Hard to believe, but Saturday was the last evening razor-clam opener of the season, and we didn’t want to miss it. Skyla was literally bouncing off the walls, stoked to dig, and then realized she had already committed to a dinner with friends that night. I was bummed she couldn’t go with us, but was also proud that she stuck to her word. Then Weston woke up not feeling well. And I was left to go it alone, perhaps an early preview of kids growing up and having lives of their own? With a twinge of sadness, I decided to roll anyway, and lucky for me, had plenty of friends to join the fun. That’s Honey, David and Sam Smart, and Doc hitting the beach early.
The dig started off slow, with a big swell pushing the wash up the beach and making it tough. We scratched out a few nice ones ahead of the tide, then, as it the water receded, it was on.
Nothing like good friends on a day at the beach. That’s Dan and Mia Sweeney and me for a quick, sandy-handed selfie. Dry weather, full daylight, no lanterns…what’s not to like?
Once the razors started to show, we filled our limits with big, fat, tasty clams in minutes. That’s Sweeney double checking the Smart boys’ count.
Finished the night at the Sweeneys for a team clam-cleaning session and more good times hanging out with friends. That’s Sweeney and Smarty (with Hefty-sack wrapped wrist he broke to avoid having to clean clams) waiting for the watched pot to boil. I missed the kids, but ended up having a fantastic time anyway. Love this crew.
Since I’ve been chasing winter steelhead a bit more lately, I started running low on flies. Or at least flies I like. So Skyla jumped in, eager to learn a new craft, and after a few lessons, I put her to work. I showed her how to tie a simple bunny leech, let her choose the color scheme from a big box of materials–I figure a kid’s vision is as good as any when it comes to steelhead flies–and this is what she she twisted up. Looks pretty good for clear-water, big-river fish, don’t you think? Only issue is that she wants to keep everything she ties now. Dangit!
They don’t call it WINTER steelheading for nothing… Before the big warm rains and resulting river blowouts, I ran back over to the Olympic Peninsula for a couple days. Mostly it was a social occasion, to hang out with good friends Nate and Jeff, and stop in for another visit with JD. I went to school with Nate way back when, we’ve fished together all over the place, and now he lives in California. He’s also one of the people who first made me aware of, and encouraged me to participate in, fish conservation. So a chance to celebrate his birthday on the river wasn’t to be passed up.
The weather, though, had it’s say. Air temps stayed in the 30s, we had mixed rain and snow, the occasional white-out blizzard and some pretty sketchy driving. Water temps stayed low, and very few fish were being caught. Probably because there simply aren’t many around this year. I was lucky enough to hook one during a brief–and coincidental, I think–moment of sunshine (shortly after the picture above was taken), but otherwise we heard of little success. And a lot of the time, we were treated to a persistent, wet, mix of slushy snow and rain. Like this:
But numb fingers and slow fishing did little to dampen the enjoyment of time on the river with good friends. With all the politics around Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead now, and some pretty serious issues about their future survival, it was further incentive to participate in the challenge of saving them–if for nothing more than to have more days like these ahead.
If you haven’t clicked on the link to the Water + Words video, here it is.
A few years ago I became obsessed with tracking down one of my favorite painters, Frances Ashforth. Not that I could afford to buy any of her work, but just to tell her how much I appreciated it. I finally found someone who knew someone and ended up with her e-mail address. Long story short, over time we’ve become friends, and I continue to be inspired by her paintings and prints, which, for the most part, capture the beauty and feelings I have about water.
Last year, I was honored with an invitation to participate in a project Frances was working on called Water + Words. We talked about it for some time, and I eventually sent her a few words about water inspired by her paintings. Now, amazingly, this jam session has become a small part of a folio which makes its debut on March 30th.
If you have a minute, watch a beautiful short film about the project and the process of creating Water + Words HERE. The folio images themselves are on view, along with Frances’ gorgeous paintings and prints, on her website HERE. The page I worked on with her is below. Now we just have to figure out how to get her out to the Pacific Northwest for a show. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I hope you like it as much as I do.