Winter on the Eel

Suddenly, the leaves are all gone.

The storms gave ample notice:



The alders will now paint the day’s luster,

On a rare afternoon, posing

As a cruel cheat of Autumn,

Dripping spoonfuls of honey,

Across the big bends of a fresh river.


Evenings are still two months out.


Here, morning’s curfew still remains

As some lame excuse for the wind

Spoiling the silty corners

After the flood.


The easy drips from mossy rocks,

The rare percussion:

The work of silent, green water.


I’m trying so desperately 

To soak this winter into my bones,

As the water draws lines,

And curves,

And the circles hide things.


I know the kids still lean over the bridge,


Into the green water mystery,

Waiting to see the ghosts

Brushing against the emerald velvet

Of winter’s passing.

Tying with Coot – The Spey Experiment

The new coot skin arrived! substitute for heron feathers – or so I was hoping.

This really wasn’t an experiment – as others have used coot for a variety of spey flies.  But I had to see if it met my expectations of a good looking buggy fly with hackles that would stand up in the faster water fished this time of year.

The goods
The goods

Time to try it out.

I wrapped the hackle three times over the alpaca wool body to help it stand up.
I wrapped the hackle three times over the alpaca wool body to help it stand up.

The first outing confirmed it fishability and success.  The half-pounders couldn’t stay away from it.

I’m sold.

On the Coming of Storms

Reminiscing on Fall Steelhead

Somewhere in August a subtle change happens. One morning dawns cooler than the last. Maybe it lasts a day, maybe three, then the notion is lost in the incessant summer. Nothing of real importance happens now, except maybe noting a yellowing cottonwood leaf hanging from a branch. Finally, well into August, I realize there is no turning back now and the best time of year is at hand.

Over the hill and away from the coast, the relentless heat holds fast – lasting well into September and often October. I remember sunsets along the coast when far off webs of cirrus clouds would hold low on the horizon hinting at some far off storm and the reminder that winter is not far off. But these can be days of agony – days I spend with a sense that all of summer’s delights are now out of reach, even though I well know that many more weeks lie ahead. All the while, the fog-shrouded, chilly mornings I remember of seasons well underway seem impossible now. As the days go by, as summer hangs on, I wonder if they will ever come this year. Sometime, not long after, in a fit of desperation, the decision is made to make the annual pilgrimage over the hill, to return to the river. I do not have high hopes of hooking a steelhead, after all, summer is still holding fast. This is a journey to prove that something really is happening. Continue reading “On the Coming of Storms”

A Late August Raindrop on the Way

Tuesday, August 19.  I couldn’t resist the forecast: cloudy skies with a chance of rain.  Yes, rain.  Over the hill it had been pushing triple digits.  Now, October-like weather was to make a brief appearance.  I jumped on the opportunity – sneaking out of work a wee bit early, grabbing a rod and fly wallet and wheeling inland.  The river temps were dropping to below 70 (ouch that’s warm water!!!), so hopefully any fish hooked and released were likely to revive.  (check out temps at the Yurok’s Real-Time Monitoring Page).

Sure enough, cloudy skies prevailed, though the rain drops could be counted in the dozens (thankfully, because I had left my jacket back in the truck).  What transpired shall remain unposted… suffice it to say there are a few early running fish in the river.  I will leave it at that.  Also of note is the lack of wind that evening – the normally ferocious and unrelenting afternoon winds up the river had been knocked down by the approaching storm.  It’s so nice to leave the river at dark, warm and calm, with the crickets chirping amonst the dry grass.  We just don’t get that here on the coast.  I can’t wait to get back!