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JIM HARRISON

by Randy
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on Sunday, 27 March 2016
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   from The New Yorker

Postscript: Jim Harrison 1937-2016

by Thomas McGuane

 

   On Saturday night, my oldest friend, Jim Harrison, sat at his desk writing. He wrote in longhand. The words trailed off into scribbles and he fell from his chair dead. His strength of personality was such that his death will cut many adrift. He was seventy-eight years old and had lived and worked hard for every one of those years. He published a book a month ago. His health had failed, he lost his wife of fifty-five years, and his shingles were a torment. Recent back surgery had made his beloved walks impossible and yet he was undefeated. He was active and creative to the end, but it was time to go: no one was less suited to assisted living. For his family, vastly numerous friends, and admirers, the death of Jim Harrison leaves an extraordinary vacancy.

 

From the moment we met, we talked about writing, and in some ways co-evolved over time, through letters and talk, until our views hardened and separated to such a degree that it was better not to do it in person. But we went on as before, in weekly letters, and continued to do so until a week ago; and left all that was not literary—nature, food, sport, love—to times we actually saw each other. To select a book or poem from the ether for chat was best handled in print, though we could revisit favorites for euphoric consanguinity. At times, we resorted to censorious silence. We worked out differences in letters and tried to make each other better. I could always expect Jim to write something marvelous and seemingly out of the blue. Few American writers of recent times have had his erudition and phenomenal memory. To the end, Jim was a country boy who’d been touched.

 

Read Jim Harrison’s contributions to The New Yorker: two works of fiction, “The Woman Lit by Fireflies” (1990) and “Father Daughter” (2004), and “A Really Big Lunch,” about a thirty-seven-course meal that Harrison enjoyed in 2003.

 

jim_harrison_edit

 

Born: Dec. 11, 1937 Grayling, Mi.

Died: Mar. 26, 2016 Patagonia, Az.

 

 

 

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THE LOST FISHING VIDEOS OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

by Randy
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on Wednesday, 23 December 2015
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                              keys_marquesas_sunset_2             SW of The Marquesas at sunset...May, 1988

                                            (Randy Brown photo)

 

   I fished and guided anglers in the Florida Keys for 30 years. On a rare occasion, there would be a video camera on board the boat...usually one of the cheapo, hand held, low-tech gizmos…but sometimes decent. A lot of film was shot by anglers, wives, girlfriends, buddies…and a lot by me. It was a shaky operation for sure…most of the film was poor quality, upside down sideways stuff…kinda like convenience store surveillance tape. This was the 1980s-90s… before IPhones… before photoshop…before GoPros…before the internet was invented by Al Gore.

   There were no fancy film crews…just a camera in the boat run by amateurs…bouncing around in my flats skiff…doing the best we could. The quality is mostly poor, grainy video but it is real. It is the way it was.

   Some of my anglers sent me VHS tapes which I watched once or twice on the VCR then stored them away in boxes. Some have been buried for nearly 30 years, gathering dust, lost, forgotten.keys_jo_jos

     Wading the Jo-Jo's flat for bonefish with George Kelly and Victor Colvard...Grassy Key, April, 1987

                                 (Randy Brown photo)

 

   One day I rediscovered them…unpacked them…had them converted to computer- compatible and re-watched the show. Quite a few shows actually. Several tarpon, bonefish and permit adventures survived the cut.
   Some chaos, trash talking, mild panic attacks, screw-ups and salt water shenanigans...and a few nice fish.

   If you are looking for slicked up high-tech glitzy vids with Star Wars special effects and heavy metal background music, forget it. No headbanger stuff here. This footage is raw. But it’s real…the way it happened. The view is the white caps, the wind blowing hard, the chop and sometimes the slick calm, all shot from the deck of my Hewes Bonefisher.keysMud_Keys

               Poling my skiff...Mud Keys, 1989.

 

   I will be posting video clips on Facebook, YouTube and on this site over the next several weeks.

   One final note...these videos cover several days of fishing over several years. Of all the fish caught, EVERY SINGLE FISH WAS RELEASED ALIVE TO SWIM AWAY. I believe we should do all we can to protect this unique fishery...

permit_old_timey

 For starters, here's a fun one from 1991...me getting ripped off by a big tarpon on fly rod...

                                              CLICK HERE 

 

 

   A quick little permit vid...

                         CLICK HERE

 

 

   Watch a 12 lb. tailing bonefish caught on fly

                                            CLICK HERE

 

 

    150lb. tarpon jumps 14 times!

                          CLICK HERE

 

 

     Tarpon daisy chain in Rabbit Key Basin

                            CLICK HERE

    

      Sea Turtle foreplay on the white sand

                           CLICK HERE

 

      Wintertime tarpon on the fly

                           CLICK HERE

 

         Permit at Big Torch Key

                           CLICK HERE

 

         Tarpon at the Bongo Holes

                           CLICK HERE

 

 

                  Bonefishing Splained and Testified! 

                       CLICK HERE

 

                   Amazing Permit Tale!

                            CLICK HERE

 

                      Tarpon in the Wind

                            CLICK HERE

 

                    Keys Cuda Show 1986

                            CLICK HERE  

 

     I get asked a lot about the changes in the Florida Keys through the years. I guess I have a good perspective overlooking the 30 years I spent there.

   When I started in the early 1980s, the water in Florida Bay was crystal clear. We would go out to Schooner Bank and fish for trout and drift over acres and acres of lush, green sea grass waving underneath us...and now that grass is brown or dead and the water is murky or dish water or sometimes pea-soup. fla_bay_today

   Photo of Fla. Bay water taken recently...a far cry from what I used to see in the 1980s.

 

turtle_grass_2

   This is how the turtle grass looked in Florida Bay in the early 1980s.

 

   When I started in the early 1980s, the barracudas on the flats would bite just about anything you threw at them. Now they just swim away unimpressed.

   When I started guiding,  the bonefish were plentiful. If you figured the tides for a spot you could usually count on the bones to show up...hundreds and hundreds on the oceanside flats at Key Largo or the gin clear grass flats of Nine Mile Bank or the Gulf-edge flats of the Lower Keys. The top bonefish guides would catch eight, ten, a dozen bonefish in a day.

   Nowadays, the bonefish are getting slim...the water is murky...the redfish are moving into the old bonefish flats.

   I could always find tailing bonefish at sundown at Jo Jo's, Walkers Island, Tavernier or Long Key State Park...lots of places. Tailers are now tough to find.

   Throwing a live blue crab at a permit used to be like feeding candy to a baby. These days permit are just as likely to refuse a crab!

   When I started guiding the tarpon flies were large, gaudy, blaze orange/red/black/purple clumps of chicken feathers and rabbit/squirrel tail tied on 4/0 hooks using 100 lb. hard Mason bite tippet.

   These days the guides use "slim-jim" worm flies tied with a thin sliver of fur strip tied on a #2 hook and maybe no shock tippet at all. It's common to throw at hundreds of tarpon in May in the Keys all day long and never get a sniff.

   There are so-called "guides" that will take you out to one of the bridges at night and drift the boat blind casting flies to tarpon in the dark.

   These "captains" belong in the same category as car thieves, pick pockets and scam artists. The tarpon get hooked up and eaten by sharks cruising the bridges at night while the fly lines get sawed off on bridge pilings. Tarpon deserve a better fate.

    Do it the right way or don't do it all.

    Avoid these shysters if you care at all about the welfare of the tarpon. 

   The top tarpon guides in the Keys can still get the tarpon to bite the fly...book the best guide you can to give yourself a chance. They are some of the best fishermen in the world.

   And organizations like the Bonefish & TarponTrust are doing some good work on behalf of the fish...here is a link to their site...support them if you can...CLICK HERE

  

    It's not all doom and gloom. The redfish are everywhere. The snook fishery is healthy. You can still catch a nice mess of mangrove snapper for dinner...yum!

   The spanish mackerel are plentiful in the Bay during the winter months...and the offshore/reef fishing is still very good.

   Nothing stays the same. There is still great beauty in the Keys and excellent fishing if you know where to look.

   Now back to more videos!

                            

 

                   Worm Bar Tarpon

                       CLICK HERE

 

                    Woman Key Permit

                         CLICK HERE

 

                   Live Permit Release

                         CLICK HERE

 

                  Nine Mile Bonefish

                        CLICK HERE

 

                  The Captain Gets Lucky

                          CLICK HERE

 

                       Out Back Permit

                            CLICK HERE

 

                     Garden Cove Bone

                            CLICK HERE

 

                    Rising Tide Permit

                             CLICK HERE    

 

                        Backcountry Permit

                             CLICK HERE 

 

                         Patty Bags A Bone

                             CLICK HERE

 

                   Long Key Tarpon on the Fly

                               CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LEON HOMER THEXTON

by Randy
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on Monday, 30 November 2015
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Leon Thexton...a Montana original...great fishing guide...fly tier like no other...a rower, a thinker, a lover of the river...and my friend...RIP..."going to the top floor"...will miss you buddy.leon_rb_001_edit_crop_close_up

IMG_1733

                                "The Hatch" by Leon Thexton

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WOLF TRAINER FINED $500 FOR PIONEER BAR PHOTO SHOOT!

by Randy
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on Friday, 11 September 2015
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   Read the story from KBZK-TV Bozeman and hear from eye witness Rosy the bartender....CLICK HERE

 

  

wolf_005_website

This photo, shot by world famous animal photographer David Yarrow in the Pioneer Bar, Virginia City, Montana, appears to have rubbed state law officials the wrong way. They busted the wolf trainer and fined him $500 for a "roadside menagerie and zoo offense".

   Translation: don't take pictures of a wolf in a bar without a permit even if the wolf is tame...and has a name: "Paco". Here are more pics of Paco and his pal "Cougie" in  Nevada City.yarrow_wolf_3

yarrow_wolf_2

 

yarrow_mtn_lion

    Can you be tried twice for the same crime?  Paco is just doing his job...and mountain lions like to jump...a wolf's gotta make a living...cougars too!  C'mon...give a predator a break.   Where is the outrage?

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TROUT UNLIMITED VETERANS SERVICE PARTNERSHIP

by Randy
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on Thursday, 27 August 2015
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   TAPS_8-27-15_010   This is my new friend Stan White....he is from West Virginia, USA...The Mountain State...hill country...coal country...home of Randy Moss and Jerry West, L.A. Lakers #44. 

   Stan's first son, Robert, served in the US Army, 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. army_82nd_airborne_2

   On patrol in an Army humvee, Robert took a direct hit from an enemy rocket through his midsection.

   The blast killed him instantly.

  

    Stan's second son Andrew was in the US Marines serving in Iraq. He got shot at... a lot.

   He came back messed up from the war suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD...they used to call it "shell-shock"). 

   Andrew spent his last days in a VA hospital.

   He died juiced up and overmedicated...another Marine who gave his life for his country. 

   TAPS_8-27-15_007

   It was my honor to spend a day on the river fishing with Stan White. I learned more about bravery from him than he will ever know.TAPS_8-27-15_004

   I participated in TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) sponsored by Trout Unlimited.

   Forty men, mostly dads who have lost sons or daughters in post 9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, attended a retreat at Parade Rest Guest Ranch in West Yellowstone, Montana.

   This program was put together by Dave Kumlien, Western Coordinator for TUVSP.

   It is grief counseling, comraderie and two days of fishing!TAPS_8-27-15_002

   It was my honor to participate.

 

   Many thanks to Trout Unlimited, Dave Kumlien of Montana Troutfitters Bozeman, Parade Rest Guest Ranch, Meadowlark Shuttles in Ennis and all the fishing guides who volunteered.

  

   God Bless you Robert, Andrew and all our Vets!

  

   For more info about this great program and how you can help...click here.tu_logo

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