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About Corvus

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Date of Birth
October 31, 1942 (81)
About Corvus
Marcell, Minnesota
Years fly fishing:
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If there are no dogs in heaven, I want to go where they go."

Will Rogers


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Recent Entries

Tying Flies as a Religious Experience

by Corvus on 02-13-2010 at 04:10 PM
My father gave me my first fly rod in 1952 when I was ten years old. It was a three-piece bamboo rod of indefinite make and came with an inexpensive Bakelite
reel and a fly line with a definite weave to it. I still have the rod, reel and about a six foot section of the line. It?s been well used and suffered my boyhood repairs when broken. The tip has a fracture repaired with airplane glue and wrapped with some of my mothers red sewing thread. I don?t remember how it was broken, but the repair has lasted at least 50 plus years, which speaks highly of the quality of the glue if not of the workmanship of the repair, which is definitely boyish.

Sunfish and bass were the targets of those days and I would venture that hundreds were caught on that rod. When I joined the Navy at twenty the old rod was put up and after that, with the exception of a few outings, most all of my fishing was conducted with casting and spinning gear with bait.

I didn?t return to serious fly fishing until I was in my fifties, but the re-entry was complete. By this time I was living were trout fishing was an option and my re-indoctrination, or perhaps I should say re-infection, was swift and expensive requiring a investment much more substantial than the 1950?s dollar amount the Ol? Man spent setting me up the first time.

I started tying flies to save money and to have access to a ready supply of my favorite patterns on hand all the time, but somewhere in the intervening time the tying has taken on an existence all of it?s own. I now have more flies than I have time left to fish them. So many in fact that I?m beginning to wonder if I haven?t crossed over some line of demarcation where the tying of flies has become some kind religious rite in and of its self, and therein lays the question; is this blasphemy?

I thought of the flies at first as a an offering to the fish themselves, a kind of votive offering that I would lay before them in hopes of enticing their frenzied response, but that seemed too much like making the fish the gods and me the supplicant. First commandment and all that?

Then that bit about Graven Images kicked in and I knew I couldn?t set the flies themselves up as the objects of adoration either.

Then again in trying to duplicate the works of the ?Master Tier ? on high seemed pretty presumptuous, I mean who could do that? Setting one?s self up to compete with God requires a pretty big ego.

I was in a quandary now, and with each additional try at justification, the quagmire grew deeper.

The best possible solution was to somehow consider these little bits of feather and fluff to somehow be and amalgamation of all this judo-Christian angst personified and to come up with a solution that could be justified with my Lutheran sensibilities.

I couldn?t do it. I?m still struggling like Sisyphus.

So then they are all this together; a paean of praise to the Almighty, an offering to the fish, and prayer of success in an endeavor of doubtful outcome, and a pagan reaffirmation of the promise of a returning sun, all rolled into a small package.

In my case they now resemble Tibetan prayer wheels, row on row, spinning in the wind and I have way to many of them to keep them all spinning?

Wretched excess, addiction, and my sordid little habit laid bare. Put the bobbin down, back away from the vise and keep your hands where we can see them. Lord, I am so busted. Pray for me?

Fishing Far North

by Corvus on 11-25-2008 at 08:38 PM
It was almost seven below last night and we're back to the "hard water" fishing season again.

It's been another wonderful year for me personally as far as the fishing goes, but perhaps more problematical for the fish. The obvious distain for all things wild and free from the outgoing administration has set us back 40 years as far as conservation and protection of wild fish and fauna. I want to believe that things will improve with the new bunch. Perhaps they'll pay more attention to habitat, clean water and scientific rigor and less to exploitation of our dwindling resources.

This summers trip to the North Slope re-enforced my concern about change in our global weather and the vital need to address our dependence on fossil fuel to generate our electrical needs. Barges of oil are annually shipped into Kaktovic at great expense when one wind generator could supply ALL the requirements for this remote coastal village, and at not much more than the cost of one years supply of fuel oil. We need to put on our collective thinking caps and start figuring out how we're going to continue maintain our sustainability as a country in these perplexing economic times. I can tell you it ain't "drill Baby, drill!"

The recent agreement to remove the Kalmath River Dams was a welcome year end gift, but why is it going to take until 2020 to do it? I'll be seventy eight by then and I'd dearly like to fish there before I die. Oh well!

I see too that Poly-Met and the Pebble Mine project are reconsidering the viability of their open pit, acid leaching ore projects in light of the recent economic downturn. That's another good omen for the fish. The possible contamination of millions of gallons of water is such a risk for so questionable a result. I mean these acid lakes will exist for centuries after the companies are gone, and whose going to be responsible for them then?

So, here comes 2009, are we ready to confront our wasteful habits and caviler attitudes? I know my fellow fisher people are; it's the vast un-washed [or should I say un-fished] that frighten me. I believe it was Jefferson who said "when I consider that God is just, I fear for my country.." A powerful point to ponder as we enter a new year.

Deep thoughts for twilight on a snowy day in the North Woods. I think I'll just let the new Lab Puppy lick my face, empty my brandy snifter and remember that pretty little Brookie that graced my line last Spring.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving

Fishing Far North ~ Hulahula 2008

by Corvus on 09-22-2008 at 12:48 AM
Marcell,MN. September 13, 2008

Having just returned from the North Slope of AK and eighteen days of fishing in wet cold weather, I though there may be some interest in the results of the ongoing Dolly Varden USF&W study being conducted there.

First off let me assure you that absolutely nothing beats a well tied streamer for these beautiful fish! Perhaps the best was a Deceiver tied as a standard soft head, or as a Clouser with upturned hook and lead eyes, 6X hook and Grizzly hackle about 2 to 3 inches long. This pattern replicates a Dolly Varden minnow and produced on almost every cast.

The study site is 20 air miles from the north coast on the Hulahula River at a point where the river has not yet begun to "braid". It was chosen because of it's suitability as a sonar sight. A side scan Didson sonar being used to count the movements of the spawning fish that return each August and September to their natal streams.

This is the third year of this program, and upwards of 20,000 Dolly Varden as generally counted. Small fin clips are snipped from the fish for DNA and otoliths (small bones from the inner ears) are removed for later study.

From this information it is possible to tell the age of the fish and how many times they have gone from fresh to salt water.

This year we sampled over 400 Dollies. We caught and released all but about 12 which were sacrificed for ototliths and dinners. One accidental Grayling measured about 17" and one very unusual Pink Salmon Spawning Male who was leaking sperm when caught. This may be the most significant fish of the season, as we were not sure if any Pinks have ever been caught in this river system before. With concerns of climate change and all, this he really makes for some interesting suppositions.

The majority of the captures this year were spawners; many expressing eggs/sperm. Last year the majority were non-spawning "silver" or uncolored fish, but then we were 23 air miles further up the river and beyond the area that may just be the prime spawning area.

Almost all the fish were caught on 5 and 6 weight flyrods with streamers. Patterns were varied with red and white, blue and white, green and white Clousers being very good producers. (Having the hook up in fast flowing rocky streams was a big plus) I also caught one beautiful 750mm full colored male on a Mickey Finn.

It was a great trip in spite of the coastal arctic weather. (We did have a day and half of sunny skies out of eighteen) At this point we're not sure if the study will be continued next year, although that errant Pink may just save the program.


Spring is a late bloomer

by Corvus on 06-06-2008 at 12:37 AM
Up here in the woods it seems like it was a real short summer; about three hours worth sometime towards the end of May. My tomatoes froze out the Friday night before the Memorial Day week-end when it got down to 28 degrees and frankly, I haven't put anything in the ground since coming to the realization it could freeze yet one more time. Not pure speculation considering historically it has snowed in Minnesota in every month of the year.

Fishing is slow. The lakes aren't warmed up yet and the warm water types haven't even begun to "come in" yet for the annual "I''ll strike anything you throw at me" ritual of the spawn. Reports from friends all along the Canadian line confirm it's slow and late everywhere. Mushroom hunters too are complaining of low numbers... The ground needs to get above 50 degrees for good Morel hunting.

I pulled on the hippers and headed out into the cedar swamp behind the homestead this evening. The Pitcher Plants are out and Cowslips are blooming in the Diamond Willow plantation, but I still managed to find some ice under the roots of a big ol' white cedar way back in the gloom, and skeeters and black flies aren't holding up - they're out in force.

Another ten days should tell the tale and fishing improve. 'Till then I won't put away my mucklucks.

Spring is a Warbler...

by Corvus on 05-08-2008 at 11:30 PM
Our 50" of April snow has had an unexpected consequence... No Warblers! These little harbingers of summer, flying in from 3500 miles away in South America, are always a welcome sight. So, when they don't show up for opening day, I get bummed. Carol Henderson, of the MN DNR, was bemoaning the fate of these sprightly guys, and has commented on the decline of all the bug eating birds we see each spring because of our April snows.

Tonight I put some domestic fowl on the grill and Lo! There above, pirouetting above the pines, A Yellow Rump Warbler!
Ah! Grace, in the form of a small feathered friend from Costa Rica.

And then, to add to my delight, a message from the local TU of a new easement in the neighborhood, to a small spring creek, home to native Brookies

Spring creeks! Brookies! Little yellow rumped birds! Life IS good!