Watchful Eyes

Fawn looking through pasture fence

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This young lady kept a close eye on me while I snapped her picture. When I went back in the house, she came down to the yard for a snack of flowers with her mother and brother.

Blue Birds Bathing

Bluebirds having a bath.

Bath Time!


Watching these guys take a bath is a blast. They enjoy it so much.

Kelly Creek Idaho

Kelly Creek in North Idaho

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These pictures are a stroll down memory lane for me. I took them in mid-September of 2000. It was my second trip to Kelly Creek and this was my first digital camera. After reading stories of 20″ fish and fly fishing heaven, I had to try my luck.

Kelly Creek 2

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Since then, I’ve made it to Kelly at least once every year. It has never let me down. So in honor of my favorite stream, all the pictures in this post are from 2000.

I’ve learned that while there are 20″ fish, and I have caught some, most of the fish are smaller. Your typical fish is usually around 10 inches. 12-15 inch fish are not uncommon.

Kelly Creek 3

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I usually camp near the bridge at the south-east end of the road access. Then day hike up the trail and fish. Another day I’ll cruise along the frontage road, hopping from hole to hole. Sometimes I explore Moose Creek or the Little North Fork of the Clearwater. The picture on the right shows the trail above the bridge.

I remember a magical day, fishing my way up stream, catching dozens and dozens of fish and never changing my fly all day.

I’ve been to Kelly in June, August, September and October.  September is my favorite time. The crowds have departed. You might even have the river to yourself. That time in October I was tent camping and it got down to 21 degrees. Just a little too nippy for my thinning blood.

Kelly Creek 4

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This picture was taken 9/15/2000. You can see the Kokanee had made it up there to spawn. They add color and interest to the stream. And the bear love them. I’ve never had a bear problem, but have seen them from a nice distance.

Kelly Creek 6

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On the right, you can see the bridge. The road leads over to Cayuse Creek. It is smaller than Kelly and runs into Kelly upstream. There is a primitive landing strip at the camp ground at Cayuse, so if you know someone with a plane…

Kelly Creek 7

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Even in the heat of mid September, the mornings can be foggy and damp. The mist adds to the atmosphere of the river.

I can’t wait to go back to the river again this year. Each time brings new treasures to discover. The river changes a little every visit. Some holes disappear, others are created.

I’ve seen moose, bear, deer, mink, beaver, martin, coyote, elk, lots of different birds and of course, lots of fish. I find my pulse speeding up as I come down the hill from Lolo Pass. Not just the switchbacks in the road. It is the anticipation of another time at my favorite stream.

My favorite view of the drive is the top of HooDoo Pass, especially in September with the fall colors. This isn’t the best picture I have of it, but I had to stay true to the rule of the day. Only pictures from 2000. Tight lines.

Lolo Pass

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Dog Days of Summer Start Now

Trapper's Hot

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The temperature jumped from the 60’s to the 90’s without stopping in between. So Trapper has decided to sleep away the afternoons on our covered deck on the north side of the house. That way he can watch the squirrels try to get into the bird feeder, keep an eye out for deer, listen to the humming birds, and sack out away from any other less important distractions.

Hanging Out in the Heat

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Besides that, it is just too much work to chase Duke, his litter mate, all over the property. That would take just too much energy. He will wait until the sun goes down. And if it gets too late, well, that’s OK. There is always tomorrow. Maybe it will be cooler. If it isn’t cooler, he can always come back to the covered deck.

Too Tired to Move

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North Fork of the Coer d'Alene River

A jewel of a stream close to home.

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River

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This little river is right at the top of my list of favorite rivers. It is proof of the saying, “Trout don’t live in ugly places”. I’ve been fishing here for about ten years and I still find new spots to explore. This week I ignored the newspaper, which said it was too high and off-color to fish, and headed up to give it a go. Every now and then I make a good decision.

Cinammon Creek Waterfall

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Even though the water was nearly double its usual flow for the first week of July, it is still only 500 cubic feet per second. And since the level has been continuously dropping for over two weeks, the water was its usual gin-clear color. The weather was perfect, the river was perfect, the crowds were gone and I caught a bunch of fish.

Surprisingly, not many flies were in the air. No real hatches, only the occasional caddis or PMD. Usually these wild cutthroat are eager takers of dry flies. In fact I rarely resort to nymphs or droppers. But they didn’t want to look up, so I put on a #14 Bead Head Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear and began to catch fish.

Native Cutthroat

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Only fishing from 10:30 to 4  pm, I caught around 25 fish. Four whitefish and the rest were beautiful, healthy cutts from 7 to 15 inches.

The funniest thing of the day was the behavior of a 13 inch whitefish. I brought him in quickly and released him without


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removing him from the water. He settled down to the stream bottom, then drifted up to beside my boot. He wasn’t stressed or hurt, he just thought that was a good spot! I took this picture of a frog while I was there. After that I looked down and the fish was still there. He is hard to see in this photo, but he is lying there.  I reached into the water, hoping to touch him, but he realized I wasn’t a tree and took off like a bottle rocket.

Scenic vistas

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Of course I go to the river for fishing, but that is only the offered reason. Like most times, the sites are not just of fish. I saw deer, moose, frogs, wrens, dippers, goldfinches, red-tailed hawks, beaver, bear grass blooms and much more. For my first wading day of the year, it was a very good day.


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For almost 50 miles the road winds along the river. It it so rare to have a paved road along such a superb fishery. Of course that means in the summer, the lower river is used hard by inner tubers, rafters and families. But the upper river is too small for that type of usage, so it is the playground of the fly fisherman.

Last pool of the day

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When you are ready to quit for the day, it is hard not to stop at one more pool or run. This deep pool is right on the road so is fished hard. But I have never failed to catch at least a few small fish every time I’ve stopped by. And in the fading light with caddis hopping around, sometimes 15 to 20 fish will take my CDC microcaddis fly.

Then it is time to pack up and head home. Until the next time.

Strange Visitor

Callibaetis Spinner

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On a typical May day, I saw a mayfly. The peculiar thing about this is that I live in a dry, pine forest. With 16 inches of precipitation a year, and half of that from snow, you don’t find mayflies. Nevertheless, last month one showed up. Sitting on a fence post, a callibaetis spinner managed to stop by.

You can see in this picture that the countryside here is more conducive to deer than mayflies. I just don’t expect to

Leaping Deer

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find them on grounds covered with pine needles.

I live 8 miles from the nearest lake, 2 miles from the nearest stream and 400 feet higher in elevation. Can a mayfly spinner make that flight. I don’t think so, but maybe with a good wind. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this fellow perched on my fencepost. I was pretty sure that this was a callibaetis, but was glad to have it confirmed by smarter people than me over on Fly Anglers Online.  Especially Roger Rohrbeck, who has the site. Flyfishing Entomology.

So anyway, even though this little fella had no business being here, this is a lesson to all of us to keep our eyes open. You never know what you may see.

Choosing a Background Color

When I began thinking about making this site, one of the first decisions I needed to make was deciding how I wanted to show my flies. What size, what proportions and what color background. A bright medium blue is by far the most commonly used color for the web and print. It shows off flies well and is pleasing to the eye. But I just didn’t want to be the same. So what to do?

I grabbed a fly, in this case my favorite Rust Stim. Then using a pack of colored paper, I took a bunch of pictures of that fly in the same lighting. I just replaced the paper behind the fly. From these pictures I narrowed it down to 4 or 5 colors. I showed these pictures to several people to get their input. I decided to go with the dark gray. I’ve used it until the last post, where I used a light, neutral gray for the Mahogany Dun background.

Here is a gallery of the original pictures. What do you think of the colors? Which would you choose for your pictures?

(You can click to enlarge the photos for a better look at the contrast of the fly against the colored paper.)

Fly Fishing Only

I have a class reunion this summer. Along with the registration they asked for a current picture. As I thought about recent pictures, I thought of this one from Yellowstone National Park. I always stop at this sign along the Madison River when I enter from West Yellowstone. The cool shadows over the river invite me. The  tempting riffles offer the hope of some easy fish. But the I love the sign, “Fly Fishing Only”.Wouldn’t it be great if there were more of these.

Yellowstone Sign

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Page One

Starting this blog is like facing a new river. Especially if the river is large, it’s easy to be intimidated by all that water. You wonder where to begin, where to cast, where to wade, what fly to tie on. But if you are lucky, and if the river is a good stretch of water, you will catch some fish. Exploring her seams and eddies, learning the holding lies, experiencing the change of the seasons, the different hatches:  these can  fill a lifetime with memories.

If you are very lucky, you can form a bond with the river. The water becomes part of you. Every pool and seam hold memories of fish caught and missed. You rember seeing an otter playing by that outcrop of basalt.  In the spring you return to find the huge old cotton wood tree where you caught that 21 inch cutthroat was finally undercut so far it has fallen across the river.

Even after years of friendship with a river, there is still a lot to learn together. This is fishing after all. Yesterday’s can’t-miss fly is a loser today.  A stretch of beautiful water seems to be devoid of fish this year. That is the challenge, the frustration and the passion of fly fishing.

In this blog, I hope to explore my love of fly fishing and fly tying, mixing in a sprinkling of photography and other assorted  topics as the spirit moves me. Drop by from time to time. We can share these things together.

As you wander through this site, remember all the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them. And please leave comments and suggestions. I want this journal to be easy to explore and user-friendly.

St Joe River in September

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Getting Puppies

Babies are amazing. Humans, dogs, cats, even piglets. They are cute, honest, joyful. This August, we decided our life was too easy, so we bought two Gordon Setter puppies. Trapper and Duke were four months old at the time, so they weren’t infants. They certainly have challenged us to get off the couch.Trapper Sleeping They bring excitement and energy to everything they do.

Of course like all puppies, they run, wrestle and romp until they collapse. Then sleep like angels. But you know that soon the hellions with waken to start the cycle over again.

Already they have grown. In just a month they have put on ten pounds. We watched them get their permanent teeth and use those ivories on anything they could wrap their mouths around. At 38 pounds, they are now an armful.

Yesterday they attended their first Puppy Kindergarten class at Diamonds in the Ruff. Eleven dogs and their humans (I can’t call them masters) filled the room with controlled chaos.  But we all survived. From three pounds of Yorkie to 80 pounds of Rottweiler, with a scattering of Labs, one Cocker, Goldens, and a beautiful Mastiff. Everyone – dogs and handlers – were exhausted by the end of the session.

Duke with golf ballWe have a long way to go. But seeing the improvement after just one week gives us hope that the dogs and we mere humans will survive.

My parents talk about having two boys only a year apart. Just normal, active boys, my brother and I did a lot of running and wrestling. What else would you expect? With these puppy brothers, I can now appreciate what it must have been like for the rest of the family listening to us racing, yelling and tumbling all over the place. I’m sure that will be some small consolation to my folks.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever think about getting two puppies from the same litter…DON’T DO IT!