Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sixteen hours and seven in the kitchen revisited by Stewart Laws

                        Sixteen hours and seven ... revisited

The accommodation was telling just by pulling up on the concrete apron, who has 5 boats parked up in the backyard... well it seems just about everyone in Castlerock does ! Add to the American dream  the obligatory big truck, nothing is understated here.
Challenging for any able bodied 6' plus let alone someone with a propensity towards dwarfism.
A fact not lost on a 5'8" short legged tea swilling psychotic Englishman, my manliness will never again attain such heights back on this side of the Atlantic.

Mines bigger than yours

I could of parked my discovery in the back of this thing and space for the rocking chair
The house we were to spend our week in resided on Lake Silver and in the garden sat in  rough grass unceremoniously a 15' portabote like an unloved toy, looking round there was 4 other forms of craft and in the garage ( Aladdin's cave ) was an assortment of engines and electric props.

                                                       View from the house

Every boat on the lake  bristling with horsepower, slow was not an option whilst moving swims,Fuel comes in at $ 4 a Gallon,and they bemoan that... ( come to boomtime Britain boys ).
The fishing style was frenetic, with surface lures been stripped at breakneck speed by  some of the locals,largemouth Bass the target primarily.
                                              A very small section of Lake Silver

The main fishing on this lake was the Bass though it would seem that the timings of my visit was not to be in my favour, a few diehards  that were stripping surface lures and failing ( Americans have an affinity to lure fishing )  while the float and worm guys were catching, the fish movement was colossal yet takes on lures mythical, I seen one fish taken on a lure, plenty using bait though.
Lake Silver holds some specimen Bass, and they hold  big money tournaments, big prizes and serious sponsorship, to it would appear every angler.

The 3 days I spent afloat was rather one of hope and perseverance.... the early mornings paid dividends in fish location, find a lily pad and sure enough a fish would be there, see the above photo and you get the picture.
This was going to be fish in a barrel surely... the views were stunning, the calm surroundings belied the turmoil around the lake under the surface, even I was going to bag up.... how wrong, every cast was the one, the one that was going to haul up a specimen fish, the Blankety blank cheque book AND pen awaited me.

Time for a rethink.

Prior to the spells afloat we visited Cabella's the Mecca of anything or anyone who hunts, shoots and fishes.
Now as someone who has always gravitated around such places back home, and for those of you who are similar in your habits,you may have made the assertion that women do not enter these testosterone fuelled places, in America they made up a large percentage of customers, in fact the whole place was more akin to a family day out with women and children handling rods, guns and looking at the latest boat or ATV.

Now I liked this place

                                                                  A Tiger Musky

The Fish tank was amazing with 2 tanks around 30 - 35 ft long, with every type of freshwater fish to be found in the USA.
The location of the tanks were under the display of trophy animals that made up a mountain scene, with a river running through it, all this in the entrance hall, so as you walk in you are greeted not only by a salesperson but what appears a 1000 pairs of eyes, all peering at you, this was awe inspired.

                                                          God Bless America

This pose nearly warranted an armed response unit from the Cabella's customer awareness focus group to intervene, thankfully when they seen me head to the gun section they relaxed...... I know what you're all thinking ...... British Beef..... or for those that do know me BSE.

Several hours passed and with several carrier bags we departed, rather overwhelmed by sheer choice, trying to think of a suitable analogy to describe the experience but suffice to say it was a semi erect experience.


By now local knowledge was going to be king.... A little bit about Castlerock, it has 2135 inhabitants and 12 churches of various denomination, every household bears arms and they all fly the stars and stripes, look at the bike in the picture below ( no one was immune to patriotism ).

Every homestead has various signs up with reference to trespassing or violations and with overtly threatening meanings this is what greeted us when we went to meet a neighbour on the hillside.

Bravado or meaningful, I was unsure at the time, but my mind was erring on bravado, lets just say trespassing in America can take on a whole different meaning to here for sure as I was to discover.

Dick Gloria and Steve

Local knowledge meant knocking on the door to our kindly neighbour, Dick was a largish chap, age undetermined but around 65 plus, wife Gloria a kindly soul and their son Steve, outback cutting up wood.... all 6' 6" of him.

I explained to Dick the fishing I wanted was Tiger Muskie or the Northern Pike, sucking of air and shaking of head....Not round here came the reply, now Dick had a fleet of crab fishing boats that was hauling Dungeness crabs, not unlike the 'Worlds Deadliest Catch' and he still fishes every week on the coast, though the boats now gone save for recreational use ( 3-4 boats dotted around the place confirms the American's Love of boats in this family ) 

Dick said we had best speak to Steve who was sawing up timber outback, well a quick introduction with a few vague words mentioned, I finally got an offer to fish with Steve, now he was either preoccupied or just pissed at having to saw timber in 30deg I walked back bemused and unsure at how concrete the offer was..... All of a sudden Steve came charging round like a man possessed, as he was cutting up wood he had inadvertently gone through a bee nest,  some American bee's are a particularly vengeful type ( a non native type of african bee ) and he had been stung several times in the face, he was wild.
I stood there bemused at the whole episode, and made an intimation at dropping the trip today and rescheduling, NO I will pick you up at 1.30 pm  came the reply amidst much profanities.

We made our way out of the property silently.
Dick's Homestead


The time arrived and I met up with Steve we cordially shook hands again and his demeanour appeared somewhat more relaxed.
He decided to drive and the first words from him in the truck was 'do you want a beer and I'm an alcoholic'  ......................

Well the trip was interesting we chatted a lot and a lot of questions from myself ensued,the culture difference is spectacularly wide in their hunting side of things, which did not surprise as having come across Americans hunting in the UK.
The scenery was on a different level to normal and quite breathtaking and mostly on the logging roads that we travelled we seen little traffic...... we encountered a few empties though

Don't fuck

The river we were going to be fishing on was a tributary of the Toutle river, and a well known Salmon Haunt for Coho,steelhead, Chinook,Chum,Pink and Sockeye.
There is a salmon hatchery that have an ongoing hatching policy, that is state run and massive in what they achieve. 
The general rule... make it up as you go along but you don't fuck with the hunting or fishing regulations, infringements will mean impounded vehicles, boats, fishing gear and hunting gear. 
Drink driving who gives a damn... the environment 'hey man respect it' a contradiction... maybe but it works here.

Part of the state run hatchery
These salmon are harvested for the eggs etc and then put into a food bank to help feed poorer families, nothing is wasted in the hatchery programme.


The Toutle River has sensors on it, that counts the salmon running, give or take a few I'm sure ....65'000 had passed through on the run!!

One from the bin

The river was spectacular, clean and running well, we waded the bits we could to cross various sections, mostly ankle deep, so nothing heroic and temperature was pleasant, although the sun was hot.

I would love to say the method was fly but reality was when in Rome etc.
The method was to ledger Salmon eggs or rather corkies as they call them ( artificial eggs ) greens, pinks, blues in fact any colour, the fish are not actually feeding, they are coming up to spawn, whereby they are in an aggressive nature, knocking at anything on the way, this resulted in tentative knockings on the rod tip at which point you strike, in all honesty its almost a foul hooking concept, out of the 4 fish I had only one was fairly hooked.

You cast to the fish and could see every salmon running
Steve and myself after finding some soul to take a picture of us together

Steve Seine my host
The fishing was fast and furious, my host Steve was in my world a curiosity he was what we might term a 'redneck' when we came out of the valley he proceeded to drink and stoke his pipe full of mary anne, he drove the truck with his knee's and between huge intakes of herb and copious beer we made our way up the mountains. 
He regaled me with several stories along the way and likewise of my world to him, he was not an angel by any means he has has various convictions and his world is in the hills and valleys hunting and fishing, but that one person stands out not only as an individual but also a humorous and kind person who see's things for what they are, his wit was acerbic and brutally honest, he suffers no one I'm sure but I felt blessed to have met him.
We did meet up again a few times and each time I was in tears at his comments and observations, a better host you would not find.

If I lived in America I would find no better neighbour, and on that note I will leave you with steves parting words still ringing......BOOOOOMMMMMMM !!

Steve's Philosophy 

'the best neighbours are those that don't trouble ya'....... Amen Brother.

If some of you are wondering why 'seven more in the kitchen' came about then it was a pre conditional trip, the wedding present came in the form of various things, I made a vanilla and single malt fudge with double cream, an apple chutney with spiced fruit, homemade raspberry jam and some fruit cake made with a litre of tawny port..... enjoy. 

1 comment:

  1. BOOOOM! indeed! Thanks for taking the time. Enjoyed your account and pictures!