The Mad Fishicist

A fly rodding, sheep stalking, moose calling, guitar trying, bird watching, fly tying, Katie loving stay-at-home-dad.

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Location: Alaska, United States

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
-James Whitcomb Riley, Little Orphant Annie

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pretty lady

'...for you are to unnerstand that they used at first to call her "Pretty lady", as the general way in that country is, and that she had taught 'em to call her "Fisherman's daughter" instead.'
-Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Ch. 5

Fish and the memories of fish disappear,
but I'll never forget the wonder I saw on your face,
the single finger you placed on its skin,
and the steady whisper,

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"It is time that I wrote my will..."

I choose upstanding men
That climb the streams until
The fountain leap, and at dawn
Drop their cast at the side
Of dripping stone....

-W.B. Yeats, The Tower

I'd fish alone, if that were the point. But every fish here and hundreds more would not exist without a story. And the story wouldn't become epic without a partner.

Like Rich's 27 inch rainbow--the biggest trout I've ever seen on the Russian River.

And Scott's steelhead on the swollen Situk, caught in waist-deep floodwater that's normally shin deep.

And Andrew's prehistoric char that looked like nothing ever caught before or since.

And Freddy's first twenty incher: a brother's pride swelling like the Situk in May.

This page can only give statistics, but sitting around a campfire, or a card table, or a pot of hot coffee with my friends, these fish become legends.

Upstanding men, the story is the point.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lost and Found

"I fished upstream coming ever closer and closer to the narrow staircase of the canyon. Then I went up into it as if I were entering a department store. I caught three trout in the lost and found department. "
-Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America

I let this fish go. More than likely I'll never see him again.

But that won't keep me from trying.

Monday, October 16, 2006

"A Pretty Good Thickness"

"these bear being so hard to die reather intimedates us all; I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had reather fight two Indians than one bear; there is no other chance to conquer them by a single shot but by shooting them through the brains, and this becomes difficult in consequence of two large muscles which cover the sides of the forehead and the sharp projection of the center of the frontal bone, which is also of a pretty good thickness."
-Meriwether Lewis, Journal May 11, 1805

The bear is watching salmon in the deep water; my brother is watching the bear. What the bear doesn't know is that, behind him, on the edge of the slack water underneath the two leaning cottonwoods, lie at least two twenty-plus-inch rainbow trout. Maybe the bear will leave before it's too dark to fish there. He's young. It will take him a while to catch a salmon. Then, he'll eat the eggs out of the hens and the protein-rich brains out of the bucks. The rest he'll leave for the hovering seagulls. We'll wait for him to move on. A great drift deserves this sort of cautious patience.

A nearby bear always changes the angling experience. We focus less on fishing and more on escape routes. Somehow the bear's presence also makes the experience more natural, more wild. We become competition; we become competitive. But we know our limitations, and we let the bear have his hole. In this world, he eats first.

We don't want salmon anyhow. There's at least two twenty-plus-inch rainbows underneath those leaning cottonwoods.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lowe River, 10/11/06

"A river man, or a man of the woods, or of any farm-life
of these States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada,
Me wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for
To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents,
rebuffs, as the trees and animals do."
-from Walt Whitman, Me Imperturbe

The levee that keeps this river from channeling through our neighborhood failed on Tuesday night. When we left, our road was crumbling and water was rushing toward our home. Today, we returned under blue skies. Water levels everywhere are back to normal. The puddle in our driveway is the only reminder of how close we came to losing our few possessions. My favorite memory of the evacuation is stopping to watch a salmon cross the highway at a swollen stream.

We live two miles away from this gorgeous box canyon. It's the only road out. Read more here . Or for a more beautiful perspective, click here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Talkeetna Bluebird were glad
when you reeled in and found
yourself strung, heel-tip
to rod-tip, into the river's
steady purchase and thrum.
-Seamus Heaney, Three Drawings

The little raft seemed almost too little, but I was drawn downstream by gravity's current and the promise of another perfect drift.