Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Choosing your quarry

A lot of beginning fly anglers don't know where to start.  That's why we review many of the commonly sought fish, and even some of the less commonly sought.

Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic Salmon: Very well-balanced and mellow on the nose and palate.  Sweet notes of mature dark rum, toffee, nougat, and candy corn dovetail with dried apricot, golden raisin, hot cinnamon, soft mint tea, and vanilla.  Polished leather and tobacco leaves on a long, contemplative finish.  This is what ultra-mature fly rod fish should be like: all the depth and complexity that comes with this much aging, without all the excessive oak.  The wood is there, but it never crosses the line. 

Striped Bass
Striped Bass: A hearty fish, yields a massive mountain of tan head; there is clarity here, as it shows the deep brown hues. Pleasant aroma of chicory, light brown sugar and toasted bread. Super smooth with a moderate-sized body that holds a fluffy and semi-crisp carbonation. Dry maltiness has suggestions of slightly burned biscuits, unsweetened chocolate, light roasted coffee and chicory mix, nutty toasted husk and a dried grass. Hops are mild and simply help to balance. Yeast throws a small amount of fruitiness and chalkiness into the mix. There's a quick acrid twang in the drying finish, with some light charcoal.

Bluefish: Some of the best intensely smoky, peaty bluefish are balanced with a foundation of malty sweetness. This fish is an excellent example. A sinewy fish with the classic bold notes of kiln smoke, peat, tarry rope, and coal ash. Sweeter notes of honeyed malt, ripe vanilla, chocolate fudge, and toasted marshmallow temper and sooth the palate, along with background berry confit. The smoke lingers long on the fly reel.


Bluegill: Gently and lushly bright. Flowers, honeyed lemon, hints of almond and pungent fresh-cut fir in aroma and cup. Delicate, juicy acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor details fade in the finish, but a richly tart sweetness lingers.


Mummichog: The current mummichog handles well enough, rides well, steers nicely, and performs decently. But that eager throttle response, that Ferrari-at-Monaco agility, that ability to dance on its fins has been lost. Rather than an intuitive lightweight, it feels like a ponderous heavyweight. In short, the poor mummichog is just too meaty. Fully armed with all-wheel drive and a V-6, it weighs 3725 pounds.

Steelhead: The standard features of the steelhead include 3.0L V-6 310HP engine intercooled supercharger, 8-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 18" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, and a quattro all-wheel drive.

White perch

White perch: Straightforward, finely structured. Balanced and sweet-toned in aroma and cup, with distinct milk chocolate notes and hints of lemon, cedar and raisin. Roundly rich acidity; syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor, particularly the chocolate, carries deep into a long, clean finish.

Common carp
Common carp: Smooth and supple, this traditional fish offers complex flavors of dried cherry, licorice, tea, tobacco and spice, joined by light tannins and lively acidity. This gives up power for grace, and remains fresh and alluring.


Sucker: Easy fishing all the way, lots of flavor packed into this scaly beast. While flavorful, this fish tries to be robust while still holding on to its semi-light character, staying deep within session fish territory. Proof that bottom feeders are not always heavy and can be very approachable.

Pacific bonito

Pacific bonito: The Pacific bonito is darker, with notes of sticky toffee pudding and chewy caramel that firmly support the polished leather, cigar box, roasted chestnut, smoked seaweed, tar, dark chocolate, and, on the finish, espresso. A meditative fish.

Good fishing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Urgent Public Service Announcement Appeal For Much Better Shit: In The Name of Christ I Just Can't Watch Any More

Please familiarize yourself with this short film trailer. It is from a long time ago and is said to be "the first of the modern fishing films", which implies that we've evolved and that anything remotely as good has been seen since 1973, when it was made. But it has not - for content, artistry or technique - and perhaps this isn't all that surprising when you consider who was involved and the fantastic amount of hasheesh these guys must have blown through their cultural backdrop. In fact, when you look at 99% of the vacant pap we're all making these days, this film just rises higher.

Indeed, the reasons why should become quite apparent while you watch along. And if they do not, please rely on the texts of Brautigan, McGuane and Harrison to re-evaluate everything to date, then return to your Go-Pro and try again through this new, er, lens. If you cannot read, other parts of your body are just as likely to respond favorably to the footage of leaping Tarpon fish, as mine do. 

There now. No more of these silly videos, alright?

As you were.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How it will go down

You will help your wife and kids load up the car, and then you will wave goodbye to them.  They'll be gone for four days, and you have a lot to do.

Safe travels. I'll be good.
You'll need breakfast.  It's the most important meal of the day.  You take solace in the fact that if your wife isn't around to see you eat it, it's not bad for you.  You'll start with a ribeye. You'll trim some of the fat off, but not all of it.  This is going to be a pungent steak - probably too much even for a hearty red, so you opt for a single malt from the Isle of Skye. It's going to be like a cage match in your mouth, and it will be spectacular.

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day
Once you've trimmed the fat, you'll dry roast some whole cumin seeds. They aroma will fill the house for three days.  You'll grind the roasted cumin, with some black pepper, with a mortar and pestle. This you'll rub onto the steak, along with some butter. You'll pan grill the steak quickly, and it will be everything you'd hoped.  Once you've had breakfast, you'll load up the gear and head to the water. En route, Waylon Jennings will tell you how to get the rabbit out the L-O-G.  You'll arrive, and note that the water looks good.

Pool. Riffle. Pool. Riffle.  Repeat, if necessary.
You'll get fish right away, but they'll start out small.

But as the day warms and you explore new water, you'll start picking up bigger fish.


You'll land several, but lose some of the better ones. You'll lose your focus when you see feeding carp.  You'll fail to catch them.  You'll have trouble even getting up the steep bank.  You'll marvel at your incredible lack of upper body strength.  You'll slide back down the bank again.  And again.  But you will eventually get back to the trail, and you'll walk to the large bridge pool. You'll be tired and dirty, and you'll wonder if you should just go home.  But you'll decide that since you're there, you will toss that meat whistle into the chute at the top of the pool.  You'll mend once, and before your brain will register what has just happened, the biggest smallmouth bass you've ever hooked on this small stream will tail-walk across the pool, covering three feet before it goes under again.  You'll vocalize, but what comes out of your mouth won't sound like words, but instead like something you might say if you touched an electric fence.  You'll wonder if you're going to land this fish, remembering how many have given you the slip already today. So, you'll hit him again and put him on the reel. You'll settle down, regain your composure, and land this fish.


Bridge pool.
Then, you'll reel up and head home for dinner. It's the most important meal of the day, too.