Sunday, March 27, 2011


I ignorantly transgressed 20 feet outside a TMA today with my 6 year old daughter. Someone called the DEP and they duly arrived to give me a formal, written warning. I was in the wrong, so I'm not going to rant about how a State of Steady Habits is also a State of Waste, of time and money; or how the phone happy angler has his head up his arse (you know who you are).  First time I've been asked for my license in 5 years of living state-side. Feels like I popped my cherry! No, instead, I say to the kindly DEP chap: F you my friend.

Mazel Tov!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Keeping Up with Olde English... Jonny

Dear Brayshaw,

I didn't understand a word of Jonny's last post. Can you help me?

- Confused in Cornwall (Cornwall, Pennsylvania, that is)

Dear Confused,

Your confusion is perfectly understandable. Jonny speaks what is known as Olde English; indeed, he is the last known living speaker of the language (and, because it's the only language he speaks, in actual fact he can communicate with nobody). The problem, of course, is that the Culvert is an American website, and often the software we use is simply unable to translate properly. But I've done it for you.

First, I select Jonny's story. I then run this through our "Web to Olde English" translator, thus producing (for example):

Now, I have to run this through another back-translator (please excuse all the webmaster/computer jargon), in this case "Olde English to American", thus producing:

"Me 'n ol' Z wents t' fishin', and twern't bad. We had t' drive a fer piece, but got us a few, 'n had a burger 'n fries on th'way home."

(That's actually the entire story, once translated.)

Always happy t' help!

T.J. Brayshaw

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oxford Blue

Back in Oxbridge the chaps knew how to scrabble together a fair old tucker.  Slammer Jenkins and Bunty Lewis would whiz up lashing of cucumber sandwiches (just like mummy's - no crusts!) Just the ticket after a day in the field, willow to silly mid-off or tossing a googly. Hazaar chaps and three cheers for matron!

This week I'm tally ho all the way back to the Nutmeg from a ripping culinary hat trick in Pulaski, New York, with my old dorm mucker and all-round good egg (get it?) Steve Zakur. But bloody hell chaps,  I can't say it started off too well, no mother! No Oxford Blue in Pulaski; not a dean's tea in sight - just the thought of it has the wing-tips a tremble!

At supper the first evening old Zakurs and Jonny dined on "highway food". Good heavens, not a quail's egg in sight. They didn't even stock Pimms!
These very thin potatoes are "fries". 
This is a "highway meat sandwich".

I was bally well flumoxed by it all, I should say. But ding dong if breakers wasn't the top drawer!

Lashings of soldiers. Hazaar!

The boys in the bunk house say a picture's worth a thousands words! Spiffing egg and crumpet - enjoy chaps, Pulaski's the place!
The yellow egg was just the ticket.

Things are on the up. A turn up for the old books I'd say. And England into the semis against those scoundrels from Sri Lanka - up the Oxford Blues! But blast the thing if we couldn't watch on the old set. Something about fishing, meeting a guide, learning to "Spey", whatever the bally-do that is! After breakers Zakurs had me down the river with the rods. Jolly good fun for a while with the boys in the DSR. Not Oxford Blue (perhaps Cambridge?), but jolly good men when the chips are down!

Zakurs trades the day's puff before the off. And over the top we go!

Ah yes, the fishing wasn't a patch on the food. Always an anti-climax, what? Steelhead just don't scrap like the old rugger ball carp back home and the river was ghastly fast. Here's one of Zakurs getting to grips with his "Spey" (sounds like some sort of bally Scotch! On the rocks there Zakurs! (I'm not sure who the other chap is. Don't think he was a Blue).

Bally strange to cast without a fishing rod, what!
I filled a few hours before supps with a little fishing. Sucker spawn and lead - sounds like a good hotpot to me!

I say, I bally couldn't wait to get back to camp for some of granny's best. Hazaar for my hat-trick! Those scoundrels in Pulaski, leaving the jolly best 'til last - the finest Oxford supps (your beverage of choice, as long as it's Pimms!) 

Dig in chaps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wild Angus Beef.

Swedish meatballs from IKEA. These shouldn't be here. (I'll write to the DEC or the BBC or someone).

Zakurs after a day at the Spey. Hazaar!


English Jonny's Fly Box

Years ago, around the time they sent him away, I inherited one of English Jonny's fly boxes - the one with carp flies. The photo accompanies this post. I studied this collection for hours, trying to understand what went into his selection of materials, the placement of the bead-chain eyes, the proportions...all of it. I wanted to know.

The grizzly hackle, I hypothesized, was selected to represent the gill flaps of the Physocallimus nymphs so prevalent on EJ's favorite carp water in early May. The white hackle, however, clearly resembles the side bristles of a third-instar Calliomorph larva. Yellow marabou tail? The cerci of a male Scaphillymnys gregii or S. clarkii. (But which one!!??).

Recently, during one of our regular visits, presented him with my hypotheses (with some trepidation, I'll admit - when you're wrong, English Jonny lets you know it, in classic English/Irish style).

"They're a bunch of bloody wooly buggers with bead chain, you imbecile. Why do you have to over-analyze everything?!", he said to me.

Clearly, the man is not ready to leave the institution.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Third Best Fly-fishing Video This Week

There's no link to fly-fishing here, but it's true Culvert, which is to say it's The purest bullshit on planet Earth. Actually, forget that; this film is exactly why we went fly-fishing. Whooooey girl - finer than a creme brulee.

She's Too Good For Everyone - Watch more Funny Videos

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ask Brayshaw!

T.J. responds to readers' letters:

Every now and then* I like to respond to readers' letters. Since my recent post on steelheading expertise, I’ve received many** letters from interested readers wanting to know more about steelhead. Because these letters represent only a fraction*** of our readership, I felt it appropriate to post the letters, and my replies, here – for the benefit of all.

Dear Brayshaw,

Don’t you think their are already enough “fly fishing experts”, especially on the internet?

- A curious reader

Dear Curious Reader,

“Their”, “there”, and “they’re” are not synonyms.

But, no, there are not too many internet experts. Fly fishing experts are very much like gas, in that they can expand to fill the available space. And, because the internet is a very large space, there is plenty of room for many, many more experts. Without experts, how will you know if you can use both yellow and green fly lines on your number 8 fly rod? Also, experts are like gas in other ways.

T.J. Brayshaw

Dear Brayshaw,

I recently caught my first steelhead. But, I caught it twice, once at the head of the pool on an egg pattern, and then again later at the tail of the pool on an egg-sucking leech. Can I claim expertise, since it was only one fish?

Signed – Hopeful

Dear Hopeful,

This is a very interesting case. Normally, I would say “No”, since you only caught one steelhead. However, I think you’re in luck! Because you caught it twice, on different flies, and in different locations, you can indeed become an expert. For example, you could say “I’ve found that a steelhead will sometimes take an egg fly, but at other times, an egg-sucking leech is the ticket.”


Or how about this: “When fishing one favorite pool, I’ve taken a steelhead from the head of the pool, and from the tail of the pool.” Nothing disingenuous there, right?

Best of luck. I look forward to your first article!

T.J. Brayshaw

Dear Brayshaw,

I know you’ve caught most**** of your steelhead in the Great Lakes region. Will your techniques work for me in the Pacific Northwest as well?

Signed – Steelheadless in Seattle

Dear Seattle,

To the best of my knowledge, steelhead have not yet been stocked in the Pacific Northwest. However, you’re welcome to come here and catch a native. I know some***** spots.

T.J. Brayshaw

[Editor's Notes: *this is the first time; **four; *** three-fourths; **** all; ***** he knows two]

They're Here!

Right on cue.

You see today, for English, it's not easy being green (or brownish). But these guys I do like.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Man of Steel

The other day, I went steelhead fishing for the first time. I hooked two steelhead and landed them both, but I can only show you this photograph because I fear the other will give away the location. I can only tell you that on the way home, I passed Grandpa's Cheese Barn. But, I digresstivate, and I've already said too much.

In any event, this is a "How to" piece. In the paragraphs that follow, I am going to tell you how to become an expert. You may be wondering how I could claim to be an expert, having caught only two steelhead in my life. You are misunderstanding me. I am not going to tell you how to catch steelhead - how could I, as I myself still have no idea how to do it? I did it, but I don't know how it happened. No, Gentle Reader, I'm going to teach you how to become an expert. There's a big difference.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must explain that I, myself, am not an expert. I was an expert at one time, but then I got smart. If that sentence doesn't make sense to you, consider reading it about once every five years until it does. And until then, please avoid me on the water.

Expertise, in fly-fishing, has nothing to do with catching fish. It's all about presentation. (Get it?) Now, it is crucial that you catch at least two steelhead (or whatever it is that you're going to be spewing on and on about). Anything less, which is to say one or zero fish, and your drivel will rapidly deteriorate to whatever it is that drivel becomes once it has deteriorated. I was fortunate to have caught that second steelhead. Things were not looking good, but fortune smiled upon me, and hence I am now in the position to claim expertise.

Why it is so important that you catch two fish? Because then you can say things such as those that follow (and please, feel free to use these in your own writing, as is or modified as necessary - the list is really endless, and I could do this all day, but my book isn't finished):

"I find steelhead will take egg patterns in a variety of colors. About half of my steelhead have come to pink eggs whereas the rest have been taken on yellow eggs."

"When I fish for steelhead, I like to work through the slower, deeper pools as well as the faster, boulder-strewn runs, as I have taken fish from both kinds of water."

Disingenuous? No. Well, initially, perhaps. But if you say these things enough, you will begin to believe yourself, at which point you're no longer being disingenuous. You're being something else, perhaps, but not disingenuous.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Fisherman

What a shrewdy! This bird actual moves to a different spot where the fish might be blighting better; he thinks about the presentation of his bread, rearranging just so to induce the take.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spread The Word

There's no such thing as bad press, right?


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sporting? Yes - but is it ethical?

Fishing, but fly fishing more specifically, went through a light-tackle revolution some years ago. For some, the revolution is not over, but most of us now realize that while it may be "sporting" to try to catch large fish on very light rods and light tippets, this does a disservice to the fish (well, more of a disservice than catching it on appropriately-sized tackle.) Not surprisingly, perhaps, hunting has also dealt with its own identity crisis more than once. There is no catch-and-release in hunting, of course, and for this reason the ethics surrounding the bloodiest of the blood sports can sometimes get even more complicated.
I myself was recently sucked into this moral morass, and while I'm embarrassed to admit the details, I think doing so is important. Robert Ruark knew what he was talking about, and when I reach that Great Hunting Lodge On High, I'll have some explaining to do should he meet me at the door.

Here's what happened: Some two years ago, I was casually flipping through the sporting goods flyer that comes to my house, via the U.S. Postal Service, three times a day. Twas there that I saw this new item, the "Butt Out":

The directions were short, sweet and to the point: "Insert into the anal canal and twist until it grabs the membrane. Continue twisting another half turn, then steadily pull." They were accompanied a three-part illustration, in case something was still unclear.

That sounds easy enough, I thought, but I also instantly recognized that the challenge here would be "getting a shot off", so-to-speak. A very good bow-hunter can drop a deer at 40 yards, but most recognize that getting much closer is not only desirable (for an effective kill), but most importantly, requires stalking skills of the highest degree. Can you get within 15 yards? Or ten? Now imagine, if you can, the kind of stalking skill required to harvest a deer with this new, most primitive of weapons? I became obsessed.

I'm going to spare you the details, except to tell you that, yes, I did get close enough. Three times. The first deer, not surprisingly, bolted the instant my weapon struck home and I, completely unprepared for its strength (after all, no deer I'd ever killed in the past...from a distance...could have prepared me), lost my grip on my weapon. I stood there, draped in humiliation, as I watched the blaze orange weapon bound across the field, just below the white flag of the raised tail. It's only now, in hindsight (get it?), that I realize my own humiliation was just a fraction of that experienced by the deer.

After this initial failure, I got smart. I fashioned a wrist-lanyard to my weapon (which I had now also painted in full camouflage, incidentally). The second deer did not take my weapon, but instead left me with 18 inches of alimentary tract and a dislocated shoulder. I am not proud of this.

Ultimately, I did get my buck. But at what price? Am I sportsman? What did I prove? I don't recall that final hunt with fond memories; instead, it makes me nauseous. I should have known. I'm better than this. We're all better than this. The time for extra-light tackle has come and gone. The Butt Out's time never should have come at all.