The Cleanest Line

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    Wild Salmon Get a Champion in Gov. Kitzhaber, but are Under Attack in Congress

    by Bobby Hayden, Save Our Wild Salmon

    If you’re excited by the progress being made to restore healthy free-flowing rivers and recover wild salmon across the country (think the Elwha, White Salmon, Kennebec, Penobscot, Sandy, and Rogue Rivers) – and you want to see more – please read on.

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    First, the good news: salmon get a political champion.

    Every so often – even in our currently highly polarized political climate – elected-leaders work to rise above the fray and seek new, collaborative solutions to tough challenges.

    [Above: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. Photo courtesy of the State of Oregon.]

    Continue reading "Wild Salmon Get a Champion in Gov. Kitzhaber, but are Under Attack in Congress" »

    Veteran Anglers of New York Fly Fishing Adventure in the Abacos, Bahamas

    by Richard Franklin

    B11 723 Abaco PS s

    On the final evening of our trip, we enjoyed a feast prepared by expert saltwater fly fisher, FFF-certified casting instructor and Veteran Anglers of New York (VANY) volunteer, David Blinken. We called it “Bahamian Thanksgiving” with native conch salad, sautéed grouper, brown rice with chicken from the Abaco Big Bird poultry farm and spiny lobster or “crawfish” tails. We were packed and ready for an “0 dark-thirty” run back to Marsh Harbour Airport for our return to New York City after a week of fly fishing for bonefish on Abaco Island.

    Robert “Nicko” Gill, the youngest of our four veterans who, like Andrew Roberts, a West Point graduate, served in Iraq, Exer Quinonez, and Manuel “Manny” Vasquez, a Green Beret during the Vietnam War, thanked the three VANY volunteers, David, Phil Shook, outdoor writer and FFF-certified fly casting instructor and myself. Nicko spoke about one of our two guided days on the trip when he was perched upon the bow of a skiff as Kendall, our Bahamian guide, quietly poled the boat and, in hushed tones, said, “OK, we are going to meet a single bonefish. He is at 11 o’clock about 120 feet. Get ready.”

    [All Photographs © Richard Franklin]

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    Isles of Idyll — An Excerpt from “Crossings”

    by Michael Kew

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    From “Coral Refuge, Ocean Deep,” Chapter 8

    This atoll is on the way to nowhere except the crossroads of romance and adventure. Après-surf and brunch, Yvon and I board the skiff and buzz into close range; Francois kills the motor. Adrift within the lagoon’s turquoise comfort, far from the roily pass and its fish traps, a broad, sandy flat is declared quintessential bonefish domain. Nearby, a few decayed fishing shacks face dense coconut palms—Polynesia’s most important tree—hinting a wistful regard to overfishing and a once-seemingly endless bounty.

    “Well, there’s no fish here compared to…I mean, you can go all day trolling out there and you don’t catch a fish sometimes,” Yvon says, absorbing the scene. “If you were at a place like Christmas Island or some of the less-inhabited places—or some places that haven’t been fished out—you can’t go a quarter-mile without hooking up with something. There’s still some pelagic fish here and stuff, but it’s pretty well fished-out, especially the closer you get to Tahiti.”

    Exiting the skiff, we infiltrate with fly rods, cameras, and dim expectancy. Yvon wades and searches, casting over the sand and coral knobs.

    [Above: Yvon Chouinard preps for a day of bonefishing. Photo: Michael Kew]

    Continue reading "Isles of Idyll — An Excerpt from “Crossings”" »

    Well-Worn Wading Boots on Christmas Island

    by Tom Morehouse

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    I have an interesting Patagonia photo to share with you. I was on Christmas Island (Kiribati) in March. My guide was Moana who was one of the founders of bonefishing on Christmas Island in the '80s when he was about 30 years of age.

    [Nothing beats local knowledge. Moana Kofe scouts for bonefish on Kiribati. Photo: Tom Morehouse]

    While fishing, I noticed that he had an old pair of Patagonia wading shoes on which were very well-worn. But here is the interesting part. He fishes every day for 12 hours in the salt water. These shoes have not only held up but, as the picture shows, have seaweed growing out of the tongue. When asked about it he said that the shoes never dry out and it has been there for years. I am enclosing a picture for you.

    Continue reading "Well-Worn Wading Boots on Christmas Island" »

    The Penobscot River Restoration Project

    by Topher Browne

    Besaw-greatworks-09

    In September, 2011, The Cleanest Line reported the demise of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State. Currently the largest dam removal project on the continent, the demolition of the 108-foot Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam will allow five species of Pacific salmon – including a super strain of Chinook salmon topping 100 pounds – to access more than 70 miles of previously unavailable waterways. Salmon currently spawn in five miles of river below the Elwha Dam, which provides no fish passage.

    Dam busting is a hot commodity on both the left and right coasts of North America. On December 17, 2010, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust – a joint venture between American Rivers, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Nature Conservancy, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and Trout Unlimited – purchased the Veazie, Howland and Great Works Dams on the Penobscot River in Maine at a cost of 25 million dollars. Phase Two of the Penobscot River Restoration Project begins with the removal of the Great Works Dam in 2012 and the removal of the Veazie Dam over a two-year period beginning in 2013. Construction of a fish bypass at Howland Dam runs concurrently with dam removal. The estimated cost to implement this phase of the project is 30 million dollars.

    [Above: Great Works Dam, the first dam to be removed during the project. Photo: Bridget Besaw]

    Continue reading "The Penobscot River Restoration Project " »

    Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium

    Yvon Chouinard speaks at the 2011 Elwha River Science Symposium about the value of selectively harvesting salmon by species, a technique Patagonia Provisions is employing for our upcoming Wild Salmon Jerky. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the historic Elwha River dam removal ceremony.


    [Elwha River: Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia]

    Patagonia fly fishing ambassador Dylan Tomine also spoke at the event about the importance of letting the Elwha heal naturally instead of restocking the river with nonnative hatchery-raised fish.

    Hit the jump to see Dylan's speech.

    Continue reading "Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium" »

    One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead

    by Ryan Peterson

    Steelhead_Justin Crump_photo_2

    We understand mere fragments –

    of most things really, but especially of a fish called steelhead. Its nominal definition goes that it’s a rainbow trout that migrates from river to ocean and back again to spawn, like a salmon. But like most living things, after you dedicate time to deep observation, their essential superpowers transcend human understanding. Just ask a grooved-out steelhead fly fisher.

    In doing so you might hear how, for instance, steelhead have been tagged in Oregonian rivers and recaptured years later off the coast of Japan. You will then be entreated to confirm that that’s crazy, right?!

    You might also be regaled by the legend that high-seas commercial fishermen rarely intercept steelhead as bycatch in their nets, suggesting a steelhead’s epic peregrinations are committed to solo, without friends in schools. They’re lone wolves out there, mysterious and supremely noble in the icy gray – the ultimate, fitting match for someone unimpressed by the listlessness of day-to-day society.

    At that, you’ll be encouraged to exclaim something to the effect of, “What?!” or “Whoa!”

    Then ask the steelhead angler about the special ones that run into rivers in the dead of winter and watch as their frantic code-red tone trails off. They fall silent, look you in the eye, and quietly, carefully size up whether you really care, or whether you’re just humoring them. Because now you’re talking about very serious stuff.

    [Above: Close encounter with the wild winter kind: A moment worth the world to a steelhead fly fisher. Photo: Justin Crump]

    Continue reading "One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead" »

    Mokelumne River – Filming and Fighting for Wild and Scenic Designation

    by Mike E. Wier

    Mokelumne River 2

    For years, my brother and I had to sneak into one of our favorite sections of our home river, the mighty Mokelumne. The land surrounding both sides of this section of the river is owned by the East Bay Municipal Utility District. They had big “No Trespassing” signs up along their barbed wire fences.

    We, however, strongly considered the river to belong to everyone. So every once in a while we would float down through the rapids on inner tubes and stop in the beautiful and secluded pools to swim or try catch-and-release fly fishing. Along the way we’d check out the old miners’ trails and wild flowers, or stop at the ruins of the historic mining town of Middle Bar, or imagine we were Mewuk people catching Salmon in the river and admiring the giant blue oaks that produce so many acorns.

    Continue reading "Mokelumne River – Filming and Fighting for Wild and Scenic Designation" »

    Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew

    Mike_12

    Mike Colpo, associate editor of this blog and frequent contributor (as “localcrew”), died suddenly on December 7 while trail running on his lunch hour near the Patagonia Distribution Center in Reno. He was 36.

    [Above: Mike and Skeena share some love. East Humboldt Range, Nevada. Photo: Old School]

    All of us who worked with him are in shock: Mike was young, fit and apparently healthy, his loss unexpected. And Mike was so modest about his talents and accomplishments that, now that he has gone, we’re coming to realize how much he took with him. He was a graceful writer and fine editor and a Zen-like master of the 140-character Tweet. He was a committed, and knowledgeable environmentalist who had a special love for Nevada’s wild places. He was a monster on his mountain bike and his beloved Xtracycle, an excellent backcountry navigator, telemarker, fly fisherman and alpinist who took a month out every summer to guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Wyoming.

    Guys like Mike never just disappear though. He’ll pull away and maintain a pace you can’t quite match. You see him cresting the hill way ahead and dig deep to catch him. He’ll drop in on the pow stash and you’ll just see him, a speck on the horizon until you’re not sure he’s still there at all. But like all adventure hounds, he’s there somewhere, among the trees and tall grass, his nose to the ground, thinking and looking for something fun. –Team Bacon Strip from “R.I.P. Mike Colpo

    Continue reading "Mike Colpo 1975-2011 - Raising our Glasses to Localcrew" »

    Putting Pen to Paper in Opposition of the Pebble Mine

    By Laura Linn Meadows

    These days, taking action on an environmental issue requires little more than a click or two of the mouse button. It’s an effective way to tell your elected officials how you feel without sacrificing time from your busy life. There are some issues, however, that strike so deeply we are compelled to do more. The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, is one such issue for Wyoming native, Laura Linn Meadows, so she took the time to write this touching letter to her congresswoman. And in time-honored tradition, she also submitted it her local paper, Jackson Hole News and Guide, to increase exposure and inspire others. At the end of the letter we have an “easy” way for you to take action on this issue.

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    [Wyoming's Gros Ventre Wilderness, the author's inspiration for writing the following letter. All photos: Laura Linn Meadows]

    Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis
    113 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Congresswoman Lummis,

    I want to share a story with you. I recently returned from a pack trip into the Gros Ventre Range as the cook, a packer, and a guide with my brother, an outfitter. Our parents were waiting at the trailhead with trucks and trailers and transportation back to town for our guests. As I rode in with my packstring and the dudes, my father, who was beaming with pride, met me on the trail. His pride wasn’t because his kids were following in his footsteps for the first time, as Pete and I have taken many other pack trips together. He was proud because, for the first time, we had followed in the footsteps of our great-grandfather and grandfather. We had taken our guests to the Six Lakes, the favorite stomping ground of our predecessors. Pete and I are the 4th generation of Linns to parade our guests past the Cowboy Camp, dropping down to the Gros Ventre River at Upper Falls, past Darwin Peak, down the Jagg Creek Trail to Six Lakes, and over Two Echo Park. That’s 100 years of horseshoe tracks, double diamonds, and bacon fried on a campfire. That’s four generations of eyes peeking through binoculars at elk, moose, sheep, deer, bears, and wolves. Now I’m looking forward to the day when I have kids of my own that can climb into a little saddle on a big horse and weave down the same trails, watch brookies in the clear water of Crystal Creek, and find the big dipper in the night sky as the coals of the campfire putter out.

    Continue reading "Putting Pen to Paper in Opposition of the Pebble Mine" »

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