Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reflections from my trail - Musky heritage

By Charlie Pottenger

The object of these articles has been to reflect on memories which might interest readers; however, I’ve found that the tales relight dreams associated with memories and sometimes even spur actions. This is one of those.

Some time ago I wrote about Musky fishing with my dad back in the sixties. That story caused me to go through heaps of accumulated stuff and find the old Musky tackle Dad and I used for hundreds of hours casting lakes in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for one of the greatest game fish in America. I spent hundreds of hours together with a great dad, doing what he loved and I came to love, too.

Dad would often encourage me by saying that the Musky is the fish of 10,000 casts, inferring that one must make at least that many casts to catch one. After writing a short story of one of our escapades I realized I hadn’t ever offered my sons an opportunity to experience the joys of Musky fishing—hours of boredom punctuated by a moment of adrenalin pumping savagery when the great fish strikes.

This year, I challenged my sons to pick a date and we would meet at Pineview Reservoir in northwestern Utah to seek a mighty Musky. The youngest, Andy, couldn’t consider the trip as he has just launched a new business, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in August. My other son, Matt, lives in Utah and agreed to meet me there on June 18.

We had sought an opportunity to rent a fishing boat there, but none were available and the rentable boats, ski-type, cost $180 per day. Resourceful Matt found a 1950’s vintage steel boat, motor, and trailer for sale for $350. He bought it and overhauled the carburetor, and we were set for four days of adventure. (Matt and Charlie Pottenger - holding Jerry the dachshund - before they set out to Musky fish.)

Matt and I decided to christen the new boat “Andy,” so that we could always say that on our first Musky fishing experience Matt, Charlie, Jerry (the dachshund) and “Andy” all participated!

The first afternoon we cast huge lures for about four hours, saw no fish action, sweltered in 95 degree heat, and learned that Jerry just loved barking at and chasing those hooky lures. Taking Jerry anywhere is always an adventure in and of itself.

The next morning we went earlier and arrived at the lake about 8 a.m. As we launched “Andy,” we met a young fisherwoman holding a boat while her partner went for their truck. I asked if they had been fishing and if they had any luck. She said they had caught two Muskies!

Knowing how hard it is to bag a Musky, I boldly asked if they had taken pictures, as Musky fishing in Utah is catch and release only. She said she had caught a 41 incher and he had gotten a little 34 incher, of which she had a picture. The bigger fish had been hooked badly and they had trouble unhooking it.

I saw the “little ones” picture and asked if they could point us to some “hot spots.” They pointed us to both locations where they had caught their fish and were really helpful in getting to know where these giants hang out in Pineview.

That day we had about 10 muskies follow the lures like torpedoes in the crystal clear water all the way to the boat, but got no actual strikes. Musky anglers consider a follow a major event, and a strike is spectacular and a catch is Heaven!

We caught none, mostly because first you have to have a strike. However we discovered Jerry would commit suicide in his desire to grab one of the lures. He would launch himself out into the lake trying to grab a hook, and his lemon-colored life vest with a handle proved valuable over and over! (Jerry is pictured, left, ready to jump!)

The last day we continued to pound the water and I actually had two good strikes but was unable to hook the cooperating Muskies. I began to tire, as I am no longer a kid and my hand was sore after four days of endless casting.

Matt, however, wasn’t ready to quit because, I’d had strikes, while he had not. So he told me it was about time I learned to cast left-handed, which I tried. After about another agonizing hour, Matt made a long cast right up near the shore and reeled in about a foot of line, starting his underwater lure spinning.

I thought someone had dropped a refrigerator near his lure as a giant Musky snatched the lure and nearly tore the rod from his hands. The fish rushed right, stripping off 15 or 20 yards, and then the line went slack. Matt said something like, “Shucks, Dad, he got away!” I told him to reel fast, and sure enough the mighty fish was rushing the boat.

As the line tightened, the fish again wheeled away and stripped line again, ending in a mighty leap about four feet above the water, and splashed back, starting another powerful run. Then the line went permanently slack and his trophy was gone!

We had lived my dream even though Matt hadn’t caught he huge Musky. Matt had tightened his drag during the fight and the 30 pound test line snapped.

The epilogue is that earlier that last day we had fished where the couple said they had caught the 41 inch Musky, and found one freshly deceased on a beach. We looked it over and took pictures. It might have been their fish, as it measured 41 inches! (Matt Pottenger is pictured with the deceased Musky.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Idaho Department of Lands discusses what kind of fire season is expected for summer 2015

Information from the Idaho Department of Lands

It's official: summer is here and weather and fuel conditions indicate 2015 will be an active fire season. The very hot temperatures and dry weather expected across Idaho this week will rapidly dry out both fine and heavy fuels, increasing fire potential. Fire managers are asking people to be extra careful in the outdoors so they do not accidentally start a fire. 

Most of the 74 fires that State of Idaho firefighters have put out so far this year have been caused by people, not lightning. Fires resulting from equipment, recreational shooting, and controlled burns that escaped make up most of the human-caused fires on lands protected by the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and two timber protective associations.

As the Independence Day holiday approaches, Idahoans also are reminded that fireworks are prohibited on forest and range lands in Idaho during closed fire season (May 10 through October 20). 

Fire prevention and safety tips are available on the new web site,

Fire forecast

National fire weather forecasters told the Land Board last week they expect a near normal fire season in southern Idaho and an above normal fire season for northern Idaho, where the State of Idaho has much of the responsibility for fighting wildfire. 

Low snowpack and low soil moisture contributed to conditions in May and June that fire managers do not usually see until July. Tree stumps are burning three to four feet into the ground and bushes that usually stay green and absorb the fire to slow it down are actually burning and contributing to the spread of fire. The low subsoil moisture probably is the result of a cold snap last November prior to snowfall that did not allow winter rain to penetrate the soil, so fires likely will burn deep into the soil and will be difficult to mop up without water.

This year, Idaho forests are drought-stressed and more prone to insect and disease damage. Fine fuels such as grasses are more prevalent than would be expected in a typical drought situation thanks to well timed precipitation this year. A healthy snowpack usually will compact fine fuel vegetation from the previous season, but the limited snowpack this year left abundant standing fuels from last season to add to this growing season. 

Factors that affect the severity of a fire season are global weather patterns, temperature, precipitation (amount and timing), snowpack, drought, and vegetation development. 

Ten IDL forest protective districts and two timber protective associations together provide protection on more than 6.2 million acres of mostly State owned and privately owned timberlands in Idaho. Most of the lands we protect are located north of Grangeville. The other two fire agencies are the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Local fire districts and rangeland fire protection associations assist IDL, USFS, and BLM in our firefighting efforts. 

The goal is to keep 94 percent of fires that burn on State-protected lands to 10 acres or less in size.

Friday, June 19, 2015

From this Chair

By Cloann McNall

The tooth fairy still exists. At least the sweet tooth fairy is still around.

I received a call Monday morning from my long-time friend Judy Stewart Overberg, saying she had left an early birthday present on my front step. But it needs refrigerated right away she said.

Each year Judy brings me a fresh homemade coconut cake for my birthday. It’s the best ever, believe me. 

Judy and I have known each other since the 1970’s when she moved here from Mississippi. Our friendship has continued through the years even though she moved from Orofino in the 1980’s.

The first time I saw Judy was at the front counter of the Clearwater Tribune.

She and her husband Ka-role Overberg divide their time now between Clarkston and Arizona. 

Sunday the Tribune family said goodbye to a special acquaintance, Jeanette Gorman. Her memorial service was held at the Orofino City Park where a large crowd of family members and friends gathered to remember her. 

She died April 21 of pancreatic cancer at age 65.

She was the community relations coordinator for Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino and St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood for the past 19 years.

During these years Jeanette became well-known by the news media, in the medical community and a host of other people whose lives she touched.

Her husband, Dave King and sons, Alex and Quinn were among those speaking at the service.

At the close of the service Kathy Hedberg, a reporter for the Lewiston Tribune surprised those in attendance by playing the guitar and singing two of Jeanette’s favorite songs.

We will miss you, Jeanette, and yes, we will keep you in our hearts.

Editor’s note: The latter words are from her requested song “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While” by Warren Zevan.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fair booths, horse shows, and more

By Diana Colgan

The 68th Annual Clearwater County Fair dates are Sept. 17-20, and this year’s theme is “Red, White & Blue, This Fair’s for You.”

It’s time to do some planning if you would like to reserve a booth in the Exhibit Building during the Fair. Several sizes of booths are available: shallow walk-in, deep walk-in, shelf, and several double booths, and most have a power outlet. If you are interested in reserving a booth or would like more information, please contact Cynthia Hedden at 476-3234.

The annual 4-H Horse Show will be held July 25 at the arena in the Orofino City Park. Marie Armitage, at the Clearwater Extension Office, can be contacted regarding the 4-H Horse Show at 476-4434.

The weekend of Aug. 8-9 will be filled with fun and interesting events in the arena area of the Orofino City Park. The Welsh Pony Show will be Saturday, Aug. 8, at 9 a.m. Plans are being made for Saturday evening, which will include lights and music and activities for all horseback riders in our community. 

The Open Class Horse Show begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, and is a judged event. Entry forms will be available at the Clearwater Extension Office at a later date. For information regarding the Open Class Horse Show, please contact Joyce Bird at 476-7861. For information regarding the Welsh Pony Show, please contact Sharon McHone at 435-4750 or Joyce Bird at 476-7861.

The annual 4-H and Open Class Dog Show will be Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Orofino City Park. The 4-H Dog Show begins at 9 a.m. and the Open Class Show will begin at 1 p.m. Entry forms will be available at the Clearwater Extension Office at a later date. For more information, Kathy Deyo can be contacted at 476-3228.

Volunteers are always needed to help with the entering of exhibits and during the judging of the exhibits in the Exhibit Building and Fair Barn during the Fair. Please contact Linda Weighall at 476-4996 if you are interested in volunteering.

Friday, June 5, 2015

I for one, want to keep the old school standing

Dear Editor:

With the community in mind, the big brick Orofino School was purchased by the Pippenger family.

Maniac pride, five generations.

The plan was to do what it would take to make it safe and usable for your community at no cost to you. Great idea!

Then the rules of government, both local and state started coming to light.

It appears to me, maybe you too, that your city government and your building inspector are very much against the community having the use of our old brick Orofino School full of history, mystery and memories.

Do you know your building inspector is not elected? He is hired by the city and had a very short training course some time back.

But he has power to make it miserable and costly for builders and remodeling. It appears to have the support of your city powers that be.

Something for you to think about.

For all those years and the many children who walked those halls, the “red fire extinguishers” were placed in strategic places throughout the building and persons were taught how to use them.

Now, the inspector (the law) wants a full sprinkler system throughout your dear old building. The expense would just be unreal for this situation.

That big book of rules, rules, rules.

Do you think the red extinguishers would be just fine? They were okay, up until the junior high moved to the big school (not that long ago).

I am left wondering if there is a way to solve this in a legal way.

This old brick school is a part of Orofino history.

Lots of rules! Is there a hidden agenda for the heavy pushing of the sprinkler rule? If so, there are other building spots in Orofino.

I am really hoping the old school will remain standing in the heart of Orofino.

Reuby Curfman

Friday, May 29, 2015

Celebrate Idaho Free Fishing Day June 13

No fishing gear or experience? No problem! Saturday, June 13, is Idaho’s annual Free Fishing Day. Idaho Fish and Game invites residents, nonresidents, as well as veteran and novice anglers of all ages to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Even though a fishing license is not required for this special day, all other rules, such as limits and tackle restrictions, still remain in effect.

Make sure to grab a copy of the fishing regulations before you head out on the water. Free fishing day does include salmon fishing; anglers do not need a license or salmon permit, but they are still subject to all bag and possession limits.

Staff and volunteers will be available at seven locations around the region to help novice anglers learn the basics of fishing. Contests, activities and prizes will be awarded during these events. All of these locations will be freshly stocked with hungry hatchery rainbow trout. Look for an event near you and take a kid, friend or neighbor fishing. All events run from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. 

Elk City - Karolyn's Pond

Grangeville - Wilkin's Pond

Headquarters - Pierce/Weippe - Deer Creek Reservoir

Kooskia - Fenn Pond, 5 miles from Lowell on Forest Service Road 223. 

Lewiston - Mann Lake

Lewiston- Kiwanis Park Pond/Levee Pond 

Moscow/Troy - Spring Valley Reservoir

Contact the Clearwater Regional office for more information (208) 799-5010. Load up the family and come join us for a fun-filled day on water!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day weekend on the Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forests

Snow-laden landscapes are giving way to green grass and wildflowers – a sure sign that spring has finally arrived. An early season getaway to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is the perfect way to celebrate the long Memorial Day Weekend. 


Most campgrounds offer first-come, first-served site selection, although you can reserve campsites at a few campgrounds managed by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Contact your local Forest Service office for a list of local campgrounds that accept reservations. 

To reserve a campsite, call at 1­ (877) 444-6777, or visit: Reservations should be made at least four days in advance.

Visitors can camp at sites outside developed campgrounds called “dispersed sites.” However, campers who choose to stay in undeveloped sites should take extra care to protect natural resources, such as plant life. If you camp at a dispersed site, leave no trace of your stay. Use existing fire rings if available, and pack out your trash. 

All campgrounds on the Palouse Ranger District are now open with all standard campground amenities available. Laird Park, Little Boulder and Giant White Pine are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Elk Creek Campground, near the town of Elk River, features 23 sites with electrical hookups; a portion of the campground sites can be reserved through or by calling 1 (877) 444-6777.

There is no trash service at any of the four campgrounds on the Palouse District, so please take your refuse with you when you leave. 

You can reserve group picnic areas at Little Boulder and Laird Park Campgrounds, as well as the pavilion at Elk Creek Campground, by calling the Potlatch Ranger Station at (208) 875-1131.

On the North Fork Ranger District, Aquarius Campground is already up and running. Washington Creek and Noe Creek Campgrounds are set open on Friday, May 22, just in time to welcome holiday visitors. Two popular campgrounds will remain closed through Memorial Day weekend: The Kelly Forks Campground is scheduled to open Friday, June 5, and Hidden Creek Campground is expected to open June 12.

If you’re looking for a shady campsite on the shores of the Lochsa River, you’re in luck; all campgrounds on the Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, including Wilderness Gateway, Powell, Wendover and Whitehouse Campgrounds, will open by May 22. Lolo Campground and White Sands Campground opened in early May. Elk Summit Campground and Rocky Ridge Campground will most likely not be accessible until sometime mid to late June, when the snow melts outs. Jerry Johnson Campground will remain closed all summer, and Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is open for day use only from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Water systems have been turned on and tested at Wild Goose, Apgar, Wilderness Gateway, Wendover, Whitehouse, Powell, and White Sands Campgrounds. Campers will have to bring water if they plan to stay at other Lochsa River sites.

On the Moose Creek Ranger District, all of the campgrounds that flank the beautiful “Wild and Scenic” Selway River are open. Johnson Bar has potable water. O’Hara Campground has been open since May 8 and the water system is on. The RV dump station at Cedar Flats is open and available to campers. Visitors are welcome to fill water jugs at the Fenn Visitor Center. 

On the Salmon River Ranger District, all of the following campgrounds are $12 a night. Fee campgrounds located along the South Fork Clearwater River, including Castle Creek and South Fork Campground, are open and potable water is available. However, dumpsters will not be available until June 1. A camp host is on site. Fish Creek Campground, located seven miles south of Grangeville is open with potable water available. A camp host is on site. Spring Bar Campground, located along the Salmon River is open, potable water is available and camp host is planned to arrive on site before Memorial Weekend. Dumpsters won’t be available until July 1. 

The Red River Campground, located on the Red River Ranger District, is open. Water is on, but it is not potable. Part of the system is down due to a cracked valve, recreation staff plans to have it fixed before the weekend. No camp host available.

River and stream conditions

Boaters are encouraged to use caution and wear personal floatation devices and helmets while on the water. For the adventurous, there are several outfitters that provide whitewater adventures on the Lochsa, Selway and Salmon Rivers. Outfitter information can be found at 

Roads and trails

For your safety and to prevent damage to the land, stay on roads and trails and avoid those that are too wet or muddy. Spring break-up can wreak havoc on roads.


On the Powell and Lochsa Ranger Districts, trails are starting to clear of snow to roughly 3500’ in elevation although, in the deep woods, snow can still be found at 5000’. Visitors hiking Forest trails over Memorial Day weekend should be aware that they might encounter downed trees, rocks, flooded trails, or other hazards.

Trail crews are just beginning to open trails on the Powell, Lochsa, and Moose Creek Ranger Districts. Selway River Trail #4 and Meadow Creek Trail #726, between the trailhead at Slims Camp and Meadow Creek Cabin, are open and are good destinations Memorial Day hikers and stock users.

Most low-elevation trails on the North Fork Ranger District are open for the first two to three miles.

Trail users should always to yield to stock. 

Off-highway vehicle users, note: ATVs and motorcycles driven on national forest roads and trails are subject to state of Idaho registration laws and requirements. Contact your local motor vehicle department or the state of Idaho Parks and Recreation website at: for a listing of registration sticker vendors and regulations. Also, please remember that all vehicles classed as UTVs (side-by-sides), regardless of weight or width, are not allowed on Forest trails. 


On the North Fork Ranger District, French Mountain Road 250, from Pierce to Kelly Forks and north, through Black Canyon, is open. Due to residual snow and plow berms, the road might be narrow in places, so drivers should proceed with care. The remainder of Road 250, Cedars Campground to Hoodoo Pass, remains blocked by snow. Road 255, Kelly Forks through Deception Saddle is open, but in rough shape. Toboggan Ridge Road 581, from its junction with Road 255 to Cayuse Landing, is in poor condition. The road is washed out in spots and it’s difficult to navigate; drivers should think twice and use extreme caution. 

Road 100 is open from Kamiah to Lolo Creek Campground. Due to severe slumping and a broken road surface, part of the road has closed at Eldorado Creek, near the junction with Road 500. Traffic will be detoured along Road 500, the Lolo Motorway, to Cedar Creek Road 520. From there, travelers will make their way west on Road 5132, which junctions with Road 100 near Nevada Creek. 

Road 100 from Pierce is open to the Bradford Bridge, but motorists will come across a six-mile-long detour prior to reaching the bridge. The detour route is narrow and covered with debris in places, so drivers should proceed with care. Despite the short distance, travel time may be as long as 45 minutes. The route is not recommended for RVs or tow trailers. 

Road 103, Musselshell Meadows, is open for the first two miles from its junction with Road 100.

Elk Meadows Road 373 and Granite Pass Road 595, near Lolo Pass on the Powell Ranger District, are starting to melt out, but neither road will open by Memorial Day.

Most of the roads on the Salmon River and Red River Ranger Districts are open for a few miles before snow impedes travel. Memorial Day drivers should contact their local Forest office for updated road information. Conditions can change rapidly. 

The Magruder Road Corridor (Road 468) between Elk City and Darby, Montana, remains closed by snow.

Visitor centers

There are a handful of places you can stop for information, firewood permits, mushroom permits and maps while visiting the Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forests. All Forest Service offices will close Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day. 

The historic Fenn Ranger Station, located just a few short miles from US Highway 12 near Lowell, is on the National Register for Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour highlights this beautifully landscaped, working historic ranger station built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Fenn Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday. The Fenn Visitor Center will be issuing commercial use mushroom permits.

The Lolo Pass Visitor Center on Highway 12 at the Idaho-Montana state line will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday of Memorial Day week. Hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Beginning June 1, the Visitor Center will be open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) each day. The Visitor Center has personal use mushroom permits available, but will not be selling commercial use mushroom permits.

Forty-eight miles east of Kooskia, along Highway 12, stop by the Lochsa Historical Ranger Station. Beginning May 22, the station will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Forest Service volunteers host the site and are happy to answer your questions about what life was like on remote ranger stations in days gone by.

For Information

For more road and trail information and updates, call the Supervisor’s Office in Kamiah at (208) 935-2513, the Grangeville Office at (208) 983-1950 or the North Fork Ranger District Office at (208) 476-8267. You’re also invited to check online at