Spend a rainy day a few months back chasing down steelhead in the Deschutes River. My partners were fly fishing devotees, Chris Santella, author of 50 Places to Fly Fish Before you Die (guess I can cross one of them off my list) and environmental lawyer Dave Moskowitz, the Executive Director for the Deschutes River Alliance. These gentlemen spend 40 to 50 days on the river each season, knee deep in the rushing water, waiting for the fish to get irritated enough to make their move. For steelhead rarely feed once they are in the river, rather they seem to take a fly as an act of aggression. Even if they are present where you are fishing, they have to be in the mood (presumably, a bad mood) to bite. For these reasons days will sometimes pass with not a single acknowledgement of even their presence, making their elusivity all the more attractive to those that seek a challenge. This was much of the case on our day in the water, broken up by beer and a variety of fish tales from both men. As the sky grew dark, and I grew cold, Chris got the solitary respite of the day, a sharp tug on his line. He lifted his rod, exactly the wrong thing to do, and the fish was gone, never even seen. As we headed home, both men planned their next trip out. For myself, thwarted from even a single glimpse during an assignment where that was the only goal, I declined, and tried not to curse the fish. You can read the full story of our adventures, here in the New York Times.
The day after Christmas in Newport, the docks sat full of idle boats, as crabbers from northern California to Washington waited for inspectors to give them the go-ahead to fill their holds with the meaty Dungeness crab, the jewel of Oregon's seafood industry. I joined Wall Street Journal reporter and old skool music junkie Joel Millman on a trip to the coast to report on the crab season. For the second straight year, the eight-month crabbing season is starting late, after inspectors determined that crabs along a stretch of Washington coastline needed more time to get to 'meat' size. The gods of sunshine and of reporters that have to work on holidays took pity on us and we had some gorgeous weather and some very tasty seafood (I had clams, not crab). See the slideshow online at the WSJ.com