Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Salmon Thoughts

Thanks to Bonnie for taking this photo and emailing it.
I was meditatively casting over seagrass two mornings ago on the west side of Whidbey, thinking about the 16 pound chinook I caught in the same spot last year, when I heard a familiar voice.  "I still have that photo," said Bonnie, seemingly mind reading.  The power of salmon thoughts should never be underestimated.

At a recent party, I had to disagree with an old guy who half-quoted Shakespeare, "Life is a meaningless tale told by a fish, full of spinners and bait, signifying nothing." -- obviously not a fisherman.  He continued by half-quoting The Kinks, "Just like cherry-cola, Y-O-D-A, Yoda."  I could only respond, Yoda said "There is no try [to go fishing]. Do [ . . .]."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Raft and Spinner

Two coastal summer steelhead I caught four days ago.

Surf perch add variety to your fishing. 
On my way home to Whidbey, an inland river a few days ago produced two more steelhead.
With notable exceptions, Hemingway was right in that humans destroy life, and nature brings it back.  Certainly that theme is in his story about trout fishing, "Big Two-Hearted River."  In my experience, to bring it back, there is nothing like floating a coastal river in Oregon or Washington in July for summer steelhead.  The few inches of water in some riffles mostly restricts access to pontoons, kayaks, and rafts. Many times I float all day in remote areas without seeing another floater.

For 30 years, my lure of choice in low water has been a 3/8 ounce Panther Martin with gold blade, and black yellow-dotted body.  Snip off two of the hooks so your single hook won't injure trout and smolts the way a treble does.

Here is my checklist:

> fish license and gear
> boat license if needed
> needle nose pliers (leave wild fish in water, and wet hands before you touch any fish)
> file to sharpen hooks dulled by snags
> water and food
> sun hat
> oars
> extra oarlocks
> fish bag with ice
> arrange shuttle or use bike
> bug repellent 
> sunscreen
> TP in ziplock bag (carry this out)
> sunglasses
> anchor and rope
> life vest
> shoes with felt and steel nubs to prevent falls
> raft patch kit
> bring fishing buddy or leave note about your plans
> pen and notebook to write poems
> backup fishing rod and reel
> backup glasses
> large sponge to bail water

Here are two poems I wrote on my last float:

July Moon

Maybe death is like the day
I floated a coastal river
so tranced by summer steelhead,
periwinkle cities, and wildflower scents,
I missed the boat ramp,
and miles below discovered
I didn't care
but kept fishing
under the warm July moon.


After two days without speaking,
the river speaks below my raft,
and steelhead whisper
how they are going to
whack the hell
out of my spinner.

Each day of my life
the river flowed
in this canyon beneath sentinel spruce.
I had a real choice
to be here or not,
and much too often
I  chose wrong.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 FOR Seabeck Conference on Hood Canal in Washington

I spent July 3 through July 6 as a Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the "Speak Truth to Power" FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation) Seabeck Conference on Hood Canal in Washington.  I wanted to go because poet William Stafford and his wife Dorothy were FOR members since the 1940s.

A favorite part of the conference for me was a song Iceland, 2008, by David Rovics.  Regarding background of the song, March 6, 2010, Sarah Lyall of the New York Times reported "With all but 2,500 of the 143,784 votes counted, the authorities said, 93 percent voted 'no' [on the Icesave "Repayment Plan"] and 1.8 percent voted 'yes' in the first public referendum ever held on any subject in Iceland. [ . . . .] The vote shows the depth of Icelanders’ rage. They are angry at the British and Dutch, who they say are mistreating them; angry at the regulators and government officials who failed to properly oversee the Icelandic financial system; and angry at the bankers whose recklessness helped the economy grow at a headspinning rate and then caused it to self-destruct in days."  The news story quoted Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson who reportedly said on Bloomberg Television, "Ordinary people, farmers and fishermen, taxpayers, doctors, nurses, teachers, are being asked to shoulder through their taxes a burden that was created by irresponsible greedy bankers."  Sound familiar?

The bravery of Icelandic people who refused to be cowed by many threats caused significant challenges for the global banking system.  Fearing a run on European banks, it was reported the United Kingdom and the Netherlands compensated their Icesave customers.  A news story in The Guardian by Simon Bowers amended January 29, 2013, noted " UK taxpayers are expected to recoup all of the £4.3bn owed, though the recoveries will come from priority claims against the estate of Landsbanki [instead of from Icelandic fishermen and other citizens]."

If you are looking for a community of truth-seekers and activists with vast awareness of history, social justice and ecological issues on a global scale, peace-strategies and healthy nonviolent ways to respond, you may want to consider FOR. At the 2014 Conference near Hood Canal, I heard wonderful presentations from Steve Richmond of Garden Cycles on native plantings and invasive weed removal; Dr. Michael Nagler, winner of the 2002 American Book Award, on the power of nonviolence; Dr. Peter Phillps, former Director of Project Censored , which reports the top 25 censored stories each year; and Tim Barnes, Ilka Kuznik, and Joanie McClellan on William Stafford's poems and experience as a conscientious objector during WWII.  I helped out with two sessions called "Peace of Art" which combined Stafford's poetry with collages from nature scenes, historical events, and villains or activists.  I enjoyed breakfast one morning with the social justice activist/muralist Roberto Oran whose work was inspired by great Mexican muralists like Rivera, Siquieros, and Orozco.

Watch for the next FOR Seabeck Conference near July 4, 2015.