Rainbow Variations

October 1, 2008

“What is it about fly fishing for trout that makes me never want to stop?”
-J. Andrew Warren, Unnamed Alaskan Trout Streams 

We write a new chapter every time we fish new water.  This one’s called Big Fish in Little Water.      


Cutthroat Variations

May 23, 2008

When the cut-throat isn’t occupied in crime,
He loves to hear the little brook a-gurgling…
-Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance 

I’ve been thinking about the slash.

Maybe it’s about dominance.  Or attraction between the genders.  Or identification. Or a warning.  

It’s not camouflage.  It can’t help the fish swim faster or find food more efficiently.  It doesn’t mean they’re poisonous.  It’s just a striking pigment variation that occurs beneath the gill plates which underwater would never even be seen by other fish.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the slash exists for me.






Mystery Picture

May 19, 2008

First TMF open post.

What is this?



Mother’s Day Prayer

May 11, 2008


Thank you for her life today.

Though they may be far apart, make them wake up together every day.

Make my daughters to be like her someday.





April 7, 2008

“Cutthroat, yes; cutpurse, no!”
-Victor Hugo, The Broken Pitcher 

Finally picked the right spot at the right time of the right day.

Although it took a few tries to pick the right fly.

photo #2 credit


Mysterious Ways

March 2, 2008

“…why unblooms the best hope ever sown?”
-Thomas Hardy, Hap

The Mad Fishicist has never considered himself a fortunate person. His few fishing successes have always been the result of hard work and time spent on the river. Not a first cast kind of fisherman or an opening day kind of hunter. Don’t ask him when he caught his last trout.

So it happened that a month ago he was in a sporting goods store and he glanced at the gun rack. This rubberized looking rifle appealed to him like no other rifle has before. In fact, he was so intrigued that he longed for a closer look. The lady behind the counter explained that to get that rifle off the rack, she’d have to unlock all the guns and she hasn’t seen the key all day or she’d have unlocked them already. You’d have to know him, but The Mad Fishicist is committed to making life easier for everyone around him. He’d never inconvenience somebody else just for something so trivial as his curiosity. So he even surprised himself when he listened to a still, small voice tell him to go ahead and ask the lady to find the key and go through the trouble of unlocking all the guns on the shelf.

The gun looked right. The price was too high. The caliber was perfect. The rifle was too nice. He’s never owned a new firearm and he has never planned to own a new firearm. That’s why he was so surprised that he actually insisted on seeing the gun close up. But when he held it in his hands, when he saw how pleasing it was to have and to hold, he fell in love then sadly gave it back to the sales lady. Clearly, it was out of his league (although he was able to determine that the rifle was worth the high price because it was made expressly for the damp, nasty weather so common in Alaska–nearly indestructible).

Two weeks later, the Thorne Bay Middle School wrestling team went to the same sporting goods store and bought the same rifle for a fund raising raffle.

Guess whose ticket they drew.


Best Laid Plans

January 5, 2008

Plan A:
Put in at Rio Beaver and float to its confluence with Thorne River–farther upstream than anybody has fished this season. Take your time fishing your own private drifts. Catch fish. Float home to Thorne Bay.

Plan B:
Observe fallen trees crossing Rio Beaver every 40 yards or less. Drag your raft downstream along the bank through, over, and under old growth windfalls, devil’s club, mud, and snow. Measure the biggest hemlock you’ve ever seen: 25 feet in circumference. Take a dip trying to cross the stream. Thank God for your life vest. Let a few devil’s club stalks whack the backs of your hands. This will produce a sensation that looks like it feels:

Each red dot is represented by a barbed and poisoned thorn embedded in your hand:

Make it to the Thorne way too late to fish.

Hurry to the bay just in time for this:


Possible Water

December 31, 2007

“…like the snow-fall in the river,
a moment white, then melts forever.”
-Robert Burns, Tam o’Shanter

Two potentially great steelhead drifts, both on the other side of the river. Can’t wade across; water’s too deep and fast. Can’t cast that far. Well, I can cast that far, but it wouldn’t drift right. Can’t swim–it’s important to stay dry and warm in this weather. There’s always the Thorne River bridge. But the hike back through the brush would take all day. Fishing all night won’t track well at home.

But look at the water. There’s got to be a way.

Oh yes.

The only way.

Happy 2nd birthday, TMF.


Three Fragments for Three

December 27, 2007

Laughter like the sound where three rivers meet.

To fall in love so deep three times.

Three smiles to make a papa’s joy complete.


No Deer

December 8, 2007

“Like lost soul wailing, long and shrill,
A wolf howl cleaves the emptiness.”
-Robert Service, The Trapper’s Christmas Eve

I always thought wolves howled at the moon. This one howled at the sunrise, loud and low and long and lonesome.

And I wondered why I didn’t see a deer.