An accounting of some ventures in the life of grandma and grandpa for the kids, grandkids, friends and those who drop by for a visit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching Up on the Holiday Family Gatherings

J and I had three family gatherings for Christmas. I will have pictures of the big family dinner held at our place the 19th in the next blog. The following pictures are from the 25th and 27th. Daughter and her family came Christmas day and stayed through the 29th. They had planned to leave son-in-law's family a day earlier, but the two-year old had the flu so bad they had to take him to the hospital for an IV. He was very listless through the 26th, but when he recovered on the 27th, he was definitely on the go and we could harldy keep him full. He was making up for a huge fuel deficit and he was doing it in a hurry. Son and his family arrived the 27th, so we had another round of present openings. The six grand kids liked this multiple Christmas days with the various grandparents because they got to open presents on three days. J and I immensely enjoyed having both families home with their six children aged 8 months to eleven years. Makes for a very busy household, but lots of fun interaction with grandkids who don't see each other but at the most twice a year. Sure fun to watch the 8 month old and the 14 month old interact.

Well, the grandparents are pretty tired. We will be relaxing for the next few days.

Daughter flew home with the 8 month old and her husband drove home today with the three boys. The guys hit snow at Hood River and encountered snow covered roads on I-5 and 205. Lots of wrecks and so things really got tangled up. So far they have been able to avoid any fender benders of their own. The girls were delayed an hour in their flight out of Boise because of icy conditions in Portland and then had to circle Portland for an hour when they did get there. So the family at this writing is dining at the Red Robin and waiting for the roads to hopefully clear before trying to head home south of Portland. Meanwhile we are experiencing 20 degree weather and dry conditions. Kind of nice for a winter day.

p.s. They arrived home 11:30 pm PDT. They pulled off I-5 so mom could nurse the baby. They were on U.S. 99 and asked a policeman if getting back on I-5 would be the quickest way home. He told them to stay on 99 since they could pull off into a parking lot when the kids needed attention. Good advice. They talked to one woman who had started home from work in Portland at 5:00 and 10:30 she was still an hour or more from home. Seems as though there were a lot of abandoned rigs on the freeway and only one lane had moving traffic. Maybe the long stalls caused people to run out of gas. I don't know. Wow. What a trip home to see moms and dads.

Until next time,
Love you all,
Papa Coyote

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Final Report of the Owyhee River Redd Count

Ahhh, summer time. The river is frozen over in many places where the water runs still and deep at this writing.

Ray Perkins to the left

I talked to Ray tonight at the Indianhead Fly Fishers Christmas party. He completed the count yesterday. Told me that I should have come along with my camera because he fell into the river. He has been on my case all year after I fell into the river last year. That river is cold. Ray took the temperature near the "Rock Garden" and found the water to be flowing at 31 degrees. Yup. That would be cold. The fish are not now active, so fishermen, wait for a warming trend. Temperature is predicted to be below zero in SW Idaho and Eastern Oregon tonight.

The redd count this year for the seven designated sample areas is 1504 redds. Last year the count was 995, the year before 961. The increase from last year is 51%. That is statistically significant, duh. Ray does not know the cause for such an increase, but there are a lot of fish eggs awaiting to hatch next April. One conclusion that might be drawn is that the brown population is large and very healthy at this time. Barring a major gully washer flood there should be a zillion little browns in the water next spring---lots of food for the big browns. There is not likely to be a flood on the Owyhee this spring because predictions call for below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures. Judging by the temperature at the time I am typing this, we are going to have some pretty warm winter weather this winter to balance out what we are having right now.


Until next time,
May all your trails be gently downhilll,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Annual Redd Count on the Owyhee River in Eastern Oregon

You may view any picture in much larger format by clicking once on the picture. Click on the return button to return to the blog.

The members of the Indianhead Fly Fishers organization of Weiser, ID helped Ray Perkins make his annual count of the redds in the Owyhee River. We have helped him make this count for the last four years. It is a unique opportunity to learn about taking scientific data and talk about fish in the Owyhee River with the man that I call the "Father of Owyhee Brown Trout". Ray made the decision to plant the Owyhee with brown trout about twenty years ago. He has been the only manager of this fishery that is now recognized as a world class trout river. Brown trout in excess of 20 inches can regularly be caught. The biggest brown trout caught in the river was thirty-seven and one-half inches. Wouldn't you know it, the lucky fisherman was a ten year old girl. She did have to release the fish because the brown trout fishery on the Owyhee is catch and release.

Are there a lot of browns in this river? Well, for the last four years the redd count has been holding at about 950. This year, with one of the seven stretches of the river that is counted every year yet to be counted, the count will probably exceed 1250. That is a lot of fish. We see a lot of fish, big fish, when we walk the river making the count.

Not only are there a lot of fish, but this river might possibly be the most food laden river in the U.S. Ray has counted, now I don't know how fish scientist do this, 26,000 aquatic insects to the square meter in the river. The river is alive with all kinds of scuds, mayflies, caddises, stone flies and more. The river is so rich with food for the trout that the fisherman had better have exactly what the fish is looking for or he will be skunked. That being said, fishermen show up in large numbers all year long and from all over the U.S. and even the world. We are so lucky to have such a great fishing opportunity so close by.

There are rainbows in the river, too. The Oregon Fish and Game started stocking the river in 1938 with RB. Last year our IFF members helped Ray stock 113,000 RB into the river. That was a lot of fun and am I glad I helped him do that. The only fish I caught on the Owyhee this year was a six inch RB. I helped put him there:} It takes the big browns about three minutes to figure out that fingerling RB are being planted and then we can see dozens of big fish close in for the kill. As we dump a net full of four inch fish into the water the browns are at our feet chomping and swallowing on the offering. I guess 113,000 fish planted will mean that some will escape to provide enjoyment to fishermen at a later time.

Just getting into the river and starting to get their "river legs".

Ray explains to the boys what we are looking for and not to walk on the gravel piles as that is where the eggs are to be found. The fish know to build their redds (a Swedish word for fish nest) in areas of the river where the water will flow through the gravel pile thus bringing oxygen to the eggs. The eggs will hatch in April.

Ray counting redds. The power these fish generate to move rocks out of the way and pile up gravel up 18 inhes high in which they lay their eggs is just incredible. That is why it is considered unethical to fish the riffles and runs of rivers in the fall in which brown trout inhabit. They are pretty well tuckered out from the effort of spawning. Counting the redds can be a little tricky because brown trout will build a redd where another has previous dug out a redd. So we can find five, six or even more redds in one place. We make a good guess as to how many redds when we find a depression three feet long and seven feet wide and a pile of gravel that is as big and a foot and a half high. Ray refers to the brown trout's sex life as European groupies.

This panoramic shot of the crew working their way up the river counting redds well illustrates the exotic nature of the Owyhee River. This area receives about 11 inches of precipitation annually. Thus very few trees. I think the area is beautiful with the multi-colored rock formations. There is a dam about five miles upstream from where I took this picture.

Ray Perkins leads Dave, his grandson, Colin, and Collin's buddy Jake up the river counting redds. Redds are found in the riffles not the pools so when we walk the river, we can skip the pools. It is a lot easier walking on dry land than up the river against the current.

Before I try to explain why Colin had his shirt off allow me to preface the explanation with the fact that when the picture was taken the air temperature was seventeen degrees. There was no wind and not a cloud in the sky, so it was pretty pleasant if one is dressed for the occaision. Now why did Colin have his shirt off? Hey, he is a fifth grader and such actions of all fifth grade boys are usually not explained by rationale understood by the grandfather generation. But Colin and his Jake had a good time helping to count the brown trout redds and seeing some seriously big fish swim by and even between their legs.

Near the end of the redd count we were buzzed by two military jets. Anybody know what kind this is? They made two passes over us, but I doubt they had us on their mind.

So, if you want to fish the Owyhee this time of the year, you might consider fishing the stetch of the river close to the dam. The water is warmer there. In the afternoon about 1:30 a hatch of midges will come off and you might have to tie on a zebra midge pattern size #28. I can't even see that fly, but oh, well. Sometimes a BWO hatch will occurr so be prepared. Fortunately, a big honkin
Woolly Worm or Zonker will work and I can see to tie those on.

Time to say good bye,
Papa Coyote Loves You All

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for a Wonderful and Healthy Family

We met a J's nieces house for a Thanksgiving Dinner and a visit with J's side of the family. J was up at six this morning to put the 21# turkey in the roaster. She prepared fresh cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing to take into Boise for the dinner. Everybody who attended brought something to round out the dinner. Nephew John brought the usual rolls that the school cooks in Jerome bake, but he also brought his new girlfriend. We, of course, gave her the old routine that we were sorry for her having hooked up with John. John had warned her that she would probably hear the likes.

We are thankful that Bryan, who had suffered a stroke six weeks ago, was able to come home for the day. He has about a week more of physical therapy at the convalescent center and then will be home. He has gone from not being able to walk, to using a walker, to using a cane. I think he is just about ready for a fishing trip. Jody, had half of a thyroid removed last Friday and was in attendance and looking very well. This has been a rough stretch for the family. We are again blessed with several small children at the family gatherings. We had a spell there when all the little kids had grown up and had not yet married or had started families. It is a joy to have the little ones to play with and watch.

Here are some pictures that I took. You can figure out who is who.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandma Selling Her Creations at the Idaho Center

My wife is an old so and so. Hmmmm. Let me restate that, My wife is a sew and sew. She loves to create fun things to wear from fabric. She likes to make an original creation and then go on to make another original creation. She sells these at bazaars and online ( She does not like to sew several of the same things. She cooks the same way. She is a very good cook and I have the girth to prove this statement. When our son was still living at home, he would have a friend stay over for a night or two and of course eat with us. When his friend would say that something he had for dinner was particularly good, D would say well, you will never have it again. Seems harsh, but what he was referring to is that J never uses a recipe and so the taste she creates is a one and only taste. Not that the next effort at the same dish won't be delicious, it just won't be quite the same as the previous creation.

After long days stretching into nights of sewing, J had lots of stuff to sell at the Christmas Bazaar in Nampa. She will again have a booth in the first weekend of December at the Fair Grounds in Boise. She hopes to do even better there. It takes a lot of planning to try to show her creations in such a small allotted space as 8x8. Maybe next year she will buy two booths, but that would double her cost. Of course the cost of gas going back and forth runs up the costs pretty fast.

J does not really have to have the money for us to eat and clothe ourselves, but she loves to see the enjoyment her creations bring to the little ones and their mothers and grandmas. Men, seem to lack the ability to enjoy in the same manner. We kind of get excited by the grandkid catching that first fish or baseball. Now that is fun.

So, if you are in need of a chemise, tutu, purse, wallet, wine bag, bag, passport carrier, apron, princess dress or a Superman cape click, click, click on Christmas is coming sooner than you think!!

Final set up at home in the 8x8 allotted space

Setting up at the Idaho Center

Setting up Thursday night at the Idaho Center

In action at the Idaho Center

Got to go beddy bye,
Papa Coyote loves you all

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flies and the Materials of Which They Are Made

Oh the mysteries of fly fishing. One can read thousands of articles (no exaggeration here) about matching the hatch. Theories abound about why fish strike one fly and not another of the same pattern. Should the fly have been a size 18 or a 28? With all that concern about matching a hatch some guy fishing next to me can be constantly hooking up only to find that he is using a Renegade or a Royal Wolf or a Prince Nymph. Now I ask, "What is that Royal Wolf matching?" Joke is on us fly fishermen. Some of the best flies don't match anything that fish regularly dine upon. Oh, one other thing. One can read article after article about how fly fishing is a stress reliever. If one wants to relieve stress he needs to dig up a canful of worms, cut a fine willow branch, tie on some line, attach a bobber and a hook, sit back with a fine book on a warm, slightly breezy day. Que sera, sera.

In the mid-seventies I started backpacking for a full week once a year with a friend, Otto Rast. A few years later we added Delbert Kuntz and some years a relative or two would tag along. I met Otto while bowling in the Nisei Night Owl League. Later he became the State Tournament Director of the Idaho State Bowling Association. At the same time I was on the State Board of Directors representing the Western Idaho District. On long car rides across the state we became aware of our mutual love for fishing mountain lakes. In twenty of the next twenty-one years we spent one of his two valuable weeks of annual vacation time packing deep into the Idaho mountains and definitely off the beaten trail. And did we ever catch fish! Over the years I have managed to walk into over 700 mountain lakes. Otto has probably visited over 800 lakes. We owe our wives a big thank you for putting up with our passion. Otto started off as a worm fisherman, but was concerned about hooking fish deep because some of the fish needed to be released. I had learned at Priest Lake from an Idaho Fish and Game fisheries specialist to use a spin casting reel and rod and a clear plastic bubble in which water can be trapped. A leader of about seven to nine feet is added after the bubble and a fly attached. The fly can be made barbless and I find a barbless hook lands as many fish as a barbed hook if the fish is played properly. Fish do not swallow flies, but on the very rarest of occaision, so we could catch 50 to a 100 fish in a day, keeping only a few for our dinner.
I started to tie a fly pictured above. I used seal fur mixed with some muskrat or beaver. This fly can be fished dry, but works best just under the surface of the water while being retrieved in quick, long jerks. The theory about quick, long jerks is that the fish does not get a good look and has to make a quick decision to strike or the opportunity is lost. So matching the hatch is not so important--in theory at least. We also used a black or dark olive green Woolly Bugger. These two patterns will keep a mountain lake fisher in all the fish he can hope to catch. The fly I tied with seal fur was as they say a real killer. Except we only killed enough to eat. And so for years we had great success and then in steps the Federal Government and bans my fly. Really!----from the website

"The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) [pdf] was enacted on October 21, 1972. All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA. The MMPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, the "take" of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S."

So now a U.S. citizen can only legally possess a fly tied of seal fur if the seal fur was in his or her possession prior to 1972. An Australian, a Canadien, or New Zealander can continue to fish with seal-fur-tied flies for trout while laughing at their American counterparts' attempts to duplicate their succees.

Seal fur was regularly sold in fly fishing shops throughout the Seventies as stock on hand was sold out. Not being able to obtain seal fur I have tried numerous substitutes. There is SLF and STS Trlobal Dub designed to be used in lieu of the real thing. The texture is different and the ease of spinning the dubbing material is definitely easier with these substitutes. But, as the owner of the West Wind Fly Shop in Calgary says, "All the substitutes lack the translucency of the real seal fur and therefore cannot really substitute for seal fur." He is right. Forget theorizing, he is right.

Some how or another I came into possession of several packets of the real thing. I cannot remember for the life of me how this happened. Dang Al! So I am back to tying the Betts Mountain Special (BMS). I gave one of the flies to Mary, the treasurer of the Indianhead Fly Fishers organization of which I am now the president. We had hiked into a mountain lake (in a snow storm). She used the fly and had a few bites. I had one. Fishing for cutthroats at 7500 in a snowstorm is probably not conducive to catching fish. She then used the same fly on her next four fishing trips and constantly caught fish until she wore the fly out. Her husband tried to copy the pattern without the same success. He does not have seal fur. I have tied some more for her and will give them to her when I next see her.

So what does this fly match? Beats me. Kind of like the Royal Wolf, but this fly is always my go to fly while fishing anywhere, especially mountain lakes.

Got to go work on the basement wall where we had the plumbing done.
Until later,
Papa Coyote

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old House Needed Some Emergency Repair

Total cost $423 plus the cost of new wall and insulation and the new storage shelves.

Much of this lumber is useable so I have to find a place to store it. Problem!

Got all the shelves torn out

Jane starts de-constructing the storage shelves
Our house was built in 1922. We think it is a pretty neat old house. We have insulated, rewired, added on, re-roofed, resided, re-landscaped, repainted, carpeted, re-plumbed, new septic tank and added a new septic tank and drain field and ... Well you get the picture. May have been better to have bought a new house instead of the country hovel in 1972 that cost us $11,500, but, we have country charm and it is "our" house in every sense of the word. We even had to cement part of the basement floor. Half of it was just dirt. I even killed a snake on the basement floor in the early years. Than can't happen now, but we still get mice. This story begins with J sorting her fabric and organizing it and storing the fabric in plastic sealable containers. In the process she started to find some wet fabric. Not good. The leak was as bad as it can get. The old cast iron (old as in 87 years old) sewer pipe leading from the bathroom outside to the septic tank had sprung a foot long crack and leak. The pipe walls are only an eighth of an inch thick. I was surprised. I thought cast iron pipes would have much thicker walls. With the price of everything my first reaction was there goes the plan to replace the living room windows this year and take advantage of the government's $1500 tax incentive to do so. The repair bill was not as bad as I first feared. Our third generation Weiser Plumbing plumber, Jeff, charged us $383 at fifty dollars an hour for labor. We had to dig out the pipe on the outside. We needed a hole five feet by 3 feet and three feet deep. My wife was adamant that I would not get to do that and she called Tom the Handyman. He came out and said he would charge $15 an hour to do the job. I don't like hourly rates and figured I would have to ante up about $80. He dug the hole and refilled it for $35. I could hardly believe my ears. I gave him two twenties. Let me know if you need a good handy man and I can give you his phone number.

Got to run, got work to do as you can see by the pictures and have to get ready to teach a fly tying class Tuesday evening,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandson Turns Eleven

Here he is four years earlier.

Mama and Papa Coyote headed west to Newberg, OR to visit daughter's family and celebrate her and her eldest son's birthday. I think I had fun. I was walked on, walked, slobbered on, head butted, slugged, climbed upon, jumped upon, rolled on, rode on, fed good food, and loved. I can't tell you how many times I read "The Cat in the Hat." What did the fish say?

M had a Mayan temple birthday cake made gluten free from scratch. Tasted really good. Nobody remembered to buy candles so he easily blew out the seven that could be scrounged up. I think he easily would have handled eleven.

Papa Coyote loaded the eleven year old and his five year old brother (the G-Man) to go visit Kaufman's Fly Fishing Shop in Tigard and then to meet the rest of the family in Washington Square Shopping Mall. Now here is a leap in faith and courage. My guide was the eleven year old. He was perfect. Even navigated the backways home to avoid rush hour traffic with his expertise. Not bad for an eleven year old.

At Kaufmans's I learned that M wants to learn to fly fish and tie flies. Okay. We will do that this summer. He might have to come for a longer visit than he has in the past summers. I talked to the clerk for some time and learned that he would like to come do a program for our Indianhead Fly Fishing club. That is cool. He gets paid to do his programs. I told him we don't pay for programs and that I could set him up with an expert Owyhee River fisherman (not Papa Coyote, LOL) while he was visiting. He said we could talk.

Walked into a toy store at the Mall and a guy tried to sell me a model of a bass boat. Why would I want a model for COL!? We got to talking fishing and turns out he is an avid steelheader on the Alsea and the Silitz Rivers. He got his wife to turn over the notebook computer and I saw several HERO pictures. I learned techniques to fish for steelhead on the coastal rivers.

So it was not too bad of a day even if I had to go to the Mall. We started the journey with the requisite trip for fries, burgers, hot dogs, and chicken strips at Burgerville. Burgerville is a cool place with the best milkshakes. Our grandchildren love as in LOVE fries.

I am here to tell you that two and one half days with an eleven year old, a five year old, a two year old and a seven month old can be tiring. We had a really good time and felt kind of bad having to leave our poor daughter to manage that bundle of pentup and sometimes not so pentup bundle of energy. I could not help to think of those thoroughly stupid women who get medical assistance to have a baby at the age of sixty. You know they could not have had kids or their minds have gone blank and they don't remember. Parenting day after day, week after week year after year is a physically and emotionally draining job.

Oh, we also learned some new vocabulary. "Ungy, yumyum" means, "I am hungry." That is two-year old speak. I guess it is kind of cute, but not so much at two in the morning. He is very stubborn and one about has to feed him when he is ungy.

I had hoped to take the kids for a walk on some trails and look for mushrooms, but I was overridden and had to go to the Mall. People watching can be almost as entertaiing as a good mushroom hunt. As luck would have it I found mushroom in a parking strip of grass next to our car at the motel in Wilsonville. Of course, I am at a loss for what kind of mushroom I found. I will post those pictures on my mushroom blog.

You can click on pictures for more detail.
Papa Coyote loves you all