Tag Archive | "Fishing"

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Trout Fishing With a Rock and Roll Guitar Legend

Posted on 17 September 2010 by Cork Graham

When I head out of a metropolitan area for a long trip, I like to leave early in the morning, an hour or so before sun up. This is when you get to see a part of the city that most people, except for police, garbage collectors and EMTs, don’t.

It’s quiet, the streets are empty, and the sun is just hinting on the horizon. Most important, for a city like San Francisco, where all the best trout fishing is on the other side of a large bridge, stop and go traffic that quickly sets in after 6 a.m. is void. At this hour, the freeway is truly a freeway.

In tribute to my birthday brother I’d be meeting in couple hours, I hit the play button on my mp3 player. The Edgar Winter Group’s “Freeride” filled the speakers of my Dodge Ram, and my two-year-old fishing and hunting buddy, Ziggy, perked his ears up and looked around as Ronnie Montrose gave his best with that magic guitar open and roll that has been part of video game and movie soundtracks for years, not the least of which, for an addict of anything that flies: Air America.  Dan Hartman wrote it, but that’s all Brother Montrose on the guitar…it’s also one of my favorite songs from the ’70s, because it became a hit the year my family left Vietnam War, 1972.

Ziggy and I arrived at our secret trout stream and Montrose and his wife, Leighsa, a phenomenal florist, whose work has graced the grand events of many celebrities and influential people, were waiting for what would be a definite good day.

I went through my plan of what I thought was best. This was Leighsa’s first time, but Ronnie, a definite San Francisco-born and Colorado-raised Colorado boy, was well-versed when the topic comes to trout: rainbow, browns, cutthroats, you name it, he’s caught it.

As I’ve become more and more drawn into the music world, I find that many musicians love the outdoors (like for writers, it’s pretty much the only place you can truly get away)…and these rockers don’t just do it like sterile surgeons.

No, these folks really get in there and get intimate with Nature—there’s my buddy who introduced me to Ronnie, 80’s rocker and pig hunting maniac T. Michael Riddle, whose new album is being produced by Montrose. And there’s Dokken drummer Jeff Martin, who I hunted with during a celebrity hunt at the Riddle’s Native Hunt dove opener…and you’d be surprised how many music and film celebrities not only love flyfishing but also pick up a gun and put organic meat on the table—It’s refreshing…and more importantly, it’s honest!

All squared away with how we’d be using light 2-4lb line, a split shot and a small, size-10 to 12 (not too small or the barb it won’t have time to hook into the trout’s jaw in the fast water) salmon egg hook, on a light spinning rig, we made our way through the thorn-laced blackberry bushes that line most of the great trout streams in the Sierras from Kings Canyon on north—I made a note to myself to pick some when we were done.


When we got to the stream edge, I saw a rainbow trout, belly up on the bottom. It had been a warm week. It’s one of the reasons when I’m fishing hatchery raised trout, I just fish my limit, and keep my limit. When I’m done, I leave—I don’t catch-and-release another 50-100 as many are proud to tell me they’ve done.

Would they be so proud to know how many of those ended up dying, out of sight, recorded only by biologists next down the waterway, collecting the actual number of fish that die as the result of catch-and-release practices? If asked most catch-n-release anglers couldn’t tell you how to properly release a fish if their lives depended on it: each fish type has different requirements. A simple search on Google will give you a hefty number of how many fish die as the result of catch-and-release.

Leighsa Montrose gingerly, buries that small egg hook without crushing the salmon egg.


I prefer to make sure that the fish I kill go into my cooler and into my frying pan, and not floating down the river belly up…and then I’m sure that the kill on those hatchery fish is appropriate to what the department of fish and game assesses as not detrimental to the ecosystem and a wild trout population.

Isn’t it so much nicer to just catch just enough for your meal, reel in your lines and settle down by the stream for a lunch of salami and French bread, perhaps a bottle of wine, as Hemingway might have done on the Big Wood River in Idaho, or on Spain’s Irati, during a break from the bulls of Pamplona?

Then, when you’ve had a nice nap, collected your equipment back to your vehicle, you can drive home and remember the peace and beauty you had enjoyed the week earlier, with a perfectly prepared trout at home. Yes, I actually talk about, and do, these things when I’m out on the stream with friends—I often pine for a peaceful time, even if that time was just before WWII in Spain…not a peaceful time at all…

It peppered my conversation as Ronnie took a break from fishing the other side of an inlet and Leighsa came over to my side for a quick lesson in trout fishing. A quick study, she learned how to slip a hook into a single Pautzke’s salmon egg (bright red is my favorite) without crushing it. Then, we went through the cast and lead, something that fly anglers will recognize as a bait angler’s adaption of the “high sticking” method.

As this stream was so small, there wasn’t really any casting, per se. The cast was more of a swing out and drop into the head of the current, with a static length of line. Skipping along the bottom the single splitshot led the way for the salmon egg, about six inches to a foot above the bottom, prime  feeding zone of the trout in a stream, especially as they try to keep out of the sun and heat, and under the cool and oxygen-rich froth.

It’s important to keep the tip of your rod high, and slightly downriver of the splitshot and bait, so that you can feel the hit when it comes. Doing so, also keeps the splitshot going at the proper speed down the stream and free from snagging.

In one cast, Leighsa had a nice 11-inch rainbow in the net. Then, she got a lesson in how to quickly dispatch a trout for better eating. If your fish aren’t as tasty as you thought they’d be, it’s probably because you kept it struggling for air, with a piece of plastic or metal running up through its gills and out its mouth.

Better to just pick it up while it’s still in the net and bring the top of its head down hard on a large rock or boulder by the water. You’ll save the fish from a bunch of needless distress and have the best tasting trout you can find!

When you’re done putting the trout out of its misery, place it on the stringer to keep it fresh in the cool running water. Remove the innards by sticking your index finger through both gills, ripping through the chin, freeing gills from the jaw.

Then, sticking your index finger down into the gullet and holding onto the gills and pectoral fins, pulling down and out removes all the gills and most of the entrails. A quick run up the body from the vent to the head with a pocket knife lets you draw the back of your thumbnail along the inside of the spine to remove that blood line that also leads to poor taste if left in…

This day, we were averaging a fish on every first or second cast, but it’s the first one that’s the most exciting, shown on the Leighsa’s face and the pride in Ronnie watching his wife catch her first high-stick caught trout—what I consider the most effective form of trout fishing in a stream, next to a spear: but unlike spearing and gigging, high-sticking is legal.

By 10:30 a.m. we were done catching our trout limits, and Ronnie and Leighsa had to return to their hotel to prepare for the gig to be performed at a cancer charity concert in Oakdale. Ziggy and I went off to fill up on two pounds of fresh blackberries…

Ronnie, Leighsa, and Ziggy can attest: Trout fishing’s supposed to be FUN!



To Get Started Salmon Egg High Sticking

You’ll need a sensitive tip spinning rod of between six and seven feet long, and a light fishing line. I prefer to load my trout stream spinning reels with between two and six-pound monofilament.

Then, snell a laser-sharp salmon egg hook with two-foot leader of four to six-pound fluorocarbon leader material, using a surgeon’s not to attached it to the end of the rod’s line.

Depending on the speed of the current, and clarity of the water, I clamp a piece of splitshot on the leader a foot to a foot-and-a-half from the hook. With the hook buried in a single salmon egg, you’re ready to go.

The key about this type of fishing, like any type of fishing, especially with stream or river fishing, is that you need to go where the fish are. It’s probably why I like this style of trout fishing most. You never get bored, like perhaps in lake fishing, where you cast out your bait and just wait.

It’s like elk or pig hunting. You need to keep moving until you get into the fish. And when you do, you can expect to catch a few more, especially with hatchery trout that act more like lake trout, or sea-run steelhead and salmon, that have been in a school most of their lives, much unlike wild stream trout.

Remember also, that the reason you caught trout in a specific area was that it was a comfort zone—cover/safety, fresh oxygen (especially with rainbows) and food. In the cool of the evening and morning, the trout spread out into the pools and slow runs. As the sun rises high, the water warms and loses more its oxygen, so that the best place to fish for trout is right there in the cold, oxygen-saturated water.

NOTE: I’ve used this same single-egg hook rig to catch steelhead to 13 pounds in the fall and spring!

Catch Ronnie Montrose Tonight in Livermore!

Ronnie Montrose will be on stage with his band tonight at 8 p.m. in the Bankhead Theater of Livermore, CA. If you’ve enjoyed those great songs by Montrose and Sammy Haggar (Rock Candy, Bad Motor Scooter, Rock the Nation, and Space Station #5), they’ll be available for listening—LIVE, tonight! See ya there!

Blackberries and trout–the perfect bounty in California during August and September!


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Let All Active Duty Hunt and Fish Anywhere as Residents

Posted on 08 March 2010 by Cork Graham

How I wish we had resident privileges when I was serving...

Cork Graham, circa 1987: “How I wish we had resident privileges when I was serving overseas.”

Holly Heyser over at  her blog NorCal Cazadora has come up with an idea that has been pushed many times in the past, but perhaps this time it might just get enough momentum going: Let all those who serve on active duty in the military be charged the same hunting or fishing fees as residents, no matter that they might not be presently residing within that state.

As an example, if you’re serving in the US military in Iraq and you want to hunt Alaska, you should be permitted to fly to Alaska on your R&R and walk into a sporting goods store, show your active duty card and pay the same fees to hunt as a resident Alaskan, even if your driver’s license says you reside in California or Texas, or wherever.

If  you’re prepared to spill your blood in defense of our homeland, it should be remembered that you’re spilling it for your country, not your state. The least each state can do is permit a woman or man in the service of their country pay a resident’s fees wherever they desire to participate in hunting or fishing. Some states permit this: all states should allow this!

Read more here at Holly’s blog: http://norcalcazadora.blogspot.com/2010/02/soldier-and-hunter-with-brilliant-idea.html

Go over to her site and comment, and here, too: we might just get a real wave of support going in a manner it hasn’t succeeded in the past…I think it’s time, don’t you?

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AVATAR Spells Back to Nature

Posted on 26 February 2010 by Dr. Randall L. Eaton

A River Runs Through It did wonders for fly fishing and trout, and finally Hollywood has given us a top box office attraction that puts hunting in a good light. In the midst of a global crisis, the timing couldn’t be better. AVATAR strongly promotes the virtues of a life close to nature.
The military forces of earth invade the planet Pandora to exploit valuable minerals, but when they are unsuccessful at relocating the indigenous Nadi tribe from their sacred ground, all hell breaks loose. It’s futuristic gunships and powerful weaponry against  bows and arrows, though the Nadi ride impressive dragon-like aerial predators known as ikran which ultimately help win the day. 
The drama reminds us of the bloody history of European colonization of North America. The Navi people of Pandora are fashioned much like Native American hunting cultures with their deep respect for nature, the creatures, their planet and their god.
The film’s hero is Jake Sulley, a marine whose mind remotely directs a Navi body genetically engineered to befriend the Navi, learn their ways and encourage them to move away from the mineral-rich ground. His first entry into Navi territory finds him under attack by a pack of viper wolves, but he is rescued by a female Navi named Neytiri who skillfully kills many of  them.
As Neytiri dispatches the wounded predators, she apologizes to them. When Jake thanks her for saving his life, she insists that thanks are wrong, that it is sad that the wolves died.  She blames their death on Jake whom she compares to a baby whose ignorance attracted the wolves in the first place.
Reluctantly, Neytiri takes Jake with her to the tribe after nature spirits, resembling airborn jellyfish, collect all over his body, a sign to her that Jake is worthy.
As in all hunting-gathering cultures, a male earns the status of manhood and marriage by proving himself worthy on the hunting field.  Eventually, Neytiri mentors Jake in his rite of passage and he kills a larger herbivore which he ritually blesses and thanks.
The film honors tribal life, nature connection and spirituality, not only of the foraging peoples on earth, but of the ancestors of all civilized people. The rich life of the Nadi is a spectacular and beautiful appeal to our soul, a poignant reminder of what we are desperately missing.
The greatest disease in civilization is loneliness. Millions of people crammed into cities are living without authentic society. A recent U.S. study indicated that altogether civilized people feel powerless about politics, that their culture is rootless, economics is ruthless and the environment is futureless. In short, civilized humanity is without meaning and hope.
James Cameron’s epic film points us back to nature, and in doing so it gives new relevance to hunting and fishing and the absolute necessity of recruiting more young people to the outdoors.
My studies of the psycho-spiritual dimensions of recreational hunting indicate that a lifetime in the outdoors teaches universal virtues including inner peace, compassion and humility. Inner peace is the goal of spiritual and religious traditions across time and space, and humility is knowing we are part of something greater than ourself. 
The military force on Pandora epitomizes the pridefulness of contemporary civilized humanity and its unsustainable lifestyle.
Through questionnaires I discovered that 82-percent of the recreational hunters surveyed pray to the Creator or to the animal when they take its life, just like Native American hunters and the Navi.
My survey also reveals that hunters feel both elation and sadness about taking the lives of animals, like the Navi.
Nearly all hunters describe their feelings toward animals they hunt as respect, admiration and reverence. Hunting teaches us respect for life, connects us profoundly to nature and morally obliges us to be responsible conservationists.
While hunting is the ideal way to teach young people universal virtues including patience, generosity, courage and fortitude,  our boys especially still need rites of passage to become men of heart. As the original rite of passage, hunting is an ideal way to open the male heart. So is wilderness survival.
I once asked Felix Ike, a Western Shoshone elder, what kind of country this would be if the majority of men in it had been properly initiated to hunting. He replied, “It would be a totally different world.”
AVATAR is a wake up call that we must recover fundamental elements of the world we have lost: tribal life; mentoring nature connection from an early age; direct participation in the food chain; appropriate rites of passage for our boys; and olders who function as elder-mentors. All features of recreational hunting life.
AVATAR offers a model for us to recruit youth.  Kids and their parents and teachers need to understand that our relationship to nature and wildlife is like the Navi. We need to remind them we all take life, but because we participate directly in the food chain it is for us a love chain. They need to know that we, too, respect and revere nature and the gifts of the Creator. It helps our cause for them to know that, like the Navi, we feel elation and sadness when we take life, that no hunter revels in the death of the animal.
They also need to know that hunting makes us better people, more peaceful and compassionate.
In short, we owe it to ourselves and our world to rephrase the meaning of the hunt as sacred.
The heart of the hunter holds the secret for the recovery of proper relationship with the earth, the creatures, other people and the divine. That is the blessing of AVATAR.

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