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The Gearboat Chronicles

Basalt and Pepper

Sonic booms reported last weekend by residents of the Lower Wallowa Valley were just echos of me yelling Oh Yeah like the Kool-Aid man after hooking and landing steelhead. I had a few previous outings that did not go as well, so it’s good to be landing something other than sticks. So good.


As a bonus, the fish above was caught on a particularly hideous arts and craft project pulled from the far nether corner of my flybox. I get “inspired” at the fly bench and start experimenting. It goes badly. I know I should unravel or throw away these monstrosities that come off the vise, but instead I pack these uglies around for years until I’m running low on inventory. Then, every so often, I throw one of these Christmas ornaments out there in front of a fish that is so offended by my lack of craftsmanship it strikes out of pure disgust. Hey, whatever works man. I’ll take it. Victory through art criticism.

The steelhead tree also bloomed for fishing pal Mike Baird. Here’s Papa B casting the waters just downstream from the Omega 3 orchard he planted. For more on current Wallowa County steelhead conditions and a link to recent creel data, get the click out of here and go peruse Paul’s Winding Waters Fishing Report. Better yet, give the guided steelhead hotline a jingle-jangle and get into some fish.


Basalt and Pepper

This is cool. I went on a columnar basalt rock gathering mission. Winding Waters rafting alum know these basalt columns from jumping off them along the Salmon River and admiring the formations through Hells Canyon and along the banks of the Grande Ronde River.

These particular lava crystals will be used in the longhouse currently under construction at the Homeland Project grounds in Wallowa, where the annual Nez Perce celebration and Friendship Feast happens.

Joe McCormack was the mastermind of the rock collection. I was the choker setter and guy getting cactus needles through my glove while trying to hook up the cable. Ed and Dave from Fence Creek Ranch swooped in with their skidsteer and saved the day by loading these super heavy chunks of geology.


The longhouse is coming along real nice and there’s going to be an open house Saturday, March 5 from 10am to noon. Come by and be sure to appreciate the columnar basalt. I’ll even show you the cacti spines still embedded in my hand. Those things are tenacious.