The Snag Hole
If you knew Robin "Shippy" Shipman it wouldn't surprise you that his liver gave out. He gave it as good a workout as a guy could and he went down with guns a blazin'...yee haw. He was one of a kind, a true Montana original. They don't make them like Shippy anymore and they wore out all the machinery trying to figure out how. We had plenty of fun way back when elk hunting wasn't drawing sell-out crowds...before the Bear Creek parking lot got overrun with Bozeman license plates...before the wolves took over. Shippy was, among other things, a horseman, a packer, a joker, a neighbor and a friend that would give you the down vest off his back if he could. He had a camp up the North Fork of Bear Creek for years. It was plush...a large wall tent with a floor...a cook tent...propane heaters, tables, goosedown bags, whiskey and always some cold Oly Pop in the creek.
I took the photos above at the top of the Madison/Gallatin Divide coming up out of Muddy Basin in November, 1992. For some unknown reason I thought it would be real cool to shoot an elk way down there...I mean WAY down there. I was on foot...I hiked in there early that Election Day after I voted for whoever it was that lost the election. I shot the bull late in the day...I hiked out in the dark...maybe Shippy could pack it out for me? He could and he did. In the photo you see a mule...not just any mule...that's Jiggy mule..."Jig Honey"...if Shippy had Jiggy lined out you knew we were going to get home just fine. That's Pioneer Mountain in the background before Tim Blixeth carved it up and Oprah moved in.
Shippy never had a problem sharing with others. His heart was as big as his barn. He was a giver...he was my neighbor...he was my friend. RIP Robin Shipman...you were one of a kind.
Today was the memorial for Jose Wejebe who was killed last week when his small plane augered in at Everglades City, Fla. I was lucky to know Jose...we started guiding in the Keys about the same time in the early 1980s I took this photo in Jose's skiff a long time ago...it got water damaged in a hurricane flood...he was probably in his twenties...he was guiding Stu Apte trying for a 4 lb. line class record permit out of Key West and I was along for the ride. Jose was excited because he just got endorsed by Shimano and was trying out their new gear. We had a fun day of fishing and trying hard...Stu caught one permit that just fell short of the world record near Boca Grande Key...and a mutton snapper off the back of a sting ray that was a brute on 4 lb. test. Jose later did guide an angler to the world record permit on 4 lb...I believe it was a fish that topped 40 lbs!
The next year, I took Jose, Stu and Ralph Delph down the Madison River with my bud Glenn Law. We told a few lies and wondered why the Seal Drys leaked! Later on, I was one of the guides with the Fishing International group out of Northern Calif. at Sugarloaf Lodge in the Lower Keys. Jose was the lead dog in the rodeo that featured a cast of thousands including Frank Bertaina, Bob Nauheim, Del Brown and Neil Bohannon. I'm not sure how I survived that one!
But Jose sure did...and he became a top fishing guide...the real deal...no drugstore cowboy...he could do it all and come through with the goods. He did it with hard work...a zillion trips to the Marquesas and everywhere else...and a way with people. He was a positive guy...a nice guy...and a sincere guy.
The last time I saw him was at the Cheeca Lodge for Stu Apte's wedding..you know he would never miss that one!
It is a sad day...Jose was always nothing but nice to me...rest in peace Spanish Fly.
Recent comment in this post Show all comments
Congratulations to the red hot Detroit Red Wings...they just set a new NHL record...winning 21 straight home games...this breaks the old record of 20 games set by the 1975-76 Phila. Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins.All the best to "iron man' Nik Lidstrom and Pavel "the wizard" Datsyuk as the Wings keep it rolling towards the playoffs!
When Lewis & Clark hit Montana they had a ball catching all the Arctic Grayling (Thymallus Arcticus) they could stuff into their saddlebags and lug back to camp for the evening grill-out. Graying were plentiful in Montana in 1805 and they hung around for a while into the 20th century. Native to North America, the grayling slowly disappeared until the only known populations in the lower 48 were in Michigan and Montana...and then the Michigan grayling went extinct. Now in Montana we have the only known strains of grayling left in the U.S. other than Alaska. We used to catch them fairly regularly on our float trips in the 1980s and early 1990s. Checking back in my fishing logs, I found the following:
"July 11, 1983...caught 32 fish on a float from Ennis Campground to Klutes. I stopped and held the boat in the Middle Channel near the lake and the boys caught 21 grayling from 8"-15" on #16 Elk Hair Caddis. We fished until dark and then I rowed over to Klutes"
"Aug. 27, 1990...fished the mouth of Fletcher Ch. from 5:30 to 8pm...caught 2 browns, 8 rainbows and 12 grayling on dries."
I noted in my log book that I caught and released 11 grayling on my river float trips that year (1992). There are grayling in the Upper Big Hole and Upper Ruby and a smidge scattered around in a few lakes...but Montana has the only grayling left in the U.S. outside of Alaska. I hope Lewis and Clark enjoyed a few good meals of grayling-on-a-stick. The way it looks now, the grayling are going the way of the Dodo, the Passenger Pigeon, the Ivory Billed-Woodpecker and the Wooly Mammoth. Too bad. They were a lot of fun (and easy) to catch. Adios, Mr. Graying.
Tim Tebow...everyone's a buzzin' about his tremendous accomplishments against incredible odds...his positive attitude...unflappable faith...a worker of miracles, almost.
I got to thinkin', man, what if I could put some of this mojo out there towards my fishing...what a hero I could be! So today, before my trip out of Hawk's Cay Marina at Duck Key, I decided to try a little "Tebowing" of my own.
As I ran out to the Tripod Bank area with my anglers I did not know what to expect...just a couple of guys on a fun half-day fishing trip taking a break from their business meeting at Hawk's Cay. When I got to my spot and watched them cast, I had a sinking feeling...it was like having the Helen Keller twins in my boat...one guy couldn't cast, the other couldn't see. These guys had just two chances to catch a fish, Slim and None... and Slim just left town. Then all of a sudden, it happened...the seas parted...the waves calmed down...the fish started jumping...and it was game on, Lord have mercy, hallelujah!, miracles do happen. Fish started biting, reels started singing, anglers began rejoicing...and we started hauling 'em in. When the smoke cleared, the final tally looked like this: 15 Spanish mackerel, 12 mangrove snapper, 6 spotted sea trout, 5 assorted jackfish, 4 ladyfish, 3 Florida pompano, 2 redfish, 2 sharks, 2 puffer fish, 1 remora and numerous, various miscellaneous species. Not bad for a half-day fishing trip!
So this Tebow thing...I tell ya, there's something there. I'm tempted to use it on every fishing trip but I don't want to jinx myself. I'm thinking if I pick my spots, use it sparingly and keep using my good left knee to kneel...who knows? Bring me your sick, your infirm, your great unwashed...I'm confident they can be healed.