Thursday, June 10, 2010


A couple of months ago - while I was in Armenia - I submitted an abstract for WILD TROUT X. Well a few days ago I was informed that my abstract was accepted. So I'm off to West Yellowstone for the last week in September. As many of you know I'm, as the kids today say, "all about wild and native trout from their native range." Finding them and catching them has been a great excuse for more than one trip with my trout bum buddy Duane Brandt.

Here is my abstract



Wild and native species can best be protected if they have a dedicated constituency to champion their cause. Resource managers at all levels and non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers are now providing the majority of the support. While the trout fishing public is providing indirect support through their membership in the conservation organizations, a more direct and active support would enhance wild trout management efforts.

Fisheries management agencies have established programs such as the “Master Angler” programs to recognize trout anglers who have caught large fish. The California’s Heritage Trout Challenge, Wyoming’s CutSlam and the Federation of Fly Fisher’s CutCatch award recognize anglers for catching native species but no management agency or NGO recognizes anglers for catching wild trout.

Each management agency with jurisdiction over wild species, native or not, as well as outfitters and manufactures can and should develop recognition programs and awards for anglers that successfully pursue wild species. Such programs would increase the excitement and benefits of fishing for wild trout and build their constituency. This program will provide a conceptual framework for how these programs can be developed, identify potential impediments and suggest ways to begin implementation of these constituency building programs.

Watch for something special for wild trout coming from STREAM SIDE ADVENTURES.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


As I was sitting in the backseat of a taxi heading toward the bus station in Yerevan it dawned on me. I was basically just along for the ride. At first, I had mixed feelings about it but looking back I’m okay with everything.

Let me be a little more specific about what I’m talking about. Most of the trips that I have taken have been alone. I would decide where I wanted to go, do my background research, buy a round trip ticket and go. Every thing that needed to get done was done by me and me alone. I had to find my way from the airport to the hostel, find the train or bus station and make my way to where ever it was I wanted to go. My last few trips haven’t been quite like that, I have instead had one of my two sons with me. That has changed things.

I made my first trip to Chile on my own. It went okay. Basically not speaking any Spanish it was hard but I got by. I did eat “pollo y papas fritas” (roast chicken and french fries) almost every night because that was the only thing besides “uno más cerveza por favor” that I knew. Then two years ago my son Ethan came down with me to be the “official” STREAM SIDE ADVENTURES translator and interpreter. Boy did Ethan make things so much simpler for handling things like getting a flat tired replaced all the way to having access to the entire menu at La Picta! I didn’t think to much about how having Ethan there changed things for the better, I just went with it.

My other son, Dan, has followed in my footsteps and done some traveling himself. He spent several months in Morocco learning Arabic and traveling around the country and just last year he moved to the Czech Republic to get a Masters Degree from Charles University in Prague. Having made several trips around Europe, along with the advice I have told him over the years he knows how to go on an adventure.

Fast-forward to our trip through Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. Three different languages, alphabets, cultures and religions. It was potentially the most taxing trip I’ve ever taken. But it wasn’t taxing at all. It was in many ways more of a vacation than a traveling adventure. Over a meal and the local beer, Dan and I would decide were we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. Than all I had to do was sit back and let it happen. Dan would find out where the mini bus left from and what time it left. All I had to do was make sure my backpack was ready to go and I had enough money for our bus fare.

My last two trips to Chile and this trip have been much simpler and less stressful for me. Why would I want to travel alone any more and have to figure it all out on my own when I have two world class adventures for sons? Now I just have to decide who I should take to Mongolia and who should go to the Amazon with me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not sure what day it is

Interestıng couple of days. Left Van couple of days ago headıng to Diyarbakır. İt is a 7 hour bus trıp that takes you a few 'clicks' from the İran and İraq boarders and ınto the heart of the Kurdısh resıstance (PKK) area. Military outpost everyplace and bus stoped twice for check. First time they took the Natıonal İD cards or passports of everyone to check and all of us men had to get off the bus and got a pat down as we exited. Second time ıt was to check the 'cargo' arae of the bus.

We stayed that nıght insıde the wall of the old Dıyarbakır city. Said to have the second longest wall only excided by the Great Wall of China.

Trıed to fınd the mını-bus ( local bus service) termınal that nıght so we could get there without a struggle in the morning. Lost and confussed with a 40 + pound pack on is not fun. Lonely Planet does't gıve good dırectıons. Keep getting pointing directions ın Turkish and drew a pıded piper crowed of kids and a couple of adults. Finaly one guy got on his cell phone and called his nephew who spoke Englİsh. Turned out we were only a half a block from where we needed to be. And the guy on the phone had another uncle who is a cab driver. He picked us up in the morning at our hotel.

Where we off yesterday to Nemrut Dagi a famous historic Natıonal Park İt is out off the main road.  Google it to get the best explanatıon To get there we took one mini bus to Severak and then got another headıng toward Kahat. The mini bus took a ferry across a big reservoir. There were three İtalians (guy, girl friend and someones mother) with a car on the ferry. They were goıng up to Narmrut Dagi as well so we got them to gıve us a rıde. İf that hadn’t happened we were in for a 15 Km uphill walk-hitch hike. Fırst pension we stopped at had two rooms. One room had three bed and the İtalians took it. The other ‘room’ was an open space above the barn-animal enclosure with a carpet on the floor, some pillows and that was it. No bathroom and of course no shower. They wanted 40 TL –about 24 dollars and would not come down in prıce. Further up the road we did find a place for he same price wıth a shower and breakfast.

At 4 AM the İtalians pıcked us up and we drove as far as we could and then walked the last 700 meters – a very steep 700 meters İ mıght add to were the carved heads now lay. Apparently you should see ıt at sun rise. İt was cloudy to the east and about 40 others walked up as well. All making a lot of noıse and poseing in frount of the heads. Not what İ had hoped for. By 7 we were back at our Pensıon for breakfast. The Italıans came back at 9, picked us up and took us to Kahat.

More about Kahat tomorrow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Adventure Continues - Teblisi

G’Day ( Thıs Turkish version of WORD can’t spell check and İ’m no speller)

I’m way behind but will try and catch up over the next day or three. We made it to Teblisi wıthout any problems. My first taste of Teblisi was not good, especial after Yerevan. Too loud, fast and high energy. But my second taste was beter. We got off the maın drag and saw the side streets and old town area.

A young Slavokian woman told us about a place called Mestia up ın the Caucaus Mountains near the Russian boarder. So off we went. From Teblisi we took the night train to Zugdidi. We upgraded to second class so we would have a sleeping compartment and the cost was stil only 6 dollors each. From Zugdidi we got a mini-bus for the rest of the way The thing about the mimi-buses is that they don’t leave until they are full! The train got ın about 6:30 but it was nearly 11 befor the bus was full. And you can’t go very far from the take of point because when it ıs full it is leaving. Full means all sets sold It took us just over 7 hours to go 138 Km! The road wasn’t built until 1936 and İ don’t think ıt has been maintained very much sınce then.

The Georgians are rather emotional, passıonate, and loud people. From our seats in the back (where we always are put) we watched one long - 7 hour – drama of fınger shaking and heated discussions of Georgian speakers only know what. One guy was the main instagator.

But he redeamed himself with all of us. When we was droped off in hıs vilage, he wouldn’t let the driver leave. Five mınutes later he returned wıth a jug of home made vodka, bread, and local cheese. After every glass he insisted we have another. İ quit at 3!

Did İ say that it was cold and snowing again!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Yerevan to Dilijan


Took my own advice today. Dan and I took a mini-bus to Sevan, a city near one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. Get out your atlas and see it. It is surrounded by mountains still covered with snow. My geology is not as good as it should be but I think it might be the remnants of a BIG caldera lake.

Any way, we started walking from the bus stop in the city toward the lake – a couple of Kilometers. An old guy named Vanya, in an old beat up taxi, stopped by us as we walked – we were in the middle of nothing – and offered to take us to a monastery on the lake. Before it was over we hired Vanya to take us to see it and then over the pass to Dilijan and area known as Armenia’s Switzerland. (For the day we paid Vanya 9,000 AMD’s at an exchange rate of 384 AMD’s to $1.00)

So nice to be able to stop and take pictures where we wanted to. And do other things as I needed to.

It was approaching lunch as we made it into Dilijan. I have a 6th sense when it comes to food. Just ask Dan. Never fails that what I order is always way better than what he orders. Being a good dad, I share and then finish his. As we came into the town I noticed two important things at one spot – three trucks parked along the road and they were parked near some smoke. The Armenians love to grill their meat. You see little grilled meat stand all along the highways. In deference to being from Kansas City I will not call it barbeque. I motioned for Vanya to pull over. I was right. It was a grilled meat restaurant – of sorts. IF YOU ARE SQUIMISH STOP NOW.

Not only was it a grilled meat place it was also a butcher shop. This morning they had butchered a sheep. The fore quarters were hanging on a hook just outside the door, the pelt was rolled up and the head was on a ledge. Dan made an interesting observation. He said “I’ve never seen the face of anything I’ve eaten. There is something “close” about seeing your food that way.” The cook/butcher took the fore quarter off the hook and into the shop and came out with two skewers of meat for the grill. That fresh grilled sheep, a cabbage and carrot salad, cooked wild greens, fried potatoes, cheese and bread was our lunch. And again the nose knows.

At several of the important cultural/archeological sites we have been to there has been interpretative signs in Armenia, English, German, and Russian. Discretely on the lower left hand corner in relatively small print is a notice that the restoration has been supported by USAID. I’ve decided that I’m going to assume that they used my IRS contribution for these projects.

Tomorrow morning we are heading back to Tbilisi Georgia. It is a 7 hour mini-bus ride. We are going to spend 4 or 5 days in Georgia before going back into Turkey. The entire three country trip is about three weeks. Three weeks isn’t even enough for Armenia, one of the best places I’ve ever been.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Travel Issues - this way or that way

Well we are back in Yerevan.
Left Jermuk this morning at 7:40. Inch of wet snow overnight.
Bus windows were all steamed up so we couldn’t see very much. On the way to Jermuk we went through a lot of rain so our view of the country side was rather limited.
Here is a travel problem . The local bus gives you a connection to the locals and the culture. And it is cheap. On a nice day you can take pictures out the window – may not be able to frame them the way you want. When you do see something real neat you can only hope you get the right photo. The long distance bus goes from point A to point B without stops along the way ( generally a “rest” stop every 1.5-2 hrs). And, there may be only one or two buses as day.
The other alternative is to rent a car. Gives you unlimited flexibility but separates you from the locals and is expensive. Maybe the best alternative is to take the local bus to a destination and then hire a taxi for the day to take you to the site/places in the general area.
A rudimentary knowledge of the local language would also be a big help. There are a couple of phrases not in the books I’ve had access to that would be nice to have. Google translate is simple way to do it if you have internet access. But more likely than not, it won’t be available. When I get back I’m going to make a list of the phrases I’ve wished I had. Before my next adventure I’ll Google translate them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


We are in Jermuk today. Got here last night about 7 PM. COLD and snow off and on all day!. Jermuk is a decaying resort town from the soviet days. Two new big hotels and one smaller newer hotel. Two restaurants that we can go to - only guests at the hotels can eat there. Staying in one of the dilapidated old Soviet hotels. Clean and barely functional but only $12.00 each a night. This morning stopped in a little store and asked about coffee or tea. Woman running it went back in her quarters and fixed us tea and gave us bread with some greens cooked with eggs.

Tonight went to one of the restaurants and had a nice meal then went to the other and listen to some locals performing Armenian techno-pop music.

Tomorrow back to Yerevan and then start back north toward Tbilisi Georgia.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Adventure Continues - In Armenia


Well we made it to Yerevan and have been enjoying the local sites for the last two days.

We flew from Istanbul to Trabzon on the Black Sea near the Georgian boarder and spent the night there.

Next morning ( 4/23) we got a bus to the boarder and on to Batumi where we would get a bus for Tiblisi. Only problem was that the bus driver didn’t wait for us on the Georgian side! Not to worry we shared a taxi with a Brit and a German into Batumi. There we picked up a mini-bus for the 6 hour cramped drive to Tiblisi, arriving about 9 PM. Arriving in a new city at night and in the rain is not a lot of fun. After a couple of false starts we found the “home stay” we were looking for. Home stays are basically older couples who have space in their apartments and take in travelers like us for the night or a few days. An empty room gets a couple of bunk beds. Ours was clean and we had kitchen privileges and cost about $14.00 each a night.

On the 24th we set off for Yerevan on another cramped mini-bus. This time we didn’t get left at the boarder! A young Economics professor from Yerevan made sure that the bus didn’t leave us. Edward was a great help in getting us to our Yerevan home stay (about $12.00 each a night)

Yerevan is fantastic. It is clean, friendly and easy to get around. Yesterday we wondered around a flea market for a couple of yours and then caught a bus to Vagarshapat to see an important church to the Armenian orthodox religion. It was nice but the most amazing part was seeing Mt Ararat! I’ve seen a couple of big name mountains, Mt Cook in New Zealand, the Matterhorn, Mt Rainer, Mt Olympus, Annapurna and Mt Kearsarge but Mt Ararat is something way beyond all of them. I’m sure that none of the many pictures I took will do it justice.

Today we took an old broken down Russian bus to Khor-Virup Church and fortress. It looks out on Mt Ararat and is where the Armenian Orthodox religion – the start of Christianity - began. The bus dropped us off near the town and we started walking with an Armenian gentleman. After about a quarter mile a car stopped and took the three of us to the turn off for the Church. Dan and I walked on and our companion waved us good by and went the other way down a gravel path. It was a great day to spend looking at what to me is my new favorite mountain. No offence Mt Kearsarge.

Tomorrow we are off to Jermuk and then start making our way north to Georgia.

ARMENIA IS FANTASTIC - friendly, clean and cheap!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Adventure Begins - First Day in Istanbul

We made it just fine to the hostel. Metro to Tram 1 and off at Sultanamet stop. Short walk and we were there. After a quick stroll around the area we got a kabob from a street seller for dinner.

Flights are about as cheap as the bus or train so we are flying this afternoon to eastern Turkey. Tomorrow we will take a bus to Georgia.

After breakfast this morning we walk to the edge of Europe and looked across to Asia. The Straits were alive with boats fishing boats, ferries, and cargo ships. From there made our way back through a park along a fortress wall to the plaza by the Blue Mosque.

We sat in the sun as the faithful were called to midday prays.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thank You Delta! Norm is in Istanbul

Webmaster's Note: Norm tried to access his blog to post the following update, but was not successful. Instead, he emailed in the information and asked that I post it on his behalf.  I haven't a clue what time he arrived - his message came in at about 5:15 Wednesday morning. According to Norm:

I'm in Istanbul, thanks to Delta! The Delta folks in Boston were great. I just smiled and engaged them in what I was doing, and it made all the difference. Once they heard my story and what Dan and I were trying to do they made it happen. First, they tried to get me to Prague via Madrid, but the Madrid to Prague would not confirm. So, they sent me to Istanbul via New York, and sent Dan an email with my flight info and told him I would meet his plane from Prague to Istanbul.

The only down side was that I had to spend the night in the airport in Boston, had to fly out of Boston at 6:00 am, then spend 8 hours at JFK airport waiting for my flight to Istanbul. The flight was an added segment to get people back to the U.S. from Istanbul (because of the Iceland volcano eruption), so there were only about 50 people on the flight (it was a 767). I had an entire row all to myself, and slept all the way over on the 10 hour flight. Finally, after a 7 hour wait in Istanbul airport for Dan, we are now ready to begin our adventure.

What I learned - be nice to folks; smile, engage them, and be flexible. A wink when appropriate doesn't hurt.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Will the Volcano Keep Us Home

We I've made it as far as Andover, NH. I'm not sure about the rest of the trip! The Icelandic volcano may have us stuck here for a bit. We will see tomorrow what happens. Could be worse. Gram is teaching my son's girlfriend how to making cookies this afternoon.

Trip here on the 12th was uneventful. Weather was nice - in the low to mid 50's with sun. I got a little fishing in on Hameshop Brook. Just two small Brookies. Then things changed. Woke up Wednesday morning to SNOW. Not much but still an inch or so on the ground. Until today, highs have been in the low to mid 30's.

Friday, my son's Ethan and Dan, Dan's girlfriend Ciara, my partner Kathy and I took "Gram" to her favorite restaurant Newick’s in Portsmouth for her 90th birthday lunch. At 90 Gram is still a little imp and taunted me with slowly eating her broiled scallops and teasing me with them before finally letting me finish her lunch.

Yesterday (Saturday) we had some more snow. Most of it was at higher elevations. Dan and I when up to Mt Kearsarge to see how much snow had fallen. Just a couple more inches. But it is the middle of April! In the afternoon we had Gram’s Birthday party at Blue Water Farm ( just up the hill on Bradley Lake where we would swim when I was a boy. It was so special to be able to bring my family “home” for Gram’s birthday.

So far I’ve checked in from Mom’s yard, Newick’s in Portsmouth, Mt Kearsarge, and Bradley Lake. I sure hope I can check in on Tuesday from Prague! I’ll send some pictures of the festivities of Gram’s B’day as soon as I can.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


My SPOT personal locator beacon is activated! And it works. Thanks to the wonders of my web master you can now track me on-line at my web site Starting on the afternoon of the 12th of April I’ll be “checking in” from New Hampshire. This will give you a chance to see where I grew up and learned to fly fish. It also is a shake down of the tracking system for the big trip.

The real fun will start on the 20th when I get to Prague for the start of my Eurasian adventure. After a day in Prague I’ll be flying to Istanbul, Turkey. At least twice each day I hope to check in so you can see where I am. When I can get internet access I’ll be sending some pictures and brief reports on the streams I’ve fished, the things I’ve seen, food I’ve eaten and trouble I’ve dodged.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


On any trip that can take you off the beaten path, it is a wise move to have a few things with you that might come in handy. I only made it to “Life Scout” ranking in Boy Scouts but I took the motto “Be Prepared” to heart.

Of course a basic first aid kit is a necessity. One we suggest for fly fishing will cover most of your needs. But what about non-injury situations? On a trip like my Eurasian Adventures a lot things can go wrong and cause potential problems beyond medical problems. My scout master, Howard George, for Troop 281 taught me well the importance of being prepared by carrying a “I’m ready for most anything kit”. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, but it can sure make life simpler when there is a problem.

It goes without saying that I always have a knife in my pocket or on my belt. I should carry a “Leatherman” type tool as well. (Note to Self – go to Micky’s tomorrow and get one!). But what else should you have ready? Here is a basic list I try to keep with me all the time:

Superglue. If it breaks there is a good chance that super glue will fix it. And,in extreme conditions you can use it close a serious wound. I have some medical grade that I carry. The vet supply section of a farm and ranch store will have it.

Dental Floss. Great for tying things up and a lot of other uses. Once on a mountain road in Idaho the accelerator linkage on a friend’s car broke. We made a “get us to civilization” one out of my dental floss.

Space Blanket. If you get cold and wet one of these little foil blankets will save your life. Even if your not going to go into hypothermia, if you are caught out someplace with only a barn to sleep in it sure make’s the night a little more bearable.

Single Edged Razor Blade. Super sharp and the small size makes them much better for having to cut something in tight quarters. Make sure you still carry a knife.

Latex Glove or Condom. There are stretchy and can be use for the same kind of thing you would use a little bungee cord for. Combine it with the dental floss and the space blanket and you have a crude but workable shelter. They can also be used as water vessels.

Waterproof Matches. There is nothing better than a fire to cheer you up when things are bleak. And, of course, keep you warmer if you are cold.

Alcohol Wipes. Make great fire starters.

There are a host of other things that you can include but before very long you end up with a kit that is getting to big to fit in a quart sized zip lock bag. Once it gets bigger than that there will be a tendency to leave it behind. Keep it to the bear essentials and keep it with you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


As my trip to Turkey, Georgia and Armenia draws closer it is time to prepare what I need for trout fishing in Turkey. First on the list is finding out where they are. I knew, from a paper I wrote many years ago in graduate school that brown trout are native to Turkey, I just had to find exactly where they are. Thank you GOOGLE! All I needed to do was make a few entries in the search box on my computer.

My first search attempt, while it seamed logical (Brown Trout Distribution Turkey) didn’t yield very good results. I got a lot of entries on Brown Trout and Turkey Distribution. Incidentally, if you want to fly fish and turkey hunt at the same location let me know.

Brown Trout Biology Turkey was the search phrase. This search resulted in several scientific papers written by or in collaboration with Turkish scientists. With most of the journal papers all I could see was the abstract. But with a few of them that was all I needed. If there was the name of a city, village or river in the abstract I had a starting place. Next came Google Earth. Just entered the location found in the abstract and hit enter!

Now I have three locations where Brown trout have be collected. For two of the studies the authors e-mail address was included. Both of them are getting an e-mail from me asking for more specifics.

What did I do before the internet?

Now I have to figure out how to get a fishing permit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Water, water, everywhere and not safe to drink!

I’ve been rather fortunate in my travels around the world. I’ve only been sick twice. Once was after a dinner in Uzhhorod, Ukraine. I was the only one in the group to get sick and can only possibly blame it on some uncooked tomatoes. The other time was in Nepal. I know what cause that episode. Taking a shower!

Call it what you want but diarrhea is likely the biggest health concern you are likely to face on any adventure travel. But, with a little common sense and some precautions the likelihood can be greatly reduced.

Drinking water: Bottled water is now available almost everyplace. Just because it is in a bottle doesn’t mean it absolutely safe. Here in the US our regulatory control of the bottled water industry is minimal. In the developing world there may be very few if any controls. So what are we to do?

Bottled water purchased in a major city from a major retailer is likely going to be OK. Often it will be bottled by a multi-national company. In the country side from a small store the quality might be questionable unless it is the city available brand. So, what to do?

For short excursions into the country side an easy way is to carry a couple of liters of bottled water with you. If you are going to be on a multiple day excursion, that may not be practical.

On our STEAM SIDE ADVENTURES guide trip we meet the clean water challenge in two ways. First, each guide starts out with a liter bottle of water. A liter will generally provide sufficient water in the morning for our clients. Lunch and the afternoon is a different story. We carry one of the currently available portable micro-filters. These products purify water from the river by passing the water through a course filter to remove suspended materials, a ceramic micro-filter, often impregnated with iodine to remove and neutralized bacteria and an activated carbon filter to remove organic/pesticide contaminants. Most of these products are sufficient to last for over a 100 liters.

In the developing world relying on a micro-filter system alone is not a wise choice. What are you going to do if the pump breaks? As a fall back, carry a bottle of 2%Tincture of Iodine in alcohol. Purchase it at the drug store before you leave home. Here is how to use it.
1) Fill your water bottle from the cleanest source you can find. If possible fill the bottle from a spigot to keep the outside of the bottle dry and uncontaminated.
2) Add 5 drops of tincture per liter if the water is clear. Add 10 drops per liter if the water is cloudy. Replace the top and agitate gently.
3) After five minutes, you need to purify the mouth and rim of the bottle (which touched the original water source and which will touch your mouth). To do this, you need to "un-thread" the bottle. Turn the bottle upside down and slowly unscrew the top until you can see a ring of water appear around the inner rim and flow along the neck. Re-tread the top and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
4) Much of the iodine taste and color can be removed by crushing a vitamin C tablet and adding it to your treated water.

Food: If fruits or vegetables are not peeled or cooked, don’t eat them. And, don’t use ice!

Personal hygiene: My experience in Nepal with “intestinal upset” in all likelihood came from taking a shower. Likely I inadvertently swallowed some water. Keep you mouth closed and don’t sing! If you think you may have taken in some water during your shower, immediately rinse your mouth out with your safe water and spit it out. Along with that, be sure and brush your teeth with either your bottle water or treated water.

OK, so you have done all these things and you still get sick. What to do? Always carry an over the counter anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium. At the first sign of a problem take the medicine and keep yourself hydrated with “safe” water.

As a precaution, before you head out on your trip, make a visit to your primary care physician and ask for a prescription for a broad spectrum antibiotic like Cipro. Most physicians will write a prescription for you if you tell them you will be traveling in the developing world. These can be taken as prescribed for severe gastrointestinal problems caused by microorganisms in contaminated water, should you be unfortunate enough to experience this problem and Imodium doesn’t work.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ozark Fly Fishing Week-End: Current River and the Little Piney

I hadn’t fished the Missouri Ozarks since last Fall. And I hadn’t fished at all since I got back from Patagonia a month ago! This past week-end I took care of both of those problems.

Finally it warmed up. The river levels were good and my friend and associate in STREAM SIDE ADVENTURES, Preston Larimer, had time to join me. We converged on the Current River within minutes of each other at our appointed time of 10 am. The TanVat access had a couple of cars parked at it and as we were deciding if we would start there, two more cars pulled in - that sealed it. Down to Baptist access and a hike down to the first bluff below Ashley Creek.

What could we expect on the first great spring day? A lot of fisherman. As we hiked down the river we passed two other pairs of fly fishers, both were well above Ashley Creek. As we moved down, Preston stripped a streamer through a couple of our favorite spots but I just walked along, watched him and enjoy the day. Just above Ashley I did see a rise. I believe you should never pass up a rise. After a couple of casts a nice rainbow took my size 16 gray caddis.

Down at the ledge, sitting on a log eating our lunch, we noticed a few fish starting to rise. Since I had a fish already, I got to do “play by play” on Preston’s attempt(s). I have the (s) after attempt since he missed the first fish. Fish were only rising sporadically so we decide to head further up stream.

Two fly fishing scientists contemplating why the fishing was slow would be interesting for a non fisher to listen to. Temperatures of spring water, thermal mass, solar radiation, time of travel and a few off the wall speculations were proposed. The consensus was that the water closer to the spring would be warmer and the hatch should be more vigorous. So Baptist to TanVat was the destination.

I’d like to think that we got the science right but even if we didn’t the change in fishing location was. We got into one of those good hatches, enough caddis coming off to have the fish actively feeding and holding in feeding stations but not so many that your caddis got lost in the crowd.

Last year we found fish rising below down trees or other stable habitat. The fish we found rising this year were in the same types of locations. A significant river rise in the late Fall and another in mid-January had moved a lot of the stream bottom, washing away the larval caddis. But as in past years, large woody debris and “chunk rock” had been a safe haven and below those areas were where the trout were.

Sunday was my day to fish the Little Piney. I had made arrangements to float the Little Piney with Brent Frazee, outdoor writer for the Kansas City Star. Brent had written about the Little Piney 20 plus years ago when he had fished it with Tom Shipley of the musical group Brewer and Shipley. Back then the Little Piney was a put and take stream. Now it is managed as wild rainbow fisheries.

It only took a few drifts of a mohair leech through the first riffle to produce a beautiful 8 inch wild rainbow. At each of the next couple of riffles the leech worked it magic on those 8 inch beauties.

The Little Piney had a winter of fluvial processes affecting its geo-morphology. Stream side trees were down ever where. If they were lying at an angle they had changed the Little Piney’s course, filling in some runs and creating others. And there were root wads. Root wads with some deep scour holes. At more than one – five to be exact – the scour holes gave up colorful fat and sassy 14 to 16 inch fish.

By our best estimates the 4 and half mile float from the US 63 Bridge to the “Vida Slab” produced upward to 20 rainbows touched and near half that many on for a while. Except for our 5 good ones, most were 7 to 9 inches but beautifully colored and in great condition.

As I drove home through Rolla at about 5:00 pm it was close to 70 degrees. We had seen a family having a picnic at the Forest Service area, a mother and her son passed us in their kayaks and about a half a mile above the take out tat the Vida slab we passed a fisherman who had been fishing his way upstream. On the first truly nice day after our long cold winter we had the Little Piney to ourselves. Good fish and no crowds, it is one of the Ozarks hidden trout fishing gems.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Packing for the Adventure

My Turkish adventure is still over a month away but I’m starting to get my gear together. I’m going to need a lot of space on the trip back for all the goodies I’ll accumulate. Airlines are charging a pretty dollar for checked bags. How do I maximize space for souvenirs and avoid the bag fees?

One way I’ll save on space for my return trip is to take as many dark clothes as possible. Dark clothes don’t show the dirt – and my case food spills – the way lighter colored clothes do. Since I’m hoping to go with just a carry on sized backpack and will be taking a fall back sleeping bag, being able to get a couple of days wear out of each item makes a difference. If I can reduce may outfits by a third, I’ll significantly increase my space.

A lady friend of mine once told me that the only advantage women have in adventure travel is that they can cover every situation with just a couple of pairs of jeans and a black dress. Visit a market during the day and go to the opera that night! Since it is rather unlikely that I’ll need anything fancy during my trip I’m going casual, and I’m going to go cheap casual.

As soon as I finish this, I’m off to visit a couple of thrift stores. I’m looking for some “gently’ worn dark pants and shirts and maybe a sweater. I have no compunction at all about leaving some dirty clothes behind as I travel. Since a great deal of my travel is to the second and third world, I’m sure it is appreciated. And not having to bring it home has made some space for a nice piece of pottery.

Every wonder how a Chicago Cub’s tee shirt found it’s way to Fez? Someone found something really neat in the Medina and needed just a bit more space in their backpack!

All the best


Monday, March 1, 2010

Wading, Unencumbered, into Technology


In the last few months I’ve made historic leaps forward into this new world of communication. I now “Tweet”, have friends on Facebook, and am even thinking about getting an iPhone... for a techno-dwarf like me that is something. And now... a BLOG!

I resisted setting up a BLOG for one primary reason: I didn’t understand them. But after urging from some associates and doing some background research, I decided to do it. This folks, is my first entry.

As you can see from the title: Norm Crisp on Fly Fishing & His Travel Adventures,

I am going to be sharing my experiences and knowledge, which includes my successes and screw ups, in fly fishing and my travels around the US and the world. Initially there may be more entries on the travel side but I’ll be BLOGING about fly fishing and may even include an “editorial” BLOG or two as well.

The early focus on travel is simple. In late April I’m heading to Turkey, Armenia and Georgia with my son Dan for about a month, with a brief stop over in Prague. As I get ready, I will be BLOGING about things like figuring out bus and train schedules, visa requirements, health and safety, and as that great philosopher of our day Bob Seger said “what to leave in and what to leave out” of my backpack and what to leave at home.

So why go to Turkey, Armenia and Georgia? I want to go where I've never been and I want to catch a Trout in Asia. I have been briefly to Turkey years ago on my way to Bulgaria from Greece, but Armenia and Georgia are new terrain.

I’ve fished in Asia (Nepal) but never caught a trout there. Turkey, having native brown trout and being in Asia, will be a great place to check this off the list.

Its also about the booze.

Armenian brandy is by far the best brandy in the world. A friend of mine, Duane Brandt, has a connection for it in Glendale, California, but that is not quite the same as getting it from the source. Also, some years ago, while working in Russia, I was introduced to KINDZMARULI an interesting Georgian red wine. I haven’t had any in about 10 years. Now is my chance to get some more!

So here it is: my first Blog, with hopefully many more to come. I look forward to any and all comments and remarks or suggestions on topics.

All the Best, Norm