Friday, October 14, 2011

O.B.N writing prompt "save Bristol Bay"

"wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway; From my ruthless throne I have ruled alone for a million years and a day; Hugging my mighty treasure, waiting for man to come, Till he swept like a turbid torrent, and after him swept... the scum.

This weeks writing prompt asks us how we feel about the proposed pebble gold mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay, Well cop a sqaut and I will tell you a little more about who the Riverkeeper is. 23 years ago I was just 17 and a high school drop-out, my life was going nowhere. My Father a veteran of the Vietnam war decided that I would join the military and become a responsible young man.. I had other plans. I borrowed $300 from my best friends mom and caught the next flight to Dutch Harbor Alaska, the plan was simple, get a job on a fishing boat, make a grip of cash and head into the interior and look for gold. I wasn't green by any means to prospecting, both of my grandfathers had made a respectable living at it in Idaho and Nevada and had taught me much about it... fishing I was green at, and it took me 2 years to make only 30 thousand dollars.

"No theres a land have you seen it?
It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it, to the deep death like valleys below.
Some say God was tired when he made it;
Some say its a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some who would trade it,
for no land on earth-and im one.

4 years later I was working on a combination vessel trawling flatfish and king crab fishing, and knocking down 6 figures in 8 months a year. Sounds good huh? well the 30-50% by-catch rate trawling was taking a toll on me, and I found myself having too many beers one night and contemplating the fact that my soul was in danger. I made a comment to a federal observer that "why shouldn't I do it.. its legal, and someone else would just take my place.. me taking a stand means nothing" he placed his hand on my shoulder, smiled and said, "every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty" The next morning I headed to the airport after quiting a job that made me 4 times the money my own father made a year. At the airport my flight was delayed, once again drinking like a sailor I struck up a conversation with another patron, told him my story and whoes... and flew home. 2 months later the same guy called me at home and offered me a job as a sablefish and Halibut longliner.. a sustainable fishery he called it.. I took it, now Im a member of the crab coalition, and the deep sea fishermens union and I am politicaly active in protecting the fisheries from others.. and myself, I work 4 months a year and unless the sky falls will be retired at 45 years old. I did not speak with my father for 13 years, and now he is proud to claim me as a son. Alaska has given me a life, futer, friends a home, and redemption, it is my real home.

"lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and wearily wise,
with the weight of a world of sadnessin my quiet, passionless eyes;
Dreaming alone of a people, dreaming alone of a day,
when men shall not rape my riches, and curse me and go away;
Making a bawd of my bounty, fouling the hand that gave-
Till I rise in my wrath and sweep on their path and stamp them into a grave

Alaska and her fisheries have given me everthing I have, I worked my way from a "neck-down unit" to a citizen in my industry. I owe Alaska for everything I am, my character, values, and the ability to call myself a man and an outdoorsman... she is like a mother to me... You ask "how I feel about the pebble mine and what it will do to Alaska"... my name is Brad Melville, and I AM Alaska- ( a special thanks to Robert service for my shameless use of his prose)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fly Only Water North Umpqua

Ive been wanting to get down to the North Fork of the Umpqua for quite a while. So on monday I headed down. Arriving at the river at 6 a.m I parked and waited for the sun, hard raindrops pelted the roof and windows of my car adding fuel to the exitement of a day spent alone steelhead fishing probably the most famous steelhead river in the world. At 6:30 I decided to gear up, as I

rigged my rod I realized that I had brought nothing but 8lb fluoro leader, the fish here are natives and often large so I was a little bummed to have to work with less than 10 or 12.. but ive done it on many clear water days so I didn't worry about it... this would come back to haunt me. Walking down the river trail that runs basicly the whole upper length of the river I dropped down into a likely spot and whipped my black muddler minnow out into the sexiest tailout ive cast to in a while, third cast, as the fly began to lift in its turn "fish on"! and then fish off, oh well I though.. 8 more hours to put something together. I moved down the river and 45 minutes later Big fish on! I played him to the bank but stumbled in the landing, dropped him and the 8 lb line, too tight of a drag and the telephone pole like action of my IM6 Sage 8 wt and I was out another fish and my only black muddler. Tried some other intrueder style flies only to go back to the bull pen for another black pattern, lets make it a stonefly nymph I thought.... very good move, 4 more steelhead and a line cut just about to the bone by dark, and about 8 12-20 inch cutthroat.. but never put my hand on a steelhead, and also never saw another fisherman.. I love the North Umpqua this time of year, nobody above steamboat, I owned the joint. I just can't help but think if I would have used 10 lb fluoro and one of my glass rods there would be a picture of a steelhead here for you to enjoy, love that tippet protection. But I did enjoy sending my flies all the way to the warning track with some 9' graphite.. I loved im 6, but my arm reminds me just how much heavier it truely is than a new z-axis..enjoy the pictures

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A post for utahfish84108

First off, thanks for reading, second, isn't that Naha something! So you asked me if I had any suggestions for fall steelhead fishing, its occured to me what a great post Idea, the Riverkeepers fishing forcast-

The summer steel run is just heating up again in Oregon, in the next 4 weeks I would bank on fishing the Deschutes above sherars Falls, these fish are not the biggest fish by size but the run numbers make up for the smaller fish, but not to say their won't be some slabs in the mix.. just the average fish is smaller.. the go to river in Oregon in the next 30 days will be the North Fork of the Umqua.. the natives are returning to the fly only water and the fishing is gonna be off the hook for steel in the teens and possibly even heavier. With the rain comes the opportunity to fish big intrueders, the Deschutes is a spey and intrueder river but nymphing and skating produces also. the Umpqua is a nymphing river for the most part but swinging chicken size flies will always produce something. In low clear water you can use any size and color you like as long as its black...and small, green water opens up the spectrum and one can risk getting creative with brite and bigger presentations.

The Alaska outlook is pretty much the same as always, last week of October untill snow prohibits access is where its at. The Situk river is one of my favorites, boasts a solid run of big fish and virtually no one goes to fish the fall run. The Naha once the silvers die off will fish both trout and steel untill weather prohibits access.. I love the Naha and may return in November. There is also the Thorne and Karta, both amazing rivers. On a side note; The Kenai river and Russian rivers are starting to fish very well for trophy rainbows up to 20lbs, this will continue into december with its peak being before halloween. If anyone needs contact or travel, or guide information feel free to ask- Brad

The Sky Is Falling!

Its happening, There is a crack in the sky and rain is falling. In the coast mountains just to the west of me the rocks crusted with dry mud and alge are slowly dissapearing beneath falls first real rain. In the salt the Kings are stirring, in the Columbia the hold-off summer steelhead can finally smell the redds of their birth... follow the scent, get in the river, Im coming for you. The Riverkeeper is going fishing, saturday Kings on the coast, monday, The most celabrated 22 miles of steelhead water in Oregon, if not the world, and im coming. And a bonus river in between with a very special guest. I can't barely stand the wait..............