This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
October 9th, 2006

Little Things

All fishing trips are special. And for different reasons. It may be an opportunity to see new country, fish for species not native to your region, eat regional food, meet new people - and always, the absolute joy of being able to see the gifts of nature.

The scenery on the trips to Quebec, Michigan and the recent Idaho Fish-In was spectacular. Just like living in your own post card. But it is the little things which make up the whole. I have an artist friend who moved from New York City to Big Timber, Montana. She tried to take it all in, the absolute magnificence of Big Sky Country. Finally, she said she gave up. The only way to see it all was to start at the bottom. She sat on the ground with her paper and paints and began painting each blade of grass, stem of sage, leaf of prickly pear, individual stones and the tones of the earth she sat on. All parts of the whole.

Here is the whole, and some of the parts.

Up the Selway

These little butterflies were along the banks of the Selway, along side any little puddles of water. Hundreds of them, they appeared out of nowhere.

Small Butterflies

If anyone knows who this tiny little frog is, I'd love to know. We searched the Internet and our books, it isn't there. The photo is large, but the frog actually is much smaller than your pinky fingernail.

Un-named Frog

Wherever we fish we make a point of checking out what the fish might have to eat. Empty insect shucks are a good clue, the one below found on a rock on the Selway. The stonefly nymph and sculpin all were all on the upper Selway, Idaho too.

Shuck and Sculpin

Stonefly Nymph

Even 'tho we were fishing dry flies, we are well aware of the number of sub-surface foods available. Had we wished to fish 'wet' we would have been able to match what was available. It's a good idea to check stream-side spider webs as well. You might be surprised what you find.

To the right is another inhabitant of the Selway. It is a stonefly nymph. He was hanging out in very shallow water - I suspect it was much safer there. If you look carefully you can see a slight line in the first segment below it's head. That is the beginning of a crack which will develop to allow the nymph to come out of the shuck and become a winged insect. Stoneflies 'hatch' by crawling out of the water to land, crawling out of the shuck, pumping up their wings with venal fluid and fly off to find a mate.

We almost missed these.

Lochsa Mushrooms

Actually we did miss them on the way to the water - but not on the way back. I was fortunate to take a class by Dr. Alexander Smith, author of several fine books on mushrooms, many years ago. We picked most of the clumps we found in this campground on the Lochsa, cleaned them and cooked them up for the Friday night Steak Fry at the Idaho Fish-In. They were a real treat - absolutely fresh, and free for the picking. We didn't have a bag or container to put them in, so we piled them into JC's landing net. The mushrooms were the only thing I cooked in a week at the Three Rivers Resort.

All of our lives are so busy and involved we miss a lot. It's early fall here, and the spiders are building all sorts of webs. The morning mist and marine fog touch them gently and deposit tiny pearls along the strands of the web. Breath taking.

Don't be so eager to catch fish that you miss the little things. It is an important part of our world, and will give you memories which may long outlast the fish. ~ LadyFisher

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