Archive for the ‘Things that mess with fish’ Category

Maybe it’s the cold, windy and gray of another not quite spring day that has me in a funk.  Tomorrow I’m buying a ticket to Miami.  Today; this is on my mind.


Transocean cites safety record in doling out bonuses despite 11 deaths and totally screwing up the Gulf

“Never, ever, let it be said that mere facts will come between an executive and his or her bonus. Transocean which – along with BP – is responsible for 11 deaths while creating the worst environmental disaster in US history, used its safety record as the reason for giving out exec bonuses.”

View the full story from Collateral Damage

Lets not make an Ass out of U and Me – Assume

Cyanide leach bill approved

“The Montana House Thursday endorsed the bill that would allow cyanide-leaching of ore from new open-pit gold or silver mines in the state, and thus amend a 1998 voter-passed initiative that banned such mines.”

“The House endorsed Senate Bill 306 on a 63-37 vote, largely along party lines, with Republicans in favor. After a final vote on the measure, likely today, it will go to the desk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign it into law.”

View the full story at HelenaIR.com

Montana SB 306 goes to the Governor

“Now if I didn’t know better, I’d say that Montana SB 306 looks like a full blown mining bill that leaves the taxpayers in the same place with mining operations that they have always been- picking up the tab. Jobs? There are no jobs here, just a huge liability for more mining cleanups, legal litigation, infrastructure liabilities and a tortured landscape that taxpayers will have to live in and pay for while the mining companies take the profit elsewhere.”

View the full story at Will Fish For Work

I sent my letter to Governor Schweitzer this morning.  I sure hope he can do the right thing.

A Cloud Hangs Over Our Hunting and Fishing Future

“One rider that hunters and anglers should be most concerned about strikes at the heart of the Clean Water Act. Recent Supreme Court decisions have resulted in the loss of Clean Water Act protection for at least 20 million acres of wetlands that are essential to waterfowl populations. The rider blocks the federal government from restoring lost protections for small streams, adjacent wetlands and geographically isolated waters that provide much of the habitat needed by fish and wildlife. These headwaters and wetlands are also the source of most of the water that flows through the nation’s waterways.”

View the Full Story at Cool Green Science

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No PebbleIs it worth the risk?  Hell NO!  In some places you just have to say NO.  Look at what just happened in Japan.  A quake like that will happen again and it could easily happen in the zone of the proposed Pebble Mine project.  You would have to be living in a cave not to know about Pebble Mine and most likely, you have seen this Red Gold trailer.  Its worth a look again so the cause is not forgotten.  These Pebble Folks will hang around for a long long time, because they have lots and lots of money invested and plenty more to use.  There is actually some hope right now that  positive choices will be made, but our voices must continue to be heard.

Save Bristol Bay

Excerpts from TUs most recent Press Release…

“The EPA has the tools to protect Bristol Bay, where more than 40 million salmon migrated last year,” said Paul Greenberg, an author and recreational fisherman. “This is one of our last remaining watersheds for healthy, wild salmon. Even trace amounts of toxic metals from mine waste can interfere with salmon’s ability to navigate and spawn, endangering their survival and the future of this fishery.”

There are now tens of thousands of individuals and thousands of organizations and businesses who represent Alaska Natives, anglers, outdoor equipment manufacturers, commercial fishermen, jewelers, chefs, restaurant owners and people of faith who are asking for the federal agency to protect Bristol Bay from Pebble Mine.

The EPA took the first step toward protecting the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska on Feb. 7, when the agency announced plans to initiate a scientific study of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects could affect Bristol Bay’s water quality, fisheries, and communities.

“We are confident that after the science and other public input are considered, the EPA and the Obama Administration will join Alaska Natives, commercial and sport fishermen, chefs, restaurant owners, and outdoor enthusiasts to protect Bristol Bay, its fisheries, resources and jobs,” said former Alaska State Senate President Rick Halford.

TU makes it really easy to Take Action, so please do.

Take Action: Alaska Residents // Save Bristol Bay


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I'm your worst nightmare

Bye Bye Fishy

After 22 seasons of guiding in Alaska, I can tell bad banana stories for hours. For a few years I laughed, but then I began to notice a pattern.  If you were to poll charter captains from Hawaii, to Alaska and all the way down to the Florida Keys, you would find a common theme.  Just ask Florida fishing guide “Bouncer Smith”.

The mere mention of a banana muffin on board was enough to send legendary south Florida fishing guide “Bouncer” Smith scrambling toward the cooler that held the offending item. With his face flushed and a vein bulging from his forehead, he hurled the hapless muffin overboard, much to the objection of its rightful owner. Was this the act of an isolated bananaphobe? Well you can forget about black cats crossing your path or broken mirrors, because to many fishermen around the world, there is nothing unluckier than a banana on board a boat.  (From Boating World Magazine)

Back in the day when I was still a skeptic, I actually hooked into a nice King Salmon while eating a banana.  It was mid May and we had to drag our driftboat over a shelf of ice to launch it into the Kenai River.  We were not expecting much in the way of success but were on a training mission. I was managing a lodge at the time and it was my duty to break in some new guides.  That meant I had to sit in the boat and direct the rookie rowers while backtrolling a plug.

I was hungry and the rookies had packed the cooler with some bananas.  I remember saying “What were you guys thinking?  I told them bananas were supposed to be taboo, but I was not really worried.  As I directed the first rower through a narrow slot, I went straight to work munching on a monkey pickle.  Before I took a second bite, my rod tip buried.  We laughed and joked about our powerful mojo that no banana superstition could overcome.  I happily landed and released a beautiful chrome, sea lice bearing, 35lb hen.

That evening, I called Andy Mezirow who is a captain and the owner of Crackerjack Sportfishing in Seward.  If you want to fish the salt on your Alaska trip, you want to be on one of Andy’s boats.  Just don’t plan on shoving off with any bananas. I told Andy of the scenario with my King and he did not skip a beat before replying in a grave voice. “Sorry to hear about your bad luck.  If you had not messed with that banana, then you would have hooked the 98# world record buck that was swimming next to that little rat you caught.” That’s an interesting perspective.  I have been haunted by it every time I have looked at a banana since.

I’m not afraid to admit severe Banana Phobia.

In Alaska, there was a crazy incident experienced by the guests and crew on a Saltwater Safari Co. charter out of Seward.  As I remember it, they had two full boats with a wedding party that ran all the way out to the edge of Montague Island at the mouth of Prince William Sound. It’s a run of 2.5 to 3 hrs and was considered the grail of halibut water at the time. Word was that the fishing would be off the hook, but after an hour, nothing was happening on either boat.  The captains were radioing back and forth as the guests got increasingly anxious and started to wonder if they’d been sold a long boat ride.  As another hour passed with no action, the frantic captains started in on bananas. Who has them?  Throw them over.  Apparently, someone did and after they were tossed, the fish began biting and both boats filled up on monster halibut.  I think it was considered to be the largest sport caught haul of halibut ever.

First King on the oars

No Banana in the Boat

I soon got serious about no bananas. I admit to catching a few fish with bananas on the boat or eaten by anglers, but only a few. I have a long list of days that went bad or started out bad when bananas were present or eaten by guests. One such incident was rather embarrassing.  I was running a boat on the Lower Kenai and it was mid July prime time for King Salmon.  I was guiding a mixed party with a couple from Oregon and a couple from Florida.  For the past week, I had limited every day on big fish.  The expectation was high for another fine day.

Before boarding this vessel, raise your right hand and solemnly swear…Yes, we have NO Bananas…oops 

I'm your worst nightmare

Bye Bye Fishy

We hit the zone I anticipated to be hot.  Other boats were hooking fish, but somehow, I was drawing a blank.  I was running the same gear through the same water as the past week, amid fish that appeared to be on the bite.  I was dumbfounded until Maureen pulled out a banana and began to munch.  I did not say a word, but her husband completely lost it.  He was a big game fisherman who traveled the world and wanted to add a trophy king salmon to his resume.  He started shouting at his wife for eating a banana and I actually had to take them to shore and drop them off for awhile to cool off.  When they returned, Joe claimed he had forced Maureen to puke up the banana, so the fishing should improve.  She looked ill.

We went on to land two Kings that day on the lines of the couple from Oregon, while Maureen and Joe continued to draw a blank. The next day, Maureen and Joe were back.  Joe claimed that Maureen had experienced a successful bowel movement that morning so we were banana free and the creepy episode continued.  Maureen landed the first fish that day and soon after I slid a net under Joe’s 60lb trophy.  I’m not superstitious, but what more sign does one need.  I’ve had a No Bananas sticker on my boat for many years now for good reason!

How about some science? “Ethylene is a hormonal trigger in plants that causes cells to degrade and fruit to ripen. A good example is the banana. The presence of ethylene is what causes the banana to go from hard and green to soft and yellow.” (quote from NASA)

If we can smell bananas, then what about trout and salmon that can detect chemical differences to parts per million?  Superstition aside, I would rather err on the side of science and caution.  I don’t think its crazy to want my flies, leaders, lines, cork grips and reel handles to remain free of banana funk.

No Banana Guides

It’s pretty simple people. Don’t mess with bananas when you are fishing or handling your fishing gear!  Just to be safe, don’t even talk about them while on the water. You should probably email this post to every angler you know for their own good and the sanity of any guide they might hire.

Some parting words of advice:

If you are fishing in the morning, skip the Bananas Foster for dessert.  I don’t even know why restaurants serving fisherman offer it.  My friend Dom had it on the menu at the Kingfisher in Cooper Landing, Alaska.  He took it off because all the guides were telling their guests not to order it.  Want a muffin for breakfast?  Go with chocolate or even poppy-seed, but never banana nut.  Don’t even think about bringing a banana muffin for your guide.  Be very careful of breakfast cereals, especially granola and watch out for that trail mix at lunch.  It’s very likely that PETA has learned about the negative power of bananas over fish and has a campaign to insert them into some of the products unsuspecting anglers might pick up on the way to the river.  If you do happen to slip up, carefully hide the offensive product and don’t under any circumstances mention it to those in your fishing party. Remain ever vigilant and may the fish reward you.

Yes, we have no bananas!

Now...safe banana free dining for anglers.


“Friends don’t let friends fish with bananas.” Alaska Fly Boy

Check out this post for more NB proof.

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No Pebble

I’ve been reading through comments to some of the news stories about the Pebble Mine.  Most of the battle focuses on economics or the value of minerals vs. salmon or minerals vs. natural ecosystems.  I don’t believe that money is the only issue at stake.  It’s about lifestyle and vision for the future.  Both sides believe strongly in a set of values whether they admit it or not.  Development believes that life will be better when we increase our economic worth and have more goods to produce and sell. The other side believes in the living values inherent in the natural world like sustainable food, clean water and wild land recreation.

I have a pretty strong preference toward saving the salmon and the entire habitat that supports them, but I also realize I’m a hypocrite when I consider my lifestyle.  While I don’t make or spend a lot of money, I do burn petroleum and utilize many chemical byproducts.  I use a computer and cell phone full of minerals, and I’m pretty sure my fly rods, reels, fly lines, nylon leaders, fluorocarbon tippets et al are somewhat evil in light of their compositions.  I truly love the stuff, yet I am soundly against development most of the time.

Some of my best friends are involved in the oil industry and/or mining and we get along and they fish.  Many of my clients are captains of industry, oil executives, resource gobblers and other bad stuff, yet they fish and support me as a guide.  It does seem hypocritical to me when they exploit resources in one place to get the money to go fish in another that’s less messed up, but we’re not going to talk about that stuff while we’re fishing.

I’d love to go back in time to over a hundred years ago and fish all over a pristine Alaska.  Of course I’d want my arsenal of Sage rods, Ross reels and Rio/Airfo fly lines.  A GPS would be nice also. I’d probably need a float plane and a jet boat or at least my aluminum Willie drift boat as well.

John Shively is the CEO and mouthpiece for the Pebble Partnership.  He’s very upset that *outside interests (Americans) such as Trout Unlimited and the National Resources defense council are throwing money into the fight against Pebble.  As far as he’s concerned, anyone against Pebble is against Alaska and the United States and the economy and business and is an eco terrorist.  So John, where is the money coming from to develop Pebble?  Oh, it’s coming from “outsiders”.  Who stands to make the most profit?  Again, “outsiders” who are not even Americans. I guess we’re all hypocrites with a different vision.

*Outsider: Anyone who does not live in Alaska as a resident and receive a Permanent Fund Dividend Check from the State.

Well, I might be a hypocrite, but I still say no to development at Pebble.  At least for the foreseeable future: until we have far better technology and control over the process: until permits are not just a license to pollute.  It’s a crazy complex world we live in.  My vision is a world where a high standard of living and a thriving natural world are not mutually exclusive.  Responsible Mining – Sustainable Fisheries…at Pebble?  I’m not buying into that vision.  For now, I am thankful for every day I get to spend on wild waters and I take none of it for granted.

Where is the proposed Pebble Mine located?

Location of the proposed Pebble Mine.

EPA includes Pebble in Bristol Bay review

Get the latest  Pebble News from ADN.

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I picked up these links from Moldy Chum.  The Pebble Partnerships ad champaign is deceptive and misleading.  Water flows downhill.  Salmon swim upriver.  What does walking have to do with anything? Everyone but the Pebble Partnership knows this.  Or do they?  They believe that misleading the public will help them secure their permitting.  Lets give them a reality check!

Video 1 – Go directly to YouTube to post your comments

Video 2 – Go directly to YouTube to post your comments

Check out this link  Do they think we are idiots? for the perspective from Headwaters.

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Here I sit in the depth of winter playing with photos and video of a season rich in fun and fish.  This is the time to celebrate another year gone by and to plan the details for making the next one even better.  It is also a time to face some of the challenges eroding the health of the waters and fisheries that we love.  Take some time to reflect, make plans to spend more time on the waters and I encourage you to dig a little into some of the issues that make our fishing futures uncertain.  Many of us are so busy, we can barely find the time to fish, let alone be crusaders.  Everything helps.  Consider at the very least joining organizations such as TU.  They will help keep you informed of important issues like the Pebble Mine and your dues and donations will add to the positive side of things.

I just paged through the second issue of  The Contemporary Sportsman.  Check out the “Sea-Run Angle” by Jeff Bright for an excellent and eloquent perspective.

Reflection, Celebration, Vigilance

Reflection - Celebration - Vigilance


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Here is a letter from friend and fishing guest Allen Tigert.

Subject: National Geographic Article on Pebble
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 10:18:27 -0900
Hi Everyone, 

Here’s a good article on the Bristol Bay / Pebble Mine conundrum. Worth passing

on to everyone. It’s getting closer and closer to permitting time. Pass this on to

your friends and ask people to email their legislators, governor, senators and tell

them in strong words what they think about this.

With ALL of the DNR commissioners and assistants being ex large scale mining

executives, the state permitting WILL go through unless there is tremendous

pressure from the people, the legislature, and the governor against the mine

and the huge changes it will bring to the Bristol Bay region.

In the lower 48 decisions were made over and over between wilderness, wildlife,

and large scale development. In nearly every case the decision was made to

develop. At the end, there were no uncompromised salmon runs and now there

is just a shadow of the abundance that once existed. There was the feeling that

the resources were limitless, so there was always another place that was still


So now we’ve reached the end of the line. There are no more wild, undiminished

salmon runs anywhere but here in Alaska. At risk are the health of the largest

remaining major salmon runs in America. Kings in the Nushagak, the incredible

abundance of the Sockeye in the Kvichak and the character of the huge area of

wilderness around them will be forever diminished if the Pebble mine is built.

Speak up now or forever hold your peace!

Link to National Geographic Article

Allen Tigert

Related is another post at “Kenai River Fishing Report“.

Follow this link for a short video.

Pebble Mine from Idylwilde Flies on Vimeo.

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Trout Unlimited Alaska

Join TU

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Follow this link to check out what fish farms are unleashing on our fragile wild salmon stocks. Pass it on and pass salmon on the menu unless you caught it yourself or you know for certain it is wild. We cannot support this industry.

Nootka Lice Problems from Twyla Roscovich on Vimeo.

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