fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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trout for dinner: $16.20 each

Yes, each.

I’m a big fan of the thin green line that protects our natural resources so it’s to be expected that an appreciative smile crossed my face when a Google alert linked me to the following from KearneyHub.com:

VALENTINE (Nebraska) — A Nebraskan’s taste for trout has left him up a dry creek for a year and $6,523 poorer.

Timothy Bare, 53, of Valentine was caught possessing 249 trout. The legal possession limit is eight.

A Cherry County judge revoked Bare’s Nebraska fishing and hunting privileges for one year and assessed him $5,875 in damages, $600 in fines and $48 in court costs.
The investigation began Sept. 13 when Valentine police officers contacted Frank Miller, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission conservation officer, about fish found in a large trash bin. The investigation led to Bare’s home.

A search of a freezer in the garage revealed 249 trout, five undersized largemouth bass, two perch, a channel catfish, a bluegill, seven salmon steaks and a package of processed wild game, authorities said.

Bare’s fines included penalties for the undersized bass. He pleaded guilty Monday.

Nebraska fishing regulations generally allow anglers to catch four trout daily. Some state lakes and city ponds across Nebraska have an eight-trout daily bag limit under a special regulation.

Anglers, however, may not possess more than eight trout.

A Nebraska Resident Fishing License: $26.00
The Fine for 249 Trout in Possession: $6,523.00
This Bozo Getting Caught: Priceless


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when wanting the best for our kids is not necessarily the best for our kids

It seems that danger, actually its consequences, have become all too unfamiliar to children who’ve always had parents within whispering distance.

So it’s reassuring that common sense seems to be taking root in some quarters.

From The Mommy Files blog on sfgate.com:

Play with a pocket knife. Break glass. Throw things from a moving car. Drive a nail. Find a beehive. Glue your fingers together with superglue.

Many parents would forbid their kids from doing these activities. They’d keep the superglue locked in a box where little fingers could never find it.

But Gever Tulley thinks these are exactly the sorts of things children should be doing (with adult guidance and supervision, of course). From these “dangerous” experiences, Tulley says, children learn how the world works. They learn about safety and how to assess risk. They gain responsibility.

I grew up in the ’60s and  ’70s, before the creation of ‘Kinderkords’ and ‘helicopter parenting.’  (Back when you knew “If I have to stop this car…” or “Wait until your dad gets home…” came with tangible consequences.)

Despite a lack of electrical outlet covers — and a similar lack of common sense to not stick metallic objects in those electrical outlet — I’m still around.  I threw rocks and my brother’s still around.  (Yeah, I dinged the back of his head pretty good.)  Until middle school was too far away, I rode my bike one and a half miles round trip, nearly every day possible.  Even today I’m often found swinging a small hook dangerously close to my right ear while precariously perching on a moss-ridden boulder.  It’s called fly fishing.

I’ve asked, knowing that it’s tough going out there for any young person, if fear of the unknown, danger or injury (mental or emotional) could a partial contributor to the phenomenon of the boomerang child?  Maybe.  Consider statistics from a Time magazine article form last fall.

But in the 1990s something dramatic happened, and the needle went way past the red line. From peace and prosperity, there arose fear and anxiety; crime went down, yet parents stopped letting kids out of their sight; the percentage of kids walking or biking to school dropped from 41% in 1969 to 13% in 2001. Death by injury has dropped more than 50% since 1980, yet parents lobbied to take the jungle gyms out of playgrounds, and strollers suddenly needed the warning label “Remove Child Before Folding.” Among 6-to-8-year-olds, free playtime dropped 25% from 1981 to ’97, and homework more than doubled.

I can’t imagine never falling off a jungle gym.  I should know.  I did it often enough.  Heck, back then we even jumped out of swings at the highest point of the swing.  On purpose.

Most anyone who’s dealt with children on a semi-regular basis knows that there’s a fine line between protecting and nurturing.

nur-ture (‘nər-chər): 1. training, upbringing; 2. something that nourishes; 3. the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism.  (Not a mention of protecting.)

Here’s to hoping my brother and wife are putting into practice the teachings of The Dangerous Book for Boys.

P.S.  Mr. Tulley is the author of Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) — a book that also might just end up on my gift-giving list.


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pasta, garlic bread, salad, beer, Cancer magister, dessert, and something unexpected

The DVFF Crab Feed (& Officer Installation) ’10 is in the history books.

We enjoyed pasta, garlic bread, salad, various beverages (adult and otherwise), the honored entrée and three different cakes for dessert. The crab seemed sweeter this year and, as usual, our dining companions and conversation enjoyable. We told fishing stories, ate too much Cancer magister (The scientific name doesn’t sound as tasty, does it?), and anxiously awaited the raffle results. No catch and release crab eaters in this crowd.

Lulled into a semi-comatose state by full bellies and bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the business part of the meeting began. As asked, I’m taking pictures as our outgoing president thanks the various volunteers who manage the many worthwhile club programs and events. I join the rest of the board members and officers as we receive recognition for a year of service and most of us remain at the podium to be introduced as the 2010 contingent.

Then came funny warm feelings of surprise, shock, gratitude, and appreciation.

While like everyone else I enjoy the occasional recognition, much of what I do – again like many other people – I don’t do for recognition. It’s done because it’s something I can do or needs to be done, something I can improve upon, and hopefully something I enjoy.

Back to those feelings…rather than struggle to write prose that doesn’t sound prideful, I’ll let a picture do the talking. A big thank you to the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen for the recognition!


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let my hatchery trout go

The hard times faces by many rural California communities
might just get harder if the Pacific Rivers Council and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) deem Homo sapiens, like trout, to be an introduced species in high Sierra watersheds.

Four years after filing a lawsuit centered on the idea that stocked hatchery trout and salmon have ‘deeply hurt’ native trout, salmon and amphibians, in a press release issued today the CBD unsurprisingly judges the California Department of Fish & Game’s final environmental impact report (EIR) to be a failure. But reading the naturally strongly worded press release — and without wading through the legalese of the original lawsuit filing — it seems that the CBD’s goals seems nigh unreachable.

In response to lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Rivers Council, the California Department of Fish and Game has released a final environmental impact report analyzing the impacts of stocking of hatchery trout and salmon on native species, including native trout and salmon and amphibians deeply hurt by a century of planting of millions of hatchery fish.

An EIR going back 100 years? We’re all for protecting the environment, but isn’t that reaching a bit much?

The CBD’s approach as perpetuates the piecemeal attempts to save salmon citing a federal study then blowing past the comment about habit quality to focus on hatchery fish.

One federal study concluded that the “longstanding and ongoing degradation of freshwater and estuarine habitats and the subsequent heavy reliance on hatchery production were also likely contributors to the collapse” of salmon stocks. The state’s new report does not propose any specific mitigations to address the impacts of hatchery fish on native salmon stocks.

For catch and release fisherman, the original concept of the lawsuit could have been interpreted as a way to protect wild trout populations from their hatchery cousins. And while the yellow legged treefrog was the poster amphibian for the CBD lawsuit, the lawsuit encompasses 36 ‘imperiled’ species in 47 streams, rivers and lakes. It’s not hard to remember the last time a fisherman bragged about that unarmored threespine stickleback or hard head minnow. It didn’t.

The pullback in DFG stocking could easily amplify the current economic slump in communities that have benefited from stocking. It’s ironic that on the same day of the CBD published its press release that Alpine County’s Markleeville was used as an example in the aforementioned San Francisco Chronicle article regarding the economic reality in rural California communities.

Markleeville is a jumping off point for a good many fishable streams, rivers and lakes, some stocked and some not. The Chronicle covered the community’s hardship from an economic standpoint. Back in November, the Sacramento Bee reported on Markleeville’s response to the elimination of Alpine County lakes and streams from the DFG stocking list:

So when the state Department of Fish and Game this week released a list of lakes and streams that won’t be stocked with fish until at least 2010, it landed in Alpine County with a thud. “These waters are our economy,” said Skip Veatch, an Alpine County supervisor and its former sheriff. “If they are not populated our economy is going to go down the drain.”

And a blogger for Bakersfield.com reported on the dramatic and immediate impact of the Dec. 30, 2008, compromise on stocking that prevented stocking of fish in water that held certain “species of concern.” That meant no fish for a section of the Kern River.

So stocking in the Kern ended a year ago this month.

There was no notice, nothing,” Donna James, who with her husband runs Camp James on the Kern River near Kernville, said. Almost overnight, she said, fishing dried up — and then so did her business.

Some businesses in the Kern River Valley saw as much as a 40 percent decline, said Jim Hunt, former president of the Friends of the Hatchery, the Kern River hatchery that farms the rainbow trout Fish and Game uses to stock the river.

I’ll admit to periodically enjoying some waters that regularly used to receive hatchery trout, particularly when snow blocks routes to high Sierra streams. I’m also all for easing pressure on existing wild and native trout populations. However, in my opinion, Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center, misses the mark himself when it comes to the recreational aspects of fishing.

Fish and Game has missed the mark with this review, which fails to consider alternatives that better meet their mission to conserve native wildlife,” said Greenwald. “On top of that, it’s questionable whether the current fish-stocking program effectively provides fish for recreation or commercial purposes.”

In my small world there are two types of fishermen: those who catch and release, and those who don’t. For the latter, hatchery trout tend satisfy their ‘recreational purposes.’ So, without an ‘appropriate’ level of stocking, am I wrong to worry that fishermen who want to keep their catch might horn in on waters previously left to the eccentric and lone fly fisherman?

Where’s wise Solomon when you need him?


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Mother Nature wants us to fish

On the heels of the old-is-new-again “wild salmon” movement comes the rediscovery of “natural hooks.” It appears that Mother Nature wants us to fish.

On the Juneau Empire (Alaska) newspaper’s JuneauEmpire.com, an interesting little article travels the West to tell the tale of a Dr. Bob Bosworth, a retired physician and fly fisherman living in Denver, Colo., who ties flies on hook-shaped spines plucked from Fish Hook Barrel Cacti growing in Arizona…

Look closely, these are no ordinary flies.

It’s not metal, or wood. Not cast or carved. It’s cactus. And these flies have caught fish.

It’s not metal, or wood. Not cast or carved. It’s cactus. And these flies have caught fish.

One might notice the hand-tied details, the tiny imperfections in the hackle or the individual wrappings of thread. One might even recognize the common imitation stonefly pattern, but it’s unlikely the hook will get a second glance.

It’s an innovation from the tying table of Dr. Bob Bosworth, a retired physician and fly fisherman living in Denver, CO.

And the flies have the local fly fishing club, the Raincountry Flyfishers, talking. Bosworth’s son, Rob, recently presented these flies at a meeting in December. Jaws dropped and the questions came in.

“I’ve been tying flies for over 50 years and I’ve never seen or heard (about) anything like this,” President Tony Soltys said. “I was amazed that someone would do that, and I wanted to know why.”

Soltys wasn’t the only one interested. In fact, at the club’s upcoming meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 20, a “tie-off” will determine which club member get to take home one of these “cactus flies.”

Fittingly, their journey began thirty years ago in the southern deserts of Arizona. Bosworth remembers clipping some hook-shaped spines from an aptly named Fish Hook Barrel Cactus growing in the backyard of a friend living in Tucson, Arizona.   Read more…

With these hooks fly fishermen could soon stake out an environmentally friendly high ground. I can see it now…flies tied with natural bird and animal fibers on natural hooks, bamboo rods, all cotton vests…a return to using silk fly lines…then eventually ditch the wading boots for flip-flops and the waders for Speedos.


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getting my winter fly fishing geek on

Occasionally, I’ve been know to get a bit deep into this little hobby called fishing.

It ties well into the touch of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

The shorter and darker days signal that it’s time to do one of the things you can do when you can’t really go fly fishing: plan. Then let the anticipation set in.

No sooner had I cleaned the gear and started to tie flies for future offerings to fishing gods via streamside branches and brambles, I began planning. To be sure, there will be plenty of weekend fishing trips to the cabin, but since I’m a late bloomer in so far as fly fishing goes, my plan is to orchestrate opportunities for at least one remarkable-than-most outing every year. This year just might have more than most, and at least one is in the books.

Research was conducted. Emails sent back and forth. Phone calls made. The first trip to be set in wet cement won’t be the first of the year, but it will be the first to take me to foreign fly fishing waters.

Mid summer we’ll be on Washingotn’s Puget Sound, not fly fishing, but fishing just the same for salmon with Dad, The Funny Looking Brother, and a group of guys who think they’re brave enough to put up with us.

Then, and this is not to say the salmon charter is an excuse, I was able to fit a guided fly fishing drift trip on the Yakima River into my visit. One if not the only blue ribbon trout waters in the Evergreen State. And maybe, thanks to a fellow fly fisherman’s generosity (a trait not uncommon to the fellowship of fly fishing), I’ll get time in on some water not so far away from the parents’ little bread and breakfast.

The anticipation is almost as exciting as that brought on by expectations surrounding the trip to Alaska almost two years ago.

Time to go. The wife would like a word…something about a credit card statement or something.
Drifting the Yakima River


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why I’ll voluntarily send cash to Sacramento

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised, but after thinking about it the last two weeks, I still am.

Many, if not most, of California’s 210,200 full-time government employees were ordered six months ago to take three furlough days a month. Blame whatever feel-good program or pork barrel project you want for the not-so Golden State’s $63.9 billion in general obligation debt. Standard & Poor lopped the state’s credit rating to A-minus this afternoon. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is working to cobble together a state budget that relies on a 15% reduction in state personnel costs through a 5% reduction in salaries and a reduction in workforce…

It’s always good to see a contraction of an already bloated government — but in this mess it doesn’t make sense to not extend the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp (BDSFES) program.

As of January 1, 2010, the Bay Delta Stamp is no longer required for anglers in the Delta. Money collected in past years will still be used to fund projects benefitting sport fishing within the Delta boundaries.

The Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp (BDSFES) Program was established in 2004 to benefit Bay-Delta sport fisheries. Exhisting law requires a person to first obtain a BDSFES before sport fishing in the tidal waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta and the mainstem of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, including major tributaries, below the most downstream dam.

The BDSFES Program has authority to spend approximately $1 million a year on projects that benefit sport fish populations, sport fishing opportunities, and anglers within the stamp’s geographic range. The Department of Fish and Game solicits proejcts for funding annually through the Proposal Solicitation Notice process. The BDSFES Program has funded a wide range of projects including warden overtime for sturgeon poaching, salmon acclimation, sturgeon forensics, fishing access facility improvements, salmon spawning habitat restoration, salmon escapement monitoring, angler surveys, fish tagging programs, and more.

Sure, it saves me $6.30. And yes, the program was set to expire Jan. 1, 2010.

But as I understand it, it was one of the few fees deposited into a separate account within the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. I’m all for money going straight to the DFG and wildlife programs as long as that money can’t be siphoned off to the general fund.

I’d honestly become so accustomed to the BDSFES fee that I accepted it as part of the cost of enjoying the hobby of fly fishing in my state. And who thinks $1 million a year will go very far towards projects benefiting fish in the San Francisco Bay Delta and the mainstem of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and major tributaries? It’s a bit disturbing to spend so little, particularly at a time when those in power ponder pulling more freshwater out of the delta.

As for me, I’ll still be sending an extra fin Sacramento way this year. Voluntarily. To the California Fish and Game Warden Stamp program.

I was already expecting to spend the money anyhow. Here’s hoping fellow California anglers will think the same.

Even with the 30 cent increase in the basic sport fishing license fee, I’ll still be $1.00 ahead of the game.