The Gila, Apache and Golden, to the Dolly Varden, Arctic Char, the voracious Bull and the Appalachian Brook, over to the Rainbow, Redband and Steelhead, to the Yellowstone and Greenback cutthroats, up nort to the Laker, and lastly, to the ubiquitous Brown ... they're all there, portrayed mostly in spawning colors.
The original painting is for sale. If you're interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the first time in three years, I've also had this painting prepared for a run of limited-edition giclee prints. Printed on art paper, and signed and numbered by me, these prints will be part of a limited run of 150. They're available for purchase for $220, including standard shipping, through my website, dansharley.com.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone, and we’re already a couple of weeks into 2014. The blur of holiday activity often leaves one exhausted, and Betsy and I were not immune to that condition. We hosted her family for Thanksgiving, then, followed it up with a huge fish-fry in honor of Betsy’s youngest brother’s birthday. The shopping (spending) spree followed, as we quickly prepared for the arrival of Christmas.
We headed west for the big day, arriving at my parents’ home in Heber Springs Christmas Eve night. We did the traditional big meal and offered one another thanks and well-wishes for the year to come.
Christmas morning, we exchanged presents and littered the living room floor with brightly-colored wads of seasonal paper. Everyone was happy to give and to receive, as Bumper snoozed amidst the cacophony of crinkling paper and surprised laughter.
|Geez, making these people happy is exhausting.|
After clean-up and a rough organizational effort (“my stuff is over here”), me and the guys looked out the back windows of the house at the immense, slate-gray water of the Little Red River. Dreams of spending the afternoon in the backyard, wading the trout-filled stream were dashed by the Grinch-like Corps of Engineers, who dialed up two full generators all day, resulting in extremely-high flows. Instead, we stayed inside, ate a ton more food, and Mom and I lost repeated games of Scrabble to my brother.
|It's a Polish Christmas!|
The generation continued throughout our visit, as the swollen river kept us far from its enticing shoals, runs and holes. Dad, Tim and I decided to head north to see my Uncle in Mountain Home, and to fish the Norfork River, which offered wadeable conditions. At least, that’s what the online report said.
Alas, immediately upon arrival, a quick inspection of the river revealed that the report was incorrect, and the dam was at full generation. The three words that best describe this are as follows, and I quote: “Stink, stank, stunk.” The Corps hates Christmas.
|Dad's Christmas present to me ... an awesome selection of his hand-tied flies. Bass beware.|
We drove an hour back towards home and tried fishing Sylamore Creek, a scenic feeder of the much larger White River. The White was also swollen with upstream generation, but Sylamore is not a tailrace, thus not directly affected by the Grinch.
|Dad plies the icy waters of Sylamore Creek|
It was, however, affected by the recent cold weather. The stream was crystal clear, yet downright icy, and the trout within it, sluggish and presumably shivering. We caught a few – my Uncle dominated with a homemade streamer pattern – but every fish seemed like they had sacrificed themselves in order to get a temporary reprieve from the glacial water (“PLEASE don’t throw me back yet”). Ah well. We were fishing, and that’s what matters.
The rest of the visit was a steady stream of activity: playing with Bumper, hiking Sugar Loaf Mountain, spending quality time with Mom and Dad, and eating several tons of sausage-balls, ham, turkey and gingerbread cookies.
|Betsy, resting on the South Col before Hillary's Step and the summit push.|
Balancing work, family and charity pursuits can be a roller-coaster ride, and December offered a mix of labored climbs, exhilarating bursts of speed and occasional stomach-churning twists and turns. In the end, all was accomplished, the spirit of the season was maintained, and Betsy and I crossed into 2014 like a couple of marathoners at the end of a late July race. Exhausted, relieved and completely spent.
I hope everyone enjoyed a great holiday season, too, and you’re off to a great start to the new year. I’ll see you somewhere downstream.