silver dollars

ROP running low and clear before my one stand of the fall, and lo and behold MZA is funemployed. Under challenging conditions, Employment Quest 2012 is underway and word on the street is that fish are being hooked: skinny water and down economy.

It occurs to one that a job search is much like fly fishing for steelhead – meat must be kept in water, chins up. Just cause there’s not a tug-tug when you swing through a run doesn’t mean your program is fucked – although it could in truth be fucked, but just not automatically, inherently, out of hand fucked. Whether crafting a cover letter or a streamer, use sticky hooks and nice paper. Be like a zen archer when you cast or hit Send, destroy the separation of you and target, annihilate both expectation and surprise.

I had a job that let me drink (and brew) beer during working hours and paid enough to buy fly lines more or less whenever I needed to, or at least when I remembered to. But, as happens in the course of human events, it became necessary to keep stepping down the run. Take stock, be mindful of what’s important and what’s transitory. I’ve got a typo-free resume and a passable low-water box and no leaks in my waders. Go time.



I wish I had a better picture for you.

Sunday, November 6. The last short beaten-down day of a 4-day stand. Unseasonable warmth, sunshine, bugs, snakes, and low water.

Dark One takes a brown, I nymph up a skipjack and witness a red squirrel swim the ROP. Voluntarily. No documentation of either exists, but it all happened.

In the slow pools the mottled corpses of spawned-out pink salmon, and one in a stony riffle, its body frozen in a rigorous “u” by death and coldwater current. I kick its rock and send it downstream to a claiming bend.

My last casts of the season in the stretch below the rapids, indie rigging and fishing it trouty. Listen to the water dance over round basalt and fallen birch and fir, climb the clay banks and sink in the silt, plop plop plop go fly and shot. I come not to praise indicator fishing or its aesthetics, but to bury them.

At the final run of the 2011 season, a tiny bright skipper flashed from beneath a sweeper on my bank, found the current as the bobber dipped and was gone forever. I went back to the car and put away my things.

The last day, the last run, the last cast of the year. Closing time, one Founder’s Red for the road while your waders dry in the cool north wind. It’s like saying goodbye to a lover when you were young, the bereftness and finality.

And at the same time, coming off a brutal season of getting hosed by conditions: relief. Relief at being able to pack it in early because of the lack of the river, and having that be OK. Permission to take a three hour 12 pack lunch. To look forward to the end of the trip and hold my daughter and tell her of lost fish and found bobbers and a swimming squirrel.

get hyped, remain hyped

A German delivery case-worth of homemade ale is now bottled (“but what are you going to drink, huh huh”) and my wife and daughter have a handsome stock of nothing but the most affordable food to microwave in my absence: almost ready for Stand #3.

As documented elsewhere, streets is tough. Last ROP trip of the fall – it is eye of the tiger time. Get hyped, remain hyped.


in between times








Rebuilding the squadron before Stand #3, next week. Preparing to take it on the chin, to feed the woodpiles and trees, to stay up late being responsible and wake up early to jack rigs like some kind of zombie punter Roderick Haig-Brown with breathables oozing ale yeast-and-burrito farts. Continue reading

fighter command to punter patrol, over

Second stand of the fall run: staying behind.

The era of wifi has made the role of Fighter Command obsolete, as Punter Patrol can now smear batter grease and Spotted Cow over the NOAA and USGS feeds on their mobile devices of an evening in the ROP watershed. No need to call home. These are different times.

Left to imagine the Dark One, Professor Cheeseburger, and Slint riding their ponies single file to hide their numbers, slopping down hills of red mud, gentlemanly low-holing one another in the fabled, historied pools of our river: Vin Diesel, Washington Generals, Nelson’s Glory Hole, Gay Lamprey.

I believe I will brew some beer.