Tuesday, August 17, 2010

These boots were made for wading (and that's just what they'll do)

Like any trend, fly fishing is largely dependent on MARKETING. And, like any other erudite endeavor, it's also largely dependent on being unique and different. For instance, twenty years ago it was all about the tiny bugs - tricos, midges, size 26-30 hooks and 8x tippet. Then it was about the Bone Fish - 9 weight rods, 100 yard casts, sun, sand, margaritas and the threat of a small hammerhead taking your fish. Suddenly Steelhead Fishing was the newest old fad and one had to head back to the rainy mountains, but this time with a two-handed spey rod. Settled into the sport yet? Sorry - to be cool you must be seen in the sand flats and mango groves again. This time for tarpon - no rod needed to hand-line a 6' living fossil with a mouth the size of a Cadillac. A few years ago, I wandered into the local fly shop and was spun tales of the latest trend - nothing about good looking fish out of clear water. Instead, to be a true fly-fisher person, you must fish for carp out of a sewage drainage. Then, ironic hat, bulky glasses, and PBR in hand, you will be the ultimate erudite - the Uber Emo of the sporting world.

Fly fishing is less recreation and more competition. (I know a guy who knows a guy who took a 40" Carpbow Bass, sight nymphing with a 3 weight antique bamboo rod in 'Zam - you know, Northern Zambia, I'm surprised you haven't heard about it, it's been all the fishing rage). If that sentence made no sense to you, then we're probably going to be good friends. If your first thought was "Oh yeah, I know a guy who...." then we're off to a bad, bad start.

Much of the flyfishing marketing does come out of concern for the environment. Another irony, perhaps, seeing as most of the excellent water that supports the Blue Ribbon fisheries happens behind large, bulky dams. The damn dams. But, generally, fly fisherpersons are all about concern for the wild, concern for a sustainable fishery, and the mantra that the 15 inch fish you let go today may be the 23 inch fish you catch next year. (Well, more likely it's going to be the 16 inch fish that some yahoo fishing said size 26 hook with 8x tippet will exhaust to death when he or she finally manages to coax the pin sized bit of feather and fur into its mouth, but that is probably a story for another day.) And largely, I have bought into it. But usually a bit behind the pack given finances. By the time I had a nice set of neoprene waders, the first breathable canvas was making the rounds. Now that I have the canvas, I'm sure that something else is right around the corner.

Much of the peripheral gear for the fly fishing IS very environmentally friendly. Rubber netting to ensure the protective film along the trout won't be damaged. Barbless hooks. Lead-less weight. Eco-friendly tippet (line), mud died shirts, hemp fishing baskets and environmentally friendly fishing waders all find their way into the flyfishing market. And, usually, flyfisherpersons DO protect the environment - mainly because not doing so would mean a thousand lashes with a 8 weight rod.

But now the flyfisherpersons are their own worst enemy. Felt-soled fishing boots - long regarded as the ultimate wading boot are being blamed for transporting didymo - an algae that covers rocks like a brown Kleenex, an algae that also covers the river bottom like wrapping paper - blocking sunlight from the top, and trapping the immature insect larva on the bottom. This algae is alleged to have been spread from British Columbia to the East Coast - all, likely on the bottom of boats and boots of the fly fisher person. And an article, found here in today's New York Times, outlines that some states have taken steps to ban felt bottomed boots all together, striking a huge blow in the carefully coiffed uniform of the properly outfitted angler.

So now what. I finally found a boot to keep me from, ahem, Falling Into Fast Moving Streams, and I can't even use it. I can't use it or I'm not going to be considered part of the Erudite Elite! Now I'm going to have to find the latest wading boot made by Simms, Orvis or Sage with soles in uberizedrubber, or eruditedplastic or whatever the Fly Fishing world will tell me I have to buy. Sorry, FutureFlyFishingSon - college will have to wait. Daddy's got a pair of boots to buy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Turn the Bass up

Step One: Think of something interesting to write about

Step Two: Develop an ego big enough to allow you to think that others may actually give a shit about your rantings.

Step Three: Sign up for a clever blog name. Like "Dooce" (seriously, how stupid is that? I'm sure she knows that Dooce sounds like Deuce which is a euphemism for...well...anyway - too bad she's fucking funny and takes good pitchers) or "I Can Has Cheezburger" (if there were ever a website devoted to people who I would love to be the first group blasted screaming into space, this would be it). Or, this blog name, named of course because I have. Because I do. Because I will.

Step Four: Actually write the blog.

This is where I got lost. Step four. I have seriously neglected step four. Er, wait...this is a fishing blog, right? I have uh..."neglected to set the hook" on step four. No. That doesn't work. Sounds somewhat explicit. Naughty. I just haven't written.

It's not that I haven't THOUGHT about fishing. Or even GONE fishing. I've gone plenty. Well, mostly walked and occasionally fished while dodging people. I'm not a complete snob, but I don't like a person within line's reach of me while fly fishing and that sometimes proves to be impossible on the Provo River. Less people means a farther drive. Farther drive means more time. Time means...

But I solved that this weekend by fishing for Smallmouth at Rockport with H and J.
We also solved the "people" dilema by going really damn early, as in Barely Getting Light.

But that's the great part.

That was the key.

When I say "it was barely getting light" when I started fishing that is a bit of an understatement. We got up there early to look at the stars. To spot Mars and Venus. Betelgeuse (Betelgeuse Betelgeuse). We heard a family of coyotes yipping in the distance and moon's reflection onto the still water created a blue glow. It was, in a word. Nice. (it was also, in two words "fucking cold")

The eastern horizon was still a deep shade of blue when the first topwater lure hit the water. And, about twenty seconds after that a fish hit the lure. And, the next cast. And, the next cast. By the time any of us caught the last fish of the day, the sky to the east was still a shade of Post-It Note yellow. The sun hadn't peaked but our fishing prowess had and the rest of the morning was an exercise of comedy. We were flailing poles into the wind. Crafting balls of PowerBait (yes, I'm sorry, PowerBait) into delictable morsels. Coaxing worms onto hooks. Spraying incredibly awful smelling smells onto tube jigs (again sorry for the explicitness). The nadir was an unexplained fractured rod tip. It was as if the light somehow took away what made us a success.

But, more often than not, that's how it goes on the water. The fish are fickle and that's what makes me go back. This time, though, it was rather magical. Just the fading stars, the yipping coyotes and the SPLASH of a soon-to-be confuse, angry, sore bass hitting your jig.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A new blog

I love to fish.

Really I do.

But I can't go every day.

I can't go every week

I sometimes can't make it once a month.

Sometimes the next best thing is reading about fishing. The problems with reading about fishing is that all the articles start to sound like a Penthouse Forum article after awhile. I mean they sound like what I've heard a Penthouse Forum article sounds like, Mom.

Most fishing writers talk about how humble they seem and how grateful they are just to be outdoors and then their articles morph into "look how cool I am being so humble in the out of doors and how I can catch monster fish on my bamboo rod." It's a turn off. It's the fishing equivalent of a Jenna Haze video. Well, maybe not. But, it's unrealistic and thus a turn off nonetheless.

So this blog is born. Maybe it will falter and fail. But I hope to provide a more, uh, realistic version of a fishing obsessed person. That sometimes, often more than not, you can get skunked. And sometimes you fall into fast moving streams. Or lakes. Or puddles in the parking lot.