My best wishes to you on this fine day in January, with the rivers rising and winter steelhead trickling upriver as I type. Or so I hope.
My best wishes to you on this fine day in January, with the rivers rising and winter steelhead trickling upriver as I type. Or so I hope.
And this is always the question at hand.
There is so much water under the bridge and so much water yet to flow.
Thank you all. The images in this post are old and new, as are our lives each moment. Confusion – and the inability to tell old from new, is inevitable – I suppose.
I’ll be at the Caddis Fly Shop this Saturday, December 14th from 10-5. Hope you can drop by to say hello.
I sure hope we get some rain soon.
Yep. These two fellows are at the heart of a great deal of whatever it is that I was able to accomplish over the course of my profession as a fisheries biologist, scientist, or whatever it is that I was.
By this I mean that I realize that Jim and Ed allowed me the opportunity to prove myself, deliver the goods, and produce some reports/management plans/ways of looking at the biological world that are somewhat unique.
Whether the high regard of the work I accomplished is overly inflated is beside the point. The point is that I am proud of the work, and enjoyed the work, and believe that my life and my family’s lives are better today because of the fact that I was a able to do the work.
I’m afraid that some of what I have written so far is too cryptic, but here I am trying to uncomplicate it by saying that I would not ever have had the same opportunities to prove myself in the fisheries world if not for the trust and confidence that Messrs. Jim Martin and Ed Bowles placed in me when they assigned (allowed) me to “lead” several work-products related to salmon biology, management, and management planning.
I’ll never forget the days Jim Martin invited me to lead development of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds (AKA Oregon Plan). I went from being a Bio 3 to sitting beside Governor John Kitzhaber in a week, with strangers thinking I was an important big shot and me knowing full well that I was only a hard working Bio 3.
I’ll also never forget my joy when Ed Bowles announced that he wanted me to advise ODFW staff while they developed a multi species management plan for nearly all the salmon species on nearly the whole Oregon coast. Ed knew that a management plan of this scale was my private dream, an aspiration I dared not hope for too much.
So Jim, thank you.
And Ed, thank you.
You trusted in me, and my life is better for it.
In posting this thank you note, I encourage everyone to pause and appreciate the people who in large or small measure, helped us do something that we are happy about. These are the people who helped us be more do more, and develop in way that might not have been possible but for their actions.
Jay Nicholas – October 25th, 2019
PS: of course there are many more people who in some way provided positive influence in my life, but Jim and Ed happen to be near the top of-the-heap where my professional career is concerned.
The photo below is of me (left) and Ed on a sunny day.
September 28, 2019.
I was taking a walk around the block yesterday evening, listening to a mix of Peal Jam, Led Zeppelin, and Bear Cleary. The final 100 yards of my suburban trek was a gentle uphill climb in a westerly direction, on the sidewalk on the north side of our street.
And there it was. A heartwarming sight that made me smile, smile a little more, and then allow my mind to drift and consider why the sight was to welcome.
Unfortunately, the only image I have to place in this blog post is of a sunflower I photographed on a walk a week or so ago, but the coincidence of the digital image is remarkable.
Looking ahead into the bright evening sun, a woman held a child in her arms, leaned toward the sunflower, so the child could reach out and touch the flower.
The sun was too bright behind her that i was at first unsure of what I was seeing. Was it a woman? Was it a little dog sniffing the flower? Was it even a flower? Someone was holding something, leaning towards what I thought must be a tall sunflower.
I walked a little faster, sensing the impermanence of the moment.
And sure enough, the shapes and my imagination proved spot-on as I grew closer. An older woman, probably grandma, held a baby in her arms, the child reaching out to feel the flower, smiling and laughing at the reaching-touching game.
That moment, that sight brought lightness and joy – to an already very good day – knowing that the very same ritual must be occurring around the world uncountable times each day.
These moments of joy don’t depend on wealth, social status, politics, religion, or even good health. For an instant, these moments simply exist.
Moments of pure love and joy, in brief moments, unite all people in all times.
“Thank you for a wonderful, joyful, beautiful sight”, I said. smiling as I moved on, wishing her a good evening.”Thank you for saying that” she said to my back. I was already moving uphill along the sidewalk toward the joyful refuge of my own home.
I’ll close now with my wishes that you find some sight, some evidence of pure love, joy, and light – today and every day. These moments are precious and deserve to be cherished.
Jay Nicholas – September 28, 2019
Post Script: Yes, the joyful grandma-baby sunflower vision centered on the very same flower pictured at the beginning of this blog, photographed days earlier.
It has apparently been five months since I posted anything here. Not because there’s nothing going on. Not because there is too much going on to write. Not that I haven’t wanted to. Not because I really really really wanted to. But of course there are plenty of excuses or reasons or explanations and such forth that don’t merit mentioning because after all I simply didn’t sit down and log in and type.
But tonight I had to. Couldn’t put it off another minute.
What caused me to post this now? Well here it is.
I have received kind notes from friends in recent weeks, days, and hours. Words that touched my heart with such a feeling of gratitude that I frankly don’t think that I can find proper words to express how I felt.
I thank you.
I thank each of you who reached out to me.
And I have something to say to anyone who reads this.
As each of us blunders into the future, moment by moment, we may experience every emotion from pure joy to pure despair.Whether you do or not, I can tell you that I deal with both ends of the spectrum most days.
I will pause now to let you know that I just devoted some ten or fifteen minutes writing about the dark end of the spectrum and how I can’t predict when I’ll go there and so on and so forth but eventually decided that I’d better delete the entire passage because the process is so tangled that I think it best to leave it now.
Here we are.
Nestucca River salmon are beginning their final run of the river, leaving the ocean home they have known most of their life, setting in motion a cycle of life and death that persists today in spite of the assaults of “civilization” that has no understanding or respect for natural things. Summer steelhead are feeling the relief of waters cooled by rains falling as I write, moving restlessly about their pools, knowing, perhaps, that their time to spawn is growing shorter as the nights grow longer. The sea run cutthroat are moving about the coastal rivers now, some staying in tidewater, some moving high into the headwaters to lay behind the first spring chinook that will begin digging redds in a week or so.
I tied flies today for my friend who will fish in the Amazon Rain Forest next month. I tied a few albacore flies too, hoping that I’ll get out to chase tuna a time or two before the ocean shifts and the tuna move offshore. I’m looking at the river forecast and trying to imagine where I’ll fish this week, anticipating that rain will send fish upriver.
My family is well.
My cats are well.
I hope that everyone who reads this is well, or well enough, or can be comforted knowing that someone, somewhere, has felt what you are feeling this moment.
If everything in your life is perfect, I am happy for you.
If some things in your life are not so good, in fact if some things are really crappy, please hang the heck in there until something good happens, no matter how small that good thing might be. That’s what we all need to do, because we need each other and none of us is very well equipped to go it alone.
And if this is all too cryptic and doesn’t fit with whatever is going on in your life please excuse me. This is the best I can do to say what I want to say without saying the words exactly because sometimes I’m afraid of the words that might come spilling out.
Regarding the matter of catch and release fishing.
History tells that in the beginning, we fished.
And it has been noted that certain people fished with nets and spears, but others fished with a pole, string, hook, bobber, and bait, lures, and yea, even flies. We who fished were called anglers, our tools were called tackle, we ate the fish we caught, and this was good.
As the millennia rolled by, we sought at first to catch more and larger fish with refined tackle, and generally continued to eat our catch. Until came such time as we caught so many fish of such proportion that we could not eat them all, even if disbursed among deck-hands, relatives, and entire villages. So we disposed or our gargantuan catch on river banks, buried in flower gardens, or fed to livestock. This was accepted practice, but did not seem a savory practice and gnawed at our conscience.
Time slipped by, until one angler grabbed a fish by the tail, prepared to launch it uphill into the riverside brush, but instead, the fish wrenched free and slipped back into the water. The angler gave little thought to this, caught another fish and failed once again to propel the fish into the air, as had always been done before that day. Apparently, the story goes, this hapless angler suffered from a weak grip, and allowed fish after fish to slip away back into the waters.
At twilight, our storied angler wandered into the Blue Ribbon Tavern in West Yellowstone, to drink ale while conversing with many fellow patrons about the day of losing many fish. But what with English being English, and ale being ale – the many patrons perceived stories of loosing fish rather than losing fish, and so assumed that the loosing was deliberate when in fact the angler had been accidentally losing fish.
This most curious evening at the Blue Ribbon Tavern thus started what was eventually to become the deliberate world-wide act of catch-and-release fishing, a new means of disposing of vast numbers of fish never intended to be eaten but rather caught to provide amusement and recreation for the angler.
This newly adopted practice of catch and release fishing was at first lauded as humane, conservation-minded, and vastly superior to catch-and-kill angling. And truth be told, catch and release fishing did indeed offer both fish and angler the opportunity to play another day. This is because many of the fish released did in fact survive the experience, as did the angler, and so both had the opportunity to either be caught or to catch, as was possible on the part of the fish or the angler, and thus was born the possibility of repeated catching ad releasing of larger and larger fish, to the delight of the angler and some reaction of unknown nature to the fish.
But as time went on, and the practice of catch and release fishing spread, anglers realized that circumstances of the environment sometimes caused the fish to die after release anyway, making the practice all for naught, except perhaps for salving the conscience of the angler who was doing much catching and releasing and thinking that the fish were not dying when in fact they were dying anyway.
And so it came to pass also that certain people concerned with prevention of cruelty to animals took notice of catch and release fishing and began serious debate regarding whether this practice was perhaps not so kind to the fish, and might perhaps represent a form of self-delusion on the part of the angler. If the tide was turned, these animal-rights persons argued, how many anglers would want to have a hook jammed in their mouth, forced to run around the city until too tired to resist, and then unceremoniously tossed back on the subway in a state of exhaustion?
But this was a debate of conscience not much entertained by more than a handful of anglers – many chose to compartmentalize such thinking, many dismissed the ideas outright, but a few were troubled and conflicted by the thought.
And as we stand here this very day, the ethical questions regarding catch and release fishing have yet to be resolved, as is the case regarding ethical treatment of organic chicken stix, wild reared hamburger, and rainforest pepperoni.
So there you have it.
Regarding the matter of fishing tackle and fishing gear reviews.
In the Beginning, we fished.
Some of us fished with nets and spears, but some fished with a pole, string, hook, bobber, and a worm. We were called anglers, our tools were called tackle, we ate our catch, and it was good.
Naturally, the quest to catch more and larger fish spawned experimentation with fish poles, string, bobbers and worms, referred to collectively as tackle. From the beginning of angling, we enjoyed our craft, fiddled with our tackle, and this was good.
Time slipped by, anglers angled, and the nature of tackle evolved. Our fish poles grew longer at times, and then shorter; thinner and thicker; lighter and heavier; decorated with intricate design or quite plain. Fish string evolved as well – we had floating and sinking string; dark and light string; rough and smooth; stretchy and not-at-all stretchy string. From poles to worms, we delighted in each generation of tackle, relegating previous generations to the bone heap. And this was still good, pretty much.
Gradually, the rate of technical performance advances – declined. Product improvements grew smaller and smaller as the ages sped by. Sometimes, lacking even small change to trumpet, our industry reps heralded microscopic changes as monumental. Our search for better tackle to facilitate catching fish devolved into a quest for fishing-gear perfection – we lost all sense of humility, seeking the knowing of things of a nature beyond the comprehension of mortal humans.
While we were most vulnerable, immersed in the shady environs of Internet fishing content, an army of manufacturers assailed us, whispering glorious stories of pickup trucks, fly tying vises, micro 4/3 sensor auto-focus cameras, Kevlar vests, multi-tools, beef jerky, Q-Tips, laser gun sights, camo bikinis, thousand-pound coolers, barbecue-flavored potato chips, and such forth. Our credit card debt grew exponentially as we acquired the most marvelous trinkets to accompany our beloved fishing tackle. And although our lives were not better, we thought it so, and decided that all-in-all it was good; and therefore, it was good, perhaps, but who among us can say?
In closing, I wish each of you – wherever you are – a good day, a smile, a laugh, and the chance to fish. But if you can’t fish – I wish each of you the joy of checking out a few tackle reviews on the Internet, perhaps even a few I’ve penned.
Jay Nicholas, March 4th, 2019
I can’t remember exactly how or when I first met Tim, but it was probably though my friendship with Chris Daughters and the Caddis Fly Shop – Tim was gracious and kind to me from the outset, and from what I hear, that’s just the way he rolls.
I do remember some time ago being confused with the Tim versus Steve (Rajeff) thing and how on earth these brothers both grew up to excel in the world of fly rod design and casting. Frankly, I never did sort it all out, and given the reality of my apparently declining memory, it is unlikely that I ever will. Knowing Steve by reputation, I check in with him regarding all things Loomis, and talk with Tim on regular basis whenever I have questions about Echo / Airflo.
I fished with Tim offshore Oregon for albacore back in 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed Tim’s extensive repertoire of stories about fishing around the world.
What most delights me is the fact that Tim and I were both fishing for little fish in San Francisco Bay, a scant decade apart. I’m a 49-er and Tim was born in ’59, so I was diligently applying myself to the task of depleting the bay of sculpin, surf perch and surf smelt before he was born. Fortunately for Tim, I failed so there were plenty of the critters for Tim to catch. Apparently he would take a bucket with his catch to feed the penguins and seals at the zoo. My catch usually ended up as fertilizer in the rose beds.
Tim was a hand-liner as a kid and so was I; although I was hand-lining the waters near Istanbul a few years before Tim was born. Tim and I remember unleashing the primitive harvest instincts that hand-lining engenders. To this day, I find that I love to hand-line in the ocean offshore Pacific City, and I bet Tim would too. Maybe this summer.
Like all of my friends in the FFI, Tim is incredibly busy, but he too will always make time for small talk and a personal catch up.
One of my favorite images of Tim is from a day when we met at the Rajeff Sports warehouse and technical testing site. I can see Tim even now, sweat standing out on his forehead, as he applied all his might trying to break one of his prototype rods. I’ve tried the same thing on the water many times each season, and have failed, so far. Only truck doors, cleated wading boots, and falling down on said rods has been fruitful to date.
Thanks Tim, for everything.
Jay Nicholas, early 2019
Randy and I have known each other since the days of Kaufmann’s when I tied flies for Randall. I tied Timberline Emergers, Davis Lake Specials, Caddis Bucktails, Tied-down Caddis Bucktails, Stimulators, and Elk Hair Caddis. Probably a few more patterns, oh yes, I tied Chironomid nymphs that were very different than what we tie and fish today.
Back in the day, I interacted mostly with Randall, a little with Lance, and occasionally with Jerry. I well remember the day I delivered several dozen steelhead flies to the shop, and Jerry proceeded to pull the wings out with pliers. Neither of us was very happy with each other that day.
Years went by, and I had an opportunity to interact with Randy when he was at Rajeff Sports, and of recent at Burkheimer.
I think it is fair to say that Randy knows me far better than I know him. Perhaps I should say that differently. Randy knows more factoids about me than I know about him.
I do know Randy very well in one respect. Several respects. He is kind. He listens. He will go the extra mile to support a friend, just because. He is a great fly tyer, angler, and he really knows his stuff. He is modest, so modest that a lot of folks might not think he knows anything at all.
Think I’ve said enough. Randy has been around long enough to know a lot about the people in the FFI, but you would never know it because he’s just working, doing his best to help people, wherever he might be at any given time. I am grateful for his patience and friendship.
PS: I’ve heard that he likes ducks and duck dogs.
Finally, I chose the image above, although it is quite old, because it was taken in late evening light, and it reminds me of the time when we were all so much stronger and dumber than today, and Randy was swinging that single hander on the Deschutes.
I first met Dick at one of the FFF Fly Trying Expos in Albany Oregon. At least I think that is so. Whatever. I began talking to Dick about EDGE and TFO fly rods and reels, then later it was Cortland lines and Loomis rods, and AQUAZ waders.
Throughout our conversations, I picked up on a character trait that I hold great respect for: Dick was genuinely trying to find out if he could help me navigate the technicalities of the products and generally improve my understanding of whatever it was we were discussing. He wasn’t sellin’ anything, only trying to help me advance my state of awareness and technical competence.
Dick didn’t grow up in this part of the world, and in fact he migrated to the PNW from the Great Lakes region, Dick wasn’t a FFI member when I was whipping flies around my head on the Metolius and Cascade lakes. Nope, He worked in manufacturing, education, insurance, and guiding.
Fortunately -for me and everyone he calls on as a sales rep these days – Dick eventually settled into the FFI. I’m especially fond of the way Dick approaches his profession. Yes, he is eager to tell shop owners about the latest products, but he works harder at understanding the business needs and limitations of each shop, all this in order to make solid product recommendations.
Dick has seen a lot in his years out and in the FFI. He keeps it to himself and shares the good stuff. I’ve seen Dick extend his hand in friendship and respect to people so naturally that I know it’s genuine. Dick has provided me with a comfortable, friendly “home base” to tie flies at the Albany FFF Tying EXPO for the last several years now and this has given us a little more time solidify on our mutual admiration.
Best of all, we’re going fishing in 2019.