Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grand Canyon 2010

Photos © Kylan Frye and Jeremy Christensen

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Messing About in Boats

"Simply messing about in boats -- or with boats... In or out of 'em it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.

Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together and have a long day of it?"

- from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This oft-quoted ode to boats pretty much sums up my life for the past and future 3 weeks. Messing about in boats. For almost a month now I have been putzing around the garage, busy doing nothing in particular, mostly trying to keep my mind busy so I don't just fixate on the three weeks now to come. Finally it's time for the fun part, 3 weeks of solace and utter contentment, as close to perfection as it gets.

This is my third opportunity to float the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and in this case, the third time is definitely the charm. Ky (Veteran of such exciting river adventures as "High Water Yampa" and "Deso Junkshow") is coming with me on this one -- her first trip down the Grand -- and we're taking my dorky home-made boat.

Food and gear is piled to the ceiling in our living room (Everett is not amused). The boat is on the trailer, hatches battened down. All we have to do now is load the trucks on Friday and drive 7 hrs south to Lees Ferry, the terminus of Glen Canyon, and the beginning of Marble & Grand Canyons. Downstream lies 280 miles of bliss. Look for me in three weeks, I'll be the puffy, tanned, hairy, stinky one.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fly Fishing the Green River

Here's the multimedia that Brett Prettyman and his crew put together with the footage from our Green River float a couple weeks ago. Good stuff!

Also check out the accompanying print story at the Salt Lake Tribune online: http://www.sltrib.com/outdoors/ci_14702555

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deso Dory Featured In The Salt Lake Tribune Online

Photo © Francisco Kjolseth/Salt Lake Tribune

The trip to the Green was a hoot, even though Rich and I got skunked. We fished Little Hole for a couple hours on Tues afternoon, and both missed a fish or two on dries and streamers. On Wed we hooked up with Brett Prettyman from the Salt Lake Tribune, his photographer Francisco Kjolseth, and Reed Sherman, a videographer for the Utah Division of Wildlife. The three of them were gathering video, stills and interviews for a couple stories on fishing and floating the Green River. Rich and I practiced our shadow casting, while their crew teamed up with Darren and Brad, top hands from Western Rivers Flyfisher. Let's just say they had no problem picking up a few fish on midges and on streamers. Rich and I struggled all day, missing a couple fish but never managing to put one in the boat.

I am eager to see what Brett, Fran and Reed are able to come up with; they shot thousands of photos and took a bunch of video, as well as interviewing myself and the guides. Look for the stories in the Trib in the next few weeks, but for now Brett has posted a little sumthin on his blog:

Fishing Utah Blog - Salt Lake Tribune

Monday, March 1, 2010

Green Means Go

The Green River below Flaming Gorge is one of those special places that I get really excited about, especially this time of the year. The first time I floated Red Canyon I felt like I had won the lottery. I had just gotten back from a summer in Alaska, a trip that got me reinvigorated (to say the least) about fly fishing, when I was first invited to float the A & B sections with a work friend in his home built wooden dory. This is the same friend and the same dory that inspired me to dive in and build my own. I still get that same feeling there.

The earliest boatmen in the canyon sought knowledge of what lay just over the horizon line, and characters like J.W. Powell, the Kolb Bros. and Buzz Holmstrom left their mark here in wooden boats of various design. Even before them the natives traveled the river in 'bull boats', a round predecessor to the skin-on-frame kayak.

When the BOR built Flaming Gorge dam, they forever changed the river downstream. The river that once flowed warm and silty now flows cold and gin clear, it's flows fluctuating wildly like the tides. Suckers, chubs and squawfish have been replaced by brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout, and where natives and interlopers once eked out a living hunting and trapping, and outlaws came to hide from the law of the approaching fronteir, scruffy guides and wannabes now try to eke out a living taking paid clients through the canyon for a shot at catching the brilliantly colored fish that now thrive here.

Wooden boats had all but vanished from this river and many others, replaced by far more practical rubber, plastic, fiberglass and aluminum ones. But it seems now there is a resurgence in interest in wooden boats, and not just for a sense of nostalgia or aesthetics, though both of these certainly play a part. I would like to think that some people are starting to realize that cheap plastic crap isn't all that great afterall. Wooden boats are light, strong and beautiful, and with some care will last a lifetime. And you can build one yourself in your garage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stream Access Bill Fails

The Utah Legislature failed to pass HB 80, and left the door open on HB 141 which would restrict public access and overturn the Conaster Supreme Court ruling. It's an unfortunate loss for anglers, and If I hadn't already lost all faith in politics, I'm sure I'd be upset.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


The boat has been in the shop for some upgrades, getting outfitted for the Grand Canyon (aka little dorky) expedition coming up in a little over a month.

On the bottom,
- 9oz biaxial kevlar in the impact zone (2' in from the stem/transom)
- 9oz biaxial fiberglass
-12 oz biaxial tape at the chine
-new epoxy/graphite finish,

and in the front seat, a 360 gph bilge, powered by an 8 amp battery mounted inside, with a switch in the cockpit. This will free up Ky to highside like a monkey on crack.

Even added some new artwork -

The ejector seat is going in next...

We launch March 28th, taking out (hopefully) at the new Pearce Ferry road 20 days later. There will be three other wooden boats on our trip, including Kyle Frye's recreation of the Susio Too (later renamed Music Temple), the first traditional Oregon drift boat to travel the Grand Canyon. I can't say how excited I am to watch the Navajo Bridges pass overhead again and descend into the heart of the Grand Canyon for another 3 weeks of bliss.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Water Access Rally at the Utah State Capitol

There has been a lot of noise surrounding the water access issue here in Utah. Representative Fowlke has introduced HB 80 which seems to be a workable compromise for the majority of stakeholders, and I would encourage recreational water users to show their support for this bill.

Utah Water Guardians are hosting a rally in support of HB 80 at the State Capitol Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:30am on the south steps of the Capitol Bldg.

We've come a long way since last year's defeat of HB 187, but passing positive legislation is always harder than defeating bad legislation. The Farm Bureau and private landowners are going to be lobbying hard against this. Fishermen, hunters, boaters and other recreational water users need to make their voices heard, and a strong turnout to the rally would be a big step.