Friday, December 25, 2009

Thanksgiving on the Colorado II

Gotta love the shoulder seasons. Great little float down Horsethief and Ruby with Ray & Nan, Ken, Alex, Franklin and Ky. Everett dog was along to supervise. Hardly saw a soul. Photos (C) Jeremy Christensen & Ky Frye.

Hear that lonesome train.....

Ray Rupert Rally, "Hoop Dreams"

Willie Nelson live from Maui via sattelite

Rooster Cogburn

Ky exhibits her complete mastery of cold weather layering

Let's all feel bad for Everett

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dinosaur NM Update

Dinosaur National Monument river update from Herm Hoops.

Here are some things at Dinosaur National Monument you might be interested in:

There is a new phone system for the river office. A menu will allow you to find river flows, road conditions, water availability (echo Park, Lodore, Lily Park, etc) and other information. 1 (866) 825-2995. In addition you can email questions to the river office, get the information from a link at the Dinosaur National Monument web site.

The fire blanket regs for 2010 will be a fire blanket of appropriate size is required.

The Lodore and Deerlodge boat ramps have been improved significantly. (Remember to use boat ramp courtesy and not block the ramps for lengthy periods.) The structures in Jones Hole (outhouse, store shed, and old ranger cabin) have been removed.

There was a fatality at Triplet (bottom rocks) in 2009 on a private river trip at 2000cfs.

Shell Oil has been buying Yampa Junior water rights. The Yampa still has significant Junior Rights appropriations that are unused. The Shell project is around 375 cfs for 45,000 acre feet reservoir. It will come from a pump station on the river 7 miles west of Maybell, CO and use an existing pipeline to a reservoir, then via Cedar Wash (via Co road #23) in another existing pipeline to the White River and the Piceance Basin where the oil shale project is. Much of the reservoirs are on private lands, but the project will cross BLM land; thus issues like NEPA, endangered species, Wild & Scenic Rivers and other federal issues will have to be studied. The NPS feels that it can’t stop the project because of a previous filing on water for recreational boating that was rejected by the Colorado Water Court. However my feeling is that enough case law exists to contest the District Court (remanded the case back to the State of Colorado) decision and appeal on recreational and a variety of other needs (endangered species for example). Dinosaur and the Water Rights folks plan to re-apply for water rights. Steamboat Springs has applied for water rights based on recreational boating. Stay tuned.

The Million Project proposes to take 250,000 acre feet from Flaming Gorge and pipe it via I*) to the Colorado Front Range and as far south as Castle Rock (a new reservoir is already being built near there!). In 2007 the Bureau of Reclamation found there is 155,000 acre feet that can be withdrawn. At present Colorado is doing a statewide survey to determine the availability of water. The Million Project is, at present, poorly thought out with a plethora of holes in it. The Department of Interior Agencies involved, at present, are united against the project. There is boisterous opposition from Uintah County and some near-by downstream users... but Utah is reticent to oppose because of the St. George project to withdraw water for its golf courses from the Colorado River.

Besides the Yampa there is still unappropriated water on the White, lower Green and Colorado Rivers. There is a large irrigation withdrawl on Hastings Road (to Swayseys) in Green River. Some think the large pump stations there are a precursor to the proposed nuclear power plant in Green River.

Oddly enough in all of this the BIG downstream Senior and Junior users (California) has been suspiciously silent!!!

Issues involving oil and gas development will, under present BLM leases and requirements affect the air quality of Dinosaur NM as well as the Uintah Basin (You want to hear people scream - just wait until the Utards have to get their vehicles emission inspected!). Last year in downtown Vernal there was an Ozone alert... and Ozone and particulate from drilling, the new burgeoning network of roads and other O&G development are the culprit. The dust from as far away as Nine Mile Canyon apparently has a significant affect upon Dinosaur.

Dinosaur NM received 14 million from the Federal Stimulus Program, 13.1 million goes toward the new Quarry Visitor center(s) which should be in place in about 2 years. In the meantime the old Wilkins Store at the Monument Boundary has been donated to the Natural history Association and it will be operated as an interim VC during demolition and construction.

The Weed Removal program has completed tamarisk removal at all river camps and the Weed Warriors are working on removal at lunch stops in Whirlpool and Split Mountain lunch beaches. The tamarisk eating beetles have been very successful at defoliation and stressing the plants in the river corridors. They are most likely to be observed at the head of Whirlpool Canyon around the Mitten Park Fault. Several studies related to the beetles are being conducted, including one on the breeding bird populations.

Because of the opportunity, climate and flow changes the tamarisk is being replaced by willow thickets. It’s a problem as the NPS has no plans to remove them, and they are especially prevalent along some Yampa camps. Almost all Russian olives have been removed from along the river corridors.Colorado Pikeminnow populations are increasing slightly, but Humpback Chub populations in the Monument are declining. Some Chubs were taken to 2 USF&WS hatcheries (to keep genetics separate) and Bonytail Chubs were returned to the river. The USF&WS is releasing larger fish (7-14") to decrease the chances of being taken by non-native fish. There was a small local decline in peregrine populations this past year, probably due to weather fronts moving in at the wrong time. Mature bighorn ewes are declining and there is some worry about the future of breeding ewe availability. The NPS, USF&WS and states are studying and monitoring all of the above.

Whew that was a lot, but hope its been helpful to you.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stream Access, cont.

Don't be this guy...fight for you rights.

On July 18, 2008 in the case of Conaster vs. Johnson the Utah Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the public's right to use and recreate on waters that the public owns. The court concluded "we hold that the scope of the easement provides the public the right to float, hunt, fish, and participate in all lawful activities that utilize the water. We further hold that the public has the right to touch privately owned beds of state waters in ways incidentally to all recreational rights provided for in the easement, so long as they do reasonably and cause no unnecessary injury to the landowner”. Read: Conatser vs Johnson –>
. The Conaster Decision was vigorously challenged in the Utah Legislature in the spring of 2009. A final version of the bill was tabled in the waning minutes of the session.

Stakeholders in Utah's stream access debate are gearing up for the 2010 Utah Legislative Session, when questions of public easements to Utah's waterways will once again be addressed. Anglers, river enthusiasts, real estate interests, conservation groups, private property advocates, farm groups and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are all posturing for a place at the table in the debate over stream access in Utah.

Utah Water Guardians provides updates from Capitol Hill, and a current version of the bill is available for download on their website:

(Photo Ky Frye)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of Our Veterans

Why is it so often that our most marginalized citizens are first in line to defend our country? What does this say about the enduring strength of the American Dream? Here's to our Veterans, whomever they are, but especially those who have known less of the freedom and prosperity than many of us enjoy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today in History

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Salmon River Steelhead Oct 09

Another beautiful week on the Salmon swinging flies. Record numbers of steelhead passed over Bonneville Dam this summer and fall on their way to rivers up and down the Columbia and Snake, coming as far inland as the middle of Idaho. The Salmon seemed to have good numbers of fish moving through, and we managed to hook 9 or 10, landing 6 including a nice wild fish. It is a privilege to cradle such a vibrant living thing, and while the numbers of fish this year are encouraging, imagine what could happen if we, say, demolished the lower Snake River dams?

Deso Sept 09

What an amazing, mellow, stress free trip, though Dave & Bugs frame may beg to differ.....Photos (C) Jeremy Christensen, Ky Frye & Dave Inskeep

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Deso: Day Negative One

It's been so long since I've done a real river trip, I feel, I'm ashamed to say, a bit out of practice. I am finding myself actually having to think about what I need to bring, as opposed to having it already packed in my car from the last trip as things were the last couple years. But tomorrow we arrive at Sand Wash for 7 days in Desolation and Gray Canyons, and I'm so excited I think I just peed a little bit.

Last few months have been busy with work, and preparing to (FINALLY) move into our permanent Salt Lake residence (only 5 months after getting back) but it's looking promising - the finishing touches should be completed by the time we get back from this trip, and we'll be ready to move in. Ky and I still haven't even unpacked from North Carolina, so the move should be relatively painless.

I have been trying to find the time and money to put the Plascore shoe on the dory, but haven't yet managed to, so that is still a work in progress. She won't be coming on this trip, 2400 cfs is a bit below my threshold for the wood boat on Deso, so Grey Boy, my 16' Achilles bucket gets the nod this time, fresh off a trip down the Middle Fork Salmon with Rupert "Ray Ray" James III. Hoping 7 days on the water will give me the time to find and fix the slow leak in the starboard chamber.

We were also planning to bring Everett (furry buddy) but he somehow got injured in the last couple weeks and has been slow to recover. Had us scared for a couple days, obviously in pain but not emanating from any discernable location on his body. Thankfully I can report he is on his way to a full recovery, but unfortunately for all involved he will have to sit this one out as well.

Pics and trip report to follow.....happy trails.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Managed to sneak away for a couple floats these last few weeks, getting out on the Moab (Colorado River) and Green River dailies. I wasn't able to use my Desolation Canyon permit over Memorial Day because of work but managed to transfer it to some friends who were able to put a trip together for the high water. I surprised them by driving down to Green River the day they were supposed to take out, and posting up at Nefertiti until they floated past, joining them for the last few miles of river and a beer & burger at Rays. It seems really strange not being on the river more this spring but damned responsibilities keep popping up, and the economy and Ky & my lack of permenant jobs have put a damper on our free wheeling ways for now. But we're planning for a fall Deso trip, followed by some time on the Salmon in Oct. for Steelhead fishing, and another Grand Canyon trip (Ky's 1st!!) next Spring.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thieves In The Night

I did something dumb the other night and paid for it. I left my camera in my truck overnight and it was stolen. A Pentax DSLR body, 3 lenses, half a dozen filters, and several memory cards tragically full of pictures from the last several months. The camera can be replaced, but unfortunately the pictures are gone.

In other news, I am slowly moving towards shoeing the dory with 3/4" plascore. This will (I hope) give me a worry free bottom that will withstand the occasional rock hit without requiring an immediate repair.

When I built my boat, I didn't know any better and used 3/8" Okoume for the bottom. This would be fine if I was the type of person that only floated calm water or just didn't hit rocks. But I am neither of these and my boat has taken some hits requiring on-stream repairs. Not to keep the boat from sinking, but to prevent water penetration into the wood. Knowing what I know now, I would have used 1/2" fir or another longer grained wood rather than Okoume, or more likely I would have used plascore. It's light, and it's impervious to water damage. So even if you put a gash all the way through the bottom (unlikely) you can just put some gorilla tape over it and call it good until you get home, then take the time to make a permanent repair, instead of wasting time with rough repairs on the river which only have to been removed and replaced once you get back home.

This raises one of the issues I have with commercially built dories and drift boats. Everybody wants to be able to say they build an "indestructable" boat but we've all seen that no matter what material or process you use to build a boat, it is no match for the power of the river should the river decide to show you. I am much more interested in having a boat that is reasonably impervious to the occasionally rock hit, while being as easy as possible to fix in the event of something more significant. Which is why I like plywood, plascore, fiberglass and epoxy. And when the most suitable building materials are also the most attractive, why would you want anything else?

So Larry helped me join a couple pieces of 3/4" plascore to get the length I need, now I just need to order some biaxial glass and I will be ready to do the layup.

I thought about vacuum bags and other elaborate systems, but decided to go the simpler route, relying on the chemical bonding properties of the epoxy to do the work for me. Once epoxy cures fully, new epoxy added will not chemically bond to the old epoxy, making it necessary to scarify the surface to allow a physical bond. So for the new shoe, after the first layer of the layup, everything else will be done in one big push in order to chemically bond the subsequent layers.

I have sanded the bottom of the boat with 80 & 120 grit. Next I'll lay down a layer of biaxial glass fabric using a slow cure epoxy mix, allow it to begin to kick, then lay down the plascore sheet and evenly weight the sheet down with sandbags, bags of pottting soil, etc. (which I'm hoping will more evenly distribute the pressure than hard sided weights) and allow to set up for 24 hrs. Then pack the open cell edges of the plascore with thickened epoxy, and finish with another layer or 2 of biaxial glass over the top, overlapping several layers of biaxial tape at the chine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Managed to escape the southeast, no worse for wear, and have landed back in Salt Lake City to start a new job with the Utah Division of Wildlife, and pick up where I left off building boats, floating rivers, and catching fish. Went down to the workshop today to check up on Larry and see how his new 16 footer is coming along, and it is awesome. It's a one-off design, with a plascore bottom and is going to make on hell of a fishing boat. Can't wait to get it out on the crystal waters of the Green. We are also scheming on a few new projects, including a pram, a jet sled/power drifter, and an all-plascore whitewater dory. I am thrilled to be back on the right (as in correct) side of the continental divide, and excited to dive back into building and rowing boats. I am hoping to start posting on here a lot more frequently, so check back often.....and I am thrilled to have heard from a lot of people interested in wooden boats who have come across this page from one source or another, so feel free to drop me a line - I am always happy to talk boats and floats.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fish Will Be Jumping Into This One

Progress report from Larry - bottom is on, and looking mighty fine. This is a one-off design based on some design principals he and I settled on after many hours in the shop and on the phone, and hundreds of emails back and forth about what would make the perfect dory for fly fishing. This one is long, wide, and carries it's width further back into the tail than either of our current boats, accommodating a rear passenger/angler.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Utah Legislature Upholds River Access

In an admittedly surprising turn of events, the Utah Legislature today voted down a bill which would have severely limited public access to Utah's waterways. This is great news to anyone who cares about Utah's rivers and streams.

If you were not familiar with HB 187, it’s a piece of legislation in response to last years Supreme Court ruling that gave anglers access to virtually all bodies of moving water in the state. This Bill, would have negated the ruling and more critically removed waters that generations have had the opportunity to fish.

Today's positive outcome is due in no small part to the tireless organizing efforts of anglers, boaters, business owners and many others who spread the word about this ill conceived bill, and brought others into the fray to make calls to their representatives and to the Governor. Your voice was heard by the right people, and the bill was shot down.

From one river rat to many, many more - my sincerest thank you to everyone who got involved.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taking Shape

Strong work Larry. Starting to look like a boat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Beginnings

Spring is slowly coming to the southeast.

Ok, I am lying. It is cold and rainy today, and it's still January.

But it is a time of new beginnings. I have been on this little experiment in the southeast since August and while there's been some fun times and superb experiences, I am excited that in 3 months I will be coming home to the west. Ky and I are both looking for jobs (anyone out there hiring?) and hoping to land in Utah. But wherever we land it will be adjacent to or west of the Continental Divide.

Larry and I finally have a shop up and running (well, Larry has it running) in Salt Lake, and a new boat is now underway. I can't wait to get my hands dirty again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lake Erie Steelhead - 12/08

Home for the holidays found Ky and I at her parents' house on Lake Erie. After waiting out sub zero temps, freezing rain and snow, and blown out rivers painfully slow to clear, we managed to duck out and find some solitude on one of the lakes beautiful tributary streams for a few hours chasing steelhead.

Ky got right down to buisness and put the wood to a couple spectatular fish, the first releasing itself at arms length after a long battle. The second - this beautiful bright hen - was brought to hand after another lengthy fight.

I farmed a big buck myself, spectacularly striped and definitely larger than the fish I ended up bringing to hand - a big healthy buck.

I was hoping to find some of the larger tributaries in shape so I could swing flies with the long rod, but conditions never cooperated. So we ended up embracing the local methods, employing a dead drift nymph to catch these migratory fish in one of the lake's more intimate tributaries.

These lake-run rainbow trout were introduced to the great lakes decades ago, and their numbers are heavily dependent on stocking by the Ohio and Pennsylvania fish and wildlife programs. Descendants of ocean going Steelhead originally imported from the west coast, these fish have become naturalized to the great lakes ecosystems and provide a great sport fishery with huge numbers of 10-20 lb fish caught each year in the fall-spring.

Thanks to Ky for these beautiful pics! Sorry mine were a bit out of focus.