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Camped at Palisades on the Madison River.

Lists. Some people thrive on making lists. I can appreciate the satisfaction that comes with checking off items on “to-do” lists as well. But most of the time, once all of the items are ticked off, the list goes away.

This is not the case with trip checklists. I can barely recall where I keep these things (currently in a tattered high school style composition book – and floating around in folders on a computer I can never seem to find). They also differ widely from trip to trip, location to location.

So in the interest of a virtual archive that may just be helpful to you, here’s my checklist for 12 days in eastern and central Idaho and southwestern Montana, July 3rd – 16th. I plan to spend five or six nights in comfortable accommodations and the balance of the nights camping. (I mean Larry Keel is playing at Trouthunter in Island Park, Id., on July 4th for goodness sake – I’ve got to go and stay there, right? And if you’re in the area and not planning to spend a night at the Murray Hotel in Livingston, Mt., you’re doing it wrong.)

A beautiful leopard rainbow trout near Reel Wilderness Adventure's camp in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Eight days remain in the EPA's open public comment period regarding the feasibility of mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. To date, 523,320 have been received. While there is no question that over half a million comments represents a large number of individuals making their opinion heard on the issue, more voices are needed. The proponents of mining in Bristol Bay continue intense lobbying efforts to prevent the EPA from exercising its power to preemptively veto large-scale open pit mining in Bristol Bay.

Earlier this week, Pebble Limited Partnership CEO John Shively criticized the EPA, expressing doubts that the assessment process was being handled fairly. Shively was smugly critical of the conclusions in the EPA's latest draft of its assessment of risks associated with projects such as Pebble Mine, calling the EPA out for having drawn conclusions about the mining process without having a mining plan to review. Shively, however, failed to acknowledge that although the PLP has sunk almost $600 million dollars into researching and preparation for the Pebble Mine site, they have refused to publicly release a mining plan, despite numerous and repeated requests that they do so.

A closeup of the Redington Vapen clearly shows the new 'X-Wrap' blank construction.

A couple of weeks ago, Redington sent a 5 weight Vapen Red our way for field testing and we headed out last week to do just that. Although we've only spent a small amount of time with the rod, I thought I'd take the time to relate some initial thoughts on this provoking new offering from Redington. For more about the Vapen, and what makes it different, head here.

Redington Vapen Red
A closeup of the Redington Vapen clearly shows the new 'X-Wrap' blank construction.

Arriving on a new piece of water for the first time, I was hoping to put the Vapen through its paces. Once I arrived, seeing the small (20-30' wide in most places) stream with some of the most consistently dense forest canopy I'd ever seen, I immediately began to fear I had brought along the wrong tool for the job. So much for doing your homework.

And, for the most part, I had brought along the wrong rod for the day. After all, Vapen means "weapon". Redington had built the rod in my hands to fire line, not make delicate 15-20 foot presentations. After struggling to make a few short casts, unable to load the rod properly at such close range, I was about to head back to the car for another rod. I gave it a bit more time however, and given the opportunity, the Vapen started finding ways to shine.

Fat from gorging on tasty cicadas.

This year's emergence of the 17-year periodical cicada, or magicicada, has proven to be a highly localized affair. Travel along the road in some of the areas expected to see a cicada emergence this spring and you may see trees and shrubs blanketed by cicadas in various life stages. Cross a ridge line or a hillside and you may see none. Even in areas where cicadas have emerged, they may not make their way to the water, in order to delight unsuspecting trout and impatient fishermen.

During a busy spring that has presented precious few opportunities to spend time on the water, earlier this week we headed out in search of cicadas and eager trout. And luckily, we found both, thanks to a bit of persistence, research and helpful advice. The day that resulted was a memorable one filled with beautiful scenery and easy catching the likes of which are rarely, if ever, otherwise seen on eastern waters.

Cloud covered peaks in the Tongass National Forest.

In just a few weeks, I'll be boarding a plane headed for Juneau, Alaska where I'll be joining a group of other journalists, bloggers, photographers and conservationists on a tour of the Tongass National Forest, a trip that is being generously sponsored by Trout Unlimited, Fishpond, Tenkara USA and RIO. The Tongass, located in southeast Alaska, is the last remaining large tract of temperate rainforest, the only remaining ecosystem of its kind. It is commonly referred to as the "Salmon Forest", a place where -- quite literally -- trees grow salmon and salmon grow trees.

As noted in the article we published a few weeks ago, Protecting the Tongass: Lessons Already Learned, the Tongass National Forest is facing a myriad of challenges that are wholly familiar to the temperate rainforests of the lower 48 and Canada. Over the last century, these forests in the lower 48 and Canada have seen themselves divided and destroyed by logging, their salmon populations severely diminished by over-harvesting and habitat destruction that is the direct result of human development such as hydroelectric dam construction.