Friday, July 29, 2011

The Bird

The day dawned like any other November day; perhaps a bit warmer than usual, but still entirely unremarkable. We rarely know, in the beginning, that a day is to be a "big day", and it's probably just as well. If we did know, we'd do things differently, and it's probably that we do not that is precisely why these days turn as as they do. And so it was that the young hunter - no longer a boy, to be sure, but not yet a man - unleashed his hound, and headed off into the brush, as he had done a dozen times already that fall. The dog, still a youngster himself, was a sleek, happy, but stubborn beagle named Phragmites. The dog was already a fairly accomplished rabbit hound, and the hunter was proud; proud of Phragmites and proud of his own development as a hunter. Why it was just a year prior that he had killed his first rabbit, this over Roy's pack of half-wild beagles. Roy, one of the hired farm hands, had a crew of six or seven dogs - dogs that were lean, and did not eat if they did not run rabbits. This was partly because Roy was poor, but partly because he felt this made the dogs better hunters. When a rabbit was killed, it was only in about eight of ten cases that one could get to the animal before the dogs did. And of course, if the dogs reached the rabbit first there was nothing left for the game vest. If Roy did get the rabbit first, he would "remove" the head, toss it to the snarling pack, and put the rest of the rabbit in his vest. For all of these reasons, and more, Roy was suspicious that the young hunter could make a rabbit dog out of Phragmites. After all, Phragmites was not only well fed - "fat", according to Roy - but also spoiled least as far as Roy was concerned. "You don't hunt rabbit with a godamn pet!!" is what he would say.

None of this bothered the young hunter, of course. By which we mean that he had full confidence in Phragmites, and loved him unconditionally. But Oh! Oh, how he wanted to prove to Roy that Phragmites was a genuine rabbit dog! Roy had no interest in hunting with just a single dog, and when on occasion the hunter and Phragmites joined Roy and his pack, it is true that Phragmites did not perform well. It wasn't that he couldn't run rabbits - he could! But Phragmites was a slow, deliberate hunter. He was the whole package: a strike dog with nose, drive, and bottom. But of course, he hunted alone and therefore by his rules, and his alone. In the company of Roy's uncivilized curs - and that's how Phragmites and the hunter saw them, to be sure - poor Phragmites just didn't know what to do. Now, our hunter knew this to be true: that never had there been, nor would there ever be, a rabbit run by a better dog than Phragmites. But he also knew, or so he thought, that he'd never be able to prove it to Roy. On this day, all of this would change.

But as I say, we don't know these things most times. And this would explain why, as he was leaving the house, the hunter grabbed just a handful of two-and-one-half inch .410 shells. He did not yet own a big bore shotgun, and it didn't occur to him at the time that, perhaps, the larger three inch .410 "magnum" shells...and many of them...would have been prudent.

Phragmites picked up scent as soon as he'd crossed the fence and rounded the first briar patch. The hunter knew rabbits and he knew Phragmites, and so he positioned himself on the high mound by the sumac trees - for he knew that a rabbit jumped by the briar patch would first enter the tall grass, run the short length of the fenceline, and then re-enter the brush before crossing in front of the sumacs. Phragmites would follow, baying musically, but would maintain the proper distance, such that the rabbit would move quickly enough but not so quickly that the hunter would miss the shot. And so it was, and the game pouch sagged with the weight of the day's first rabbit

The hunter patted Phramites on the head affectionately, pointed to the brush, and said "Go on now, hunt 'em up!" It was not but a few minutes thereafter that the dog signaled that he'd struck scent again. The hunter was already in position, and knew he need do nothing but wait: Phragmites would bring the rabbit around presently, the shot would be easy, and dog and hunter would return home with a brace of bunnies fit for stewing. But something was not right. From the sound of the dog's baying, it was clear that this rabbit was not following standard operating protocol. Instead of coming around the well worn path, as all rabbits jumped here had done to this day, this rabbit appeared to be taking Phragmites deeper into the brush. If it continued, dog and rabbit would be close to the swamp, and the hunter would have to reposition himself. It was at this moment, as he was considering his options, that the change in dog's voice stopped him cold. Phragmites had ceased to bay and was instead barking and growling angrily. It was momentarily quiet, and then the hunter heard Phragmites yelp once, then twice, then three times. The hunter ran to the dog, not sure what was going on but not at all comfortable with the sounds he was hearing. When at least he reached the dog, he found Phragmites scratched and muddy, confused but excited. The dog clearly did not want to give up - something (but what?) had slipped off into the swamp that Phragmites wished to pursue. The hunter stared off into the distance, squinting in hopes of catching sight of something, when he thought he glimpsed movement. Before his mind had time to process the image before him, Phragmites saw the same thing and bayed loudly. Only now did the hunter get a good look, and what he saw sent a chill down his spine. It was The Bird. The hunter grabbed Phragmites by the collar, leashed him, and whispered harshly "Hush boy!" to the dog, while he tried to collect his thoughts.

The Bird. Roy had talked about The Bird before. Everybody talked about The Bird. The Bird was not a bird, but was instead a rabbit. But he was not just any rabbit. As Roy had explained it, The Bird had lost one ear, years ago, to a shotgun blast from Old Man Humphrey's big 10 gauge. Why, you ask, would anybody hunt rabbits with a 10 gauge? Well, as Roy explained it, The Bird was no ordinary rabbit. For reasons unknown at the time, but that would become clear before the day was done, The Bird had ceased to eat carrots, lettuce and other ordinary bunny-fare. The Bird had become a predator, and it was when Old Man Humphrey had already lost two spring lambs and a Hereford calf to The Bird (though, of course, at the time he'd suspected a coyote or maybe even a bear, still reputed to roam these woods and hills now and then) that he pulled the old 10 gauge from the closet, loaded it with buckshot, and put it in the corner where he could reach it quickly. The night of the shooting, Humphrey heard the blood-curdling screams coming from the feedlot, grabbed the big gun, and ran out into the cold dark. Now of course Old Man Humphrey has been dead for years, but as he related the story to Roy, Humphrey saw The Bird (though, at that time, he was not yet called The Bird, nor anything else) clinging to the throat of one of his shoats. When the rabbit saw Humphrey, he let go of the now mortally wounded piglet and stood up on his hind legs. Humphrey fired and one of those balls ripped through the rabbit's left year, shearing it off cleanly at the base. According to Roy, and he always quotes Old Man Humphrey when relating the tale, "That old rabbit didn't even flinch. I'd just blowed his ear off, and he just stood his ground. Standin' there, against the moonlight with just the one good ear still standin' up, and him not backin' down at all, he looked somebody giving me the finger - you know what I'm sayin'? That one ear standin' up offa his head, it was like the old rabbit was just givin' me The Bird." With that, the rabbit turned and casually hopped off into the night. Old Man Humphrey picked up the ear he'd shot off, and when he died gave it to Roy. They say Humphrey's last words were "Kill that godamn rabbit for me, Roy", and Roy was determined to do so. And for a few years, he'd come close to doing just that, though it had cost him more than one good beagle. How The Bird did it, nobody knew because nobody saw it happen, but on more than one occasion, Roy heard a dog go silent mid-chase, only to come upon the poor thing split wide open from belly to chin, its guts hanging out. Tracks at the scene left no doubt that The Bird was responsible, for they were the same tracks (two small ones from the front feet, two large from the back feet) that were always found in the barn yards and feedlots when livestock had been killed.

The young hunter, before he was a hunter, would occasionally ask Roy to show him the now shriveled right ear, and Roy would pull it out of his shirt pocket, hold it up, and tell the boy the story of The Bird yet again. He never tired of hearing it, nor did Roy tire of telling it. But it had been years since anybody had seen The Bird, and with the exception of Roy (because he had hoped to kill him) the townspeople were perfectly happy to go on not seeing The Bird. In fact, most believed he had finally died of old age or perhaps been killed in a fight with a bear. But there was no doubt, none at all, that what the young hunter was now facing was The Bird. And this, of course, meant he faced a tough decision: he could pursue The Bird into the swamp, perhaps kill him, and finally prove to Roy and the world that Phragmites was a legitimate hunting dog. Or, he could do the smart thing and leave now, without risking his life or that of his dog. And indeed, it was this very thing that he'd intended to do when at that very moment, The Bird stood up on his hind legs and howled - a sound like no other, a sound that the hunter imagined must be The Sound of Hell. It was too much for Phragmites, who, having already allowed The Bird to bruise his canine ego, wanted nothing more than to kill that rabbit; Phragmites bolted, and the hunter, admittedly awestruck by The Bird's sinister howling, failed to hold on. Before the hunter knew what had happened, Phragmites had broken loose and was headed straight for The Bird. It would be impossible to shoot (and with what, the little .410 shotgun?!) without risk of hitting Phragmites, so there was nothing the hunter could do. The Bird saw Phragmites coming and turned to run, or so it appeared. No, in fact, The Bird had just turned so that his powerful rear feet were facing Phragmites, and with what was clearly a well-practiced move, The Bird sent Phragmites wheeling with a mighty blow from his feet. To his credit, Phragmites righted himself and before the hunter could get a shot off, was on The Bird again. This time, he anticipated The Bird's moves and leapt to the side, just as The Bird kicked. Phragmites turned, and in a split second had The Bird by the throat. The Bird in turn wheeled, and laid open Phragmites' flank, and the blood began to flood the ground. Phragmites was up again, but was clearly badly hurt and The Bird knew it. He rose again upon his hind legs, and would in an instant be upon Phragmites - when the hunter fired. The blast toppled The Bird but he was on his feet immediately, and coming for the hunter. The small shotgun was clearly no match for this particular rabbit, at least not at this range, so the hunter had no choice but to wait until The Bird was within just feet of the muzzle, whereupon he fired again. When the smoke had cleared and the hunter opened his eyes, there was an eerie silence. There, on the ground in front of him lay The Bird. He approached cautiously, as did Phragmites (who, despite being severely wounded was now on his feet). The hunter shoved the muzzle of the gun into the rabbit's side, and gave it a nudge. There was no movement. The Bird was dead.

The hunter collapsed to his knees and took Phragmites into his arms. The dog's wounds, though serious, would not be mortal. It was almost dark by now, and the hunter knew it would be a long night, so he stood and reached for The Bird. When he turned him over, he saw a sight so hideous, so grotesque, so utterly abominable, that he let out an audible gasp and dropped the rabbit. Even Phragmites, despite his pain, lept back with a start. For now that they could see the rabbit's face, they understood, for the first time, The Bird. Apparently, at a much younger age, The Bird had suffered a dental malocclusion, a condition in rabbits wherein the upper and lower incisors do not meet; this meeting of the incisors is essential for proper growth and development, for if they do not meet, and thereby provide the mutual grinding surfaces so necessary for keeping the teeth in check, the incisors will grow unabated. And indeed, because of this malocclusion, The Bird's face resembled not so much a rabbit but that of a wild boar, his lower teeth no longer teeth but now tusks - long, sharp tusks, covered now with the fresh blood of Phragmites and the stains of a hundred others before him. It was this gross deformity that explained his blood lust, for without the teeth typical of your garden-variety rabbit, The Bird was unable to eat vegetables. Forced, was he, to live the life of carnivore not by choice but by cruel fate. When this realization hit the young hunter, he felt a twinge of sympathy for the old rabbit, vilified for years for what he could not help (for what else could he do, but lay down and die, and would it be fair to expect any creature, no matter how hideous, to do so voluntarily?). But the reality was that The Bird was dead, for better or for worse, and it was time to head home.

When the hunter reached town and word of the kill spread, the townspeople gathered on the farm to view the now dead lagomorphic terror. At the sight of The Bird's frightening physiognamy, women fainted and children cried. The Bird had been hoisted up into a tree using a block and tackle, so large was he (no official weights were ever taken, but many there who helped lift him were convinced he was over five pounds, field-dressed, which would have put him at possible six pounds when alive). It wasn't until after midnight that most of the crowd had thinned. The young hunter was just heading into the house to feed Phragmites when Roy stepped into the light, walked over to the dog, and knelt down and with a grin said: "Well, I'll be godamned."

A young T.J. Brayshaw, Phragmites and "The Bird"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Please Go Away

Katherine Hepburn had a sign outside her Old Saybrook mansion that said Please Go Away. I didn't much care for the actress until I heard this. It's for sale - the house and the sign. Readers with a loose 28 mill should probably consider making an offer and I will come round to kayak, fish and swim without being disturbed.

Summer is boring. It's between fishing and hunting seasons. Kids have to be greased up and coaxed into cancer prevention suits. My lovely lawn is gradually turning to dusty parchment in a reverse-phenological sign that spells C.R.A.P. F.I.S.H.I.N.G.. Of course, all you must do is rearrange these letters. Until then stripers will be a fickle late-night species less inclined to shoreline feeding. The Culvert is a pipe carrying stagnant bait soup on either tide. They say even The Mighty Block has been devoid of meaningful fishing. And forget trout: the Farmington River is the best part of a 3 hour air-conditioned trip away for a shot at mostly small stockies. It's a beautiful place but I just don't have the energy for such limited payback, you know? You may also know my rule of thumb never to travel more than half a mile to fish for SMB, principally because I think they look like little jobbies with fins. So that rules out the Housie.

Thank goodness for beautiful C.A.R.P. Me and Anonymous went out early Sunday morning, mostly because we didn't know what else to do outside in 90+ degree heat. We found carp and had multiple shots at them, which was very exciting. It reminded me that carp are a good fish if you're a pair of anglers; while one guy fishes the other spots for cruising fish and gives hushed but mildly panicked advice like "Shit look at the size of him - medium pace from 11 O'clock"; "Leading cast two feet above"; "No you fool, that was hopeless"; "The fish have all gone and we'll have to stand for another 20 fruitless minutes. Did you bring me a cigar?" Most weren't feeding fish - asses up, lips down - but occasionally they did turn to our flies only to veer away. One slurped in my white bugger and gave quite an exciting fight on the springy Hardy 4# and 5lb nylon. I felt lucky to land the thing.

Here is a better photograph.
The morning was about more than catching, which it often has to be when you don't catch anything. We saw a family of deer at water's edge; a kingfisher flitted hither and yon; beautiful Nymphaea alba was in fragrant flower; and Anonymous and I should both seek medical intervention or start eating less fibrous foods as soon as feasibly possible. Alas, instead we finished fishing and went to a local greasy spoon for eggs, bacon, home fries, and something they called coffee but I would not. It was a really lovely summer morning.  

Local pond (As befits, Anonymous cannot quite be seen on the right)
White flower.

Now you've seen my pictures, so if you don't mind, until autumn, please go away. 


Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Slurp" magazine interviews Brayshaw

Here we've reproduced the entire transcript from a recent interview of T.J. Brayshaw, conducted by "Slurp" magazine, the literary carp journal.

Slurp Interviewer: How would you describe your life right now?

T.J. Brayshaw: As sublime.

SI: Sublime? Can you elaborate?

TJB: Yes. Sublime, as in sub-lime, as in "less than, or below, a lime".

SI: There were some darker periods in your life, correct?

TJB: Well, yes, that is true, but not unusual, I don't think, for people like me.

SI: Is that a period you're willing to talk about? When and how did it start?

TJB: Yes, I can talk about it now. There was a time when I could not.

SI: What happened?

TJB: It started around 5 pm, I guess, on the 28th of May, 2011. I guess I hit rock bottom around 12:30am of the 29th.

SI: Can you elaborate? Why do you think these things happen to you?

TJB: Well, first you have to understand the crowd I was running with at the time, guys like English Jonny, Anonymous, you know.

SI: English Jonny is out again?

TJB: Oh yeah. He's back. Don't you read your magazine?

SI: Touche. What's he been doing?

TJB: Oh, he's a world traveler. Ridgefield, Storrs. Serotyping, shit like that.

SI: Serotyping?

TJB: Nevermind. Anyway, we'd been carp fishing, unsuccessfully, I might add. I think Faulkner was the one who said "Carp fishing is a slippery slurp to hell."

SI: That doesn't really sound like something Faulkner would say.

TJB: How would I know? Anyway, Anonymous suggested ribs. That was the beginning of the end.

SI: Ribs? I don't understand.

TJB: It's the pressure. You can really screw up ribs, you know. It was around that time, maybe 5 pm, when I started drinking again.

SI: And the ribs?

TJB: They were good. They really were. But by then the deed had been done.

SI: And how would you describe your life at that time?

TJB: Like a mug, fired black.

SI: It's been said that, at one time, you were quite a ladies' man. Is that true?

TJB: Well, I don't want to toot my own horn...

SI: So it is true?

TJB: Toot.

SI: Toot?

TJB: Teat.

SI: OK. Let's move on. Some of your critics charge that you've fabricated this entire interview, where you play the part of both interviewer and interviewee. Is there any validity to these charges?

TJB: Ha! It would seem to me that it would take a fairly strange, and quite vain, person to do something like that, don't you agree?

SI: Well, I guess I do agree. But you haven't really answered the question.

[At this point, Brayshaw storms out of the room, along with the Interviewer, then both return simultaneously.]

SI: I'm sorry to keep carping on about this, but what about the charges?

TJB: "Carping on." Ha ha. Real funny. What if they are true - does it matter?

SI: I think it does. I mean, aren't you painting a picture of somebody who isn't the real T.J. Brayshaw?

TJB: I'm not going to talk to you anymore.

SI: I'm not sure you have that option.

[At this point, the interview concludes, with both Brayshaw and the Interviewer leaving, again simultaneously.]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More on building a fly fishing pram...

[Editor's Note: This is a follow-up to an earlier post. You may wish to read that post first; if so, click here. If you believe you've reached this blog in error, and wish to get out as fast as possible, click here.)

The purpose of this post is, largely, to provide some heretofore neglected details about my pram, particularly for those considering such watercraft. Whether a pram is right for your fishing is something you'll need to decide, since no vessel is perfect for all kinds of fishing. I'll also neglect the question as to whether you should buy your pram or build it yourself, except to say that if your only goal is to have a pram and you've got unlimited funds, there are plenty of people out there willing to sell you one.

If you are thinking of building one, then your first consideration is what sort of design. I can only speak to the particular boat I built, which is the D4 (now called the D5 on their website, because of minor updates) from To me, this is a perfect design for a number of reasons. First, at seven feet, ten inches long and three feet, ten inches wide, it's plenty big for one person but no bigger than necessary. Second, the hull has enough "V" to cut through a bit of chop, but is still wide and flat enough that I find it plenty stable for casting and fishing while standing up. Some time ago, I saw a comment from somebody that the D4 pram is not stable; I find this completely untrue. I'm only five-seven and about 155 pounds, and because of my large testicles I also have a very low center of gravity, so perhaps these are the reasons I find the boat so stable. But I doubt it - this comment came from a pram manufacturer who loses a potential customer each time somebody builds him- or herself a pram, and I can't help but suspect this is the reason for his comment. Finally, the D4 plans were simple and the website has a useful discussion board. But, should you wish to consider other boat plans, they are out there.

Once you decide to build, you’ve got to choose the wood. I used what is called “BC” plywood, which simply means that one side is “Grade B” and the other side is “Grade C”, with plywoods typically being A, B, C, or D grade, A being very well finished, sanded, free of blemishes, etc. “BC” is pretty good plywood, better than typical construction-grade CD plywood. But…and this is an important but, BC is far from marine-grade plywood (typically AA grade). A pram made with BC plywood and good epoxy will be perfectly serviceable and cost much less, but the wood is less attractive, will be prone to some “checking” (developing small cracks – which might, possibly, need some future attention; see image below), and heavier. If I could (or when I) do it all over again, I would use quality marine plywood, such as Okoume or Meranti. These plywoods are considerably more expensive, and not always locally available (meaning you may also have to pay shipping costs) but superior in all other ways to “regular” plywood, such as the BC I used.

"Checking", i.e. small cracks; good marine plywood does not do this.

According to the plan designer, the D4 pram should come in at around 55 pounds – this is assuming no more epoxy than necessary, and light-weight, quality marine plywood. In addition to better, lighter plywood, I think I could have built the entire boat from 1/4 inch plywood. The plans called for 1/4 inch for the hull and 3/8 inch for frames and seat tops, which is what I used. However, the boat is much, much stronger than I’d expected it to be – there is simply no “flex” or “give” in the hull when I stand in it. This is, in part, because when you bend plywood pieces, then join them, the tension of all those bends working “against each other” adds rigidity.  So, I suspect that if I’d built the entire boat from 1/4 inch plywood (or marine plywood, which comes in 4mm thicknesses…actually a bit less than 1/4 inch thick) it would have been considerably lighter, yet still plenty strong, for me at least. 

I’ve never weighed my boat, but I am certain it weighs considerably more than the 55 pound “designed weight”. This makes little difference on the water, or even when I’m loading the boat on the car with the help of somebody else. But because the pram is, in some ways, already awkward to carry because of its dimensions, the added weight does not help. When I built the boat, I had a pick-up truck and loading it was simple. Now, with my small wagon and roof rack, I have to lift the boat to load and unload. I can do this, as shown below, but I always swear a bit when doing so.

If necessary, I lift the pram this way...

And carry it this way; can be done, but lacks a good balance point

The old days, when transport was easy.

I car-top it these days.

You’re going to need some tools; that said, you probably already have some or most of them (screwdrivers, for example), and could borrow the others. No “specialized” tools are necessary. I made virtually all of the cuts with a hand-held circular saw. The curves are such that the blade did not bind. For a few cuts, I used a jigsaw. A hand-held belt sander was a godsend. I also did some sanding with a small random-orbit sander. The holes for the “stitches” required a drill. I already owned most of these tools, but those I purchased for the boat still see plenty of use for other projects. Go ahead – you deserve some new tools. 

A few steps, particularly the installation of the multi-layered rub rails, required a lot of clamps. I had a few clamps already, picked up a couple more strong clamps, but then made all of the other necessary clamps out of short (2-3 inches) sections of PVC pipe cut down the middle - a terribly clever idea that I wish I could take credit for, but alas, I cannae. The rub rails are made from three layers of long strips of plywood, and regularly spaced clamps were necessary to hold them to the boat’s curve while the epoxy cured.

An assortment of clamps

The homemade PVC clamps holding rub rail in place

 You’re also going to use up a lot of “expendable” supplies. The fiberglass tape is one of these things, and the epoxy is another; here you do not want to cut corners. Use epoxy designed for this kind of boat building. I used System Three, which is what sells. You’ll need “wood flour”, which you’ll mix with epoxy to fill the gaps between plywood panels. I purchased fine wood flour from for most of the work, but I did save the finer sawdust from my random orbit sander’s bag as well. If you have a source for fine sawdust, you might be able to avoid buying wood flour. The epoxy is messy, so I found it usually easier to throw away things like gloves, plastic bags, mixing cups and plastic spoons, t-shirts, etc., rather than worry about cleaning epoxy at the end of each work session. Figure you’re going to spend some money on this sort of crap.

Don’t forget those little things, such as oarlocks, if you intend to row the pram. If you’re going to power it with a small electric (or gas) outboard, you’ll want to reinforce the transom a bit with another layer or two of plywood. When the boat is finished, you’ll have to decide whether to stain it to preserve the natural look of the wood, or paint it. If you like the natural look, you’ll need to treat the epoxy with a UV blocker, else the sun will damage the epoxy. If you paint it, use good primer and paint designed for boats. This stuff ain’t cheap, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve had my boat eight years, and it’s nowhere near in need of a paint job.

It's also nice to have a way to wheel the pram from place to place.  I tend to store the boat with a set of wheels clamped to the transom (stern).  These are handy for getting the boat from, say, the garage to the car.  But they don't work well on anything but the flattest surface, and the boat is hard to maneuver with these wheels.  A modified kayak or canoe cart - the kind with larger spoked wheels - works better.  A pram is too wide to fit one of these carts very well, but I've seen a few clever modifications that work well with prams.  With the spoked-wheel cart in place, such that the pram is balanced, you can wheel it around with little effort and, since it's right-side up, you can load it with your stuff.

Stern-clamp wheels; they work, but not terribly well.

Finally, here is a somewhat random list of some of the things that I either know I would do differently, were I to build another pram, or that I might consider doing differently.

 - Use marine plywood (absolutely), all in 4mm thickness (probably)

- Cut bow and stern transoms flush? As you can see in some of the photos, the bow and stern transoms have a curve along the top. I don’t know if this is functional or just aesthetic, but I find that sometimes these extra inches catch on the roof rack during loading and unloading. On the other hand, when upside down the boat rests on these “points”, thus reducing how much of the boat gets scratched up. I’m not sure how I might handle this in the future.

- Storage compartments? Sometimes, I pile too much shit into the boat, which then catches the fly line while casting, and just results in too much clutter. During the building, I considered either making or buying some sort of hatch covers so I could use the spaces under the seats for storage, but I was too impatient. In hindsight, I wish I’d done that. I still could, I suppose, but I probably won’t now that the boat is finished.

Too much crap in the boat (fish is a spotted bay bass, by the way)

- Glass the entire bottom? For larger boats, and even some smaller boats, many builders will cover the entire bottom of the boat in a layer of fiberglass and epoxy. This helps protect the boat against scratches, dents and dings from rocks. As you’d expect, though, it will add considerable weight. For me, this added protection has never seemed as if it would have been worth the added weight, but were I to use the pram regularly on rocky, swifter rivers, then this might make sense.

- An anchor system? I simply carry a cheap mushroom anchor in a bucket, and tie the anchor rope to the boat through one of the various holes built into the “knees”, and this works well enough. However, I have seen some nifty little anchor pulleys mounted on the bows of some other prams that allow the user to raise and lower the anchor without ever getting up off the seat. The possible downside to such a system that I can imagine is that it will catch on the roof rack during loading or unloading – but an anchor system could be a nice little luxury if it would work.

 Finally, consider that the boat will get dirty and will need to be washed.  Small children like to do this, but you must consider them a long-term investment.  I'm not sure I've gotten my money's worth yet.

Small child washes pram

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another way (not) to catch carp

People often ask me "T.J., is there just one way to lose a carp?", to which I reply "Absolutely not - there are many, many ways to screw things up, and it's the wise fisherman who has a full quiver of options!"

They will also say things like "And isn't it enough just to have hooked a carp? To just be on the water, enjoying nature's bounty?", to which I will reply "That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard."