Thursday, December 20, 2012

Please Support Casting for Recovery in Idaho

The Faces of Hope this Season and Every Day!    

Dear Friend of So. Idaho's
Casting for Recovery Program,

Our program is headed into its seventh year, 2013!
Casting for Recovery here in Southern Idaho
enables local Idaho women dealing with
 breast cancer to enjoy a free fly-fishing retreat every June.
This holistic and healthy retreat held at Living Waters Ranch in
Challis is supported solely by donations from folks like you!

This holiday, please consider a meaningful,
gift to support & sustain CFR in So. Idaho!
You can made a tax-deductible donation on-line HERE.
and note So. Idaho retreat in "Specific Retreat Name" field. 
 If you donate in someone else's honor she will be notified of
your generosity on her behalf! No gift is ever too small!

You can also mail in your donation.
Please make a check out to Casting for Recovery
and on the memo line write "ID-1 program"
 Mail to:
Ceci Bennett, CFR So. Idaho
5363 E. Quartersawn Ct.
Boise ID 83716


Thank you for your support of this powerful and life-changing program
that focuses on hope, recovery and wellness rather than illness.

Best wishes for a  wonderful and safe holiday season!

Your Southern Idaho CFR Volunteer Staff, Planning Committee & Program Participants!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Day Rain-Out

Graph of

Today is the last day that The Nature Conservancy portion of Silver Creek is open for the season.  I had permission to fish on Stalker Creek--the private access on the creek, so, of course, I got rained out.  We are getting a HUGE Pacific storm and are expecting four feet of snow on Sunday, but today it's just raining cats and dogs.  I'm definitely not a fair weather fly-fisher, but I refuse to fish in the rain when it's in the 30s.  Unless I'm steelheading.  The graph above if of the Wood--the water is going up and up.  My street in Hailey is quickly turning into a tributary of the Wood--I hope I can make it out, though I guess I can always get the canoe out.

Tonight I set up for the Papoose Club Holiday Bazaar.  It's the second year for The Brown Drake and I'm hoping people have their wallets open.  As a little treat for those of you not in Idaho, I'm offering free shipping at my Etsy store through the weekend.  Add FREESHIPPING as your code during checkout.  Get yourself some notecards, a trout tote, or an organizer for your tablet.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The extraordinary effort to save sockeye salmon

I cheated and bummed this from Chi Wulff.

The extraordinary effort to save sockeye salmon

After 20 years and more than $40 million spent, the new direction for Snake River sockeye focuses on rebuilding population rather than just preventing extinction. But will it work?
Seattle Times staff reporter
A vermilion slash in clear, cold water, the Snake River sockeye in this mountain stream is one of nature's long-distance athletes, traveling at least 900 miles to get here.

That this fish can make such a journey — the longest of any sockeye in the world — is remarkable. But it's more incredible that this fish is still around at all.

Down to just one known fish — dubbed Lonesome Larry — in 1992, state, tribal and federal fish managers have painstakingly preserved the species in captivity ever since.

Twenty years and $40 million later, they have a new goal. Not just mere survival for Snake River sockeye, but rebuilding the run to at least 2,500 wild fish, free of any hatchery influence, making the epic journey all the way from the Pacific across a time zone to the high mountain lakes of Idaho.

To appreciate how big a step that is, consider this: It's taken fish managers in six federal, state and tribal agencies to get this far. They oversee the lives of these fish, plotting their genetics on spreadsheets, mixing their gametes in plastic bags, and whisking them in various life stages around the Pacific Northwest in plastic shipping tubes, barges, trucks and planes, using five different facilities in three states to hatch, incubate and rear them, in both fresh water and salt.

By now, Bonneville Power Administration ratepayers have spent nearly $9,000 for every sockeye that's made it back to Idaho since this all started in 1991.

The sockeye rescue is part of a much larger Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife program — believed to be the largest of its kind in the world — that has cost Bonneville ratepayers more than $12 billion since 1978, depending on how you count it.

While Elwha Dam removal cost U.S. taxpayers $325 million, BPA ratepayers spend more than $200 million each year — including $311 million budgeted this year alone — on programs intended to restore fish, wildlife and habitat harmed by the Columbia and Lower Snake River dams. It adds up: The program's cost accounts for one-third of the wholesale rate Bonneville charges utilities that use its power, including Seattle City Light, which buys 41 percent of its power from BPA.

A recent jump in sockeye returns, including more than 1,000 fish in both 2010 and 2011, encouraged managers to expand the program and break ground on a new, $14 million hatchery this year. The goal now is way beyond just saving sockeye from extinction, and on to building a wild, self-sustaining population.

It's quite a comeback. The captive brood program was nearly canceled in 2006, because so few sockeye were making it back to Idaho. "We thought it was a little bit of a moonshot," said Rick Williams, a member of a scientific panel that recommended against continuing to fund the program.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, appointed by governors from four Western states, voted to keep it going anyway, after Idaho's governor asked members to vote with their hearts, not their heads. Then came a couple of good years of sockeye returns. Last summer, the council doubled down, voting to expand the program and build the hatchery.

Lorri Bodi, BPA's vice president for environment, fish and wildlife, said she was glad nobody pulled the plug on Snake River sockeye. She has a photo in her office of herself releasing one of the fish back to Redfish Lake to spawn a few years ago, a feel-good moment that still gives her hope. "We went from zero to four fish coming back every year. They were functionally extinct. Now, in good years, we have more than 1,000. We are going to take it to the next level. ... This is a testament to optimism.

"Our goal is to have a few thousand sockeye again, just as we did in the 1950s, before human impacts were so severe. It's a pretty cool thing to do."

The issue of dams

But where some see cause for optimism, others see denial. Idaho, Oregon and Washington are replete with hatcheries, but 16 runs of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin are still listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. And despite a few good years of returns, Snake River sockeye remain endangered. Just 243 sockeye made it back to Idaho this year.

With eight dams between their spawning grounds and the Pacific, hatchery production alone won't be enough to rebuild healthy, naturally spawning populations of Snake River sockeye and other Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead, said Joseph Bogaard, outreach director in the Seattle office of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for dam removal on the Lower Snake River.

"There was a lot of opposition to this emergency-room life support and a sense that it would not work, and that if it did, it would become a replacement for dealing with the deeper, more difficult issues," Bogaard said. "We were thankfully wrong on the first issue; it has provided a new opportunity for sockeye. But it has also been so politically easier to find the money to do this than deal with the real issues.

"It's more of the same, kicking the can down the road, and it's certainly not working for us," Bogaard said of the new sockeye hatchery.

Jim Lichatowich, author of "Salmon Without Rivers," sees agencies protecting their comfort zone, instead of salmon. "Building a large hatchery infrastructure to try to compensate for the dams is the status quo; it is the comfort zone for the management agencies," Lichatowich said. "Agencies get big budgets to run them, and politicians get credit for solving the problem. But the fact is ... hatcheries haven't been measuring up, otherwise we wouldn't have so many salmon in the Columbia Snake Basin that are listed."

Jeff Heindel, deputy director of hatchery programs for Idaho, says he knows he faces skepticism, as Northwest ratepayers pour even more money into Snake River sockeye.

"Even my own mother thinks it's crazy," Heindel said. "If I can't sell it to her, I'm not sure I can sell it to the average Joe."

Larry's descendants

The extraordinary effort that has gone into preserving Snake River sockeye is not unusual. There are dozens of publicly funded efforts, most of them run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under way around the country to bank the genes of devastated populations of animals, from red wolves to black-footed ferrets. By definition, the programs require extreme measures to sustain small populations of animals in totally artificial settings.

In a building outside Boise, sockeye kept in the captive brood program circle in fiberglass pools. Fed on the hour, they are grown to adult size, graduating to ever-larger tubs. Exercise is provided by a jet of water sputtering in the tubs, against which the fish steadily swim.

They live somewhere between captive rearing and extinction; no longer wild animals, but not gone from the Earth, either.

"Slimy little suckers," says a technician as a fish he lifts to check for weight and length slides from his hands and hits the deck. Quickly picking it up and blotting its abundant slime with a paper towel, he measures the fish and puts it back, unharmed, in its tank. Fish techs dubbed the food that fattens these fish "beefcake." But while they will bulk up, captive-reared sockeye are slimier, dimmer in color and less fecund than the wild fish from which they descend.

Go back to the beginning, and you'll meet Lonesome Larry, so-called because he was the only sockeye to return to Redfish Lake in 1992. With no mate with which to spawn, Larry was injected with hormones to pump up his milt production; stripped of his gametes, killed, stuffed and mounted in a nearby nature center. His milt was stored in liquid nitrogen, to dribble out year by year.

Descended from Lonesome Larry and other founders of the captive brood, some of these fish in the baby pools every year are allowed conjugal visits to Redfish Lake to reproduce on their own, along with some fish returned to the lake after capture.

Amazingly, Heindel says, the fish reared in captivity still understand their primal task, and head to the southeast end of Redfish Lake, as their wild forebears did, to successfully spawn.

Today, every sockeye returning to the Stanley Basin of Idaho is trapped by the state's department of fish and game at its Sawtooth Hatchery and at Redfish Lake Creek. From there, they are driven two and a half hours to a hatchery complex outside Boise, where the captive brood program is located.

Driving six sockeye to Eagle one day last August, Dan Baker, manager of the Eagle hatchery, kept an eye on a dashboard light glowing green to assure him oxygen was still bubbling in the chilled water in the box in the back of the pickup.

He stopped at a gas station mid-journey, and popped the top to check on the fish, as a fluffy dog came tail-wagging over. One fish tipped its nose out of the water, making for the edge, but Baker was too quick for it, and thunked down the lid. "Haven't lost one yet," he said, climbing back into the truck.
A battery of technicians was waiting when he arrived, to work up the new fish. In less time than it takes to make a sandwich, they cataloged each fish, then scanned it for tags, measured it, weighed it, yanked off a scale with forceps to confirm the sockeye's age, clipped off a hunk of fin for DNA analysis, crunched a hole in its dorsal fin with a hole punch to snug on a zip-tie tag, and injected the fish with a hypodermic full of antibiotics plunged in its side.

A technician dropped the last, limp fish in a holding tank full of water dosed with disinfectant. From here, some of the fish would be trucked back to Stanley, and returned to spawn in Redfish Lake.
But for the rest, this was the end of the road: new genes for the captive brood.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or On Twitter @lyndavmapes.

The extraordinary effort to save sockeye salmon | Local News | The Seattle Times

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Sisters on the Fly was at the Petticoats on the Prairie Vintage show in Colorado City, Texas.
For the past two weeks I've been in Texas. Some time in and around Midland (where Jesus died on a glitter cross, as Paddy says) and in West Texas, one of my favorite places in the world. I've been hiking with Paddy and seen some wonderful places and Today I explored a little in Marfa, an art community. Tomorrow I'll be going back to Marfa for a Dia de los Muertos celebration and craft making at the Chinati Foundation. I'll be going camping on the ranch and hiking a little more before something completely different--a trip to New York next week. A hurricane is barreling towards the Big Apple, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will make landfall a little to the south.
A beautiful water carved stream bed in West Texas.

A huge juniper in the desert.

I love western and neon--wow!

Love this store in Marfa.

The artist makes Narco art--always love it!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cooking and Canning Like it's 1920

It's the best time of the year to fish (more on that later in the week), but I've been spending a LOT of time in the kitchen.  We have canned about 60 quarts of tomatoes, made 40 pounds of ketchup, and I've been experimenting in bread making.  We laugh at ourselves--ten years ago neither of us would have ever thought that gardening and canning would be such an important part of our lives.  We wonder what year it is sometimes, but ten we turn on our cooking music (rap) to remind ourselves.

We made ketchup twice this year.  It's a two-day, dirty, hot process, but the results are spectacular.  My sister and some of my friends have been begging for more ketchup since we gave some out at Christmas last year. 
Ketchup mise en place still life.
The start of the two-day ketchup process.
Lithium Sunset tomatoes.
Testing out my new ketchup spoon.

Paddy, of Crazy Guy Tomatoes, had a great garden this year.  We think we had about 1500 pounds of food, which in Idaho, in a yard, is pretty impressive.  His watermelon crop was definitely the most impressive crop--our living room is exploding with watermelon right now!
500 pounds of delicious watermelon!
Paddy's 41 pound watermelon!
 My experiments in bread making have varied quite a bit, but the sourdough I made yesterday was restaurant quality--I'm making some progress.  Of course, this means, unfortunately, that I'm eating more bread.  I may have to stop this new hobby.
Heirloom cherry tomato, roasted garlic, rosemary, and sea salt foccacia.

Rosemary sourdough boule.
The cooking is over for now.  We are heading to West Texas (unfortunately no redfishing this fall) this weekend and are ready to soak up some sun a desert.  Nothing clears my head and my soul like exploring in the desert.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Oktoberbreast to Benefit CFR

As you know, I'm a big fan, supporter, volunteer, and cheerleader for Casting for Recovery.  If you're going to be in Boise this Thursday, join CFR at FranzWitte Nursery and Landscaping for Oktoberbreast, a tail-shaking event to raise money for local Breast Cancer Awareness.  There will be wine tasting, food, live music, silent auction, raffle, mammograms, local vendors, & flamingos! 

Among other things, you can buy a guided trip from yours truly as well as a trout tote and trout notecards from The Brown Drake.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall on the Creek

Finally!  I've been getting out on the Creek a little now that it's after Labor Day and it's definitely Fall, or Indian Summer, or both...  It's been warm, but the leaves are turning, the birds are moving, and the fish are getting hormonal--it's by far my favorite time of the year.

One of Paddy's clients left him with a Glen Bracket era Winston bamboo rod and I took it out the other day for some tricos and baetis.  I didn't catch anything over 12 inches, but it's just spectacular to feel any fish all the way into your hand.  It reminded me of how much I love cane rods.  The rod even matched the scenery.

This bad boy it nothing to write home about unless it's on a cane rod.  And one of my clients say they look like Christmas!

I can't wait to take it back out!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Drake Magazine Fall 2012

I'm so excited to have a piece in the Fall 2012 issue of The Drake!  And I guess it will be the most read page in the whole magazine because there's an extremely gratuitous cleavage shot accompanying my story.  Check it out in your local fly shop or bookstore!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The smoke has been insane in Idaho for almost a month.  We are basically completely surrounded by huge fires that the Forest Service plans to let burn so we may be in this situation for a while.  I took this photo last week as I was putting my waders on at Silver Creek.  I love seeing the sunrise down there, but it's usually not so creepy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Busy, Busy Summer

It's another crazy summer in Sun Valley.  I've been busy guiding, with events, craft shows, house guests, and gardening.  Yesterday, Paddy and I managed to fish for the first time in 47 days--I think it may be time for some changes if it's that far between fishing.  There are fires and the water's getting a little low on the Wood, but the fishing has been better than normal this year.  I hope to be back writing and posting some pics soon, but give me two more weeks and everything will be back to normal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

4th of July Baetis

Paddy and I had a great 4th of July fishing on the Creek by ourselves. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Fishing Report from Down South

My sister fishes quite a bit on the coast in South Texas (though not with a fly rod--we're going to fix that) and sent me a few pics last week.

The day she caught this 28" trout, it was 108 degrees outside.

This t-shirt was just too funny--I guess I'll describe the Redneck Riviera as the Jersey Shore of the South.  The food, scenery, and fishing's pretty dang good, though.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sun Valley Magazine Summer 2012

Dani Stern, diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, shares a smile with guide Morgan Buckert.
Photo: Nick Price

Sun Valley Magazine's Summer 2012 issue hits the stands today.  Check out an article I wrote on Casting for Recovery here.  The Southern Idaho's CFR retreat was a few weeks ago--it's such an honor to be part of such a great organization.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dancing on the Big Wood

A few weeks ago I was fishing with two of the most fabulous ten year-olds I've ever met.  The fishing was awesome and the girls were having a blast.  They even gave my an impromptu dance performance on the banks of the Big Wood while the fishing was slow.  I traded them flies if they would hold their fish for photos, which they did willingly, though there was definitely some shrieking from wiggling fish.  It was a great time and I can't wait until they come back!

By the end of the day they didn't even need me.

There were a few fish mishaps--which were HILARIOUS!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Opening Day

Conditions were pretty miserable on Opening Day.
Paddy with his first Silver Creek rainbow of the year--he can't not do the guide pose.

Opening Day was about a week and a half ago on Silver Creek.  We've had a lovely spring and of course it decided to get cold and rained cats and dogs for Opening Day, but Paddy, Ian, and I braved the conditions to throw some Meat Whistles in the rain.  It's warmed back up and we've already had Brown Drakes, so I'd say things are going well.  I'm looking forward to big fish all summer!
Ian with his first Silver Creek Brown of the year.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Lone Star Land Steward

Wexford Ranches was recently honored at a banquet by Texas Parks and Wildlife as a 2012 Lone Star Land Steward for the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Region.  I grew up on the Wexford Ranch and my dad has been the Foreman there for many years.  I have worked on the ranch basically since I was big enough to get on a horse and am now managing a blog for the ranch, Wexford Ranches, which you can read here.  Paddy's even found himself on the ranch payroll every once in a while--I guess we'll never leave.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guest Post at Sun Valley Magazine

Just another Saturday afternoon.
I had a guest post about the Sturtevants free fly-tying classes at Sun Valley Magazine.  You can check it out here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Seventh Anniversary

My first photo on The Sand Hill seven years ago.  This is Stalker Creek, still the place where I want my ashes spread.  My parents sent me a 4mp digital camera when I moved to Idaho to document my experiences.  They knew they'd never see photos otherwise.

Well, yesterday marked seven years in Idaho.  It's amazing that I've now spent a quarter of my life here fishing, working hard, and having adventures with Paddy.  I was just a young pup who needed a break when I moved here to work for The Nature Conservancy for the summer.  I wonder if it was the right decision for me and then I remember  could be sitting in traffic in Houston or Dallas instead of pointing out rising fish to clients.  There may be redfish, Shiner, and brisket in Texas, but there are trout, mountains, and rivers that keep me here in Idaho.

I wonder what my life will be like in another seven years...

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Fishing's Hard to Find, but it's Really Good

Paddy staking a fish--It's just like Silver Creek except the fish are bigger and stinkier.
All of our rivers are closed or blown so we're pretty hard up for fishing in May.  A few years ago, we started driving south to Hagerman for some carp on the Snake and were really surprised at how awesome the fishing is down there.  Last Tuesday was pretty nice, so Paddy and I went down for the day and weren't disappointed. 

I can't believe how much this part of the Snake looks like the Llano River.
Another Llano-esque shot.
We fished Dolman Rapids which is near the Thousand Springs area.  I had never fished there before and couldn't believe how much the river looked like the Llano River, one of my favorite rivers in Texas.  There were HUGE fish everywhere and we both hooked quite a few, but it's so dang hard to hold on to carp with those soft, tiny mouths and I always crush my barbs.  Losing a few keeps me coming back.

It's so weird seeing pelicans in Idaho.

Paddy went to town on some fish below this dam.
I hope to make it down there at least a couple more times before Silver Creek opens on May 26.  I can't believe it's only three weeks until opening day--I may cry a little!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Early Goodbye to Spring Fishing

This was a really interesting steelhead season to say the least.  There were fish early, but then the water went up, and up, and up.  Fishing was all over the place.  Some days were great (double digit fish) and there were even a few skunkaroos.  It's been unseasonably warm (just like everywhere else) and last weekend really put us over the top.  We had record highs in the 80s and the Salmon went from a fishable 2000 cfs to about 5000 cfs this morning.  Paddy had to cancel all of his trips this week.  On Saturday, Mark McCoy, a Stanley resident and member of Micky and the Motorcars was floating the Salmon and fishing and drown about 100 yards from Paddy and Carl's teepee.  You can read more about Saturday's accident here.  This was just another reminder that the water is always in charge. 

Last night Paddy and I went to Mormon Bend to pack up the teepee and I took the video below at Shotgun, a rapid about 5 miles downstream of their camp.

The river has gone up even more since last night.  Needless to say, I think steelhead season is over.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Leslie Fly-Fishing..How Did I Ever Miss This?

Leslie an Austin icon and Sixth Street's most famous patron unfortunately died recently.  I met him on my very first night out in Austin, when I was still VERY wet behind the ears.  He loved my cowboy hat and tried it on for size--it was my first of many Leslie experiences, but I never knew he fly-fished...

Fly Fish Chick posted last week about the Austin Fly Fishing Film Tour and mentioned a promo that Leslie did for the F3T a few years ago.  I almost peed my pants watching this--and let me warn you, if you're not familiar with Leslie, you're in for a treat.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I'm literally laughing out loud as I read Buster Wants to Fish today. 

I grew up Third Coasting and was terrified of everything that can kill you in South Texas.  On a recent redfishing trip down south, Paddy had apparently never learned to respect the Gulf and ended up in the emergency room, had long bouts of vomiting, and broke a $3000 push pole.  Let me add these were all unrelated incidents. 

Anyhoo, terrible rashes like the one below are standard in the Gulf.  From what?  We don't know and don't really want to. 

Good thing there's Urgent Care in Rockport.

Contracted while wade fishing for Texas redfish…
A) Ocean chiggers
B) Red state psoriasis
C) Larval jellyfish attack
D) I call bullshit. He got that from some bar hag
E) __________________________

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Want to go to There

Mom with a 26" rainbow.  I can't believe how excited she looks!
So, I'm supposed to be in Argentina right now, but since it's steelhead season, Paddy and I couldn't go.  My parents, Kai and Janet, are there, though, and making me madder by the day.  My mom apparently likes it so much that she said she wants her ashes spread there (but I think it's mainly because there are no snakes or poison ivy!).  They are fishing with Patagonia River Guides in Esquel and I'm not sure they're coming back.  They've sent a variety of pics, but there was a nice brown that Pop caught and a 26" rainbow that Mom caught that steal the show.  I might add that they're not fly-fishers (except when I make them).  Maybe they're having so much fun they'll take me back next year!
Pop with a beautiful brown.  The weather looks lovely.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Help out Casting for Recovery

Spey-O-Rama is coming up later this month at the Golden Gate Casting Club in San Francisco.  Two awesome ladies and bad-ass casters, Mia Sheppard and Marcy Stone, are raising money for Casting for Recovery through this event.  You can donate by the foot or make a donation in their honor.  Click here to make your donation.

You can also make a donation to Casting for Recovery in Idaho here.  I'm excited to be a staff member for this year's South Idaho retreat, which will be held June 8-10 in Challis.  The application process is closed, but you can still make a donation.

I'll be sharing a few other pieces on Casting for Recovery in the coming months...