A Visitor’s Fly Fishing Memories in Film

February 13, 2017

Last summer, my friend Claudio Presecan visited. Claudio is from Cluj, Romania, and I have enjoyed fly fishing with him and his friends in Transylvania a couple of times. Therefore, it was a pleasure to finally be able to show him around my own waters. Claudio, is a very accomplished artist. So, it is not surprising that the digital film he made of his time fishing in Montana is filled with so many beautiful images. You can follow the link below, to see the video. And to see his paintings in the US, visit the Fountainhead Gallery (you can view them online).


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/203692918″>A fly fishing journey… Montana, August 2016</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/prese”>Presecan</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Patagonia, Nimmiipuu, and the Columbia River Drainage

February 6, 2017
Photo by Wingspan Productions, featured in The Cleanest Line

Photo by Wingspan Media Productions, featured in The Cleanest Line

It is great to see Nez Perce/Nimiipuu treaty rights and efforts to protect the fish of the Columbia River Drainage featured in Patagonia‘s blog, The Cleanest Line. The post, “Free the Snake and Restore Salmon to Honor Treaty Rights” is authored by Julian Matthews, director of “Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment.” This grass roots Nez Perce organization works closely with Friends of the Clearwater and many other regional conservation groups.

The Nez Perce Tribe and other members of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and the United Upper Columbia River Tribes engage in a great deal of restoration, native fish protection, and education regarding their traditional “salmon culture.” Some Nonnative sportspersons in the region do not support the tribes’ subsistence rights, established in numerous treaties and executive orders; I suspect some of these people may not realize just how deeply engaged in fisheries protection and restoration the tribes, particularly the Nez Perce, are.

The photos in the Patagonia story feature images of the Free the Snake River Flotilla. A popular event (previously featured in The Cleanest Line) held annually by opponents of four Snake River dams. Prominent in the pictures is Sammy Matsaw, a graduate student at the University of Idaho, who is doing some great work on the intersections of Indigenous and “Western” sciences. Sammy is Shoshone-Bannock and Oglala Lakota, but he has many Nimiipuu and other Native peers at U of I and neighboring Washington State University, who are also doing great work.

2017 Hemingway Festival

January 28, 2017

The dates and schedule for the 2017 Hemingway Festival have been announced. The event, hosted by the University of Idaho, will take place on March 3 and 4 in Moscow, Idaho. The annual festival celebrates the work of the deeply talented, if sometimes controversial writer, as well as the latest recipient of the PEN/Hemingway Award. This year, the award was given to Ottessa Moshfegh, author of the acclaimed novel, Eileen. Hemingway, of course, needs no introduction to readers and anglers. But for more information about the festival held in his name, I refer you to last year’s post.

A Reader’s Thoughts on Angling Ethics

January 26, 2017

quote-conservationRecently, a reader in Europe asked if she could contribute a post on conservation, about which she is passionate. Since, in my mind, there are few more important topics,  I am happy to share her post. US readers should know her views are informed by fishing in Europe, where the dearth of public lands often results in an even greater need for angling ethics. Of course, practicing those ethics (and not only ethics), is important no matter where you are, and I surely agree with her suggestions here. Thanks for sharing your thought in this post, Sara.

Fly Fishing and Conservation

It’s no secret, fly fishing gained a lot more popularity over the last decades. Once only practiced by the wealthy, you will find people of every social class enjoying this recreational activity today. With more and more fly fishing enthusiasts going after trout all over the US, the eco-systems those trout inhabit are facing new challenges. While it’s great that outdoor sports gain popularity, everyone should realize that the conservation of the environments they take place in, is more important than it ever was.

The Rise of Fly Fishing and its Consequences

As stated earlier, fly fishing developed from an almost exclusive privilege for wealthier people in the 20th century, to a sport practiced by the masses. Similar to many other outdoor activities, it provides rest and relaxation as compensation to the stressful everyday life most of us have. Although we see a steady rise in equipment prices, in today’s age people seem generally more willing to spend money for things they are passionate about. The industry, which evolved around this whole sport, grew consistently and recently saw revenues of up to 850 million in 2015, alone in the US. (http://flyfishing-blog.com/flyfishing-blog.com/2016/07/18/us-fly-fishing-equipment-market-worth-over-850-million-dollars-in-2015/)

All that being said, there are participants that struggle to keep up with the monetary demands. Businesses spend top dollar marketing their new products, driving sales to all time highs, fish hatcheries and wildlife management lack those resources. As a result they struggle to maintain healthy fish populations, have to eliminate jobs and face budget cuts for often essential projects.

The solution for those problems? Since wildlife management, can’t exactly grow like companies do, they are forced to raise fees. This might include taxes but usually, over half their budget comes from hunting and fishing licenses (http://www.denverpost.com/2016/08/27/colorado-parks-wildlife-hunting-fishing-licenses-cost/) and that’s why states like Colorado consider to double up their license fees. At the same time the number of fish you are allowed to take home might decrease and in general more and more regulations might be necessary to maintain healthy rivers. Have a look at northern Europe, if you are interested in what that looks like. Although we saw a drop in 2013, the number of active anglers recovered and takemefishing.org(https://www.takemefishing.org/getmedia/827c415a-a372-497f-a86c-8ec90d3fc0e3/2015SpecialReportOnFishing_FV.aspx) predicts them to remain like that for a while.

What Can You Do?

Besides contributing with your license fees there are also a few other things you can do, to indirectly support wildlife management and hatcheries in your area. Conservation starts with every one of us and regulations become less important, if more people stick to a few basic guidelines while fly fishing.

Practice Catch & Release

If you want to keep your impact as low as possible, catch and release is the way to go. With a survival rate of up to 90% there is a good chance that the fish you just caught sees another day and maybe another fly.

Correct Handling

Noticed how I said UP to 90%? This rate can be drastically reduced, depending on how stressful the whole process is to your catch. To keep the survival rate high, you should bring fish in as quickly as possible and keep them wet. If you touch them, wet your hands and avoid using landing nets, since those can damage their scales resulting in infections.

Go Easy On Fish During Spawning Periods

Learn how to spot redds, the areas where trout place their eggs, and avoid them. Trout usually protect those places and catching them in that situation is ridiculously easy. They want to protect their eggs and even casting in those areas, although not illegal, shouldn’t even be considered. Just don’t!

Wade With Care

Besides those nesting areas you might damage there are also plenty of other aquatic organisms, which don’t survive a wading boot trampling walking over them. Since those organisms provide a main food resource for trout, it’s in your interest that they are present and considering you aren’t the only one wading in that area, your overall impact might be bigger than you think. Wade only as much as necessary and if you are interested about what exactly lives below your boots, check out this article about the impact of wading fly fishers (http://www.wadinglab.com/impact-of-wading-fly-fishers/).

Don’t Leave Anything Behind

If someone would pay me a dollar, every time I had to pick up trash left behind by other anglers, I could probably quit my job. Both, you and trout, enjoy a clean river. Trash in form of plastic, hooks, bait/flies or line can be dangerous to wildlife. Just leave it as you found it and maybe even pick up some trash others failed to take home with them.

Doesn’t Sound That Hard, Right?

I don’t get tired of preaching those five rules. Why? Because it would be so easy to maintain a healthy ecosystem with plenty of fish, if everyone would stick to them. Trust me, you don’t want regulations like those common in most parts of Europe. It’s only fair to conserve what we all enjoy, so it’s still there if one day your grandchildren decide to go fishing.

Tight lines!

Sara

Contributor Profile:

Based in Oregon, I picked up fly fishing pretty early in my life. Since then I am pretty much hooked, always looking for the next pool to fish. I am currently travelling Europe and when time allows, I enjoy writing about topics like conservation or fly fishing gear. Occasionally I get some work published on different fly fishing blogs and might start my own in the future

Yale acquires Haslinger Breviary

January 17, 2017

Recently, the American Museum of Fly Fishing  offered an update on the Haslinger Breviary, noting that it had been purchased by Yale University. This devotional book, which contains material on fly fishing dating to between 1452 and 1462, was first publicized last year by Magg Bros. Ltd of London. I wrote about it when it was in their possession.

Maggs Bros., Ltd

Maggs Bros., Ltd

The Breviary was later analyzed and discussed in great detail by experts Richard C. Hoffman and Peter Kidd. They published their work in the spring 2016 issue of The American Fly Fisher: Journal of the American Museum of Fly Fishing (wherein you will find the dates identified above). Hoffman is known in angling literature circles for his amazing book, Fisher’s Craft and Lettered Art: Tracts on Fishing from the End of the Middle Ages, and other writings.

Now that the book is owned by Yale, it will housed in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which reopened this last fall after renovations. The fact that this singular text has been acquired by a university rather than a private collector, is wonderful news.

The Shape of the Voyage

December 6, 2016

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Cover Art by Russell Chatham, from 1989’s The Theory & Practice of Rivers and New Poems (Clark City Press).

Jim Harrison (1937-2016), of whom I have written before, published The Theory and Practice of Rivers (Winn Books) in 1986. He included the poem of the same name in a later collection, as well. Here, I offer an excerpt from that lengthy poem–the first two stanzas. They appeal to me on this wintry December day that provokes the same sort of self-reflection found in Harrison’s poem.

The Theory and Practice of Rivers

The rivers of my life:
moving looms of light,
anchored beneath the log
at night I can see the moon
up through the water
as shattered milk, the nudge
of fishes, belly and back
in turn grating against log
and bottom; and letting go, the current
lifts me up and out
into the dark, gathering motion,
drifting into an eddy
with a sideways swirl,
the sandbar cooler than the air:
to speak it clearly,
how the water goes
is how the earth is shaped.

It is not so much that I got
there from here, which is everyone’s
story: but the shape
of the voyage, how it pushed
outward in every direction
until it stopped:
roots of plants and trees,
certain coral heads,
photos of splintered lightning,
blood vessels,
the shapes of creeks and rivers.

 

 

PEETZ Fly Reel, featuring Kwagu’ł Art

November 30, 2016
I have written previously about the PEETZ reel company, located in British Columbia, and their collaboration with First Nations Kwagu’ł artist, Jason Henry Hunt (see “Kwagu’ł Hand-Carved Reel from PEETZ” and “More First Nations Artistry from PEETZ”). PEETZ makes traditional Nottingham style reels, so named for their association with Nottingham, England reel makers of the late 1800s and early 1900s. These reels are used in many styles of fishing, though PEETZ makes two that are specifically marketed to fly fishers.
img_2255
Not long ago, I received an early edition of a new 3.5 inch fly reel, engraved with the traditional coastal image of a trout designed by Hunt. This is my second 3.5 inch PEETZ fly reel. I am very happy with both reels and with the service I’ve received from PEETZ. The reels balance several of my bamboo and fiberglass fly rods well, and I also use one with an LL Bean “Trolling Series” fly rod.
img_2117

Father, Daughter, PEETZ.

I am attracted to the aesthetic of these reels, but I am also very happy with their performance. Made in BC from brass and sustainably harvested mahogany, they are as solid as can be. The 3.5 inch reel has plenty of room for backing, and the large arbor makes retrieving that backing and the fly line easy. The check helps prevent overspooling.
For me, the simple pressure drag system is usually adequate. For those occasions when more drag is needed, there is plenty of exposed spool to palm. You can also exert drag by pressing the line guard against the spool. This is a practice that the inventor of this type of line guide, Charles Henry Cook (pen name John Bickerdyke), recommended in his 1898 book Practical Letters to Young Sea Fishers.

Many anglers, including myself, had found that it was more pleasant to check the reel by pressing the wire line guard than by placing a finger on the circumference of the reel. Captain Barton has gone a step further. In the Andaman Islands the fish ran so strongly and wildly, that the ordinary check was of little use, the reel frequently overran, and his line was broken. He tried placing his finger on the rim of the reel, with the same result as it if had been place in a piece of red hot iron. This was when fishing for the cavalla. He then  worked out a very simply and effective brake. To the  upper crossbar of the Bickerdyke guard, he sewed on the end of a piece of webbing about 8in. or 9in. length, and a trifle less width than the crossbar.  The  other end of the webbing was whipped on to the rod above the reel, the webbing being kept fairly taught. The rod thus fitted is held with the hand above the webbing. When a check is required, the hand is slid down over the webbing, pressure on which causes the guard to press against the rim of the reel as strongly or lightly as the angler may wish. Letters, 311.

In short, I love these reels, and every interaction with the people at PEETZ has been very positive. I am particularly happy to promote First Nations art, with the acquisition of this latest reel. The Kwagu’ł and other First Nations of Canada and the US have been fishing for salmonids for centuries, and their respect for these fish is integral to their cultures. The PEETZ Artist Series reels serve as a reminder that we should all cultivate more respect for the non-human inhabitants of our environment.  And not only does PEETZ recognize First Nations cultures, they also help support the conservation efforts of  the Pacific Salmon Foundation. For all these reasons, I recommend looking into PEETZ reels.

Art, Friendship, and Dan Klein’s Flies

November 15, 2016

Dr. Dan Klein is a legendary Montana fly tier. A story that carries his legend transpired decades ago, but he was well known even before then. The story is recounted by Geoffrey Norman in a March 1982 Esquire article titled “The Sporting Art of Tying Flies.” In the article, Norman mentions numerous fly tiers of fame, but states that, of the flies he owns, he values Dr. Klein’s the most. He continues:

Klein’s hopper is what people in the trade call “imitative,” as opposed to “suggestive.” That is to say, it looks exactly like a grasshopper, right down to the eyes and antennae. The things are eerie, and they catch fish. Klein ties them from unorthodox materials–surgical tubing and things like that–but they are not sneered at by insiders. To the contrary, they are prized, and prized very highly. One of the best rodmakers in the country traded Klein a cane rod, made to Klein’s specifications, for five of those hoppers. If you cold persuade him to take your order, he would charge you a thousand dollars or more for building a rod like that. When they decided to trade, Klein and the rodmaker asked other fly-fishermen to establish the terms. Three celebrated anglers studied the problem and then calculated what was fair. 132.

The rodmaker mentioned by Norman is the late Gary Howells. His bamboo rods remain among the most acclaimed and obviously cost much more now than they did in 1982 (I see several listed for sale online at prices between two and three thousand dollars). The famous trade is recounted in greater detail by Joseph Beelart, Jr., in his 2013 biography of Howells, titled “Howells: The Bamboo Fly Rods & Fly Fishing History of Gary H. Howells” (Whitefish Press).

Klein's Hopper

Klein’s Hopper

Dr. Klein achieved his renown when he lived in Idaho and fished the Henry’s Fork regularly. In 1976, he and his family moved to Helena, Montana. His youngest daughter began second grade that year a bit late. I joined that same class just days earlier, having recently moved with my family from Dillon, Montana. We have been close friends ever since, sharing similar paths in life, personal views, and so on.

Dr. Klein’s daughter blessed me recently with the gift of a hopper tied by her father. The personal connection–a connection I do not have with the other collectible Montana flies I own, such as those tied by the amazing Jack Boehme–makes the fly particularly special. Like Norman, however, and like Howells and many others,  I also view the hopper as a genuine work of art. And I happen to believe we need more art in our lives right now, and the beauty art so often conveys, no matter how small and mundane that art may seem.

Dr. Klein and his flies, in Beelart's book.

Dr. Klein and his flies, as pictured in Beelart’s book.

Advice from Walton

November 14, 2016

Isaac Walton wrote and published The Compleat Angler in an England that bears some resemblance to the contemporary United States. The nation–and other parts of Great Britain–were ripped apart by division between what some might view as populists and somewhat more liberal (religiously, at least) “establishment” parties. In mid-seventeenth century England, this division was manifested in the bloody English Civil Wars.

For all its turmoil, America is not at war internally, but the division is great. Therefore, we might find useful wisdom in Walton’s work (obviously, an obsessed fly fisher such as myself would think so). To that end, I offer the following words from Walton to those who blindly support “ostentatious” leaders (and there are many of them). The spelling, style, and punctuation are Walton’s.

I would rather prove myself to be a Gentleman, by being learned and humble, valiant and inoffensive, virtuous and communicable, than by any fond ostentation of riches; or (wanting
these Vertues my self) boast that these were in my ancestors.

Isaac Walton, The Compleat Angler, or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation, 1st ed. (1653) 13.

Author and Cartoonist H.M. Bateman

September 30, 2016
The Last Trout. From The Tattler. Copyright H.M. Bateman Designs, www.hmbateman.com.

The Last Trout. From The Tattler. Copyright H.M. Bateman Designs, http://www.hmbateman.com.

The American Fly Fisher: the Journal of the American Museum of Flyfishing, just published an article by James D. Heckman on author and cartoonist H.M. Bateman. The London-based Bateman (1887-1970) was an avid angler, but he also satirized the upper class, with whom fly fishing was often associated in the 20th century.  Thus, his favorite pastime was also a subject for his cartoons. Heckmans’s biographical sketch and the cartoons accompanying it (such as the one above) are worth a read. You can access it here: http://www.amff.org/h-m-bateman-cartoonist-extraordinaire-fisherman-life/ And you can learn more about Bateman (and purchase prints) at the website of H.M. Bateman Designs Ltd.


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