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 Books

March 13, 2017

Online magazine The Montana Mint published a list of recommended books about Montana recently. The post is titled “The Greatest Books Ever Written About Montana.” The claim implied in this title is quite a stretch, but they do recommend some wonderful books. Some of these I recommend to you, in turn.

Of course, you are already familiar with Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and Other Stories (1976). Maclean fans might also enjoy Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western World (1980), in which the author is nearly as poetic about the Montana landscape as Maclean. The Montana Mint lists several other Doig titles, as well.

The Big Sky, first edition data (fair use image, from Wikipedia)

Another worthwhile read is A.B. Guthrie, Jr’s The Big Sky (1947). This classic novel is a deeply engaging and sometimes disturbing fictional account of the mountain men, set during the first half of the 1800s. It left quite an impression upon me, as a young man. Its 1949 sequel, The Way West, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

For a Native American perspective upon the sort of Indian/white interactions described by Guthrie, read James Welch’s Fools Crow (1986). Welch was a Gros Ventre/Blackfeet author, who remains a looming figure in Native American literature. In Fools Crow, he tells the story of a fictionalized Piikani Blackfoot man. The story culminates with the 1870 Bear Creek (Marias River) Massacre, during which the US Army murdered approximately 200 Piikanis. Fools Crow does not mesh perfectly with Blackfoot oral histories, but it is a compelling book that certainly conveys Native emotions about such devastating events as that which occurred in 1870.

For the full list of books recommended by The Montana Mint, see their post.

 

 

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.

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

1570225

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.

 

 


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