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

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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