Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Fish of 2006

I hit the water today for a couple hours. Mostly I wanted to test out my new Olympus 720SW waterproof digital camera (a Christmas gift from my wife), but I also just hadn't been fishing in a while. It was overcast and not too cold so conditions seemed favorable. But it was another slow fishing day.

I did get this little beauty though (pictured above). Hey, is it just me? Or does this little rainbow from today look an awful lot like the Little Kern River Golden Trout shown on Dave's Species List? I know it's not, but I thought the resemblance was uncanny.

Now back to the camera. This is a nice camera with a really large screen, the whole thing is about the size of a deck of cards. It's shockproof and waterproof (you can take pictures up to 10 feet deep and it can stay underwater for an hour), so even if you don't use it for underwater photography, it seemed like the perfect fishing camera. I was excited to try it out and I will say this, even though I knew it was waterproof it was not easy putting it under the surface, it just didn't seem right! But it does work. The water today was a little murky, but when I got that little rainbow on the line I just held the camera under and snapped a half dozen shots. Although this one's not great, it is the best of the bunch, and it's plenty good enough for me to be encouraged. With some more practice and some gin-clear water, I think it's capable of some really cool action shots.
So that's it for 2006. Happy New Year everyone! I hope there is very little time between your last 2006 fish and your first 2007 fish. My new years fishing resolutions are to practice my casting much, much more, and to catch three new species this year (steelhead, striper, largemouth bass?).

Friday, December 29, 2006

NYC Striper Fly Fishing

Cool shot taken by Lincoln Karim over NYC's Central Park of the earliest known form of fly fishing. Article here.

I want one of these. Badly.

I've always loved old wooden boats. I have old grainy home movies of relatives at a lake in Wisconsin, tooling around in a Chris Craft over forty years ago. This boat, though, is brand new. Best of both worlds: you get the nostalgic looks of the old wooden classics but a fiberglass hull and a nice, reliable V8. My father in law is a dealer for them down in Florida and although they are surprisingly affordable, I'm afraid it will just have to stay on my wish list for now. But we'll be down there in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to cruising in it. If you want more information about these, email me and I'll get you in touch with him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Roughing it.

I have a lot of respect for people like this guy, Dave, who is documenting his quest to catch native species of trout in California here on his blog. Here, he describes one trip where he hikes for fifteen miles to fish for one species. That'd be too much for most people and plenty for the rest. But Dave then adds a 3-night backpacking excursion through rugged California mountains, dodging lightning storms, watching out for rattlers and shooing scorpions out of his firepit.

Then there are guys like Zach, who took a harrowing trip to Brazil to fish the Xingu river for peacock bass, but ended up with all sorts of bizarre beasts on the line including piranha and something called a sabre-toothed payara that absolutely looks like it should be long extinct. The first several days he and his fishing party were there, they did not fish for peacocks, because the water was very, very high and the peacocks would be hanging out under the flooded trees. Which, of course, is where the anacondas hang out.

My point in all this, is that I love the outdoors. But I am starting to realize the stark difference between loving the outdoors and being a real outdoorsman. My idea of roughing it is to hike several miles, battle some briar bushes, head back to the car a little too close to dark and, a couple times a year, stay in a really awful motel to rest up and do it again the next day. But my roughest nights still always include beer and advil and food and cigars and cell phone calls and a few channels on the TV.

Who knows, a new year is nearly upon us and it's resolution time. Maybe this year I'll venture out a little farther, sleep in a tent, rig my 3-weight by campfire light and really rough it every now and then. I don't doubt it will be good for me. As long as I don't venture into scorpion/anoconda territory.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays from Flyfishin' to the many nice people I've met through this site. I hope you and your families have a safe holiday season and that there's new fishing gear under the tree! Next year will bring more fun, more friends and more tall tales from the water...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Photo of the Week

This week's really cool Photo of the Week comes courtesy of Dejon from Chrome on Chrome, a really enjoyable steelheading blog. Thanks Dejon!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brook Trout Prints

Hot off the press, these long-awaited woodcut prints are now available for purchase! (How was that for marketing copy that would make Tom Chandler proud?)

The image is 5.5"x10" and I'll be making a total of 40 limited edition prints. They're signed and numbered and if you're interested, please email me. Print only: $50. Matted print: $65. (Framed prints are problematic to ship without the glass breaking, but matted prints will be cut to standard frame sizes to make it easier if you want to frame it.)

A portion of the proceeds from any fish-related print (this is the first in a series) will go to Project Healing Waters, a great program and a most worthy cause.

Oh, and a special thanks to Jay for catching the fish and whose photo inspired the carving from which the prints are made. Thanks Jay, your print will ship next week!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cool Images = Cool Cards

I first saw the photography of Michael Wickes on the Trout Underground site, some of you may have seen it there also. But you might not know that you can contact Michael through his web site and he will make greeting cards from his great images. I got my pack of ten in the mail today and am very pleased with the quality. Thanks Michael!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sorry, Opax!

Those beautiful flies from Finland that Opax was kind enough to tie for me did not produce an American trout yesterday, but it was not for lack of trying. The flies look great in the water and I'm supremely confident that I will be taking a photo of one in a trout's mouth soon. Yesterday's fishing, however, was slow going.

It was not a day without highlights, however. My friend Matt and I hiked a good distance along this stream in Maryland and tried a lot of different flies and approaches. It was a couple hours before we even SAW a trout. At the farthest point in our excursion, Matt was crouching along the water's edge, trying to flip a fly between pretty intense brush (brush that caused us problems all day) and was startled by a fox-colored cat that snuck up on him.

Well we spent the next hour or so, walking and fishing, and that cat shadowed us the entire time. He was really cool, and periodically would go to the water's edge and seemingly point out fish for us. Of course, he was no better at finding fish than we were, but we enjoyed his company until we had to cross the stream and left him on the other side.

Having just about given up on the day, following the stream back to the cars, we noticed what looked like little fish feeding on the surface -- pretty unusual for December, at least in my limited experience. The trout we had seen all day were stuck to the bottom and not interested in moving much. So we tried some tiny dries and pretty soon I enticed this behemoth. The skunk averted with the cars in sight. We worked hard for fish yesterday, fighting briars and bushes and tangles and snags and finnecky fish, but at least we got this little beauty to show for it. And then there's our feline friend, who I hope to see again next time. Opax, I'll get that fish for you soon!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Zeroing in...

So the Winchester Model 94 is back from the gunsmith and I took it out to the range at the NRA headquarters near my office. This time I went with the human-shaped target and my performance was greatly improved. I do not know, nor do I care to know, what that means. Maybe it's that this was the second time I've fired it, but it was more comfortable.

The targets are not live-sized, the silhouettes here are about 12" wide. I was standing up. The first target, above, is ten shots at 60 feet. I was very happy with this. I think that stray one low left was intended to knock the gun out of the guy's hand, yeah, that's it.

Below left is five shots from 90 feet. Target is getting very small at this distance, but I'm still fairly pleased. I thought I missed one completely but the shot on the upper left is actually two very close together. Too bad that grouping didn't occur where that one center X shot is!

Below right is five shots from 150 feet. On these last two distances I loaded all five cartridges and cycled them fairly quickly, just for fun. And I'll be honest, it is really fun. But I was not even sure I was hitting this tiny target, and was most pleased to see this one come back. Definitely some up/down issues here, but I'm very happy with the left/right. That one shot at 3:00 is only 2" from the center of the target.. From fifty yards away, I'll take that any day!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Eagles 21, Skins 19

The forecast for Sunday's Redskins game called for temps in the mid fifties and abundant sunshine. And it was indeed a perfect day, if a little warm for a football game. My wife got four tickets through her work and we brought another couple. The tickets included entry to a pre-game tailgate tent sponsored by the Redskins radio network, featuring plentiful food, drink and cigars. Not wanting to be rude, I sampled all three. Some more than others.

This is the view from our seats. I've sat in a lot of different places for a game but I really liked these seats. We were right next to the band. The Redskins, what can I say, they're just not very good. I still love 'em, but they make me want to sample more liquid products from the concession stands. Anyway, they had a chance to win at the end but they're not a come from behind team any more than they are a stay in the lead team. It's always a lot of fun to be at a game among all the other fans (Philly was well represented in the stands too, though).

I'm starting to wonder if the Redskins problem might be an environmental hazard of some sort. The players and coaches might be exposed to an airborne pathogen or something at the stadium. I'm not a doctor, but I do know this: Every single time I go to FedEx Field, the whole next day I feel like crap.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Photo of the Week

This week's photo is another flashback. I've always been an artist, to some degree or another. And when I was a kid I started drawing birds and animals. My father, who worked for the Department of Interior, brought me to his office one Saturday to meet wildlife artist Bob Hines, whose grayling painting is shown here. I was fascinated, here was this government office building filled with identical offices. Government issue desk, chair and bookcase. And then we get to Bob's and he's there in the middle of the deskless room painting a picture of a mule deer. Photos of mule deer clipped all around his (government issue) easel, half finished paintings and sketches tacked all over the room. It was surreal to me, and for the first time in my life it dawned on me: art could be a job. He spent some time with me and was gracious and supportive and I'll never forget it. Bob died in 1994 but his art is all over, including in many tiny collections around the world in the form of numerous duck stamps.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Free Money!

A couple weeks ago I was calling around Orvis stores looking for a stray extra spool for my discontinued Battenkill Large Arbor IV reel. I reached a guy in a store who said the New York City store didn't have a spool, but had an entire reel. Being discontinued, he thought the NY store should give me a hefty discount on the awkward sized reel, but to ensure that I'd get that hefty discount, like if the guy tried to get more than $200 for it, he gave me a coupon number good for $50 off a purchase of $200 or more. Well the NY store didn't have the reel anyway, and I've since rethought my position on that particular reel/spool.

Yesterday I got an email from Cabelas, with a $10 coupon for writing a product review on some wading boots. Within nine seconds of getting that email I was hitting the 'Submit' button on a $56 Cabelas order of stuff that I did not need enough to buy two days ago, but evidently was absolutely required the moment I could get it for $10 off. Having possession of an Orvis coupon that is worthless until I reach $200 in merchandise is simply not a good thing.

So, and yes this has been a test to see if you would read this far, if any of my vast numbers of regular readers would like a coupon number for Orvis that may be worth $50 off a $200 purchase, I will give the number to the first person who requests it in the comments section of this post. DISCLAIMER: I haven't tried to use this coupon number, but I guess it's possible that either the guy who gave it to me was making it up, or also that maybe it was just good for one day or a week or whatever. But I believe it to be valid, just make sure it is before you spend $200 on stuff you didn't need and then blame me for it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remote Stream Never Before Fished

NASA found some water on Mars today. The article was pretty technical, written by some scientist so I haven't actually read it. But from the picture it looks like it's probably pretty hard to get to. But I'm sure it won't be long before some fly fishing magazine will come out with an article about how to access this spot and how great the fishing is and if you get there early in the Martian morning the dust hatch is in full swing and those green, three-eyed tentacled fish -- who fight surprisingly hard considering the lack of atmosphere and gravity -- will take anything you throw at them. Then next thing you know our astronauts will go up there only to find a loudmouth pack of Russian anglers already camped out at the best damn hole on the planet. Furthermore, you just know they'll be standing right where they should be fishing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Uh oh.

I heard the following words come out of my mouth this morning: "I could see trying ice fishing." (photo by George Grabarczyk)

Friday, December 01, 2006

We'll Miss You, Junior

'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark
Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home;
'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will make
Our coming, and look brighter when we come.
From Don Juan, Lord Byron

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Photo of the Week

Continuing on the theme of beautiful fish I'll probably never catch, this week's Photo of the Week (usually a Saturday installment but I'll be away this weekend) comes from the camera and fly rod of Jay from Fly Fishing and More. Jay's from the Netherlands, and this absolutely beautiful grayling came from a river in Austria, somewhere near places with cool names like Bad Ischl and Goiserer Traun. Man, I love these graylings. Thanks Jay!

(CORRECTION: Jay emailed me and pointed out that the fish pictured is not a grayling, but rather a brook trout. The Germans, I'm told, call it a Bach Saibling. I was confused by what appeared to be the distinct dorsal fin. This is a grayling shown here. Now, more to the point, that really is a spectacular brookie!! I clearly did not recognize it because the only brookie I've ever seen was about the size of a business card.)

Far Away Fish

The guy who runs the blog Fly Fishing Journal has got to be the most enthusiastic fly fisherman in Singapore. I enjoy his blog because his joy of fishing is so evident, and the fish there are SO different! This is a red tilapia, but his site is filled with photos of peacock bass, zebra tilapia and other really beautiful exotic fish. He's also a fan of bamboo rods, an aspect of fly fishing I'm not very familiar with and am kind of afraid to investigate because I think as soon as I do I'll have to have one!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Photo of the Week (of Sept. 1, 1977)

I knew this photo existed somewhere in my house and have been looking for it since I recently started putting together a fishing photo album. This is me, age fourteen, 25 miles off Cape Hatteras. This Mahi wasn't caught on a fly, and it doesn't take a very close examination of the photo to see that proper catch and release procedures were not precisely followed. But a noteworthy catch nonetheless. Particularly since all my previous fish to date consisted of bluegill, most of whom had swallowed the worm and hook as I carefully pondered the movement of the bobber on the water. My Dad, and this was actually the last fishing trip we took together, wrote '28 lbs' on the back of the picture. I don't remember if it was actually weighed or not, that may have been a Dad-friendly estimate. I do remember these fish are really skinny though, seems like a 28-pounder would have to be a bit larger than this.

Friday, November 24, 2006

One Strike, I'm Out

I definitely feel like I learn something new every time I go fly fishing. Today's lesson: Be ready for that strike when it comes, because it might be your best and only shot at a fish that day.

Another unseasonably warm and pleasant day at the Gunpowder brought plenty of others with the same idea of spending the day on the water. Walking along the bank, about to call it a day, I scanned the water below and found a cluster of three or four very nice sized trout in a deep pool easily accessible from the other side of the river. So I backtracked, crossed over and started fishing the pool with the fly I already had on my line, a brown wooly bugger. Less than a minute later a very healthy trout took the bugger, flashed his side at me and came loose in a matter of seconds. I didn't give it any thought, assuming I'd be able to get him or one of his buddies to bite again. But it was not to happen. Wooly buggers of different colors, small nymphs, huge nymphs, dry flies, terrestrials. I took breaks and let them settle down. I smoked a cigar and just watched for a while. Nothing.

So, I don't know. Maybe my hook needs to be sharpened, those streamers bump off the bottom constantly but I've never owned or used a hook sharpener. At the beginning I lost flies so readily I assumed I'd never use one long enough to get dull. Then after that I just didn't give it any thought, until now. Not that a dull hook is the only reason a fish doesn't get hooked well enough to land, I'm sure I could have done a lot of things differently and even then, a lot of it depends on the fish, his luck and mine. But days like this make me vow to pay better attention whenever I have a fly on the water, and to pay attention to details a little better so if opportunity knocks just once, I have as good a chance as possible to answer.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's attempt to be timely with a Thanksgiving post features a bad photo of a really cool artifact. This gun is thought to have been brought to the new world on the Mayflower, and resides at the NRA's National Firearm Museum at their headquarters near Washington, DC. If you have an interest in firearms, and find yourself in the DC area, it is an extraordinary collection displayed with meticulous care and attention to detail.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Favorite Shark Fly

When fly fishing for the Great White, particularly this time of year, I have the most success using a fly I developed called the Cape Fear. The name, of course, is a play on “Cape Fur,” the variety of seal it imitates. This fly is not for the beginner, it takes some practice to get it right on the bench, and then it needs to be fished just so or you’ll just tire yourself out throwing it with no results. So, let’s get started…

For the hook I like to use a 26” saltwater stainless steel fishing gaff. Now, I’ve seen some people use lead eyes on their seal flies, but I find that you get a more natural action without lead in the front once the fly gets uniformly waterlogged. Personal preference. Anyway, tie about three pounds of marabou to the hook, length about the same as the hook shank. Tie in and wrap a chenille body, medium brown, as in a woolly worm. Except much, much, thicker. I like to tie in foam odor eaters for flippers, size 10-11. Wrap ribbing wire forward, securing it to the hook. Tie off the wire, trim, form a head. Whip finish, cement the head, and you’re ready to go.

When fly fishing for Great Whites with a Cape Fear, the presentation and retrieval are critical. When casting, the fly should make the right amount of “splash.” Not too much, but enough to get the attention of nearby feeders. Give it time to sink just below the surface, retrieve the fly with short, smooth strips, pausing every three to five strips. This will give the fly a realistic seal swimming motion. Count to three during the pauses, and when you start that next strip, get ready. When these sharks hit your fly, they hit hard, and I can tell you, a 16-foot maneater will have you into your backing in no time, no matter how high your drag is set. And if they take it off the surface, as this picture shows, a pair of ExOfficio Quick Dry shorts might come in handy. There’s no shame if you pee a little when you get one of these bad boys on the line.

So you've got him hooked and you think you’ve got it made? Think again. Landing him is the tricky part. If you can hold on through the first run, you’re nearly five percent there. Stay hydrated, get comfortable, apply moderate pressure, keep the rod tip high, and when he gets tired enough to bring alongside the boat, use extreme caution. And trust me, that fly is ruined, so don't hesitate to cut the line (after a quick photo of course).

Forgive the “how-to” article, it’s not what I do mostly or best. But I just didn’t see a lot of advice on how to do this sort of fishing, and I felt like I had some experience in this area and wanted to share. So, tight lines and happy sharking!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bond: Smart. Audience: Stupid.

No, I'm not talking about those who show up for a very popular movie, at a very popular day and time, in a very popular movie theater, in a heavily populated area, ten minutes after the movie starting time and wonder why they can't get six seats together anywhere but the front row. I'm talking about the dumbing down of James Bond. (Caution: spoilers ahead)

Don't get me wrong, Casino Royale was an enjoyable movie. The fights and stunts and chases are probably the best that any 007 movie has delivered. If you liked the Bourne movies you'll like this. And there are really humorous lines well placed throughout. But, here's the thing. A big part of the plot revolves around no limit hold 'em poker. Okay, it's popular. And it's a great game. But it's not the international high stakes James Bond game and it seemed highly out of place here. Worse, a character is shown continually explaining what's going on in the game to Bond's love-interest. This is of course a humiliating attempt to explain the game to the audience, so we can follow along. Worse still, at the end of a hand the dealer physically took the player's cards and the community cards used and set them aside for the camera, explaining that now HE has the high hand. It was all so ridiculous it made me cringe. Bond plays baccarat, and nobody in forty years felt compelled to explain to any audience how the hell you play baccarat.

Oh, don't get me started. Another absurdity revolving around the poker was the terrorist's "tell." MI6 sent Bond to play this high stakes game because he was the best player in the agency. And that high level of poker skill certainly paid off when Bond was keen enough to recognize the way, when the guy across from him was bluffing, he would RAISE HIS ENTIRE HAND TO THE SIDE OF HIS FACE AND COVER UP HIS BAD EYE WHICH TWITCHES UNCONTROLLABLY WHENEVER HE'S BLUFFING! Golly, I don't even think Jason Bourne could have picked up on that bit of subtlety, and he was in Rounders.

The makers of this movie got a lot right, in my opinion, but this poker nonsense was disappointing. The Bond franchise is smarter than that, and should assume that its audience is too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Photo of the Week

Today, Junior gets the Photo of the Week and a special mention. Junior is our 12-year-old Jack Russell who is beginning his fourteenth month of a 3- to 6-months-to-live cancer prognosis. He's one tough little bastard, but is nearing the end. This picture was taken this past summer at Harpers Ferry, on the Shenandoah River.

Junior also made his YouTube debut in this movie preview parody I made a while back with Junior and his brother, Scooter.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


The Drake Magazine is holding a 5-minute fly fishing video contest. All these videos are worth watching, but some are extremely well done. My favorite features these guys fishing for huge roosterfish, it doesn't say where they are but I'm guessing Baja or Mexico? Anyway, it looks like a blast, although this particular style of fly angling looks suspiciously like exercise.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Did a Little Fishing Today...

Is this a previously unknown species of trout? Is it the rare and elusive Eastern Speckled Dwarf Trout? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that I worked very, very hard to catch this, my only fish today. I will not publicly acknowledge how many hours I spent on the water today, but to give you some idea, the fish I'm holding in my hand in this late afternoon picture, had not yet been born when I parked my car at the river this morning. Still, I thought his coloring was nice, and I hope to see him again in a few years when he's a little larger than a bic lighter.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Photo of the Week

This week's photo comes from The Tattered Fly. I love this photo of a Lochsa Cutthroat, it doesn't even seem real. Why are photos cool when they look like paintings, and paintings cool when they look like photographs? Anyway, thanks Dan!

Thank a Veteran!

I don't come from a military family. I didn't serve in the military. But I enjoy and appreciate the freedoms provided and protected by our armed forces. And I try to remember their sacrifices always, but especially around holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But just thinking about it always rang a little hollow, and I often wondered how I could better express my gratitude. Last winter I met Ed Nicholson at a Fly Fishing show. Ed founded Project Healing Waters, a joint Trout Unlimited/Federation of Fly Fishers venture that offers wounded military from Walter Reed Army Medical Center opportunities to learn or enhance fly fishing and fly tying skills for physical and emotional rehabilitation and therapy.

Project Healing Waters runs on donations and volunteers, so I signed up for both. I'm a graphic artist until I win the lottery and fish full time, so I volunteered my design services and was thrilled to find out that PHW needed them. I designed their logo and help to put other fundraising pieces together. But the real reward came when I first went on an outing, with soldiers learning to fish -- or long time fishermen re-learning to fish using prosthetics. I've met many great people through my involvement with PHW, some of whom I now consider great friends, and getting involved in such a worthwhile project has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

So if you're so inclined, go to the Project Healing Waters web site and make a donation of time or money. And thank a Veteran today!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Flyfishin' Product Review: Stick

This month's Product Review is for the Stick, truthfully one of my favorite new tools I've added to my fly fishing gear this year. This past summer I went fishing with some friends on the Savage, which flows out of Deep Creek Lake in Maryland. My friend Ed, whose bright idea it was to go there, accurately described wading the savage as akin to "walking on slime covered bowling balls." Virtually impossible to wade, in my opinion. Although at the time I didn't have two things I now own: studded wading boots, and a stick.

Well with an autumn trip scheduled to the Salmon River in upstate New York, a river that demands utmost respect, I had planned on buying studded boots anyway. But as easy as it is for me to impulse buy fishing gear, I could not bring myself to buy a stick. I've seen them in catalogs, from sticks that fold up and you wear in a holster, to finely crafted wooden sticks from Orvis that you can sometimes find on sale for $11,350. I was told by a trusted stick owner that the fold-up kind is okay, but he greatly preferred the unfolding model. Attach it to your belt with a line long enough that it just floats on your downstream side, and short enough that you can easily grab it.

So I set out to make my own stick. First, on a fishing outing to the nearby Potomac River, I found a stick. I brought it home and, using a utility knife, proceeded to carve it into a similar but slightly smaller stick. I cut it to length (from the floor to about the arm pit). Some sandpaper, outdoor furniture varnish, a rubber chair leg thingy, an eye hook at the top and some thin nylon rope (glued, wrapped and spraypainted black) and the stick was complete. Total cost: Under $5.

The very strong current of the Salmon River proved to be the perfect location for a stick test drive. I used the stick constantly and found it very comforting. The fact that it's floating downstream of you so you pretty much have to pick it up before you move around too much, works very well. It was in my hand on numerous occasions where I unexpectedly lost my balance, saving me from certain immediate moisture overload. It also serves nicely as a walking stick while hiking to those hard to reach spots.

So if you don't already own a stick, and you wade in strong water on slippery rocks, take an evening off from tying flies and make a stick this winter. But don't delay, because I'm thinking of applying for a patent.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Don't Forget to Vote!

Well, okay, maybe it isn't so obvious as I look at it now. But I tried to spell 'Vote' using parts of some of my fishing images. The 'E' is a particularly lame stretch, I think. Anyway, just a friendly reminder to take a minute on Tuesday to vote.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Photo of the Week

Western Montana, the most beautiful place I've ever seen with my own eyes. This is the Missouri River. Weather moving right to left. Current moving left to right. Trout holding steady, waiting for a much better angler. When I return next summer, I hope to be that angler.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Better Than a Good Day at Work

Went fishing with an old friend today, he was the first person to ever hand me a fly rod and show me how it worked. Yet for one reason or another (mostly proximity), we've never fished together. But he and another friend were passing through and I took the morning off to find us some trout. I chose the spot where I had, less than two weeks ago, had the best day ever in terms of the number of trout caught. But today was very different. Lots of recent rain had water levels where I like them, but it was still pretty murky. Usually this stream is quite clear, and I'm sure it will be again tomorrow. But today you couldn't see your feet in knee-high water.

So for whatever reason, the fishing was very slow. Hooked a couple, landed one. My friend hooked a smallie but opted for a long distance release, must be North Carolina Style. But the weather was beautiful and we had fun. Mid-day they had to continue their trip north and I stayed to sabotage any hopes of doing any work by the time I got home. I hiked a ways, looking to change my luck and my persistence paid off. This nice rainbow took a stone fly nymph off the bottom in about five feet of water -- the deepest pool I'm aware of at this stream. I was standing on a boulder when I caught him, guiding my rod tip around the edge, along with the current. He was hooked good, but when I got him close enough to see I realized I hadn't really thought the whole thing through: I couldn't reach the water with the net, and the 6X tippet I was using was not going to take lifting him up to me. So I had to do some shuffling and steering and pulling to get both him and me to a location where we could meet, but it all worked out and I snapped this picture for my friend, knowing that the old "right after you left I caught this sweet rainbow" thing would never fly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Lexus Parks Self on Slippery Slope

Lexus has decided that it's a good idea to take a 380-horsepower LS 460L, a car that goes 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, and add a feature to it that allows it to parallel park itself with minimal driver interaction. You just regulate the speed, hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the mirror. You barely have to pay attention.

Now I'm not against technology, I watch a very large and expensive TV. A lot. I am typing on a computer at this very minute. I listen to radio waves that come from outer space. But some technology is, to use a technical term, stupid. Comfort and convenience are fine, but I think it's a bad idea to take away those simple little skill tests that come up from time to time while driving a car in the real world. What's the ultimate goal here, to idiot-proof cars? How frightening is that?! It seems from my observations that it's already too easy to get and keep a driver's license. I see people almost daily, driving while reading the newspaper or, and this never ceases to amaze me, eating cereal from a bowl with a spoon. Do we really want to make someone like that feel like his car really IS paying attention?

If I've heard of a worse idea than this, I can't remember when.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Photo of the Week

Small? Indeed. (However, not even close to the smallest trout I've ever caught.) But the colors on this, my only brook trout so far, make it one of my very favorite. He came from the North Branch of the Potomac, about this time last year.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nice Beaver!

Earlier this year I was standing in knee-high water at Gunpowder Falls State Park in Maryland, the light was fading fast and I had a long and brutal hike back to my car. I should have been underway by now, I thought, but decided that it was a good time to reconstruct a tangled leader, add some tippet, tie on a fly and get in a few more casts. The waning light was making things very difficult, however. If fly fishing has taught me one thing, it's that my up-close, low-light eyesight is deteriorating at an alarming pace.

So I'm about to give up on one knot or another, focusing intently at blurry little wisps of nothing in my hands when SMACK! Something hits the water with a huge splash, not more than two feet from me. Holy crap! Either someone just threw a dog at me, or that has to be the biggest trout in all of Maryland! And he was RIGHT NEXT TO ME! Well now I just HAD to get that tippet on and throw a fly out there. At this point I have almost enough light to tie my shoes, quite a bit less than the level required for threading 6X, and I see some movement through the long distance blur of my water-splashed reading glasses. I lift them up and see, about thirty feet downstream of me, a giant rodent of some sort crossing the stream. Looked like a freakishly large groundhog. No doubt he was spooking any monster brown trout lurking beneath the surface. I watched him, and started to get the dim sensation of almost understanding something, when the giant rodent dove underwater and SMACK! Slapped his big beaver tail on the surface of the water as he did. Dammit. My monster fish was a damn beaver.

I've seen plenty of evidence of beavers around. Those tell-tale conical stumps, just like in the cartoons, are all over the place. But I don't think I had ever seen a beaver in the wild before, and it took me an idiotically long time to piece it all together. When he got out of the water I saw that he was enormous! Labrador-sized. And I don't mind saying, it made me more than a little uncomfortable thinking that he had snuck right up on me in the water.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Big Sky Cutbow

Western Montana Outfitter and Guide Jay Dixon of Dixon Adventures recently let me know about a TV show he filmed on the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers. The show, LL Bean's Guide to the Outdoors, aired on the VP Channel (formerly OLN) and featured Jay with long distance casting champ Tim Rajeff. They did some really cool stalking, very technical fishing and caught some great fish, including this beautiful cutthroat/rainbow hybrid on 5X and a size 18 fly. If you see the replay of this show on the schedule, be sure to check it out. But beware, I watched it once and immediately started booking my next trip to Montana.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Fishin'

Saturday was a picture perfect day for fishing (or anything else outdoors). A beautiful fall day on a Maryland trout stream. My friend Matt and I were the first ones to the parking lot, first light. While I'm waiting for him to get all his gear ready, I walk over to the pool closest to the parking lot and caught a nice rainbow in my first minute of fishing. The next one came just a few casts later, and both were a lot of fun -- lots of jumping. Matt was ready and we walked to another very popular pool (thinking crowds would arrive soon, we might as well hit these pools while we're the only ones here). The fish picked up where they left off, and began throwing themselves at us. "Fish on!" "There he is!" "Got another!"

Now I know what you're thinking. These are probably freshly stocked, idiot rainbows who have never seen a predator until we showed up. Well I'll have you know that these particular trout had been stocked four full days before we arrived, plenty of time to become wise and crafty. So, clearly, it was only through our superior angling skills that we were so successful. Well, okay, maybe they were idiots. But it was still great fun, the anticipated crowds never really materialized, and almost all the rainbows (there was one brown mixed in) were in the 13" range. Many were in a jumping mood, which is always a treat. The one pictured below (caught by Matt) was the largest and last of the day. We actually stopped counting, but over two dozen fish were caught between us (although there is some argument as to whether it counts to catch the same fish more than once, something we suspect had occurred at least a time or two).

One other note. I always wanted to catch trout on a dry fly, a nymph and a streamer all in the same day, and that goal was realized on Saturday.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Photo of the Week

Early morning on the Shenandoah. Breakfast time for smallmouth. Man, I love it here.