Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011 Report

"You and your quiet," said Brett. "What is it men feel about quiet?"
"We like it," said the count. "Like you like noise, my dear."

- E. Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, Part I page 61

Setting for 10 AM - 2 PM today.

The sauger (Sander canadensis) is a freshwater perciform fish of the family Percidae which resembles its close relative the walleye. -Wikipedia

Can't remember if I'd caught a sauger on a fly before today. Maybe. It's up there with with bowfin and mooneye in a triad of nice fly-caught fishes. Told my kids it was a baby water dragon. They believed it. I believe it.

The River is the ultimate sorter. It can take unlimited tons of mass and group by particle size in beautiful geometry. Fans and bars. Waves of sand. Slow deposition. Episodic resuspension and transport. Then sorting again. No man will ever be able to do this. Not even with iphone applications.

No matter how much it may be used by towing companies and water companies and commercial fishermen and trappers and the like, the river doesn't belong to the workaday world. And no matter how much it is used by pleasure boaters and water-skiers and the like, it doesn't belong to the vacation world either. It is never concerned, if you can see what I mean. Nothing keeps to its own way more than the river does.

Another thing: No matter how corrupt and trashy it necessarily must be at times in this modern world, the river is never apart from beauty. Partly, I suppose, this is because it always keeps to its way.

Sometimes, living right beside it, I forget it. Going about my various tasks, I don't think about it. And then it seems just to flow back into my mind. I stop and look at it. I think of its parallel, never-meeting banks, which yet never part. I think of it lying there in its long hollow, at the foot of all the landscape, a single opening from its springs in the mountains all the way to its mouth. It is a beautiful thought, one of the most beautiful of all thoughts. I think it not in my brain only but in my heart and in the lengths of my bones.

- Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry, page 310

Zumbro River riffle. Not bad for an assemblage of pixels. I could look at it for a while.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 2011 Notes

(0) Pretty sure I haven't caught a fish in the month of October, outside of maybe a panfish or two logged with kids, but I can't even remember that 100% at this point. I know one day we took out a little buddy approx age six and guided by James, he caught his first ever fish (crappie). For old ass 35 year old me though nothing going.

(1) I've noted with interest the continuous air temp data logged at the local USGS station. October has been a remarkably welcoming month. Perfect days to be outside. Playing a lot of catch. So on, etc.

(2) Finished rereading Another Turn of the Crank. Frustrating exercise to absorb such good analysis that leaves you with a negative vibe. I put a link in the sidebar to some WB essays. Worth a look. He's not called the modern prophetic voice for nothing.

Couple excerpts:

Conserving communities:

now claim that they can do a better job in running a global economy? American agriculture has demonstrated by its own ruination that you cannot solve economic problems just by increasing scale and, moreover, that increasing scale is almost certain to cause other problems-ecological, social, and cultural.

We can't go on too much longer, maybe, without considering the likelihood that we humans are not intelligent enough to work on the scale to which we have been tempted by our technological abilities. Some such recognition is undoubtedly implicit in American conservatives' long-standing objection to a big central government. And so it has been odd to see many of these same conservatives pushing for the establishment of a supranational economy that would inevitably function as a government far bigger and more centralized than any dreamed of before. Long experience has made it clear-as we might say to the liberals-that to be free we must limit the size of government and we must have some sort of home rule. But it is just as clear-as we might say to the conservatives-that it is foolish to complain about big government if we do not do everything we can to support strong local communities and strong community economies.

But in helping us to confront, understand, and oppose the principles of the global economy, the old political alignments have become virtually useless. Communists and capitalists are alike in their contempt for country people, country life, and country places. They have exploited the countryside with equal greed and disregard. They are alike even in their plea that it is right to damage the present in order to make "a better future."


Conserving Forest Communities

That early regardlessness of consequence infected our character, and so far it has dominated the political and economic life of our state. So far, for every Kentuckian, like Harry Caudill, willing to speak of the natural limits within which we have been living all along, there have been many who have wished only to fill their pockets and move on, leaving their ecological debts to be paid by somebody else's children.

But by this time, the era of cut-and-run economics ought to be finished. Such an economy cannot be rationally defended or even apologized for. The proofs of its immense folly, heartlessness, and destructiveness are everywhere. Its failure as a way of dealing with the natural world and human society can no longer be sanely denied. That this colonial system persists and grows larger and stronger in spite of its evident failure has nothing to do with rationality or, for that matter, with evidence. It persists because, embodied now in multinational corporations, it has discovered a terrifying truth: If you can control a people's economy, you don t need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant. If you control people's choices as to whether or not they will work, and where they will work, and what they will do, and how well they will do it, and what they will eat and wear, and the genetic makeup of their crops and animals, and what they will do for amusement, then why should you worry about freedom of speech? In a totalitarian economy, any "political liberties" that the people might retain would simply cease to matter. If, as is of then the case already, nobody can be elected who is not wealthy, and if nobody can be wealthy without dependence on the corporate economy, then what is your vote worth? The citizen thus becomes an economic subject.

(3) I walked into a cubicle that confines me for hours on end and the place had a brightness to it that was brought there by a box from The Big Red Barn kept by WFF. Gem tomatoes, pickles, salsas, pizza sauce. Most of it's eaten already. Few nights ago had brown trout with caper sauce. Put the cream in the dirty pan and mop it all up. That's the sauce recipe. Then throw capers in there. Soups, breads. Last of the peppers. Arugula and beet greens. Potatoes. Grapes and raspberries coming to end.

(4) Regarding the previous post in which I foolishly spoke with bravado regarding a stake-out method to be employed in an effort to hook one last carp: it didn't work. The water was down a good bit, and the silt plumes, while visible, were out of reach. There will almost certainly be no carp for the remainder of 2011. Danny and I found three urban wanderers last weekend, but all were out of reach, and had they been accessible, would have been not-landable given the local flood control channel (really high walls). One exceedingly good bit did come of that outing though: as we were lining up a rod in a parking lot, two guys approached; Danny volunteered: We're going fishing. They replied: For what, crappies? Danny: Nah [not no, it was nah], they're too small. I file that one away in the best-ever category.

(5) Figuring I will head out deer hunting again this year. Many years of failure don't get me too down because it's an enjoyable undertaking. I'll be fishing a trout stream again this year, very close to my house. Scouted around twice, second time with Danny (pics below). BTW, Danny shat in the woods on this outing, with no TP and thus messed his underwear a bit. Then he stepped in his own droppings. Happy and impressed to report that he walked funny for a few minutes, but then: not another word. The kid is not a complainer. I am fully convinced that he would follow one on pretty much any adventure, provided you have snacks or candy to keep him committed.

(6) Must be about time to walk around on the river a bit, see what's out there.

Happy fall to everyone; I hope you can look past the shortcomings of humanity and somehow figure out a way to relax. I know I can't, at this point anyway. It'd be nice though and it's a life goal: to relax.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Closing Time

Another season ends...

Interesting fall thus far. Unseasonably warm. Which is good, mostly. Spending time watching things transition. Collecting nuts. Wrapping up the garden. Watching all the biomass on the tomato plants get that extra push from the heat and turn would-have-been-forever-green tomatoes bright red. Eating various colored peppers. Practicing handoffs, passes, receptions with kids. Etc. etc. But in a backwards way the whole deal makes me even more grumpier than I already am known to be: I look outside and get pissed that I'm not out there. Instead I'm in an office. Burns me up a bit. Fuckin nice weather. I did make it out on 9/30, with a mind to fish a tough, crowded stream full of nice BNT. I was going to start up, work down, swinging streamers. Tucking black leeches and buggers under log piles. Etc. Good plan there. 9/30 was many things: a Friday; a perfect weather day; last day of trout season; and most notably: the day that DNR decided to shock the stretch of stream I was going to fish. I drove down an old field road... quite a ways back there... and "WTF - is that a gleaming truck cab?" Yes it was. Well I harbor no resentment there. On the contrary, I love every one of those guys and I appreciate what they do. I left the scene and fished a downstream reach; couple fish to hand but heart wasn't in it. Went on to another stream and didn't cover much water because I was intrigued by some trout cinema playing out before me: a pod of moderately sized fish, dancing in midcurrent, taking nymphs. Somewhat fascinating to watch. Gripping anyway, enough so that I did not move for a good number of minutes. I watched and floated my nymphs through. Watching the flies; watching the fish. Caught a fair number. Hold, hold, spot something, shoot to the side, take, flit back to the hold. You could imagine then your nymph getting in that lane; at that x, y and z coordinate. Drifting through. Something to see really. Later on I spooked one of the bigger trout I've encountered. Easy mid-20s. It was in a relatively shallow reach; hiding under a log. It came out into plain sight and I stared at it. Vibrantly colored fish. Very deep. It moved behind a rock and I continued upstream. So the season didn't close with a conventional bang; but I was cool with it. You get what you get and you don't have a fit. The heart of the weekend was spent taking the boys camping on the local river. Twelve minutes away. Basic car camping. It's not really noble, wild or particularly special. But the boys love it; it cost $15; not much gas. It is good for everyone to be cold at night: local USGS station showed 40 F was the low. Amazing to sit outside and feel the exponential evacuation of heat from ~ 6 PM to 8 PM. Big fires in evening and morning were appreciated. And we are taking a different approach to camp food lately; in this case, stir fry: our peppers; friend's onions; road kill venison. So maybe noble afterall because that's a bang-up ingredient list. Just eat it right off the iron gridle. Salt, pepper, oil. James, he walked up to the river with his spinning rod; cast a twister tail once and landed a SMB. I AM good, is what he said. He proceeded to catch a handful of fish, employing a new-found bounce retrieve. Rock bass and SMB. A carp of 10-12 lbs swam within spitting distance of me. Didn't flinch. Rod was in the car. I'm cool with some carp swimming unmolested. Some carp. Well hell this is old news; season's been over two weeks. Days are ticking by. Xs on the calendar. I hope we're doing some good stuff around here but who knows. The kids bounce like yo-yos, in that one day we're slapping their backs and we're all smiling and good vibes are everywhere; next day we got all kinds of foul words and wishes and bitching and whining. It ain't steady around here. Not at this moment. Not bad though. Not bad at all. Maybe some good things going on. Watching one son read far past his grade level; execute various math problems, including application of negative integers. Marveling at his pretty powerful south-paw cannon. Seeing the little guy just want to love everyone around him. Watching him look for approval. Coming to understand that my wife helps a lot of people, in different ways. What I do is not readily explainable but lately I've been feeling pretty good about that too: some good analysis to add to on-going campaigns that, while obscure, are particularly and clearly important and necessary. Campaigns and struggles are long and grueling and they are made of component parts. Every component part must be constructed and installed. Even if ignored (deliberately or otherwise) they must be constructed and installed. There are few if any immediate rewards in such campaigns. No kids to smile at in class; no built house to look on in admiration; no sale to close. And that can be frustrating. But I play out scenarios all the time. Especially in non-engaging meetings. And scenarios without the aforementioned campaigns are dark indeed. But that is too much talk on that. It wasn't intentional. Fuckin keyboard. And monitor. Fuckin burn em all up and compost the ashes for what they're worth. Or better yet they can all burn in hell which is where they belong. The only other thing worth mentioning at this point is that not all seasons are closed. Not all closed. I have developed a lazy technique called layin in the cut that just might net me one final cyprinid. To implement this approach I will need approximately two hours this weekend. Just a couple hours. Waiting 'em out. For after this weekend, things turn dark and cold. Dark and cold... so this is the final show. Bring it on! Woohoo!!

Time Series: Chelydra serpentina

Or: four guys drank Lake Superior Ale on a lonely shore miles from nowhere and watched a dinosaur dismantle a smallmouth bass.

After the initial ripping of the head and gill plate area (the kill), the snapper became very methodical about this undertaking:

(1) Thrust head forward to grasp carcass;
(2) Use front legs to push away while pulling with head to rip chunk off;
(3) Back up, swallow chunk hole;
(4) Extend snorkel-nostrils just above water surface; exhale; inhale;
(5) Submerge head;
(6) Advance and go back to step #1.

Common snappers are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water, their powerful beak-like jaws, and their highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name "serpentina", meaning "snake-like").

The snapper is an aquatic ambush hunter, capturing its prey with its beak-like jaws.

Pagami Creek Fire

As seen by a band of fishermen who cared peripherally about it (don't mean to sound crass, but we were in fact a band of fishermen). We were north of the fire a good ways. The images that follow the map (from Pioneer Press) were collected by me, from various vantage points, looking south and maybe slightly SE. Some of it was clearly "smoke as art" from our perspective. It was interesting to ponder it and zoom our mental eye closer and closer and construct the release of decades of carbon bound together by sun's energy; now broken apart and expelling that energy as heat.

For reference, we were in camp Sept 8-14. I see now that what I recall feeling like a south wind ~9/12-9/13 must have been more of a SW wind; pushing that maroon polygon north and east.