Site Notes

If you’ve been having a problem with the RSS link, it’s been fixed. Sorry about the glitch.

More cartoons will be loaded this week or next: next batch will be published editorial (political) toons and a whole bunch from my Air Force times.

Have fished a couple of times for bass — catch and release. But the water’s still plenty cold and this morning we had a heavy frost. The Fly Factory and Ray’s Canoeing will have its grand opening in its new location across the street from where its old building used to be —  at 11 PM, Saturday May 10. Live band.

I’m spending my time proofing Death Roe and planning UP sojourns for summer. Nomadic ways (not having a central Yoop location) require planning, meals, accomodations and even fishing gear, depending on the rivers to be researched. Film too, clothes for everything from 100+ degrees to below freezing, and footwear for similar extremes. Working with conservation officers is focused entirely on their job and situations; but research in summer is more on the setting and environment they work in, and later, in manuscripts, I marry the elements of job and place.

One of these days soon I’ll slide over to the Kalamazoo river, check the water level and temperature, and if it looks safely wadable I’ll visit the so-called Titty Bar Island Site and no I’m not telling where it is. Spring on the Kalamazoo usually features high dirty water and dicey footing.

Idle Thoughts

Never made it out to fish the trout opener yesterday. Watched the Red Wings Colorado game, and had graduation obligations, etc.  My daughter and her mutt Cooper were here for the weekend. She asked me to shoot a quick message to her students at Simeon High School in Chicago. Yo, I’m coming for a visit, real-talk only.

Have to admit I found myself buying an Idiot’s Guide in the grock line last week — A digest no less. What does that say about us that we will read digest versions of so-called complete Idiot’s Guides. Nothing positive, I fear. But I have some subject recommendations for the publishers. Some of these would be short in their longest form and nonexistent in digest form, for example the IG to Detroit Lions Superbowl Championships.

Other ID ideas:

Dumpster Diving

Aromatic Wild Animal Scat

Fishing EPA Superfund Sites

Cooking Glow-in-the-Dark Fish

Upper Peninsula Taxi Services

Air Baths

Alibis and Excuses

Fly Acquisition Disorder.


Enjoying Ten-Month Winters

The Passing of Days

Spring is here finally…croci, tulips, daffies, forsythia, buds on the lilacs, soft air, time to dig out shorts, and Saturday is the trout opener. I have some college graduation obligations, so will stick around this area. Today Longlegs met one of her kindergarten classes. The plan for the day was to write cards to our friend Steve Burton in Iraq. 16 of 18 kids were present, and she wrote the following words on the chalkboard: Patriotism, soldier, Iraq, and USA.  Of the sixteen students, only one had ever heard the word soldier (“I think my grandpa was a soldier way back”). None of the kids had ever heard of patriotism or Iraq.  A few had heard of the USA but had no idea what it meant or that America was the same thing. Obviously mom and dad don’t talk about much because if you remember kindergartners, they tend to be sponges for information.  The kids were quite skeptical that letters sent from here could actually go half-way around the world to a place called Iraq. No editorial from me. I just pass it on as an observation. Oh yeah, and a week or so ago we had an earthquake. Shanny’s reaction was to sigh and roll over. Let it thunder and lightning and he is hiding and trembling.

Sitting on a Creek

The night before last I spent with COs on an area lake where there is a smelt run. In my high school days smelt runs were the cause of a lot of jubilation — a very social time, to build a fire by the creek and dip out buckets of fish to be deep fried later, some even eaten raw by the old timers right at streamside. Smelt runs in an inland lake, however, go up a closed trout stream, which won’t open until April 26, so looking at the inland  smelt is fine, but taking them isn’t.

Ergo we sat on the stream on a nice night (temp just above freezing, no snow or rain), and nobody came. This got me to thinking that a good part of what our conservation officers do is not the sort of heavy and frantic crime investigations that Grady Service shows us in the Woods Cop books, but quiet deterrence — stopping things from happening, just by being where the action is. Not very romantic, but it’s a critical aspect of the job, and a good time to sit back and talk and get caught up with pals, while watching for activity on the stream. My feet were frozen on the drive home that night, but it was another good learning experience.

Every time I sit surveillance with game wardens I learn about patience, tactical and strategic planning, emotional control, creative thinking, relaxation, night sounds, smells, and sights. Night is truly the game warden’s friend and the time when he or she can move around without being seen to do the things that need to be done. It also got me to thinking about management — how does one manage game wardens? It seems to me that these people area by and large self-starters, highly motivated and take ownership of their patrol areas to the point that they know everything that is going on in them,  and when and where.  To be a game warden’s sergeant and order a warden to be doing X or Y seems to me to be counterproductive. The key is to hire good people, train them and equip them, then surge them to use their personal profesional judgment in the performance of their duties.

Packing for the Porkies

News came late yesterday afternoon afternoon that I will have the honor and pleasure of spending June 29-July 12 this summer as a Porcupine Mountains Artist-in-Residence. Those selected to AIR slots were told notification would take place in late April, but AIR coordinator Sherrie McCabe of the Friends of the Porkies, called yesterday with the good news. Said the day before there had been a snowstorm in Ontonagon, schools were closed, jury members were available, and they had met to review applications, and make their selections.

I will post the experience in the blog this summer — after we get back.

The residency includes an isolated cabin a quarter-mile from where the Green Streamer II will be parked. Sherrie even offerred the use of a Newfie dog pulling a wagon to help pack supplies in!  You can’t beat that for a welcome wagon.

The plan is to take a lot of photos to set up some paintings, write some poetry and descriptive pieces, and to do a sort of brook trout survey- journal of Porcupine Mountains trout streams. Most of what is written about the park’s trout fishing  is fairly general. There will also be a public program at some point during my sojourn where I’ll talk about using place as a character in fiction.

For this residency I want to look at a place-specific hatch chart and also to express my passion about catching small brookies in such a beautiful place. For the record: I love to catch 20-inch brown trout at night on hex flies and mice, but in terms of sheer beauty, big browns pale in comparison to wild Yooper brookies, which are mostly small, and generally live in relatively infertile waters, meaning that a few wingnuts [those greedy people Grady Service calls Violets] can take a can of worms and do serious damage to the fishery.

Here’s where I could use your help before I get up there. If you know anything about fishing the rivers and streams of the Porkies (those with names and those without), I’d appreciate any guidance and advice from you. Also interested especially in anyone who has fly-fished the park, or who might have some sort of rough notion of hatches. I have a general chart for Michigan and Upper Wisconsin which allows for extrapolation, but I want to create something specific to the park and its environs, so if you’re willing to help, I’m willing to listen. You can get in touch directly throught he blog, and thanks much.

Obviously one can’t produce a master tome in two weeks, but I am hoping that I can give this a good jump-start and that others, perhaps a grad student in fishery management will pick it up for a masters or doctoral thesis.

By the way, word is that smallmouth fishing in at least two park lakes is astounding, but this summer the focus will be brookies.

You Want to Do What, When?

My local city government newsletter (The Portager) arrived today and I was a bit surprised to learn that the Portage Creek Cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2006, 9 A.M. to Noon. Yep, the department of transportation and utilities has asked volunteers to show up on the last saturday in April  to clean debris out of the creek  — which happens to be the opening day of trout season. I have a feeling that someone in city government doesn’t have a clue that Portage Creek is the only trout stream in Portage, or that it’s a Michigan designated trout stream. The web site on a Portage park lists fishing as a passive recreation. This made me laugh out loud. Love to take some of the city folk for a passive wade in the creek….