Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Black Snake Moan

This Week's Challenge: Convince my wife that 'Black Snake Moan,' a movie I know little about other than Christina Ricci seems to run around in her panties the entire time, is a movie that must be seen. That it must be seen because it is a unique and powerful film, because the music is great and the reviews better. I must convince her of this and I must do it - and I know this from experience - without using the words "Christina Ricci" or "panties."

I could try the Samuel L. Jackson angle. "Hon, did you see commercials for that new Samuel L. Jackson movie coming out? He was awesome in Pulp Fiction!"

Then quick before she can think, hit her with "The guy who wrote it also wrote Hustle and Flow. We should put that on Netflix, I heard it was great!"

Maybe wrap it up with the music approach. "The title comes from an old Blues song, I guess there's a lot of cool music in it also. We should go check out some live music soon, we haven't done that in a while!"

What do you think? I know. Forget it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Maybe you should let your honor student drive.

Snow on the ground plus warming temperatures equals fog. This morning I drove to work through a lot of it. I noticed, as I always do, that in severe fog conditions, roughly half the people on the road have their headlights on. Half. I can count them as they drive 60 mph coming the other direction. Can't people see that other lane and realize, "wow, the cars with headlights on, I can see from a hundred yards away, but the cars without headlights on, I can't see until they're right next to me! I wonder if I were to turn left, if I would benefit by the oncoming traffic having their headlights on as they barrel toward me, or if, in turn, they would benefit by being able to see me?" Nope.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rollin' on the River (not so much)

Sandy and I took the day off and spent much of it at the beautiful Gunpowder. We were just hiking around in the snow, primarily, although I did bring my rod and threw some streamers in here and there. We saw some fish -- more than I expected, actually -- but didn't hook any. I didn't even bring waders, so I was just looking for easy access points from which to drop a fly in.

Today's outing made me realize one thing, and if you want to realize the same thing all you have to do is go to your favorite water without waders: I need to work on my roll casting. Almost everywhere I stopped to fish, I wanted to reach a fallen log or the far bank, and without wading I was very restricted on any kind of back cast. Simple solution, just roll cast, right? Well I guess I spoil myself by just walking out far enough (and likely spooking fish) that I can make a standard cast. I honestly thought I had a serviceable roll cast until today, when I had no other options.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Old Eagle Claw Fiberglass Fly Rod

At a fly fishing show yesterday I won this cool old rod in a raffle. It's already hanging on the wall, but I really need an old reel to go with it. I'm not going to use it, it just looks neat on display. If it was worth much it likely wouldn't have been in this particular raffle. But I'm having trouble finding anything out about it. I'm assuming it's fiberglass. Can anyone take a guess as to how old this might be? My friend Matt, who was there when I won it, said it looked like it came from the '60s, and I think that seems about the right era. Also, if anyone has a reel that doesn't work but might look good with this, contact me by commenting or email me at Thanks.

Pet Spotlight: Sierra

You've met Belly, the snake, and of course the late great Junior. Here's a picture of my German Shorthaired Pointer, Sierra. She's 11 years old. We're having one of those really awesome, beautiful snowfalls today, the perfect snowball snow that sticks to every tree branch. Love it. Here, Sierra the "bird dog" displays her flawless style of pointing songbirds, behind her, while sitting. Classic form. She's actually just begging for a snowball in the face in this photo, a request I promptly granted.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Whirling Disease in Maryland Hatcheries

This week I was slapped in the face with the realization that my perception that whirling disease in trout is strictly a western affliction was wrong. Very wrong. And I also now feel selfish for not previously caring about it because I thought it didn't affect my beloved Maryland fisheries. Better late than never, I hope, as I care now, thanks to this article from the Baltimore Sun.

Maryland's DNR discovered 80,000 infected trout in two hatcheries in Western Maryland (the Bear Creek hatchery is pictured above). Short term the impact of this is certainly felt. There will be 20 percent fewer stocked rainbow and brown trout in Maryland streams and lakes this season. But long term really gets scary.

Whirling Disease can decimate young trout populations. The Whirling Disease Foundation gives a detailed description of the parasite culprit and its effects, part of which reads:
"Myxobolus cerebralis is a metazoan parasite that penetrates the head and spinal cartilage of fingerling trout where it multiplies very rapidly, putting pressure on the organ of equilibrium. This causes the fish to swim erratically (whirl), and have difficulty feeding and avoiding predators. In severe infections, the disease can cause high rates of mortality in young-of-the-year fish. Those that survive until the cartilage hardens to bone can live a normal life span, but are marred by skeletal deformities."

It gets worse. When an infected fish dies, millions of the parasite spores get released into the water. The spores can withstand freezing and can survive in a stream for decades. Some good news is that the spores themselves don't infect the fish, but they need a host, the Tubifex tubifex worm. I say that's good news because A) although common, not all waters contain this worm, and B) it seems like an additional opportunity to stop the spread. But I'm no scientist, so I don't know.

Theaux, at my favorite fly shop on my favorite water, the Gunpowder, talked to me at length about the problem. He's very knowledgeable and said to check the Backwater Angler site for some upcoming info about this outbreak. In addition, he tells me that a fish pathologist from Maryland's DNR might be giving an informational talk about whirling disease, the prognosis for Maryland waterways and what anglers can do to raise awareness and prevent the spread of parasites harmful to fish.

I'll post anything I find out about all this. Meanwhile, for more information check out Montana State's Whirling Disease Initiative web site here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I've lost my mind.

I think maybe the winter has taken its toll. We started our Saturday in the usual way: going to a reptile show, searching for a girlfriend for our gecko. Then something happened. I stopped to look at this cool snake just long enough for my wife to say, "do you want a snake?" Within seconds it turned into "let's get a snake," "we should get a snake," and then, before I realized what was happening, I felt like I had won when I was the one who actually got to pick out WHICH snake we were getting.

The winner was Belle (short for Cabelas, another transparent ploy to make this seem like my idea), a Florida king snake, and she's cool. Way cool. So that brings us up to three horses, two dogs, a gecko and a snake. I imagine it's only a matter of time before I have a special aquarium with moving water and a pod of brook trout. Now THAT one really WILL be my idea!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lake Effect on the River

My friends up in Pulaski sent me some photos of the crazy snow they've been getting. First, a high res shot of the Salmon River from the folks at Whitakers. This photo was on their site (and then on mine) but I requested a bigger picture to post. Thanks guys, we'll see you up there in a few weeks!
Then Randy, the Yankee Angler sent me some from his journeys out into the elements. Those familiar with the Salmon River will recognize some of these landmarks...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stunning Fish Art by Jared Miller

I'm a sucker for brown trout. So when I came across Jared Miller's stunning depictions of brownies from all over the world in American Angler magazine, I became a fan instantly. You can also commission Jared to illustrate your catch. I can't stop looking at his work, I highly recommend a visit to Streamside Illustration. Here, Jared describes the technique he uses to achieve such remarkable realism:
I start with a photo or photos of the fish, then draw the fish to scale on 100% cotton-rag board. This is the point where the specimen's details are recorded on the board, including spotting and face and fin shapes. I attempt to capture every detail possible from the photo. After the fish is in pencil, I then move on to the coloring, for which I use Prismacolor colored pencils. This type of pencil produces rich, life-like color, and allows me to record fine coloration and subtle variations. The depth in the final art is a product of the color-layering process necessary with colored pencils: colors are applied on top of existing colors on the board, layer upon layer, until complete. I then "burnish" the illustration, essentially going over the entire piece with light colored pencils to eliminate the board's grain. Next, I add the scales using a number of techniques, including etching them in with a sharp knife and applying the scales with a fine brush and acrylic paint.

Thanks Jared, and if you check in here, please comment. I'd love to know how long it takes you to complete an illustration like this one.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Excitement in a Small Town

Okay maybe small town standards are a little lower when it comes to what passes for excitement. So when the field across the street from us caught fire, we knew that's as high as the thrill-o-meter would go for the day. We walked over to see if we could help out, and as it turned out we could. Some neighbors with shovels helped put out one leading edge of the fire while the fire department concentrated on the other side, closer to some homes nearby. They had everything under control, certainly, but it was scary how fast it all happened. Close to 25 acres of very dry grass burned in about a half hour.
Kind of looked like lava when this fire was flowing downhill.

My wife Sandy makes her debut appearance on the Flyfishin' blog.

Firefighters work near the burn pile that started it all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Holy Crap.

Oswego County, NY, where we fished the Salmon River just a few weeks ago, is now buried under between FIVE and NINE FEET of snow! I talked with someone from Whitakers (photo on the left is from their site, that's the Salmon River), where we stay when we go there, and he said they're expecting snow all weekend. We're heading back in early March and much of this snow will certainly still be there. He said a snow like this will probably last well into April. Crazy.

Stay safe up there, everyone.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Brown Trout Stocking

I have volunteered to help with an upcoming stocking of brown trout in Maryland's Patuxent River in a couple of weeks. I've never done anything like this before, but I'm looking forward to the experience. It's good to give a day's work toward the sport I enjoy so much, but my motivation is not entirely selfless. I also think I'll learn a lot about the particular stretch of water I'll be helping to stock!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Prediction

Bears 24, Colts 23.

Add your predictions in the comments if you like. There might even be a prize...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Regs for Salmon River C/R Areas?

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed some interesting changes to the regulations for the upper and lower fly fishing areas of the Salmon River. These are among my favorite places to fish that river, and although these changes would effect how I fish them (and, likely, my success rate), I think it is a positive change and I support it. The proposal below is taken directly from their web site:

Proposal: Allowable fishing tackle in the special regulations fly fishing catch and release (C/R) areas on the Salmon River in Oswego County.

Proposal Description: Require that the weight of the fly line must carry the fly rather than the weight of the fly or supplemental weight carrying the line while casting and require that the fly line (non-backing) be at least 20 feet in length. Floating and sinking fly lines are allowed as are combination floating/sinking fly lines such as a sink-tip. Use of added weight or weighted flies are still allowed.

Rationale for Proposal: Use of small diameter “running lines” in the fly fishing areas has resulted in many anglers using supplamental weight as the primary means of propelling the fly while casting. This technique is more akin to drift fishing with monofilament line than to traditional fly fishing and results in overcrowding, and generally impedes the traditional fly fishing activities that these areas were originally intended to provide.

I spoke with someone at DEC and he told me that the response -- both online and from talking to anglers at these locations -- has been generally favorable. I started writing a detailed opinion about this topic but actually found a really great discussion on the Lake Ontario Steelhead Association web site. They have more of a vested interest than I, and I enjoyed this site and discussion:

No added weight in the Upper and Lower fly zone year round, EXCEPT, Weighted flies, sink tip lines or looped in sink tips. Use or running line or low weight level line (Non tapered) is not allowed. Level or running line is allowed if a shooting head or at last 20 feet is attached tot he front end. Essentially DEC wants to have a situation where the angler has to make a FLY cast with what ever configuration they are fishing with so the transfer of energy is between the rod and fly line, not cast/lobbed by the added weight. This reg I think needs some work. They've used the words "Traditional". But the definition of fly fishing traditional is truly very broad. Anglers have been adding some kind of weight to a floating fly line and leader since the dawn of fly fishing. The use of sinking lines and sinking tips and weighted flies might not be any less traditional then a simple tapered floating line and leader. The other problem I see with this reg is that it skews the technique of Indicator fishing that is more of a vertical presentation, very deadly....and not a technique that fouls hooks fish very often This is where an angler will add some shot just below the float or indicator before the fly....and true nymphing ,. . I guess this could be achieved with a small section of lead core, but we'd have to think about it. We are hearing all kinds of rattling on this where some folks want it NO weight added at all.

But ...and this is MY you may or may not agree. If we take the chuck and duck with running line and heavy weight out of the fly zone, then the FZ's can truly become a leaning place for anglers....and I'd like to see several techniques still be in play, like no weight, sinking lines, sinking tips, nymphing techniques, shooting heads, and yes indicator fishing. You still in my opinion have to promote fishing success. If you went total NO weight for these zones...that would work fine in summer but the LFZ is closed, and in late fall through winter, you be in a casting practice zone, because very limited success would be generated to get a steelhead to move to a fly in 33 degree water that is several feet above his head. I don't see the progress in doing that. Rather have anglers learn the many different fly fishing techniques to match the conditions of the river that day. Cold water, high water, medium or low water. The key is can you make a fly cast to the target where the rod generates energy to the fly line to cast your offering...rather then have to lob the attached weight....which isn't any kind of true fly cast.

We talked to Fran Verdoliva at length on this...and he's now considering a 'Focus group" to meet a few times at the hatchery. The focus group would consist of different stakeholders from the trib anglers and maybe supporting businesses. Guides as well as rec anglers. This group would drive construction of the proper regulation that enhances the fishery and the fly zones, yet takes away techniques that doesn't start with a true (and maybe true or real fly cast is better then traditional). We'll have to see how that plays out. A reg is not needed to punish should be to enhance the fishery, and enhancement should include angler success.

I will follow this closely, and I hope the focus group includes people from LOSA and others who give serious thought not just to catching as many fish as possible, but to improving the fishery for the future.

(Photo above is my friend Steve battling a King Salmon at the upper fly fishing area.)