Monday, December 18, 2017

North to Alaska

Hey guys, its been a long time since I have blogged.   Not a whole lot has changed in my life but hopefully it is about to.

When I was in my early 20's I had a job stacking boards.  I pulled boards on a green chain at a sawmill in Pablo MT.   As fast as I could I would pile up heavy, wet, green boards as they flew out of the head rig.  I would stack them on a rail  car until it was 6 ft high or so, I'd flick on a warning light, push the rail cart out and a fork lift would come take my nifty stack and I'd start over again for 9 hours.  After standing there stacking 10 million boards for a minimal wage for a few years I figured there might be more to life so  I said "fuck this"  I'm moving to Alaska!

Shortly after I had pretty much everything I owned in my ford truck  and was ready for the 3,500 mile one way trek from Polson Montana to Fairbanks AK.  Just my golden retriever Zeke and I.  Yes it sounds like a country song.  It was and adventure that I'll talk about later.  That was 20 some years ago and AK was awesome and now we are going back.  I remember seeing my first caribou, he was running along side the truck on the Al Can high way close to White Horse Yukon.   I had a topper camper and in the bed of my truck existed a cook stove, a bed, a cooler,  some fly rods, a .300 win mag,  a shotgun and a dis assembled honda cr 125 race bike, ( I heard rumors that there were a couple of  moto cross tracks in AK).

I was young, excited, and knew no one in AK,  but I could figure this crap out right?

There is no time like the present might be a cliche but it runs as deep as an underwater ocean trench.
Recent years have been tumultous.  Who knows if today might be your' last!    In 2014 I started racing moto cross again after retiring in 2004.   2014 went well and I won a MT state championship and shortly after crashed practicing and broke my spine just below my cervical vertebrae.   Narrowly dodging paralysis,  I survived  and luckily went back to work guiding fly fisherman  in 2015, 16, and 17.  In these last couple of years my best friend lost his son, I lost my 1st hunting and fishing buddy- my father, my wife's father passed away, I lost an awesome uncle and aunt.  We also battled through some major family issues, oh and I also broke and could have lost my leg.  So maybe there is no time like  Right Flipping Now to have a road trip!

  I am very fortunate to be able to take people fishing for a living.  I have life long dear friends that I have met through this profession.  I've been blessed with working for wonderful, supportive people.

Any way we are selling our Missoula home and most of our worldly possessions and are headed back to AK.   This is my wife's idea really.  She has never really lived any where other than Missoula and Ronan MT so she's like why not?  Any way there will be one hell of a rummage sale with fly rods, reels, flies, goose, duck, antelope, and elk decoys, game carts, drift boats, rafts, oars, anchors, tree stands, tv's, beds,  tables, dressers, guitars, dirt bikes, snow mobiles, just to name a few things that won't all fit in a 5th wheel camper that will be our home for who knows how long.

My good friend and outfitter will keep me working for 3 to 4  months until my daughter graduates in June, then we are taking a little more then a day trip!  We're excited and afraid, kind of like something new and unknown right?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


        Well I am breaking into the 21'st century and buying a smart phone.  I've braved the odds and have survived a considerable time now without one.  Twice I  doubled checked my pulse and had my blood pressure taken just to see why an anomaly, such as myself, is still alive and breathing without the cell pad.  I've heard that most people who don't have smart phones die a quick death and are eaten by hallucinogenic coyotes in the ditch!

      Two days ago I was driving to a local fly shop here in Missoula to get new fly line put on my fly reels.  I usually replace the line on my reels fairly often,  especially the ones my guests use. These lines get used heavily and that's what they are for.  Every now and then one of my guys in my boat will complain  "my fly line is sinking, or it looks dirty," they say!  My usual reply is  "the line is  pretty new line, but if you look down under you wading shoes you can see you've been standing on the line for half the day, and the last muddy bank you dredged through dirtied up the line considerably."
     Anyway I detoured to  the Verizon dealer to look at smart phones! I was amazed at the amount of phones there are.  I looked at I phones, droids, LG's, and Samsungs, amongst others.  There is a vast plethora of these shiny gadgets  from A-Z.  After playing with 20 to 30 of these handy devices, I had no flipping clue what type to get.  I consulted Joe, Craig, and Patch, who have apparently have had smart phones since the 70's, but their opinions differed more than results from arguing who is more feminine, Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton? Or which one looks better in pant suits!  As you guessed I'm confused!

     Well by the end of this week I will be a Instagramming, Tumbling, Tweeting, Twittering, Linkdin, Hashtagging###, facebooking MOFO!

    I just hope my new arriving device doesn't interfere with my World of Tanks, Halo, or upcoming  Madden battle time!  That would be a travesty!

A New Boat coming soon!!!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sweet Sixteen, Sweet Sixteen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi friends, family, enemies, and anyone else who is bored enough to read my blog.

I remember being sixteen and it was the first year I raced a full season of  motocross.  I was going to be a junior in high school that fall.  It was the first year since 7th grade that I couldn't play football because of a destroyed rotator cuff from a mx crash.  Every time I'd hit some one, or try to make a tackle, my shoulder would pop out if it's socket.  Most of the time I couldn't get it back in place by myself and someone would have to yank it back into place for me.  It hurt worse than anything you can imagine, the first couple of times you would have thought somebody ripped your arm off and was holding it above them as a grotesque trophy like a Viking warrior might do during battle, or maybe just for fun!
January 2016 Holter dam, it beat's sitting at home!

Any way the best memory of the year and maybe my life up to that point, was when my Dad gave me a big pat on my back and a hug after I finally won a moto and an overall race after getting my ass kicked most of the season!  I dug down deep, worked hard, and persevered in what I still feel today is arguably the toughest and most competitive sport in the world.  But that's an argument for people who only observe my sport and probably played golf, soccer, wrestled, played football or something, while they watched other sports on TV.

Now to my current Sweet Sixteen.  2016 will be my sixteenth year as a licensed Montana Fishing and Hunting guide.  I took a break in 2014 and didn't guide very much, went back to my roots racing MX.  I had a awesome year, but ended up crashing and breaking my back after winning a Montana state motocross championship.

We'll thanks to my Scandinavian ancestry or stubborn toughness,  I was able to once again persevere last season.   I rowed my drift boat another 150 days with clients, like I'd done in previous years.  The reason I say I struggled is often I felt like one of my Viking descendants buried his axe in my upper back.  That's the spot where a handy neurosurgeon fused some vertebrae and installed a bunch of shiny, unseen titanium.  Luckily as I plugged away everything felt better eventually and by the end of the season I felt pretty much normal, and happy to still be a functioning biped.

Well here we Go 2016,   Joe Cummings and I went to the MO last week and did a little fishing and floating.  Headhunter's ran our shuttle, the temps got up in the high 30's and we stuck some MO rainbows.  A great day spent with an old friend, the drive over and back was nice just talking about the past and future to come on a scenic drive across the majestic great divide/ Rogers Pass.

I feel happy  to be back in the Saddle again and I can't wait to see you guys.  I am also getting committed to blogging again if you guys get bored, check it!

The Bitterroot River in February is a lonely place!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Been Guiding

Hey guys, I've been guiding the last 6 or 7 days and the fishing has been interesting.  Dropper fishing is good in soft water.  Dry fly fishing is ok in some spots, not great yet.  I'm running a little late so I'll give you a better report later, picking up lunch and clients here in a few minutes.
I've only been on the bitter root, awesome river though.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ambushing the Snow!

About a week ago the weather was real pleasant 52 degrees and no wind.  I called everyone and no one wanted to fish.  Patch  "I'm tired", Joe " I gotta work", Richie  "I have to rearrange my closet", and so on and so on, so I stayed home.  Two nights ago Joe calls me, "Brooks, do you want to fish?"  I look at the forecast and the high is going to be 37 degrees.  I tell Joe, "dude it's going to be cold".

Joe insists that if we get going early and row from Bell to Stevi by the time we get to Mitchell slough the snow should be falling perfect for the snow shot according to the weather forecast anyway.  I'm like "what the fuck is a snow shot".   Joe has become an excellent photographer but I'll be damned if I want to freeze my ass off and wait for the perfect light from in incoming blizzard!  Apparently there is something to this photo game that I don't understand, I feel like my $200.00 kodak does the job.  So Joe says "if we can get one more guy then that will work for the ice out photo shoot".  I asked a few of my buddies to go, but I felt like I was Charles Manson asking a father if I can take his daughter to the prom.  Most of my answers were "are you effing crazy, you'll freeze your' balls off!"  Any way luckily nobody else wanted to go so it looked as if we'd be staying home, so I thought.

The next morning I slept in a little bit and I noticed I missed a phone call from Joe.  I called him back and he's like "lets go, Caleb and I have the boat ready."  I asked my wife real nice if she'd drive our shuttle and she's awesome and said she would so we went fishing after all.

Joe didn't get the perfect snow shot, the elusive snow pictorial didn't poke it's head out of the clouds to get whacked.  I did get yelled at once because I didn't hold the fish properly as I released it for the perfect eye, ear, nose, throat, and ice shot, which seems to be almost as hard to capture as the snow shot!

I was bundled up like the  kid from 'A Christmas Story' when his mom put so many clothes on him that he couldn't move his arms.  Well I was extremely unagile and I fell out of the boat and almost got soaked in ice water but thanks to Caleb I stayed dry.  Joe and Caleb, mostly Joe teased me saying that I'm old, awkward, and slow.  Yes I am old, awkward, and slow especially when it's 36 degrees, the wind's blowing, and  there's no damn SNOW!  I think I'll start doing some yoga to loosen up and hopefully not get made fun of.  It was fun catching some trout!  Stay as warm and fishy as you can!

Friday, February 13, 2015

February the 13th FRIDAY!!!

My good friend Craig and I drove to Craig, (MT town), and fished the MO for a couple of days.
I wanted to break in my new boat and Craig wanted to swing up some fish on his spey rod.  He can really bomb line out across the river with that thing, I wanted to try it but I was afraid to embarrass myself.  A good caster like Craig can effortlessly shoot 100 feet of line and make it look simple.

The trout weren't really on the chase so we broke out the nymph rigs and stuck some real nice rainbows.  It was fun winter fishing with early summer weather.  Today the temps hit 62 degrees.  A freaking awesome day!! There weren't many people on the river and it was a fun trip.  Stop into Headhunters if you're in Craig, they'll hook you up with the right bugs and whatever else you might need.

Our best nymph was the amex czech size 12 in slower water with a 8 ft leader to the 1st fly.  Scuds were working and so was Ray Charles!

I dig my new Eddy, thanks Clackacraft for helping out the guide community, my family and I bombed down to ID Falls and grabbed my boat last week.

Get out there when you can.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rowing Yo Rowing!

We had a Scandinavian supper in Hamilton at the Lutheran Church, Jan 2015.
  A couple of years ago I remember guiding about 20 days in a row in some real windy, rainy, snowy, just plain unpleasant conditions.  I remember daydreaming as I'm rowing as hard as I can to get my boat to float down river in a 30MPH up river wind.   Did my Norske ancestors ever get tired of rowing those viking ships?  They constantly explored multiple oceans and continents pillaging and conquering!
         My Grandpa John, my mothers' dad, was born in Norway and moved to North Dakota in 1899.  My paternal grandfather was 100% Danish.   In theory I should be a MN Vikings fan right, nope I'm a Packers fan!  I really dig lutefisk, lefse, and every sweet Danish roll in the world.
         Any way my clients were complaining about the wind a little bit, unfortunately  that day I picked a 14 mile float to stay ahead of other guides.  As I dodged my clients poor attempts to cast a stonefly into a 30 MPH wind,  I imagined my self as a young Viking, thwarting a weak counter attack by the Irish.  As we invaded their homeland the Irish were winging harmless arrows in the direction of my viking  buddies and I.  Once we dis embarked and were on solid land the race would be on to find and take the prettiest women back with us to Norway.  I joke with my father in law Dave, who is real proud of his Irish ancestry, that with the exception of his daughter, my ancestors took all of the pretty women from Ireland back to Norway!   then "Smack, ouch, W.T.F "  now I'm pulling a # 10 skwala pattern out of my ear.  I wish I would have remembered to pinch the barb!  I guess those Irish arrows are a little dangerous after all!

2014 was a blast racing MX with my family, I took 1st in MT in 40 trophy class!
      I suppose  regardless of our jobs we all daydream now and then.  I am really fortunate to be rowing this year.  5 months ago  I sustained a career threatening, possible life ending injury.  I raced 12 previous races in 2014 without a scratch and ending up winning the MT State Championship in the 40 class. The 13th race got me.  I crashed on a high speed jump and broke some thoracic vertebrae in my upper back.  My neuro surgeon, who fuzed my back, said that the grace of God kept my spine in tact enough for him to repair it.  The doc also said that 95% of patients with this injury breath through a tube and are quadraplegics for life.  I can't thank enough  the docs, nurses, the life flight crew and everyone else who took care of me.  My wife was my true Hero, I'm so lucky to have her.
       I Bless God and thank him every day for giving me another chance to work, be mobile, throw a ball to my kids, and work out with my wife (In the gym).

       Yesterday was my first float trip since my injury and I rowed happily down the Bitterroot River, my back felt good.  My kids caught some fish, we eagle watched, and enjoyed an awesome day in the January sun.  I feel like I owe some of my will  to my Scandinavian ancestry.  Both of my Grandfathers were great men who pushed through tough times and prospered.  Perseverance, will, and grit still mean something to those who choose to make a  living with their arms, legs, hands, and backs.  But really everything is in God's hands.

     I can't wait to see you guys and I am glad to be rowing Yo!
My daughter and son on our 1st float trip of 2015, January 25