Saturday, March 30, 2013

Here are three more beers...

Here are three more fly fishing beers... 
Two are named after cutthroat trout (one pale ale and a porter) and one named after a famous stream (and equally famous nymph pattern and in this case, a brown ale) from the west slope of the Tetons, Bitch Creek! 
Great labels, great fish, great nymph, great stream! I love this sport!

Time for a beer!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fly Fishing Beers

It's the end of a full day of fishing. Whether your luck was good or nonexistent, you're totally toasted and it's time for a cold one. Maybe you bend over to peer in the recesses of your fridge... or maybe you sift through the watery ice of a battle scarred cooler... or maybe you sidle up to a bar signaling your intentions with the tip of an index finger. Whichever route you choose, you are following a classic and time honored path. It's one of the great traditions of our sport to enjoy a cold beer at the end of a day of fishing. 
Beer located, you grip the bottle with your thumb pressed against the label. Your other fingers push lightly against the far side of the amber bottle. Your little finger is, of course, there with the others, but it performs no task. It's there as a backup and is only employed in an emergency. You take a quick slug then drop the bottle to your hip where it rests while you walk to join your friends. 
Nothing is better than the first cold beer at the end of a day! Many beer companies understand fly fishing's link to this ritual and have honored our sport with an appropriate name and label.
So I would like to start a discussion of fly fishing beers. I want to know your favorites! I'll start it off with these offerings from the Madison River Brewing Company. They are brewed in Montana so they honor all that is trout with a nymph pattern (Copper John Ale), a classic dry fly (Irresistible Amber Ale) and THE quintessential terrestrial pattern, (Hopper Pale Ale). These are good beers with great labels... I'll attest to that!
So if you know any beers with names that honor our sport (good beers preferably and especially regional saltwater brews!), send a photo and I'll post your suggestions. Fresh or saltwater, let's see what's out there.
Of course, if you feel like it, send me a 6-pack of your favorite beer instead of a photo. I'll do a taste test, take the photo (thus saving you the trouble... I'm all about being helpful!) and report my results. 
I promise not to enjoy it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A new player joins the feast...

Tonight, as the magpies verbalized their frustration, a red-tailed hawk nervously flew into the buffalo berry above the deer carcass I described last night. Without feeding, he retreated when we turned to look out our window.

Eventually, his appetites overwhelmed his caution and he made two furtive forays into our yard to feed on the deer carrion. He snarfed up the red meat and then disappeared into the dusk.

Thanks for all the comments to me by e-mail. I'm glad you too are enjoying this show... what's next?

Fishing for Tarpon in 1908

I received this missive from a good friend today... I thought it was pretty cool:
...I'm reading a book titled "Florida Enchantments" by A. W. Dimock.  The original version was published in 1908 and a revised version in 1915.  In the chapter about tarpon fishing, he is describing the tackle.  I love this paragraph:

"The tarpon hook is attached to the line by a three-foot snood of braided flax or other soft and strong material and is baited with half a mullet.  Now cast your baited hook fifty or one-hundred feet out in the channel, place your rod across the skiff with its point toward the bait and its reel free to run.  Reel off a dozen yards of line, coil it loosely on the seat before you, light your pipe and muse on the infinite, or cut the leaves of the latest magazine, while your boatman "chums" from time to time by casting bread upon the waters in the form of fragments of fish.  In a few minutes, or it may be hours, or even days, the line begins to run out, you lay aside your magazine and pick up the rod while your boatman takes in the anchor and sits down to the oars.You must feed out the line as called for, resisting all temptation to strike, until perhaps fifty yards of line have gone and the fish been allowed ample time to swallow the bait.  Then pressing your thumb firmly on the brake, "Strike for your altars and your fires!"  Two hundred feet away a gleaming form of burnished silver leaps, gyrating in the air.  The whirling handle of the reel raps your incautious knuckles and the friction of the line burns your thumb through the thick brake of sole leather. You cry out to your boatman as you watch the diminishing line on your reel and he struggles mightily with the oars."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just before Christmas, on a cold and snowy night, I watched as a whitetail doe lied down in our backyard. She took a deep breath, tucked her nose in her belly and closed her eyes.  In the morning, she was covered in snow. At what hour she had expired, I do not know, but during the many short days of winter that followed, her body remained as it was that first night. The only change was an ever-thickening mantle of snow. Eventually she was just a bump in the backyard.
Spring has brought a slow, if not enthusiastic, thaw and with it came first the magpies and then, the golden eagles. Today, a luxuriantly-coated red fox snuck out of the brush to nervously rip at the winter kill. I'm sure she enjoyed this bounty of venison even if it was a bit more aged than I like. I like to think these calories will go towards nourishing a litter of pups brewing under that thick auburn hair.
Maybe I'll see them too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Photo Essay Bahamas: Part 2

About two-thirds of the population of the Bahamas lives on New Providence Island, the location of Nassau, and about half of the remaining one-third lives on Grand Bahama Island, the location of Freeport.
That means only around 50,000 people are spread out on the other islands including Great Abaco Island, Andros, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, the Exuma Chain, Crooked and Acklins Islands, Mayaguana, Inagua, and Ragged Island and the Jumento cays. These "other" islands are often called the Out Islands. On these islands you find no cruise ships, no high-rise hotels, and no crowds... Thankfully, here there are no Holiday Inns, Senor Frogs or Kentucky Fried Chickens.  It’s different in the Out Islands and those of us that bonefish here, love these islands and its people.


The Out Islands are also called the Family IslandsMany Bahamians out of necessity move to the busy islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama to go to school or get jobs in the casinos and hotels of Nassau and Freeport. They leave their families behind and are therefore referred to as the "family" islands. These transplants visit their home islands as often as they can and most of these island have a homecoming weekend that is one of the big events of the year! 



Monday, March 18, 2013

Bahamas Out Island Life

A few more reasons to love the Bahamas...

In our hectic work-a-day world, there never seems to be enough time. Client meetings, kids, job sites, patients and customers fill our schedules to the brim. In the out-islands of the southern Bahamas, time and responsibility are reckoned differently. Jobs and work are, of course, prioritized and important, but family and friendship are never neglected. Here, time seems to slow down a bit or at least proceed at a more manageable pace.

One of the best reasons to go to the Out Islands (besides the fishing, of course) is to experience this decompression of time. In the Out Islands, there is always time to talk and take a deep breath. For many, the day's activities are governed by the realities of the sea and weather. Fishing is a way of life in the Bahamas. The natives develop their skills on the ocean at an early age spurred on by the need to gather the expertise necessary for survival.

In the Out Islands, there is time for some fun. We can learn a few things from the inhabitants of these islands... as if we needed another reason to visit the Bahamas!



Monday, March 11, 2013

Bonefish Puffs

While wading a bonefish flat, you've certainly noticed the cloud of muddy marl or fine sand you've kicked-up. But maybe you haven't noticed that the muck flows with the tide. It can flow to your right or left, blossom in front of you or quickly disappear behind you. Backtrack and you can see the debris has settled to the bottom revealing the stage of the tide you were on when you passed earlier. The debris flows towards deeper water on a falling tide and towards the mangroves on a rising tide.

Flushed debris can also reveal when bonefish feed on a flat. Bonefish make circular holes or "puffs" by blowing water into the sand to excavate prey species. The resulting debris drifts, then settles to one side or the other of the puff depending on the stage of the tide. This information can be used by an observant bonefisherman to make sure you are "at the right place at the right time" in the future.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Must-Read Article by Captain Will Benson

Speaking of the changes at Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazine, this must-read article by Captain Will Benson was pointed out to me by Doug Root (see trip report from Doug's trip to Los Roques here). Doug copied me on the following e-mail sent to FFSW editor John Frazier concerning the article. 
Doug wrote:


First and foremost I want to congratulate you and your team on the successful rebranding of the magazine.  I think you did a fantastic job!  As an avid reader, I can appreciate the changes and the attention to detail that were involved to create such a wonderful execution.

On another note, I wanted to write a short letter to the magazine in response to Will Benson’s article (copied on this email) “Embrace the Pressure – Never Put A Permit On A Pedestal” that was featured in the March/April edition.  I first came across the article last week on a flight to Los Roques, Venezuela with my wife to target permit, bonefish, and tarpon.  As a resident of Arlington, VA I have not been lucky enough to spend an immense amount of time targeting permit, but I have had enough missed shots to know that they have gotten to my head.  

As a former competitive athlete I felt I knew how to handle pressure, however, after spending way too much time thinking about catching a permit, I began to care entirely too much.   After overthinking the few shots at permit that I had on the first couple of days of our trip, I decided to take one full day of the trip to target them exclusively.  Fortunately my wife Cassie, a very quick study of the sport and ever improving angler in her own right, reminded me of the article on our way to meet our guide.  Before my first cast I reminded myself to just stop caring and by 9:22 AM I had the first permit of my career hooked and the battle began.  Not only was I on my way to landing my first permit but I was on my way to my first ever Grand Slam.   After landing this fish at 10 AM I had a bonefish and tarpon successfully landed by 11:40.  Permit will probably continue to haunt my mind but at least Will’s article got me to shake the jitters for a short period of time."

Doug Root
Arlington, VA

I responded to Doug saying:

"As a former wrestler, a climber and a white water kayaker I know that all successful athletes learn to let go… just as you said.  
Kayakers have a saying. "You gotta give up the breath" this means when you find yourself upside-down in the middle of a crashing Class V rapid, you must roll successfully the first time or you are in trouble. 
To do this, you gotta keep your head in the water to maintain the momentum of your roll or you will not be able to roll up. You gotta let go and trust your training. It's hard to do, 'cuz you want to breathe!

Same thing with fishing. Learning to focus, controlling your adrenaline and "giving up the breath" is the essence of the sport.

This is an important concept and articulated well by Will in his article. Well done Captain Benson!:

Changes at Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine

Check out the new content and format at Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazine. Great job by editor John Frazier and everybody else involved! Congratulations guys!
I think the changes put the magazine on the cutting edge once again! 
The March/ April issue is now available!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Details on Doug Root's Big Triggerfish

Many have asked for more details on Doug Root's incredible triggerfish... 
I asked Doug and he was kind enough to provide some more info even though he was playing catch-up at work after his trip to Los Roques. His answers bode well for his angling future! He combines humility with accuracy... his fish karma is indeed good!
Here is what Doug had to say about his trigger:

Not surprising.  It was pretty random.  I didn’t weigh it, but I would estimate it  in the 15 to 20 lb range.  It was definitely well over 10 lbs and probably well over 15 lbs, but I am a terrible judge without a boga grip.  My buddy actually looked up the world record and said it was 13 lbs so maybe I could have had something there if I even knew what I was catching.  I was still shocked to see that fish feeding on the flat.
I got it on a bonefish bitters.  It was basically tailing on an angle on the flat.  I thought it was a ray at first and was going to pass it by but I asked the boatmen what it was while the guide was down the flat with my wife and while he couldn’t tell me what it was he told me to cast at it.  I casted at it a few times and stripped and it wouldn’t move toward the fly at all so I just left the fly sitting on the bottom in front of him/her in the turtle grass and next thing I knew it was blowing off the flat and peeling line.  It was awesome. The horn on it’s head is incredible. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grand Slam and More at Los Roques

From Doug and Cassie Root who just got back from Los Roques... a big bone, a big permit and a very nice tarpon to fill out a Grand Slam. And, if that wasn't enough, he connects with a good 'cuda, ...ON A FLY! 
And have a look at the size of his triggerfish!
Doug's report proves my contention that Los Roques is an unexplored mecca for big permit!!
Thanks Doug for the report and congratulations!! 
Here is Doug's report:

Thanks again for organizing a great trip.  We had a fantastic time and everything was very smooth and totally easy as you promised. You are not going to believe it, but I landed a grand slam on Thursday. I hooked the permit at 9:23 AM, landed him by 10 AM and ran around and hooked up a bonefish and tarpon and was done by 11:40 AM.  We went looking for snook in the afternoon for the super slam, but couldn’t find any unfortunately. 

Here are some pics from the trip.  The triggerfish and the 'cuda were awesome as well. We only saw one triggerfish on the flats the entire trip!  We will have to figure out the next big adventure soon. 

Thanks again,
Doug Root

Los Roques has some big bones!... one for Doug.
...and one for Cassie!
... and more permit than people know!

The permit fly was a nothing fly. It was one of two flies that Javier had on his hat and after looking through my boxes of hundreds of flies he went to "old faithful". It is the green one in the attached picture. It barely has any thread left on it at this point. The permit ate on a long strip. It is a pretty random fly to say the least.

My wife loved the trip and had a blast. She fished really hard and loved every minute of it. Of course, I landed the slam on the one day she took off. She didn’t believe me when I came back to the posada. I had to break out the camera to convince her I wasn’t messing with her. 

A ratty fly on Javier's ratty hat!
... and some solid tarpon!
...geez that is a big trigger!
...and a 'cuda just to round it out!