Weather geek looks for sun between storms

March 29, 2012 01:50 pm

Like many people, I suffer from routine and am a slave to habit. Each morning I awake, usually to my Chow-mix’s cries and the Labrador’s pacing. Thus begins the day.

Dogs are fed, stove turned on high for the kettle, and the fire is built up before the first work tasks of the day.

After the coffee has steeped in the French press, I fire up the laptop to check email and Facebook updates, file stories, and visit for the weather report.

I’m pretty much a total weather geek and checking the report on a daily basis is as routine as brushing my teeth. On snow days in Colorado, my roommates and I would sometimes leave the Weather Channel airing for hours on end. It was so soothing…

Today’s forecast had something special that caught my eye, a “Hazardous Weather Outlook” underlined and in red letters. Below it said, “Hyrdologic Outlook” which seemed even more ominous. 

Basically it predicted the possible end of steelhead season, more than two weeks before it legally ends.

Though the Wallowa, Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers are not predicted to flood their banks, their tributaries will get frothy and could flood theirs.

The National Weather Service warned, “The rainfall will saturate steep and sparsely vegetated slopes and may cause local mud slides and debris flows.”

Maybe the rivers won’t flood, but I sense “blowout,” when the rivers turn from emerald to brown and fishing comes to a screeching halt.

Last weekend, Fishtrap’s writer-in-residence Cameron Scott took two Coloradans to fish for steelhead on the Lower Imnaha. The river was high and a little wild, but the three fishers had success before driving back to central Colorado. 

I’m thinking they may have enjoyed some of the last hours of fishing on the Imnaha before it turns to chocolate milk.

Scott’s general routine is fishing and writing, writing and fishing, and writing about fishing. A nature poet by nature, I’ll invite you to read his works --- instead of reading about them in this column --- at

Other friends floated and fished the Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers last weekend. The report sounded like the tail end of steelhead season with mixed fishing results among the group.

The report said it was “spring” in the canyon and the group interacted with more wildlife than steelhead, trout and white fish.

For an account of their Mutual of Omaha adventure, visit and read the latest installment of the “Gear Boat Chronicles” by Jon Rombach.

Life on the Wallowa, Grande Ronde and Imnaha bustles at a fevered pitch when the fish are biting, and sometimes when they aren’t, as hopeful fishers tie everything but the kitchen sink on their line to try and get a steelhead’s attention.

Pickup trucks along the rivers’ banks are part of late winter Wallowa County like wearing Bogs out to dinner.

When the rivers blow out, the fishers go home and pick up a long-neglected book, tie flies or build rods. Tent communities are dismantled and camp trailers towed home.

Muddy rivers mean a distinct change in the seasons the way Mother Nature dictates, not the way the calendar on the wall does. Muddy rivers escort in a time of waiting — waiting for trails to dry, snow to melt and the rafting season to begin.

Anticipating the quelling of the rains, I awake each day and feed the dogs, make the coffee, check email and Facebook updates, file stories, and visit NOAA’s website, looking for peeks of sun between the predicted storms.


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