Chauvinist Flyfishermen

Amanda Monthei is an outdoor writer, flyfisher, skier and a wildland firefighter.

In her latest blog post, she describes her experiences representing The Flyfish Journal at fly fishing shows in New Jersey and Atlanta.

In particular, she describes her encounters with men who didn’t believe she actually fly fished; wanted her to work as housekeepers at their lodge; wistfully wished they were younger so they could chase her; and since she was working a booth asked if she gave out kisses.

Reading her post made me cringe.

I think it’s long past time for men of whatever age to think it’s still the 1950’s. While I think there’s a vast difference between asking a woman for a telephone number and sexual harassment, I’m not sure there’s any difference when men treat a woman like an object.

Amanda did point out the vast majority of the men she met were respectful and interested in what she’s done in fly fishing. But it only takes a few jackasses to point out how far there is to go.

You can read Amanda’s post here.

No More Fly Fishing Barbie Dolls

The New York Times has an article on how women are the fastest-growing demographic in fly fishing. And like most other things in our society the growth of women participating in fly fishing will be good for everyone.

Manufacturers such as Orvis, Patagonia, and Simms have increased the promotion and offerings of clothing and gear designed and built for women – not just having small and extra small sizes. Greater numbers of women will provide opportunities for more sales based on growth and not just replacement sales. Women will travel to destination fly fishing locations just like the men.

But this growth and promotion is not just about gear sales and travel dollars. It’s about acceptance and respect.

Women guides will offer different perspectives and means of coaching and instruction that will benefit all their clients. Women will be respected for their skills in fly fishing and accepted as full participants in the sport, not just as bikini-clad models at shows and in advertising – “no more Barbie dolls” as April Vokey calls them.

Reading the article made me cringe in terms of how women have been treated by fly shops, fellow guides, and even clients. As a society we should be long past that behavior. But as in most struggles for acceptance there is a long wade ahead as older ideas give way to younger ideas and young women.

You can read the article here.

Misplaced Outrage

I had been having an internal debate on my road trip as to whether I should write something on the protests of NFL players when the shooting occurred in Las Vegas. As it is, I think I want to now say something about both issues.

First on the protests. It probably needs to be said as a reminder that the purpose of the protests was to protest racism and police violence against young black men. There was, as a result of the superficial reporting that didn’t put the protests into context, the predictable howls of outrage that such protests “disrespect” the flag and the national anthem and all members of the military. I won’t even go into my feelings again about how ignorant the use of disrespect as a verb sounds to me.

The song and the piece of cloth are symbols of this country and all it should represent. But the claim that they represent freedom and the protests are not respectful of that freedom seems to me to confuse cause and effect.

The freedoms we have exist precisely due to protest.

First, what began as protests led to the revolution and ultimately to the US Constitution that formed the legal structure of the republic. The Bill of Rights (as a reminder, the first ten amendments of the Constitution) were adopted due to protests of the anti-Federalists. The increasing protests over many, many decades led to the right of women and minorities to vote – not to mention a Civil War that freed black Americans from legalized slavery. Other protests led to increased rights and protections for American workers. Still other protests led to the rights of the gay and lesbian communities.

Protest – even more than gun rights (see below) – are part of the fundamental genes of this country.

As should be clear, the freedom and willingness to protest is what enables progress. And if something is wrong, it is the highest form of patriotism to protest.

One final point on this issue. I think it’s important that whenever those in authority speak of patriotism and the need for people to show their gratitude for the freedoms we have, it’s wise to pay attention to what freedoms they’re actually trying to take away.

Now to where the real outrage should exist.

Another city, another mass murder. How can anyone be surprised? In spite of the well meaning but facile commentary on various television and radio shows – how could this have been unexpected?

Columbine. Fort Hood. Aurora. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Roseburg. Orlando. Las Vegas. And others I’ve forgotten.

Where’s the outrage that as a society we have become numb – except in the immediate aftermath of each shooting – to the ongoing slaughter?

Where’s the outrage that I heard some former police official speak of this as the new normal?

Each time the identity of the shooter or shooters become important so the news media can label the cause of the shooting as terrorism, mental illness or unexplained. But does it really matter to the victims, their family and friends?

Where’s the outrage at Congresses over the last two decades that can only offer “thoughts and prayers” and “moments of silence”?

Where’s the outrage that the Centers for Disease Control have been prohibited for the last 20 years from studying the relationship between guns and violence?

Where’s the outrage that many hide behind the Second Amendment, claiming it gives them the right to own high-caliber military-grade weapons? And I’m not specifically addressing the AR-15/M4 platform used in many of the mass shootings. I’m talking about owning Barrett sniper rifles that can kill at 1800 meters that are sold in some gun shops.

I’ve heard on radio and television many of the arguments for the intent of the Second Amendment. Many have been led to believe the founding fathers put that in the Constitution to ensure the overthrow of a government in case it began to oppress the people. One caller I heard on Sirius said it was put in to ensure that people would be able to fight back in the event of the rise of socialistic communist government.

Where’s the outrage that we have an educational system that doesn’t educate on the founding documents of this republic?

The truth is the Second Amendment was adopted at the insistence of the southern states to ensure they could form state militias to put down slave revolts. It said nothing about individual citizens owning Barrett sniper rifles.

The Second Amendment is an anachronism and should be repealed. But that will likely never happen. Even if it were it would change little.

Gun ownership is not dependent upon the Second Amendment. National, state, and local laws would allow individuals to own weapons for hunting, sport shooting or self defense as is true in a number of countries. And yes it would still allow some to use those weapons for homicide or suicide.

Confiscation is never going to happen no matter what the NRA and a hard-core minority say.

And I don’t think it’s desirable in any case. There are legitimate reasons and purposes for gun ownership. However, I remain unconvinced that civilians need anything more than shotguns, bolt or lever action rifles, and revolvers for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting, and self defense.

In the end, writing this is just a waste of time as nothing is going to happen except the next inevitable massacre.

From a long history of wars and military expeditions to sports violence to the never ending (and ever growing) war on terror, we have become a militarized society that celebrates violence. Popular entertainment promotes violence as solving every problem – whether in an hour on television or several hours in movies. The “warrior hero” is celebrated as the paragon of a society that sees itself as exceptional and indispensable.

And behind it all are the manufacturers of weapons and war; the manufacturers of propaganda labelled as entertainment; the philosophers and preachers of American exceptionalism; and their paid whores in Congress and national media. And they have chosen our god for us.

Thanatos – the Greek god of death – is our civic god. And that choice will lead to violent death for many, many more.

As I said in a previous post, I only hope no one I know is involved in a coming massacre. And I feel outraged saying that.

Puget Sound Fly Fishing Fair

One of the great things about fly-fishing is the amazing amount of information there is about fish, the fisheries, and casting. There is always something more to learn.

Books, magazine articles, videos, and knowledgeable friends can provide a good deal of that information. But there is something very special about gatherings where experts share their knowledge in an environment of energy and enthusiasm with large numbers of fly fishers.

Yesterday Puget Sound Fly Fishers provided such a forum at the Puget Sound Fly Fishing Fair at Environmental Services Building in University Place. Sponsored by Fly Fishers International (FFI), this was a fun and informative day for those who attended.

Activities included fly-casting instruction, fly tying demonstrations, silent auctions, a local authors table, and vendor and fly shop booths. And then there were the presentations.

The challenge was choosing among the speakers and topics as simultaneous presentations were going on in two rooms. It was an excess of riches.

I chose to attend presentations by Carol Ann Morris, Leland Miyawaki, and April Vokey.

Carol Ann’s presentation was on improving one’s nature and fishing photographs. I believe photography is another area in which there’s always something more to learn.

Given my planned trip to Henry’s Fork in late September, I thought this would be a good refresher. And it was, as Carol showed mistakes in her photographs over the years and how she corrected them. A key tip was not including too much sky when it’s not needed for the focus of the photograph.

Leland of Orvis Bellevue gave another funny presentation on top water fishing for sea run cutthroat trout. I’ve heard him talk about using his popper before, but there was elegance to the way he described how he’s reduced his fishing in his choices in gear and focus on the fish he loves so much. As he said, he works in a fly shop and still basically uses only one rod setup all year.

One thing I was impressed with was when talking about where to go for information on locations, he mentioned both Puget Sound Fly Company and Gig Harbor Fly Shop. Both had booths at the fair and it was a simple but gracious act to recognize them.

And then there was April Vokey’s talk on steelhead.

I had seen photographs and articles about her for years, and had listened to her podcast. But this was the first time I heard her in person. Her talk on steelhead was the most informative I’ve heard. For someone only 34 years old, she’s forgotten more than I will ever know. Her obvious interest in others and her commitment to preservation of the natural world were evident throughout her talk.

She did exact a promise from the audience that when chasing steelhead people should catch two and then call it a day. The days of catching and stressing large numbers of those fish should be long gone as these fisheries are under pressure. The same could be said most fisheries due to population growth, pollution, and climate change.

While a number of the local fly shops conduct events and seminars and there is the annual FFI Fair in Ellensburg, this was the first event of this scope and size in Puget Sound that I can recall. The credit is due to Puget Sound Fly Fishers who planned and staffed the event.

I can only hope given the large numbers who attended yesterday that more events like this will be held in future years.

The Finer Points of the Client Guide Relationship

Continuing on the theme of the business side of fly fishing, Gink and Gasoline had a post concerning the relationship between client and guide.

What holds true for a client/guide relationship in fly fishing holds true for any business relationship – communication and respect. And thinking about it a bit, that should be the basis for for all relationships between people.

You can read the post here.

A Tatoo Remembrance and A Class Act

Sage Leg Tatoo

People get tattoos for any number of reasons, too many perhaps to articulate or even understand. As someone who has no tattoos and has no plan to get one, there is at least one purpose for a tattoo that I can understand – and that is for remembrance.

I came across the following post on the Sage web site. For those who have not heard of Sage, it is one of the top-tier fly rod companies.

An individual named Douglas Derrick contacted Sage and related his story of growing up with a brother and sister (Dustin and Kristen). The two traveled to Nepal and Peru in 2006 to join their father who was working with Doctors Without Borders. After the father returned to the States, they then attempted to climb Mount Artesonraju in the Peruvian Andes. Someone slipped on the climb, and both and another climber all fell to their deaths on June 27th, 2006.

Before they left for Nepal and Peru, Dustin had left Douglas his fly rod – a Sage TXL fly rod and told him to keep track of the number of fish he caught with it. After their deaths, Douglas attempted to return the rod to the now grieving father who lost his only children.

The father told him to keep the rod as Dustin wanted him to have the rod. In 2008, Douglas moved to Portland, Oregon. Sometime after, his home was burglarized and the rod along with other items were stolen. To continue his homage to his dead friends he got the tattoo shown above.

Someone from Sage recently saw the photo on Instagram, which also had the background story attached.

The Sage repair department staff were moved by the story and decided to make an exact copy of the rod to send to Douglas. The TXL model was introduced in 2005 and is no longer in production – so Sage went out of its way to build a custom rod; including adding Dustin’s name and the date of his and his sister’s deaths.

I have a number of Sage rods – each is outstanding for its intended purpose. This story also reminded me of the outstanding men and women who people Sage.

You can read the original post here.

Wild Washington Steelhead in Decline…No Problem, Recommend for Consumption

The Wild Salmon Center has a recent article concerning a recommendation from the Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in which wild steelhead were given a “Good Alternative” rating. This is astounding given the science that shows wild Washington steelhead are in decline. See the graph for the Hoh River as only one example.

Hoh River Steelhead Decline

The lack or awareness and poor science that went into the recommendation is disturbing. The Seafood Watch promotes itself as “Helping people make better seafood choices for a healthy ocean”. But this makes no sense particularly if it encourages widespread consumption of the last remaining wild steelhead stocks on the west coast of the United States. And make no mistake, as a prized species it will command high prices on dinner tables of the rich and famous.

What the hell were they thinking?

You can read the Salmon Center’s article here

The Legend of Lefty: Anthrax and Groupies

A new profile of Lefty Kreh in Garden and Gun magazine has just been published.

The more I read about this remarkable man, the more I wish I could get to meet him in person.

There’s new information in this article, including how he was exposed to anthrax while working at a biological warfare center after the Second World War (he even has the dubious honor of having a deadly strain of anthrax named after him). What was particularly touching was his memory of his beloved wife who died in 2011. His recovery from his grief found him out fishing again and being invited by a thirty-something woman to a late night tryst – he was 87 at the time (and I’m looking forward to that too).

You can read the article here.