Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Woola Woola Scores Again

An October rainbow road means good luck fishin', and it was.
The missing piece of my boot appears in the next photo.
Silvers left in the river eventually turn to colors of leaves.
I keep trying to get to the Portland, Oregon, Airport, but the fish say no.  The rivers on the way are too tempting, even if I smell like bait on the plane.

Man, I sure do like those "Slow Release Scent Leads" by Woolawoola-hummahumma-ki Tackle Company, sort of a Slinky-like weight that is advertised as "The next best thing to chumming!"  The shrimp/anise seems to work best, which is like a lemon/lime snowcone to a human on a hot summer day.  If you try one, put a hook in the lead in case fish bite it. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tillamook, Greenland

3 Clackamas steelies I caught in 1979.
A coastal fall chinook I caught yesterday. Where did I leave that hat?
Living vs Existing
Too dark to keep but pretty fall colors.
Speaking of the Clackamas River, here are three I caught in 1979 before the crowds. 

Suz netted my fall chinook yesterday.  The only thing better than a mermaid is one who knows how to net a salmon.  She lost a bright coho but caught the fisherman.

I was so stressed after the move from Whidbey back to Portland, Oregon, I had to go fishing. Sometimes fishing stresses me out then I have to go fishing to relieve the stress.  Things like wrongly placed blackberry vines mean holes in face, or worse, in waders.  Wrongly placed boulders mean a fisherman in the river amongst the fish.  ODFW should consider their placements of these things.

On the river, I was thinking all these fish photos and poem notices have been sort of vying for attention, and certainly there is a land more satisfying than vying for attention.  Just being on an Oregon coastal river alone or with a mermaid is pure magic. 

However, when I'm not fishing, I still want to write and sell poetry books.  My newest one, Tillamook, Greenland made it past the query stage to the 40-page proposal stage at Portland State University's Ooligan Press which publishes books about "cultural and natural diversity of the Pacific Northwest," a perfect fit for this one.  I know from my days fly fishing that sometimes the presentation can be right but there are still no takers.  The river has a life of her own.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Remembering the Clackamas

My Winter Steelhead Ritual above Carver Boat Launch donated to White Wolf Sanctuary in Tidewater, OR.
Seeing Rivers of a Lost Coast made me reflect on my home river, the Clackamas, named after an Indian tribe in Oregon which researchers note had been in the area about 10,000 years.  It had memorable fishers, memorable fish, and a rich history of spring, summer, fall, and winter water-magic.  I once lived in Carver,  and while growing up in nearby towns that river and her fish were all I could think of many gradeschool and highschool days.

I made the above clay art with bones of a steelhead I caught and ate from the Clackamas.

The Clackamas was Rudyard Kipling's favorite river.  The Noble Prize-winning author caught his first salmon here though some say it was a steelhead.  Regardless, he wrote, "“I was up the bank lying full length on the sweet-scented grass and gasping in company with my first salmon caught, played and landed on an eight-ounce rod. My hands were cut and bleeding, I was dripping with sweat, spangled like a harlequin with scales, water from my waist down, nose peeled by the sun, but utterly, supremely, and consummately happy.”  I know what he meant.  I imagine 10 seconds before my death, I will be thinking about this river instead of all the volumes of chicken-scratch ink marks on pages meant to transfer others' ideas to my restless want-to-be-fishing mind.

Most composition students, creative writing students, and literature students would have benefited from floating part of this 83-mile river with me, and fishing for winter steelhead, spring chinook, summer steelhead, and coho.  Like Kipling, they would have real-world experiences to write about, and to relate to famous works of literature.  Looking across years of composition students, some were gifted or excited to write, but far too many eyes and hearts were so glazed that if they were pastries the blockage would be the size of Texas donuts.There is probably no better medicine for this than a glacier-fed wild river. 

The Clackamas, like many damaged rivers in Northern California, had her heyday before troubles.  Salmon and Steelhead Runs and Related Events of the Clackamas River Basin -- a Historical Perspective notes, "One avid fisherman, Charles Mack, clearly recalls a particular fishing season in the late 1930s when he caught 68 spring chinook, weighing an average of 19 pounds each."  The document also notes, "Livingston Stone [ . . . wrote in] 1877 that 'probably no tributary of the Columbia has abounded so profusely with salmon in past years as this river (the Clackamas)' (US Commission of Fish and Fisheries 1877)."  Unfortunately, “Records show that upstream salmon migration was restricted as early as 1868 after a dam was built on the Clackamas River near Gladstone. This dam, or another near it, continued to impede passage until a fish ladder was provided in 1895.” and  “In 1917 the ladder at Cazadero Dam washed out and was not reconstructed until 1939.”  I guess there were so many salmon in those days that, like in northern California, the supply seemed inexhaustible.

I hiked the headwaters near Olallie Butte, about 10 miles north of Mt. Jefferson, all the way to where the Clackamas enters the Willamette near Oregon City, imagining ripe old old days before white settlers, or scouting for fish to catch in modern times. 

In my book River Walker, I wrote about a childhood river experience that has stayed with me:

Clackamas River Mermaids

At age 7 when I saw a man and woman making love
waist-deep in the Clackamas River above Barton Park
I thought mermaids were swimming upriver
like they did every thousand years or so
to spawn with lucky fishermen
and die in pine grottos
of their Pacific ancestors.

It was 1970 and, according to many sources, about 35,000 anti-Vietnam War music lovers were gathered for seven days of outdoor concerts upriver at McIver State Park near Estacada, with snow capped Mt. Hood in the background and August's bright sun reflecting off pure crystal waters.  

However, quiet moments on the Clackamas are what I remember best.  The finest spoon fisherman I knew, Ken Bogle, taught me to fish a Krocodile, and showed the importance of pausing it at the end of a swing to entice a strike.  Clayton Timothy taught how to drift fish with just enough lead to keep my corky near the bottom, but not enough to slow it much. Later, I taught 15-year-old Jake to spinner fish.  I caught my largest winter steelhead here, an 18 and a half pound buck that showed the silver-sided reward of patience and deep listening.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rivers of a Lost Coast

Rivers of a Lost Coast Trailer

I watched Rivers of a Lost Coast tonight.  It was about the legendary salmon and steelhead runs in northern California, and rare men who sacrificed "the narcotic of civilzation" to be with them right to the bitter end, even, in the case of Bill Schaadt, giving one's entire daily life to the pursuit.  It was prophetic regarding how fast these magical fish runs can be lost due to logging, drought, water diversion, dams, overfishing, public apathy, and poor planning.

I have fished from the Rogue in southern Oregon to the Tanana near Fairbanks, Alaska, and spent 10 years as a commercial fisherman, and eight years as a charter captain.  I am glad anyone who has dedication and time can still find river moments like those on the Eel and Smith in the 1940s.

There is nothing on Earth that comes close to the brilliance of these fish and the natural joyful spirits of men who served as mentors and innovators.  This film was a reminder of the concept one has to give back to the river, and to fight for rivers one loves.  That can be as big as supporting Save Our Wild Salmon, or as small as carrying a trash bag to the river to pick up mono, beer cans, and discarded gear.  It can also mean taking time off from fishing to educate young anglers how to toss spoons, spinners, jigs, or floats, and show why it is more satisfying to hook an aggressive fish than to snag one in the back.

Some men claim there is no way to stop "progress" so these fish must be lost.  Whenever I hear this, I recall the Hopi Tribe in Arizona, which as I wrote at The Raven Chronicles,  "in 1995 [said] 'No' to a casino for reported 'political, cultural and religious reasons,' and repeat[ed] 'No' to slot machines in 2004." The point is, we have clear choices.