Archive for the ‘The Environment’ Category

Magic Wands, Castles, and Fly Rods

July 18, 2017

The other day, my daughter caught her first trout with dry flies. She has fly fished in the past, catching trout with streamers and pan fish with dries. Indeed, I drag her to my favorite rivers, streams, and lakes regularly. More often than not, however, she is more interested in looking for tracks, watching birds, and spotting four-legged wildlife than she is in fishing.

Her second trout on a dry fly.

She caught these recent trout using a Hardy “Flyweight” reel and a Hardy fiberglass rod, named the “Aln.” These were given to her, when she was only three or four months old, by dear friends. During the morning of the day we fished, I happened to tell her about the River Aln and the town of Alnwick, in Northumberland, England. 

Most readers probably know Alnwick as the location of Hardy’s domestic tackle factory and museum. My daughter, however, was more interested to learn that Alnwick is the home of Alnwick Castle, which was used as the fictional “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” in the first Harry Potter film. We had just watched this movie the previous day, and we were still talking about it.

The author, at the Hardy Tackle Museum.

My daughter just recently began reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. So, it was fun to tell her I visited the Hogwarts of the first film with the very friends who gave her the rod and reel she used later that day. I also took pleasure in showing her that the the castle logo on her rod and reel actually refer to that same place.

My daughter’s rod and reel, with a Bozeman “SC” reel.

The Hardy castle and other imagery.

Like author and fly fisher, John D. Voelker (pseudonym Robert Traver), I sometimes view trout fishing with flies as a type of magic. Seeing my daughter catch her first trout with dry flies was one of the greatest manifestations of this magic. At that time, her rod was almost like the wands used by the characters in Rowling’s books. Therefore, it makes a strange but perfect sense that her rod carries the stylized image of Alnwick Castle, or, from my daughter’s perspective, Hogwarts.

Alnwick Castle, as seen by viewers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). Copyright Warner Bros Pictures.

Alnwick Castle, as seen by the author.

Save Bristol Bay

May 25, 2017

Conservationists, commercial fishers, sport fishers, and Alaska Natives have fought what is known colloquially as “The Pebble Mine” for years. Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty hopes to build this mine in the Bristol Bay Watershed of Alaska, in order to extract gold, copper, and molybdenum. Such mining operations exact a heavy toll upon the environment, and this particular mine would be one of the largest in the world.

Opponents expect the proposed mine t to have a massive, negative impact upon wild salmon and upon the many people, Native and Nonnative, who depend upon them. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed this expectation in 2013. Subsequently, several major financial backers, including Northern Dynasty’s main partner, abandoned the project. One of them, Rio Tinto, gifted its shares to two nonprofits, one of which (BBNC Education Foundation) promotes Indigenous education and cultural preservation.

Despite such huge opposition, Northern Dynasty plans to move ahead with permit requests. With a new US President, who supports extractive industries at any cost, and an EPA director, who condemns his own agency’s regulatory powers, Northern Dynasty has reason to be hopeful their requests will be granted.

In 2014, filmmaker Mark Titus directed an award-winning documentary about the Pebble Mine and Pacific Salmon, titled The Breach. In the face of Northern Dynasty’s new push to advance their project, Titus has created another short, informative film. Please watch it, below. And if you already voiced opposition to the Pebble Mine, know that you must continue to do so. Even if you do not have ties to Alaska, opposition is important. In the current political environment, an environmentally devastating project like this may soon be proposed in your neck of the woods.

Jim Harrison’s Green Man

May 11, 2017

Green Man carving, circa 12th c., from Church of St. Mary and St. David in Kilpeck, England. Wikimedia Commons.

Jim Harrison portrait by Andy Anderson, from Dead Man’s Float.

In Jim Harrison‘s final book of poetry, he includes a piece on the Green Man. This figure appears repeatedly over the centuries in European and Euro-American literature and art. His exact origin is unknown and interpretations of his symbolism vary greatly. Historically, from certain Christian perspectives, he represented the base world, Paganism, and the devil itself. From more mystical Christian perspectives, he represented the Holy Spirit and the life God breathed into all that lives. The best known manifestation of the Green Man may be in Arthurian tales, particularly in the 14th c. Middle English “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” (author unknown), wherein his meaning is as ambiguous as ever. In the 1990’s he was romanticized by poet and so-called “Men’s Movement” founder Robert Bly. Today, he receives positive attention from many neo-Pagans. Regardless, the Green Man is most often associated with “nature,” wildness, and similar concepts. Certainly, this is the association Harrison has in mind. In his poem, titled simply “The Green Man,” the figure embodies knowledge of how one should live in the non-human world. But if we consider the poem in the context of Harrison’s other non-fiction work, we might argue that his Green Man embodies knowledge of how one should live always.

Illustration of the Green Knight (holding his severed head), from the original manuscript containing Sir Gawain and the Green Night. Wikimedia Commons.

“The Green Man”

Since early childhood I believed
in a door in the forest. I looked for it
for more than a half century
and it evaded me. The Green Man
lived there, part tree and part human.
Keeping his distance he told me a lot.
Walk mostly sideways in the wilderness
to confuse those who would track you.
When outside, sleep with your eyes open
And see the coyote pup approach out
of curiosity, the small bear resting
against a stump a hundred yards away,
a warbler standing on your toe singing.
When I lost he howled at me from a tree, “Wrong way.”
I dreamed where he lived, high on the steep
bank of the river concealed under a thick drapery
of tree roots but I skidded on my tummy
down into the river, a sign to give up.
There was a stinking wolf den close by so my dog
wouldn’t stay with me. The Green Man, alone, forever.

Jim Harrison, Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon Press, 2016), 54.

Ruth Sims and Fly fishing, via Filson Life

May 4, 2017

Filson recently posted a great article in their Filson Life blog. In the story, “Navajo Fly Fisher: A Journey Towards Understanding” (May 1 2017), author Ruth Sims describes her discovery of  fly fishing and how it relates to her identity as an engineer and Navajo woman. She writes, “My love for our land and water goes beyond fly fishing, I consider it my calling in life to help take care of our earth…its just that fly fishing happens to be a beautiful bonus.” Sims’ article is a nice piece of writing, and photos by Megan Taylor complement it well.

Photograph by Megan Taylor.

Fishing is a central part of many Native American cultures, particularly in the Northwest (and there is some evidence that fly fishing existed historically, alongside spear fishing, dip netting, and so on). Not surprisingly, Sims explains that her introduction to fly fishing came from friends belonging to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai (and Pend d’Oreille) Tribes of Montana, who have fished for centuries

Filson, as most readers know, is a well-established Seattle-based manufacturer of outdoor clothing and gear. They have long offered some basic fly fishing items, such as vests and wading jackets. I personally love my Filson fly-fishing gear, particularly my strap vest (now discontinued), and it has held up very well. While not cheap, these items are so durable that they have proven to be a good investment. Filson expanded their fly fishing range for 2017, adding some nice items. Ms. Sims wears some of them in photos accompanying her story.

Unfortunately, Filson’s newest offerings are priced so extravagantly that they unaffordable to those of us who spend as much time on the water as we can. This contradicts the image that Filson  promotes of itself as an outfitter to miners, loggers, and others, who live and play hard outdoors. With few exceptions, those of us who prioritize living close to the land, sacrifice any possibility of greater income to do so.

Still, some Filson items remain reasonably priced, and the company’s aesthetic can be enjoyed for free via its blog. Of course, Ruth Sims story stand alone as an interesting bit of writing. So, give it a read at Filson Life, and check out some of the others pieces of writing as well.

Simple Fly Fishing in Japan

April 26, 2017

Yuzo Sebata has been a tenkara fisherman for over fifty years. Tenkara, of course, is a traditional Japanese from of fly fishing, using a long rod with no reel. Fishing Vision, a Japanese Media company, has recently produced a video in which Sebata takes the viewer fishing in the mountains north of Tokyo for iwana trout (Salvelinus leucomaenis) . Sebata also spends some time in the film sharing his views of the natural world. Sebata is well-known and respected in the tenkara world, and you can read more about him at Tenkara USA. Follow the link below to watch the film, Tenkara “Do”: The Greybeard who lives Life with Nature (do = “way,” in Japanese). The film is professional dubbed in English.

https://fishingvision.tv/video/tenkara/tenkara-do.php

 

Conservation, Redband Trout, and Art

April 17, 2017

Recently, at Modern Tipi, a Native-American owned store in Spokane, WA, featuring Native artists and Native-themed art, I ran across a beautifully framed picture of a Columbia River redband rainbow trout (Onchohynchus mykiss gardnerii). These redband trout inhabit the Spokane River and other regional waterways. The picture is the central element on a poster produced by Spokane Falls Trout Unlimited to raise awareness and conservation funds for the trout. The stylized picture incorporates Spokane’s famous Monroe Street bridge into the trout’s red band and feathers into its dorsal fin. The feathers are a nod to the local Spokane Tribe of Indians, whom themselves are deeply engaged in regional conservation, often in collaboration with the other tribes comprising the Upper Columbia United Tribes. The artist behind the picture is Deanne Camp. You can find much more of her amazing art online at www.elusivetrout.com. If you are in the area, be sure to visit Modern Tipi, as well. Support your local artists, tribes, and trout.

By the way, you can now follow The Literary Fly Fisher on Facebook. Go here, or click the “follow” button in the menu to the right of this page.

“Flyfish Spokane Poster,” by Deanna Camp, https://www.elusivetrout.com/products/flyfish-spokane-poster

Maclean Family Rods featured in Montana Fishing History Exhibit

March 27, 2017

The Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, MT, currently features a special exhibit titled “Hooked: Fishing in Montana.” The exhibit is located in their hallway gallery and will run until early 2018. Items displayed in the survey of all sorts of fishing practices range from a mid-nineteenth century Nez Perce dugout canoe to fly fishing tackle. Among the latter are numerous items associated with Norman Maclean, author of beloved A River Runs Through It and other Stories (Chicago, 1976). These include a Granger “Champion” bamboo rod fished by Norman, as well as a Leonard rod fished by his father, the Reverend John Maclean. Anyone passionate about the history of what we now call Montana and, of course, anyone passionate about the history of fly fishing, will enjoy the exhibit.

Maclean Family Fly Rods

In general, the MHS Museum is excellent. Fishing aside, the museum is worth a visit for the exhibit of Charlie Russell (1864-1926) artwork, alone. Another exhibit “Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark” is also very well done. Notably, the representation of Indigenous peoples, coordinated with tribal representatives, is prominent.

“Indians Discovering Lewis and Clark” C.M. Russell, oil, 1896. Montana Historical Society MacKay Collection. Public Domain

Montana Fishing Exhibit

February 23, 2017

http://mtstandard.com/lifestyles/montana-s-fishing-history-displayed-in-new-exhibit-at-montana/article_48a9f397-1e99-5ec4-8c6d-845d83cdcf64.html

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.


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