Flashback Fridays

Flashback Friday: The Clark Fork in Montana, and a Magic Trick!

One thing often leads to another or, as is the case today, a couple of things led to other things, thanks to an article by Joe Brooks in the October, 1964, issue of Field & Stream magazine titled, “River With a Past…and a Future.”

The Clark Fork of the Columbia in Montana

The Clark Fork of the Columbia in Montana

The Clark Fork of the Columbia River in Montana was, as late as 1955, classified by the Montana Water Pollution Control Council as an “industrial river” and unfit for use by the public. The water was dead, poisoned by waste from the copper mines outside of Butte and the smelter at Anaconda. Driving along the river on U.S. Highway 10 every summer, Joe Brooks groaned at the sight of all that water that couldn’t support life as he made his way to fish above the Clark Fork in waters such as Rock Creek.

In 1964, word began to spread that fish were once again being caught as far upstream as Drummond, 50 miles closer to the source of the pollution than before (but still more than 50 miles away from it).  Encouraged by a friend to give the Clark Fork a whirl one day, Joe and his wife, Mary, brought in a “total of eighteen fish with an average weight of three pounds, a score we’ve seldom matched anywhere.”

That evening, back in the comfort of Rock Creek Lodge, their experience was confirmed by De Yip Louie, a magician performing at the fair in Missoula, who had just had his picture taken for the Missoula paper with a 4-pound, 12-ounce, trout he’d caught that morning. Joe Brooks took his picture for Field & Stream with a 2-pound rainbow.

"Magician De Yip Louie pulled this 2-pound rainbow trout out of the Clark Fork and not out of his bag of tricks."

“Magician De Yip Louie pulled this 2-pound rainbow trout out of the Clark Fork and not out of his bag of tricks.”

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Flashback Friday: Shooting in the Streets Edition

Like so many winter days gone by, last Friday was spent on a tractor, re-arranging piles of snowflakes, as was a good part of Saturday. That’s the excuse we’re using for the failure to post Flashback Friday: Valentine’s Edition, but just between us, there never was such a post to begin with. Stay tuned for upcoming words about winter (spoiler alert: we’re a little tired of it) but, in the meantime, here’s a little something about a time when heavily- armed men roamed the streets of Indianapolis and the sounds of shotguns meant things were looking up.

Two men (behind hydrant and partially obscured behind lamp post) discharging shotguns in downtown Indianapolis.

Two men (behind hydrant and partially obscured behind lamp post) discharging shotguns in downtown Indianapolis.

According to a story by Clare Conley in the December, 1963, issue of Field & Stream magazine, the gunmen in the photo are actually civic-minded folks, members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, stepping in to save their town from an infestation even worse than zombies.

Shooters Solve the Pigeon Problem!

Shooters Solve the Pigeon Problem!

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Flashback Friday: Phoning It In

Some people think the most important day of the year for the anglers of Fish in a Barrel Pond is Opening Day, in late April, as long as the ice is out.

Those people are wrong.

Seasoned members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society know the most important day of the year is the second Saturday of February, the day they can start making reservations for the upcoming season.

It's Easy to Call Ahead!

Call by number! It’s twice as fast!

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Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Flashback Fridays, Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Flashback Friday: Food for Thought

Dining Out

Dining Out, 1950s Style

It used to be that a fire, a rock, and maybe a screwdriver, were all the implements an outdoorsy person needed to prepare dinner or a tasty snack. Some minimalists didn’t even bring a screwdriver, using old nails or even more rocks to open containers. Today’s outdoors folk, however, are a different breed with different needs. Some require ovens, pans, zesters, and appropriate stemware. Some prefer their meat refrigerated and their melons balled, and more than a few of them would never dream of sitting outdoors, in the dirt and among the bugs to consume their culinary creations.

These days at Fish in a Barrel Pond, we provide manual can openers and corkscrews and even electric mixers (good luck finding the beaters), but some showoffs well-outfitted anglers arrive with their own spiral slicers, immersion blenders, infusers and ramekins. A few have even learned to bring their own stemware, but that is not to say things were especially primitive back in the old days, as shown by this ad that appeared in the March, 1964, issue of Outdoor Life magazine:

Martini Tester

Martini Tester

Extra dry or regular, the perfect martini was sure to be the perfect complement for everyone’s favorite snack, advertised in bulk, in the pages of Field & Stream, June, 1963:

A Big Panful of Jerky

A Big Panful of Jerky

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Flashback Friday: The Style Issue

This young man is featured in an ad for Louis Vuitton on the back cover of The New Yorker‘s recent “Style Issue”. He can scowl all he wants but I think he looks scared.

LV model

We can’t see what he’s scared of but I imagine that, having shown up for a sailing cruise with a pile of fancy matched luggage and stylish shoulder bag, he might not quite be up to the good-natured ribbing he’s taking from the crew. I know I’d be tempted to throw him overboard. Stylish or not, Thurston Howell VI there just doesn’t fit in, even if (or perhaps because) he has a silly gold anchor charm hanging off his pocket. Personally, I think he should ditch the tie and go with something a little more casual, like an ascot, but thank goodness fly fishers aren’t hung up on style, right? Continue reading

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Flashback Friday: Born to be Mild

In 1960, when the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission of the United States Forest Service conducted the first U.S. National Recreation Survey, “off-highway motorized recreation” was not included as a recreational activity. A few people were driving into the back country with motorcycles or 4-wheel-drive vehicles but not enough of them to register as a population-wide activity.

Fifty years later, to say things are different almost gets it.

According to the 2008 Forest Service report “Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation in the United States and its Regions and States: An Update National Report from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE)” retail sales of new All-Terrain Vehicles and Off-Highway Motorcycles more than tripled between 1995 and 2006, with 1,034,966 units sold in the last year for which statistics were available. An estimated 8,010,000 ATVs and Off-Highway Motorcycles were in use on back country roads and trails during 2001-2003.

We sure do like our internal combustion engines.

In the spring of 1967, Outdoor Life featured ads for motorcycles aimed specifically at fly fishers, with Suzuki touting them as an environmentally friendly solution to pollution.


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Flashback Friday Rides Again! Russian Tiger Catchers, A Story Not About Fishing, and Then I Get to the Point!

It’s easy to get distracted while thumbing through my old magazines, looking for something in particular. Mixed in with the mundane and everyday aspects of the outdoor life are exciting stories filled with danger and daring, told by those who survived them, offering a glimpse of rugged days gone by. Like these 1950’s Russian tiger catchers, restraining a wild beast with not much more than stout wooden poles!

tiger catchers

Brought to bay by dogs, this tiger was destined for a zoo or a circus and had to be taken alive. One man has a line around a paw and, according to the article, the tiger was in a bag and headed for the truck within minutes. I hope these guys made good money, because I can’t imagine grabbing tigers for fun, although I guess you never know. Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Flashback Fridays, Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Flashback Friday: Got a Light?

I sometimes carry a pipe in the evening, puffing on some Captain Black when the mosquitoes are particularly aggressive. Some evenings are just not complete without a nice cigar but smoking no longer holds the allure it once did. There was a time, though, when (male) anglers were almost expected to smoke and the image of an angler with a pipe in his mouth became darn near iconic.

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Flashback Friday: Snake in the Grass

(A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog post, complete with pictures, in which a rather lovely snake lost its life. I have a thing for reptiles with pretty patterns and I am a real early morning grouch so, of course, I left a sarcastic comment. I regret it now, not because I’ve changed my mind about killing snakes, but because the author of that post turns out to be a very nice woman with a wicked sense of humor who just happened to freak out and started swinging a shovel.

I understand now, having gone back to re-read that post several times, and I offer up this public apology to Mary, the owner of the blog OINKtales. The image of her protecting her brood, wildly swinging a shovel is kind of funny, but she lives not too far from Fish in a Barrel Pond and the last thing I need is for her to come after me. I’m sorry, Mary. Please don’t hit me with a shovel.)

To hear some people tell it, trout could not possibly survive without human intervention on their behalf. Unless something is done right now — according to these folks, anyway — Fish in a Barrel Pond will become a sterile, barren place, devoid of trout. Eagles, loons, osprey, mink, otters and who knows what else are bound to eat every fish in the pond, and not a day goes by that someone doesn’t suggest I “go out there and shoot them” before it’s too late.

Using a combination of questionable statistics, reckless extrapolation, hyperbole, smoke, and mirrors, they will make their case for the destruction of any potential threat to the trout that comes within half a mile of the place and I must, as politely as possible, remind them I will not go to jail for them and request that they immediately cease blowing smoke up my skirt. Continue reading

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Flashback Friday: Wheatley Fly Boxes Starting at $4.50

Some folks feel a reel is for nothing more than holding line, keeping it out of the way when it is not needed for the cast at hand. A simple gadget at a modest price is all they need. Others disagree and will spend as much as they can for all the prestige, societal standing and fancy finishes that money can buy.

Some folks feel a fly box is for nothing more than storing flies, keeping them handy even though we all know a large percentage of those flies will never touch water. Most any old box or container will do, as long as the price is close to zero. Others disagree, understanding things beyond our comprehension. Fortunately for them, this is fly fishing and manufacturers are more than happy to target those among us who don’t mind spending a little more.

That’s a Hardy De Luxe rod up there, priced at $67.50 (I’d like two, please), along with a monogrammed landing net ($4.50) and a nice collapsible canvas creel ($6.50). Throw in a six-compartment Wheatley fly box for less than five dollars and a fellow could be outfitted to hit the water for under a hundred bucks! Continue reading

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