A nice sixed Rainbow, for this river, on a #16 fly. I am pretty impressed i can still see it on the river and tie it on the line ...
before that there I am crossing the river from one bar of large rocks to the other.... I end up crossing back and forth a number of times...
This is as far as I can go downstream before the river becomes a canyon with no place to walk on either side.
Late summer, the snow has melted and there isn't much rain so the rivers are running very low this time of year. All things just seem to wear down at the end of summer and we can all but walk on the bottom of the river. I don't know where the fish are this time of year. We saw lots of minnows, but it seemed better to look than to try and catch any since they are under some stress from low relatively warm water. I have no idea how they adjust to such changes in the water level - it changes on an exponential level from Spring floods to late summer lazy flow.
Upstream. Rocks here have been moved from up in the mountains, so you find the usual basalt, granite - and also a lot of serpentinite - the whole area of the Tennaway Forest consists of different 'exotic terrains' - which have a variety of rock types. When not fishing you can always admire the rocks.
Downstream. The Eocene sandstone cliffs are visible on the right. Some of the river bed is made of this 'bedrock'.
Over on the westside we are in the south fork of the Snoqualmie up towards the pass. The rocks are naturally much larger here.
Upstream - you can see where the tree-line is on the mountain to the east - this is rugged terrain. Also notice how large the rocks are. They are mostly granite and basalt from the local mountains - but there is also a lot of metamorphic and other rocks because the mountains are more than volcanic - granite plutons and basalt flows.
Downstream - how shallow the water is! We are really seeing the base of the river so close up. You can see from the edge of the where the rocks meet the trees how it swells at other times. There is little gravel and sand here - I suppose most of that gets carried down stream. A few miles to the west - with a drop in altitude - we find the gravel and not so many boulders.
The end of summer and the bottom of the river - the show is over for this year - the planet tips away from the sun another time. I suppose I see the end of summer as the end of the year since i was a teacher for so long - but it is like the end of the show - or at least this performance of it.
As I get older however, the end of each summer feels more final. Time, remains, as always, elusive. But isn't that one of the main attractions of time on the river? We get such a clarity of focus that time expands just enough so that the instant of the take expands - and the long stretches of searching punctuated by the minutes of casting flow into a constant state of now.
it is with a sweet sense of melancholy that the base of the river shows itself - this is it - all I've got - rock bottom. I put my fly in the keeper and wade.
I realized I was not in Washington anymore - needed to make big changes in tactics!
I also got the satisfaction of the smug response when this happened after I had crossed paths with a man who said he'd caught nothing up there.
Fishing is a privilege. I am thankful.
Fishing is a time when I acknowledge that I am not different from the world, and that I am a part and parcel of the whole. I am not greater than the stones in the stream or the fish I hunt.
I have to admit that I have the time because I retired as soon as I was eligible.
Okay, although I've admitted I very much enjoy the catching, I enjoy being master of the river, (as if) - But, I have to admit, on a day like today, the fishing is fine regardless of the fact I don't catch a fish. I don't even see signs of them.
This part of the world, here in the Pacific Northwest, the Snoqualmie Valley, is amazing because it is so crowded with life. The environment is so welcoming - lots of water, enough sun, and not too cold in the winter. A strong contrast with the other side of the cascades where the ground is often bare between the trees.
The next day we take a drive over by Throp in Eastern Washington to a small creek that only sees a little sun in the winter - lying on the cool north side of the ridge.
I don't feel any need to cast a line - it seems better to take pictures and let the little fish rest up for the spring. Here and now, I'll just explore the river with my camera.
We use these rivers as our playgrounds, I can see a rope tied to a log - but it is home to so many creatures - we are one of many.
We are all in this together - all made of the same star dust.
I am grateful for this amazing planet.
I am grateful for so many things -the there where I have been in the past, and the there - where I trust that it all shall remain in the future, but mostly for the now where I am. - and here's the good part - the now is always.
Enjoy the day!
Here I am at the young age of maybe 40ish... with a Jack in Florida. Why do I get a different reaction to this picture than the one below? What a nice tan, eh?
I am standing in the boat with my guide years ago and saying, I’m not one of those people who say I don’t care if I catch any fish or not, I just love being outdoors. I wanna catch fish. He laughs and replies - most of those people are lying.
Diana, also know as Artimes, points out that there is always an issue with fishing - it IS aggressive, it IS predatory. Why else would you chase fish about and grab them out of the water? Stalking the fish is the fun part – There is excitement in the “ah-ha – fooled you!” part when your trick them in to biting a well presented fly. It is about your ego, your whole mind, your whole body, it is about interacting with wild animals, interacting with the wild world, and mostly, it is about being a human being.
Still, I recall someone did a study to see if it fish felt pain when you hooked them. It certainly hurts when I hook myself – sometimes a lot – and I have been particularly glad I use barbless hooks on a few occasions over the years. I understand however, fish don’t have much in terms of short term memory - the Dory the Fish character is based on that notion – but, yeah, it’s gotta hurt a lot.
Me with a Salmon in a box - is it good or bad to be in the box was the question? That and why is the reaction different to this photo than the one of the younger me? See the blog before this one for the pic of the really big guy.
Will this little guy be okay when I put him back in the river? I try and take a really quick photo...
My muse - Dianna - the Goddess of the Hunt. Although now pure white - many believe the statues were originally painted bright colors. This Goddess is vibrant and alive - not bleached out.
Diana, right back on target, tells me there is an old saying, Hunting and Fishing are Sports – everything else is a game. There is a lot here. I let it sink in.
Fishing is some kind of instinct and that is one of the big reasons we like it. It’s serious business of being an animal on the planet. It’s not just to enjoy the scenery – it’s to tap into something essential in our make-up. To say it’s just some part of ‘ego’ as if that’s selfish and bad is, well, superficial at best. I admit I do get a rush out of a fish. And a big fish is way cool. Okay. It is about my ego – is that bad?
There’s a comedian my son quoted who makes a joke about one fish waiting impatiently for another – when the second fish arrives he says - sorry I’m late, I got caught up.
Still some folks say the fish probably won’t survive catch and release anyway – not to mention that the rivers are so overburdened with people in this twenty-first century and that the ecosystem is in danger. This Facebook commenter was, in fact, reacting to very real concerns about fishing. Concerns all of us who fish - with our eyes open - share. And I appreciate that and so I am thinking about it and writing about it. There are serious issues here.
Is the Plexiglas box a good or bad thing? Does it give the fish a chance to calm down and recover much in the same way we hold a trout in the water until it swims away? Or is it just more time out of the water that leads to certain death? I don’t know, but I’d like to know more about this. He suggested I take the next picture with the fish in the net beside the boat – but would that give the fish time to recover from the tug of war?
If we care about the sentience of creatures, and do not think them merely beast machines, then maybe we should stop hunting them down. Probably should become vegetarians while we’re at it. Or do we care only that we keep enough fish on hand so we can catch them – much like duck hunters protect wetlands. Is our concern about the population or the individual – or both?
I know my pets – and I believe all animals – lead complicated lives full of feeling and even wonder. Still I know animals eat other animals and we’re in this together. It can get weird if you think too hard. If fish are 'people' too, and people are just animals – and we are - like all life on the planet, all sentient beings, is it okay to fish? Can we catch fish and not hurt them? No, we cannot. Getting caught up is not fun for the fish - but fish live tough lives - think about the salmon swimming up river. That's painful. Is my hook just another obstacle in their path?
Again Diana speaks up. She tells me to go with my instincts here – go out and fish. But that being said, and being a goddess, she has a bigger picture to share with me. She tells me we do need to use the rational part of our brains to work to honor each animal by treating the individual well and at the same time protect and enrich their environment and make life better for their species.
The important thing here, as far as I can see, is to find a way to be part of the puzzle of life on the planet. To take the large view – see with Diana’s eyes. That would help with so much – to believe we are merely a tiny part of a greater whole. And not the master of the planet who feel that animals are here for our use.
It might also help on a personal level.
The commenter wrote back after I posted a reply and said he was sorry for saying mean things to me. He said he didn’t know why he picked my photo out of all the ones he’s seen with fish in plastic boxes.
But I know.
He picked me because I was no threat to him. As an older woman I am no longer of any interest to him. I am not young enough to be attractive and thereby have some power over him, nor am I a man who might be a rival of his authentic angler self.
The good news is it gives me a chance to post an old photos I like.
None the less, it's a puzzle.
I believe that part of going out to fish is to try and find just how I fit in. Every time I go out I learn more.
Me as Dianna. Learning Never Ends.
No catch and Release hunting -- but these birds were raised to be hunted on a preserve in NY state circa 1995 ? Remember Polaroid pictures?
How far can you cast? I am wondering about this.
The boat, tipped up by the power of the outboard, is flying over the water. The air, laced with spray, compacts at this speed – dense and cold even in the bright sun - hits my face and body. It’s a sensation you feel in your core. It’s been awhile. Now it's great to be on the Sound on an unseasonably warm day in Mid October.
The boat tips down and rides on the surface as he slows and motors gracefully towards the inlet. We creep into a small cove.The banks are lined with small shacks and newer Costco sized houses. It ends in a tiny stream. With the sun right you can see salmon schooling in the murky water. Congregating, frustrated, and just waiting for the rains to deepen their stream enough so they can go up to spawn, these salmon are leaping like crazy out of the water. Cannon-balling.
Seeing salmon one should fish for salmon. Even if we went out for sea run cuts.
Chris instructs me, same rod and lure, Long casts now – and strip in – this time more random. They haven’t eaten in a while, so they’re not hungry but they’ll strike on instinct – or something – sometimes – or sometimes they just won't. Worth a try.
I’ll cast too. He says getting out a rod, If we get one you can work him in.
We had started a few hours ago near the shore in a larger bay. Sea run cut throats come in and out with the tide, Chris said. And they are usually close to shore. He handed me a rod and told me to fish near the shore while we moved slowly back with the river of the tide into the bay we had just come out of. I got up on the platform on the bow and felt self-conscious –I pulled out line and cast out. Then more line and further until I could reach near the shore.
Not bad, he said. Good. You won’t have any problems but I can make a few suggestions.
I was trying too hard. We worked on timing and rod position. I cast further with less effort.
I caught a fish and reeled him in. Pretty small, said Chris, we’ll catch a bigger one, no photo yet.
We continued to work the beach.
They like shallow water.
I was quite out of my comfort zone – on a boat – on Puget Sound. Still, It’s a wonderful boat with a wide deck. He said he had it built for him. I said you could put a pony in it.
Who taught you to cast?
I wondered just how I learned. A friend, who would become a fishing guide, took me out in the beginning in New York State. I leaned all the basics from him. When I moved here I just worked on my own after the initial instruction. I fished with him a handful of times 10 years ago in the Everglades and he put me through the paces and I learned to make longer casts and the technique of stripping in line.
But I also really liked watching Joan Wulff Videos. Chris said he used her technique of putting a handle on a rod butt as a teaching aid.
He also said whoever taught me would be proud. My confidence rose.
As we were talking a large fish came and began to tug on my lure. Instinctively I lifted the rod up fast to set the hook – I pulled the fly out of his mouth.
Remember I told you to keep stripping no matter what. It’s not like the river, don’t pull up the rod. You have to strip-set the hook on these guys. They don’t dig in right away. Sometimes you have to let them bite a number of times. They are not put off by the hook. They are used to biting things that sting.
That was a big fish.
Naturally I repeated this process and missed two more fat trout by pulling the rod up. Sheesh, it’s difficult to break the habit.
The tide changed and we moved on.
So now here we are surrounded by fish, big fish, huge fish, jumping crazy ass fish. Don’t be nervous.
After stepping on the line a few times and twisting it about the bar on the bow. I find a rhythm. I am making good casts and stripping in – again and again – reaching out toward the leaping fish.
They’re jumping because they have no middle fingers to give us, smiles Chris. Keep going. If you get one - your line will just stop. Strip. Just keep stripping.
We keep casting. I can hear the lines singing out as the false casts pull the lines further out working towards the edge of a group or the shallows of the beach. They slice the quiet air with a whoosh. A tiny spray of water sparkles in the sun off the arc of the back cast.
Often you could see the fish ignore your lure or even follow one only to turn away. A fish would bolt out of the water near your line. Give you the fin. But we persist.
Suddenly my line just stops. This time, I keep stripping. Then the rod bends and the fish pulls out hard and away.
Take you hand off the reel and let him pull, but when he stops - reel in. Keep the line tight and the rod bent. But when he pulls keep your hand off the reel. Or he’ll break the line. You got a six weight rod there with a big salmon on the end.
Chris talks me through the process – let it go - hand off the reel - now reel in! As we see the fish getting near, it runs out again.
Kinda different than on the Snoqualmie, huh?
The fish goes in the photo box. Nice Salmon. Picture is taken. Fish goes back. Wow.
Produce! He tells me as I get back on the bow, I should have said that before.
Again we whip the lines back and forth. Again the fish are splashing – big and sliver in the air and showing off their fins.
This goes on for some time. We try here and there as the fish move about. The trolling motor purrs.
Then, again, my line stops. This time I keep stripping with out thinking. This time, the pull is much stronger. I don’t have to be told to take my hand off the reel as fish pulls and line zings off the drag. The fish and I continue to work back and forth. Chris is a good coach. He instructs when I need reminding and otherwise lets me practice what I’ve learned with encouragements.
This is work. We are circling the small cove pulled by a salmon! As he gets close he dives under the boat. I do as instructed and put the rod tip in the water and walk him around. Calmly giving instructions - as I fumble about - working to hold on to this very strong fish - Chris is thinking about me, the fish, as well as the rod, as he crosses from one side to the other following the fish with the net.
He's a little too big for the photo box - his tail sticks out. This fish is solid muscle and full of life. He kicks water out.
I am full of wonder and excitement. Keep your hand on top so he doesn't jump out.
I sit in the bow in position and he puts the box of fish and water in my hands – but I must hold my hands just so for the picture. It’s really heavy. I balance him on my knee to hold some of the weight. Chris places the rod on the top and gets out his camera. The fish thrashes and gets water all over me as my hands shake with the weight. I hold on and pose.
A few days later I am back on the Snoqualmie, celebrating this long streak of warm weather. I can’t believe the beauty of this place. I feel very lucky and blessed to be here on this day in this wonderland.
Again, I am scrambling about on rocks.
Again, there’re not a lot of fish and they are small.
But it's October and I'm out on a weekday - and the place is blooming with fall color and light. And I get a few good days in before the rain.
I would like to thank Chris Senyhol of intrepid Anglers for providing a great day of fishing. After talking with me and reading some of the blogs, Chris just seemed to know what would be perfect for me given the day at hand.
He is patient, informative, friendly, and skillful - plus he provides a great lunch! Also I have learned (actually relearned in honor of my time in the everglades) and practiced a set of salt water fishing skills - a part of my repertoire I hope to use again soon.
He was able to accommodate my needs as well as challenge my skills and interests and that is a very special skill set. At one point I had been casting for about 4 hours and said, maybe we can take a little break, No, he said, let’s just finish this area and then I have a nice break planned for you. It turned out to be the right advice.
I first started fly fishing in NY state sometime around 1985 ... mostly I fish in the Snoqualmie Forks -- very small trout but very fun to catch and release. I'm pretty much a home river person - that being said I've had a few fishing adventures. Currently I'm trying some new places on both sides of the Cascades.