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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Polar bear hugging
by Randal Sumner


            I have been fishing the Yakima River since 1978. So when I tell you that the 2008 winter and the 2009 spring fishing were the worst seasons on the river in 30 years, you will understand that I am not Johnny- come- lately whining about a bad month or two.   It all began last winter when the temperatures plunged, causing the Yakima to ice over and produce massive ice dams that forced the water over its banks, flooding the areas next to the river.  Iím pretty sure that some of my trout found themselves eye to eye with hungry coyotes, trying to figure out how they got stuck out in the sagebrush.

            How could this happen in the Golden Age of Global Warming? (Or is this the Silver age of Global Cooling, Iím so confused)

            Then late this spring the Cascades were dumped on with huge snowfalls, well, as soon as the ice melted out of the River, the runoff began. This was spring runoff on steroids; I think we had about two weeks of decent conditions in April, itís now the middle of June. I thought that Global Warming was going to turn Central Washington into a little Arabia. How can this be?

             I saw an actress doing a TV spot on the plight of Polar Bears and how they are losing there range because humans are burning fossil fuels, and if we would just send some money it will all be OK for the bearsÖ hug hug. (As my old Dad the Chief would say ďJust cause you can sing and dance doesnít make you smart.Ē) 

            So here we are, Troutbums, with too much time and water on our hands. What to do. Well, we have already tried ballroom dancing so that was out and, besides I have been banned for life from the ballroom.  I put in a call to Monte the Juggler to see if he had any spots open in his juggling class but his number was disconnected.

            In our desire to see some clear moving water with a chance at catching a fish, we took a trip to the Bitteroot River in Montana. Chris Bolm, Jim Hopkins  and I loaded up the boat and headed east. The Bitterroot is a nasty little river full of downed cottonwood snags; the week after we left, an experienced Bitteroot guide drowned in one of those piles of brush. Needless to say all I got was large dose of high anxiety rowing the boat. Trust me I donít need life threatening high adventure anymore.

            What we needed was a hobby, but when you own a house or two, do you really need to work at finding something to do?  Chris and I patched, painted, repaired, did some plumbing and fixed all the small, annoying jobs we had put off around the old homesteads. Not that satisfying really, but at least we were burning up some non- productive fishing time, and our wives were amazed.

             Hereís a tip: when you canít fish; work on your marriage, the river wonít be screwed up forever.

            One sunny May afternoon I got a call from Chris, he said he had something new to show me. I figured it was some fly tying stuff or another home project. When I walked into the kitchen, there he was standing over a collection of liquor bottles wearing a white dinner jacket mixing something called an Old Fashioned.Ē Care for an Old FashionedĒ, he says.

            You bet, what ever it is Iím in.

             So this is one Troutbums new hobby: Cocktail-oligist. He is making all the famous cocktails from the 40ís and 50ís; like a tasty nostalgic trip through a much different time.  He looks a little like a Swedish Rick from the movie Casablanca in that white jacket, and from the back he reminds me of one of those polar bears that will soon be living in my backyard.



More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner