all at once...a disaster very narrowly avoided.

I needed a damn beer after the day in the burn so we made a quick stop in Sisters on our way out and went back to camp. Why we didn't have the beer in camp already is another story. We have been changing our ways lately with regards to camp food. It used to be brats, brats, brats and maybe a hobo dinner (taters and hamburger wrapped in foil, for you out of the loopers). This weekends vittles included....night one: one fresh bolete sauteed in butter for an appetizer, then shell noodles with leek, the first days morels, garlic and alfredo for the main course. day two: breakfast was a big egg scramble with a ton of veggies, lunch was veggie wraps with hummus, dinner was vegetable red curry over jasmine rice, thai style. day three: b-fast was avocado and egg sandwhiches on filone, and lunch was more super duper veg wraps with the previous nights curry sauce. Those of you who know me from my previous life will wonder what the alien has done with Thomas. This is a new leaf and I must say I like it.

Well that pretty much wraps it up. The third day of picking was pretty uneventful, aside from the huge string of relatively non stop expletives once we learned what the flagging tape meant. It was sign left by the commercial pickers so their crews wouldn't hit the same spot twice. EVERYWHERE we went for boletes was flagged, and I got pissed, then I got home and looked in the bags of shrooms we had and realized what a choad I was being. I certainly don't think I own the forest anymore than they do, or at least not by any rationale I am ready to delve into on here, and realize that they are trying to make a living picking mushrooms while I am getting some to eat and share with friends and family. Lets just hope that we're not ruining something else by overdoing it. Maybe the science will actually get done at some point in the near future and they can regulate the industry prior to any major eco-impact. But thats likely nothing but a bunch of hope. And what is hope, but a mind-made concept, anyways? (<--- i told you i would get existential on your asses!)


fyi - 1307 words, only about 1 and 1/3 pictures worth, thank me for that fools!!!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

request granted

Upon the request of thee faithful reader, it is time for a post. My digital camera shit the bed two weeks ago. Seeins' that my writing is, well, my writing, I rely heavily on the photos for content. Without the fallback I've been a little weary of throwing anything on here. Not only are the photos my content crutch, they also tend to keep me on task. So I am heretofore (maybe?) issuing a declaration of certain incongruency.

The out of doors has been fairly uncooperative with me lately, still. I did manage about a pound or two of morels from a burn two weeks ago, with plans to head back this weekend for more morchella and some boletes. But, the snow is supposed to creep down to 4000 feet tonight through tomorrow. 4000 being the magic number I had in mind and previous experience with snow morels has me weighing other options. I know there will be shrooms to be had, so we'll go and see what gives.

Fishing: About once a year I take a fairly substantial hiatus. This is not planned. The only general rule of the hiatus is that it occurs at a time when steelhead are less catchable than most other times. I've been giving the recent break a lot of thought though, regarding the whole catchability issue. The rivers are still high with the snow still in the mountains and all, but said rivers are all dam regulated so while they are high they are almost continuously "fishable" color-wise. So why I haven't gone out and tried is starting to baffle me a bit. Fact is, steelhead are at least fairly predictable, and when the water is high I truly believe there are far-less swingable runs or pockets, which should in turn make fishing the water easier? Sounds right anyways. Regardless of water levels, it is time to go swinging. The involuntary twitches and self-imposed mind games are pretty much in full effect, a true sign that the hiatus must end.

Last time I said something about juicy posts and eye-candy to come. Unfortunately I mustn't make the same claim again, for the eye-candy acquire-er is out of business and the whole writing issue I explained above. This weekend should provide something to babble on about here at the leech, be it shrooms, fish, existentialism, redwingsuckism, or otherwise, I'll try to shave down the size of the post to post time-gaps. Thanks for reading.