Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Art of Fly Fishing

Visit most any stream or lake in the Pacific Northwest and few anglers will be found casting an artificial fly lure.  Exception will be those bodies of waters set aside by law for fly fishing only.  It's not an easy method to lure a fish into grabbing your offering.  The cast may be a long one and factors such as wind,  brush behind the caster and type of water in front can be a problem. The lure has to be presented in a way that looks natural.  A sloppy slam of the artificial bug on the surface won't entice even the hungriest of fish.  But, the fish that does succumb to the lure provides a great thrill, no matter how large or small the fish is.

When I was 12 years old my father paid the astronomical sum of $100 for a series of lessons from a supposed fly casting champion.  That was in 1936 and the lessons were taught at a pond in Portland's  Laurelhust park.  After each lesson he would rush home, mom and I would get out our new fly rods and he would pass on his new knowledge to us.  That part was good.

From there on it was a matter of trial and error on which artificial flies to use and how to use them.  There were some tried-and-true favorites that worked on many bodies of water for us.  There were the Coachman bucktails, Caddis bucktails, mosquito,  Blue Upright and one very favorite, Queen O' The  Water.
Dad and mom had a business where they could leave work any afternoon or weekend to go fishing and we did that a lot during the summer months.  Not far away was the Clackamas river above the town of Estacada which, back then, was crystal clear and only lightly fished.   We gained most of  our knowledge through experience on that stream.  I can still remember vividly the day I stood on a small rock above the pool, laid a dry fly out perfectly on the water and watched a trout rise up like a bubble from the depths to swallow that fly.

Then there was the time on one of the small lakes in the 8-lake Basin where I kept casting to a trout alongside a partially sunken log who would flash up at it each cast but then spook.  Finally, one cast was slightly misplaced with the fly landing on top of the log.  It laid there for a moment then rolled off.  That little guy gobbled it immediately.  I gently released him to do some more growing.

Although it takes very little finesse and even can be done with a spinning rod is wind drifting a fly on Diamond lake in Central Oregon.  Fred Camp, who had a fly tying business in Salem many years ago, tied a fly called a Freshwater Shrimp, was a killer for that method on that lake.  With a breeze to move us along we got in line between Mount Thebeau (?) and the south lodge and dragged the fly just under the surface.  That method would catch fish when nothing else was working.  I'm sure it will still do the trick today with the right flies.

I have hooked salmon and steelhead on some of Oregon's coastal streams as well as on the Deschutes river in Central Oregon  using artificial flies. On the coast a couple of favorites were the Skykomish Sunrise or  Alsea Special.  A Black Maribou works well on the Deschutes fish.

Species I have not tried with artificial flies are the spinyrays but I'm positive it will work.  

For anyone interested in learning the sport of fly fishing I would recommend any one of many such clubs around the country who promote that art of angling.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Joy of Camping

Joe, Mary and kids had heard how much fun it was to go camping so decided to give it a try. Being city slickers they had no idea what was required but Joe solved the problem by asking for assistance from one of the clerks at a sporting goods store.  The guy gleefully sold Joe a carful of items.  tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, camp stove, ice chest, and cooking utensils. It made a big dent in Joe's checking account.

Joe was not good about reading instructions and was soon frustrated with attempts at putting up a tent.  Taking pity on the camping greenhorn a camping neighbor finally stepped in and helped Joe get the canvas home in place.  

Next came the camp stove which must have it's fuel tank pumped up before it will give blue flames from the burners.  Joe burned many matches and fingers before help arrived.  He found some of the veggies in the ice chest floating in ice water before he found out the drain plug has to be open to let the water escape.

The kids were allowed to bring along one toy so a boom box radio was allowed on the picnic table where it loudly entertained them and all the neighbors from local station KNPT  .Everyone's eardrums were saved at 7 P.M.when  it unknowingly went off the air.  Next morning, promptly 6 A.M. a trumpet sounded reveille to announce the beginning of "On The Air" to all the people  in camp who were no longer happy campers! 


After sloppily bundling everything together and dumping it in the car the little family headed home.  Five miles from camp a little voice in the rear announced, "Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom."
" Why didn't you go when we were still in camp," he asked?   "Because I didn't have to", she replied.
Joe pulled into a combo service station-convenience store so the little girl could go potty and mom could buy some soda pop and snacks.
A short distance down the road again the little girl called, "Daddy" and he told her, "Shut Up!"  She  tried again and got the same  answer, along with a sweeping swat at her that missed.
Another try again down the road she quickly said, "But daddy, mommy left her purse on top of the car back there!"
Later, at home the kids were telling all their friends what a fun time they had camping.

Joe sold all his camping gear.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Our kitty, Belle, was due to see a dermatologist vet one cold winter days couple of years ago.  Her name is Belle and she had a severe case of ringworm that our regular vet couldn't seem to cure so hopefully the new vet could help.
The weather was cold enough I brought the cat carrier into the house to warm it up before loading kitty   Into it.  I left the cage door open to make it easier to load her in when I was ready.
When time to leave I tried to load her in but it was a struggle.  She didn't to go in there so I pushed and shoved to get her in far enough to close the hatch.  Carrying her to the car was more difficult than usual as she seemed to have picked up a lot more weight.  I was concerned that maybe she was getting too fat.
At the vet's office I put the cage up on the examining table and asked the vet to check her out.  The vet opened the cage door, looked in and asked, "Which one do you want looked at?".  Stunned, I looked in and there was the other cat, Silver, snuggled in beside Belle.  He had entered the cage without my knowledge while I was after Belle.  
No kitty diet required.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Texas Snowbirds

       During our travels after returning to the mainland from Hawaii in the latter  80's we spent much of one winter in south Texas.  Much of our stay there was very pleasurable but not all of it.  It was late Fall when we arrived there and our first stay was an RV park in north Houston.  While there I discovered that one of the straps holding our blackwater (sewer) tank had broken and that tank could have dropped, making a real mess for us.  Fortunately I had spotted the strap hanging down and took the RV to a repair shop.

     Thanksgiving evening we found a pay  phone on the outside of a park building, unprotected from rain or wind, and called our family.  We were homesick and lonely as we didn't know a soul in the park.  The next day was Sunday but since the weather was better I took the truck into town to find out why it had lost so much power.  All I found was a shade tree mechanic who determined it was the carburetor and sold me a new one.  That wasn't the problem so I was out $400.  I couldn't get my money or the old carb back.  Big lesson!
      The next day I took the truck to a major garage where it was put on an analyzer and the trouble was found to be an ignition wire.  That old Jimmy had all of her 450 horses back and the big bridge was a pussycat to get overkill
     Next stop was Goose Island state park of which I had mentioned in another blog.
      Final stop in south Texas was an RV park in Donna, Texas, a few miles south of McAllen.
The place was great, including an indoor-outdoor heated swimming pool, massive recreation hall, many activities and fabulous potluck dinners every Friday night.  At least once a week many of us drove into McAllen for a luncheon at Luby's Buffet restaurant.  Excellent food, especially their Million Dollar pie!
      The roads around Donna had many roadside stands where fresh fruit could be purchased. 
The Grapefruit were as sweet as oranges which we snacked on while sightseeing the area. While we were there, Grace's sister, Pearl came to live with us and we three had a great time there.
     One side trip we made was to the border west of McAllen where for 25 cents we boarded a tiny ferry which we had to pull across by hand to Mexico.  On their side we had to walk several miles inland to a small town of which I can't remember the name.  We bought some souvenirs in that town.  The people were very friendly although their English and our Spanish talking didn't mesh well.  We managed to get a Mexican to take us back to the little ferry for a paltry sum in his sick, old jalopy.  We got back safely to the US side without incident but we found out later that what we did was foolish and dangerous.  Oh well, we made it.
      The trip home to Salem was mostly uneventful except on the road between Burns, Oregon and Bend when I heard a loud bang and looked back in my side mirror to see a cloud of vapor and pieces of black plastic.  The straps under the blackwater tank gave way and dropped that tank to the pavement. Tank and poop all over the roadside!  We limped home using public bathrooms.
     The RV trailer was still under warranty and when the tank was replaced and installed I was only out part of the cost of labor.  The straps they put back in place were much stronger than the factory originals and hopefully the next owner had no more poop tank problems.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Inflatable Adventures

For most of my life I have had boats of one kind or another.  The largest, of course was the battleship, West Virginia which was my home in the South Pacific during WWII.  Progression from there on was a 12- foot wood skiff, a 15- foot cabin boat that Grace and  I built, a couple of  Fibre- glas 14 and 17 footers, a 23- foot Fibreform cabin cruiser, a pontoon boat and the most unique, a  13- foot inflatable made by Bombard.
      We were living in Honolulu, Hawaii after I retired from the state of Oregon in 1983.   A salesman took me for a ride in one powered by a 25-horse outboard and I was hooked! I made several trips out in the ocean from Ala Moana harbor  after I bought   it and enjoyed the craft immensely. 
      It was made of tough fabric impregnated with man-made vinyls and had aluminum floorboards and a transom stout enough to handle high-powered outboard motors.  According to sales brochures given me by the sales person the boats prototype had won two different races  on the swift, dangerous Salmon river in Idaho.  It rolled up In two packages--one for the hull and one for the aluminum floorboards.  It was a hassle to put it together so before long I bought a small trailer so I could keep in inflated at all times.
     When we returned to the mainland I sold the trailer, rolled up the Bombard and shipped it back to our home base in Oregon.  We bought a 5th wheel trailer and a one-ton pickup, put the boat on a special rack over the pickup cab and headed east.  On the rack overhead the boat faced stern-to forward and made quite a sight as we travelled down the road. The  pointed tubes of the boat looked like torpedos about to be launched.  We got stopped by a state patrolman late at night on a freeway in Wyoming who was simply curious as to what that monstrosity actually was. I think he was bored on a dark and lonely night.
    In Michigan we stopped at a grocery store and when the female clerk brought our groceries out to the pickup she looked up in awe at that monstrosity on the rack over the pickup and timidly asked, "Are those bombs?"
    We had no activity involving the boat until we arrived in Texas, near  Corpus Christie, at a great state park called Goose Island.The campsites were all located up against a low seawall next to the waterway called Aransas Pass.  The water there was very quiet and just a couple of feet deep next to the wall.  Great access for use of the inflatable. Across the waterway was  Matagorda island, a part of the Barrier Islands that extend down the Texas shoreline. A great area for fishing for sea trout and Redfish.  It was relatively safe to get there except for the many underwater mounds of clam sells which, if struck at too great a speed, would slice the bottom out of an inflatable.  I lucked out on missing all those mounds going and coming but didn't fare so well with a spiny catfish.
      I invited a camping neighbor to join me for a short venture offshore from the camp and he had the misfortune of hooking  one of those catfish. Their fighting  weapons are two needle-sharp spikes they poke out ridgedly from each side of their head.  In bringing the fish in towards the boat he let the fish swing in against the hull and we ended up with a tiny pinhole in the hull which leaked air a bubble at a time.  I fought that tiny leak for the rest of the time I owned that boat.
      Surgery on one of my knees while we had moved on to Arizona put me out of the boat business for some time and I ended up selling it to a dive shop.  If it is still in use I suspect it is still doing duty retrieving SCUBA divers in some saltwater in the  Pacific Ocean.