Bad Hair Day

Lopsided Deer

Lopsided Deer


You know how you feel after a bad hair cut? Embarrassed to be seen in public. You imagine everyone is staring at you; laughing behind your back. But you still have to go to work. I think this fellow feels the same way. But it isn’t just the bad look. I think he has a headache. Take a look at this next picture. Ouch!


White tail deer minus one antlerr

White tail deer minus one antler


Winter Chickadees

Winter black-capped Chickadee

Winter black-capped Chickadee

I was on my deck trying to get a picture of some birds with snow capped Mountain Ash berries in the background, when I noticed that there were two species of Chickadees swooping in to grab a sunflower chip from the feeder. I couldn’t recall ever seeing the smaller Mountain Chickadee at my feeder before. Of course, it is easy to take home birds for granted. You see them every day. And we have lots of red breasted nuthatches that have such a bold eye stripe.

In any event, it was fun to catch a few pictures of these cute little fellows. Here is the mountain Chickadee. (Click to enlarge pictures.)

Winter Mountain Chickadee

Winter Mountain Chickadee


My Site was Down!!!

A Merry Christmas to all.


I’m sorry for everyone trying to access my site the last couple weeks. I had a crash and only got it figured out today.

If you find any broken links or missing pages, please let me know.

White-tailed Deer in a Pine forest

Large white-tailed buck

Big buck in November forest.


I went wandering down this trail looking for a moose that has been hanging around the area. I couldn’t find the moose, but this big fellow was out and about. He let me snap a quick shot before he raised his white flag and took off.

Remember Summer?

North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River in July

Sunny days on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River


All right. I’m already tired of the snow. To get out of the winter funk, I looked back to last July and better days. I feel better already.

Seasons Change

November Snow

Early snow means winter is right around the corner


You think there will be time to rake those leaves and get ready for another winter. But sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t let you relax. That is the case this Veteran’s Day. A harsh reminder that even though there are still leaves on the trees and the grass is green, snow can still fall and winter…well it could just be here already.

Cortland Line Cleaner, Goodbye to the Old

Cortland Fly Line Cleaner

The original and still the best line treatment

Since my first fly line, I’ve used Cortland Line Cleaning pads. They included one with a new line to get you hooked on it, and in my case it stuck. Since I use a dry line 99% of the time, I usually start my day with a quick pass of the pad over the first 25 – 30 feet of line. A couple times through the day, I’ll notice the tip of my line starting to sag into the water, so another quick swipe and I’m back to floating like a cork. I love those little circles of felt with embedded paste floatant.

Every few years I’d buy a handful. They came three pads to a zip lock bag. Perfect to throw in a vest or wader pocket. Weighs nothing, works great. The ideal product.

Except they don’t make sell them any more. The last time I looked, they were out of stock everywhere. I didn’t panic because I still had three new bags so that would last a couple years. But now I’m down to my last new bag. (I know it doesn’t LOOK new, but after years of floating around my other gear, the printing is nearly rubbed off.) So I started looking again in earnest. This time I found a new product, the Cortland Pro fly line cleaner applicator. My wife wanted to know what I was yelling about. When I explained, she looked at me like I was an idiot, but refrained from saying more than, “that’s nice.”

Even better, they stock them at Walmart. I couldn’t wait, so ran into town to pick up a couple of the new plastic containers that hold two, instead of three of the pads. But at $2.00, I wasn’t about to complain. Getting into my car, I opened the package. That’s when the smile left my face. The new product may work fine to clean a line, but the pads are about half the thickness of the old felt pads. And the cleaner is a thin substance that doesn’t even soak to the edge of the pad. In practice, it doesn’t help nearly as much with floatation as the old pads.

My wife tells me to make my own pads. I might have to do that, but I have flies to tie, books to read and other pressing business. I didn’t want to have to re-invent the wheel. I just wanted to pick up another handful of the old pads. Just too much to ask, I guess.

You can see the difference between the pads in this picture.

Using the Cortland Pads

See the difference in the pads.

New and Old Fly Line Treatment

Side by Side, Old and New

Kelly Creek is Smokin'

Kelly Creek Drainage from Hoodoo Pass

Smokey vista from Hoodoo Pass

Back from my fall trip to Kelly Creek, Idaho. Once again it was great. Four days of blue skies and 65 degree temperatures. Of course, since it is October, the nights dropped into the low 20’s. The humidity was so low, that even along Moose Creek where I camp, there was almost no frost. Coming over from Superior, I stopped on the Idaho side of Hoodoo Pass to view the drainage. I knew that there would be smoke. Fires have been burning for two months. As you can see in the picture, the horizon showed the extent and range of the fires. I can’t imagine what it must be like fighting those blazes.

In recent years I’ve made my fall trip in September. So I was struck by several differences. The water was low. Without any rain for months there had been none of the usual spikes up in flow. So the discharge flow had steadily dropped from 1600 to 700 cfps. That is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.

Whether it was the low water, the cold nights, the time of the year, or maybe just me, the fishing was different also. Instead of the 25 – 30 fish per day I usually catch, this year it was 15 – 20. Still very good, when you remember the days are short. The water temperature was 40 degrees, so don’t try wet wading now! I didn’t start fishing until 11 am and quit by 4 pm.

The other difference was in which flies were effective. For the first time ever, I caught no flies on my Rusty Stim. That is usually my number one fly on Kelly. But this time, small and technical fishing caught the fish. My Biot Mahogany Dun in a #16 worked great, as did the Harrop’s Thorax Dun. Another good fly was a CDC emerger. I’ll tie one up for a step by step later. There was a spinner fall around 2:30 that I never did figure out, but it got fish up and feeding. Being fisherman friendly cutthroat, they took my flies pretty well even though I couldn’t match that hatch.

The scenery was incredible as always. The Kokanee spawn was nearly over. Some of the riverside trees were past their prime color, but the Aspen on the hill side were perfect. The crowds were gone (only three other rigs on the road each day). The food was great. I’ll have to post my favorite dinner sometime. As always, it was tough to pack up to come home. But isn’t that the way you want a fishing trip to be? If you are excited to leave, you picked the wrong place to go.

Hoodoo Colors

Wonderful Colors

My Rig on Hoodoo Pass

My Rig on Hoodoo Pass

Color on Hoodoo Pass

Color on Hoodoo Pass

Tamarack in Color

Tamarack in Color

pocket water

Pocket water

Cutthroat trout

Another great fish

Stars shine like diamonds in the night

Night Skies

Along the Road you can see the water

Roadside views

Dark Waters

Dark Waters



Kelly Creek water

Gin Clear Water

Afternoon Shadows

Short Days in October

Cold Mornings

Low of 23 degrees!

Beautiful Cutthroat troat

Beautiful Cutthroat at Kelly Creek

Fall Color

The hills in their prime color

Sunny Fall Days on Kelly Creek

Love those big pools!

An Easy Profile Plate for Fly Tying

Fly Tying Back Plate

Putting a back plate behind your vise will help your tying and ease the strain on your eyes.

Years ago I wanted a profile plate. Having a uniform color behind your fly makes it easy on the eyes to see errant barbules and fibers. And it hides the clutter of your tying desk.

I didn’t really like the commercial ones I saw. I’m just not a fan of having more things hanging on my vise. Plus they aren’t as flexible. So I scrounged through my scrap wood and found a piece of Cherry. It had served nicely as a sanding block and clamp pad. It was 6″ X 1 1/2″ X 3/4″. A well used piece, it had a few dings and dents and saw marks. But this was just for a test run. I made a single saw cut about an inch from the end at around 60 degrees. I touched it up with a little sand paper and stain.

To use it, just drop in a piece of mat board in your favorite color and it is set to go. I picked up a variety pack of colored papers. In front of the mat board, you can slip a sheet of colored paper to change your background. I use a neutral gray to photography my flies and step by step tutorials for this site. Many people like blue and green. I find white is too harsh and fatiguing for your eyes. You can see here how I tested a bunch of colors when I started this blog. It only takes a couple seconds if you have a pack of papers cut to the size you like.

My test piece worked so well that I’ve never gotten around to making the final model. After ten or more years, I am used to the nicks and marks. Just like it’s user, it isn’t perfect or beautiful.

Back Plate for Fly Tying

Tying Desk

Back Plate with Color Choises

Back Plate with Color Choises

Back Plate with Gray Card

Back Plate with Gray Card

Back Plate Side View

Back Plate Side View

Left Side View

left side view

Back Plate side view

Right Side View

Western Bluebirds

Western Blue Gathering Food

Western Bluebird hard at work

One of the advantages of living in the west is having Western Bluebirds to watch. They add color to the day and flashes of light. Once the eggs hatch, it is nothing but work. They grab bugs and grubs. They often pause on a limb above the birdhouse, which is a big plus for a photographer. Very considerate of them to offer a photo op!