New Zealand Landscapes Timelapse Volume Two from Bevan Percival on Vimeo.

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Sunny days are a rare and precious commodity here in the PNW.  When one rolls around, especially some of the first of the year, you better get out there and take advantage of it.  So when Justin invited me to join him for a day of trout fishing, I simply couldn’t resist.  We were joined by friend and loyal customer Harry.  None of us had fished the river we chose before, but Justin wanted to scout it out for a class he is teaching in the coming months.

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After days and weeks of cloudy, rainy weather the sunshine felt good.  DAMN GOOD.  And standing in a river chasing trout (not “unicorns”) also felt damn good.  Coming from the Holy Land of trout fishing, my hopes weren’t too high for the day, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the little river we visited.  It had all the characteristics of a genuine trout stream.  And there is just nothing like the sound of a moving, rushing river.

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Fishing with Harry was pretty interesting.   I have always enjoyed those few older fly fishers who are full of stories and are a pleasure to be around.  Harry certainly fits that bill.  I enjoyed bullshitting with him as much as I did fishing.

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In places, the brush and trees on the banks grew close.  Snags happened, as they always do.  Flies were lost, leaders were mangled, and fingers were raised at the tree gods.

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Eventually, as the day wore on, lunch hit home, and no fish were to be had, the warm sunshine reduced us all to feeling a little lazy.

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All in all, it was a fine day on the river.  Although it did make me damn homesick for Montana.  I foresee a trip home in my near future…

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Saltwater Fishing from Keith Brauneis on Vimeo.

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A Fly Fishing Trip – New Zealand from AF Fly Fishing on Vimeo.

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We’ve ended up with an extra copy of Sean Gallagher’s brand spanking new, hardbound, two volume (in a slip cover no less) Wild Steelhead set published by Wild River Press. This particular copy is unopened (still in factory plastic wrap/seal) and in virginal condition.

Read all about the book right here.

We’ll do a simple little mini-auction today starting at $120 (sticker price $150) + media rate shipping to your location with bidding to close at midnight MDT tonight. Simply leave your bid in the comment section below (you’ll need to leave a viable, not-visible-to-site-visitors email when you comment) and we’ll get in touch with the auction winner. Payment via paypal or check; the book ships when payment posts.

We’ll even donate 10% of the proceeds to TU’s Save Bristol Bay program.

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TRAILER – Bill Beckett & the Madison from Cody Holcombe on Vimeo.

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Livin’ Part of Life from Matt Bredehoft on Vimeo.

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Via the careful boaters at Wooden Boat People.

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When I was a kid growing up in West Texas back in the 60s and 70s chain restaurants were about as common as finding prairie bound sasquatches cooking S’mores over a campfire.

We therefore ate our burgers at our neighbor’s Dairy Queen, fried chicken (with Texas Toast and cream gravy) at a family owned place out on South Washington and plowed through Saturday morning donuts scratch made at our local donut shop. There were two pretty damned good local BBQ joints (both now long gone) and a few decent Tex Mex dive eateries nearby.

It wasn’t until my sophomore summer in high school that a college-student warehouse foreman took me and another freight wrangler to a little Mexican food place about 10 miles south of town for lunch. It was tiny, with about 8 formica topped tables surrounded by aluminum chairs replete with cracked vinyl cushions.

They served numbingly cold iced tea and the biggest platter of classic Tex Mex enchiladas I’d ever (and in fact have ever) seen. You could have them with cheese, chicken or beef filling and of course with either red or green enchilada sauce, though my standard order from that day forward was ‘one beef and two cheese (with onion) – red’.

About the time we were fighting over the last crumbs in the second paper-lined plastic chip basket she’d bring out platters seemingly the size of cafeteria serving trays, piled high with mexican rice on one end, steaming (real) refried beans on the other and the most aromatic, melty-cheese gooey sea of enchilada goodness you’ve ever imagined in between, with a handful of rough chopped tomatoes and ice-cold iceberg lettuce slivers piled high on one end of the enchiladas.

All for less than five bucks including drink and tip.

My friends and I spent many an afternoon and evening there, even gambling on taking a date now and again, all the way through college. The place eventually moved to new digs in town, upped their prices, dropped their quality and not unexpectedly died.

We’ve fiddled for years to try to recreate their red enchilada sauce – it had genuine bits of red chile in it, tiny pieces of beef and a rich, beefy flavor with a hint of cinnamon and something that I’ve always thought was allspice, but it’s actually just a smidgen of cloves.

(Purists would insist on calling the sauce chile con carne, be as pedantic as you wish but we just call it damned good.)

I’d almost given up until trying this combination in late March again and finding myself whisked back to West Texas, sitting at that creaky table and eating what just might be the best damned enchiladas on the planet.

10-12 dried NM chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
2-4 dried guajillo chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
4 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped medium
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
Scant 1/2 lb. ground beef
3 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tbsp. oil
12 large corn tortillas
4-5 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 medium sweet onion, chopped small

Lettuce, tomato, avocado just because

Make the red chile magic (puree). Put a kettle on to boil; using a dry skillet heated over medium-high heat, toast the chiles on each side until they puff slightly and become fragrant. Place the chiles in a small bowl and cover with 4 cups boiling water; let steep for 30 minutes or so until soft. Drain and reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid; place the softened chiles in the blender.

Sauté then sauce. Wipe the skillet clean and heat the oil; sauté the onions (the first onion) for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and stir for another 30-40 seconds.

Dump the onion and garlic mixture on top of the chiles in the blender; now add the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cloves and two cups of the soaking liquid. Blend until nice and smooth; add more liquid if needed to get to a medium-thick milkshake consistency.

In the same skillet, now brown the ground beef, breaking it up as you go into small pieces (pea sized or so); drain the grease. Now add the chile puree, beef broth and brown sugar. Stir to mix well, crank the heat and bring it to a boil, then turn it to a simmer and let it bubble for 30-40 minutes. Finally, taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. You’re looking for the sauce to cook down and thicken a bit here.

Roll your own. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 13×9 or better baking dish. Heat the remaining oil in a small skillet over medium heat and warm up a tortilla in the hot oil (10-20 seconds until beginning to blister).

Now dip the heated tortilla into the sauce, shake off the excess, lay flat on your cutting board and sprinkle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the grated cheese down the middle and top with 1-2 tsp. of the chopped sweet onion. Roll the filled tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish.

Repeat until the baking dish is full; now top with the sauce and the remaining grated cheese and onions. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.

Serve. Dish ‘em hot with mexican rice, refries and a cold one. You’ll swear you were right back in West Texas with me.

Enjoy.

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Red Quill from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

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LE CHOCOLAT – Alain Ducasse from Simon Pénochet on Vimeo.

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While I have never really recovered from dropping my DSLR in the Snake River, occasionally my phone takes a good photo. Here is my first dry fly fish of the year from a few weeks back. The fish were eating midges, but this guy ate the BWO cripple I was using as a strike indicator for the size 20 midge tied down the line. I didn’t complain.

 

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Up Close and Personal with Wild Rainbow Trout in the Smoky Mountains from Ian Rutter on Vimeo.

Nifty edit from Ian Rutter.

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A smile-worthy update from the PLWA sent in the wee hours this morning -

The Seventh Inning Stretch
The next step in the continued fight over stream access in Montana
By George Bauer

If the Bridges of Madison County saga on the Ruby River was a baseball game then we would be at the seventh inning stretch.  This historic case was filed in 2004 and was finally heard after eight years of early inning maneuvering.  The score was PLWA – 2, Media Mogul – 0 when Kennedy was ordered to remove his “No Trespassing” signs from Duncan Road and Lewis Lane.   The ruling reinforced Montana’s 2009 Bridge Access Law which says a public road right of way extends the full width of the road and over the bridge to a stream’s high-water mark. That law, passed after much compromise between anglers and landowners to help gain public access to public waters, came on the third try and only after lots of hard work.

Before the hearing the parties (PLWA v. Madison County) stipulated Seyler Lane was a public road right of way – it is one of the oldest roads in the state.  And yet District Judge Loren Tucker ruled there is a distinction between the public’s right and the county’s right to access the river.  Judge Tucker’s ruling did not get to first base – it was thrown out by the Montana Supreme Court.  The January 2014 ruling stated the roadway could to be used by the public “for all foreseeable uses, including recreation.”  The case was sent back to District Court with instructions to hear evidence on the width of the right-of-way.

And now, like a big league manager who didn’t like the call at the plate, Kennedy  filed a petition for rehearing. This would have reopened the case  for further arguments on the grounds the court abandoned property law principals and converted Kennedy’s private property to public land. The court denied the petition and in effect said  “Nonsense”. The Supreme Court has never been eager to plow the same ground twice .

The Supreme Court took nearly a year to reach a decision this last time so it could be 2016 before the fat lady sings at the bottom of the ninth.

Later this year another District Court will hear evidence of decades of public access to the Ruby from Seyler Lane and then could take months to issue a ruling.  Don’t be surprised if Kennedy appeals, whatever the decision.

Step up to the plate and take a swing at those who would rob the public of their access rights. Join PLWA or make and additional contribution. Let’s keep on winning.

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