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